Ex-lover Won't Leave
Q: After two months of dating a fellow that I really liked, I let him move into my house. Then he quit his job and sat around all day playing video games. Every time he came home from a job interview, he would have an excuse as to why he didn't like it. Then it got really bad: he started yelling at my 16-year-old son, saying he was lazy. Sure, he could be sometimes, but what teenager isn't? My son does a lot around the house and when my boyfriend would tell him to do more he would. Then when he would, my boyfriend came up with something new to complain about. Could he have been jealous of my son? He was also very cold all the time but when I would break up with him he would be nice to me and my son. Then he'd go back to his old ways. When I would break with him, he wouldn't even leave. Was I too nice? Should I have just thrown his stuff out the door? This went on for a year. I wanted your advice so something like this doesn't happen again with someone else. -- Jane
Dr. Susan: Of course you never meant to, but you invited an abusive freeloader into your home. From now on, take your time getting to know a guy before committing to any long-term arrangements. People think living together is easy, and easy to get out of. As you found out, it can be quite the opposite.
Why would it matter if your lover was jealous of your son? He behaved boorishly and selfishly, and he was cold. Who needs that? If someone refuses to leave when you ask him to, get someone (big and strong) to stay right there with you while you insist the guy get out. Throwing his stuff out the door should be a last resort. First, be absolutely sure of your own mind and of what you deserve. This guy sensed your ambivalence. He knew you'd give him more chances to use you. He was right. You weren't just "nice," you were a pushover. The minute he started yelling at your son, it was time to call a big family meeting and set some rules about who gets to discipline your son and how. Video games for a year? Did he at least make dinner and clean the toilet? (I thought not.)
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.