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Last year, on the heels of a divorce from a long-term partner, I rebounded with a friend. He and I had a fun time together, but I quickly realized he wanted more than I did from the relationship so I attempted to end it with him multiple times. He always convinced me to stay by saying he could tone things down. We'd try that and it would be OK for a few weeks, but it always ended up right back at the intensity that felt uncomfortable for me. I ended things for good last summer, took a little time for myself, and we agreed that we'd like to stay friends.
That was working OK most of the time, but he lashed out at me sometimes over text to tell me all the things I did wrong and how I hurt him. I didn't find those conversations productive so I ended them when they started and tried to create some more distance between us. After some time alone, I started dating a mutual friend and told this ex about it because I felt it would be better if he heard from me than through the grapevine. His reaction was extremely negative and harsh, and since then, all we seem to do is fight whenever we speak. (Truthfully, though, we had been arguing for months by this point, so it was nothing new, really.) He claims to still want to be friends, but at this point we can only really send each other memes or dog photos because any conversation beyond that leads to a fight. It's obvious to me that he and I will never be friends and it's a wasted effort, so I'm investing time elsewhere. My question is whether I need to cut him off entirely or if I can just let our sparse texting taper off into nothing?
– Letting Go
It sort of depends on how often he texts.
If he's sending you dog pictures every now and then (weekly? monthly?), and you get the sense that he's phasing you out, too, you might as well do the taper. Respond to his messages when you feel like it and don't overthink it. There's no reason to mess with the pace of this if it's going in the right direction.
But if "sparse texting" means you're still hearing from him a few times a week, and if your phone is filled with memes and gifs of dogs chasing their tails (appropriate imagery), stop responding. He might ask why you're shutting him out, which could lead to another fight, but if that happens, it's a conversation worth having. All you'd have to tell him is that you need space after all the conflict. The end.
At this point, your goal is maximum clarity and minimum hurt. Let that guide all of your responses.