"I have a rather odd question. I’ve been seeing a guy for about a year now. I say seeing because we’re not technically dating. We hook up, we go out, he spends the night here or vice versa occasionally (one to two times a week). The issue is his ex. They lived together when we first hooked up, but they moved out of their shared apartment in March. He moved in with a friend of mine, she moved about an hour away. They still hung out occasionally, no big deal. He seemed reluctant to cut her off completely, but claims he doesn’t want a relationship with her. His roommate (also a close friend of mine) has confirmed that there’s been no “hanky panky” that he knows of, though I wouldn’t really have minded if there was, so long as he was honest with me about it. He and I have a pretty open arrangement, and I’m not really a jealous person, so it was never an issue. All fine and dandy. But lately (within the last month), she seems frantic to have him back. She calls and e-mails him all the time. I recently found out that she still talks to his family on a regular basis. She calls his mother, e-mails his father and brother, has long talks with his sister-in-law, invites the whole family for weekends at her family’s lake house, etc. Since he and I aren’t technically “dating,” I’m not really in a position to confront him about this, but I’m not going to stick around if he’s just going to lead her on until she’s heartbroken enough to finally cut ties. I think that’s unethical and cruel. So what do you think? Is he leading her on or just letting things run their course?

Confused

Dear Confused,

I’ll share my thoughts in a sec, but first let me gush about how proud I am of you. Most people can’t see outside themselves enough to even care about a situation like this, so that speaks well of your character. Good for you!

As to what you should do, by all means maintain your high standards. Just get all the information first. I can’t say based on what we know whether they’re winding things down in their own way or if this guy is too scared to make a clean break. I think it’s appropriate to ask how he plans on dealing with his ex situation. There’s no need to confront, just ask. If he’s unsure, that’s OK. It’s almost impossible to guarantee a soft landing for an ex-lover’s heart, and he’s entitled to a little time to figure out what to do. Also, the circumstances may not be as you perceive them.

But, if he’s simply content to let her torture herself until finally getting the hint and limping off, you certainly don’t need to stick around and watch. Cutting your losses is well within reason. Besides, there’s a difference between calling him out on rotten behavior and demanding he change it. You can make it clear he’s completely free to be a jerk, he’s just going to have to do it alone. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that though. Be well, and best of luck.

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