June 14, 2014

Ask Me Anything: On How, When & Why to Leave Your Lover. {Weekly Advice Column}


walk away person bridge

*Disclaimer: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal opinion, view or experience of the authors, and can not reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here. 


Dear Elephants,

Welcome to this weeks Ask Me Anything, EJ’s weekly advice column!

If you have a question for next week, please email me at [email protected]. I do my best to answer each and every query whether they are published or not, and of course, all questions remain anonymous.

Also, feel free to avail yourselves of the comment board here. I love hearing your thoughts and insights and look forward to reading them!




*The following letter had been edited due to excessive length. The content remains true to the original.

Dear Erica,

I am an engineering student, all set to graduate next year. I have been in a relationship for 2.5 years now, my boyfriend being in the same college as mine. We spend a lot of time together and totally love each other’s company.

Recently, however, my boyfriend has been under a lot of stress. Due to some financial issues he feels he really needs to do something big to make his family proud. He is working hard to crack the entrance exams for a top-institute MBA. I totally support this and feel proud to have such a selfless and hardworking guy.

Since our college is far away from his home city, he lives with his aunt’s family, who happen to be filthy rich. Seeing their lifestyle he has developed an inferiority complex. He has become extremely negative and acts a little crazy. He has become short tempered, avoids all kinds of social gatherings, and stays aloof most of the time.

The worst thing came when he told me that he needs a break from this relationship because he cant afford to get distracted from his aim. He says being with me will make him want to spend time with me and talk to me all the time, which is something that he doesn’t wanna do.

I don’t want to distract him, and if he achieves his aim I’d be the happiest person on earth..but somehow, due to his new found negativity he cant see this. I dont want to get in his way, but I wont be able to bear the thought of losing him. He is the guy who changed me so much (for the better) and always loved me, no matter what. He is the guy I want to be with—my one true love. I dont want to lose him.

What should I do?

Dear Confused,

You sound like a very devoted and loyal person, and you mentioned that you are just about to graduate from engineering school. Congratulations!

Your boyfriend is working hard…perhaps overzealously…to build a foundation for the future. He is depressed because it it just becoming clear to him what a long, hard road that is. But he is willing to walk it, and that’s a great thing.

At this point, especially because you are both so young, I would say to give him the space he needs, and use the space you’ll get in return to develop your own plan of action for the future. I know that is easier said than done, but chasing after someone who clearly isn’t ready or able to be in a serious relationship right now will only bring you sadness.

If you work on becoming an accomplished woman in your own right, you might be surprised to see him suddenly come running back to you. Even is he doesn’t, you will have the satisfaction and joy of knowing you can create happiness for yourself.


*The following letter has been edited due to excessive length. The content remains true to the original.

Dear Erica,

I’m lost. I’m engaged to a man I don’t fully trust. I don’t have any concrete reason not to, he prides himself on never having cheated in a relationship and becomes offended when I ask prying questions.

I’ve never had serious trust issues with anyone. It all began only a couple months into our relationship when I started getting panic attacks at work that were almost debilitating. My boyfriend had returned home one night without talking about what he had been doing all day and was acting nervous. I know I shouldn’t have, but I checked his phone and found ‘jokes’ to an ex-girlfriend of his that involved “climbing up her blouse.”

It turned out he had taken her shopping for a party, and that an outfit she had picked  was rather revealing. After that, their daily snap-chatting and late night texting affected me so much, I broke up with him. They both insisted nothing had happened and they were just friends. So, I stayed.

My boyfriend has a habit of turning to his ex-girlfriends to talk whenever we have a problem. He also has repeatedly pointed out to me that he is attracted to lots of women. Whenever we go to yoga or a concert, he stares at anyone dressed-to-impress and I feel like I might as well not exist. If there is another woman in the room, as he gives them all his attention.

You would never guess he has a girlfriend, let alone a fiancé sitting in the same room.

I have become that crazy girlfriend who constantly reads text and nags about secret-keeping and insists my boyfriend tells me when he sees other women or talks to ex’s. I hate being this person. I’ve never asked him to stop talking to anyone, only expressed a need to know when he does.

He also made the statement that I will be compared to other women until death early on in our relationship. This affected my self-esteem so much that I cried for days when I found out he was watching porn. I even had thoughts like, “No matter what I do, I will never be enough for any man.”

At a couple of low points, I entertained the thought of suicide, even though that is not an issue because I care too much about my friends and family to ever do that. There have been a couple times I broke up with him, even had my own apartment lined up with a deposit put down, ready to move. That was the day he chose to propose, so I stayed.

I know he loves me and is willing to change to try and make me happy, but I’ve pointed out a person shouldn’t have to deny who they are to be in a relationship and I believe he resents me for his choice to do everything he can to be the person I want to be with. I know he loves me very deeply, and it would crush both of us to break up, but we hardly enjoy our time together and I’m struggling with low self-esteem from comparing myself to all the other women in his life and in the movies he watches.



Dear Lost,

I feel so sad reading this. It reminds me a lot of my first marriage, which was to a guy who—though he never actually cheated on me—made it very clear that it was a huge sacrifice to remain faithful. He watched porn excessively, constantly commented on how other women looked and compared me to them, and often discussed men’s innate “nature”, which he believed is not naturally monogamous. Basically, it felt like a constant low grade assault on my femininity and my humanity.

Instead of leaving him, for years I tried to be the woman that he wanted; physically perfect, compassionate towards his “nature”, never a nag. Our whole relationship was about me trying to make him feel the way he wanted to feel, and negating my own feelings in the process.

What a depressing and painful waste of time.

Back then, I would’ve said—and meant—that we were soul mates, that I couldn’t live without him and that I planned on staying with him forever.

Obviously, like you, I was struggling with low self esteem.

What I want you to know is that there are great men out there! Men who want to be and can be monogamous, loving and caring toward you and who deserve what you will give them in return. You can have a healthy, fun, positive relationship—but only if you make space for it by leaving this one behind. Even if you don’t happen to meet a wonderful guy, being alone is so much better than this torrent of self doubt and ugliness you’ve been pulled into.

My honest advice is to get out. I’ve said it before and I’ll sat it again, life it too short to feel this bad, especially when it’s completely avoidable.

Also, and perhaps most importantly, I would suggest you find a good counselor to help you dig out the root of your low self esteem. Until you get a handle on that, it is likely that your future relationships will look the same as this one.


*This letter has been edited due to excessive length. The content remains true to the original.

Dear Erica,

I am a single mother of a beautiful gorgeous daughter. I have been single for three years and I found someone who makes me laugh and makes me feel important in his life. While all along I have helped out so many people and cared of my daughter and my mother, I thought it was about time that I looked for someone that comforted me and cared for me.

I thought I had found the perfect man; however this man is already taken– he has been engaged for about a year now. When we are together he lightens up my day and tells me things I want to hear, but I am afraid to listen to what he says and have a hard time believing it.

He and his fiance have been together for 9 years but he described her as boring and doesn’t cook or clean for him. While we are having sex he tells me he loves me but I am always in denial. I am always like noo he doesn’t like me, all we are is an adventure—but when I say that, he tells me I don’t know anything. He just says he and his fiancé are going through their own lil divorce because they stopped having sex, and that she has taken off the ring he gave her.

What do I do? Do I wait until he breaks up with her or should I keep seeing him and let him keep cheating on her? Or I can just stop talking to him cold turkey? I need to stop texting him, but why is that so difficult? How can I get this guilt out of my system?

Dear Cold Turkey,

You already know what you need to do. The only question is, how long are you going to wait?

For the sake of your daughter if nothing else, cut off all communication with this man immediately. There is no future here (and the present isn’t too great either).

If you need extra motivation, imagine your daughter being in a relationship with a guy like this when she grows up. I’m guessing you would be horrified.

By modeling this behavior, you are increasing the odds that she will be, even if you think she doesn’t know what’s going on or is too young to understand.



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