Q• My ex and I remained friends after our breakup. He has a girlfriend now, but he's constantly telling me he wants to be with me and the only reason he's with her is because we're not together.
I think he told me he's thinking about marrying her to get a reaction from me. How do I get him to see I'm fine with being friends? — S.M.
A• You're not friends with your ex. A friend doesn't "constantly" tell you he wants to be in a relationship with you even when you're both single, and especially not when he's in a relationship.
Friends also don't ignore your boundaries. You've said "no" several times, and he continues to push up on you despite you trying to shut him down. That's ignoring what you want and pushing his own agenda. Your ex is your ex.
But this uncomfortable situation isn't all on him. You continue to engage him, and you need to take accountability for that. You know that he is in a relationship, you know he is being continually disrespectful to his girlfriend — and to you — yet you continue to speak to him. You're saying no, but your actions are saying, "Well, maybe." He keeps approaching you because he's going by what you do, not what you say.
Surely there are things you like about your ex, which is why you have continued to communicate with him under the guise of friendship. He may still have feelings for you and moved on to another relationship before they were resolved.
One reason you continue to speak to him, despite your protests, is that the attention and interest flatter your ego.
Who doesn't like to hear from someone they cared for that they miss you, made a mistake and want a second chance with you?
You're not interested; otherwise you wouldn't keep telling him no. But you like that he is, or you wouldn't keep talking to him. You don't want him, but you want him to want you. That's all ego, and you shouldn't let it get the best of you or continue to fuel this drama.
Based on his actions, your ex doesn't really care that much for her or you. Despite the many times he has said he wants you back, he's still in his relationship. He's all talk. Your ex sounds bored. And selfish.
This ends when you stop fanning this cliched flame. Stop playing around, and shut this down for good. Call him up and tell him that you're uncomfortable with his repeated advances, and he is disrespecting his girlfriend and you. If he brings it up again, tell him that the "friendship" is over and that he is no longer welcome to contact you.