How to split from your boyfriend without turning him into a stalker
Women, beware. Men are not what they used to be. They are less assured, less experienced. You’ve probably noticed. What is less obvious – though equally true, says Josei Seven (Nov 7) – is the link between this development and an upsurge of stalking.
Stalking, always a nuisance, is often dangerous and sometimes fatal. The case freshest in the public memory is the death on Oct 8 of 18-year-old high school senior Saaya Suzuki in Mitaka, Tokyo. She’d spoken to her parents, her teachers, and finally the police about her fears concerning a 21-year-old former boyfriend named Charles Thomas Ikenaga. She’d met him on Facebook and dated him for a year, but wanted to end the relationship. He didn’t. He deluged her with email. She couldn’t turn him off.
An anti-stalking law, passed in 2000 and toughened this past July, doesn’t seem to have transmitted a sense of urgency to police. They failed to take the matter seriously enough, and Suzuki was stabbed to death in her home. Ikenaga was arrested as a suspect.
Josei 7’s article is not specifically about the Suzuki case. Its title is, “How to break up with your boyfriend without turning him into a stalker.” That’s becoming increasingly hard to do. National Police Agency statistics record 19,920 stalking incidents in 2012, up from 14,618 in 2011 and 2,280 in 2000, the year the new law went into effect.
Overwhelmingly – in 90% of cases – the victims are women, and more than half the time the stalker is a current or former husband or lover. The heart of the matter, Josei 7 suggests, is a psychological, or sociological, difference between the sexes. Women, savoring their new-found independence, are prone to boredom, restlessness and the need for change; while men, newly dependent and unsure of themselves, have grown more clinging. “Men are starved for love,” says counselor Yukiko Saeki, who specializes in crimes against women.
Women are apt to fail to appreciate what rejection means to a man. Social change may have equalized the genders but anachronistic vestiges of the male ego survive. Men must learn to take no for an answer. Until they do, women, for their own protection, must learn to disengage themselves tactfully.
“Being dumped is painful for anyone, man or woman,” says one psychologist the magazine speaks to. “Experience toughens us and we learn to overcome the pain. Lately, though, a lot of men are very inexperienced” regarding the opposite sex. Untoughened, even a normally non-violent man can suddenly turn stalker when a woman he likes throws him over.
What should a woman do, then – put up with a guy she’s tired of? Forever? Obviously not, but for safety’s sake if for no other reason, she should let him down as gently as possible.
“Don’t suddenly hit him with the fact that you’re ready to end the relationship,” advises psychologist Masashi Usui. “Broach the matter gently, preferably by telephone. If his manner becomes threatening, get a friend or family member to intervene.”