Should I kick her out?
August 24, 2008 6:08 AM   Subscribe

I have a really messed-up break-up situation. Is what I am about to do fair?

I'll try to describe it as briefly as possible, but it is complicated.

I love her madly, but she is totally messed up with depression, anxiety, insecurity, indecision and inaction.

We broke up, got back together, broke up again. It's three years since we started going out. The first break up, at the beginning of this year, lasted three months, and we have been split up now for two.

We broke up and got back together for reasons to do with us. But before we broke up she'd become close to some guy she works with. While we broke up she kind of started going out with him. When we got back together she continued to hang around with him in a way that made me insanely jealous. And when we broke up recently she started seeing him again immediately.

In about three weeks she is moving hundreds of miles away to do an MA. We were supposed to be moving together. Though she wanted to do the MA, her depression meant she hadn't got round to even applying to do it. (She said that in the time we split up originally she had wanted to show that she could do things on her own, and the fact that when we got back together she'd done nothing made her feel like a failure.) I had to literally sit down next to her and make her fill in the forms. I had to write the emails requesting references, and check her email for her during the whole process. Her feeling dependent on me contributed to both our break ups.

She is moving hundreds of miles away in three weeks, and she hasn't arranged a place to stay, or worked out how she's going to move her stuff, or arranged funding, though she is getting round to these things. She is stressed and talks about it constantly, which is kind of annoying since my own plans are now in disarray.

Anyway, here's where the messed-up stuff begins: we were supposed to be moving together. The lease on her flat ended in the middle of July, and the plan had been that she was going to stay at mine until we moved. But we broke up at the beginning of July. She didn't get around to arranging a place to stay, and madly I offered to let her stay at mine anyway. I thought it might be unhealthy, that it could make me miserable, but I thought that after being so miserable for so long I could take another couple of months of it in the worst case. She accepted.

I live in one room. She moved all her stuff in boxes into mine, and they fill up half the room. We sleep in the same bed. We sleep in each other's arms. Sometimes we have sex, but she is trying to keep a distance between us so mostly she's quite cold about that, which does drive me crazy. It's been a surprisingly nice time together, mostly. We're happy when we're together. But then I find myself falling in love again, daily, and sometimes we fall into talking about resentments about the past and the future. Often she's said that we shouldn't be living together, and often she's said that she is still thinking about whether she wants us to be together, even though I say (only half truthfully) that I don't want to be with her because of all that's happened.

Yesterday, Saturday, morning, she went away for a couple of days to look after the flat of a friend who was going away and to have some space to think about things. The night before we'd had a conversation we shouldn't have had, a pretty bad one, and in the morning she'd again said that this situation wasn't healthy. She comes back tomorrow, Monday, night.

In the month she's been living with me she hasn't seen much of this other guy, except at work, I think to be tactful to me. But they were going to be hanging out yesterday, and then, I know, inevitably they would spend the night together. And, after everything, I can't take it. I tried to go out last night and have fun, but I couldn't think of anything else, and came home early to write her an email saying that she had to move out, and move her stuff out, and that I wanted no contact with her after that. I haven't sent this email yet.

But is this fair? Should I send the email or wait until she comes tomorrow and talk about it with her then? I think it is likely that she's gonna come back having decided that she wants to go stay somewhere else anyway, but then I fear that it's gonna happen in a compromised way, with her keeping her stuff at mine, and us seeing each other now and then, and for the sake of my own sanity I don't think I can take it. (At the same time, I want her to stay here, because I am happy when she's around, even in this stupid situation, and it delays the inevitable final heartbreak.)

She is very messed up, and I don't want to mess her up further, but I feel used, duped (though I don't think she has consciously done these things) and taken for granted. I feel like a total doormat. And I suppose, selfishly, I don't want to have her disappear anyway with me in this role. I want her to experience losing me fully now, rather than just as a vague loss in the middle of her big move. And I don't think another three weeks of this is healthy for me, and I want her to go be fucking dependent on this other guy for a change.

At the same time, it is only three weeks, and I knew what I was getting into, I suppose. So even if she goes to stay somewhere else, maybe I should be there for her when she needs me, maybe I shouldn't make her move her stuff out of mine when she's gonna have to move it again so soon. A lot of her friends have moved away in the last year, which helped to make her so dependent on me, and she has no friend in town that she is genuinely close to. I don't want to mess her up any more, as I said, and I absolutely don't want to sabotage her move. Should I be totally selfish finally or just suck it up for a bit longer? And if I'm going to be selfish, should I do it now, by email, or wait to talk to her, knowing that I might not be so certain when I see her?

If this terrible ramble makes sense at all, all opinions appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Get away from her.Sorting out your feelings will be much easier.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:22 AM on August 24, 2008

Please, tell her in person. It looks like you two are stuck in a very destructive, yet familiar, pattern. Claim your space, move her belongings out, and move on. People who love each other don't treat each other like this. Take care.
posted by limited slip at 6:23 AM on August 24, 2008

If you think that there's a good chance that she thinks she should move out as well, I would wait until she gets back and then discuss it with her then.

And no, I don't think you're being selfish at all. It is possible for you to be supportive of her WITHOUT having her live with you -- you can help her explore the many other options she has. But no, it's not selfish for you to say "this no longer can be something you do, I'm sorry". What she's doing now is not just messing you up, it is also hampering your ability to be helpful to her, which just hurts you both.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:24 AM on August 24, 2008

It's pointless to send the email when she's back tomorrow. Beyond that, the situation you are in is ridiculous and of course it is fair to push her to get out of your apartment ASAP. You need to tell her point blank the situation is bad for you and it has to end.

You know perfectly well the only sensible course is to eliminate all ambiguity about your relationship (which is over, over, over) and stop rubbing salt in your wounds be living with/hanging out with/sleeping with/having sex with your ex. You have to stop worrying about whether and how she is screwing up her life, you can't assume that responsibility any more. Tell her she has to move ASAP. Repeat as necessary. Spend as little time as possible with her. Sleep on the floor, sleep in the bathtub, sleep on a friend's couch. Just stop sleeping with your ex.
posted by nanojath at 6:30 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree with all the above. This relationship is not going to work. Getting involved with someone with serious emotional issues, depression, lack of motivation, etc is obviously a brooding source of resentment for you, and I am 100% sure this relationship will only get worse. You need to cut the strings, move on, and find someone happier and healthier to get involved with... and the biggest challenge will be having the constitution to refuse her if she comes back and wants to get involved again.
posted by crapmatic at 6:34 AM on August 24, 2008

Don't be so masochistic. You know this won't end well, but you're peeling the band-aid very slowly indeed.

If you want to cherish your martyrdom, let her stick around until she moves. The attraction of a dramatic scene can be strong. I doubt that's the most healthy for either one of you, though.

If not, the best thing to do would be to chuck her out with as little ado and as friendly but cool a demeanor as is possible. Let drama run off you like water off a duck, and avoid parting shots, last chances, and tearful self-recriminations.
posted by LucretiusJones at 6:34 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you've had enough of being a doormat, calm down and take a deep breath. Talk to a friend you can trust if you need the support, but, firmly but gently, tell her in person that she has to move out by tomorrow, or Wednesday, or some day soon.

Do NOT go for a dramatic moment where you're trying to make her feel bad for doing bad things to you, for being overly dependent, for being a fuck-up, or where you apologize for your culpability, or whatever. Drama's over, dude, just acknowledge that this thing is dead, and neither one of you has any obligations toward the other beyond making the move out clean and clear and as swift as possible.

There is no fault to be found - you both used each other, and there's nothing more to be learned with her. You personally could probably benefit from some self-exploration about how you allowed yourself to submit to this painful drama, but you won't learn that with her around, and she won't be able to learn whatever she needs to learn with you locked into enabling her.
posted by jasper411 at 7:17 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

for your own sake, get rid of her in the most assholeish way possible.
If you're too weak to say no and just kick her out, making her hate you enough to never even want to see you again is the next best thing.
Mental illness aside, she obviously doesn't care about your feelings one bit so why should you care about hers.
posted by spacefire at 7:28 AM on August 24, 2008

Don't stay in a relationship that isn't good for you.

Don't be mean when you end it.
posted by gjc at 7:38 AM on August 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

Unless the alternative is, literally, the street, then you don't have any real obligation to house her. And frankly, that seems almost impossible. She really has no other friends or family?

So even if she goes to stay somewhere else, maybe I should be there for her when she needs me

No. You're her ex-boyfriend, not her father, not her husband. If you'd had kids, you'd have to be in each other's lives forever. But... you don't. So break up and be broke up.

maybe I shouldn't make her move her stuff out of mine when she's gonna have to move it again so soon

Her stuff in your place isn't the problem, assuming you can live with it. Her in your place is.

I was going to say that only you know whether asking her to move her stuff out will cause more drama than it solves, but I suspect you don't actually know that. Find someone who knows both of you and ask him or her whether asking her to move out would net increase or decrease the amount of drama.

If she must keep some stuff in your place, you need rules. The rule is that she has to call ahead to move it out or get a particular thing, and that you will not be in the apartment at that time. You leave and come back to an apartment with less stuff AND DON'T SEE HER, she walks into an apartment with no you.

In the event that she asks and you let her stay there again:

We sleep in the same bed.

STOP. DO NOT. No other place to sleep means she CANNOT stay there.

We sleep in each other's arms.


Sometimes we have sex

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:43 AM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'll speak from the other side of the situation and say you should make her move out and break off any contact.

I lived in a studio apartment with my college boyfriend, with whom I'd had a messy breakup once before, after graduation. We started to drift apart, I broke up with him, but we still lived together because I didn't have the money (or psychologically, my shit together) to get my own place. During that time, I started seeing someone else. It was hell on both of us, and it wasn't until I pulled myself together long enough to find another place to live that we were able to extract ourselves from that mess.

Looking back, I think that decision was when I started to become more independent and responsible, even with depression, and develop my own identity. I'd been with the boyfriend since I was 18 and had never been on my own. But like your ex, I moved away to a graduate program, which provided me with the clean break with my past, the structure, and the peer support I needed to ease myself into being an adult.

So I get two lessons out of this experience: a) I acted less than admirably in the situation and b) Getting out forced me to grow up. No excuses.

So don't feel bad. You need to get her out for you and her.
posted by bibliowench at 7:49 AM on August 24, 2008

Wait. Stop. This is all reading as very teenage drama fest and that is really not necessary.

Her depression and anxiety issues are hers to sort; you've been more than supportive. However, you've also offered and promised her a place to stay until she moves for her MA programme. The entire "throwing her out of the house three weeks before she's supposed to move anyway" gambit is just upping the drama here. It's using an event to make a statement because you can't articulate the statement you want to make.

Which, I presume, is: "If you're living in my house and sleeping in my bed, I would vastly prefer you not shag other people for the duration. It's uncomfortable for me."

You don't need the Days of Our Lives door slamming possessions-on-the-lawn moment. Despite the fact that you say "I want her to experience losing me fully now, rather than just as a vague loss in the middle of her big move," you really don't need to escalate the craziness here. Your co-dependent ex-girlfriend will cry plenty on the moving day you have planned.

And after that, you should cut off all contact with her. Because she is not healthy, this relationship is not healthy, and your mutual dynamic is not healthy. But punishing her now for something you invited and participated in is childish and petty, and won't make you feel good about yourself in the future.

Life is long, so think long term here.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:04 AM on August 24, 2008 [4 favorites]

If you find yourself unable to kick her out for the 3 weeks, is there someone else you can stay with in the meantime? I mean, at least stop sleeping in the same room as her.
posted by heatherann at 8:11 AM on August 24, 2008

Of course it's not fair. You want to kick her out because you can't stand the idea of her sleeping with someone else, (fair), you want her to be devastated by the loss of you without being distracted by moving away (not fair), you don't like that she resists the post breakup sex and you think she will probably decide to move out anyway but would be less dramatic about it so you should make it an LJ-worthy incident (not fair).

It's three weeks till she moves away. So you're sick of being the mature responsible one, and you think she's all fucked up, and whatever. In your next relationship you can be the useless incompetent one, but there is no way that it is fair (or in any way reasonable) for you to decide that you need a more dramatic breakup. To pull out a cliche: if you actually loved her you wouldn't care that she might not get the chance to fall apart over losing you. Either admit to yourself that you're an immature brat who wants to hurt her for not being together enough for you, or suck it up, let/make her go crash somewhere for a couple weeks, but don't bother with some huge dramatic gesture that makes you look like the flake.
posted by jacalata at 8:13 AM on August 24, 2008

It's three weeks, suck it up with these caveats:

Stop sleeping in the same bed and stop having sex with her. Somebody gets the couch, preferably her, since it's your apartment. Pointedly tell her that in three weeks her and her stuff are moving out, whether it's an MA program or her new BF's house, whatever, but it's not your problem.

In the meantime, encourage her to spend time elsewhere or you spend time elsewhere. Limited contact is the key word here, because the situation extremely unhealthy.

Also, you've made several statements 'bout her being dependent on you. Please realize that your are also dependent on her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:28 AM on August 24, 2008 [7 favorites]

At the same time, it is only three weeks, and I knew what I was getting into, I suppose.

If you choose to tough it out for three more weeks you could do what other men in unhappy relationships do: Go to work early, and stay at work late, them meet some friends and engage in social or sporting activities in the evenings.

And stop having sex with her.
posted by Mike1024 at 8:55 AM on August 24, 2008

It's only three weeks, don't add to the drama. Suck it up, count the days, soon she will be gone. Even for a normal / sane person, having to move all your shit twice in three weeks is a tonne of additional stress and hassle. Don't do it.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:09 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

came home early to write her an email saying that she had to move out, and move her stuff out, and that I wanted no contact with her after that. I haven't sent this email yet.

Don't be that person. Tell her face-to-face or at least over the phone.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:38 AM on August 24, 2008

As someone with mental illness, an unhealthy relationship makes it harder to heal than NO relationship.

Think that through the next time you're tempted to stay with her for HER sake. It's not doing her any good.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2008

You've got to clear up your motivations before you talk to her or do anything. By all means, get away from her. But don't do it to hurt her or get back at her. ("I want her to experience losing me fully now...I want her to go be fucking dependent on this other guy for a change.") Do it for your own good, not to hurt her.

Find in yourself the reasons to get away from her that have to do with you, your own well-being ("I couldn't think of anything else....for the sake of my own sanity I don't think I can take it...I don't think another three weeks of this is healthy for me"). Focus on those, particularly before you talk to her. Say goodbye from that place in yourself that wishes well to both of you, recognizing that wishing yourselves well means getting yourselves into separate spaces before any more emotional damage is done. Then, you can go feel as angry as you want to with your friends.

This situation has obviously hurt you a lot, and it's natural to want to hurt someone back. But it's the weaker person who has to hurt back, and it's the stronger person who can set that aside and speak for what would be a good path to the future. If you leave wishing her evil, then if bad befalls her (she gets depressed and kills herself) you'll feel guilty, and if good befalls her (she moves in with this guy for three weeks and they eventually marry) you'll feel thwarted and like the ultimate loser. If you leave wishing her well, then if bad befalls her, you feel sorry (but blameless), and if good befalls her, who knows how you'll feel, but maybe you can share just slightly in her joy. Taking the high road is an emotionally cleaner way to go over the long run and will make you feel better about yourself. More here.
posted by salvia at 11:53 AM on August 24, 2008

Help her find a place to live, either temporary or not. Help financially if needed. The move sounds like a fantasy, and it helps her avoid reality, so don't factor it in. Just get her into some other living situation. And therapy. Urging her into therapy is the best thing for her. A place for her to stay that isn't with you is the kindest thing for both of you.
posted by theora55 at 12:00 PM on August 24, 2008

Yeah, man, you're both really messed up. You're just messed up in different ways. I've been there.

It's just 3 weeks. You can tough it out for 3 weeks... just stop sleeping in the same bed, and for god's sake stop fucking. Make her sleep on the couch or in a sleeping bag or something. Or if that offends your sense of chivalry, YOU sleep on the couch or in a sleeping bag. It's just 3 weeks!

The idea is to de-escalate the drama not create more drama.
posted by Justinian at 12:57 PM on August 24, 2008

- No more sex.

- Honor your commitment to 3 weeks. She'll use it as emotional blackmail if you don't. Just make sure she knows it's a hard and fast deadline.

- She is taking the couch for 3 weeks. Given her history there is going to be some "bad back" or "hip" or "too much light in the living room" BS. Tough. She is on the couch.

- When she goes, her stuff goes too. Anything not taken is going to Goodwill, Salvation Army or out to the curb with a "Free" sign.

- I'm reasonably confident that in 3 weeks there will be some reason she can't go. Not your problem. Where she goes isn't the issue; THAT she goes is the goal.

- When she goes, lock the door behind her - I mean that physically and emotionally. Do not let this person come back a create havoc again.

Last, she didn't do this without your consent and assistance. Think about how you're going to prevent this dynmamic in future relationships.
posted by 26.2 at 1:18 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

To everyone who says do not sleep with her, do not have sex with her, sleep in the bathtub: your advice is totally correct, and it is the advice I would give myself, but as long as she continues to stay at mine I will not sleep in any bathtub. This is a mental battle I have given up on, because there is no chance of winning it.

Then you go stay somewhere else.

That way you're not sleeping with her (which is a ridiculous thing to do, and hurtful to both of you), and you're still keeping the agreement you made with her about how long she could crash at your apartment.

You told her she could stay at your apartment after you had broken up. Throwing her out because she's dating someone else is shitty and petulant behavior.

Or grow some nads and sit down and talk about it like an adult instead of sending a "GET OUT" email. "It's not working for me to have you here: I know that I agreed to it, but I'm unhappy. How can I help you move somewhere else?"

And run, do not walk, to a bookstore and buy a copy of Co-Dependent No More by Mellody et al. and read it carefully before you start your next relationship.

Mike said: you could do what other men in unhappy relationships do: Go to work early, and stay at work late, them meet some friends and engage in social or sporting activities in the evenings.

Amazingly enough, this is exactly what many women in unhappy relationships do.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:41 PM on August 24, 2008

You need an air mattress. Twin-size, nothing bigger. Consider it three weeks of monastic discipline, sleeping on your living-room floor and avoiding the temptations of the unstable flesh. Ponder your current condition and how you got here, and ignore your ex-girlfriend in the next room.

When you're done with that and her and her shit are out of your place, change the locks and burn the sheets, ditch the air mattress, and get on with all the things you thought about changing while you were sleeping on the blasted sticky uncomfortable thing for three weeks.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:54 PM on August 24, 2008

Whatever power it is that other people have that could make them crawl into the bathtub or onto the air mattress I just do not have.

That power is called self-respect.

The solution is not to sleep with her for a few weeks! If staying in the same apartment is too much for you, can't you go visit your family for 2 weeks or something? Surely there is someone, somewhere who can put you up for 14 days.
posted by Justinian at 3:03 PM on August 24, 2008

Whatever power it is that other people have that could make them crawl into the bathtub or onto the air mattress I just do not have.

That power is called "setting appropriate boundaries" and you really, really need to work on it. It's not a special power--it's an essential element of being a mentally healthy person.

I'm not saying this to beat you up or be mean. In my most co-dependent days, it never occurred to me that everyone wasn't exactly like me, that other people didn't automatically say "Yes" when folks made outrageous demands on them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:31 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

If she does, as you say, have other options of where to stay - by all means tell her that you wanted to help her out, but that you think it's best for both of you if she stay somewhere else. End of story. Offer to help her move her stuff if you feel bad about it. But have that be the end of it. Don't try to be friends after this, you both need to build your own lives apart from each other.

By all means, if you can't reasonably keep yourself from sleeping in the same bed with her while she's in your apartment, tell her to leave or find somewhere to go - but you need SPACE. As in, physical space.

(And yes, whatever you tell her, do it in person.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:57 PM on August 24, 2008

You know, I had a situation somewhat similar play out. I'm not living with the ex, but we do sleep together occasionally, and almost entirely on her schedule. I finally explained that there would be no more sex between us, because the power balance was extraordinarily frustrating for me and the payoff was so rare that it fucked up the times we'd spend together because half the time, I'd be quietly wondering if she'd want to fuck.

This was bad times.

Do what I did: start banging someone else. Seriously, that's the ONE THING you can do to take that urge away.

Don't be stupid about it or anything, and feel free to take the less extreme view, which is to say, go on some dates, meet up with someone else, etc, but at the very least, having someone else to direct that energy and to fill that thought vacuum will make things incredibly easier on you.

And if you're spending the night with new girl, you can't fuck old girl.

Easier said than done? Not really. Chat some people up, troll craigslist or meet a mutual friend; find someone who's interesting and smart and funny and a great distraction and possible future mate that's NOT psychotic. I'm telling you, redirect that energy somewhere where reciprocity is possible and you'll feel a LOT better about yourself.
posted by disillusioned at 3:25 AM on August 25, 2008

That power is called "setting appropriate boundaries" and you really, really need to work on it.

Sidhedevil has the shortest and best explanation of what it means to set appropriate boundaries that I´ve ever seen.

Until you figure out how to do this yourself, stay away from her. What if she got pregnant in the next three weeks? Just do whatever you need to do to keep from having sex with her, leave the area and go somewhere else.
posted by yohko at 8:31 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

but my urge to sleep with her is more powerful than any other urges I have, including those that protect my own life and sanity.

Actually, that isn't true. When I see something like this, I think that your behavior has a secondary gain, that is you are getting some other type of emotional payoff unrelated to the sex and maybe this girl in particular. Perhaps you are fighting out an old battle or running away from getting someone who might be able to give you a better relationship.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:43 AM on August 25, 2008

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