Everything is perfect except for his terrible ex (whom he has an 8-year-old son with) who still controls his life and tries to make him miserable any chance she can because she is miserable. She uses their son as a pawn, and it is heartbreaking because he is such a great dad although in her eyes he can never do anything right and nothing is ever good enough.
My boyfriend pays child support and is court-ordered to have his son every other weekend, but she only lets him see their son when it works with her schedule (which is almost never). He pays child support as well as pays for day care, summer camp, and karate class, and he barely sees his child. He knows he should take her back to court but he doesn’t want to stir the pot, so he tries to be nice and puts up with her craziness to try to keep the peace. They have been broken up for over a year and a half but she is always in his business, always texting him throughout the day/night, etc. He got his son a cell phone so he wouldn’t have to deal with her so much, but it doesn’t end.
I also have an irrational fear of his getting back together with her for their son’s sake. Although he makes it clear he can’t stand her, they did breakup/get back together several times in the past to try to make it work for their son. I have yet to meet his son because SHE is not ready – mind you, my boyfriend has never introduced his son to another woman ever, but she has introduced their son to numerous boyfriends of hers.
I have bitten my tongue this whole time and have never brought up how I feel or how anxious the situation makes me, but it has really been bothering me the last few days to the point where my depression is popping up. Just the thought of talking to my boyfriend about it gives me major anxiety, ugh. — Biting My Tongue
Right now your biggest problem is not the terrible ex or your fear that your boyfriend will get back with her; your biggest problem is the anxiety keeping you from the most essential part of a healthy and happy relationship: communication. It sounds like anxiety is a very big problem for you — to the point that you feel anxious about the situation your boyfriend is in, you feel anxious about the thought of talking to him about it, and you are so bothered by all of this, you’re getting depressed.
This is bigger than an advice columnist can help with. Are you in therapy? Do you get treatment for your anxiety and depression? These are real issues that will continue keeping you from reaching your full potential in all areas of your life if you leave them untreated. There are no magic words I have for you that are going to solve this. There is no script I can give for talking to your boyfriend that will eliminate the anxiety you feel about doing so. If even the thought of talking to him — your friend of 17 years — is making you feel sick with dread, a script is not going to be enough to counteract that.
The good news is that there IS treatment for anxiety. There are ways you can mitigate your anxiety — talk therapy, meditation, medication, herbal remedies, yoga and other types of exercise, diet, visualization, making lists, journaling, workbooks, etc. There are lots of self-help books that offer advice for dealing with anxiety. Here’s one that has great reviews, and the title was the immediate response I had when I read your letter.
It may be that this isn’t the best time for you to pursue a relationship, particularly with someone whose lifestyle threatens you/your emotional wellbeing. Maybe the thing to tell him is that you struggle with anxiety and you think the stress of transitioning your friendship into a relationship at the same time that he’s dealing with a particularly high-maintenance ex-wife and an unfair custody arrangement has exacerbated it and you’d like to put the romantic part of your relationship on hold while you work on addressing your anxiety and he works on creating some boundaries with his ex-wife that don’t threaten his relationship with his child.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.