Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter is answered by freelance writer, Rachel East, AKA ReginaRey.
Slowly, I have been scraping out of this. I saw a therapist for a bit. I started dating a nice man who makes me feel loved and is kind enough to both give me my space and be there to help me heal. I was working more, dedicating myself to my jobs and beginning to hustle for new clients. I found the inspiration I had been missing to move forward with my pet project. I had been making new friends, reconnecting with old ones and looking ahead. Seemingly, I had forgotten all about him.
And then I received an email from my ex nonchalantly asking if we could be friends again. The grapevine quickly informed me that him and his new love had split. At first I felt palpable outrage — how dare he contact me so casually. I felt like I was owed an apology, or at the very least an acknowledgment of how badly he’d behaved. I did not respond; instead, I blocked him from contacting me and searched my psyche for the schadenfreude that was sure to come. Instead, I’ve fallen very quickly back into depression. My thoughts are consumed with him and I am once again flattened by the sadness and miss him desperately. I’ve asked the man I’m seeing to give me space, because I don’t want to lay this on him. I’m lost and I don’t know how to pull out of this again.
Although I know with every fiber of my rational mind that I should not contact him and that no good can come of having him in my life, my brain is trying to find ways to rationalize the following statement: If he is no longer with her, it stands to reason that he should be with me again. I feel hurt that he hasn’t tried to get back together with me and sad that he destroyed what we had to pursue something that turned out to be so fleeting. I want to shake him and ask him, “Was it worth it?” I want to remind him how wonderful we were together, before the hurt and the betrayal.
What do I do? How do I heal and get back, at least to where I was before the email came in? Reaching out to my ex for closure is not an option; I feel that any contact with him right now would push me deeper down the hole. I also live in constant fear of running into him, or worse – ending up on a job together (we are in the same industry). I can’t regress every time I am reminded of his existence. I know that time is always the answer to these things, but I’ve never been fragile or delicate, and this feeling of being a walking house of cards is only making me feel worse. Please advise. — Pulled Back In
First, let me applaud you for your strength. You’ve recognized how badly he treated you, you asked the other man you were seeing for space, you’re refusing to get back in touch with your ex – these are accomplishments that many women don’t make after a bad breakup, and you’re doing it. This is a very good foundation for healing.
But the problem is: How do you separate what you know (“He’s cruel,” “He treated me badly,” “I cannot talk to him.”) from what you feel (“I want to ask that ass if it was worth it!”, “I want him to know how badly he betrayed me!”)? One of the best things you can do is get back into therapy. You said you went “for a bit,” which leads me to believe you’re no longer going. Perhaps you thought you could handle the breakup on your own, and for a while you did. But the fact that he sent you dovetailing again proves that you probably still need the positive support of therapy. There’s nothing wrong with you for being set back by his sudden communication. We’re all fragile after breakups, and getting unexpected communication while you’re still trying to heal is enough to set any person back. Don’t feel weak or think you failed. Think of therapy as a weapon you can use to combat the negative effect he’s had on your life. Consider it a way to get back your strength, your confidence and your energy.
And let me assure you – you’re absolutely right for not reaching out to him for closure. But that doesn’t stop the barrage of questions you have for him. The thing is, you may never know why he left you. You may never learn if he regrets it or if he’s sorry. But remember what you did learn from this experience: he was cruel to you. He treated you awfully. He unceremoniously left your relationship for another woman. All of those actions reflect a poor character. When you find yourself wondering the answers to those questions, remind yourself that through his actions he already gave you the best answer you could get – he told you what kind of a person he truly was.
What would happen if you re-defined your ex in your mind? Instead of this person who broke your heart, he’s a man without much moral character, who might never know the joy of a lasting relationship: “I feel sorry for him because he has poor character. I pity his cruel nature and inability to be faithful. It’s sad that he betrayed someone he loved. I feel sorry that he might never learn from his mistakes.” If you start thinking like that, you get to take the power back. You get to be in control of your emotions again. You get to be the strong, emotionally intelligent person with power and a choice about how you feel. As for him, he gets relegated to the category of insignificant, pathetic people you can’t help but pity. It’s kind of hard to feel trampled on by someone while simultaneously thinking about how pathetic they are.
Carry those thoughts with you to ward off the sadness and despair. Eventually, you actually will feel sorry for him. And eventually, you’ll be glad he showed you who he really was, because it means you didn’t have to end up with him.
*ReginaRey (Real Name: Rachel East) is a full-time Events & Promotions Coordinator and a part-time freelance writer focusing on dating and relationships. One day, after tackling grad school, she plans to be your Marriage and Family Therapist…because the only thing better than talking about relationships all day is getting paid to talk about relationships all day. You can check out her weekly column here and follow her on Twitter @MissRachelEast.
Addie Pray October 13, 2011, 7:25 am
Great advice, ReginaRey. I have nothing to add… except: I love the red, RR!
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 9:10 am
Just wanted to add that I love the red too!
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 8:20 am
Thank you! It’s already faded since I took that pic (about 2.5 weeks ago). I feel like most of the time, unless I’m outdoors in the sunshine, it looks more auburn-y than true red. Alas, I guess I’ll have to make more frequent trips to my stylist!
Kerrycontrary October 13, 2011, 8:33 am
Red stays better in the winter-months. So hopefully it will get better as it gets chillier out 🙂 I love the red too though!
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 9:14 am
Great advice RR! (I refuse to accept that isn’t your real name.)
TheGirl October 13, 2011, 11:57 am
I love the red too! I’ve always wanted to go red, but my skin is so pink I fee like I’d just look like a tomato all over… Get yourself a red hair shampoo – red fades really fast so its either a LOT of salon visits, or a shampoo & conditioner set that deposits a small amount of color when you wash. John Freida has a good one and so does Aveda.
Landygirl October 13, 2011, 12:36 pm
Wash your hair less frequently and the color will last longer. You may also be able to buy a rinse or shampoo designed for red hair. If not, try a low or no sulfate shampoo. I use Wen and totally love it.
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 12:49 pm
That’s what’s frustrating – I’m already only washing it every other day (I bought a dry shampoo for those days), and when I wash it I’m using a shampoo for color treated hair without sulfates! I feel like I’m doing it all…and it’s still fading! 🙁 I guess that’s just normal?
Marcie October 13, 2011, 1:26 pm
Red is the hardest hair color to maintain. If you aren’t a true redhead, it will take a lot of maintenance and upkeep to keep it red.
Landygirl October 13, 2011, 2:24 pm
Red is a difficult color. The method in which its colored could make a difference as well. If you do it yourself, you can always run the color through the ends about halfway through the coloring process so it may be more vibrant at first.
Don’t wash your hair for a few days after the color and then try washing it every two or three days instead of every other day. You can also try toners which will enchance the color. Everytime you wash, the color will fade which is why it’s better to do it less often.
If you get it done professionally, talk to your stylist about methods that will make the color last longer. I find that any kind of shampoo that foams, even the expensive kind, takes more moisture out of my hair than I’d prefer, which is why I use Wen. I can actually comb through my hair which I can’t do when using shampoo!
kali October 13, 2011, 4:26 pm
Using cooler water helps maintain the color too. I just went back to red after a year away. I missed it!
Landygirl October 13, 2011, 4:46 pm
Yes! Good advice.
Addie Pray October 13, 2011, 5:48 pm
All the upkeep sounds exhausting… maybe I won’t go red and stick with my natural (boring) color.
Landygirl October 13, 2011, 7:21 pm
It isn’t that much considering you dont wash your hair as often!! Pretty much every color fades it’s just more noticable with reds.
6napkinburger October 13, 2011, 9:52 am
I totally misread the intro and thought the LETTER was written by Regina. I was so confused how you can seem so ok with your breakup in the comments (eventually) and how this could be your secret, underlying feelings. I was so sad.
I’m still sad for the LW but at least i’m not as confused.
CG October 13, 2011, 3:17 pm
Me too! I was totally confused by that. Glad I’m not the only one! 🙂
Jay October 13, 2011, 7:35 am
This is the saddest letter I ever read on DW.
Must suck for the new guy..
parton_doll October 13, 2011, 10:06 am
I agree … I feel bad for her new guy too because she isn’t able to be completely open to their relationship right now. The LW may be better off just being single for a while so that she can feel more whole before getting into another relationship.
Riefer October 13, 2011, 10:12 am
Yeah, the only other thing I would say is, do you *like* like the new guy? Or is he just convenient and you like having him around because he makes you feel better? If it’s the latter, you should let him go because you’re stringing him along. If it’s the former, then it looks like you found a pretty sweet guy!
Jay October 13, 2011, 7:23 pm
And I totally agree with the fact that she should have some time to herself to heal. She did mention she asked the new guy to give her some space. Maybe this is the really thing but she is blinded by the hurt of what happened with her former relationship and can’t really enjoy the new relationship and commit to it or maybe it is just a rebound.
LW: Take Skyblossom’s story and run with it. Truth is, we can’t tell you who is the right guy for you, whom you should forget or chose whom you should be with, but from the way you wrote you seem like a strong and grounded person and you already know better and that the answer is not this guy. He is just a failed relationship with someone untrustworthy and you can’t survive without the trust in a relationship. Take this lesson that life has given you and allow by your side only people that matter, give your attention only to whom is worth it. Before going back to him or consider a friendship with him, ask yourself this: how many painfull lessons do you I want life to teach me?
It is time to move on and feel better. Big hugs!! Tomorrow will be better!
Skyblossom October 13, 2011, 7:44 am
The let’s be friends email sounds as if he doesn’t get the pain he caused. Doesn’t get the stab in the heart, the emotional hurt vibrating through you. Friends don’t treat you like that so for him to want to be friends makes it sound as if nothing bad happened. It makes it sound like he’s a nice guy, he didn’t treat you badly, after all, he’s your friend. I think that’s part of why this second round has been so depressing. He doesn’t acknowledge, even slightly, how he harmed you. You deserve better. You deserve real friends and real love. If you accepted the offer to be friends you would be agreeing that he really did nothing wrong or bad to you. Well, he did.
Years ago I was with a guy I loved and thought I would marry and then he cheated on me. I was furious and hurt and sad and devastated. It took over a year before I didn’t ache as much but it did slowly get better. Later I met my husband and I wasn’t as furious about the way the first guy had treated me. Still angry, just not as angry. As more time went by I knew I was much happier with my husband than I ever could have been with the first guy because I could see his bad traits so much more clearly. After some years I was indifferent to the first guy and now I’ve reached the point where I am glad he cheated on me because if he hadn’t I would have probably ended up married to him and living a miserable life until I got divorced. I’ve reached the point where I think the best thing he ever did for me was to cheat on me because it forced me to move on and and when I did my life was much better. So time really will help and other relationships will give you better perspective and at some point you’ll probably be relieved to have escaped this one.
mlippart October 13, 2011, 9:35 am
I would disagree on your first line, that the ex didn’t get the pain he caused. It seems to me, based on how he acted during the breakup, and then the lame “lets be friends” email after the lady he sought greener pastures with split with him, that he’s just an insensitive assclown. Was probably also trolling for some action with the ex as well. I’ve never gotten the logic behind treating somebody terribly, leaving someone for someone else, and then saying “oh, let’s be friends.” Like, what kind of friendship could that possibly be? At best, he probably realized he made a huge mistake and wants to hit the rewind button. I think that should be how you look at this, LW. He screwed up, and after a while he realized it. The manner of his screw up would, to me, preclude any right for this person to be in your life. You deserve better. He deserves what he got. I would echo the advice above: feel bad for him, not for yourself. His behavior, then and now, is a reflection on him, not you.
Lulabelle October 13, 2011, 4:51 pm
I agree that he’s probably trolling for some action with the ex. Happens all the time and it’s cruel.
ReginaRey – great advice! I love your advice about taking back the control and pitying him for his character flaws.
evanscr05 October 13, 2011, 1:31 pm
@Skyblossom: Did I write that second paragraph?? Word for word, exactly what happened to me. I’ve never been that heartbroken in my whole life, but then I met my now-husband and I realized just how bad I was treated in the first place. Without that pain, I never would have realized how good I have it now.
@LW: When your heart is broken into that many pieces after a break up with someone who you thought you would marry, it’s not at all suprising you are having such a strong reaction to his recent communication, but as ReginaRey suggested, you are doing all the right things. People will always show you who they are, good and bad. You are better than how he treated you. Don’t give him the generosity of you back in his life. Friends do not treat friends in such a cowardly and selfish way. Confide in your boyfriend, consult a therapist, and continue to keep such a toxic relationship out of your life. You have already proven just how strong you are.
Skyblossom October 13, 2011, 3:10 pm
I think that part of what made it really hurt was that he had pushed the relationship along faster than I would have taken it. He pushed for marriage and commitment and always wanted to know how much I loved him and wanted to spend weekends together and wanted me to spend time with his family and so he’s talking about marriage to me and wanting to name our future children and he’s sleeping with someone else. It was such a stab in the back and I’m so thankful that I escaped all of that to be with someone much more mature and secure and confidant and loving and considerate. What an eye opener.
Jordana October 13, 2011, 7:44 am
That was great advice Regina. I always enjoy reading your responses.
LW: With time, you will overcome this and you are already a better person and stronger person. Eventually, your ex will just be a memory of your past. Take care and please give us an update.
Kerrycontrary October 13, 2011, 8:05 am
I hate the post-break up letters on DW because they just remind me of my first big break up. Nothing to add to the advice, but LW we all feel for you. You will get through this.
bethany October 13, 2011, 9:14 am
Totally. It’s been 12 years since my first “grown up” breakup, and despite being very happy with my life now, I can still remember the pain and frustration that went along with that breakup, and it sucked. big time.
Elizabeth October 13, 2011, 10:35 am
Completely agree with you there. I’ve been in a happy relationship for 4 years and I STILL think about that ‘big breakup’ with my major college boyfriend. and i was the instigator!
Marcie October 13, 2011, 1:30 pm
I definitely will always remember my first really bad heartbreak in high school. I was so devastated, my mom had to sleep in the bed with me! Sometimes it does take me back there, but I feel ljust like Bethany does!
FireStar October 13, 2011, 8:08 am
The let’s be friends email was just him testing the waters. It truly does speak to your strength of character that you just deleted it. What you know for sure is that you have the strength to get over him – you were already on your way doing that before he interrupted you. So follow RR’s excellent advice and touch base with your therapist to shore up your defences a little to get you through this rough patch. What RR said is true – changing how you define your ex to yourself – going from the man I was going to marry who broke my heart to a man who is weak and cruel and not worth my time – will help. Every so often things crawl out of the woodwork, it’s always traumatic to get a shoe and wack it until it is dead – but I have every faith in you that you have a sturdy shoe and a killer swing.
GertietheDino October 13, 2011, 11:13 am
My ex tried this one on me about 3 months after a horrific breakup (wherein he’d lined up a date for the day he broke up with me…via email…at work. We’d been together a year and a half). It was “oh hey, flying in tonight, can we get a drink?” “No, what do you want?” “C’mon, a drink for old time’s sake.” “Fine, seriously, what do you want?” “OK, now how about dinner. I’ll cook.” “No, I don’t want you in my house.” “C’mon, a dinner and bottle of wine for old time’s sake. (Touches thigh).”No.” “I was an idiot for thinking this would work, huh?” “Yes, yes you were.” Turns out the real reason he stopped by was because he didn’t want to drive the pass that night and thought he could get lucky. It was the last time we spoke and the best closure I could have gotten.
kali October 13, 2011, 4:30 pm
@FireStar – I LOVE this line: “it’s always traumatic to get a shoe and wack it until it is dead – but I have every faith in you that you have a sturdy shoe and a killer swing”!
LW: just as you made it through the pain before, you will again, and you will be that much stronger on the other side. Hugs!
FireStar October 13, 2011, 6:26 pm
bethany October 13, 2011, 9:12 am
Great advice! This stands out to me the most:
“When you find yourself wondering the answers to those questions, remind yourself that through his actions he already gave you the best answer you could get – he told you what kind of a person he truly was.”
I think nearly every person who has been through a breakup tends to look back on things and sometimes overlook those bad parts. We think of the great times and the wonderful connection we may have shared. But I think it’s really important to look back at those times where their actions showed you who they REALLY are, and to try to remember that.
6napkinburger October 13, 2011, 10:10 am
But sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. :-(.
I went to my psychiatrist yesterday, and though we don’t really do talk therapy, I do talk about whats going on in my life during the session. And I explained to him how sad I was about my breakup and him moving out, but that I knew it was never going to work and I had to explain why -why it was never going to work between me and him. But the doctor wasn’t getting it at first, so I had to explain in painstaking detail why. It finally surfaced that it all came down to that I didn’t trust his judgment/thought processes and his lack of judgment made me so angry and we couldn’t go through life with me being angry at him for the way he thinks, and most importantly, there was nothing that could ever be done to change that so I knew I had to end it.
But I was still sad.
And I mentioned that when we broke up, we said that we had to make sure that we were making the right decision and give it time, but dating in the far future, if it turned out we were wrong, wasn’t completely off the table. And then the Dr. said, “But you know that it is, because it will never change, right?” And I started to cry, because even after I had spent a half an hour explaining exactly why we were never ever ever going to work to a Dr. in totally logical terms, what his fatal flaws that I was never ever going to be able to get over, irrefutable reasons why we are clearly not right for each other, I DIDN’T/DON’T know that, I still hope I’m wrong.
So I hope you’re right.
Sorry for making this about me. I have no advice for the LW, as I feel so similarly. So I just hope that everyone else is right.
FireStar October 13, 2011, 10:22 am
I’m sorry sweetie – I hope you feel better soon. It is always very hard to face a brutal truth and to let go of a dream – however distant. It is the only way of truly healing though and you should be proud of yourself for having the courage to face the reality of your situation. You might not have felt it – but you were stronger leaving your appointment than you were going in.
silver_dragon_girl October 13, 2011, 10:27 am
You will feel better. You will. I promise, promise, promise.
I just broke up with someone in July. Granted, we hadn’t been together as long or as seriously as you two had, but it was still really, really painful. I spent about a week barely moving off of my couch, and a month after that desperately trying to fill my time because I knew- having been through this before- that I would feel better eventually. That one day I wouldn’t hurt anymore.
And you know what? I think holding onto that belief, and repeating it to myself even when I didn’t believe it, really helped me.
Someday soon you will feel happy again. You will realize that you can think about him with less pain and longing. You will go hours and days without him crossing your mind. You will. Remember that.
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 10:19 am
I totally, 100% understand where you’re coming from. I ended my relationship because I knew it wasn’t right, even though I really WANTED it to be right. I get what you mean when you say you were constantly mad at your boyfriend for his judgment. I was in a constant state of indifference. I felt like my boyfriend didn’t have anything that drove him, that motivated him, that fueled his passions…besides me. I needed a partner who felt motivated and driven and inspired on his own, and he just couldn’t right now. It didn’t change the fact that I hoped it would change, and that after the breakup I still hoped I was wrong. But after some time, I know I made the right choice. I couldn’t keep feeling constant neutrality about him, and I couldn’t end up marrying someone I wasn’t really IN love with anymore. You didn’t do the wrong thing, I promise.
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 9:13 am
I will echo what others have said–be proud of yourself for not responding to him. I think the advice about redefining him is key. Someone said on here recently that they wrote a list of the bad traits of their ex when they were mad and would refer to it every time they got sad or tempted to reach out to him. I would suggest you do the same.
Just keep plugging along and stay busy, even if you want to just be in bed.
cdobbs October 13, 2011, 9:19 am
LW I feel for you and I have been there! Just tell yourself that you are better without him. You were coming out of your depression, but had a minor set back when he contacted you…that’s ok…just keep doing what you are doing…focus on you and you will again pull yourself out of this funk….it just takes time…pretty soon he will be a distant memory and you can focus on what makes YOU happy. All the best 🙂
amber October 13, 2011, 9:21 am
I agree, great advice ReginaRey! And I also agree that the LW despite getting a letter from the ex after starting to heal, is dealing with the break-up better than other people I’ve seen in this same situation. I hope that she takes RR’s advice and gets back in to therapy. And I feel very bad for the new guy, this seems like terrible timing. As sad as it might be I wonder if the LW would be better off alone for right now. Maybe that’s what she meant by space, although saying the man I’m seeing makes me think she’s still acting like they’re together.
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 9:57 am
Definitely want to echo your thoughts about her being completely single right now. I only had limited words to answer her letter with, so I couldn’t address that fact. But I absolutely think she should be single, for now. Healing on your own (well, and with the help of a therapist!) and learning to stand on your own feet without any sort of relationship will make her much stronger. I think a new relationship will distract from the healing process, and it certainly wouldn’t be fair to the new guy.
artsygirl October 13, 2011, 9:22 am
LW – Last year one of my co-worker’s husbands committed suicide. Since then she has been spiraling through a lot of emotions. At first she was devastated, then she was angry, then she was despondent, etc. It cycled around, and at first the cycles would take up every part of her day. Not a moment went by that she was wracked with pain. But gradually the pain lessened and there were moments when she felt fine before the crushing rage/sadness came back. Eventually the moments of fineness took up more time than the bad stuff until she could get through the day. Unfortunately all it would take would be a forgotten shirt in the wash, a letter addressed to her husband, or any other event to send her back into the black spiral (though each time it was shorter and less painful). This is what is happening to you – you are mourning the death of your relationship and like my friend it ended in a brutal way that leaves you wondering if you missed signs or did something wrong. Regina gave great advice – I would also add that my friend would have arguments with her husband after his death. She would sit down at the kitchen table and yell about all the reasons why she was angry with him for killing himself. It allowed her to air all of her grievances verbally and made her feel much better afterward. Best of luck LW.
Lianne October 13, 2011, 9:22 am
“What would happen if you re-defined your ex in your mind? Instead of this person who broke your heart, he’s a man without much moral character, who might never know the joy of a lasting relationship: “I feel sorry for him because he has poor character. I pity his cruel nature and inability to be faithful. It’s sad that he betrayed someone he loved. I feel sorry that he might never learn from his mistakes.” If you start thinking like that, you get to take the power back. You get to be in control of your emotions again. You get to be the strong, emotionally intelligent person with power and a choice about how you feel. As for him, he gets relegated to the category of insignificant, pathetic people you can’t help but pity. It’s kind of hard to feel trampled on by someone while simultaneously thinking about how pathetic they are.”
Have you considered becoming a therapist – what wonderfully sound advice. Wish MY therapist had been this smart with my last, bad break-up!
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 10:00 am
Haha! Well, if you go back up and read my little blurb at the bottom, you’ll see I absolutely plan on becoming a therapist one day! I’ve been researching grad schools and programs, and plan to apply in about a year. I think I’d like to be a Marriage & Family Therapist, though I’d also hope to work a lot with people who are unmarried and needing guidance in their relationships and lives.
Britannia October 13, 2011, 12:20 pm
Really, that’s the bit that stuck out most to me, too. “Redefining your ex” has really helped me put not just my mind, but my heart, into perspective when dealing with the sort of emotions the LW is dealing with. That was beautiful, perfect advice, ReginaRey! I really hope that the LW is able to do it.
franny October 13, 2011, 9:27 am
I totally feel for you. I recently went through a similar thing where my ex and I went on a break and while at first it was going smoothly he suddenly turned cruel. We went from discussing a reconciliation to him refusing to speak to me, telling me we would never get back together, and to stop talking to him so he wouldn’t “regret us”. That hurt so bad, and worst of all I was completely in the dark about what had suddenly changed. It turned out he had another gf on the other side of the country the whole time we were together. I feel the same way you do though, like there are so many answers I want but also know I will most likely never get. I refused to talk to him after I found out the truth (and told the other gf) because I knew he would still lie to me. He was denying it to her so I knew he would be trying to save his ass until the grave. For that I am proud though, just like you I did not engage in the drama and ignored him. However, I still have those days where I wonder what he would have said or if he at all feels remorse (my guess is no since he called me names and told me I’m cruel after telling her). Mainly I just can’t even comprehend how one human could do that to another, especially when I loved him so much and treated him so well. Sorry to go on a tangent but I know throughout all of this, reading other stories similar to mine has made me feel less alone and like I can and will come out stronger. This may sound silly but I took up yoga after my breakup and it has helped wonders. It helps you get in touch with your body but also your mind, and it helps you quiet those thoughts that can be so destructive. You have already laid the groundwork though, so you only need to go back to what you were doing. I suspect that after a little time, just like after the initial breakup, things will get better and you will return to, if not surpass, that great place you were in.
silver_dragon_girl October 13, 2011, 9:31 am
First of all, great advice from ReginaRey!
LW, I feel for you. So much, you have no idea. And I want to give you some encouragement by saying this: I can tell from your letter that you are just right on the cusp of feeling better. You are. Because you didn’t engage with him when he emailed you. You did everything right- you blocked him, you told your new guy you needed some space, and you reached out for help.
I agree that you should seek therapy again. It’s not a one time only thing, and it doesn’t have a set time limit. Even going 3-4 times might help you through this rough patch.
Another thing you can do that helped me in the past is to just tell yourself things. Literally say to yourself, “Today I will feel better.” Not perfect, not even good, just better. Tell yourself in the mirror, “I will move past this, I am strong, I will not let his memory have this power over me.” I find those kind of reaffirmations to be very helpful, because I think it helps retrain my brain to think positively.
One day, soon, an hour will go by and you will realize you haven’t thought about him. You’ll be so happy. Then it’ll be two hours. Then three. Then an afternoon. Then a day. Then you’ll hear his name in conversation and realize he hasn’t crossed your mind in weeks, or months, or even years. I promise this day is coming, LW, just hang in there until it does.
6napkinburger October 13, 2011, 9:58 am
Please tell me that’s true. I’m not sure I believe it right now. (I’m not the LW btw).
silver_dragon_girl October 13, 2011, 10:06 am
It’s absolutely true.
My first boyfriend dumped me by ceasing communication- he just stopped answering my texts, calls, etc. We hadn’t dated that long, but because he was my first real relationship I was pretty upset, and I thought I would hold onto that anger forever. A few months ago one of my friends mentioned him by name, and I said, “Who?” I actually didn’t remember who she was talking about for a few moments. Granted, it took a year and a half to get to that point, but I had stopped thinking about it WAAAY before then.
So yes, eventually you will get to that point 🙂
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 10:07 am
It’s true. If you stick to it (as in, not communicating with your ex or stalking him on Facebook or otherwise seeking him out in some way), your mind really will slowly think about it less and less. It’s been about 7 weeks since my breakup, and at first it consumed my every thought. Now, while I might still think about him once or a few times every day, it doesn’t really hurt anymore. It’s hard to get through, but it will happen! By the way – are you going through a breakup right now? I feel for you!
6napkinburger October 13, 2011, 10:36 am
I guess I’m not allowed to say I’m going through a break up anymore. It’s done. It’s broken. He moved out two weeks ago. We had discussed it for about a month and a half before he finally moved out, though we never stopped acting like a couple until that day. It was my call. Which in some respects makes it harder. I know how much it sucks to be powerless and to feel like others are making choices for you and that their choices are wrong and dumb and they’re wrong and you are great for each other — I’ve been there and it hurts so much. But it is also hard when YOU are the one making the choice and you second guess it every second of every day. When you get home from work to an empty apartment and literally cry out to no-one: “I change my mind! Come back!”
Its hard to have faith in your decision when there is no way to know if you were right. If I had fallen in love with someone else, or he had done something to prove his unworthiness, it be so much easier. But just a realization that you don’t fit right-enough to go the distance, like shoes that seem good in the store but slowly give you blisters and make you bleed, and not the kind of shoes that get broken in and the blisters go away and they become your favorite, but the kind that you eventually have to stop wearing because they’re just too painful, even though you still love them and occassionally try to wear and then remember why you stopped wearing them, and you’d be better off if you just threw them out because you can’t seem to remember why you stopped until you’re in them again and you’re bleeding again.
And its up to you not to call and not to send mixed signals because he still loves you and he’s respecting your wishes not to contact you and every day you wish he was slightly less good of a man and wish he’d ignore what you told him, and be waiting on your stoop when you got home, so you could see him again and hold him again but not have to give in and not be the strong one. Because you have to be the strong one, its only fair.
So yes, I am going through a break up. And I feel totally broken.
This isn’t helping the LW, I know. But the one who makes the choice to end it has a responsibility as a good person to be the strong one, to hold his ground, to not send mixed messages; anything else is cruel. And by him writing you like that, without acknowledging your pain and his role in causing it, he’s showing you that he’s not strong and that he’s not good. So you get to be. And you get to reject him.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 10:53 am
I’m sorry, 6NB. I really admire your strength to recognize that the relationship wasn’t right for you, and to follow through with the breakup once you came to that realization. So many of us (myself included) have clung to relationships that weren’t right for us out of fear that it would hurt too much to leave, or that we wouldn’t ever find anything better.
I’m sorry that you’re going through this right now, but focus on healing, and just being GOOD to yourself, and you will come out of this an even stronger person. And you WILL find love again, with someone who embodies ALL of the qualities that you seek and admire.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 10:53 am
Also, LOVE the shoe analogy.
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 10:53 am
I get it completely. Just a few weeks ago, I was plagued with the constant question of “did I do the right thing??” I thought that getting broken up with was awful, but doing the breaking up is just as awful, because you constantly question yourself, and you never REALLY know if you were right or not. But you were, I know it. You’re right because you weren’t sure, and you weren’t sure for a long time. That’s exactly how I felt. Uncertainty, as vague as it feels, is a big sign that the relationship wasn’t right for you. That whole shoe analogy you just gave proves to me that you know it wasn’t right, you’re just doing a great job in the post-breakup period of trying to convince yourself “maybe I was wrong!” The only thing that will prove to you that you were right is time, which I know you know. Try telling yourself every day that you KNOW the relationship wasn’t right, even if you don’t believe it right now. Eventually, you really will.
JK October 13, 2011, 12:36 pm
I´m so sorry for what you´re going through, 6. It does get better, and believe me, when you meet the right guy you´ll know, you won´t have to second guess what you´re feeling.
I know it´s ard to be alone when you´ve been in a relationship, but there´s an expression in my country : “Better alone than with the wrong companion”, and it really is true.
artsygirl October 13, 2011, 4:48 pm
Hugs across the interweb 6napkin
6napkinburger October 13, 2011, 8:14 pm
Eh, nevermind, fuck it all.
Wow, emails really do just change everything.
Just got an email from him, forwarding a friendly reminder from the cleaning lady (who I don’t particularly like). As he knows I don’t like her, he offered to tell her “we split up so you [I] won’t be needing her services anymore.”
“We split up.” How much more blase can you be? Here I am being all sad about hurting him, and “we split up.” Pah.
(Of course I know I’m being ridiculous, but it sure is something how emails can just change how you feel just like that.)
moonflowers October 13, 2011, 9:45 pm
The breakup is like a raw open wound, so even a little salt like an email that wouldn’t hurt anywhere else feels like pure torture when it hits you RIGHT THERE. I know the feeling.
Two weeks is still pretty early into it, still in the rough patch. It won’t get significantly worse than this, at least, and someday, far away, you’ll be able to think of him or even get email from him and be “meh” about it. It seems unbelievable now, but it will happen.
The hardest part for me was not reaching out to him – no sending emails or phone calls or IMs. I caved a few times early on and found myself more hurt and upset each time, so even though it was painful, I decided “no contact” would be for the best.
Every day that I didn’t contact my ex, I drew a little star on the calendar (which I kept right next to my computer and phone). It was a few days at first, then a few weeks, then months. Now I don’t do it anymore because it would be pointless – it’s almost 5 years since I’ve communicated with him.
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 9:51 pm
Okay, look, I’m sorry. But what do you want him to say here? Seriously. What would make you feel better? Is he supposed to be all…
“I know that this is the worst break up ever on the face of the earth, how either of us shall ever go on and live our lives right now is a huge, giant mystery…perhaps I’d simply best tell the cleaning lady that we won’t be needing her anymore! Who can think of cleaning at a time like this!! Let’s just live in the messes that best reflect the state of our sorry lives!! Oh, GOD! Curse me and this wretched life for this relationship having not worked out!!!!! Oh, woe is us….”
Seriously, I just don’t get your reaction to this email. I just don’t. To me it sounds like you are just LOOKING for a reason to wallow in your misery.
6napkinburger October 13, 2011, 10:04 pm
No, this didn’t make me wallow; it kind of inspired the opposite.
Of COURSE there’s nothing he could say that was better. It was a perfectly innoculous email, just him being a nice guy, forwarding it to me because he always talked to her.
I’m not crying over this one: oh! sad! he used to handle this! ahhhh!
It was just a sharp reminder that while i AM wallowing a little, he is tra-la-la-ing all happy as a clam (which of course, I have no idea if he is). and that smarts. I’m sitting her reaching into the depths of my soul about how sad i am that I hurt him, and bam: tra la la.
Of course that’s how it should be. I shouldn’t be wallowing, or feeling a smug largess in my heart for *how much I hurt him*. I don’t want him to be miserable or sad, or at least, not too sad.
BUT. If you were sitting around feeling bad for yourself and bad for how much you hurt someone and then you see them skipping along, lapping on a lollypop, totally unfazed… It smarts. It just does. Regardless of whether I should be feeling any of those things, I was and it smarted. And I’m stuck at work doing really boring things, so I immediately posted my “hurumph-ness” about it, totally acknowledging that it was neither fair, logical nor proportional. It just was what it was.
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 10:18 pm
Um, okay… If somebody seems to be so decidedly “unhurt” as you inadvertently suggest he is since he’s apparently now skipping happily through life singing “tra la la” perhaps then this would be a good time to, I dunno, STOP feeling so bad about hurting them? Just a thought….
6napkinburger October 13, 2011, 10:30 pm
I really don’t get your attitude. I keep trying to respond to what you say in a decidedly different tone than you respond to me, evaluating what you say and giving you a fair, thoughtful response, and you keep coming back just as mean and totally dismissive.
Um, of course that means that I should reconsider how bad I’m feeling. That’s exactly what I’m doing right now.
Step 1: I felt super bad for hurting him.
Step 2: He clearly is not that hurt.* <– this was discovered 5 seconds ago
Step 3: I feel stung/stupid for feeling so bad when he's not that hurt. <– when I wrote it/the time it takes to process an email and write a post.
Step 4: I no longer feel bad about hurting him as much. <– moving on into it right now
But your response is just so mean-spirited. And you just keep coming after me.
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 10:38 pm
It really honestly wasn’t meant to be that way. I am just confused by your recent posts… You have been contradicting yourself a lot in them…and I am trying to make you see that you need to free yourself from your bad feelings. Lately you seem in a vicious cycle with them. All I was trying to say here is that if he is NOT that hurt by what you did, then there is absolutely no reason you should feel guilty or bad about what you did. That’s it.
6napkinburger October 13, 2011, 10:53 pm
You know what? That’s enough.
You’re just a big bully who everyone on here is afraid of. If we don’t include every detail that we could possibly mean within one post, we get flamed. Look around at how many people write: “I know BGM is going to jump on this” or “Despite what BGM is going to say…”
And you know what? It has nothing to do with your advice to LW’s. You want to make LW’s feel like crap for asking how to deal with trouble that they can’t see their way out of because they’re too mired in it, fine.
It has nothing to do with the fact that you take defiant stances against everything that other people say. That’s fine. Bring on the differing opinions.
But I would like everyone to look back at your posts the last couple of weeks. Most of them aren’t talking to the LW and they aren’t debating the issues that have come up from the questions posed; they are yelling at the commenters. As a group and individually. They are yelling that “all” the commenters support women and hate men. They are calling out specific people, who weren’t talking to you, or addressing anything you were saying, and blasting them for minutae that you don’t approve of. They are taking things out of context to draw larger, meaner points about how much, as a group, we suck, are unfair, hate men, don’t understand logic and, again, suck.
They have nothing to do with intelligent, invigorating discussion and everything to do with a mean man who gets off on insulting women on a forum where they are supposed to feel comfortable.
I wasn’t talking to you. And its not just that “I didn’t ask your opinion.” That’s not the point. People are allowed to give their opinions regardless of whether they are asked for. But look at your responses. The second is so condescending and so sarcastic. Why? You knew it was mean. You asked me what I would have wanted him to do and I AGREED with you that he couldn’t have done anything different, and explained that it just stung for a second so I commented on it, in a place where people seem to support me and don’t mind the random off-hand feeling.
But you took offense to that? You decided that you needed to insult me for that? Because you know I’m not stupid and you aren’t stupid. You could see that I was reflecting on my response to a stimulus. You knew that it wasn’t permanent stance.
You seem to derive pleasure from telling us how to feel and what not to feel. You get mad and vindictive and mean when we share the dirty secrets that sometimes we don’t feel the way we SHOULD, we feel the way we DO. You dismiss how we feel and you bitch us out for supporting each other and saying that sometimes feelings that aren’t awesome are OK. All of this for NO GOOD REASON. Just to be mean.
I don’t know; I really like this site. I can’t say I’m not going to come back but you make me really sad. And not in the way that you so callously dismissed people getting sad about purple thumbs. No. You keep attacking ME. The bits I share of myself, that don’t affect anything that you’re saying, that don’t impact your points or your opinions, that don’t have anything to do with what you care about or how you live your life; you keep attacking my life. My actual life. I put it out here for people to see and comment on, and I’m ok with disagreement and even criticism. But criticism that is fair. You know yours isn’t fair. You keep attacking my life.
And I don’t like it. So I’m going to ask you very nicely to please stop.
EB October 13, 2011, 11:19 pm
I posted my comment before I saw this and reading this just increases my anger/frustration with BGM’s callous remarks. I just want you to know that his viewpoint does NOT represent the majority of people who frequent DW. Please know that you DO have people who support you, appreciate your contributions, and identify with your struggles.
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 11:20 pm
I applaud you for that. Hope you’re feeling better.
Blitzen October 14, 2011, 12:31 am
Thank you for saying that, 6. I’m sick to death of the caustic comments. At this point, I just gloss over them.
bittergaymark October 14, 2011, 1:29 pm
Um, I challenge you to find an example of where I called anybody on here a name. And I am not referring to the LW, but to fellow commenters. Oh, I may attack their decisions and question their decisions. But I’ve never criticized them as a person or labeled them as anything. Seriously, go and find a quote. I challenge you. Have at it.
Clearly you have a problem with me. And that’s fine. But do stop trying to lash out at me under the guise of helping or defending others, because lets be honest, that is not at all your reason for doing it.
lets_be_honest October 14, 2011, 1:48 pm
A small sampling a just a few very recent ones. You can’t seriously think you’ve never criticized or labeled commenters as anything. Anyway, just back off on the whole making people feel like shit schtick and have a nice day.
October 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm
Oh, please. You sound like a f-ing psycho now.
October 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm
No, no. But the fact that so many of you actually think that such a conversation will magically solve any and all problems is really hilarious. It’s just childishly naive.
October 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm
Hey, I’m sorry your marriage fell apart, but after all that you’ve said here about it I am really not all that surprised.
October 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm
How can he take people’s suggestions if he’s already done them? Seriously. Are you all this unbelievably dense…
Flake October 14, 2011, 1:58 pm
Looks like someone can’t handle a bit of his own medicine…
Flake October 14, 2011, 2:06 pm
bittergaymark August 26, 2011 at 2:45 am
Right. Because going to a job you hate and dealing with lame-ass office politics is so much fucking better. You know what? If you don’t want to stay at home with the fucking kids, then DON’T HAVE the fucking kids!! Really. It’s. That. Fucking. Simple. It’s not like there is a fucking shortage of idiots on the planet anyway…
bittergaymark August 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm
I had a bad night. That said, if having kids is such a nightmare, maybe some of you should have (I dunno!) stopped after one? Seriously, it appears that some of YOU can’t handle motherhood with flying colors and that you now view not only as such a terrible burden, but one that has also rendered your husbands into giant burdens as well. (Don’t touch me! The babies touch me! Don’t touch me! I sound psycho but I have floors to clean! DON”T TOUCH ME!!!!!)
Um, okay… If you think your family doesn’t pick up on your resentment…well, sorry, but you are sorely mistaken.
bittergaymark August 26, 2011 at 2:50 am
Oh, get off the cross. Nobody put a gun to ANY of your heads and forced you to get knocked up three freaking times!!! Seriously… I pity so many of your children for I have never, ever seen so many people describe motherhood in such foul and ungrateful terms… Seriously. Suck it up or give it a rest.
bittergaymark August 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm
Looks at all those thumbsdown.., Why do we even bother being the voice of reason around here? All anybody in these comment sections seemingly wants is to validate their own failings as a person. Nobody tries to excel, instead its endless laundry lists of excuses for bad behavior… And relentlessly patting one another on the back for doing the best they can — which frankly sounds pretty shitty.
bittergaymark August 27, 2011 at 12:48 am
Seriously. It’s comedic. In a tragic way though as it seems many people on here may NOT have been cut out to be mothers in that they seemingly resent it so… They almost resent it as much as they apparently resent their husbands… Yikes.
bittergaymark October 14, 2011, 4:25 pm
God, neither of you REALLY have anything better to do. Seriously, can’t we all just grow up a bit? Look, if you are so fragile that you can’t take my rather soft barbs here on the nameless faceless internet…well, trust me, you all have much better things to worry about than me.
Seriously. Some of these are hilarious… Especially the first one where I told somebody they were sounding psycho ONLY after they suggested cutting somebody’s balls off and stapling them to their forehead.
As for all the mommy stuff — it was all said to show you all how terrible that YOU made motherhood sound. You all made it sound like such a terrible burden that I really did think you needed to be called out on that.
And I don’t think calling somebody naive is the worst thing. Often, around here, it’s very, very true.
EB October 13, 2011, 11:04 pm
I can’t believe I am going to pull a Chris Crocker but…
please BGM leave 6 alone
She is a real person with real feelings who is going through a really difficult time. I’ve been there before and the only difference btw 6 and myself is that I would feel far too vulnerable to publicly share such an experience while actually living through it. I admire 6’s courage and it pains me to see you constantly tear into her and devalue her feelings. I understand why SHE is so emotionally invested in HER breakup but why are YOU? You’ve made your point, please just let it go.
bittergaymark October 14, 2011, 4:44 am
Fine. You know what? When it comes to 6, I will have no further comment. Excuse me for trying to help. It was a huge, colossal misstep on my part in that clearly, she doesn’t need it as clearly she is coping with this break up just fantastically and I was beyond misguided in trying to help. It won’t happen again.
That said, if people are going to wantonly air all of their problems on here in some none stop pity party, they really shouldn’t be surprised when people feel free to comment on said problems or offer advice.
EB October 14, 2011, 9:20 am
BGM- You totally have a right to comment. You said your piece. She for whatever reason did not find your advice helpful. You tried. Whether your initial advice was “right” or not, she found it hurtful and not helpful. If your intention is truly to help her, it would seem clear by this point that you offering further insight will not accomplish that. So why waste your time and energy?
In addition, even if your intention is not to help but to merely voice your annoyance w/6 for her public “pity party”, you still have a right to comment. I guess I just don’t understand why you would. If 6 wants to use DW as her own personal live journal, who cares? Don’t read her posts if you find them to be annoying. Furthermore why continue to comment on 6’s relationship if you are sick of hearing her talk about it? All that does is add fuel to the fire and encourage the conversation to continue.
Finally, if something she says bothers or annoys you, I’m sure 10 minutes later you’ve forgotten about it. Whereas, when you say something hurtful to her, it probably does not role off her back quite as easily. She has made it clear your comments are hurting her feelings; is she really annoying you to the point where a response that leaves her feeling sad or bad about herself is warranted?
lets_be_honest October 14, 2011, 9:30 am
EB, of course everyone has a right to comment and I think your reply was very kind. However, for someone to ENJOY and laugh at someone who is going to through a breakup and turning to what many have called a little family on here, is being an A hole. Period. He wasn’t trying to help. I give 6 a lot of credit for intially replying with comments that seemed like she was trying to see through the bitchiness and she even agreed with some of what he was saying. IMHO, there is a lonely little sad man who hides behind his keyboard trying to make others feel as pathetic as he is. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship that freshly ended can act a little over the top. Moral of the story, if you get annoyed by comments and only want to be a childish dickhead (you know, like when you’re in grade school and theres a bully), keep your comments to yourself and ignore it if you think you’re so much better than everyone on here.
EB October 14, 2011, 11:11 am
My earlier response was much more emotionally charged to which BGM responded:
“When it comes to 6, I will have no further comment. Excuse me for trying to help. It was a huge, colossal misstep on my part in that clearly, she doesn’t need it as clearly she is coping with this break up just fantastically and I was beyond misguided in trying to help. It won’t happen again”
Which basically made me realize I had instigated another opportunity to debate/criticize 6’s relationship, judgment, etc.
So my follow up post was an attempt to appeal to his sense of reason by pointing out there is no logical reason for him to continue to engage in this situation unless his motive is to cause drama and be hurtful. So since he claims that is not his goal, I assume he’ll stop or he is more than welcome to disagree with my post. Since it’s not a personal attack on any of his opinions, I see no reason why it should elicit anything but a calm rational discussion.
For me, I just want the ongoing personal attacks to stop and I don’t care if it is because BGM realizes he’s wrong/mean or just because he accepts it’s an unproductive method to reach his desired end. If that makes any sense?
lets_be_honest October 14, 2011, 11:17 am
Very much makes sense. Intelligent and rational I might add.
bittergaymark October 14, 2011, 12:47 pm
Actually, I very much WAS trying to help. I was very much hoping that somebody (and others in her same situations) would REALIZE how much they are going out of their way to make themselves miserable because you know what? I have done that. And it IS a vicious cycle and the only thing that snapped me out of it years ago was somebody telling me that I was very much doing it to myself. And looking back I realize that all those good friends who were helping me wallow in my own misery ironically WEREN’T actually helping me or making me feel any better.
The fact that Lets_Be_Honest would climb up on to her increasingly high horse about what a horrible, bullying person I am and go out of her way to make this all personal is truly irony at its finest. I’ve never said anything bad about the anybody on here. Now that’s something Lets_Be_Honest can’t say and truthfully can’t say on here and keep her nickname as she pretty much bad mouths me every chance she gets.
But right. I’M the bully. Whatever. You know what? Fine. You can all wallow in your own tragic self created misery. I am done trying to make you all feel better. I’m done trying to snap you out of it. I’m done being shot as the messenger around here. But you know what, here’s one last parting shot.
If people can’t handle a break up. Hell, if they can’t even seem to handle my detached comments about said break up…Well, then maybe they have no business dating simply because it very much appears that they simply lack the emotional maturity to handle it.
lets_be_honest October 14, 2011, 1:21 pm
You are a bully and a huge hyprocite. You personally attack 90% of the commenters on a daily basis calling them idiots, laughing at their misery, act like you’re better than everyone and you hold all the answers and have never made a mistake. Not to mention how you insult women as a whole on here as though we all have the same beliefs that you put in our mouths and the fact that you bash an entire religion every chance you get. If thats too personal for you, then I suggest you don’t read my comments, or any of the SEVERAL other commenters on the last several columns who clearly agree with me. If you really think you have been trying to be helpful and haven’t attacked anyone on here, I suggest you take a look at your own comments and take some time to reflect on yourself. I’m more than happy to ignore your comments, but I won’t sit back and let you belittle people on here.
Shadowflash1522 October 14, 2011, 2:30 pm
Um, can we please cool our collective branding irons before somebody loses an eye?
Seriously, guys, I love a good fight as much as anybody on here and I’m not exactly touchy-feely, but this is getting out of hand. Can we stop branding each other “idiot”, “bully”, “naive”, “man-” or “woman-hating” for a sec here?
Team Anti-BGM: The name says it all. Really, is *anyone* surprised that a man posting under the handle bittergaymark is, well, bitter? I gather from my days of lurking and posting that his comments center around the philosophy of “the floggings will continue until morale improves.” Tough love. Whatever you call it, his purpose (not to put words in your mouth, BGM) is to counterpoint the prevailing viewpoints on this board, for better or worse. He’s the purple thumb to your like, sour to your sweet, brutal and uncompromising to your kind touchy-feely. It’s not for everyone, but without it some things would never be said.
Team Pro-BGM (and the man himself): As the BGM-equivalent in my group of friends, I would like to remind you that tone doesn’t translate well across the Internet. Also, I would like to remind you that not everyone is going to respond to the truth with “Oh Mark, you’re so right! Thank you for showing me what a douchetastic, controlling, psychotic bitch I am! I see the light now!” No matter how right you may be, *no one* likes facing up to their inadequacies, and there are few people in this world who take it gracefully. If you wish to continue on this road (and I would lose a lot of respect for you if you didn’t) I would respectfully suggest that you not take such responses so personally.
6NB: I don’t know you, but I really like you. You’re honest, straightforward, and are not too afraid to say true things even if they make you look stupid. I think the first time we talked on these boards was to make jokes about trolls wearing pointy gnome hats, remember? So cheer up. Life is good 🙂
Wendy October 14, 2011, 2:48 pm
lets_be_honest October 14, 2011, 2:36 pm
Thanks for being a voice of reason shadowflash, when clearly I was getting worked up. I stand by my comments and stand down on this fruitless argument.
Flake October 14, 2011, 2:36 pm
That’s the point exactly. There are ways of dishing out tough love without insulting and being all condescending to the LWs and commenters and generally anyone who disagrees with you. The thing is that personally I agree with BGM quite often and I understand the sarcasm and dark humor and all that “just snap out of it” stuff, but I will never accept somebody being openly rude to me.
bittergaymark October 14, 2011, 3:53 pm
Shadowflash1522, I agree with you one hundred percent. I am not taking any of this personally, but I do wish certain people would stop using me in some pathetic effort to make them look more moral and kind. It’s all so phony and false. And I am tired of constantly being labeled as black by the kettle so to speak.
Flake, when have I ever been rude to you? Seriously, I don’t recall ever even interacting with you much at all… But perhaps there is something I am forgetting.
Flake October 14, 2011, 3:57 pm
BGM: Look at the examples above. Most of them were directed at me for admitting that raising kids is a hard job.
And I really want to point out that most of the time I do agree with your opinions, I just don’t understand why they have to be delivered with such animosity.
6napkinburger October 14, 2011, 4:01 pm
I have thought a lot about this since last night.
First, I did not see BGM’s follow-up to my second-to-last post before posting my last post. Thus, in case there was any confusion, my last post was in response to the one it is outline-form-under, not the one right above it.
I have spent a lot of time trying to determine why that comment hurt my feelings so much, prompting me to write such a long, and at times, overly-mean response. It should be noted that there are several things within the post I wish I hadn’t said, and I apologize for them. They are the ones which are pointed mean statements regarding an individual as a person. I thought I had edited them out, but I did not and for that I sincerely apologize.
I have been going back and forth whether to try to explain what prompted my reponse. I have no desire to fuel a fight and I’m sure that BGM does not care anymore and very likely won’t read this post. But if the goal truly was helping people, being the tough love they need, then it might be useful to know WHY comments like that are so poorly received. And it isn’t just because no one likes criticism, though that is true. I will try to explain it the best that I can.
You seem so laser-like in your focus, pinpointing a specific feeling or moment of other commenters (as well as LW’s), which is often a very good thing and allows some pointed and poignant contributions on your part. However, you don’t seem to allow for any “benefit of the doubt” assumptions, even with people who you know their writing styles as well as some of their background. I get why you don’t give that benefit of the doubt to LW’s, but I don’t as to constant commenters.
For example, in the earlier thread, in my response to the gentleman who was having trouble with his wife, I had mentioned that when I gained weight, I no longer wanted to be intimate with my boyfriend and that catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror turned me off, though sometimes I pushed through anyway. You extrapolated from that I never had sex with my husband, despite his needs, and that because of it, our marriage fell apart. I was describing a feeling, from a specific period of time. As far as anyone could tell from my comment, this could have lasted a week. Your jump to conclusions, and the vitrol with which you peppered your comments regarding those conclusions, were hurtful; I felt you hadn’t even given me a chance to explain that they weren’t true and then trounced on me for feeling the way you believed I felt. Why does that bother me? I’m not sure, but it did/does.
In the above example, I thought I had included enough light-hearted indicators (“hurumphness”) that I had conveyed the mood and understanding I had of the situation. I was commenting on an instanteous feeling I had had. And I still think your first comment was fair, if a little heavy handed. But it seemed like, despite my best intention to hear you, to acknowledge what you were saying, and to explain why I had felt a particular way, in that previous instant, in response to your question, you came back slamming me. It didn’t feel like a conversation, like a discussion. And not just because you weren’t patting my back and telling me I’m doing everything right. But because it was actually… aggressive, in its wording and in jumping to the conclusion that I hadn’t thought that of your suggestion myself. Because the implication in your comment was that I hadn’t, and the comment read like it was because I was clearly not smart enough to make the connection. You have to admit that this is how it reads. And I just got so upset that no matter how much I felt like I try to engage you in actual discussion, to set aside the “bitter” to actually connect, it didn’t work. And if you didn’t want to be in a discussion with me,then why were you talking to me? It seemed like the only answer could have been to insult me.
You say that you have been in this place before; but sometimes I wonder how long ago that was. I wonder when the last time you were freshly cut and felt like you were bleeding. Not because I wish for you to feel that way but because I feel sometimes that you have forgotten how inconsistent, illogical and uncontrollable one’s feelings can be during those times. Not actions; those are within control. But the ups and downs and sheer shittiness of the range of feelings you get. I appreciate that you think I’m being inconsistent, but your confusion by that has left me wondering if time had perhaps obscurred your full ability to relate to the unpredictibility of those feelings.
You say wished your friends had weilded some tough love and that’s what you’re trying to do here and I’ll take you at your word. I don’t want someone to feel “banned” from responding to everything I say, least of all someone who is as insightful and intelligent as you. I dislike that I feel there is a lingering akwardness in the inter-air.
So don’t write me off BGM and I haven’t written you off.
bittergaymark October 14, 2011, 4:19 pm
Just so you know, 6, I did read this entire post. And i have no desire to fight with you. Carry on, people. Carry on. The only reason I railed a bit so passionately about it today is that I think (and I have thought about this very carefully as I spent a seemingly endless hour in line at the DMV) that certain people on here have been using you a bit to grind their axe against me. They jumped into this fight or whatever and mad it much bigger than it need to be. And, I find that obnoxiously disingenuous to say the least. And that’s the REAL thing I was venting about for pretty much all of today’s posts.
Best of luck, 6.
LeahW. October 13, 2011, 9:45 am
LW, as someone who has battled depression myself I agree that you should give therapy another try and stick with it, even once you feel like you’re getting better. The thing that defines depression is not negative thoughts, but not feeling anything at all. Just think about what that word means: depressed. When I would go through a depressive cycle, along with feelings of sadness and self-loathing I mostly just felt flat, anesthetized. Depression is the mind’s way of escaping something that feels worse. In my case it was a then-undiagnosed generalized anxiety problem, and for you it seems like your very normal feelings about such a terrible break-up.
The thing is, now that you’ve gone through one depressive cycle and subconsciously know that such a mental escape is possible, you’re much more likely to have further depressive episodes. Imagine that you had turned to drugs or alcohol to get through the break-up the first time. You’d probably be more likely to turn to those things again in the future, because they seem to make things easier in the moment. Depression works the same way. As horrible as it feels, the real world feels worse, which is why it’s so hard to pull yourself together and reengage with the world once you’ve gotten depressed.
Therapy can help you to understand your depression better and figure out when you stop (your real reactions to your very real break-up) and the depressive symptoms start (negative self-talk, lack of motivation, physical symptoms) and how to help avoid such episodes in the future. You also might discover that you have some other underlying issues that made it more likely for you to have a depressive episode in the first place. I never knew I had anxiety until I was in therapy for the depression, and it turns out that I was anxious ALL. THE. TIME. Your therapist might suggest medication as well, which is the extra push that most people need to get themselves out of a depressive episode and make the best use of regular therapy.
And as someone who’s been through it, let me just say that weak people don’t go to therapy, strong people do. It takes a lot of courage to actually deal with your problems instead of pretending that they don’t exist or using a crutch to get through them. Getting myself healthy is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the thing I’m most proud of. And after being in therapy and on medication for a year or so, I was able to drop both and haven’t had a depressive episode since. It takes work, but is so worth it!
Bossy Italian Wife October 13, 2011, 9:54 am
Sound advice, for sure. I am sure that what you went through was devastating, and my heart goes out to you. Don’t give this guy another minute of your precious time!
Definitely don’t forge a friendship with this guy. If he had any respect for you, he would have ended the relationship more respectfully, and you don’t need friends (or ex boyfriend friends) like that!
I would go back to therapy and stay strong. It’s important to keep in mind that therapy is a great tool for confidence and strength building, and not just when the chips are down. Stay strong and let this douche bag wallow in his own mess. He made his bed, and he should lay in it!
Hopefully this will be his big wake up call that he can’t treat people this way!
The_Yellow_Dart October 13, 2011, 10:08 am
LW, in addition to all this other good advice, it sounds like you need something to do in your spare time. From your letter, it seems like your freelance work keeps you mostly at home. My advice is to get out and find a new activity! After my most recent break-up, I joined an organized sports team (I think I’m in better shape, and now I can hit a softball!). My best friend started taking sewing lessons (she’s now good enough to make really snazzy dresses for herself). Doing something new is initially a form of distraction from the breakup, but acquiring a new skill also fosters self-confidence – and you’ll get to meet a whole group of people with similar interests!
MellaJade October 13, 2011, 10:20 am
Hey ReginaRey, great advice to the LW. I had an awful, immobilizing post-breakup depression last year too and everything the LW wrote brought me back to it. I don’t know where I would be today without having gotten some real good therapy.
Keep up the great work!
ps I am now ‘following’ you on Twitter. ;-D
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 10:38 am
I just want to say, LW, that I know how you feel, and I know that you will get through this. During the aftermath of a particularly HORRENDOUS and traumatic relationship, I had a lot of the same problems – it was RAGE RAGE RAGE depression RAGE RAGE… and eventually I started to get better… but still, any mention of the ex, or any reminder of him, or god forbid any contact from him would send me into a downward spiral. It got so bad that for a while I wouldn’t let anyone speak his name or acknowledge his existence. I, too, deleted/ignored all of his emails/texts/phonecalls (good job on that one, LW).
I think part of the reason that this process dragged out so long for me was because initially, I didn’t allow myself to feel anything. I completely suppressed and buried everything, and I was in denial about how bad my situation had been and how much he had hurt me. I wouldn’t even admit it to MYSELF, or write it down in a journal.
So I think it’s really important to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. In fact, I think you should set aside some time each day specifically to mourn or grieve or whatever you want to call it. If it involves journaling, or just letting yourself cry, deleting/trashing old photos, go ahead and do it. Put it in your schedule. Allow yourself to just let it all out… for a set period of time… and then be done with it until the next day. Eventually you’ll find that you don’t really need to do it as much, or ever.
Therapy also helped me. And time. Of course, time. I feel indifferent about my ex now, which is exactly where I want to be. As a matter of fact, I ran into him out in public recently for the first time and I did NOT have the major freakout that I thought I would have. Of course, I avoided him, but I didn’t freak out, so yay!! AND now I have the most loving, thoughtful, caring, awesome boyfriend I could ever ask for. Happy ending! (for now).
LTC039 October 13, 2011, 10:40 am
Here’s my piece:
I believe you should respond to his e-mail. Get everything off your chest. I feel like letting go of all that emotion you have inside will be a good thing. You’re not thinking of him because you genuinely miss him/want him back. I don’t believe that because you already recognized how much of an asshole he is. You did all the hardwork of getting through what he did to you.
That feeling of ” where the HELL does he come off writing to me so non-chalantly after everything he did” is what’s getting to you & I feel you should let him know.
He didn’t break up w/ this woman bc you two “belong together,” no, he broke up with her bc obviously they didn’t work out. Maybe karma came around & she cheated on him? Regardless just know that you deserve BETTER & there’s no way that you’ll get that by going back to him.
Write him back. Even if you don’t want to send it, that’s perfectly ok. But either way respond to his e-mail. Decide after if you want him to see it or not.
Kate B October 13, 2011, 10:58 am
I like this idea. I’ve written some of these in my time. I actually sent one. Sending it did not accomplish anything, but I loved writing it.
LTC039 October 13, 2011, 11:21 am
If anything it helps relieve some of that inner tension, sent or not. So it was a good thing you did it 🙂
Skyblossom October 13, 2011, 12:04 pm
I’ve done this too and it works. It’s a great release to get it all out and then you can keep it or send it. If you think about sending it it’s probably best to wait at least a few weeks and see if you still want to send.
Kate B October 13, 2011, 1:42 pm
I really didn’t expect a response, but I couldn’t resist the impulse to hit send. It was wonderful.
kf October 13, 2011, 10:43 am
Well, wait just a minute here. Here’s the extent of the discussion about the breakup:
About six months ago, the man I thought I was going to marry left me unceremoniously for another woman. During the aftermath – the moving out and settling of affairs — he acted cruelly and horribly, cementing the split and making damn sure I didn’t come back.
There’s not one single specific example of anything the guy did or said that could be objectively considered to be cruel or horrible; that’s just LW’s subjective take on it. She might be completely right, but it doesn’t seem much of a stretch at all to construct a narrative where the guy just wasn’t feeling like it was going to work out, so he broke up with her. Then, when she begged and pleaded him to stay, he made it clear that they were never going to get married, and that was “cruel” and “horrible” because she was desperately in love with him. Obviously I have no idea whether that happened, but based on the letter it certainly could have. It sucks, but people get dumped every day, “unceremoniously” and I guess maybe sometimes there’s some sort of ceremony involved.
It doesn’t seem at all implausible to me that Regina Rey’s 10:19 comment to 6napkinburger could have been written almost word for word by LW’s ex, and I think it takes a bit of nerve for her to say that his breaking up with LW reflects “poor character”. No, it reflects something everyone on this board has done before, and something which sometimes (usually?) is absolutely the right thing to do.
amber October 13, 2011, 10:57 am
She says this, “About six months ago, the man I thought I was going to marry left me unceremoniously for another woman”. And then later this, “The grapevine quickly informed me that him and his new love had split”. So, while maybe he realized that she wasn’t the one and that is why he left, it is extremely jerky of him to only send an email and ask to be friends after things ended with the girl he left her for. She also uses the word betrayal in the letter, perhaps he cheated? Who knows, but it doesn’t seem like a simple he decided we weren’t right for each other so he broke up with me and I can’t get over him letter.
kf October 13, 2011, 11:04 am
If he cheated, she probably would have used the word “cheated”. And yeah, *she* thought she was going to marry *him*, did he ever say he felt the same way?
And the other explanation for the email would be that he wanted to give LW time to cool off before trying to extend an olive branch, and that it might be easier for LW to be friends with him with the other woman out of the picture. So no, it’s not jerky for him to have emailed (nor is it jerky of her to have deleted the email).
amber October 13, 2011, 11:16 am
We’re just going to have to disagree here. It’s easier for the LW to be friends with him again after he broke up with the girl he left her for? Does he not realize how that looks? It looks like well I’m done with her are you still around? And maybe she would have used the word cheated but the word betrayal suggests something more than he just wasn’t feeling it anymore.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 11:00 am
I get what you’re saying – the dumper is not ALWAYS the “bad guy” – but he left her for another woman! I don’t know the extent of his involvement with the other woman prior to the official breakup, but I’m sure that there was at least some emotional infidelity going on. I mean… at least he broke up with the LW instead of trying to string them both along at the same time? WOW what an awesome catch!
kf October 13, 2011, 11:24 am
There’s absolutely nothing morally wrong with a single person breaking up with a second single person to be with a third single person. RR broke up with her ex for another man; she just hasn’t met that man yet.
HmC October 13, 2011, 11:34 am
Hmm, don’t know if I can totally agree there. Leaving to be with someone else you met is sort of borderline… I could imagine cases where there was a minimum of shadiness going on… but I think that in reality, when someone leaves someone *for* someone else, there has usually been cheating of some type going on. I think that’s just human nature, unfortunately.
kf October 13, 2011, 11:46 am
Then it’s the cheating that’s wrong, not the breaking up. If you develop strong feelings for someone else (which happens, human beings have feelings), the correct thing to do is break up with the person you’re with. Unless you’re in middle school, in which case you start ignoring your bf/gf and treating them poorly, to try to get them to break up with you. So when CatsMeow says “at least he broke up with the LW instead of trying to string them both along at the same time? ” I shout **YES!!** from the rooftop. Breaking up is a billion times better than stringing along.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 12:05 pm
I totally get what you’re saying, really I do – because I HATE when I break up with someone and I’m suddenly “the bad guy” just for NOT wanting to be with someone I think is wrong for me.
But in this case, I think the fact that he left the LW for another woman indicates that he’s kinda shady. I don’t think that things can be hunky dory with your current SO and then suddenly someone else comes along and crash! boom! you’re in love with them instead. He must have been having doubts about his current relationship in order to get to the place where he was ABLE to fall in love with someone else. So instead of breaking up with her upon realizing these doubts, he continued allowing her to believe that marriage was a possibility in the future, that he was totally committed, while they continued to live together, until the other lady made it clear somehow that she had feelings for him too, and THEN he left the LW. What if the “other woman” had said, “Sorry I don’t want to come between you and your GF, I am hereby OUT of your life forever”. Would he have been the “standup guy” and broken up with the LW, knowing that another person can’t come between two people in a HEALTHY relationship (meaning: recognizing that the fact that he had feelings for something else meant that he shouldn’t be in a committed relationship), OR would he still be with LW? I can’t answer that for sure, but the fact that NOW he’s trying to get back in touch with the LW AFTER the other relationship failed leads me to believe the latter. I don’t think the “let’s be friends” thing is innocuous, or coming from a good place. I think he either wants her back, or just wants to assuage his own guilt for treating her like crap.
silver_dragon_girl October 13, 2011, 11:41 am
Completely different to break up with someone so that you can eventually find someone who suits you better than to break up with someone for a specific third person whom you met and developed intense feelings for or fell in love with while still maintaining a (dishonest and fraudulent at that point) relationship with someone else.
kf October 13, 2011, 11:54 am
Obviously I disagree. The specific person is part of the path to finding someone who suits you better. And what should you do when a relationship becomes dishonest and fraudulent? Break up!
kf October 13, 2011, 11:59 am
Plenty of letters here have involved LWs who were in a relationship, but had feelings for someone else. Generally advice from the commenters has been to break up with the first guy, because it’s not fair to him to string him along, but stay single, because guy #2 sounds like a skeev. Nobody has *ever* said “guy #2 sounds like a great guy and a wonderful match, but you should stay with guy #1” or “guy #2 sounds like a great guy and a wonderful match, but you should stay single because it’s morally wrong to leave someone for another person.”
silver_dragon_girl October 13, 2011, 12:04 pm
Yeah, because that would be really bad advice.
silver_dragon_girl October 13, 2011, 12:05 pm
I mean, I guess I don’t see what your argument there is?
kf October 13, 2011, 12:20 pm
LW’s ex was in a position where he was in a relationship with LW, but had feelings for someone else. Everyone here thinks he’s an asshole.
Nobody ever called any of the previous LWs in a similar situation an asshole, or told them that under no circumstances should they pursue a relationship with the second guy, because that would make them an asshole. I don’t know how else to explain it.
FireStar October 13, 2011, 12:48 pm
Everyone here thinks he is an ass because the LW stated he treated her cruelly and horribly and then crawled out of the woodwork and acted like everything was cool – which sent the LW back into depression.
silver_dragon_girl October 13, 2011, 12:54 pm
Well, because they tend to write in *before* they get overly involved with someone new. No one told them to hang around with the current guy until they were positive the next guy was better, either.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 12:10 pm
I think if you’re developing feelings for another person while you’re in a relationship, it’s a symptom that something is wrong with your current relationship and you should end it. OR you should cut off contact with the other person while you try to work it out with your current SO. Don’t keep her in the dark and then blindside her.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 12:15 pm
AND I’m saying all this from personal experience. *I* developed feelings for someone else while I was still with my first boyfriend. I was young and stupid, and rather than recognizing that I should probably break up with him, I stayed with him while still hanging out with the other guy “as friends” even though I KNEW he had feelings for me. Eventually, I did *try* to break up with my boyfriend, but he wasn’t really letting it “stick” – like, I would think we broke up, we would have a huge fight, but then he would show up at my house and act like we were still together. So then one night I got mad, and I went to talk to the *other* guy, and we ended up kissing. I felt AWFUL. I told my boyfriend, and then yeah… THAT breakup stuck.
But I never should have let it get to that. I should have broken up with him after realizing that I wasn’t 100% in it while HE WAS.
I blame my lack of judgment on the fact that I was “young and stupid” and it was my first relationship so I was also inexperienced. The fact that the LW was living with this guy, and she has a pretty established career, makes me think they are adults, and he should know better by now.
kf October 13, 2011, 12:28 pm
And all I’m saying is, we have no evidence whatsoever that this guy did any of that (other than he’s a guy, and all guys are assholes). From what we know, he developed feelings for someone else while he was with LW, and he broke up with LW, which is what it sounds like you’re saying you should have done.
And “blindsided” is exactly how someone feels after a clean break. Should he have treated her like crap for a few months first, to soften the blow?
Blitzen October 13, 2011, 1:26 pm
Just because she didn’t list out the ways in which he “treated her cruelly”, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Maybe it’s too painful to write down. Maybe she didn’t want to submit a novel. And maybe you are right about everything. When a LW writes in, all we can do is take her perception of the situation and run with it. Give the best advice possible using the given information. Which is what RR did. On some level we have to trust the LW. Otherwise what’s the point of this site? How can we help someone if we are too busy doubting their word? Granted, it has it’s place. In this case, I believe the LW. Apparently so do a lot of commenters. This thread was not very helpful to her.
kf October 13, 2011, 12:48 pm
To be honest, I think your story supports what I’m saying. You were old enough to be in a relationship, and so were also old enough to know better than to behave how you did. Does that make you an asshole? Absolutely not – it makes you a human being who acted imperfectly and made mistakes.
I hope your ex’s friends weren’t consoling him by telling him what an evil witch CatsMeow was, and how much better off he was now without that asshole CatsMeow in his life. That would have been a disservice to you and to him, just as I feel LW and her ex are not being properly served by this thread.
Gah, I have to get back to work. Thanks everyone for an interesting discussion.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 1:06 pm
🙂 Any time.
And yeah, I was the “bad guy” for sure in that scenario. It’s been over 10 years and my ex STILL holds a grudge (which I think is a little extreme).
And while I don’t think badmouthing the ex just for the sake of getting over him is productive – I agree with you there – I do think he showed “poor character” in some ways, and it might be helpful for the LW to recognize that, so he’s not “the one that got away” or put on a pedestal as the perfect man that no one else will ever live up to. I’m thinking “poor character” mainly because I think he HAD to have been having doubts/second thoughts about the status of his relationship with the LW, while she was 100% committed. I’ve been on both sides of that imbalance, and I always felt it. Meaning, he had to have known that SHE was more into him than he was into her, which isn’t fair to her at all – and ideally, he should have ended it BEFORE involving a 3rd party, and before getting SO involved with the 3rd party that he was leaving LW *for* the 3rd party. I think that’s all I’m trying to say. In an ideal world, that’s how it would work, but alas! we don’t live in an ideal world. So shit happens.
And I rrrreeeaaalllyyy should be working also! 🙂
amber October 13, 2011, 1:12 pm
how do you develop feelings worth breaking up with someone over without having some sort of relationship with that person?(even if it’s just a friendship where you hang out) i think in most cases were this happens the person doing the breaking up knows they’re not in the relationship fully before they break up or realize they don’t love the person as much as they though they did. i haven’t heard many stories like i was completely in love with girl a but then i saw girl b at a coffee shop and knew she i had feelings for her, so i broke up with girl a and went after girl b. i guess i see staying with someone when you’re not completely in it as being sort of an ass. especially if while you’re not completely feeling it you develop a friendship with someone you decide you’d really like to date. break up when you know you’re not feeling it. maybe the guy in this case did that, but since she said left me for another girl it doesn’t seem that way.
SimoneEF October 13, 2011, 2:14 pm
KF – I am the LW and I was having trouble replying directly to this thread for some reason – it’s working now. Anyway, as I mentioned below, the biggest offense was that while ostensibly moving out, he instead brought her over and had sex with her in my bed! I indeed don’t want to write a novel about all the other ways I feel I was wronged, but this wasn’t simply a case of “don’t leave me, boo hoo hoo”. I was hurt, but I let him go, foolishly expecting him to show me an ounce of respect while we were separating our lives. That in itself hurt more than the breakup itself.
Flake October 13, 2011, 1:08 pm
There is a big difference between not being sure about someone and being sure he is not the one. Especially in adult relationships, it is very difficult to make that choice. So maybe yes, the LW’s ex was hanging out with that other woman, maybe he started having doubts about his relationship, and once he was sure he broke up with her. Should he have given her an advanced notice saying, “I love you dear, but lately I have spent some time with another lady and that put some doubts in my head about our relationship. Do you mind hanging around while I figure out who should I be with?”. Should he have given her some kind of a clue that they were not doing as well as she thought? From what I’ve seen and felt myself, once a woman starts considering her SO as marriage material, chances are she will not be receptive to clues or signs telling her she might be wrong.
She is hurting. There is no other way to get through that except allow time and therapy do their job. That’s just how it is.
amber October 13, 2011, 1:19 pm
i still think in a case like that a person would be justifiably pissed off. staying with someone while you hang out with another to see if it’s worth staying with your current SO? i mean that is definitely stringing along. if you’re not sure tiy want to be with that person you owe it to them break up with them. and if i found out that happened and the person ‘chose’ me i would still be pissed. if you aren’t sure, then leave, don’t test out other waters while staying.
Flake October 13, 2011, 1:44 pm
I don’t think that what I described is stringing someone along.
I’ll give my own example. I was going out with a very nice guy. He loved me and treated me very well, but there was something missing. Since I really liked him as person, I decided to give the relationship sometime, hoping that my feelings will grow. At the time I was working in a bar, and such is the nature of that job, that customers would flirt with me. There was one particular guy that would stop every day for a drink and do the newspaper crossword. One time he asked me for help with a word that happened to be in my native language. Since then, I started doing the crossword with him. I told my BF about the guy, and he and I didn’t think of it much. But what happened then was that whatever I felt was missing in my current relationship, I started feeling with the new guy. Should I have told my BF right then and there about it? Should I have broken up with him because of something I wasn’t even sure about? Should I have quit my job, or been rude to a customer? I don’t think so. Later, when it became obvious to me that the feeling wouldn’t go away, I did break up with the guy. He was definitely blindsided and pissed. But I just don’t know of a way to break up with someone nicely.
My point is you can start having doubts about your relationship for a number of reasons. Should you dump your SO the minute you are not 100% certain about the relationship? In my opinion, it shows that you are constantly growing and evaluating your relationship, which are not such bad things.
amber October 13, 2011, 1:53 pm
i think what you’re describing and what i was thinking are two different things. i was thinking meeting someone new while still dating someone else and then intentionally hanging out with that person. if you’re so unhappy you want to hang out with a new person and see if you develop feelings for them. it’s probably time to break up. not someone you interact with and shows you what you’re missing in a relationship. i don’t think you should break up with them at the first sign of a doubt either, but like i said i think i was reading it differently.
silver_dragon_girl October 13, 2011, 12:00 pm
Well, duh. I’m saying that for a person to meet, woo, develop feelings for, develop really intense feelings for, and eventually leave their SO for someone, all the while maintaining a relationship with someone else, someone who has NO IDEA what’s going on, it wrong. In that case, the person who dumps their SO for someone else IS in the wrong, yes. Obviously that’s not someone you’d want to be with, if they were capable of that amount of duplicity, and obviously they fell out of love with you a long time ago, but it’s still a betrayal. In that case the dumpee has every right to feel hurt and angry.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 12:08 pm
Yeah. That’s what I was trying to say, but you said it better. 🙂
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 10:59 am
Maybe he didn’t treat her cruelly. Maybe he wasn’t insensitive and awful. Maybe he DID just break up with her because he wasn’t feeling it, because he fell out of love. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that SHE feels he was cruel, and insensitive and awful to her. And if telling herself over and over again that she feels sorry for him, that he has poor character, that he’s less of a person, is what it takes to make her strong again, to make her realize that he doesn’t have any power or hold on her emotions, then that’s OK. This is about her perception of this breakup, and about helping her to heal. It’s not necessarily about the exact reality and facts.
kf October 13, 2011, 11:22 am
Couldn’t possibly disagree with this more. Enabling her bullshit* isn’t helping her heal, it’s slapping a new coat of paint on a crumbling foundation. If her feelings are completely disconnected from reality, she will never properly heal.
Two or three letters ago, the whole comment thread was “why do so many women stay with assholes?”. Well, maybe one reason they do that is that all their “friends” tell them that any guy who breaks up with them or doesn’t want to be with them is an asshole, which (a) makes it more difficult to distinguish actual asshole behavior from normal human behavior, and (b) tells them that any guy who sticks around and stays in the realationship is *not* an asshole, whatever their behavior is within the relationship.
iseeeshiny October 13, 2011, 11:28 am
Really? I think this is an instance where we can take the LW at her word – she didn’t need to go into detail about how cruelly and horribly he acted because she doesn’t need confirmation that he’s an ass – she already knows that. She just wants to know if there’s anything she can do to help herself with the pain of a nasty breakup and the subsequent outrage that he’s come sniffing around again after breaking up with the woman for whom he left her.
iseeshiny October 13, 2011, 11:30 am
Oops, spelled my name wrong.
iseeshiny October 13, 2011, 1:59 pm
And I really do not understand why in a situation like this the knee-jerk reaction is to assume the LW is either delusional or dishonest. Sure, call em out when they’re contradicting themselves, or if you think they may be viewing things from a perspective that is harming them rather than helping them of course offer an alternate point of view. But assuming that all of the (mostly female) LWs are hysterical, self victimizing and unable to tell the difference between deliberate cruelty and incidental infliction of pain is just as bad as making a blanket statement that (anyone who dumps someone else is an)/(all men are) asshole(s).
kf October 13, 2011, 11:30 am
Somehow lost the footnote – *IF* it’s bullshit, which it may or may not be. We don’t know from the letter.
FireStar October 13, 2011, 12:02 pm
You will never know that for sure from ANY letter. All that can ever be submitted is a person’s perception of a situation. If a letter has inherent contradictions then that is something you can address in your advice – but to write off a person’s feelings as invalid because you don’t personally have independent proof those feelings are valid is insensitive and counter-productive given the nature of this site.
Flake October 13, 2011, 11:53 am
I agree. Lying to yourself, and saying that it’s all his fault is not going to help you heal. It implies that you have no control over the fate of your relationship, like saying that if he is a good guy, he will stay with me, if he dumps me that must be because he is an asshole and too dumb to know what is good for him. I know it is easier said than done, but she should just see this for what it is: a relationship that didn’t work out, for whatever reason. Assigning blame will make her feel better short term, but I also think at may compromise her confidence in judging people. She thought he was the “one”. The obvious truth is, he wasn’t. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s what you take from them that matters. I also think that she should definitely continue seeing the therapist, just to see why she needs a relationship to feel good about her life. There are so many things that she is good at. I think she should concentrate on the good in herself vs. the bad in him.
HmC October 13, 2011, 11:59 am
“I think she should concentrate on the good in herself vs. the bad in him. ”
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 12:15 pm
I definitely agree with the “concentrating on the good in yourself.” That’s key. But I also want to say that I don’t think changing your perception of someone, to help you get over the initial bad hump of the breakup, is “lying to yourself.” I’m not asking her to forget what happened, or blame him for all of her problems, or create a new reality. I want her to replace that constant stream of questions she has for him, that she can’t get rid of, with reminders that he’s just not worth it.
Flake October 13, 2011, 12:56 pm
Changing your perception about a guy doesn’t mean repeating to yourself that he is an asshole (unless he truly unequivocally is). How about repeating to yourself that he is so obviously not the one? That the break up made room in her life for someone who will really love and appreciate her? I think there are so many things you can say to make yourself feel better. She should also type them up in some cheery font and stick them on her bathroom mirror 🙂
On other hand, what I think really bothers her is that he never acknowledged how much he hurt her, and that he never apologized for that, nor thinks that apology is even in order. When someone acts like this, it makes a person feel as though his or her feelings aren’t valid.
Another point is, for all we know, he doesn’t even realize how badly she is hurting. She says that the things ended badly between them, but she doesn’t say if he thought so too. It may very well be that he is simply trying to put that part behind him and is reaching out to a woman he once found interesting enough to spend a significant amount of time with.
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 11:39 am
I absolutely, positively do NOT think that every person who breaks up with another person is an asshole. I think, because I’m trusting her when she says he treated her cruelly, that THIS guy was an asshole. And the point of reminding yourself of his shortcomings isn’t to ruminate or excessively focus on the negative, it’s to take your power back. Right now, he’s like kryptonite for her. An email from him makes her spiral downward. One way to reverse that influence is to change the way you perceive that person, to lesson the hold they have on you.
HmC October 13, 2011, 11:30 am
“It’s not necessarily about the exact reality and facts.”
This doesn’t sit well with me. I really appreciated kf’s comment- it’s always important to remember that one person’s perception of a break up is not necessarily reality. And I don’t think it’s necessary, or even “OK” to have to turn someone into some beast in your mind in order to get over them. I think focusing a bunch of negative energy on them is unproductive and missing the point.
I’ve been through a hellish break up, I know how much it hurt me. But I always did and still do respect my ex, all these years later. He was a good person, that’s why I chose to be with him for as long as I did. I didn’t have to hate him to eventually get it into my head that we were over, and that we weren’t right for each other. Sure, it may have been easier to get over him had I convinced myself he was some asshole. But he wasn’t, and losing touch with reality in order to get over him was never an option.
I agree with kf and you, that we don’t really know whether the ex in this letter was objectively and unnecessarily cruel. Maybe he was. But even so, I don’t think that ruminating in how horrible he (possibly) was is good. After all, if she chose to be with someone with such “poor character” who is “less of a person”, isn’t that kind of a reflection on her judgment?
I think the LW has done remarkably well so far, and I applaud her for ignoring him. I say she should focus her energy on rebuilding herself from a more positive perspective than simply labeling him an asshole. Think about why they weren’t right for each other, to help her learn what she will want in a partner farther down the road. And focus on herself, on doing productive positive things with new and interesting people. And then it’s just a matter of giving yourself time to heal. Time does amazing things.
amber October 13, 2011, 11:49 am
Perhaps though in this case he did something that finally made her see that he wasn’t a great guy or the one for her. Before that she thought things were great? I think it’s dangerous to get in to the blame yourself for having poor judgement for being/staying with a guy who you now think is an asshole after certain actions. And maybe unlike in your case he did something that made her lose respect for him. I think it’s actually very hard to tell from this letter what he did during he break up that was a betrayal/cruel. But, it seems to me that he did do something that left her feeling like he wasn’t who she thought he was/wanted to be with. And I don’t think RR is saying to hold on to that anger/hurt forever. But, if it helps you initially get over someone and get over the hump where you’re able to see things more clearly then sometimes you have to go with that. Hopefully at that point she’ll be able to see that he was a guy who she once loved that made a bad decision and while it makes her sad that he acted the way he did, she will no longer hang on to the anger/hurt she felt right after the break-up.
HmC October 13, 2011, 11:55 am
Totally agree with you about not going overboard with blaming yourself for your judgment. I don’t think focusing tons of negative energy and judgment on anyone, including yourself, is helpful when healing from a break up. My point was mostly about taking responsibility for your situation and feelings without focusing entirely on the other person’s blameworthiness, to the point of losing touch with reality as if reality doesn’t matter.
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 11:44 am
I agree that it’s not necessary to focus negative energy and turn someone into a beast in order to get over them. But in her case, and as I commented above to kf, an email from him sent her spiraling downward again. She feels powerless to stop the influence his memory and his communication has on her. One way to feel less influenced by an ex is to change the way you perceive them. It’s one strategy, among many, to help you get over an ex. Not every ex is an asshole, and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone for that reason. But I trust the LW when she says he treated her cruelly, and I think that leaving her for another women reflects SOME sort of infidelity – physical or emotional – which was asshole-ish, to be sure. I don’t consider it to be “ruminating on how horrible he was.” I consider it to be reminding yourself that he’s not worth your time, your energy, and that you are powerful on your own.
HmC October 13, 2011, 11:58 am
If you trust the LW when she says her ex treated her cruelly, then why the statement “it’s not necessarily about exact reality and facts?” I think I agree with your general sentiment and further explanations, but that word choice made me uncomfortable. Reality matters. Ideally, you don’t have to shut it out to heal, even temporarily.
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 12:10 pm
Then perhaps it was the wrong word choice. I think what would have been better to say is that : When you’re going through a breakup, reflecting on exactly what happened and analyzing every fact that occurred isn’t necessary, nor is it helpful. What’s more important is to replace the constant stream of thoughts about your ex (in the LW’s case – wanting to ask him WHY, how he feels now about it, etc) with reminders that will empower you, and take away the power that your ex holds over your emotions. Hence, the urge from me for her to replace her stream of questions with a different perception of her ex. Does that make better sense?
HmC October 13, 2011, 2:11 pm
I think so. The emphasis on “he wasn’t right for me” vs. “he’s an asshole” is a vital distinction, in my mind. Even if he is an asshole.
Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com October 13, 2011, 10:27 am
Skipping over RR’s response for now, because I wanted to give a quick comment while I have only a few seconds.
To LW, I wanted to say that its NORMAL to have these set-backs but I promise that when you rip open a wound, it always heals faster the 2nd time. What I mean is that his email sent you back into a tail spin and you’re revisiting all that horrendous pain from the break-up. But it won’t last as long this time. It’s a temporary set-back. You’ll rebound quickly (especially after reading what I know will be excellent advice from RR and the commenters) and you WILL get back on the path to healing.
Don’t email him back. You already know why. He doesn’t deserve it and your own SILENCE (and building of a new happy life) is your strongest weapon against him. Let him suffer the consequences of his despicable behavior.
Focus on healing. Go back to your therapist. Keep up with all the work that you mentioned. And an extra tip, do whatever it is to your appearance that will make you feel fantastic (new shoes, hair, whatever). Go into every job prepared to make them eat theirs hearts out. When you do eventually run into the ex, let’s be sure that he catches you looking fantastic and with a huge smile on your face. THAT is when this chicken will come to roost.
AndreaMarie October 13, 2011, 11:29 am
LW- I want to echo what a previous commentor said. You seem to have made leaps in bounds in the healing process, and allowing yourself to move on. Your words and actions (by deleting the email and chosing not to respond) speaks volumes. You clearly have moved passed the idea that this relationship will ever come to be again. You clearly have moved on from the idea of ever wanting to be with him again. I think the anger and depression that came on from his recent email is not based on sadness of “missing him” or anything like that. I think it’s because he didn’t acknowledge what he did to you. You even say it in your letter. You are not thinking of what could have been, you are obsessing in your mind over wanting him to feel the pain of making and effed up choice. You are obsessing over basically telling him “Ha Ha how did that work out for you!!”. You’re upset because he didn’t acknowledge he hurt you or appologize for what he put you through or tell you how stupid he was and what a mistake he made.
You might have moved passed your feelings of sadness over the breakup but you clearly haven’t moved passed the anger and resentment. Do NOT reach out to him. You will NEVER get the closure you are looking for. Just the fact that his opening line to you was “can we be friends?” for real? he doesn’t get it and never will. Or atleast not admit it if he ever does. Don’t reach out. Trust me, he’ll get how much he effed up when he realizes you are gone for good. Let him feel that pain alone, you don’t need to be there for that.
Landygirl October 13, 2011, 11:29 am
You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. So many people would go running back to their ex without a second thought only to have the same thing happen to them again. You realize that he treated you poorly and that you want no part of it.
You realize that your ex is not the kind of person you want or need in your life. Hiding underneath the film of depression is a large helping of self respect, you just need to wipe it off and see it. I know that depression makes that difficult, but it isn’t impossible.
I agree with Regina, please go back to therapy and find the tools you need to prosper. I’m certain that you’ll be able to.
LolaBeans October 13, 2011, 11:36 am
omg. all of these comments are so sad, i’m sitting at work just crying. holy crap. i feel this pain, i’m not going through a break up and i’m with a wonderful man.. but i remember and feel this pain as i read through these comments.
JK October 13, 2011, 11:55 am
Love your advice RR (and hair!!)
My advice is similar to LTC, but, instead of answering his email, my suggestion (one that I´ve given a LW before, and several friends), is to write him a letter.
IN that letter write down EVERYTHING you´re feeling right now, insult him, all the crap you´re feeling. Then put the letter away somewhere. For a few days/ weeks, whatever. When you feel ready, take it out, read it, then burn it. This will help you let go of all the bad feelings you´re experiencing now, without having to get in touch with him (which might just make you feel worse).
SpaceySteph October 13, 2011, 12:01 pm
Oh I feel for the LW. Almost a year after a breakup and into a relationship with a wonderful guy, I got a text from my ex. He got me a collectors item they give away at homecoming for my college that I collect rabidly, how could he get it to me?
Even though I was over him and happy in my next life, I definitely called my mom sobbing about what it meant, what I should do, etc.
Wish I had been strong like the LW and said nothing back. In hindsight you will be SO proud of yourself for that!
SimoneEF October 13, 2011, 12:19 pm
To set the record straight, I never begged or pleaded him to stay. I accepted that he had fallen out of love with me, and though it hurt terribly, I let him go and wished him the best. I gave him space and time to move his things out, and not only did he not respect the basic terms of our moving out agreement, he brought her over while I was gone and fucked her in our bed. If that’s not a cruel and horrible way to act, I don’t know what is.
amber October 13, 2011, 1:47 pm
yeah i would say that’s a pretty cruel and horrible way to act. as well as immature. glad that from your update below things seem to be going better. you are most definitely better off without him!
kf October 13, 2011, 2:14 pm
I’m going to get flamed to a crisp for this, but oh well.
Having sex with her in the bed you used to share after you broke up sound a lot closer to thoughtless, insensitive, inappropriate, sleazy, and completely disquallifying for any ex-boyfriend-of-the-year awards than cruel or horrible (in addition to completely justifying your decision never to speak to him again, not that that needed justifying in the first place). Women’s shelters are filled with women whose men did actual cruel and horrible things to them.
iseeshiny October 13, 2011, 2:29 pm
This is not flaming. This is disagreeing, for the record:
Having sex in a bed that doesn’t belong to you is gross. Doing it in your ex-girlfriend’s bed is horrible. And she had to have found out about it somehow. So either he told her, he left a wet spot, or she walked in on it. And that’s because he wanted her to know. Which is cruel.
It could be worse? C’mon. You can do better than that. Because to all the women in those shelters you can say, “Well, he didn’t actually kill you. Those graveyards are full of women whose men actually did cruel horrible things to them! Wipe yer nose and quitcher bitchin.”
kf October 13, 2011, 3:29 pm
Doing it in your ex-girlfriend’s bed is horrible. And she had to have found out about it somehow. So either he told her, he left a wet spot, or she walked in on it. And that’s because he wanted her to know. Which is cruel.
This is a very good point. If he didn’t care at all whether she knew, or especially if he wanted her to know, then it was a completely shitty thing to do, and goes way beyond insensitive or thoughtless. There’s still a tiny bit of wiggle room for “the left corner of the bed wasn’t tucked properly, but I completely acknowedge that a scenario like that is very unlikely.
It could be worse? C’mon. You can do better than that. Because to all the women in those shelters you can say, “Well, he didn’t actually kill you. Those graveyards are full of women whose men actually did cruel horrible things to them! Wipe yer nose and quitcher bitchin.”
I think my comment was a fair response to “If that’s not a cruel and horrible way to act, I don’t know what is.” I have lots of ideas, that don’t go nearly as far as killing her.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 2:32 pm
While there ARE much worse things he could have done,
adj. cru·el·er or cru·el·ler, cru·el·est or cru·el·lest
1. Disposed to inflict pain or suffering.
2. Causing suffering; painful.
it sounds like he was TRYING to hurt her with that stunt. I would’ve whacked off his balls and stapled them to his forehead.
Blitzen October 13, 2011, 3:21 pm
See.. now you are just clutching at straws to prove your point.
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 6:16 pm
Oh, please. You sound like a f-ing psycho now. Cut off his balls and staple them to his forehead? Really? Now THAT is insane. Can’t wait to trot out some version of this at some point where I threaten to hack off somebody’s clitoris and nail it to her nose. I mean, really. Stop trying to be Glenn Close.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 8:44 pm
You’re right, it’s unfair that a similar depiction of violence against a woman wouldn’t be seen as humorous, and that’s unfair. And while I obviously don’t condone violence, I guarantee you that if my boyfriend dumped me and then fucked a chick in MY bed, there are PLENTY of violent images that would flash through my head.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 8:53 pm
Plus, balls? On a face? That’s funny, right?
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 9:56 pm
Actually, being gay, seeing balls bouncing against a guy’s face is pretty much just status quo…
Budj October 14, 2011, 10:50 am
THAT was a good one.
CatsMeow October 14, 2011, 6:20 pm
SimoneEF October 13, 2011, 12:32 pm
I’m very surprised to see my letter run, I have to say! I sent this to Wendy about a month ago, when I was at my very lowest, and I’m happy to say that things have improved for me tremendously, especially in the last couple of weeks. I’ve just started a big job for my favorite client which will take me into next year, and keep me occupied and focused. It’s like a homecoming in a way, as this was the place I worked when we broke up, and it almost feels like I’m back where I started, and nothing is changed, except I am now living my own life. I’ve also revamped my wardrobe and been exercising, and I don’t mind saying that the male attention I’ve suddenly began getting is quite welcome.
As for the guy I’ve been seeing, we are still seeing each other, but it is not serious – it is more like two friends who understand each other very well. He is fresh out of a messy divorce, and so we are very attuned to each other’s situations, feelings and states of being. There’s no future here, except for, what I suspect will be a close friendship, and we are both on the same page as to where we stand. I am single, for all intents and purposes, but having a stable, kind man in my life has been tremendously healing. I have been the same sort of force in his life, so it’s been quite positive, and I’ve avoided letting him see me at my worst, as the stuff with my ex was mine to deal with – not his.
All in all, I am feeling tremendously better. I’m not quite out of the woods yet, but I am far less aware of his absence in my life. I was drinking a lot, but now that I have to focus for work, it’s been surprisingly easy to stop. The other shock was – I had been avoiding photos of him so as to avoid any kind of relapse, but my roommate/best friend showed me one last week because he had apparently gotten fat, and curiosity got the best of me. To my great surprise, I did not react with sadness, anger, or even regret, but actually indifference. I care less and less as time goes on – maybe I had to hit that low before I could continue my healing process.
I always knew it would take time, and I still have work to do, but I am definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you all – especially Rachel for the wonderful advice. If I do have another relapse, another low, another collapse, this will be useful, but right now, the future looks bright and there are several (!) very attractive men nipping at my heels. Now that my career is back on track, everything else seems to be falling into place.
JK October 13, 2011, 1:43 pm
I´m glad things are so much better!!!! 🙂
Living well is the best revenge.
ReginaRey October 13, 2011, 1:45 pm
This is great to hear!! Also – several attractive men nipping at your heels? Damn, girl! I wish I could say the same…alas, no men are nipping at RR’s heels.
SimoneEF October 13, 2011, 2:03 pm
No one is more surprised than me! But hell, I’ll take it 🙂
Samantha October 13, 2011, 12:34 pm
Fantastic advice, RR!
LW, you’ve already taken so many steps in the right direction – therapy will only further your forward momentum.
It’s so great to see this DW community pull through for someone (and the someones in the comments) going through such a painful time. As much as this letter broke my heart, the kindness shown in these comments is inspiring.
Nick October 13, 2011, 12:48 pm
Great job Regina. I think its great advice for this woman.
I’ll add that, like some others here, I’ve found that carrying anger and or hate makes people worse. Regina’s advice to turn this into pity is a great start.
My advice therefor is: Let the anger wash through you, but see it for the self-administered poison it is. Then decide to stop poisoning yourself.
What’s even far more powerful than pitying someone is forgiving them. You really don’t need to judge this guy to feel good about yourself. I got news for you, we all play the asshole in life at times. Forgive him. We all make errors and sometimes it takes a while to recognize our errors. Let his problems fade into irrelevancy.
The fact is, this guy did you a favor by breaking up with you. If you could only see around the corner in your life, you’ll see the amazing and fulfilling things that will come to you. Go be ready for them, be open for them. Being open makes them come.
oldie October 13, 2011, 1:09 pm
I think kf has at least half a valid point, especially if you assume that LW told her story from her best perspective and don’t fill in gaps in a way that favors her complaint and excuse lack of detail by assuming inarticulateness. LW never asserts that she was cheated on, simply that her bf broke up with her, because he found another woman. As kf says, what is wrong with that? Aren’t you supposed to break up, rather than start cheating or dreaming of the other woman rather than gf? Did bf merely see his strong attraction to another woman as evidence that the fire in his relationship had gone out and that gf was not the one, as he had thought she was.
LW says her bf was the man she thought she would marry. Again, this may simply be inarticulate phrasing, but there is not suggestion that LW thought this, because bf had ever told her that he planned to marry her. I think if this was the case, she would have mentioned it.
Kf is also correct that LW never really says anything bad that her bf said or did during the breakup that was nasty. From what she says, it could be as simple as she wanted to stay friends, work things out and he insisted upon a complete break. She says he cemented the separation and made sure she wouldn’t come back. This really just could be he insisted on the total break, gave as his explanation that he found himself more attracted to the other woman, and didn’t think there was any way of salvaging their relationship. Without more detail, it is really assumption either way. I’m sure her ex hurt her a great deal. He may have even said she was a wonderful person, but just not for him. I was hurt a great deal when the woman I loved broke up with me, even though she did it in the kindest possible way. There is no way that a breakup is pleasant, especially if you’re living together. If he comes and moves his things, while she’s not there, that can be viewed as very cruel on her side, because she wanted more of a chance to talk. On his side it can be viewed as good to all sides, by avoiding unnecessary confrontation and the slow torture of her watching him separate his things. So, we can’t really know whether he was cruel, because LW just stated her perception as a fact.
LW is best off avoiding further contact with her ex. If she was second to another woman in the past, this will likely happen again, if they get back together. Whether the ex is a good guy or a bad guy, I’m sure he already knows that he hurt her and doesn’t need LW to make him aware of that. If he is the cruel bad guy that LW describes him as, then telling him just how much he hurt LW, will just be an ego boost to him.
SimoneEF October 13, 2011, 1:38 pm
Please see my comment above – I asked him to move his things out while I was gone, I certainly did not ask him to fuck her in my bed. That is a fact, no perception involved. I accepted that he left me and I wanted to be as amicable as possible, I never begged him to stay or try to work it out.
Getting married was his idea, not mine. Lest anyone think I’m one of those desperate women who was clinging to hope of finding a husband at any cost, that was not my intention when we met. As things evolved and he floated the idea, it seemed like a good one, so I went along. Whoops.
oldie October 13, 2011, 2:23 pm
My apologies. I posted from the back and forth on kf’s posts, before I read your posts. Glad you are doing better. Still think you left too much out of your original letter.
oldie October 13, 2011, 2:59 pm
Also, I doubt that having sex with his new gf on what was your shared bed was done as an act of cruelty directed toward you or intended to drive you away for good. More likely, his gf helped him move his things and a new relationship act of extreme horniness was conducted in the most convenient spot available. I can certainly understand why this would have upset you, but think it a leap to take this as a deliberate act of cruelty.
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 3:05 pm
For all the people on here saying that, I’d love to see your reaction to walking in on your ex having sex with the girl he left you for in YOUR bed. Seriously.
katie October 13, 2011, 8:19 pm
it is so easy to say, oh yea thats not that bad, until it happens to you, and then you would be just as mad, angry, and sad by it.
amber October 13, 2011, 3:05 pm
wow so he couldn’t keep it in his pants long enough to move some stuff out and go anywhere else. i for one would not want to have sex in a bed that my then bf used to share with his ex. i’ve been in a new relationship with extreme horniness and we still managed to not have sex in inappropriate places, like our ex’s beds.
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 3:06 pm
iseeshiny October 13, 2011, 3:08 pm
See, I wasn’t really a big fan of the dislike button, but I really wish I had one now.
It’s childish and arrogant to assume you know more about the situation and the ex’s personality than she does. You end up coming of as a… I’m going to call it a “dickhead apologist,” for want of a better term. I’m going to assume that SimoneEF up there is intelligent and perceptive enough to know the difference between cruelty and… “a new relationship act of extreme horniness.”
oldie October 13, 2011, 6:52 pm
It is not unreasonable to believe she is less than totally objective about the ex or that she may be over-reacting. Does she really have perfect understanding of her ex? Her letters really don’t suggest she does. It is important to understand that we have heard only her side of the story. His may be very different. Lets_be_Honest — where does it say LW walked in and caught ex in bed with his new gf? And if she did, why was she even there after saying she’d stay away while he moved his things?
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 6:56 pm
Ok so if she didn’t walk in on them how’d she find out? Stain on the bed? Whatever. Either way, my comment makes a hell of a lot of sense. I dont believe for a second you or anyone would be cool with their ex banging someone in your bed.
oldie October 13, 2011, 8:55 pm
I didn’t say I would have been cool with that or that LW should not have been upset. However, it is a big jump to go from that position to deciding that the ex did it to be cruel to LW. It may have been an action totally directed to himself and his new gf. An act of transition? It was his bed for a long period of time as well as the LW’s. An added filip of excitement doing it in what was soon to be someone else’s dwelling, like couples who intentionally have sex in semi-public or quite public places, when they have a room and a bed readily available? There’s no way to know. He may have done it to hurt the LW, but that seems less likely if he was in the process of a fairly amicable or at least not a fight-ridden parting as the LW describes. It just strikes me that so many posters are lining up to assume the absolute worst about the ex. Iseeshiny thinks LW has a perfect understanding of her ex’s character and thought processes, yet before he broke up with her, she had no suspicion he was losing affection for her, attracted to another woman, and certainly not currently planning to marry her. She thought enough of his character to want to marry him. So, in an instant her knowledge of his character transformed from greatest guy in the world to absolute scum who was intentionally cruel to her. The reality lies somewhere in the middle. We’ve had some truly scummy guys discussed by LWs and commenters in the past. This guy doesn’t seem close to that league. Even after the additional posts by LW, the only concrete things we can pin on him are that he broke up with her, he had another woman lined up to move on to, and they had sex in LW’s and ex’s formerly shared bed. No statement that he was slinking around and cheating with new gf before he broke up with LW. No mention of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. Just what may have been a totally impetuous act that may have had nothing to do with LW in the ex’s mind.
iseeshiny October 13, 2011, 10:47 pm
Please don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say she has a perfect understanding of his character. I said she has a better understanding of his character than you do. Beyond that, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. And whenever you meet the LWs ex you can tell him you think his behavior is totally understandable and you don’t thunk he’s a douchebag at all. Gratz.
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 2:26 pm
I am not sure what to make of this letter. Moreover, most of the reactions to it. It seems everybody with a few notable exceptions (kf was the one that stuck out as being the most levelheaded here…kudos to you, kf) seem to be of the opinion that the Ex is total scum and that he is to be eternally damned for ruining this poor LW’s life.
But I don’t see it that way.
She ruined her own life by so hopelessly overreacting to what sounds like a pretty typical break up. I mean it doesn’t seem like they were truly engaged…She just “thought” they would marry. Okay, so he had mentioned it, I guess. How? When? But was there a real proposal? A ring? A date?
And while I usually agree with ReginaRey, I simply don’t see how she is applauding the LW’s strength here at all. What strength? Seriously… to me her lack of strength is her biggest problem right now. Strong people don’t fall to pieces after a break up. They just don’t. And I am not saying this to be a bitch — I genuinely think the LW should look into counseling and seriously work on developing her strength. I’m sure she can do that with time. And she will be much, much better for it indeed. But to commend this LW for having strength considering her situation struck me as decidedly odd. Rather like me admiring a 500 pound man’s willpower when he decides against having that third slice of cake….
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 2:35 pm
For clarification’s sake, I think they are applauding her strength in not replying to his e-mail.
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 2:39 pm
Ah, that makes much more sense. Personally, I’d have phrased it “newfound” strength then… But I would hazard a guess that you are exactly right here.
JK October 13, 2011, 2:55 pm
Look at SImoneEf´s posts (she is the LW) the ex truly does appear to be a complete asshole, with the further details she provides, I think pretty much anyone would break down!
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 5:44 pm
Eh, I’ve had way, way shittier things done to me and somehow I didn’t allow my rage to virtually consume my entire life. Look, people REALLY need to learn and understand that while you can’t control anybody’s actions — you can control your reaction to them. And THAT is actually a very powerful thing. It wasn’t his actions (as far from upstanding as they were) that sent her life spiraling out of control, but rather her reactions to said actions.
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 5:51 pm
People handle grief differently. Guess you’re one of the lucky few that’s not had to have dealt with true heartbreak or it’s aftermath. No reason to ‘one up’ LWs who have.
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 6:01 pm
I’m not trying to “one-up” anybody here. And trust me I have weathered plenty of heartbreak and its aftermath. I am merely trying to point out a very simple truth that people create a lot of their own drama by clinging to their anger and bitterness. (And in the end it doesn’t even matter if its justified or not, for the end result is the same) Frankly, I don’t see how constantly being angry or allowing one’s thoughts to be completely consumed by their ex helps anybody either. The idea that I’m a bad person because I am simply suggesting that people NOT do this is laughable at best.
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 6:04 pm
I don’t think they are actively choosing to feel heartbreak, as you seem to be implying. I find it laughable that some people cannot realize that it’s usually not something one can control.
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 6:13 pm
Look, if someone remains so angry about a pretty standard break up after one or two months, then that person really NEEDS to go into counseling because clearly they aren’t dealing with their emotions in the most effective way. I’m not saying the LW was deliberately choosing heartbreak. No, they broke up, of course she would be heartbroken… That said, enough is enough. Because, yes, I do think that maybe she was very much choosing to wallow in it for months on end. And that is where she was wrong, and that is a mistake that I think most Dear Wendy readers would all agree they would rather like to avoid.
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 6:19 pm
Ok I gotta ask…how can you say how bad it is to hold in anger and bitterness and yet flaunt a name like ‘bitter?’ Shouts hypocrite, no?
lets_be_honest October 14, 2011, 9:32 am
How’d I know this wouldn’t get a reply.
bittergaymark October 14, 2011, 3:46 pm
Truthfully, I didn’t think it was worth addressing. I mean, seriously, can you possibly be any more petty? No, no. I don’t think you so, but perhaps I am underestimating you here. Yeah, I probably am.
You know, the whole Bittergaymark name was one I came up with on the fly when I just wanted to post one quick little comment on here… Time passed and I posted more and more. And now that I am a contributor in His Take it seems rather silly to try to change it at this point. I almost went with Cynicalgaymark but thought Bittergaymark was catchier.
And funnier. My whole persona on here is to play the devil’s advocate and call people out on their shit. And so I went with Bitter. That said, I don’t hold onto anger and bitterness. I am friendly with damn near all of my exes and there were definitely some I could be bitter about, I suppose. The ones I am not friendly with have simply faded from view or left LA or been lost over the course of many years. I very much stand by my advice that clinging to ones anger about a break up for more than six weeks is a cry for therapy. But it seems a lot of people on here would rather wallow in their own misery.
I dunno. Maybe we should both change out names. I can become Cynicalgaymark and you can go by the infinitely more accurate Lets_Be_Petty.
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 6:34 pm
There’s a difference between grieving and wallowing. Grieving is healthy. Feeling angry and depressed after a significant relationship ends is normal – as long as it’s not taken to extremes.
bittergaymark October 13, 2011, 6:39 pm
Yeah, but don’t you all think that maybe in the case of this LW it was taken a bit to extremes?
CatsMeow October 13, 2011, 8:52 pm
Maybe. She was depressed for a length of time, but she did get over it. I can understand how the email from him would trigger all those old feelings, though… at least temporarily.
I personally have never been one to dwell on a breakup, but I can sympathize with people that do.
Nadine October 13, 2011, 10:21 pm
This may come as a suprise, but these LWs write in for help, not criticism. I’m not saying they don’t deserve an objective view, but you really do delight in pointing out what idiots everyone is when they are vulnerable. I find it tiresome.
Christy October 14, 2011, 8:15 am
I think it may be a gender thing when you talk about breakups. Lots of my male friends can move on quickly from a breakup, whereas my female friends just can’t. One of my friends still bitches about her bf from high school. She’s been in a relationship for two years and she’ll still complain about her bf from HIGH SCHOOL! I literally *cannot imagine* one of my male friends doing that.
As an aside, I think newfound strength and willpower are important. You struck a chord with the 500 pound man and the cake–that does take willpower. Clearly he’s had his weak moments in the past (lots and lots of them), but to decide not to eat something even though you want it takes a lot of willpower if you’re fat. It’s a big deal for him, even if it’s not for you. (I’m sensitive about judging fat people because I’ve been changing my life to eat healthy and exercise, and while it’s been successful, I still look back on my fatter days and grumble at myself. Because eating healthy isn’t that hard. However, it took me 22 years to realize that. But you know what? I’m down 36 pounds and I’m 5 pounds away from no longer being obese. If you (the collective you, not just BGM) think that didn’t take willpower, then screw you.)
And for the record, I totally agree with you that the boards here male-bash and are other kinds of crazy. I’m just trying to piece together why the boardies disagree with you on this issue. Gender differences. (And gay/not gay differences. I’m a lesbian and I sometimes feel like the boardies are coming from left field.)
CatsMeow October 14, 2011, 6:27 pm
I’m not sure about that. I’ve seen a LOT of my close male friends lose their shit after getting dumped. And they drag it out foreeeeeeeeeeever and take grudges to the grave. Males might be less likely to express how they’re feeling, though, or to drown their woes in alcohol and sex, while women might be more likely to want to talk about it.
bittergaymark October 14, 2011, 6:48 pm
I think you may have missed a detail in my 500 man analogy, and that was he had already eaten two pieces of cake. But maybe it was still mean spirited.
I, too, am baffled by why my thoughts on this particular board set so many off. I don’t think it’s a gender thing, I really don’t. I guess the only thing I can piece together here is that some — like your friend and her endless tales of her highschool boyfriend woe — simply enjoy being angry or something. Many certainly seemed to enjoy getting angry at me. More than that, they completely reveled in it.
Christy October 15, 2011, 6:58 pm
No, I saw that he had already eaten two pieces of cake. Fat people have bigger stomachs. You might be full with one piece of cake, but it might take him three pieces. I guess I’m overly sympathetic about fat people. I’ve had to work hard to lose weight.
Anyway, I’m still on your side with most things, BGM.
Pinky October 13, 2011, 3:54 pm
For another take on this, it was also published by Salon in the Since you Asked Column by Cary Tennis
SimoneEF October 13, 2011, 4:54 pm
Yes, Cary Tennis beat DW by a good month! I was in a very bad place and reaching out the only places I could think of – my two favorite advice columnists 🙂
Wendy October 13, 2011, 5:55 pm
FWIW, i usually answer letters pretty quickly, but in getting ready for the baby’s arrival, I had to set aside a few for my guest columnists to answer. Those particular letters are the rare few that will have long waits on answers. Sorry! But glad you got such good advice, from two columnists, no less.
lets_be_honest October 13, 2011, 5:58 pm
How is the baby settling in to the world? I assume you’re home by now, hopefully.
Skyblossom October 13, 2011, 6:45 pm
You’ve done an excellent job of keeping this site running at full speed even with the birth of your son this week. I’d say you’re due a round of applause because that shows great dedication, organization and planning.
cdubs October 14, 2011, 3:44 pm
Chantelle October 13, 2011, 9:09 pm
I agree with the suggestion to go back into therapy. It sounds like you went through something traumatic. Traumatic experiences have a way of staying with us and get brought on my triggers. Someone gets into a car accident while making a left turn and after that every time they make a left turn they relive the experience. Your ex contacting you was making you relive the experience, emotionally.
There are a lot of techniques you can employ to help get past emotional triggers. Discussing them in a safe environment where you can go over the hurt you’ve felt, the unresolved anger, the unanswered questions will help. Then you’ll reach a point where you can discuss what you’d like to replace those feelings with.
I had a trust issue with my ex at one point, he lied to me about something major, we were in counseling, I got the chance to talk it through, and he was truly apologetic. I thought I had moved past it. But then, months later, when he failed to tell me something not important I relived that previous lie again. I had set up an emotional trigger where I reacted disproportionately to anything my mind deemed similar to that past event. Seeing a psychologist really helped. Anytime I felt the anxiety or fear creep back in I had the tools necessary to deal with it. It makes me happy to know I won’t let what happened years ago affect my future with another partner.
leilani October 14, 2011, 9:47 am
When someone you love betrays you seemingly out of the blue, it can be very hard to come to terms with, and very hard to get over. My ex-boyfriend and I were very happy together, he treated me well, and I trusted and loved him with everything I had. Then, one day he called me and told me that he had cheated on me. At first I was very angry at him, broke up with him, and cut off all contact. But as soon as he started contacting me again, I got extremely confused. I could not reconcile the two images I had of him in my head: the loving, attentive boyfriend, with the disrespectful, cheating asshole. It just didn’t make sense to me. Trying to make sense of the disconnect between these two images started to consume me, and one day I would think that he was a good guy who had just made a simple mistake, and another I would think he was a selfish dick who had taken advantage of me and made a joke out of all the love I had given him. It took a looooong time for me to fully move on from that and just accept that he is a flawed guy who is ultimately not the one for me.
cdubs October 14, 2011, 3:37 pm
Does anyone else think that sounds like Jessica from TF…?