Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“How Do I Get My Ex To Stay Away From Me?”

My ex-boyfriend and I are supposed to be good friends. We have helped each other through hard times, and I even let him rent a room in my home until he could get on his feet. He recently moved out at my request as he seemingly never planned on leaving and I could not get on with my life. Regardless, we have remained good friends and he still comes over sometimes and helps me with my property, etc. He claims that I am the best friend he has ever had and never wants to lose that relationship.

My neighbors across the street are also friendly with both of us and have lots of “get togethers” at their home with 15-20 people. Last week, when my ex came to help me with some things around my house, the neighbors invited him to a sit-down intimate dinner of six with all single guys and all single girls. He didn’t tell me about the party until the day of, parked in my driveway and went to the party telling me it was a get-together and not mentioning it was an intimate dinner for singles. My neighbors never mentioned it to me either.

I was upset. I felt it was in poor taste seeing that I live here and I help them all the time and my feelings were never even considered. I chalked it up to them not using good judgment, but before my ex went to the party I told him that this was not a good thing to start doing as I have to live here, not him. He walked out my back door and went to the party anyway and said he’d come back and say bye before he went home. Well, he stayed for three hours, and then left without even coming back as promised. I called him while he was still driving home and he said he didn’t know it was a dinner and that he doesn’t even know the names of the two single women at the table. Really??

I know it may sound like I’m jealous, but I’m not. I am over him and he may do as he pleases, but I don’t think he is a friend. I would have never accepted an invitation from the neighbor’s across from his house that he is friendly with and park my car in his driveway and then go anyway when I saw how much it upset him. Basically, I feel that my so-called friend is not my friend. He is self-absorbed and used the opportunity to hurt me. The friendship is over for me, but how do I keep him from coming over to my neighbor’s house for parties like these? I just want him to stay away from me and my neighborhood. Was it in poor judgment for my neighbors to do this? Should he have declined the invitation and kept our friendship intact? — Friends and Neighbors

Yeah, you do sound jealous and that’s probably because you are. Maybe you’re jealous that your ex was having an “intimate” dinner with some single ladies. Maybe you’re jealous that your neighbors invited him to this mixer instead of you. Most likely, it’s a combination of both, and that’s fine. People get jealous. It’s a totally normal and natural emotion, and the better you get at acknowledging it in yourself, the easier it is to move past and continue having healthy relationships/friendships with people. If I were you, I’d practice saying to myself, “Oh, hi there, jealousy. I see you. I hope you aren’t planning to stick around too long because, honey, I’ve got things to do and people to see.” Don’t let jealousy ruin your plans. Don’t let jealousy keep you inside on a lovely night stalking your ex’s car in your driveway, waiting to see whether he’s going to come in to say good-night to you or leave in his car with someone else.

All that said, perhaps instead of calling it quits with your ex in the friendship department, you ought to establish some clear boundaries. After all, if he’s been as helpful around your place as you say he has and you enjoy his company, are you really going to end things because he had the nerve to accept an invitation to a dinner party you were not invited to? That’s a really childish reason to dump a friend. Like, really childish. True, it was rude of him to park his car in your driveway, but if that’s the pattern that’s always been established, it’s understandable why he’d think it would be OK.

It seems to me that the people you should really be hurt by are your neighbors. Obviously, they seem to favor your ex over you. They hosted a party for singles and rather than invite you, a single neighbor who lives right across the street who “helps them all the time,” they chose to include your ex, someone who no longer lives in the neighborhood. That has to sting, and I understand why your feelings would be hurt. But it’s not your ex’s fault. He didn’t ask to be invited instead of you. And if he’s accepted all their other invitations to get-togethers in the past and you’ve always been OK with him being there, and you two are friendly and hang out together a lot, why would he assume you would have a problem with him going to dinner over there? And when he did learn that the news upset you, the party was just about to begin. He was already parked in your driveway! Was he really supposed to call up your neighbors and back out at the last minute when they could see plain as day that he was already there, parked right across the street?!

You know, on second thought, maybe you should stop being friends with this guy. Not because he did anything terribly wrong, but because you clearly are not in an emotional place to have a true friendship with him. Healthy friendships are not as possessive as yours is with him. You need to work out whatever lingering feelings you still have for him before you can move on and be on strictly platonic terms. Maybe that will never happen, I don’t know. But until it does, I’d recommend telling him you need space and that he shouldn’t stop by your home anymore or park in your driveway. Just don’t be surprised if you start seeing his car in your neighbor’s driveway instead and you’re no longer invited to any of their get-togethers in the future. If they’re going to be forced to pick sides, it seems pretty obvious already whose side they’ve chosen…

And no, you can’t keep your ex away from your neighborhood. I’m pretty sure restraining orders are not given out to people who simply accept dinner invitations across the street from their former residences.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

41 comments… add one
  • Desiree June 17, 2011, 8:15 am

    You aren’t over him. Doesn’t make you a bad person, but it is something you need to come to terms with. Your reaction is to end the friendship (which you can do I guess, if you really want to). A less drastic response would be, “Hey, I never had the time to heal from this relationship and create the distance we need to be friends. I need to have some of that distance now.” This is rational; how could you and your ex move on while *living together*? But now that you are separated, it is important to realize that you are not such a big priority anymore for him. Men will do all sorts of things to keep a girlfriend happy that they will not do for a female friend. This is normal, but it requires an adjustment for you.

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  • kerrycontrary June 17, 2011, 8:43 am

    Couldn’t say it better myself Wendy! And I agree with Desiree, this girl never had distance to get over the Ex. I sincerely believe everyone needs that time of ZERO communication before you can start the friends phase.

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  • PFG-SCR June 17, 2011, 9:19 am

    I agree with Wendy, except the part about being upset with your neighbors. You’ve stated that they’re friends with him, as well. There’s nothing wrong with mutual friends making plans together that don’t always include you. Yes, it happened to be a dinner party for singles, but he _is_ single, and for whatever reason, they chose to invite him. Their reasons for asking him, and his reasons for going, aren’t something you have a say in, and just because they asked/he went, doesn’t mean that he was trying to hurt you.

    I agree with Desiree that you’re not over him yet – why else would you be upset that he went to a singles’ dinner party, didn’t stop in to say good-bye and ask him about the women there? You’ve gotten extremely hurt at something that had no malicious intent on his part, which happens when you’re still emotionally vested. You should get some distance between the two of you. I don’t necessarily think you need to cut off all contact entirely, but it shouldn’t be much, and neither of you should be doing things for one another that a significant other would do.

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    • AnitaBath June 17, 2011, 1:46 pm

      It seems like it would make the singles party kind of awkward if you throw exes into the mix.

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    • Spark June 18, 2011, 9:57 am

      My thought was that perhaps they’d already invited the other girls and thought that the guy might make a great match for one of them! I don’t think they invited him maliciously.

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  • Callifax June 17, 2011, 9:26 am

    Can I just say, LW, that you are WAY over-reacting?

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  • Mainer June 17, 2011, 9:41 am

    Dinner party for six, all singles, and they invited him rather than you. Ever think that maybe they just needed one extra guy to cover the six, and rather than invited the both of you and having seven girls and six guys, they just chose to reach out to a guy they knew was single?

    You’re not friends with your ex. That’s something people say when they don’t want to let go of a person but the relationship has ended anyway. “Friends” don’t get the urge to end a friendship because one person didn’t say “bye” at the end of the night, and they don’t get the urge to end a friendship because one is exploring the prospect of dating. If you truly want to be “friends” with your ex – actual friends – then you need to give yourself some time to let go of some feelings you are still holding on to. Get out there and start dating, don’t invite him over, and just put a little more distance between you two. You need to take some active efforts to move on with your life rather than just thinking it will happen one day.

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    • TheGirl June 17, 2011, 10:13 am

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason they invited him and not her is that they had someone specifically in mind that they wanted him to meet.

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      • SpaceySteph June 17, 2011, 10:16 am

        I was thinking that. They didn’t want to invite her because it would be weird for him to meet this new girl with his ex sitting right there.

      • Painted_lady June 17, 2011, 12:26 pm

        My thought was, she wanted him to get on with his life and made him move out, they’ve offered him a really concrete way of getting on with his life – another woman – and she’s angry? You don’t get to pick and choose the way an ex gets on with his life.

    • LTC039 June 17, 2011, 4:54 pm

      I agree with every single comment on this exchange. That’s why I don’t think people can be true friends after they break up. If that’s ever possible, it’ll only work out if its years down the line…

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    leilani June 17, 2011, 9:53 am

    You can be jealous or possessive even if you don’t want to be with a person. It seems like you would be over this guy if he wasn’t in your life anymore, but its bound to grate on your nerves to see your ex going to singles events right in front of you. Would this have bothered nearly as much if it was just a friend that you had absolutely no attraction to, rather than your ex? Since you say you’re not interested in a friendship with him anymore, I’d just tell him that and stop communicating with him. You obviously can’t stop from from going to your neighbors’ house if they choose to invite him, and I think confronting your neighbors would be extremely ridiculous. You can tell them that you don’t get along with your ex so you would prefer if they don’t invite you both to the same events, but what they do with that information is up to them.

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  • cdobbs June 17, 2011, 10:01 am

    Wow, jealous much? shouldn’t you be happy for your “friend” that he has the opportunity to meet other singles and possibly start a new relationship. classic example of how some people just aren’t mature enough to remain friends after a break-up. i think you are just jealous that you weren’t invited, but did you ever stop to think that your neighbours had specific people in mind to set up and they wanted an intimate setting so the singles had a chance to get to know each other. not everything is about you…get over it!

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    • melikeycheesecake June 17, 2011, 10:45 am

      While I agree with what you’re trying to say… I think the purple thumbs are because you come off harsh. Granted she may be acting childish but It’s hard to let go of an ex… I know I’ve been there.

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        TaraMonster June 17, 2011, 10:58 am

        And this line: “some people just aren’t mature enough to remain friends after a break-up.”

        Maturity isn’t always the deciding factor in an amicable break up, especially if they were quite serious about each other, which it sounds like. The problem is that she hasn’t given herself space to heal and regroup, which she needs to do asap.

    • LTC039 June 17, 2011, 10:59 am

      I’m pretty sure had you been in the LW’s position, you would be bothered, even the smallest bit & honestly if you say otherwise, you’re lieing. Yes, I agree she is being immature, but no need to bash her. It is her EX-bf & those are her neighbors after all! Like I said before, people should not be friends with their exes right off the bat. In most cases, it doesn’t turn out well. Nothing wrong with it. She just needs to get new friends, & she should’ve realized that by now, because I guarrantee if she had plans that night, she wouldn’t of even remembered that her ex was supposed to go over to say bye, & she certainly wouldn’t be so upset she wasn’t invited.

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  • oldie June 17, 2011, 10:10 am

    Yes, it’s definitely jealousy, of what is less clear — that the ex ‘stole’ the neighbors as friends, that the ex might get a new gf, that the ex has a social life and she doesn’t? Why blame the neighbors. Perhaps they had a female friend they thought was perfect for the ex and arranged the dinner with that in mind. Perhaps they were just balancing the sexes at the table, although I lean toward attempted matchmaking. Why didn’t ex park at neighbor’s house? I suspect ex didn’t stop back to say goodbye because of combination of later than he expected and guilty to have been in matchmaking situation. Perhaps he even hit it off with one of the single women. The neighbors may well include LW in another dinner for young single friends.

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  • SGMcG June 17, 2011, 10:15 am

    I can understand why LW is upset. Her ex was invited to a party and utilized her property as a parking lot. Yet her ex probably didn’t respect her boundaries only because she failed to fully establish and enforce them. It is a reasonable expectation that if he moved out of the property, he’s not to utilize the property again without her expressed invitation. By inviting him over to help around the house, he never really had the chance to establish himself to a new neighborhood. LW, do yourself (and him!) a favor and ask for more distance between the two of you – get your key back (if you haven’t) and tell him to stay away from you and your home for a bit.

    That being said, the fact that he was invited over to a dinner party of singles by your neighbors and you were not? If those neighbors established a separate friendship with him, outside of you, then it stands to reason that not being invited to a party is a scenario that may happen again. It is an unreasonable expectation that your ex and your neighbors stop being friends – because they are YOUR neighbors only now, not his. Just because they are no longer his neighbor, doesn’t mean that he is no longer their friend. Your neighbors had nothing to do with the breakup. Although it hurts being snubbed by them, it’s petty to expect of them to choose sides.

    I think LW, you need to have a good long hard look at yourself and your relationship with your ex and your neighbors. Evaluate what you feel are your expectations. Then evaluate those expectations and determine what is reasonable to do and what is unreasonable to ask. Once you get those clear, your actions should be reflected accordingly.

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  • Melanie June 17, 2011, 10:17 am

    I once dated a guy that I didn’t have any feelings for. It wasn’t my proudest moment but it was a rebound relationship that snow balled. Once I worked out that I never felt anything for him and never would feel anything for him, I broke up with him. We decided to remain friends and I felt like he often crossed the line by hanging out with my friends when I wasn’t around. I will absolutely admit that I was jealous but it wasn’t because I wasn’t over him; I genuinely never felt for him in the first place (I realize that’s awful). He started to have feelings for one of my close female friends and I went crazy on him. Jealousy is really a strange emotion. I guess the point of my story is that rejection is the strongest aphrodisiac. When I felt like I was being rejected by him for my friends, it suddenly sparked something in me that wasn’t there before. Since I felt jealousy I thought maybe I actually had genuine feelings for him and we decided to give it another try. We dated for about a month and I realized I still didn’t have any genuine feelings for him. We broke up again and decided to not be close friends this time. It doesn’t necessarily mean ‘she’s not over him’. I think people just feel a sense of possessiveness when a relationship was involved (regardless of how healthy or unhealthy that may be).

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    • Calliopedork June 17, 2011, 3:19 pm

      I agree. She could be fully over him but still not want to share things she views as hers. Like “her” neighbors and social life. Its petty and jealous but ending her friendship with him because she feels he has overstepped boundaries is within her rights

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  • LTC039 June 17, 2011, 9:29 am

    aaaaaaand this is why people should NOT be friends with their exes until WAYYY after they have broken up (if even necessary!).
    You’re hurt, you’re jealous, & most likely not completely over him.
    Get. New. Friends.

    PS. You’re being childish, if you can’t deal with this friendship, DON’T.

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  • SpaceySteph June 17, 2011, 10:30 am

    Two thoughts on this one….
    1. Imagine if you wrote this about a guy friend, instead of your ex boyfriend. Your guy friend is nice enough to help you with your house. Your guy friend lived with you for awhile and became friendly with your neighbors. Your guy friend stopped by your house on his way to a singles meet up at your neighbors house and you got mad at him for going to a party you weren’t invited to. Then you called him after to check up on him?
    If this guy were just a friend, you would never think you had the right to dictate his friendship with your neighbors, his party-going, or anything else. So obviously your past relationship with this guy is encroaching on your ability to have a friendship with him. Which brings me to…
    2. DO NOT STAY FRIENDS WITH YOUR EX. Even in the most amicable break-up, both parties need a little time to move on, get their lives in order, get control of their emotions. I’m not saying you can never be friends with an ex, but I really think its necessary to do that after a period of no contact (or as little contact as possible). Otherwise you transfer from the romantic feelings to the friendship feelings, essentially carrying on the emotional relationship you used to have, just without the physical part. Not a good idea.

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    • Dani1987 June 17, 2011, 10:54 am

      RE: #1 THIS. The LW needs to start treating the ex like any of her other friends. If she can’t muddle through the jealousy and other break-up feelings for a little while (without making a bad deal about incidents like this), then maybe she should see less of this guy until she’s truly moved on.

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  • Maracuya June 17, 2011, 10:32 am

    I feel like this topic is going to burn out quickly because everything’s been said.

    It’s clear you’re not over him–in whatever fashion that may mean to you. Yes, it was rude of him to use your driveway as a parking spot but even if he hadn’t you’d still be unhappy. It’s a combination of things–your ex meeting new women across the street and the ensuing possibility that he may be hanging out across the street ALL THE TIME with his new girlfriend, your neighbors inviting him but forgetting you (when maybe you were even friends with them before him, I don’t know), you feeling left out and not being over him. You never even mentioned in the letter whose decision it was to end the relationship. I think you need to put some distance between you two if you ever want to move on and truly be “just friends.”

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  • silver_dragon_girl June 17, 2011, 10:43 am

    There’s no law that says you need to stay friends with your exes to prove that you’re over them, or mature enough to put that phase of your life behind you, or self-actualized enough to just “be happy that they’re happy.” Seriously. I really want to know when and where this whole “stay friends with your ex” idea got started.

    I’ve tried it twice and it failed both times. Maybe after a couple years of having no contact you can resume a cordial, casual friendship– IF both parties are with other people.

    I know some people on here are going to tell stories about maintaining friendships with their ex-SOs, and that’s great. I’m happy for you. But I firmly believe that in the vast majority of cases, it’s not going to work. Which sucks, but there you go.

    So, LW, as everyone else has said, get yourself some distance from this guy. Tell him you need some space, tell him you can’t be friends after all, tell him whatever you need to to get him out of your life for a while, and then move on. Alone.

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    • Kate June 17, 2011, 10:44 am

      Agreed! 100%.

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      caitie_didn't June 17, 2011, 11:08 am

      So, so, so agree! Sometimes the more mature and responsible thing to do is to NOT remain friends and recognize that your lives need to move in separate directions.

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    • Amy June 17, 2011, 11:19 am

      Perfect! Perfect! Perfect!

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    • MsMisery June 17, 2011, 11:34 am

      Amen, sistahgurl. I pretend my exes move to Norway. Or die in their sleep. I can’t do the friend thing.

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      • silver_dragon_girl June 17, 2011, 11:53 am

        Sidebar- One of my friends met a guy online and they were talking/flirting via IM for a while. Not sure if they ever got together or not, but he disappeared after a while and his explanation was that he “went to Asia.” No details other than that for months. So now whenever a guy pulls a fade out or a disappearing act we say he went to Asia.

        But I like Norway too!

      • MsMisery June 17, 2011, 12:18 pm

        That’s hilarious (you know, now… probably wasn’t at the time).

  • Dani1987 June 17, 2011, 10:45 am

    These sorts of things are bound to happen when you and your ex have mutual friends (even if you and the ex are no longer friends). One my exes, who I didn’t wish to remain in close contact with, was friends with my (at-that-time) housemate. Talk about awkward. You have to accept that you can’t control what other people do or who they choose to be friends with. If you and your ex are still on good terms, don’t let silly things like contests over who your friends are closer to stand in the way. No one in this situation seems like they intended to hurt or alienate you. There’s no way to tell the ex and the neighbors to stop seeing each other. Of course, you could choose to stop spending time with the ex and/or the neighbors, but I hope you don’t. Any lingering break-ups feelings will blow over soon enough, and you’ll be glad you didn’t burn bridges over this.

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  • sarolabelle June 17, 2011, 10:08 am

    If your ex boyfriend were a woman and wasn’t your ex boyfriend would you really care about all this stuff? I would sure hope not. Sure, you might be a little jealous that you weren’t invited to the party but to end your friendship over this is just not called for.

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  • Amy June 17, 2011, 11:16 am

    Regarding the snub from your neighbors…. sometimes a breakup is a perfect opportunity to see who your real friends are. Treasure the real friends and accept that some of those you thought were closer friends weren’t. Don’t feel too bad about it either – after the initial sting of realizing a friendship is less than you thought – it’s relieving and freeing to KNOW who your real friends are.

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  • Lindsay June 17, 2011, 11:30 am

    This is the problem with being friends with exes. Sometimes it’s not established what’s appropriate or not or who is over something or not because you both act like everything is great and there are no hard feelings. I agree that it was in bad taste that he did this. But if everything else in your friendship implies that everything is peachy, then he may not realize that he’s still in the ex category. Either way, I think it’s time for you both to back off a little. Learn to do things around the house yourself. You’ll feel accomplished and you won’t have to rely on him coming around all the time.

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  • AKchic June 17, 2011, 1:41 pm

    You can’t make him stop associating with the neighbors. You can, however, stop allowing him to park in your driveway. That means stop using him as your handyman for YOUR projects on YOUR house.

    Yes, you were jealous. You need to admit it before you can get over it and move on. Your neighbors invited your single ex-boyfriend over to their singles mixer, and not you – their single neighbor. Maybe they see your ex-boyfriend doing so much work on the place, and saw him living there for so long that they assumed that the place was his? It is possible. Give the neighbors the benefit of the doubt. Especially since you have to live near these people for a while.

    In the mean time – only talk to your ex in public venues. The store, mutual friends’ parties. That sort of thing. No more getting him to be your personal handyman. No more visits to your place. You aren’t his best friend and he isn’t yours. Move on. Maybe a new hobby?

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  • Princess Bananahammock June 17, 2011, 2:00 pm

    I agree with other posters that it would be wise to cut off contact, at least for a while. But, if you choose to ignore this advice (which I expect you will), you need to institute some serious boundaries.

    What really stuck out to me is that he comes around the house to help out. That is a very *boyfriendy* thing to do. I don’t care how much he offers and says its no problem, your ex-boyfriend CANNOT be your support system. However you managed to maintain/repair your house before he was around – do that. Maybe that means hiring someone, maybe you call your brother, maybe you learn to do it yourself. But, your ex-boyfriend can no longer fill this role. Same goes for any other boyfriendy stuff he’s doing for you.

    Along the same lines, your ex can’t just show up whenever he wants and use your driveway. He doesn’t live there anymore. If this friendship has any chance of lasting without horrendous amounts of drama, you need to set boundaries and keep them.

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  • BGD June 17, 2011, 2:44 pm

    OMG this sounds like my ex… but…. I wasn’t friends with mine, actually had a restraining order against him for stalking and over 3 years later he is still at my neighbors house with his kids and he tries to contact me every 6 months (which I ignore). The courts wouldn’t keep the restraining order active because it was “just a bad breakup”. There is no reason to stay friends with an ex, they are an ex for a reason. And just so you know… its not going to get any easier with the neighbors so just prepare yourself to either move (I can’t afford to sell my house so I understand the difficulty) or just deal with how awkward it will be. They are obviously as clingy as he is if they think it is at all appropriate to continue to have him there when YOUR the one who lives in the neighborhood not him. Cut off the friendship and move on… but your going to need to grow a thicker skin. Its tough, I feel for you. But hang in there. 🙂

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    • oldie June 17, 2011, 3:27 pm

      I think you’re confusing your situation with LW’s. The neighbors know that the ex lived with LW after the breakup, know that he still frequently visits LW and helps around the house, so it is not like they’re encouraging a stalking ex into the neighborhood.

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  • Phoenix June 17, 2011, 7:42 pm

    Bullshit! My former bf and I split up while we still had 11 months left on our most recent lease, and I would never have treated him like this. Even when you break up it doesn’t mean you are over all of the feelings you previously had. It simply means that you have accepted that you aren’t the best partners for each other. In order for the feeling to be resolved and put to rest there must be time and separation.
    My former partner and I never had a “serious discussion” but we both knew we would need time and space to heal. We remained friends while in the same house. Once he moved out I started thinking about dating.
    I would never have wanted him to have to see my new dates. He may have dated other people for all I know, but I didn’t ask. None of my business!
    So I didn’t date or have sex for 14 months. Who cares? It was probably best for my healing.
    Why is it okay for him to date in her backyard? It is insensitive if not impolite.

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  • Yammy June 18, 2011, 1:12 am

    I kind of hate to admit it, but I probably would have reacted in a similar fashion. I agree with Wendy and the previous posters that you definitely need some distance from this guy.

    As for the neighbors, try not to take it too hard that they didn’t invite you to their dinner party. It was probably just a guy/girl ratio type thing. You can’t stop them from having your ex over, but you can close your blinds, and open a good book, or go out on the town, or enjoy some other hobby. I won’t pretend like it will be easy to ignore that feeling in the pit of your stomach when he’s over there, but it will go away with time. Just focus on you, the good things about yourself, and whatever activity you happen to be enjoying, and before you know it, you won’t even notice when his car pulls into thier drive.

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