Letting Go of Someone Who Isn’t Right for Me

Dear Neil: After this gentleman first asked me out, I told him I was not girlfriend material. I am a single parent going to college. He is a bachelor and has a couple of roommates. He’s in his middle 40’s, doesn’t have a steady job, doesn’t have a driver’s license or a vehicle and doesn’t have a cell phone so we can communicate. (He does have a landline phone and a computer at home.) It feels like I’m always taking care of him by driving to where he lives and then driving us to something fun, and I am paying for everything.

Here we are several months later and I don’t know how to break up with him without him breaking down and crying, or doing something horrible to himself. What should I do?

He Doesn’t Fit What I’m Looking for in Parker, Colorado

Dear Colorado: This man sounds as if he has very little to offer you, and you are not required to stay in a new relationship unless you want to stay—and unless you feel like there’s something in this for you. So let him go. You are not responsible for his hurt feelings if you wish to leave him, but after you break it off, you might inform his roommates to keep an eye out for him if you think he is that emotionally fragile.

It is not wise to stay in a relationship that doesn’t serve your needs, and a man who doesn’t drive and has no money appears to offer you very little. So find your voice and tell him this isn’t what you are looking for—and break up with him.

Dear Neil: I am guilty of mothering my boyfriend. I am 22 dating a 25-year-old guy. I have a problem with his drug misuse. He takes higher doses than the prescribed ones, and one time had a seizure as a result, but he refused to see the doctor or inform his family. I am scared that something might happen to him, but whenever I confront him we get into a heated argument—and he tells me I am not his mother and to quit treating him like a child. How do I help him without acting like his mother?

Not Trying to be His Mother in Kenya

Dear Kenya: You could do what he refuses to do. Contact his family and his doctor and tell them what he’s doing. He’s the only one who can fix this—and he is refusing to do that—but you simply cannot fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed. He will be upset with you, but if he had a seizure and won’t take the hint, what do you think will happen to him long-term?

You might need to back away from the relationship, but you could reassure him that you will be there for him while he’s getting treatment for his addiction. If you don’t let let his family and his doctor know what he’s doing, how would you feel if you helplessly stood by and watched him self-destruct—or discovered him in a life-threatening condition?

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