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Setting Boundaries With Your Ex-Boyfriend

man with two women

Learn how to cope if your ex-boyfriend isn't respecting your feelings or boundaries. Explore how to get the help that you need to establish boundaries and find your own happiness by asking an expert.

My Ex Boyfriend Doesn't Respect Boundaries

Reader Question

Hi, I have been in a relationship for six years and last month my man told me that he does not want to be with me anymore but he wants to still live with me to take care of the kids. I am so upset because he stays out mostly every Friday and when he comes in he act like nothing is wrong with that. I need help to let go. I really don't know what I want to do because I really love him and it hurts that he doesn't feel the same way about me. He is having sex with an older woman who is married and her husband sleeps on the couch. I can't live like this! He thinks that he is supposed to live here and I don't think it is fair for me to be going through these things. Can you please help me?~~Kima

Expert Reply

Dear Kima,

Your relationship with your man has changed from boyfriend and girlfriend to roommates. Since you are now roommates, I am guessing that he doesn't feel he owes you an explanation for his behavior or his whereabouts. This would explain why he doesn't think there is anything wrong with going out all night on Fridays. He also knows that you love him, and therefore, are willing to tolerate his inappropriate behaviors. As long as you allow your heart to rule your head, not only will he take advantage of your generosity, but there is no reason for him to change.

The fact that he is having sex with a married woman and her husband is willing to tolerate her behavior (he sleeps on the couch), your ex boyfriend doesn't have to worry about another woman making demands that he change either. This is why he comes back home. What do you think would happen if she told him she was getting a divorce to be with him? My guess is he would dump her and look for someone less demanding.

From where I stand, the only two people who are benefiting from your situation are your man and the woman he is sleeping with. As long as you aren't willing to do anything to change the situation, you and your children will continue to remain on the losing end. You don't say if you are financially dependent on this man, or if he is dependent on you for housing. This information would be helpful as it would explain another reason the two of you have the living arrangement the way you do.

If you don't like the dance, change the step. The advantage your man has is that you are willing to follow his lead. If you want to dance to a different beat, you are going to have to take the lead back. Before acting without a plan, I would suggest you talk with a clergy, mental health specialist or a counselor. This person would not only help you to understand and work through all the positive and negative feelings you have for your man, but can also help you come up with a plan for how to change things. For example, you say that he wants to live with you in order to help care for the kids. If his relationship with them is good, this could be of help to you. If this is the case, negotiating childcare would allow you to explore other housing arrangements, locate alternative childcare and most importantly, give you time to develop a network of support so that you are not so dependent.

The professional could also help you explore and understand the behaviors you do that enable your man to take advantage of you and disrespect your boundaries. By changing these behaviors you will become stronger and more independent. Most men are attracted to a woman who is a challenge. If this is the case in your relationship, your man may even find the 'new you' is exciting and more attractive and as a result change his philandering ways.


Setting Boundaries With Your Ex-Boyfriend