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Curiouser's avatar

Should I tell my ex's family that he's decided to become a "drifter"?

Asked by Curiouser (14points) July 27th, 2007

I met with my ex for a final dinner tonight (I'm moving) and he seemed more mentally unstable than usual. He told me that he's been sleeping on the beach even though he has a perfectly fine apartment because he feels "uncomfortable" there. So he's moving out so he can live on the beach and crash at acquaintances' apartments for who knows how long. I asked if he was going to tell his parents (with whom he speaks every week because they demand that he do so) and he said no. I've never talked to them at all but I feel like I should somehow try to get in touch with them and tell them what's up. Yes, he's an adult, but he's only 23 and he doesn't have any friends here to make sure that he's OK after I leave. What to do??

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10 Answers

Mightysphinx's avatar

If he broke up with you he may only be acting deranged to get you to lose interest. If you broke up with him he may be hoping you will stick around and worry about him. Or he may just be burnt out feeling like a failure and want a situation with no responsibility. Don't get his parents all freaked out and worried. He will call them if he needs them.

nomtastic's avatar

i disagree. if your ex is someone you still care about (even if you don't want to be his girlfriend) and his folks insist that they speak every week, i'd consider letting them know, or at least encouraging him to tell them.

Tank8131's avatar

I'd have to go with the don't tell the parents side. There's just something about him telling you this information and specifically saying he does NOT want his parents knowing and then you going off and telling his parents. It's a tough call...but ultimately I wouldn't tell his parents.

Curiouser's avatar

ALL: I guess I need to make clear that he is mentally unstable in the true clinical sense. He has been clinically diagnosed with some mental illnesses, but would never tell me which ones exactly (depression is almost certainly one of them). He was on meds for a little bit before we met but then took himself off of them to basically treat himself through things like the Master Cleanse and other herbs and pills he ordered online.

@ Mightysphinx: This really has nothing to do with our breakup. It was a few months ago and neither of us has much attachment to the other any more. We were living together and he broke up with me in a pretty unexpected and rude way, but I was OK with it because I was beginning to see that he was not healthy and that I wouldn't be either if we stayed together.

sjg102379's avatar

It sounds like you're pretty clear that some action needs to be taken. I'm a psychiatric social worker, and I totally agree that if there are mental health issues, you need to take action. I wouldn't do anything behind his back, though. Assuming that you know where he is, I would talk to him first and explain your concerns and ask him if he's willing to get some help now (even if you're leaving, you can do this via telephone or email) and then tell him you are really worried and that for your own comfort and his safety, you are going to let his parents know your concerns. He may be angry, but it's more respectful to let him know upfront what you're going to do. Too often, I've seen friends either not take action when there are serious mental heath issues because either they feel like they can handle it, or they don't want to upset or intrude on their friend. It sounds like your ex needs some professional help and/or some close supervision, and it's not your place to provide it--it's his family's.

gailcalled's avatar

I agree w. sjg102379's clear and well-thought answer. Having know 5 suicides, one in my own family, I believe in erring on the side of caution. Intervention may not help anything, but not intervening certainly won't. Someone's anger can be dealt w.; someone's self-inflicted death can't. The ripple effects last for generations.

rovdog's avatar

Does he have a drug habit? I haven't often heard of someone deciding to become a drifter all of a sudden, unless they just read "On the Road". Maybe he just read "On the Road" and got inspired. I don't know if this will help, but maybe you can see a different angle. Perhaps he's attracted to the romantic notion of being a drifter. In which case, he must be trying to impress you. I would reach out to him.

ThePlate's avatar

Yes you should tell his parents. First you should tell him what you're going to do. He is mentally ill. If you are in doubt, switch shoes. Would you want him to help you? Caution: don't make it your life.

Tank8131's avatar

Yeah, the whole mentally disabled thing would have changed alot of answers....

rovdog's avatar

Sorry, did not read your second post. Did not mean to be insensitive. You should tell his parents. No doubt.

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