Jann Blackstone-Ford and Sharyl Jupe: Bonus FamiliesHonesty is the best policy to get an ex to let go
Q: My ex and I loved our Boston terrier, Leon. He was our pride and joy for 12 years. Leon died nine months ago, and after six months of grieving, there just wasn’t enough left between us to keep the relationship going and we broke up. Every day, for the past three months, I’ve received text messages or e-mails with pictures attached of Leon and my ex at the beach. Leon cuddled up by the fire. Our Christmas picture each year that always included Leon. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but what’s over is over. How do I stop this nonsense?
A: Basically, what you are asking is, “How do I break up with someone who doesn’t want to break up?” Tricky, especially if you feel emotionally held hostage by the fear of hurting her feelings. If you really want to break up, however, you have to let that one go. No one escapes from a breakup completely untouched.
Your ex wants you back and sending you pictures to remind you of the good times, hoping to spark the same emotion in you. Instead, her actions are pushing you further away. She should get on with her life and let you get on with yours.
We suggest you take the most obvious path — tell her to stop. Ex Etiquette Rule No. 8: Be honest and straightfor-ward. Don’t beat around the bush — say you loved the time you had together, but this is a new phase in both your lives, and you want to start over. Thank you for all the pictures of Leon — you have enough now — live long and prosper.
If she doesn’t get the hint, stop taking her calls. Let them go to voice mail. That’s not rude or hurtful, and enough “I’m away from my desk and can’t receive your call” responses to her calls will eventually sink in.
If she’s desperate, she will most likely enlist friends to intercede: “Do you know what’s wrong with Jim? He won’t return my calls. Can you talk to him?” And if they ask you what’s up, tell them the truth — “She’s a great person; I’m just trying to move on.”
What if after all these years you realize your ex is somewhat deranged and you think you might be in danger if you reject her? That’s another column entirely. Tune in next week. For the record: Don’t mess around. Do all the obvious things — move, if you can, change phone numbers, but also document all interaction so you have proof if you must go to the police.
JANN BLACKSTONE-FORD and SHARYL JUPE are co-founders of Bonus Families (www.bonusfamilies.com) and authors of “Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation.” Blackstone-Ford is married to Jupe’s ex-husband. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.