Q. I’d like to find a way to move past a relationship of almost nine years. Despite moving across the country to move on, I can’t stop interacting with him. I was 31 when we started dating, and now that I’m 40 I feel used. He kept alluding to a future with me, which kept giving me hope.
I genuinely like him as a person ... except when he is mean to me, which is often. When I read the comments on this column, I’m struck by some commenters (I assume they’re men) and the ease with which they make jokes about a woman’s biological clock. It makes me think all men think women are comical objects, and the passing of one’s ability to have children is a hilarious prospect.
I feel disheartened with my decisions, and sometimes I want retribution for being manipulated into believing someone cared about me, and that it always “just wasn’t the right time.” I’m also afraid of the future and becoming an angry spinster. Therapy doesn’t seem to help; I believe it’s hormones at this point that need to be tamed. How do I find hope and peace?
HOPE AND PEACE
A. Sometimes — a lot of times — people make online comments that they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Or maybe they would, but if they did, there might be more empathy in their tone.
Love Letters is a place where people with good intentions want to tell you something that helps — and what a friend might not say. I agree that some commenters could add more humanity to their language.
But that’s not the real issue here. You feel used by this ex, and he’s still in your life. Also, he’s mean to you. You are the boss of how much you talk to him — which should be never. Allow this to be a real end to the relationship and block him. If he contacts you about why (via email or some other channel), tell him you’re ready to move on. Then block him wherever he found you. You feel like he wasted your time, and now you’re giving him more. That is your choice. (Sorry, tough love is necessary here.)
For the record, I don’t think this is about hormones (although, ask an actual doctor). This is about forgiving yourself and making a decision to start something new.
If you want kids, look into your options. It’s not easy (financially or otherwise) to have a child on your own, but investigate. I’ll say it again: You’re in charge. At the very least, you can decide what you want to pursue right now. As a very happy childless person, I believe you can also fill your life with other wonderful experiences.
I remember when I turned 40, I was weirdly euphoric. I felt younger than I had at 39. Again, I’ve never wanted kids, so I didn’t have that on my mind, but I felt only 40, if that makes sense. My 30s were always building to this scary place, and then when I got there, I was the youngest middle-aged person around. I felt lucky to have time.
You’re only 40. You managed to break up with the wrong partner before you decided to share everything with him. Now you can design the rest of your life without this person. All you have to do is choose to move on and pursue what you want. Easier said than done, but very possible. Think about what would make you excited to take next steps. Then take them.
“Despite moving across the country to move on, I can’t stop interacting with him.” Change “can’t” to “won’t.” A simple shift in language could be enough for you to start taking responsibility, which is ultimately empowering.
Move past him by repeating to yourself whenever you feel tempted to contact/reply to him: “He was mean to me a lot.” There are not enough upsides to counterbalance that.
Usually, when one feels misled, misguided, and completely disenchanted, they cease all contact. Sort of like when you’re at Fuddruckers and you send your cheeseburger back because it’s not cooked to your liking. You don’t go home later and obsess about why it wasn’t properly cooked for days, months, or years into the future. Men are cheeseburgers, my dear.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com 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.