In Your Eyes, He’s Irritating

My ex is starting to call me again. He calls me up and starts to play a Jimmy Eat World song at full blast that he used to say made him think of me. Afterward, I hear three long breaths, and then he hangs up on me. All I did was ask a mutual friend about him, so how do I get him to leave me alone? -Annoyed Ex

Well, there’s the simple, technological answer: You block his calls, either automatically through your phone system or with the power of your mind when you see his number. But I think what you’re really asking for here is an overall assessment of the situation and its inherent oddness. What’s behind his behavior? Is this about his undying devotion? Revenge? Boredom? The prelude to a prank reality show? Only you — because you know him — can have an inkling of the answer.

Back to the question you pretended you were asking. If it makes you truly uncomfortable, take the opportunity in those three long breaths to say clearly and firmly, “Please stop calling me. I will no longer pick up the phone.” And then follow suit, blocking his calls if need be.

This Time You’re Cheating Yourself

My first boyfriend cheated on me, my second boyfriend was seeing other people, and then my family found out that my dad had been cheating on my mom. I’ve become increasingly anxious about relationships with guys, to the point where I stress over ones I’m not even sure I’m interested in. I tend to not believe guys are actually interested in me, which leads me to seem needy. How do I just relax? -Anxious

You describe a common pattern, and it happens to people in lots of situations, not just romantic relationships. Anytime we overthink something, whether it’s a free throw or a medical diagnosis, we’re bound to dig ourselves into an anxiety-ridden hole.

Therapy can help you climb out of that hole. You need to learn to build yourself up and increase your trust in guys. You also need to be able to gain trust in yourself and in the fact that you deserve a good man. People who are stuck in their heads about something can learn to be mindful in the moment through cognitive-behavioral techniques. So, see someone (professionally). It will help you immensely for when you see someone (romantically).

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