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Love Letters

How to know when an on-and-off relationship should stay off

He tried to kick me out of our hotel room. So why can’t I leave him?

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Q. Where do I start? I have been in an on-and-off relationship with a man for years. He can be wonderful but we have terrible times, too. Just recently we had a fight because I got upset about a text he sent to a friend while we were on vacation. We were at a bar and he texted, “This place is crawling with [crass term for women].” I saw what he was writing and was upset and hurt, but he told me I was being overdramatic.

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We ended up being silent for a while and then he left me in the bar. I had to walk back to the hotel alone and once I got there, he told me he wanted me to leave. He tried to kick me out of the hotel. He even called security. I should be so mad and upset with him, but all I want is to have this resolved. Now that we are home, what should I do? Was I right to be upset about the text? His behavior in the hotel is enough of a reason to leave, but I keep texting him to talk. Why do I stay? Please help. — Why?

A. The text at the bar doesn’t sound like the real deal breaker here. The more upsetting moment was when he decided it would be OK to try to kick you out of a hotel. If that’s his way of working out a problem, this relationship should be over.

Why do you stay? Maybe because you’re used to this routine. You say you’ve been in this relationship for years, so the ups and downs probably feel natural — maybe even necessary. It might help to talk to a therapist about putting a stop to this cycle (you can talk to your doctor about how to find one), but you can also start by forcing some changes on your own. Instead of talking to him about what happened, call someone else. A friend, maybe. Any other nice person who’ll listen. (Remember to ask that person how they’re doing, too. It helps to remember that there’s life outside your relationship.)

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Sometimes when we’re in an unhealthy partnership, our world becomes very small. We avoid talking about things with others because we don’t want to have to be accountable for our decisions. But that’s what you need right now — a support system and a path to new experiences and change. If this man is not texting back, it’s for the best. — Meredith

READERS RESPOND

Leave him. No fighting, just leave peacefully with any amount of class you can muster. Life may be different but . . . it may be a whole lot better. MT CODY

I had an ex who did things like this and worse. It only gets worse. AIMDROP

Ladies: Carry your own money/credit card so you can take care of yourself in any situation. JACQUISMITH

I was with this type of man for four years and I never understood why I couldn’t leave. Until one day, I just did. I was used to the drama, the ups and downs — never knowing if I was going to get the “good” guy or the “bad” guy when I woke up each day. And one day, my head was clear, and I just said enough. Later, I met someone who appreciated me, someone who put me first, didn’t accuse, didn’t hide his phone — he was an open book and all was good in the world. ROCKERGIRL69

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Submit questions your for Meredith here.


Get Season 2 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast now at loveletters.show or whereever you listen. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to meredith.goldstein@globe.com.