Anyway, I actually have a follow-up question:
I haven’t heard from my ex at all, and after four months I’m pretty confident that I won’t. I’m really happy being single after four years with him and have no regrets as far as ending things, BUT his daughter, who is 14, keeps tagging me in pictures of herself on Facebook, liking and reposting pictures that I post of my pets (whom she was pretty attached to) on her profile, etc. So far, I’ve ignored these things, but I feel guilty about not acknowledging what seem like efforts to connect with me. I haven’t deleted her from my friends list because I thought it would hurt her feelings, but I did hide anything posted by everyone in my ex’s family from my news feed long ago, so I only find out about stuff she posts when she tags me in it or shares/likes my photos. I’ve told myself I’ll only respond if she sends me an actual message. Is that the right thing to do? — Still Wanting Drama-Free Breakup
Yes, at least for the time being. You spent four years with her father, from the time she was 10 until 14 — very formative years. If you had a good relationship, it’s only natural that she misses you and wants to stay connected, which is what she’s attempting to do with the Facebook tagging. But for now, let her continue staying connected that way without encouraging her by responding or commenting on the photos she tags you in.
Eventually, she’s going to stop trying to reach out if you aren’t responding to her. I can’t imagine she’s going to be tagging you in random photos of herself when she’s 20, but who knows, maybe you’ll get tagged in her prom photo or something like that, in which case, you could always passively “like” it — Facebook makes it so easy to stay passively connected to people like ex’s friends and family or a former co-worker you never liked but don’t want to totally lose touch with in case you need the career contact. And if she doesn’t eventually stop reaching out to you, I’d reach out to her father — your ex — and express your concern to him. Never communicate with his kids — as long as they’re under-aged — without first communicating with him. To go behind his back would be to invite speculation and drama, neither of which you want or need.
As for the book and the pants, I’d give them to Goodwill. If they were missed, you would have been contacted by now. Keeping them in your car is just a sad reminder of something you lost in the breakup (a relationship with your ex’s kids), which can’t be fun to think about and may even be hindering, at least on a subconscious level, your momentum forward. For the longest time after I broke up with an ex-boyfriend years ago, I kept a picture of him in my digital camera. I remember months after the breakup, a friend of mine going through my photos and seeing one of him and saying, “Oh, Wendy, it’s time to hit delete.” I was embarrassed, of course, but more than that, I knew she was right. And so I deleted his photo and instantly felt better. Sometimes those tangible connections to a relationship past keep us anchored a little too firmly in a transitional place, almost afraid of moving forward and losing some of who we used to be and any hope of re-gaining what we’ve given up.
I hope you’ll continue focusing on your future — on moving forward, and using memories of your past not as an anchor to this place of transition, but instead as motivation to keep becoming who you’re meant to be.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.