• Handling Breakups

Feeling used by a friend who once was a lover

Published: January 6, 2014 | By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
It is disappointing to cut off ties with a friend who once was a lover but sometimes a person leaves you no choice.


Hi Irene,

So I was dating a fellow for several months, and during that time I helped him get the process of pursuing child support started (I’m a law clerk). I also loaned him some money to retain a lawyer, as things got complicated and I did not want that much involvement in his legal issues. The relationship fell apart but we remained friends, even though I felt he treated me very unfairly during the relationship.

I decided to see him through the process of getting the child support and custody/visitation sorted because I still have feelings for him and his children and he’s a friend. The problem is, he keeps on trying to get me to help him with a few other legal issues and I’m not comfortable doing those favors for him. I’ve told him that, I’ve told him no. I’ve explained my reasons.

At this point, I feel that he’s trying to use me because I do still have feelings for him. I mean, even if I were still in a relationship with him I’m entitled to say no without feeling pressured, manipulated or made to feel guilty.

Admittedly, I don’t always maintain my composure when telling him no as the repeated requests and his expectations really get me down. Not only that, but as I’ve explained to him I started helping him out when we were a couple and much closer. I wasn’t fully comfortable at the time and I’m certainly not going to continue assisting him with his legal problems now when he’s now a long-distance friend.

But he persists and I become extremely upset when he asks. Usually, we’ll be having a normal conversation for a few days and then he brings it up. I react poorly and tell him no. He then goes on a tirade about how I promised to help him and he’s relying on me as a friend.

He dumped me back in February, we tried to repair things and we finally ended our romantic relationship back in August. I’m at my wits end and don’t know how to deal with it anymore. He’s asking too much of me, treating me poorly and hasn’t even started paying back the money I loaned him – yet he has the gall to ask me for further help! What is the best way to deal with this? I don’t necessarily want to end the friendship but he needs to respect my boundaries.

Signed, Nicole


Hi Nicole,

Based on your note, the answer about what you need to do is crystal clear. The relationship you had as a couple is over.

In terms of a friendship, any good friend wouldn’t treat you the way he does; make loans without an effort to repay them; or guilt you into providing help you’ve made clear you don’t want to provide. I’m not surprised you feel so frustrated but I don’t understand why you continue to place yourself in this untenable situation.

You need to move on, cut your losses, and be thankful this “friend who once was a lover” isn’t living on the same block. I would suggest you sever all contact because this guy hasn’t been able to respect the boundaries you have set in the past. You deserve much more from a relationship, romantic or platonic, than this.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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Category: Relationships with ex-friends

Comments (6)

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  1. Denise says:


    I agree with Amy. Whenever he starts again and asks for help, keep saying you can no longer help and refer him elsewhere. It is possible to empathize and listen and still say no. I understand why you are getting frustrated quickly during his whining and complaining. I would, too, and probably lose my temper.

    When someone doesn’t listen to what I’m saying, I will either stop talking or find a reason to leave. You could also say,
    1) “If we can’t find something else to talk about, I need to go.”
    2) “Let me know when we can talk about (or do) something else.”
    3) “I can’t talk about this anymore.”
    4) Change subjects without commenting on what he said.
    5) Spend less time in general and shorten the visits.

  2. Carol says:

    Many years ago I saw a therapist for the first time in my life. I was in my 30’s. I am now close to 75. This very wonderful and talented person gave me something to think about and I have never forgotten it. I didn’t get it for many years, but now I clearly understand her gift to me. She told me that there was no use for guilt unless you have truly done something worth the pain of it; murdered someone, caused cruelty and abusive to other humans or animals, etc. It took me many years to stop feeling guilty about simple mistakes I made in growing and learning. None of us are perfect and none of us will ever be so. For me I believe taking on such a feeling of being imperfect was learned by being shamed as a little one. Shaming children when all they want is to please, will not help them when they are adults and experiencing love in their lives, no matter what form it takes. Take care of yourself as if you are the most loving parent on the planet.

    I wish you strength, Carol

  3. Nicole says:

    I’m glad I came here for some perspective on this issue. My friends have been very supportive and lightly asking why I was involved as much as I was. Another suggested my involvement was preventing me from moving on. Obviously, those friend truly care about my well being but we’re reluctant to give me more strongly worded advice. All of you have said pretty much the same thing in different ways. I did put my foot down and his reaction was quite the eye opener. I have taken a huge step back and not communicated with him. Haven’t heard from him in a week now. Everytime I want to break the silence I step back and look at why I want contact. It’s hard but it’s doable. Done if the things I said to him were harsh and I feel some guilt about that. But that’s for me to deal with.

  4. Missabi says:

    When words don’t work, take action.

    Of course you are getting upset!!! Its really frustrating when someone keeps violating your boundaries. You sound like a calm, reasonable person.

    I try to remind myself to a) pay attention to my boundaries and b) let someone know in a gentle way if they are repeatedly crossing them and c) let the person know in a stronger way if they continue and d) follow up with action if they still don’t stop. I believe in second chances but you can’t give someone a second chance until they accept your point of view.

    You need some objectivity and to think about the situation. You are navigating the situation calmly but based on your feelings. Super healthy and beautiful way to be. However, I don’t think this person is trustworthy so you might find some clarity if you took a step back and tried to gain a clearer picture of what type of person they really are.

  5. Carol says:

    Nicole, Why shouldn’t we live with an expectation that everyone will treat us with kindness and respect? We can have all the expectations of things going our way we desire. However, life just doesn’t always give us only what we want. Maybe this situation is pointing you in a direction of finding time and energy to know yourself better. Why would you want someone in your life who seems to only bring you pain. Yes, pain is an excellent venue to learn about yourself and how you treat yourself. I guess the word “choice,” comes up for me. You can choose to stay involved with a person who treats you disrespectfully or you could be kinder to yourself by opening your eyes to the fact this person is not a helpful person in your life. Do the hard work of saying goodbye and moving on. Oh how many times in my many years on the planet did I say, “This is the one!” Maybe we don’t get what we want, but we get what we need in order to grow. I know, I know, it’s so hard. But it’s harder to remain where you are not honored and respected. Life is filled with ambiguity, full of strange surprises and nothing is certain except there will be an end to it. I wish you courage on your path.


  6. Amy says:

    He’s not respecting your boundaries. You no longer want to help him, and a good friend would respect that.
    It sounds like you might be inadvertently engaging him by feeling the need to continue the conversation or explain yourself. If you’re going to continue a friendship with him you’ve got to be brief and clear. “I can’t help you. Try calling legal aid or using a lawyer referral service. Please don’t ask me again.”
    If he continues to ask say, “I feel uncomfortable that I’ve already told you I’m not going to help you yet you continue to ask. I won’t continue this friendship if you ask again.” Then follow through.
    Good luck.

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