Q. How do you intentionally fall out of love?
Two years ago, my ex and I divorced, ending a 30-year relationship that started in our youth. Our love ended long before the marriage, and my life is better with him gone.
One year ago, a charming stranger came into my life. I pursued him on a whim, ready to try dating. The laughter, connection, great sex, and intellectual stimulation were extraordinary — and addicting. When he shared himself emotionally, I fell completely in love.
I rationalized his inconsistencies. Months into our relationship, 10 minutes with Google proved he was lying to me. I am not proud that I ignored what I learned. It was not until he started to withdraw that my brain prevailed.
One month ago I initiated our breakup. It took two minutes, with no questions, answers, or discussion. We have had no contact since. I am heartbroken.
My brain wants to appreciate the good parts of the year and my growth in confidence. My heart wants him to physically hurt, while simultaneously worrying about his well-being. My body still craves him.
I am functional: working, exercising, and seeing a therapist. I was tested for STIs, crushed on Brett Goldstein [of “Ted Lasso”], and flirted with a man at the hockey playoffs. But I am still really sad. I don’t want to be in love anymore. (With him at least, but maybe with Mr. Goldstein.)
Is there a healthy way to fall out of love? How long will this take? Can I speed it up?
A. I’m sorry. Breakups can be so terrible. You’re doing all the right things (Roy Kent crush, included). I wish there was a magic cure that made all of these feelings go away.
I can’t tell you how long it takes to get over someone, but I do know a month isn’t enough (based on my experience, at least). That’s ... one moon cycle. In four weeks, the weather has barely changed. You haven’t had the time to make new memories on your own, and most of what you’ve been doing since the breakup is thinking about him.
This isn’t the time to force yourself to move on faster. Grieve it. Feel betrayed. Get sad. Then take a deep breath and do one happy thing. Manage your expectations when it comes to your timeline.
If you need to remember why you shouldn’t be worried about this man, do the same Google search that led to the decision to walk away. Take a moment to be grateful he’s gone. Tell yourself (out loud, maybe) that you can have these same happy feelings with someone who isn’t a liar.
Imagine the life you’d want to show someone new. Build that — with friends, home projects, hobbies, etc.
Remember that this was your first breakup after many years of marriage. It’s almost like you’re learning to date — and experience dating loss — for the first time, all over again. It’s that much more uncomfortable because it’s so new.
You would tell any young person to be patient with an unfamiliar feeling. Accept that advice for yourself.
You cannot go back in time, and let’s face it, you don’t want to. You don’t want him. Maybe try being angry at him for deceiving you.
The man you think you are in love with doesn’t exist. You know he lied about himself. You fell in love with the man you thought he was, not the man he actually is. Remind yourself of this fact whenever you think of him or miss him.
I absolutely think part of the inability to let go fully has to do with the brief time — only a month — and the fact that he was the first relationship post-marriage. From how you write, you are doing great: You opened yourself to dating, you ended it when it was clearly bad for you, and now you will learn the lesson of letting go.
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.