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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Stalks and Bonds

Dear Mistress Maeve,

This seems a bit platonic for your column, but here I am.

Seven months ago, I tried to break off all relations with a friend of mine after a discussion over boundaries and the nature of our friendship ended in her attempting suicide. Ever since then she has refused to leave me alone, backing off when I complain but inevitably coming back; the longest she's left me alone is two months, usually much less. I've yelled at her, threatened her with the police, threatened her with my boyfriend, asked her nicely, and just plain ignored her, yet she persists in her cheerful demands for forgiveness and friendship.

I believe she's a good person, that she has healed from her problems, and I wish her the best, but I just don't feel like speaking to her, certainly not on her terms, anyway. How can I peacefully get her to leave me alone without involving the police?


Hey Plagued,

You're right; this is a little beyond the scope of my column — but a relationship is a relationship, right?

Sounds like you've got a "friend" with severe boundary issues. Without knowing her mental health status or the exact nature of your friendship prior to its demise, it's difficult to assess the situation. However, it seems like your current issues with her have little to do with the past.

Nobody likes to feel pressured or "stalked." That she doesn't respect your wishes is unacceptable — that her advances remain cheerful despite your threats is just plain creepy.

Until now, you've made only empty threats — and she clearly knows you're bluffing. It's time for you to follow through. No more yelling, no more boyfriend threats. Be smart — reach out to a police officer or lawyer and learn your options. Call her; don't wait for her to call you. Set up a meeting in a public place where neither of you is likely to cause a scene, like a coffee shop. Bring a trusted, levelheaded friend or family member with you — someone who will respectfully witness your conversation. Calmly express to her that you're proud of her progress and wish her the best, but make it clear that you no longer want to have contact with her. Assure her that you will take legal action this time if she reaches out to you in any way. Make sure she understands and then calmly leave.

The most important thing is — if she contacts you after this conversation, you have to make good on your ultimatum. Do not do anything stupid and get yourself in trouble; go through the proper channels.

Good luck,

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