Dear Madelaine: My ex was difficult but I want him back

All letters are anonymous and have been edited to keep the identity of the sender confidential.

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Dear Madelaine,

Basically me and my boyfriend of 6 months had a really messy break up yesterday: he’s my first serious relationship and he has an awful case of anxiety and depression. He stopped taking his meds a few months ago, he started spiralling back to old habits and I think he thinks I’ve caused so much stress.

I stayed in his house and we argued a fair amount and he said I barely pulled my weight keeping the house tidy and I can’t cook, but I tried to keep the house tidy, I just wasn’t that good at it. He said I barely did a good job so he had to go over it everything before his parents turned up.

That was supposed to be a nice fun break and there were fun times but as he’s been off the meds he started focusing on all the negatives, and then said to his friends it’s not that the feelings aren’t there, it’s that I’m immature, both in the way I can be a bit princessy with him and then obviously I’m not ready for life and to move out and stuff, whereas he is, (he’s only 20) but he knew how ‘behind’ I was in the sense that I’m not established.

He was on the meds at the time and we just started dating, so the last week he’d been considering whether to break up or not. He said he’d see me this weekend; I tried really hard to fix it all and try and make him trust me again, but I said to him yesterday that I couldn’t take him being so cold towards me anymore. I basically provoked him to leave and he did, he unfriended me on social media.

I completely regret it and his friends reckon had I been patient and met with him over the weekend to talk about it all, we probably wouldn’t have broken up, but his friend said she’d talk to him. He usually listens to her and she thinks he’s taken his depression out on me and that I’m the nicest girl he’s met, his friends reckon the feelings aren’t gone, he just wasn’t sure whether his head could keep up with my ‘immaturity’ and basically I want him back.

Ann Nomynous

Dear Ann,

First of all, it sounds like you are really thrown about and I am so sorry that you’re having to go through this emotional tornado. It sounds to me as if you are trying to understand whether it is your ex boyfriend’s depression or him that is making you unhappy.

You say he has come off his medication: the brain is an organ that any chemical change in can create huge differences in behaviour or personality. With this in mind, it is very possible that his lack of medication is resulting in this behaviour that is clearly upsetting; maybe if he returned to treatment this challenging behaviour might stop.

However, I’m very concerned at how he is blaming you for the problems in your relationship and not dealing with his behaviour that is making you unhappy: it is not unreasonable to ask your partner to be less cold with you, and it does seem as though you are trying to have an open and honest conversation about what you want from the relationship. When you date someone, you don’t just date the person, you date their lifestyle, their hobbies, their opinions and their choices.

It is not selfish to ask yourself: “Is this the kind of relationship I want?”. The person, such as your ex, might be great in your eyes, but if his behaviour, communication and way of living- you mention tidiness- is too much for you, you might well realise that the relationship is just not working. There is no blame- everyone is flawed, whether you are ‘princessy’ or he is ‘cold’ is irrelevant to the wider issue of whether you are happy together. Most couples that work accept eachother’s flaws and work together to overcome differences.

Now how to get him back: will things be different this time? If he is unhappy, and you are clearly unhappy, something isn’t working. It clearly has a lot to do with how you two discuss your problems. Going behind eachother’s back with snide comments to friends, or blaming each other, is just another way of hurting your partner. If you really want this relationship to work, you need to convince him that the relationship is worth saving.

Clearly illustrate what went wrong last time, what hurt you, and listen to what hurt him, however unreasonable it sounds. Try not to fly off the handle or have an outburst, even if the situation is infuriating. Constructively lie out between the two of you what you would need for it to work. Imagine it like a trade deal; what are your cut off lines? What are you prepared to pay for or receive?

Get a friend- maybe the girl you mentioned- to talk to him and ask him to sit down and have a coffee with you, somewhere calm and out in the open. Make it clear you don’t want to beg him to come back- this will put him off more- just that you want to clear the air and discuss things through.

If he isn’t prepared to do that, I’m sorry, but it’s over. Not just because he’s not interested, but because he is unable to communicate and constructively change your relationship.

Big hugs. I’ve been here before and all I can do is wipe your tears away and tell you someday, we’ll laugh about this.

Love and best wishes,


Written by

24 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually.

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