Fast forward to a few weeks ago: He dumps me because “he is stressing himself out too much worrying about me,” because he is “tired of being my therapist,” and because he “isn’t as happy as he used to be.” He says he will always love me and that I’ll have a special place in his heart. Yes, I was going through a hard time, but I was finally feeling better mentally and emotionally about my situation.
Not even a few days later, we see on social media that he is talking to a new girl. Now they are officially boyfriend and girlfriend. My friend tried to talk to him, but he is someone completely different now, being a complete asshole, which he never was. I blocked him on all social media, but according to my friends he is posting numerous pictures of the new girlfriend or of them kissing or whatever. He posted about us while we dated but only on special occasions.
I’m hurting so bad. Knowing he has someone else already makes me feel like my heart has been ripped open. The man I loved is gone, he’s someone completely different. I want to believe that he is still the one for me. I know that is the stupid thing to do, but I can’t stop thinking that.
Is he trying to hurt me on purpose by posting all this crap because he knows I’ll find out about it? Why did he move on so quickly, after everything we had gone through? Is it a rebound relationship? He told me numerous times a day that I was the one and that he loved me more than anything in the world. How could that disappear overnight? How can he be someone that he knows he’s not? I can’t make any sense of this. — Heartbroken
Well, it’s not really typical, in a secure and happy relationship, for one person to say “multiple times a day” for two and a half years that his partner is “the one” and that he loves her more than anything in the world. A few “I love you’s” during the day? Ok. But the whole “You’re the one” and “I love you more than anything in the world” and his doing “everything with you in mind,” and you depending on him for emotional support as heavily and, it sounds, as relentlessly as you did for the two and a half years you were together sounds as though: a) he was trying to convince himself he was really into you; b) He was trying to “save you”; c) your relationship was really imbalanced.
I’m assuming you’re both young (college-aged, right?) and you’re complaining that he’s now acting like someone he’s not, but the truth is that in your early 20s you’re still very much figuring out who you are, exactly. (And, frankly, for some people, this “figuring out who you are” period can last much longer than their 20s.) I’m sure he did love you, and he cared about you and was concerned about you, and with your sounding as emotionally fragile as you do, he got to try on the role as Savior Boyfriend. It sounds like he got tired of that role and now he’s trying on a different one. This doesn’t make him a liar. It makes him human. A young adult human trying to figure it out.
Here’s my advice to you: Try as hard as you can to not think about James so much. You were smart to block him on social media. Now tell your friends to stop updating you on what he’s doing. Knowing that you’ve had a really rough couple of years, that you tend to feel emotionally-challenged by big life events (your parents’ divorce, transferring schools, your grandfather’s death), expect the same from this break-up and be proactive about taking care of your emotional health. In the past you leaned heavily on your boyfriend for support. Now he’s not there to hold your hand through the pain you’re feeling. Find others to lean on: your friends; your family; a counselor at school; anyone you respect and trust. Diversify your dependence on people. Instead of relying on one person for most of the support, spread out your need.
And keep in mind: You are not alone in having a rough time of things. Everything you’ve gone through is pretty typical of growing up (dealing with your parents’ divorce, moving away from home, not liking your college, losing a grandparent, getting your heart broken). To spend two and a half years solid sort of feeling sorry for yourself because of these things isn’t really healthy. If that is indeed the truth — that you were only just now “finally feeling better mentally and emotionally about your situation” — a situation that again is pretty typical of a lot of people your age — I can understand how your boyfriend, who was by your side through the entirety of your multi-year “rough time,” got burned out. I’m not saying this to put blame on you but to provide some perspective. Your boyfriend has feelings, too. He’s allowed to have his own emotional break. Maybe this brand new relationship he’s in is that. Maybe it’s his finally exhaling after holding his breath for a long time, afraid of prioritizing his own needs when he thought yours were especially important. Maybe the weight lifted from his shoulders now that he’s no longer beholden to you has turned him around like a top and his kissing this other girl all over social media is a result of that.
But you know what? That doesn’t matter. His behavior — his reaction to your breakup — is totally unimportant. What matters is YOUR reaction and how you choose to process things and take care of your needs now. I would take this time to learn how to be more self-reliant, how to process your pain in healthy ways, and how to acknowledge and tend to the needs of others so that you aren’t so self-involved that you lose out on the beauty and power of mutually-fulfilling friendships and relationships. When two people can trust that they’ve each got the other’s back and they equally care about one another, it makes for a stronger bond and a healthier dynamic. I have a feeling that was missing in your relationship. The good news is that you can learn from this experience, can apply the lesson to your next relationship, and, can hopefully be a better girlfriend. That should not happen immediately, though, and when it does, I have one more piece of advice: just enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about “planning your whole future together.” Get to know each other, get to know yourselves. Life has a funny way of coming along and changing all those plans you thought you had for your whole future anyway. Just ask your parents.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.