Dear Dr. Archer,
I’m a long-time reader, but this is my first time to write to you. I’m looking for an informed, professional perspective, please.
I’m engaged to a wonderful man. We have a great relationship that is open, communicative and honest. He’s divorced from a woman he met in high school. She’s a colleague of mine, and the three of us used to be close friends. The marriage faltered for several reasons; two years ago, she met someone and ended her marriage.
Her ex and I quickly discovered an enduring romantic connection. We were upfront with her from the beginning, and, initially, she was shocked and upset. Being truthful made us feel we could build our relationship on a solid and honest foundation. His ex is now living with her boyfriend.
They had a fairly ugly divorce, and she got everything. To get her out of our lives, we gave in to all her demands. She bullied us, and behaved reprehensibly, and my fiancé agreed to take on all of their marital debt, and agreed to pay for the entire divorce, even though she agreed in writing to paying half. We made all the decisions collectively, but I wasn’t happy about them. My fiancé, though, wanted to give in and get her out of our lives.
As soon as the papers were filed, I asked him to block her email and cut her off completely.
So, with that in mind, here is my issue: I am angry about how she acted throughout the process. We are financially impacted by this debt we absorbed, and I would have preferred to fight her over the details. I’m working through this by talking to friends, writing a letter I will not send to her, and blocking her on all social media channels, so I don’t see her photos and texts. It’s tough finding closure without telling her what I think.
But that’s not all. She’s not out of our lives. This week, she emailed my fiancé, and they met in person. She wanted to let him know she was throwing a divorce party. He had informed her before he proposed to me, so she wanted to return the favor. They traded laughing emails about the whole thing.
He told me about it right away. He also told me he had forgotten to block her email.
Look, I have no problem with friendship between exes. I have friendly relationships with most of my exes, but we treated each other respectfully during the separation. Just because they spent 10 years together, however, doesn’t give her a pass into his life.
I want him to tell her to quit contacting him, that there’s no place for her in our lives. He doesn’t want to do this, because he considers it extreme. Part of me thinks it’s because he doesn’t want to make her angry. She has a terrible temper, and is a bully. I’m also disappointed he hasn’t shown stronger support for our relationship.
I’m concerned I’m writing this out of anger, rather than what’s right for us, but every time she reaches out, he responds good naturedly, and that makes me angry and resentful all over again.
Is that is a good reason to ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do? Being bullied to do things he didn’t want to do was a specific problem in their marriage, and I’m doing the same thing by wanting him to cut her off.
I’m questioning my motives, and I’m resenting him for not being on the same page. I love his good nature, yet I want him to step up. Help! Thank you, Dr. Archer, for some insight.
Okay, first of all, the divorce is over. Put it behind you. It is what it is, and regardless of how much he gave to her, and gave in to her, it’s over. Your boyfriend’s ex is his past, and you are his future. If they want to remain on friendly terms, there’s really no reason why he should stop all contact with her.
If you don’t suspect anything is going on, and it doesn’t sound like you do, then insisting he stop all contact, while he evidently wants to remain friendly, will make you look unreasonable and insecure. Look within yourself, and find the true reason that his talking with the ex bothers you so much.
You shouldn’t be concerned about the outcome of his divorce. Though you were dating, it was his divorce, and it was ultimately his decision to give her everything and assume the debt. Don’t be so quick to place all the blame on her. He agreed to these terms.
Rather than forbid him to talk to the ex, why not lay down some ground rules? If you don’t like it when he tells you about her emails and what they discuss, let him know to keep them to himself. Just tell him you don’t want to hear about it. If she calls while the two of you are together, he cannot answer the call — tell him he must return the call when he’s alone. You decide what rules you want in place, and he should respect these.
He may have been bullied into doing things he didn’t want to do in the past, but he should be free to do what he wants to do now, as long as he is faithful.
You were all friends in the past. Now that they’re divorced, you don’t want him talking to her. Are you concerned that he still loves her? Personally, I believe that, with time, these interactions will eventually decrease.
You must be able to trust him for your relationship to move forward, and as long as there are no red flags, do so.
Dear Dr. Archer,
I have been emailing an 18-year-old woman on a social religious website for about nine days. I live in Virginia, and she lives in Africa.
Her family is deceased, due to the military and other reasons. She’s an immigrant, and is desperately trying to get to America.
When I first got her email, she said her father had an abundance of money in the bank. She’s a refugee with other refugees in her country. She is asking me to invest her father’s money from Africa and transfer it to my bank in the USA.
Is this a scam? I’ve never had an email like this. What do you think? Should I end this friendship?
End it now. It’s a scam, and a fairly common one, at that.
Transferring money from overseas is a huge red flag. And, once she has your bank account info, who knows what she will do with it?
If you want to save yourself much heartache, simply delete any and all emails from her address, and stop responding.
Dr. Dale Archer is a board-certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News and other national TV programs, and is the author of The ADHD Advantage and the New York Times’ bestselling book Better than Normal. Visit him at DrDaleArcher.com.