An ex whom I dated in high school has recently been in touch.
He was seeing someone else for a while, but now that he's single again he messages occasionally.
We've gone out for coffee together once or twice a year.
Now I recognize that our annual “catching up” is making him interested in me again.
I've already made up my mind that our relationship’s strictly platonic.
However, I think he's becoming hopeful that we can date again in the future.
How do I tell him that I'm not interested without feeling like I'm reliving our past breakup?
Tell him soon.
Hesitating about this conversation when you’ve already made up your mind, suggests that your past pattern together was to drag out the break-up news.
That was then. You’re presumably surer of your decision now. You don’t dislike him, but coffee and chat is all you want.
What he needs to hear, clearly, is that you enjoy being just friends.
Don’t apologize, don’t hesitate, and don’t list reasons why you don’t think renewing a relationship would work.
You’d only be allowing him to present a counter view and try to convince you. That’d be misleading and unfair.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the man confused about whether to end his marriage to his bi-polar wife who was cheating on him and changed her behaviour dramatically (August 4):
“My significant other is bi-polar, we've lived together for 15 years.
“I understand that particular mental illness (and others because of her concurrent disorders) more than even some health professionals.
“You can't truly understand someone until you live together. Just because I'm not a medical professional, please don't discount my thoughts on the matter.
“Based purely on that man's description of his wife's behaviour, it sounds like she's either gone off her medications, or her medications have lost their efficacy (which often happens with long-term use of psychiatric meds).
“I advise that before any major decisions are made, there's a thorough review of her meds with the thought of either changing the dosage or the meds altogether.
“It sounds like she's in a mania. Once she's stabilized she'll see things much differently.
“Especially if her husband is loving and understanding and non-judgemental about what she's gone through and what she was asking him for.
“If she still wants the separation when she's stabilized, only then should they cross that bridge (and I would then hope her husband would respect her wishes and make the process amicable).”
Ellie – Thanks for your experienced view on this situation of a bi-polar partner.
You have practical knowledge about the need for medication monitoring and adjustments.
Like you, I’m familiar with the difficulties bi-polar patients and their families face involving their medications and the possibilities of mania.
But I, too, am not a doctor, so dealt only with the husband’s stated dilemma as how to respond. His wife refused marriage counselling and may also be refusing to see her doctor.
Yet the medication’s potential role in her changed behaviour is as important as you say.
The husband could communicate this to his wife’s parents and suggest/hope they try an intervention.
However, she was furious about his telling her parents about her affair, and has threatened a restraining order against him.
He can’t risk that since he must stay close to their child during this volatile period.
That’s why I advised that he take time for his response – securing his parental rights, and getting his own counselling through this.
FEEDBACK Regarding the adult child’s side of grandparent estrangement:
Reader – “As someone who was irreparably hurt by my parents right after I gave birth, I had to walk away from the relationship for some time.
“My son and I are a package deal.
“I learned through therapy that my parents weren’t capable of seeing the situation from my perspective due to their narcissistic traits (the same traits that started the issues).
“However, had they sued me for grandparents’ rights it would have made everything so much worse. I likely would have never come around to seeing them again because it shows total disrespect that you need space away from toxic people.”
Ellie – In some jurisdictions (e.g. Ontario, Canada since 2016) grandparents’ rights to access or custody are considered depending on the grandchildren having an existing bond with their grandparents, and also on the stability of the child’s environment, plus the child’s preference (depending on age).
Tip of the day:
“Catching up” with an ex sometimes gives misleading signals of renewed interest.