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LOVE LETTERS

My boyfriend comes with too much baggage

His family is ‘toxic and messy’

Love Letters

Love Letters

Q. I just went through a miscarriage and am grieving. My boyfriend has been a big help throughout this. However, his baggage has been adding stress.

That baggage isn’t a new problem — it has been a consistent pattern throughout our relationship. Earlier in our relationship, the mother of his first child was set on stalking and harassing me. I know it was a red flag, but love tends to make us blind. Additionally I found out that a few of my boyfriend’s family members were talking to his ex about me, saying awful things. I’m aware of this because his ex sent me the screenshots to hurt me.

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The resolution was that my boyfriend didn’t find these family members essential in his life and now we avoid them. Somehow, though, we’re still circling the same issues. Most recently, his ex found out about my miscarriage and asked him if we’d still be together. I am infuriated. It makes me resent my boyfriend. I love him deeply, but he comes with such a toxic and messy family.

Throughout our relationship, I have never allowed a single family member of mine — or any ex — to disrespect him, despite the many close calls. I feel angry that I can protect him but he somehow claims he can’t control everyone’s reaction. A part of me wants to leave him and find someone with less baggage. However, I love this man. Also, I don’t think I could take another heartbreak right now.

What do I do? Is it fair to leave a man I love for having a toxic family and ex? Are my feelings valid or are my hormones raging?

THE ANGRY, HEARTBROKEN GIRL

A. If you’re not feeling good, happy, and safe in a relationship, you can go. Leaving a bad situation is OK, even if you care about a partner.

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You can also stay if you want to work on this. But please, if you do, figure out some new and effective boundaries. Why do you know that his ex asked if you’d still be together? Someone is telling you this information. That needs to be shut down.

Start the process by changing your phone number and blocking all of his family members on social media. Yes, the first task is annoying, but it’s worth it. A private number means no more screenshots. It also allows you to start your inner circle from scratch. Who needs your number and why? What are the rules about giving it out?

I hope you’re getting some help as you go through this grieving process. You can ask your doctor for information about counseling and support groups. It would also be nice to see a therapist with your partner. That’s where you can talk about how to better protect each other, and how to make the pattern change for the better. Your boyfriend’s ex shares a child with him, so the rules about contact and information need to be really clear. This ex isn’t going anywhere, I assume.

But to your second to last question — which is so important — sometimes we love someone very much but wind up leaving because we want different things. You want peace. If being without him gets you that, it’s worth it.

MEREDITH


READERS RESPOND:

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First of all, there are no baggage virgins. I would not, however, call what you describe baggage. It’s a toxic mess. If your boyfriend is not standing up for you then you need to break up.

NANOSECO


The best thing you can do is leave this man. He will always be tied to the ex and he will always have the family he has. Dream a better dream for your future.

THENURSE


Is this what you want your life to be? While I’m sure you’d say no, I have a feeling that you really like the drama or you wouldn’t have ignored it all “in the name of love” when you started dating him.

THEREALALMIGHTYZEESUS


I’m sorry for your loss. When you marry someone or become their partner, you also get their family and, often, exes (usually if there are children involved, or mutual friends). If this is not a good fit, yes, it is a reason people break up.

JIVEDIVA

Send your own relationship and dating questions to loveletters@globe.com or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.

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