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September 26, 2018

Should I Reply to My Ex's Angry Email?

Hey, Bonita…

Heyyyyyy, Bonita,

I wrote to you a while back because I was dating a guy who had a lot of great qualities, but I wasn't attracted to him [“Should I Stay With My Great Guy Even Though There’s No Spark?”, Mar. 21]. You advised breaking up with him, and you were so right. I broke up with him and immediately felt better. I hadn't realized that being with him was bringing me down until I broke up with him and the spell was lifted. It hadn't been terrible, but once I stopped having to act more into him than I was, it felt like a light mist had suddenly lifted.

When I broke up with him over the phone, he didn't exactly try to talk me out of it, but the conversation did go on longer than seemed necessary to me, and longer than I would have liked. Whenever a guy has broken up with me, I've tried to say, “OK, got it, the end.” But this guy wanted to give a long rambling speech about how he wasn't going to get angry, try to change my mind or try to talk me out of it, but that he thought we had a real connection, and he didn't think he was imagining that, and he hoped I'd change my mind, and if I did, he'd be happy to hear from me.

Since then, he's emailed me a handful of times. Each time, it was just a one- or two-sentence email saying something to the effect of, "I hope you're having a good summer" or "I hope work is going well.” These emails all felt, to me, like an attempt to get back into my life and perhaps rekindle our relationship. I didn't want to rekindle the relationship, I didn't want to give him false hope, and, being just one sentence long and not asking a question, the emails didn't seem to call for an urgent response. After he sent the most recent email, about four days went by. I didn't respond, and he emailed me again. This email was short, but really sarcastic and ugly, "thanking" me for not responding to his previous emails.

My question: This angry email—and I always saw that he had some anger, which was one of my reservations about him, although it had never been directed at me before—felt like an escalation because I hadn't responded previously. Do I need to respond just saying, “I don't want to be in touch,” so it's on record that I've said that? Or is it wiser just to stay silent? I'm the littlest bit scared that he'll continue to escalate.

Thanks!

I find this unsettling, too. The bells started ringing for me when he responded to being dumped by talking about your “connection” and wanting another chance right after insisting that he wasn’t upset and would not ignore your “no.” He then proceeded to do exactly that, pretty much, by lashing out at you when you refused to humor him.

Nice Guy tactics like this are creepy as hell, dudes. You may not think you’re doing much by emailing your ex every time you think of her, but it’s really the social media equivalent to going to the coffee shop where she works every day and insisting it’s just because the place serves locally roasted beans.

When a person dumps you, it means they don’t want to have an intimate relationship with you, and communication is a form of intimacy. That is why you are not obligated to communicate with him in any way: because you’ve already told him as much. He needs to understand that.

I’d say it’s time to respond with a very short, very firm message that you don’t want to be in contact, because I agree, this feels like an escalation. Do it via email so you have it in writing, because we live in a sad world where you might need that record of communication one day.

Really, though, his escalating Nice Guy aggression and the idea that we’re awful bitches for being bothered by it—I’m sure there’s at least one of you out there thinking this—are borne of the misogyny and rape culture that we live in, so don’t come for me if this response seems too much.

Need advice? Email advice@flagpole.com, use our anonymous form, or find Bonita on Twitter: @flagpolebonita.

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