Q. You’ve probably heard this story before: someone having trouble getting over an ex, especially around the holidays. My ex and I dated for a year, and things were OK, but we would have the same argument every month. I thought she had anxiety issues and suggested counseling, which she’s done before, but she thought I just didn’t want to deal with her emotions (which was also sometimes true).
We dated for a year and then stayed friends for a long time after that. For the first couple of months we were friends with benefits, but I stopped that because I was afraid I was leading her on. Just before our last FWB encounter she told me she “would always love me as a friend’’ and that’s why I shouldn’t feel guilty. I took that seriously, since I don’t make friends easily and we were really close. I considered her my best friend even after we stopped having sex. But I always knew she wanted to get back together.
Fast forward to three months ago. I knew she was dating, but she finally got serious with another guy. I, being an idiot who has trouble reading my own emotions, didn’t deal well with it and told her I thought I still had feelings for her. She told me that we needed time apart to help me get over her. I’ve been in this situation before and “some time apart’’ turns into “I’ll never speak to you again.’’ And this was a week after I helped her move.
Since then I’ve seen pictures of her and her new boyfriend - her taking him to meet her family and going on vacations with him (I consider that pretty quick, but my opinion doesn’t matter). I de-friended her and all of her friends on Facebook because I can’t handle seeing updates with her and her boyfriend without getting incredibly hurt. I’ve sent her an e-mail for Christmas just wishing her the best, but I doubt she’ll respond.
I understand through therapy and friends that I can’t control her actions and that she’s an ex, etc. I’ve also been told that since she won’t talk back to me that’s a sign she still feels something too, but I’m trying not to read into her emotions. But I’ve always felt that because we were friends, and especially because she said she would always love me as a friend, that I’m particularly hurt (even though I know people say things they mean at the time but won’t follow through with).
I’ve been dating someone else, and I’m not even sure I’d want to date my ex again. There’s just this huge amount of hurt that I haven’t been able to get rid of. And the uncertainty of knowing if we’ll ever even talk to each other again makes it hard for me to move on properly.
Am I being unreasonable? Do I just need more time? And is there anything I can do to help this situation?
HOME ALONE, Cambridge
A. She cut you off because you’re both dating other people and trying to move on. I mean, how else could this possibly work? Do you think that you could have an easygoing friendship with her right now? Do you think that her boyfriend would embrace you as a platonic pal? Do you think you could keep your mind straight about what she represents?
Your ex wants to make sure that if you ever speak again it’s truly platonic. You need this space. Be thankful that she’s giving it to you. And for the record, she has every right to focus on her new relationship. You should focus on whether you want to be in yours.
“Some time apart’’ doesn’t always mean “I’ll never speak to you again.’’ This isn’t “taking a break’’ in a romantic relationship - you guys are already broken up. In your case, time apart means time for perspective. It’s about giving each other the chance to mourn the end of a relationship, something you never got the chance to do.
You’re right - the holidays are particularly rough, but you just have to get through the week and try to stay close to your friends. And if you feel sad, that’s OK. You had a bad breakup. It’s just taken you a long time to admit it. Even if you’re the breaker upper, you’re supposed to be miserable. You’re supposed to miss her friendship and want to text her little inside jokes. That’s how it goes. But the truth about why you broke up is still relevant. Remind yourself of that, and assure yourself that she will speak to you when it feels less urgent. Of course, by then you might not care so much.
You are focusing on the happy times with this girl and the feeling of rejection you feel now. Try remembering some of the bad times. They will remind you of why you broke up in the first place. Break-ups are hard, and the holidays make them feel worse. Just keep moving forward and maybe let the new one know that you have to take it slow. You don’t sound really ready for someone new.
It feels to me like you sure are placing the responsibility for the grief you feel all on her - the way the relationship worked and didn’t work, the way she promised to be friends (and now does not seem to be), “her’’ anxiety issues being the main cause for the break-up. Now you hurt badly and you want to find someway to fit her into your life (at your convenience and pace). CHLOE2006
This whole “friends with benefits’’ concept has always eluded me. I feel like there’s a small subset of people - of which I am not a member - who can appropriately detach to make these arrangements work out so that the “benefits’’ outweigh the detriments. Meanwhile, it seems like a lot of people think they’re able to make these things work in their favor, only to find that their own humanity gets in the way. EDDIE GUNS
Meredith is right. She’s over you and moving on. She’s not speaking to you because she doesn’t want to - she is in a new relationship and seems to want to concentrate on building a new life. PENNYSMOM53
Ah yes, a true Shakespearean tragedy. That immature girl you broke up with was more mature and more stable than you all along. SENOR-EL-GAULTOEdited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.