Dear Thelma: Boyfriend used to be loving, now he doesn't care

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Dear Thelma,

My boyfriend and I have been in a long-distance relationship for two years. We are in our early 30s.

In the beginning stage, my boyfriend did everything to make me happy. After we got into a relationship, he stopped talking to all the girls who had feelings for him even though I didn't ask him to do so. I was so amazed with his sudden change in behaviour as he was doing everything to secure our relationship.

He introduced me to everyone as the girl he's going to marry.

One day, we had an argument and he asked for a break, so I gave him all the space he needed. On the fourth day of the break, I decided to make a surprise visit to apologise to him. He was very shocked and wasn't really happy to see me.

Suddenly, a notification message popped up – it was one of the girls who used to like him. She asked him whether she could video-call him. I was very shocked when he deleted the previous conversation with her.

As far as I know, he was not in contact with all these girls. Then again he promised me he would not talk with her. But whenever I met him, her text would appear on his phone. He said they were just texting as friends.

So I asked him, "If you are texting her just as a friend, why did you stop texting her when we got into a relationship?"

He got very angry and started to use vulgar and abusive words on me.

One day, I was very upset so I reached out to her. He took her side and blocked me.

Slowly, he started to share everything with his family and his bestie. He said that I didn't trust in him and I doubted him.

Whenever I called him, he would scold me using bad words and block me and sometimes he wouldn't bother to answer my calls.

One time, he went to his bestie's house and ignored my calls. My instincts told me that they spoke about me there; when I reached out to his bestie, they blamed me that he looked depressed after he got into this relationship. He never stood by me when his bestie blamed me.

Days went by and I couldn't forget him.

He was irritated with all my messages and phone calls. Most of the time, he played the victim and blamed me for everything.

He doesn't want a relationship with me anymore.

Recently, he came for training in my hometown. I wanted to meet and talk but he was not interested at all. I waited for two hours below his apartment with an apology gift but he blocked me, and after two hours he came down and scolded me. The reason he gave was if he saw me, then he would fall for me again so he wanted to end this without seeing my face. But again, I saw him texting with other girls happily but he blocked me.

I was very heartbroken to see him texting a girl that day but he ignored me even though I waited for him for two hours. He even lied that he was texting an aunt. When I questioned him, he said he lied for my own good so that I wouldn't feel insecure.

When I gave my point of view, he couldn't take it; he got stressed and scolded me with bad words. He even asked his friend to talk to me. They all seem to blame me. They are justifying his lies. And his friend compared me with other girls and made me feel worse. Still, he never stood by me.

Nowadays, whenever we have an argument, he would straightaway ask for a break-up, block me, use bad words and ignore me for days. When I ask him, he would say that he needs a cooling-off period.

But what I notice is that during his cooling-off period, he texts and talks with others but ignores my emotional needs.

I'm confused and I don't know whether to continue this relationship or to end it because it's very hard for me to move on. I really love him but I feel emotionally drained and depressed. He doesn't seem to care about it at all.

Please advise me.

Confused Girl

I am going to say things you will not want to hear. Please read this entire response anyway because I think you are setting yourself up for serious trouble.

Your relationship is over. He does not want a relationship with you. He has told you not to contact him.

You completely ignore his wishes. You harass him. You see he is upset, and you continue forcing yourself on him anyway.

Your behaviour is harassment and it is illegal. This is what the new anti-stalking bill addresses.

"Under the new Section 507A, whoever repeatedly by any act of harassment, intending to cause, or knowing or ought to know that the act is likely to cause, distress, fear or alarm to any person of the person's safety, commits an offence of stalking. The offence is punishable with a maximum jail term of not exceeding three years, a fine or both upon conviction." ("Online and physical stalking is now a crime", The Star, March 29)

I see from your letter that you have no idea that your behaviour is a problem. Also, although several people have laid it out for you, you have not listened.

Let me be clear: Your behaviour is unacceptable.

If your ex makes a police report, you may be prosecuted. They may fine you or make an example of you and jail you. You could end up with a police record which would impact seriously on the rest of your life.

Even if he does not report you, this behaviour means you will not be able to forge healthy, happy relationships.

Your behaviour is abusive. And abusers typically suffer from poor connections in life. Many end up alone.

So please read this response, follow the advice, and get yourself into a better space.

First, stop harassing this man. No more contact. At all. And don't contact his friends or family either.

Second, work with a mental health professional. Look for a person who is skilled with abuse cases.

In therapy, you will talk briefly about where you learned your behaviour. Maybe your parents are this way or you may have learned it from previous partners who abused you.

The bulk of the sessions will focus on learning new and healthy behaviour.

Basically, a healthy relationship is about mutual care and respect. In therapy, you will learn to stop putting your own wishes first, and to consider your partner.

For example, you are angry because you think you have been treated badly. However, people who date and fall in love often say things that they mean in the moment. But it's romantic, a matter of expressing feelings. It is not a business contract. People change their minds, and that's OK.

Your feelings are hurt, which is sad. However, hurt feelings do not entitle you to anything.

What you will learn in therapy is that if your partner wants out, that's the end of it. It doesn't matter how you feel. Anyone can end a relationship whenever they want. No messing about.

Also, each person has the right to family and friends. You don't get to decide who your partner speaks to and you don't get to edit, review or approve his thoughts, feelings or communications. He is his own person.

There is much more, but as these issues have troubled you most recently, they're a good start.

I appreciate this response may worry you. Possibly you are angry and hoping it's not true. Understand that my bluntness comes from concern.

I urge you to change. Because if you continue as you are, you will have a world of trouble. So have courage, reach out, and make changes before it's too late.

Good luck, and know that I'm thinking of you.

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