How can I stop my ex making me feel guilty?

I recently left my partner of eight months. He took it really badly and it was hard. Since we've split, he's lost weight, taken up smoking again and isn't acting normal. He says one thing, does another, makes my head spin and now I'm totally confused. People are saying he is mentally abusing me by blaming me for everything and that I was always too good for him. Will he be alright? Can you help me with his behaviour?

In a relationship, it is usually hard not to care about the person you end it with, even though it was your choice to end it. Your ex’s behaviour is clearly hurting and worrying you, and by speaking up you’ve taken an important step to finding a way forward that feels most appropriate to you.

It’s clear you care very much about him, yet your ex has not been able to get over you and appears to feel completely lost. Break-ups can be very tough, especially if perhaps he did not expect it or, as you said, people have mentioned to him you were too good for him. He might think now that you believe it yourself as well.

Getting over someone needs a lot of willpower and strength, and can be very tough. The way you describe his attitude, he seems confused and going through a period of low self-esteem. He may even be experiencing depression.

It sounds like you are concerned about his mental health. Talking to mental health helpline SANE, on 0845 767 8000, would give you an opportunity to discuss your ex’s behaviour in more detail and get an advisor’s opinion on potential options. You might also try encouraging your ex to see his doctor (GP).

Whatever is going on, no matter how many times he says it’s down to you, his own sense of confidence comes from within himself and he will eventually get it back if he works hard.

Breaking up is a huge learning experience. You learn about yourself, you learn about others and you learn to cope. Every single experience teaches you something and makes you stronger and wiser.

After ending this relationship, it seems like you still have contact with him and perhaps that is not wise. It’s easy to think that being together after breaking up is the solution for the hurt to eventually fade. However, although it’s hard to do, you may find it beneficial to gradually reduce your contact with him. This can help to give you both the time and space you need to get a new perspective on the relationship to allow you both to move on.

You can offer your ex your support, but you also need to be clear with him about where you stand as friends if you wish to maintain contact. Then it will be down to your ex to make a decision about whether to stay in contact or not. If you are finding it hard to get things clear in your own mind, you may benefit from counselling. Counselling can be really useful because it’s an opportunity to think through your feelings with someone who is external to your everyday life and who is skilled specifically in helping in this kind of process.

If you feel overwhelmed about the way he treats you, now or after giving him space, do not hesitate to get in touch with an organisation like Relate. They provide relationships counselling and also have a chat room online where you can chat to an advisor for 30 minutes, for free. You might also want to consider exploring other options for counselling in your area via Youth Access.

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