Monday, July 07, 2008

Treat Him Like a Loaded Pistol

Hi, Terry-

Your advice is needed once again...

I wrote to you earlier when I was in a messy relationship with an older guy (whom I described then as a player). I have kept to myself, not called him, and am feeling terrible. I know it will take time to heal.

My problem is that he is very good at mind games. He knows where I live, so he somehow just manages to park his car on one of the roads that is on my route home...too often. I "bump" into him at least three times a week. He knows the coffee shops that I enjoy sitting at, so he just happens to be there when I am there. I moved to another hospital and for whatever reason he seems to just be there too, even though he works somewhere else. I went on a date the other day and we bumped into him. He tried to kiss me on the mouth and it took some maneuvering for the kiss to land somewhere on my cheek. It was either that or a scene.

When we do talk he makes it seem as if we are the best of friends. I am having a hard time behaving naturally around him. What I really want to do is scream at him.

I do not quite get this. He pulled the rug from under me, I did not dump him. It is almost as if he wants to keep me thinking of him and yet he does not really want to be with me.

He is playing me. How do I play him back?

Thanks again for the newsletters, extremely helpful and insightful.


Dear G.-

His behavior definitely scares me. He has interpreted the fact that you're moving on as a rejection (even though he pulled the rug out from under you), and I don't think it's overreacting to say he's stalking you. You mentioned he tried to kiss you on the mouth, and you had to work to avoid it without causing a scene. This raises a serious red flag.

I don't know this man, so I don't know if he has a history of violence, but it concerns me that he keeps throwing himself in your path (this business of him showing up at your job is particularly worrisome). I sympathize with your desire to scream at him, but I don't think it would be the best course of action. You've already rocked his world by withdrawing your attention (as best you can, given the circumstances). If you were to scream at him, especially publicly, you might shatter his warped ego, and who knows what he'd do.

I don't want to worry you (and, as you know, I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist), but I do want you to be safe. When he makes an appearance, it'll be tricky, but look happy to see him. Be pleasant. If he pretends to be your best friend, pretend to be his. And then safely move on.

If he pulls his garbage while you're on a date, manage to tell the date, "I'm sorry. I'll explain later." Tell him later on that you once went out with this guy, and at one point you actually cared for him, but things have gotten very strange. Don't blow your whole evening discussing your former relationship, but do let the new guy know that you've moved on.

If the player persists in popping up, contact the police and tell them what you've told me. In the meantime, avoid being alone with him at all costs. Take populated streets.

I'm not really equipped to tell you what to do when he forces a kiss on you (which qualifies as assault) in public, especially since you fear some sort of outburst if you protest. From what you said about avoiding a scene, I don't know that a straightforward approach would work (as in, "You know, I really cared about you, but it's over now. Don't kiss me.")

If any readers have experience with this kind of situation, I would really like to hear from them. Please leave a comment. I've asked my husband's opinion, and he doesn't like the sound of any of this.

Nobody should have to deal with this nonsense, G. I hope I've been able to offer some help.