Avoiding a Fomer Friend


A few years ago I dated a man who ended up being, not to sound overdramatic, emotionally abusive toward me. I could give you a long list of examples, but suffice it to say that I had sweat-inducing flashbacks for some time after we stopped seeing each other. After our last extended period of time together, I was actually physically ill for a couple of months; it also exacerbated my clinical depression and anxiety greatly.

He asked for forgiveness, and I forgave him. He’s not evil – he encouraged me back to the Church and was my Cursillo sponsor. But I don’t want to be friends, not at this point anyway. Besides this obvious issue, he’s a 40-year-old man who lives a sort of transient and haphazard life, has badly managed OCD traits, and has called me up to a) simply ramble on about what he’s doing, ask nothing about me and then say goodbye abruptly, b) ask me to look something up online for him since he doesn’t have access at home or c) ask questions that are more appropriate to an adolescent or someone just starting out in life, not a 40-year-old with a college education and some life experience behind him.

So now when he calls (only once every few months) I don’t pick up. I have Caller ID, so I know it’s him. On his part, he never leaves a message, so… he can’t want to talk that badly. I don’t want to make some big “I shall never speak to you again” speech, and maybe someday I will feel differently, but I just don’t want to talk to him these days.

Do you think I’m morally obligated to anwer the phone or call him back?


I hear you on that… life throws curveballs.

In a way of maybe hoping to do a little consolation…

I’ve lost all but one of my friends in the course of encountering my faith. I now do not know anyone. No friends to speak of… except an old college roomate who is a good Catholic… we hang out maybe 2 or 3 times per year.

That’s life when you’re 30-ish. :shrug:


Well, for your emotional and mental wellbeing, I’d suggest leaving him alone. It sounds like he really needs some help. But you sound like you’re not in any kind of shape to give it. Pray for him to find the help he needs. And I don’t mean just a simple little prayer. This will probably mean some serious prayer time. Pray for him, and yourself. This situation is not a good one.


And when you’er 40-ish sometimes too. :slight_smile:

I’m OK with it now, though it took a long time. I just feel guilty for not answering… but like I said, if he really needed/wanted to speak to me he’d leave a message, no?


It’s not a good situation at all and yes, he needs some help. He’s had it off and on – and has parents who even now would do anything for him – but, well, you can lead a horse to water and all that.

It took me awhile to not want him in my life, but I’m definitely to the point where I don’t – although I don’t hate him and am even grateful for some things. I do pray for him, although I think I need to pray more.

I just feel guilty about not answering the phone and not calling him back. It seems passive-aggressive… except I’m not trying to get him to do anything, except not call.


And many thanks to you both for your reply!


Or it happens when you’re 20-ish, too… ;D

I also only talk to one friend from school… she was my best friend since kindergarten, but the past few years, we’ve grown very far apart, though we do talk about once a month. I feel like I’m talking to a stranger. The others were not ready to grow up, and were keeping me in a very dark and bad place. I also just stopped answering their calls, and after about 7 months, they’ve just stopped calling. I keep them constantly in my prayers.

Maybe it (not answering phone calls) is passive-aggressive… or it could also be protecting yourself. You said that in the past he has been emotionally abusive. How do you think he would react if you flat out told him to quit calling and to leave you alone? It sounds as if he has supportive parents, so it isn’t as if you’re completely cutting him off, leaving him with no support. Also, I would like to remind you that charity comes in many different forms. For example, enabling someone in an addiction just to “be nice” is not charity at all… but taking the risk of angering or hurting them to be one less excuse for them to hurt themselves and others is very charitable.



He would actually probably launch into a long speech borrowing liberally (but not accurately) from 12-step philosophy, say I hadn’t forgiven him, etc. At least that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of what he might do. Or he might just snap at me and hang up. But the former is, I think, more likely.

The funny thing is, that for a long time after we split up, we really had no contact. Once he stopped dating his next girlfriend, he began calling every so often. Occasionally I would answer. About a year after we’d last seen each other we went to a movie. And then the calls tapered off again, which was nice. Now it’s just once every 4-6 weeks or so, and since he never leaves a message…:shrug:

If he ever checked email I could write to him, but the thought of trying to have a calm adult conversation on this topic is not appealing. I get tongue-tied and he’s… the way he is. Never tongue-tied, anyway.


As you said if it were important he would leave a message. Most people would get the message after a few months, but your friend sounds like he is not mature enough or whatever and just not getting the hint.

If it persist or gets too annoying I would have a few short statements prepared and one day just pick up and let him know in no uncertain terms that you are just not interested in seeing him or speaking with him.

Part of the problem is the fact that you relented one time and basically went out with him to a movie date (“after a year of not seeing him”) that just encourages him to continue. If you mean to cut off the relationship you need to do so cold turkey and not do so half heartedly, no more dates or get togethers. Be polite and just say, I’m not interested in seeing you anymore, please stop calling.

Either that or just continue to ignore his phone calls.


You have a point – it wasn’t really a date, esp. since he was seeing someone else at the time, but rather a spur of the moment we-both-really-want-to-see-this sort of thing. OTOH, it did really give the impression that I was willing to be friends, to hang out, etc. Which isn’t the case at this point. I have again not seem him for about a year…

I think you’re right to have something prepared to say when he calls again, if I decide to pick up. I don’t want to be mean or passive-aggressive or highly dramatic, but it’s true he doesn’t get hints well.



Hi - it happens in your 50s, too.

No - you have no moral obligation at all to answer the phone when he calls, however you do have a moral obligation to yourself - as one of God’s children - to stay completely away from unhealthy situations. I also think that some serious prayer on your part for him is an excellent thing to do. It is somewhat interesting that you feel guilty about not answering the phone when he calls, after all that has happened.:confused:


Apparently it’s a lifelong possibility!!

Thanks. I come from a long line of worrywarts and guilt-trippers – I think it’s somewhat genetic!! I was raised to always answer the phone… of course in those days we had neither CID or voice mail, so you really kind of had to. I guess it’s just ingrained and it feels weird to let it ring!

I do figure, as we’ve talked about upthread, that if it were an emergency of some sort, if he really *needed *to talk to me for some reason (I got along well with his parents, for instance, so he might call if something happened to them), then he’d leave a message.

I didn’t know if this would come off as being selfish or mean. But it’s not like he doesn’t know what he did or know how it affected me, so it’s not as if he’s in the dark about my incommunicado status.

I just thought I’d get some feedback. Thanks everybody! I do feel better now. And I do, definitely, pray for him. Like I said, he’s not evil, he’s troubled. He does have good qualities, or I would not have dated him at all. So yes, he’s in my prayers even if I don’t feel like chatting/having coffee/hanging out.

In Christ,



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.