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My friend is obsessed with her ex


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We are a friend group of 5 girls in our late 20s. My friend Cassie had a relationship for 1 year and something more with a guy (this was 4 years ago). It was an toxic relationship mostly emotional abuse to her, he was very jealous and controlling but it never got physical. They had extreme fights and even though they decided to live together it did not work out. He left her after a big fight. He talked to me first some days after the break up, accepted all of his toxic behavior and said to me that he had been seeing a therapist (for 1-2 months before they broke up) and he realised that his behavior is abusive and that he needs to fix himself and being with her makes things worse for him. She still loved him but did not actively try to get back with him then. (I say for the better). After this he continued to go to therapy I dont really know if he fixed things inside him that led him to that behavior but he surely made a lot of steps towards being a better person. Since the break up and after 2-3 months of talking on the phone and a meet up with her (like closure thing) he never contacted again. He never did anything threatening to her or bother her at all. All good up to here?

She on the other hand is OBSESSED. She talks about the relationship all the time and tries to find excuses to blame him that he poses a threat to her. She says that he is looking at her all the time (he has a new gf for a year now) but he is not. She has gotten paranoid she thinks she hears his friends talk about her when she is around (we live in a small city so we see each other a lot) which is really not happening. Everytime she goes on a date with a new guy she says that the new guy is acting weirdly around her because her ex has told bad stuf about her to everybody, which I know ahe has not. Every rejection she had in her love life since, is because her ex goes to her potential lovers and warns them about her and stuff. These things DO NOT HAPPEN. She connects everything with him. She started going to the gym a couple of months ago and she found out her ex is going there too, and even though he goes there different classes and hours and they dont meet and he went there before her, she insists he did it to spy on her. She sees cars following her and says it is his friend that he sent to spy on her. Like for what? It pure paranoia. She cannot talk for anything else than him. She has been going to a therapist 2 years now but the therapist seems really bad since she has not been helped at all. On the contrary its getting worse. I cannot even remember every crazy thing I have heard the last years. We are all tired. We cannot go out and talk about anything its always going to be about the ex in the end. We have talked about it we supported we understand the trauma she has from the abuse but she needs to move on. She is losing most of her social circle and I am very sad about it. I have told her all this but she refuses to believe me. What do I do? She had relationships with other guys (one was 4 years and more serious than this one) but this never happened! I dont know what to do!

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15 minutes ago, shishi2 said:

 in our late 20s. . She has gotten paranoid she thinks she hears his friends talk about her when she is around which is really not happening. 

Does she have mental health or substance abuse issues?

Be kind and concerned. Schizophrenia and many other mental health issues can surface/peak in people's 20s. 

Maintain boundaries as far as limiting listening to obsessions or delusions. Instead casually ask if she has had a seen a physician lately. 

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3 hours ago, shishi2 said:

I have told her all this but she refuses to believe me. What do I do?

I'm sorry to hear this, and you're a good friend to have. Friend's anxiety can't be talked away--she'll only believe that you don't understand something that she ALONE intuitively knows about her level of danger. (And for safety, let's not assume thats she's necessarily wrong.)

Consider a different approach. Instead of trying to talk her out of her position (which you've already learned is pointless,) try joining her there. Bone up on resources you can offer her for counseling and proactive safety-plans from professionals who specialize in stalking and domestic violence.

To do this, contact domestic violence hotlines on the Internet for referrals local to you, including women's shelters. Such places can help regardless of whether a person had been physically hit--they are as much about prevention as they are about rescue.

Approach these services for a list of referrals, and offer GF to attend all appointments with any professionals she's willing to see, and you'll even take her there.

The goal is to help her feel safer rather than squelch her behavior.

Thank you for being a good friend, and write more if it helps.

Edited by catfeeder
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Know that as much as you try to be a good friend, there are some things you may not be able to fix or help with. I’d remain supportive and listen but suggest she speak with her doctor and find a different therapist. 

I would not speak about her personal issues with other friends, even the ones who know about her problems. If she confides in you don’t repeat it to others. I’m not suggesting that you’re doing any of these things and you seem like a good friend as are the rest of you in the group. I’d also encourage her to see that this ex has moved on and encourage her to live her life and continue pursuing her goals.

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Does she know she has a problem?

Do you ask her about what she thinks of her progress since the break up?  And how about with the therapist? 

Does she find improvement in herself and is therapy helpful in her opinion? 

Does she see what she is doing and saying as unreasonable? 

You're in a tough spot, as you can't force a friend to stop bad behavior like this.  She has to want to change. 

Does she have family that can help her? 

I'm not saying contact her family.  but you might try talking to her about how she sees herself and seeing more help. 

If that is not possible you might try setting boundaries for her with you.  You are young and these kinds of things happen with friends. As you get further into your 20's and 30's you have to make sure you are making good choices for yourself and your life plan. 

That's why some friendships don't last all your life. You have to be careful to not get dragged into someone else's life trying to save them from themselves. 

Your focus should, number one be on you. your goals, what youre doing to achieve them, making sure youre using your energy and efforts to set you up life.


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