Q. I’m 29 and recently single. I also graduated with my law degree and am relocating to an entirely new city. Lots of life change! I am terrified.
I ended my relationship of three years in April but I’m having a major case of dumper’s remorse. I left because my ex could be vindictive, did not move on from past fights, and I always felt uneasy about bringing him around my friends. He could be quiet and aloof at times, which made for awkward group events. That being said, he was nice when he was happy, and he truly loved me. He made grand romantic gestures and was always thoughtful.
Our challenges stemmed from him blaming me for not prioritizing him or appreciating him enough. The narrative was that the relationship was bad because of me. When I left he said I’d end up alone forever because I couldn’t compromise and that I was a terrible girlfriend. I couldn’t help but internalize those words, and now months later I keep thinking ... did I make the right decision? He truly loved me — maybe I should have prioritized him better or worked harder at the relationship. Should I have given it more time? I’m staring down the tunnel toward being single and 30 with a new job in a new city. I’m scared and worried I let a great guy get away.
How do I feel more confident in my decision? How do you not lose hope and avoid looking back with rose-colored glasses on an ex? All my friends and family tell me I had to end it — but I am wracked with guilt and regret.
A. “I left because my ex could be vindictive, did not move on from past fights, and I always felt uneasy about bringing him around my friends.”
Wow. It doesn’t sound like this was all your fault. Also, if you were such a terrible girlfriend, why did he choose to stick around?
You have a very full life — friends, law school, etc. — and it sounds like he wanted more attention than you could give. That means this was a bad match. Instead of accepting that, he went straight to blame. What kind of life would you have had with him, knowing that every problem would have been put on you?
Sometimes two perfectly lovely people break up because they want different things. Maybe they get along well, which makes the decision that much more difficult. In your case, there were many problems. His romantic gestures weren’t enough to make up for the bad feelings and behavior — for saying such terrible things. When you feel guilt, remember that you did everyone a favor by letting go. He wasn’t happy either and it was time.
“I’m staring down the tunnel toward being single and 30 with a new job in a new city.”
What a great tunnel! This is exciting — the best kind of change. These new experiences will feel uncomfortable at times, but now you get to build the life you want without having to accommodate someone who doesn’t want to be there. Better to go through this on your own and seek partners who love your choices.
I know this is difficult. I know it hurts and makes you feel insecure. But remember this: The view behind you isn’t great, even when you look back with rose-colored glasses. Try to focus on what’s to come.
Even if there was an element of truth in what he said, you did the right thing in moving on. He’s got a selfish, nasty streak. And you’ll prioritize someone more when you find someone who’s actually worth it.
He sounds like a jerk. And he blamed you for him being that way. And then he told you that he (a jerk) is the best you can do. If that doesn’t make you more confident in your decision, I’m not sure what will.
First, you did not let a great guy get away. You said yourself he was angry and vindictive. Second, he did not truly love you, or he would not have said those things about you being alone forever and being a terrible girlfriend. Finally, it’s OK to miss the companionship and grand gestures (don’t get too used to these, by the way, and don’t compare future boyfriends to this one when they don’t lift you up in the rain), but enjoy all the newness that’s coming in the job and relocation.
Sounds like my brother-in-law who would let the air out of my sister’s tires, delete important files, or simply pout like a child when he felt my sister was neglecting him. He’s manipulative and a pathological liar to boot. My sister chalks it up to him being hangry, but we all see it.
You are 30 with a new job in a new city! Why are you turning that into a negative? It sounds really exciting and a great way to meet new friends and get your career going! Divert all the energy you are using to think about this past [mess] of a relationship and put it toward making this move awesome.
Let’s just ignore everything else and focus on this for a minute: Is this how you want to live the rest of your life? Feeling uneasy bringing your boyfriend/husband around your friends? That would be awful. Just because he had some redeeming qualities, it doesn’t mean that you were wrong to end the relationship. Stop looking back and start focusing on everything you have ahead of you.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.