“So I have this ex boyfriend. He is like my long term major ex boyfriend dude. It’s been 4 years since we broke up. It ended quite horrifically. I mean the reasons for the breakup was amicable, no cheating or anything like that. But the way in which it was handled was really bad. Mainly, he just couldn’t give me a straight answer and kept on messing me around. He also started doing lots of drugs (which he never did), and whenever he was vulnerable/needy would want to get back together, beg me, then like 2 days later have no recollection. Lots of fun. Needless to say that’s all in the distant past. We are now friends. Not good friend or great friends. But we sometimes chat/have a laugh. I am very glad we didn’t end up together, as we have very different value systems/ambitions in life, which is all the clearer 4 years down the line. So anyway, he has been making a concerted effort to be friends/stay in touch. Problem is, he has kept this nasty habit of being unreliable. He makes plans, then cancels last minute or forgets them. Then when I remind him he gets immature and starts making jokes about me “stalking” him. It’s immensely tiring and I’m just really bored with it now. We had a plan to meet up today (his plan) and he sent me a message at like 1am on Saturday checking if we were still on (obvs drunk). And then…. nothing. Sent him a message. No reply. (I was actually gonna cancel coz I feel like sleeping, but that’s beside the point). Then he comes online, and I say “nice reply” or something like that. Then its all “I’m so sick”, which is obviously code for “hung over + lazy + feeling sorry for self” so I just told him that I like him as a person and would be great to be friends etc, but we clearly have different ideas of what that means because I respect my friends’ time and vice versa, and don’t just leave people hanging because, well, its rude. And I only really have time for ppl who have time for me, and he can guess in which category he now falls. To which he replies “well what are we gonna do about it” (lol) and of course I said, this isn’t a mutual problem that we gotta solve together, its just the stuff is from my side and you can do whatever you like with that info. And then he says, “whatever, you know you don’t mean any of this”, which of course is infuriating because its just old patterns of him not respecting me/taking my boundaries seriously. So right now I’ve decided I’ve had enough for good. Would it be too dramatic to unfriend him on facebook?”

Carly: It seems as though he takes some kind of pleasure or gets some kind of kick out of (possibly unconsciously) fucking you around. Some people feel powerful via withholding. Their desire to dominate causes them to act in ways that are destructive because it gives them a sense of power. I think this most likely comes from his feelings of inadequacy. He doesn’t know how to handle you or his feelings for you so he basically flakes out. He’s scared and so he’s throwing stones and running away – classic kindergarten behaviour. In terms of your question regarding unfriending him…is it possible for you to keep him as a friend but still maintain your boundaries and not get caught up in the games? The issue is that he still has this pull on you, he has the ability to irritate you and that’s what he’s getting off on so first prize would be to keep him as a friend but ignore him and not make an effort to see him therefore he doesn’t feel he’s that important that you had to defriend him but you remain clear about what your expectations for friendship are and how his bullshit doesn’t work. So this is about you taking back your power. And to do that you need to find a way of ignoring his efforts at irritating or manipulating you.