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Watching your every step

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: I just got out of an abusive relationship that lasted two years. I’ve blocked him on my phone, but he leaves messages from other numbers. I wouldn’t hold it past him to try and find out where I live now or where I work just to have a face-to-face conversation with me. I can’t call the police because he isn’t threatening me. I don’t think he would ever physically hurt me. But EVERY DAY I think he will be right around the corner.

But he has hurt you – and the pattern will almost undoubtedly continue if you let him back into your life. That’s where he’s trying to get, and naturally he knows he won’t get there by being overt in his threats.

And you can call the police if he has a history of abuse and is ignoring your requests to stop contacting you. The next time he calls, warn him that you will get a protective order if he doesn’t stop calling you. Honestly, I’d get one anyway. Then document everything he does.

Seeing a counselor can really boost your strength in this process. The sooner you take action, the sooner you’ll feel safe.

Q: My boyfriend is always canceling our plans to hang out together when something comes up that sounds better. It’s like we make plans and I never know whether we’ll actually end up doing them, because his friends might all want to hang out to watch a sporting event, or somebody has just come into town, or his roommates are having a last-minute party. It’s irritating and it feels like he doesn’t prioritize us, but he’s always apologetic.

Apologies can only go so far when there’s a pattern of telling you that you don’t matter as much as other people in his life. He might have a problem saying no to his friends; he might not be very into your relationship; he might be the flakiest man alive. Regardless of the reason, it’s not acceptable to you (and shouldn’t be).

Tell him that although he’s always “sorry,” his actions are speaking louder than words, and you wonder if he will ever be able to put you first. An occasional last-minute switch is one thing, but if he’s constantly ditching you for something else, it’s a clue that something’s majorly off here.

Andrea Bonior is a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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