Ask Helen: Dating world

Dear Helen:

I recently broke up with my boyfriend of five years. We met freshman year, dated all through college and the first year of relocation and jobs. We lived together for the last two. I got a big promotion and he was in a dead-end job. I watched him become increasingly depressed, angry, jealous and controlling. Long story short, I saw signs of serious instability and possessiveness that scared me. I tried to put a happy face on things for a long time, and then tried to get him into counseling, but he refused. I told him we were done after moving out everything I cared about while he was at work. He got really angry, but my father (a retired police officer) was waiting in the car for me so nothing bad happened. But he leaves me drunken messages, begging and threatening. He doesn’t know where I live, but he knows where I work, and we have socialized with my colleagues in the past. I have told him again and again to please get help, but he just laughs. What else can I do?


Dear Done:

In the spirit of the recent High Holidays, you should forgive him his transgressions. But, most importantly, you should focus on taking care of yourself because you are not going to fix him. If you really think there’s potential for violence, get a restraining order. Sadly, it won’t protect you much except legally, but will serve notice that you are very serious about this decision. Back it up by having your father deliver him a copy.

If you have not already done so, do all of the following: Change your phone number(s). Unfriend him on any social networks. Post something that your remaining friends can see that says you are quits and ask they please not to discuss any details of your new life with him, especially your address and phone. Tell the old landlord about the restraining order and explain that he should not relay information about you. Make sure your ex is removed as an “in case of emergency call” person on anything you’ve signed in the last five years. Hopefully you haven’t cosigned for any loans. If so, talk to the bank about untangling. Add some extra locks to your new door, at your own expense if necessary. Avoid places where he might confront you.

Sadly, he will likely obsess until he finds someone new. But since you are not able to give him more than compassion and the space to heal, put your energy and focus into protecting yourself.

A resident of Eugene since 1981, Helen is a member of Temple Beth Israel, where she studies and speaks on Torah. She claims to have black belts in schmoozing, problem-solving and chutzpah. She’s a writer and an artist ( Please email your questions to

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