I recently ended a brief relationship I had with a woman who started off as a friend. We only dated for about a month, but she was depressed most of that time and she alternated between needy and downright mean. I told her I didn’t want to see her anymore, but that we could still be friends, which I meant. But after our breakup, she began contacting me way more than she ever did before, and leaving messages that are crazy, ranging from “I love you” to “You’re a horrible person” to “I don’t think I can go on living without you.” The high number so far is twenty phone calls in one day, with seven of those calls coming one right after the other. I also usually get at least nine or ten texts a day and two to three emails a day. I tried calling her a couple of times to talk, but I got her voicemail. Now, her attempts to contact me are making me crazy, and her messages are making me mad; I’m not a bad person, but I have no desire to talk to her at this point, though I know something needs to be done. How should I handle this? —RH, Miami, Florida
The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
Seriously? Get a restraining order because this bitch is nuts! Who does that and how long has this been going on? Are you doing anything to lead her on? Picking up the phone occasionally? Returning emails or texts out of an occasional feeling of guilt? If you answered “yes,” then stop right now or you’ll never get rid of her and the whole situation. Too many people look for some glimmer of hope and build a whole world out of it in their own mind that may be far from reality. She doesn’t need to think that you may be interested in her in any way; that will only add fuel to the fire. Twenty phone calls in one day? Wow! Does she have a job? Who has time for that anyway?
Kidding aside, it sounds like she may have bipolar disorder or something else going on. You can point her in the right direction to get help if you’re so inclined, but if the problem persists, please contact the police.
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
First of all, RH, repeat after me: I do not need to be friends with every woman I used to date. The very nature of dating is to find out if you’re compatible with someone, not only romantically, but also on a friendship level. When you encounter “needy and downright mean” women in the future, don’t date them, and if you do, then when you break up with them, make it a clean break. (For more on this topic, read what we said last month.)
Second, we in the South have a name for people like this: crazier than a shit house rat. God bless her heart, but she sounds like she could be. She needs help, but helping her or fixing her is not your job. It could be that she really has a mental illness, or she could just be Glenn Close’s Fatal Attraction-like cousin. Either way, it’s not your problem.
I don’t recommend calling her again. That’ll just get you into another endless cycle of voice mails, and if you actually talk to her, you can count on a loooong phone call involving you defending your decision and listening to her tell you either how she wants you back, or what a bad person you are.
Instead, email her and make that your final communication with her. She may forward it to friends, or possibly post it on blogs or other public places, so I’d make it very brief. (And keep a copy of what you send in case she alters it in any way and tries to say you threatened her or something crazy like that.) Don’t apologize for anything. Tell her that you’ve had a change of heart and ask her to please stop contacting you. Don’t answer her if she writes you back. In fact, if she keeps writing you back, block her emails. If she keeps calling you, block her calls and texts. And if she starts showing up at your house, call the police. It sounds harsh, but it may be the only way she’s going to get the message.
I can’t say this enough: follow your gut. If someone gives you a crazy vibe, then she probably is. If you think a woman is mean, you shouldn’t date her. And when someone seems depressed and possibly a little crazy (for lack of a more clinical word), point her in the direction of help and tell her to go sell crazy someplace else; you’re all stocked up.
The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
I won’t say I told you so, but can we all stop with the “let’s be friends” request/plea/false promise when we’re breaking up with someone?
Come on, people, say what you mean, mean what you say, do what you intend to do. When you break up with people, break up with them. Leave them be. Don’t do this misleading, pitying, “friend” consolation thing. Doing something half-assed makes you an ass(w)hole. (Ooh, I like that.)
Anyway, what you do now is become completely clear about things since your “hedging” helped create this mess. Something like, “Sorry, I thought I wanted to be friends, but I was wrong. I’m not ready to do that and we should not be in touch with each other. Please don’t contact me anymore. Thank you for respecting my wishes and good luck.”
This is the last time you contact her. No returning phone calls, texts, emails, etc.
Now you’ve clearly stated what you want, what to expect from you, and what you expect from her. If she doesn’t get it right away, then block her phone number, email, and all other contact information. Change your number if you must. If she doesn’t respect your wishes and takes it further, then you get a restraining order and the authorities can get involved.
Don’t sit around and hope someone gets the hint about what you want. Hints are for crossword puzzles, not people. Life’s puzzling enough. Don’t make it worse by not being clear about what you want.
The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
Oy. You need to block her calls, texts, and emails. Make one attempt to tell her you think she needs to see a professional therapist and that you will not be in contact with her at all any longer. After that, you’re done. You have a woman with a serious problem on your hands, and quite honestly, you are not the problem.
I’m concerned that this woman may do damage to herself. And while you certainly can suggest she see a therapist, you cannot make her.
RH, I’m also curious why you started to date this woman in the first place. A needy and downright mean woman is not my idea of a good time. Have you been drawn to this type of woman before? This especially worries me because you knew her as a friend first. You probably saw indicators of this before you dated her and yet you went ahead and dated her anyway.
For this woman’s sake, contact mutual friends and see if they can offer her some support. This is the kind of scenario that can become the movie of the week—and I’m not talking a musical comedy here.
You need to protect yourself, too. Be firm in your resolve to end things and not to pick up when she calls. Suggest help and then remove yourself from the line of fire.