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Originally published Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 5:54 AM

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Ex-wife’s pestering drives new girlfriend mad

Carolyn Hax tells a woman that her frustration with her boyfriend’s behavior has reached a point where she must make peace with it or move on.

Syndicated columnist

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Dear Carolyn

DEAR CAROLYN: I have been living with my boyfriend for 10 years. He moved here from out East and has an adult son there. He has been divorced for 16 years.

I have put up with his ex-wife’s texting and calling every time the boy upset her. I tolerated it because the boy was young and I understood it was painful to be separated from him.

The boy is now 23 and she seems to be texting and calling more and more. It’s not always about their son, but instead about how lonely she is, how she hates her job or how she has no money.

He does have a relationship with his son, they talk and text, so she really doesn’t need to be involved.

He said he will not stop texting with her. Some of their conversations are very personal and some of the things he says to her are hurtful to me.

I feel there is more going on with his feelings for her, which he denies. I am tired of this coming between us. It is the only time we ever argue. Am I being childish and unreasonable?

— F.

DEAR F: Worse. Impractical.

Whether you have grounds to feel threatened and invaded by the texting ex, and hurt by your enabling boyfriend — and I suspect the majority who read this will agree with you that you do — is no longer the point. The point now is, what are you going to do about this?

You’ve tried explaining your feelings to your boyfriend. He dismisses them.

You’ve tried digging for a deeper explanation. He denies there is one.

You’ve tried, apparently, asking him to stop or reduce his contact with her. He refuses.

He has made his choice, and it’s to change nothing about his own actions. That means it’s on you now. If you want things to change, then you’re the one who is going to have to change them. And that means the pressing question for you to answer isn’t “Am I being unreasonable?”; it’s “Is staying in this relationship worth it to me on these terms?”

DEAR CAROLYN: I recently became fed up with a family member’s habit of making rude comments about others, generally about appearance. I decided to confront her about it via email. I was very careful to stay only on that subject and not attack her (a la, “I don’t like your hair either!”). It basically said, “You were rude. This is a pattern. Maybe you should think about trying to change this.”

Her response was to become defensive and go on the attack, via email. I wrote back that she was right about some things, but this was about her and the hurtful things she says to people. I haven’t heard anything since and I’m not sure how to proceed. This is a family member who I also consider a close friend.

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Call her, apologize for hiding behind email, and learn from this.

Your message and motives might have been straight from the angels, but when you chose to scold her at electronic-arm’s length, you ceded the high ground in one stroke.

And, you did attack her. How would you like to open that same email from a “close friend”?

The best way to speak up was in person and right when you witnessed any rudeness. “Hey, why so rough on Auntie Em?” Next best (for next time): in person, and what’s-up? curious vs. stop-that! accusatory.

Whether to accept any peace overtures is up to her, but you need to make them, now. “I thought I was helping, but obviously wasn’t. I hope you’ll forgive me.”

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living

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