Dear Dr. Love:Three years ago when I was still in high school I went out with a guy for almost a year. During that year he cheated on me, left me for someone else, lied to me and scared me. I don’t get scared by a man, but he made me tremble when he would get mad. I would never know if her was going to hit me or not, thank goodness he never did.Later that year at graduation we left on good terms, he was going into the navy and I was still in school, but there was a promise of coming back to see me. He came back 2 times over the next two years. The second time he swore that he would come to my graduation cause he knew it meant a lot to me, on my big day he pulled a no show. Now four months after graduation he sends me a letter saying he misses me and he wants to get back together and explain things.I made him explain things on the phone and he gave be a bunch of sad stories about the wrong woman and I was the only one for him. Then the next weekend he came here to see me. Not too good. He was begging me to come back to him and I kept telling him that I was happy, satisfied and content with the man I have now. And he keeps telling me how he’s changed and stuff and how he still carries my present with him everywhere he goes. And now my boyfriend is pretty upset that he had the nerve to come here and see me and he’s a little upset that I couldn’t just tell him off, or leave things unfinished.I’m pretty confused. My current boyfriend asked me to marry him not too long before the ex came into town so I know that there is no way that I’m going to leave him, but what can I do about the ex, he isn’t getting the idea that things aren’t going to be the same as the way they were before. I don’t miss him at all after all that he’s done to me. How do I get him out of my life forever without being too mean, cause I’m not the mean type of person? And still keep my man from wondering if I will ever leave him for my ex?Signed —- Torn Apart
From the way your letter reads, you think it would be mean to tell your old boyfriend to kiss off. I think you are not clear on the difference between being direct and being mean. This man abused you, terrified you, stood you up and now he expects you to take him back. Give me a break. He acts like a two year old who threw all kinds of tantrums and still expects his mommy to whip out her breast.Well, you’re not his mommy. And, part of his growing up means that he must take responsibility for his actions. His actions were mean. . . not yours. Because you think its mean to curtail contact, I’m afraid he’s getting mixed messages from you (maybe, after all, you will take him back). So, he keeps calling you. Now, your boyfriend is starting to worry that you still have feelings for this other guy. If you don’t take a stand with the old lover, you could jeopardize your current relationship.As far as I’m concerned, telling your old boyfriend that his previous behavior has closed the door to a future with you is factual and honest, not mean. He must face the music regarding his awful behavior. Helping him to take responsibility for his actions and grow-up is the kindest thing you can do for him.If I were you I would say: ‘Are you surprised that the door to a relationship with me is closed?’ When he says he’s changed, you can say, ‘ That’s nice. But, I can’t change how I feel about how you treated me. ‘ Firm and direct. You can wish him luck in his next relationship. Losing you will be the best growth experience of his life. And, if he suffers a bit, he will think twice before abusing his next girlfriend. Be firm, be honest, be direct. . . be nice to this guy and to his next lover.