Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I have been together for three months. We regularly talk about our future together, but there is one thing getting in the way.
His ex, whom he broke up with nearly eight months ago, continues to text him.
At first it was nothing to worry about — it was simply texts arranging for when she would send him payments of money she owed him.
Lately, messages come in nearly every day, saying things like, "I'm having a bad day, please answer this when you see it. I don't know who else makes me feel safe." Or, "I can't wait to be with you again, baby."
He has been very open with me about the whole thing, letting me read his messages to her and telling me every time she texts him.
He never answers her texts unless it is about money, but his big heart gets in the way when she tries to manipulate him into talking to her.
I want so badly to text her myself and tell her to leave him alone, except I know that would be overstepping, and might mean that he would no longer get his money repaid.
He says he will block her on all platforms when she has repaid him.
I worry that she may never pay him back the total amount in order to always have a reason to talk to him.
Amy says: Your boyfriend is doing the right thing by being transparent with you about these text messages. The downside is that you have taken on this drama.
You should not contact her. This is not your business. You do not own this man; you don't have the right to tell someone not to contact him.
It does seem, however, that an "I can't wait to be with you again, baby" message should be met with a one-time "We have broken up. It's time for you to move on" message (from him).
If he is even passively stringing her along until she repays him, then he is being almost as manipulative as she is.
You don't mention what amount of money is still owed, but your boyfriend should let his ex continue to pay her debt, and then he should consider stopping all contact — when she still has a minimal amount left to pay. Forgiving that last payment might be in everyone's best interest.
A family divided
Dear Amy: Our son-in-law "Steve's" stepfather, "Tom," is a man with whom we have had a cautious but cordial relationship for many years.
Over the past year, Steve and Tom have had a major falling out and Tom is banned from having any contact with Steve and his family (our daughter and grandkids).
Tom and his wife, "Martha," (Steve's mother) are having marital issues, but remain together for now.
We all live in the same town and have done many joint family gatherings over the years, until this recent rift.
Now Martha joins family gatherings alone, so we have had no interactions with Tom for over a year.
Soon Steve, our daughter and the grandkids are moving out of state.
We are not sure how to continue to support Steve's family, by not socializing with Tom once they are gone. We have always had a good relationship with Martha.
Now that Steve and family aren't present, should we continue to exclude Tom?
What do we say to Martha when we invite her to gatherings, or if she invites us to her house where Tom might be present?
Amy says: "Steve" is well within his rights to exclude his stepfather and to ask that you also exclude him if Steve and family will be present in your home.
Steve does not get to insist that you must also exclude his stepfather when Steve is not even in the state, however.
You should behave in a way that most honors your independent relationship with "Martha."
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickinson.com.