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I need support in giving support.

I have an insanely needy ex-bf, who I have remained friends with since breaking up a year ago, even though we now live very far apart. Psychologically, this guy clings as if he is a drowning man and I am a life preserver (he does this to everyone, not just me), and sometime I am so annoyed that I am ready to hold him underwater and drown him myself!!

Since I know someone is going to ask, he has resisted all kinds of therapy, talking to clergy, etc. -- he doesn't want to change.

HOWEVER, he DOES want to change his weightand improve his health, and he's been doing great. He's lost about 50 pounds, and has about 10 to go. He really should be proud of himself for this! Yet he just cannot stop asking for a compliment -- he never even gives me a chance to compliment him! Every e-mail he tells me how much he weighs. Recently he sent a link to some video and the first thing he asked was how I think he looked. (It was serious TV and I was much more impressed with what he SAID.)

I definitely want to be encouraging, and I want to tell him he's doing great -- because he is! But I'm SO ANNOYED by his constant begging that the words never pass my lips or fingertips. I feel really bad, because I never have any trouble praising and encouraging my PeerTrainer buddies, who in fact log far more about themselves. How do I master my annoyance and find constructive things to say to this guy? I think we are in a vicious circle.

Sat. May 27, 12:30pm

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It sounds like your friend has really low self-esteem. It is too bad that he doesn't want to seek help. However, I don't think you need to feel bad for not giving asked for compliments. Instead compliment when you normally would. The good thing about e-mail is that you can choose the questions you want to answer. It gives you the oportunity to ignore the questions that annoy you. About the interview, compliment him on what he said and just ignore the question about how he looks.

Saturday, May 27, 2006, 12:43 PM

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Cling on

It sounds like he is using his weight loss and your support to stay in your life as much as possible. Speaking from recent experience with a amicable breakup, it became necessary to cut off contact for a period of time to allow the other person to make the break fully. It sounds harsh, I know, but it might be time to reevaluate your friendship to allow him time to move on and not NEED you so much.

Best of luck!

Saturday, May 27, 2006, 2:59 PM

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Maybe he thinks if he looks hot you will get back together...

Sunday, May 28, 2006, 12:35 AM

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I agree- he's just using his weight loss journey to hang on to you. Be ready for him to tell you that he has or will gain the weight back if you withdraw your support. The best suggestion I can think of is to have him try weight watcher's or overeaters anonymous--- but I suspect he will resist because what he really wants is a reason to cling to you.
He IS going to drown you and exhaust you, because it will never be over for him. Even when he gets to his goal weight, he will cling to you for support in keeping it off.
Try some tips from Al-Anon to find a way to cope without becoming an enabler. There must be other communities you can try also, but that's the first one that comes to mind.
Good luck! :)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 9:02 AM

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drop him like its hot

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 9:16 AM

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OP here -- really, we're not going to get back together. We now live more than 1000 miles apart and are both in other relationships. Mutual friends from my old town tell me that he's embarrassingly clingy to them, as well, and his desperate lack of self-esteem is making it difficult for them. So, it's not some "getting over it" problem.

I'm just really struggling to be positive rather than mean. I hate it that I can't say anything nice before he starts begging me -- it's like wanting to kick a puppy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 11:15 AM

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Some people don't help you better yourself in life. It's not a matter of being mean for not wanting to be around that, it's in pursuit of your higher good. If someone is toxic for you, you need to get rid of them. You're not even related to this one, don't live in the same city! Why are you interested in continuing a friendship with him?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 12:56 PM

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I couldn't agree with the 12:56 poster more!

I know it's harsh, but you have to cut off all ties! Just because he is dating doesn't mean he's over you. I have an ex that actually got married because he wanted to prove to me that he was the marrying type.... yah, he lost me with that tactic too- why would I want to suddenly marry a man I had already broken up with because he got married!?

Bottom line is it's alright to be selfish- you owe him nothing, no matter how much or what your history is together. Take care of yourself, not everyone is as nice as you are :)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 1:18 PM

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Dump him!
Sometimes you need to get rid of the baggage in your life. He may be nice, he may even be supportive of you, but he is absolutely toxic in your life, and no, you can't "fix" him.
He needs to find another outlet, and since you're not the ONLY friend he has, he'll be fine, even if he acts like he won't.
I also agree he may be trying to impress you, even if he doesn't totally want you back.
BTW, to the poster who's ex got married to prove himself, that is just SO sad!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 2:39 PM

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OP here-

"Annoying" =/ "toxic."
My question is really about how to overcome an annoyance that is really irrational on my part, especially as this person is no longer a huge part of my life, really just someone I exchange a call or e-mail with every couple of weeks.

Some of you responding seem to be extrapolating out to much more intense bad experiences you have had -- you have my sympathy.

As for why I would want to have friends in other cities, I assume you haven't moved much. I have moved over and over and over again --99% of my friends are from other cities! I'm busily making new friends where I am. But you know how the song goes, "Make new friends, but keep the old/One is silver and the other gold."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 5:11 PM

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The fact remains that you haven't mentioned anything positive about interacting with this man in the recent past. Having moved almost yearly growing up, I can understand the desire to keep friends without proximity. However, there is a difference between "keeping" old friends and allowing the ties that you've shared over time to justify continuing a relationship that isn't working for you at this point. If you don't feel like you can talk with him about this situation and resolve it, it IS time to move past it.

Your reaction to his behavior sounds pretty normal, so why haven't you brought it up? You said he won't get help with a professional. Why is that? All his "friends" are enabling him to continue this unhealthy pattern because they are too hesitant to bring it up and risk a conflict. The most supportive thing you could do at this point would be to let him know it's bothering you and you want to resolve that. Notice, I didn't say easiest thing you could do. ;)

Best of luck in your continued friendships!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 5:58 PM

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Get rid of toxic relationship

The best thing is to tell him that he is toxic to you and tell him not to call anymore. While it sounds trite many folks are pretty clear about the fact that you cannot change other people AND if you cannot change it ... then get rid of it.

I had heard this advice for years, then one day after a toxic friend contacted me ... I saw a portion of the Dr. Phil show that that day just happened to be about Toxic relationships. He tried to mediate several, one which was similar to the one I had.

I moved, did not give the person my new phone or new e-mail. I left one e-mail that they contact me through. I was very specfic and told them this just going on and on with no changes. For me, I either needed for him to change his behavior and actions toward me or I would no longer respond. In the beginning things escalated ... then after I did not respond it dramatically dropped off. It is shocking how much better things go everyday and how I am no longer impacted by this persons actions. I still hear once in awhile from this person, but he now adheres to the rules I've set down and understands that no matter how he escalates things will not change me attitudes.

I did this with a female friend as well. She was very needy -- her family actually wound up within a couple of months putting her in a psychiatric hospital. She was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Her behavior -- which sounds very similar to you BF -- was the main issue. Had I not become insistent, her behavior would have escalated and she still would not have gotten help. She is better and in treatment and is now sorry about how she treated me and other sorority sisters as well as her family. It was not until I said -- Enough -- that she went to get treatment.

Getting rid of toxic relationships can improve your life as well as the individuals life.

Remember, we tell people verbally and/or non-verbally how they can treat us. If we do not object to bad behavior, it just gets worse.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 6:38 PM

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If you think you can stop being annoyed by him, then just stop being annoyed. You have power over your own actions and thoughts... just think "he's not annying at all, I want to be a good, supportive friend" about 1000 times a day, especially when you are talking to him, and you might stop being annoyed. There is power in positive thinking. Try reading some stoic philosophers - it teaches self-control and detachment from distracting emotions. Epictetus comes to mind.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 6:45 PM

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I've seen no one suggest being honest with him about how the constant begging for attention is making you feel. Tell him, not in a brutal way, but with "I" statements like they teach in assertiveness training - like: when you constantly ask me to compliment you I feel uncomfortable. I feel overwhelmed that you are relying on me so much. I am unable to provide you the level of support that you seem appear to want from me. No accusations, just honest statements about how you feel.

You must let him know how you feel and that you can no longer provide him the level of attention he appears to need. If he seems open, you can tell him that others feel the same way, describe it as "uncomfortable" as this is non-threatening. I suggest these strategies because it sound like you still care about him and don't just want to cut him off. Hearing how you feel could really be beneficial for him, could force him to grow and become the person he needs to be. Just being annoyed at him isn't really doing him any favors. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006, 5:23 AM

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