Dear Amy: I have known my ex-husband, "Bart," for 30 years. We were married for 18 years and divorced six years ago.
He has lost all his money and has drained all of his friendships over money.
He is now coming to me for money.
Recently he was in a small car accident. The other driver called the police because my ex was driving without insurance.
I was at work and he called me screaming and crying, saying he was going further down the hole. He told me I was the only one he could come to.
He expected me to pay for car insurance ASAP and to get his car out of impound.
The next day I paid for car insurance, took him to the police station and I paid to get his car out of impound.
I can't afford either the emotional or the financial burden this is causing me. Yet whenever I say this he makes a veiled threat of having nothing left and no reason to live. I am tormented by the manipulation.
I divorced him to get away from this craziness and now he has shown up on my doorstep. I want to close and bolt the door.
Do you have any words of wisdom?
Upset Ex: You are kind and compassionate — that much is obvious. But other than delaying your ex’s spiral for a few weeks or months, what are you really doing for him? You describe this as “torment.” When you give in to his demands, you are really soothing your own anxiety, and trying to tamp down the torment. But you can’t.
“Bart” has trained you to comply when he emotionally manipulates you. Every time he succeeds, he feels better and you feel worse. Bart needs to be told that he has run out of options.
A social worker might be able to help him find affordable housing, financial services and advice. He could start with the local Office for the Aging. Pass along the phone number — do not do the work for him.
If you are at risk of emotional and financial exhaustion, then — yes — close and bolt the door, and block him from contacting you. Taking care of yourself means that you may have to say a firm and steadfast, “No. Not this time. I’m done.”
Dear Amy: I'm a widow and retired.
I keep myself busy with physical activities, volunteering and helping family and friends. I'm in great health with a normal BMI and do not look my age.
My issue is dating. I've had some nice men around my age take me out, but I declined the second date, knowing they are not who I want to be with or who I would introduce to my grown children.
At my age, I don't want to waste my time or theirs.
My last date, who was a little rough around the edges, talked a great talk, stated all the things we had in common (which were a lot), and why we were a good fit for lifetime companions.
I felt he came on too strong, and seeing a couple of minor red flags scared me off, so I followed my gut instinct and declined his second date.
Now I'm thinking that I was too hasty in my decision.
Should I contact him to pursue this relationship, or should I move on? This has been nagging at me. I could be out dancing instead of writing this!
Standards Too High?
Standards Too High: Too often, women ignore or override their own instincts, and then later wonder why they didn’t pay attention to their own good sense.
You shouldn’t conflate this rational choice you’ve made with having impossible standards. Trust your instincts!
True — oversharing and/or coming on too strong are also common “rookie” behaviors for people reentering the dating scene. You should keep all of this in mind, and if you decide to pursue this for a second date (not lifetime companionship), tread cautiously.
Dear Amy: It is great that "Anti-Potluck Guy" likes to provide all food for his guests, but some people prefer to share the work.
Why can't this guy simply offer to bring an appetizer, wine, rolls, etc., that he can pick up at the store?
In our family we prefer potluck, and for those people who either don't want to cook (or can't!) this works. I would rather enjoy the company than sit at home and sulk!
Potluck Fan: I agree. Thank you.