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When does it get better?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  August 4, 2009 10:34 AM

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Oh, Draco Malfoy, I bet you think this song is about you.

Q: Hi Meredith --

I debated for weeks about whether to write in or not with my question because it seems so trivial compared to the other letters and what I am anticipating for the advice almost seems as if it will be predictable (things will get better with time, you’re still young, etc.).
However, this has been eating away at me for a while and I am open to anything that will help me move on from this so here it goes …

I was dating this guy for almost 2 years while I was in college. We were inseparable and were completely infatuated with each other. Looking back, I realize that I should have ensured that I had a life outside of the two of us because when we broke up I was devastated and completely alone. This guy was my first love, we had talked about marriage and being together forever, and while I know that’s typical with your first love, I really thought it would last. When we broke up, it not only broke my heart but it shattered it into so many pieces that I am still not sure that it’s completely whole.

We broke up almost 2-and-a-half years ago. For the first few months following the break up we still talked every day, still said ‘I love you’ and went on occasional dates. However, this was too much for me to handle and I told him that I couldn’t do it that way, we were either dating or I couldn’t talk to him at all. I did and still do not want to be friends. Since then, he still contacts me on every major holiday, my birthday, our anniversary just to “talk” and we end up talking for hours. Our connection is still there, which is kind of unnerving. We have gone on a few dates in the past year and slept together once, which I realize is making it even harder for me to move on.

The problem is I feel like I haven’t been able to find anyone else that I have that “spark” with. I don’t feel the same connection with anyone else, and he’s told me that he feels the same. I’m not saying that I want to be with him again but I want to be able to move on from this and find someone who won’t break my heart and leave me. My biggest fear is that I’m not going to find something as good as what we had with someone else and that (as ridiculous as this sounds) I’m going to end up alone for the rest of my life.

I watch my friends with envy as they go out and meet new men and start new relationships while I seem to strike out repeatedly. Sometimes I feel as if I am watching my life pass me by, even though I go out and try new things and put myself out there. How do I move on from this? Will I find that spark again? How do I know that I won’t end up alone… the eternally single friend as everyone else finds someone to pair off with?

-- Scared, lonely, and hopeless, Waltham

A: SLH, I lost some sleep over this letter. I think that’s because …

Once upon a time, there was a young woman named -- well, let’s call her Deredith Boldstein. Deredith dated someone very wonderful in college. Let’s call him … Draco Malfoy. (There was a resemblance.)

Deredith and Draco adored each other. But for obvious reasons (age, geography, etc.), they parted ways after graduation. Deredith was expecting the break-up -- she knew it was necessary -- but when it actually happened, she was miserable. She felt scared, lonely, and hopeless. She spent much of 1999 and 2000 eating pizza and watching angtsy programs on a magical network that was known as the WB.

Deredith’s friends didn’t know what to do with her. She didn’t want to date anyone else. She didn’t even like to go out very much. She kept in touch with Draco Malfoy, but after every phone call and visit, she felt more confused, more rejected. Draco still loved her, but he was moving on, dating various muggles he didn’t even like that much. Deredith began to lose faith in herself. She ate more and more pizza.

One day, Deredith woke up and decided that she couldn’t accept what she had become. She told Draco Malfoy that as much as she would always love him, she needed to cut him out of her new life. She had actually done this twice before, but this time she meant it. She took his number out of her phone. She took down his pictures. He respected her wishes by staying away. It was difficult for both of them. They missed each other terribly. But eventually the feelings faded. And by eventually, I mean a few years.

Break-ups are weird. Sometimes the ones that should take forever to get over are a breeze. Sometimes it’s a fling that knocks the wind out of you. Your break-up was big. Not only did you lose the object of your affection, you made a major life change. You’re not in college anymore. It’s a whole new world and you're doing it alone.

Even though it’s difficult, you must let him go. Once he’s really gone, you can start the recovery process. Maybe he’ll come back to you someday. It’s possible. But for now, you need to learn how to be happy without him. Allow yourself to go through the mourning process. It’s unavoidable.

As for friends pairing off while you’re brooding and miserable-- don’t even think about it. Those people probably felt lonely and left out while you were in your relationship. This stuff is cyclical. There’s no rush, and you’re right, you have plenty of time.

The saying “time heals all wounds” should really be “an almost unbelievable amount of time heals all wounds.” You just need more time and some real space.

If you’re wondering about Deredith and Draco Malfoy, it all worked out for the best. He married someone else. She moved on and found sparks in new places. And because she was older and more settled when she found those sparks, they shined brighter. She’ll always love Draco -- and most likely, he’ll always love her, too -- but Deredith knows now that Draco would have never made her happy in the long run. I mean, nothing ends a relationship like Voldemort. She would have never put up with that nonsense.

My point is: It gets better. It gets better. It gets better. I promise.

Readers? Thoughts? Stories? Love for SLH? Share here. Letters to right. Twitter.

-- Meredith

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164 comments so far...
  1. Are you broken up or not? You either need to not talk to this guy again, ever, or start back up with him in a serious manner. Either way, make a decision to pick it up and run with it or move on TODAY. The remainder of your life starts TOMORROW, with him or without him.

    Posted by K August 4, 09 11:05 AM
  1. I feel like everybody is going to say "I could've written this letter," because what you're feeling is so universal. I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and say "I could've written this letter" (but with more credibility because this also happened to me when I was living in Waltham). Long story short - we were together for 2.5 years, we broke up, he wanted to stay friends and we tried that for about a week before I said that I couldn't handle it. We didn't talk for 6 or 7 months, which was incredibly difficult because we have all the same best friends and we were both totally miserable. There was an incident that led to us having to talk, and it was a really emotional discussion and we decided to try being friends again. It has taken a while but we have rebuilt a lot of our friendship (we were best friends before we started dating), and it's very rewarding. I also felt like I would never love anyone again, and while my current relationship is doomed, I have realized that loving another person is totally possible and WILL happen, even though the time it takes seems like you're slogging through molasses. I really value my ex's friendship, and while I am still sad about our breakup, I've realized that it was probably for the best. Hang in there, girl! Go out and have fun and try as hard as possible to forget what you're missing and enjoy what you have.

    Posted by Katya August 4, 09 11:12 AM
  1. You need to think of yourself as an addict, addicted to this person. You need rehab from your ex. Just as an alcoholic must avoid booze, a coke addict must avoid coke (and the people, places and things associated with their use), you need to avoid this man, and people, places and things that remind you of him.

    You only don't find "spark" elsewhere because your mind is still clinging to the past. You are comparing new men to him, rather than evaluating them on their own.

    Take your time. You are 3 years out of college at most? You'll barely remember this part of your life when you are with your husband and kids down the road.

    Posted by JC August 4, 09 11:17 AM
  1. Rico actually had chills as he read the letter...

    Rico understands this as well as Meredith and Deredith. Rico can confirm that this feeling is just the same for men. Rico knows a guy named Pico that dated a girl many years ago "Carrie" that Pico felt an amazing connection with. Carrie and Pico spent a lot of time together and talked for hours by phone. If not for the ages of these two and the differences in there family backgrounds Pico and Carrie might have married and had children. 3 years were "wasted" but not really since it was a learning experience you can't get from a book. Pico still has those memories and surely carrie does as well. She is married as is Pico so the moral is the same as Mer/Deredith's...Time heals...

    Pico dated other very nice women/ladies/girls over the years, some were more "sparkly" than others but there will always be great memories of all of those experiences.

    Do as Meredith says and cut this guy off cold turkey, no more calls/emails/dates etc...

    Rico thinks you will be fine in time...ha ha that rhymed.

    Sorry, Rico loves a bad joke.

    Anyhow, Rico suggests everyone get out today, it is beautiful out there.

    Love always,

    Rico

    "Love is a battlefield"

    Posted by Rico August 4, 09 11:17 AM
  1. tomorrow you could meet someone that makes this whole letter totally irrelevant... you can NEVER let yourself forget that!

    Posted by hang in there August 4, 09 11:17 AM
  1. I have experienced a very similar situation and it took me almost 2 years to completely get over him. I dated others but my heart wasn't in it. My best advice to you is what Meredith has already said: completely cut off contact. No facebook friends, no texting, no holidays - nothing. It's the only way you'll completely move on. For me, I actually moved to Boston to start over, and while that was a drastic move, it was what I needed and it worked out well for me.

    You said: "I’m not saying that I want to be with him again but I want to be able to move on from this and find someone who won’t break my heart and leave me."
    I hate to break this to you, but there is no guarantee that someone new won't break your heart or leave you. The fact is that you will never know unless you try in the first place. Life is too short to be so reserved with your feelings.

    Posted by cna August 4, 09 11:18 AM
  1. Hi, you are probably still young and with sooo much time ahead of you to meet new people. I understand it is hard to lose your boyfriend and best friend all at once and feel all alone. If you try and keep yourself busy and preoccupied so that you don't sit around and just think of him it will help. First loves are always the hardest to get over though and it sounds like this one will take awhile. you were right to cut off ties with him, that lingering just makes things harder on both of you. I know this is hard and you are lonely and feel like you will never find someone "better" but you will. You will likely meet many great guys if you are open to it, so take your time to grieve right now and then when you are ready to get back out there just keep your options open and have fun - take what you have learned from this relationship and the great memories and move on. I wish you luck!

    Posted by JW August 4, 09 11:19 AM
  1. Just some very concrete suggestions here:

    1) Delete his number from your phone (if he calls your cell phone). Delete his email from your address book.

    2) If you have a cell phone, program it so that it is silent when he calls you. You do not want to hear that ring. Delete any message he leaves, or text message he sends, without listening/reading it first. For your email, do something similar--set it up so that his emails go directly to the trash.

    3) Get rid of his pictures and all mementos.

    4) Do NOT see him anymore. Do NOT take his calls, even if they are during a holiday. If he calls your landline/your family's phone, ask them to tell him you can't talk now.

    5) Go out with your friends and do fun things that don't involve romance. Don't rush that. You're not going to feel a spark because you're still hurting and heartbroken. No one can fault you for that!

    6) Are there things you liked that he really didn't? Indulge in them NOW (as long as they aren't horrifically bad for you, like binge drinking or coke-snorting). If he hated the Food Channel, watch it. If he despised Chinese food, get some.

    Hang in there. I know you've heard it before and that it rings false now, but honestly--it will get better.

    Posted by PM August 4, 09 11:20 AM
  1. Been there, done that.

    I agree with the advice Meredith gave except the, "Maybe he’ll come back to you someday. It’s possible." = you cannot let this possibility enter your mind. THIS is the type of thing that clogs the mind and puts you in fantasy-future-land.

    Meredith followed this with, "But for now, you need to learn how to be happy without him." Make him not a part of your life anymore on any level. Yes, it is normal, human, and perfectly fine to miss him. No one is denying you that. But he needs to respect your distance and space and you need to get a new life.

    Posted by Amazed August 4, 09 11:20 AM
  1. Wow, I can't help but wonder why these two are broken up. It sounds like they both still have the same feelings for each other. What's up with that?

    That said, yes, I could have written this letter too (aside from the part about how they are both still connected and apparently so into each other.)

    Posted by BeeBee August 4, 09 11:20 AM
  1. You can't be friends with an ex, until you are both over it. Get over it by cutting off all ties for a long time.

    Posted by No_Talking August 4, 09 11:22 AM
  1. Dear (500) Days of Scared, lonely, and hopeless, Waltham,

    I loved your movie. Soundtrack was great. Nothing better than a good Pixies’ cover, right? Remember when your ex – THE ONE – saw you in the park and said, “You were right about love. Just not about me.”? That was a great moment. Why do you keep forgetting that?

    In the words of Frank Black: there is a wait so long, you'll never wait so long, here comes your man.

    Posted by Sally August 4, 09 11:23 AM
  1. Great response M.
    Print this and carry it with you if need be.
    Try to relax . Have as much fun as possible. It gets better. It really does. I'm with you in this situation right now. It is horrible. I'll bet many of the LL readers are as well, which is why we need to have a big party. Blow off steam. ;)
    I realized not long ago, holding onto the pain and emotion from the relationship meant I still had him in some way...and I had to let go.
    You have to let go. It is a choice and you are in control.
    Good luck.


    Posted by pb August 4, 09 11:25 AM
  1. It sounds like you're doing all the right things to move toward healthy healing, with one exception: you're still taking his calls. It doesn't matter if he only calls on major holidays, stop talking to him! On your side, all it is doing is picking at that scab on your heart again (once at Christmas and again at Easter, etc) and, as mothers all over the world keep telling kids all over the world, if you pick at the scab it will leave a big scar. You already have a scar on your heart, but you can keep it from getting bigger. As for him, continuing to call you makes him sound like a manipulative jerk. He knows he can keep stringing you along in case he needs a back up plan. In the meantime, hang in there. Work hard at your job, volunteer at a soup kitchen, mentor or tutor a little kid, adopt a dog or a cat. (Pets rock, by the way, in the comfort and companionship department!) Things will eventually work out. And you'd be surprised at how many guys out there dig chicks with scars.

    Posted by KGF August 4, 09 11:29 AM
  1. Get back together with him.
    Trust me.

    Posted by josh August 4, 09 11:30 AM
  1. Oh, sweet girl. Welcome to heartbreak. It stinks, and anyone who tells you any different has never been there.

    A little bright spot to ease your troubled heart....

    As every girl will probably say to you today, I have been there. My first love ended after a glorious year. I thought, no one, NO ONE could ever love me as much. I mourned, I grieved, I cried, screamed, panicked that I would be alone forever. We, too, stayed in touch and I let things happen that I probably shouldn't have because I was so desperate to feel that loving feeling again. In the end, it did prevent me from moving on for that first year of our break up, and once I put a stop to the communication, I finally gave myself permission to really feel what I was feeling, push through it, and come out the other side. All the while, I kept saying to anyone who would listen, "I'm not READY to be over this!"

    But, miraculously, one day I was ready.

    Although that heartache was ten years ago, I still remember that ache. I am getting married soon, to a lovely, lovely man who I love more than I ever thought it was possible to love someone other than Patrick Swayze. Everything I went through with my first love got me here--and I am so grateful for it.

    Eventually, we started a friendship and I am thankful for that too--it feels great to have someone in my life who knew me then and who knows me now. He is married with a baby on the way, and I couldn't be happier for him. I know that I touched his life in a way that will be enduring, as he did mine.

    Good luck and all the love in the world to you. <3

    Posted by M August 4, 09 11:31 AM
  1. Write him a letter. Write down everything you want to say, everything you feel, everything you wish for and need. Keep writing until you have nothing left to say. Then light the letter on fire or destroy it in another way, take a deep breath, and be done with it. Whenever you feel the need to talk to him, do this.

    It helps.

    Posted by AG August 4, 09 11:34 AM
  1. I, like Deredith, had a breakup that I didn't get over for a few years. Something like 5. It sucked. But what made it suck worse is I was constantly comparing myself to my friends, seeing how happy they were, thinking "I haven't met anyone special in 3 years... 4 years... 5 years. What is wrong with me?"

    What I'm saying is, don't be too hard on yourself. Try not to compare yourself to your friends. You are all different people with your own speeds at which you are moving forward in life. If yours is just a little slower, make peace with it. I wish I had.

    Like Deredith, I also found someone who is exponentially better for me than that guy from my past. Sure, it would've been great to have met him 5 years ago, but would I have been ready for this relationship? No way.

    And definitely cut the cord with the ex. You will never get over him if you keep that emotional connection. If he calls you, tell him you don't want to talk and hang up. The trick to meeting a great guy that you spark with is you have to believe it is possible. Any time the thought "will I be alone forever?" starts, just distract your brain. There are wonderful men out there and you will meet one you spark with again. Eventually.

    Posted by sometimes August 4, 09 11:35 AM
  1. One question - why did you break up? Did it come solely from him? Was it mutual since you were both graduating from college and moving away from each other?

    As Katya comments above, anyone could have written this letter as so many people go through this type of a break-up. With me, it was with a guy I pined over for about 5 years of my life - we became friends in high school. We were never as serious as you and your boyfriend, but I was totally in love. We hooked up a lot, hung out a lot one-on-one, and hung out with the same group of friends. It was so difficult for me to see him with other girls, and I was so certain that one day he would come to his senses and we would get together and stay together exclusively. But it never happened, and he strung me along, and stupidly I took the bait many, many times. I shed a lot of tears over this dude, and now when I look back on it, I can't believe how stupid I was. And how much time I wasted hoping and waiting for him to come around.

    My best advice? Cut him completely out of your life now as Meredith suggests. No phone calls, no emails, no texting, no Facebook messages, nothing. Otherwise you will always wonder if his innocent email or phone call meant more than just a friendly hello, and you will drive yourself nuts.

    Reconnect with your girlfriends, schedule girls' night out every week or so. You need your girlfriends to get your through this and take your mind off of your ex. Time will heal. I am now married to a great guy with a baby...you will find love again. Just give it time.

    Posted by Regina Felangy August 4, 09 11:35 AM
  1. When you find a way to move on and find someone new, let us know... unfortunately, there's no secret formula for curing this, though I'm sure someone could make millions by doing so.

    Posted by vlnplyr2 August 4, 09 11:36 AM
  1. I could have written this a year ago. All of a sudden a few months ago, I realized that I don't think about him all of the time. Yes, he does pop into my head, and I wonder about him, but it's not the kind of consuming feelings that I used to have. And it feels great. The only way that this got better was to stop talking to him. I deleted him off of my facebook so that I couldn't keep checking on him. I took his number out of my phone, and I stopped answering when he called or texted. It wasn't fun, but it did work. I know that this isn't any different advice than anyone else is going to give you, but it's the truth! And don't worry about what's going on in your friends lives as far as relationships, the tables could turn quickly. You can't compare yourself to anyone else, it will drive you nuts.
    Good luck!!!!

    Posted by sm1231 August 4, 09 11:36 AM
  1. The key to making yourself happy again is realizing that you are in charge of your own future. I believe it is a choice to be happy. You need to make a conscience decision to be more self-reliant and independent. The key to all of this is loving yourself. The path to everlasting true love forever is not always a straight path, it make have twists and turns, but just have faith that everything happens for a reason. Life is not static. Not to get all preachy, but what has always given me strength in times of gloom & doom, is that you are led to no bridge you cannot cross. Don't worry about your friends' boyfriends or whoever they are currently dating, it is not a race nor a competition. No one needs to have a man. Especially you right now. Focus on yourself and improving aspects of your own life (emotionally and physically) to make yourself feel better. If you look better, you feel better. If you feel better, you look better. Depression is never a turn-on. Not to turn LL into a book club (although not a horrible idea), I recommend "The Opposite of Love" by Julie Buxbaum. You will find it incredibly relatable to your own life.


    Posted by trueluv4eva August 4, 09 11:37 AM
  1. First off, there is no way to answer properly without knowing how/why you broke up.
    For the purposes of continuing, I’m going to guess that he broke up with you.

    Secondly, let me just say that I feel your pain. We’ve all been there on some level at some time in our lives. Bear with me while I share some general thoughts on the topic. My analogy has always been to equate our heart with a crystal. It’s a precious gem that we cherish and keep secured from most people we encounter. For a select few, we let our guard down enough to take it out of the felt pouch and display it. We expose it to light and let another see the way it sparkles and see the beauty and dynamic nature of it in the sunlight. For a very precious few (or perhaps only one person), we build up the courage and trust to let them hold the crystal This is completely giving yourself over to another and is truly my definition of unconditional trust and love. If that person is careless with the crystal in any way (emotionally, physically, etc.) or cannot reciprocate the trust and love, then you end up with a damaged crystal (i.e. heartbroken). The extent of the damage will determine the amount of time needed to repair the crystal. It can range from a crack, to a broken crystal, all the way up to nothing left but grains of sand as the crystal was completely disintegrated. We are left to scoop up the crystal (or it’s remnants), return it to it’s felt pouch, pull the drawstring, and clutch it tightly. Over time, the crystal repairs itself. The crack will solidify, the pieces will meld together, and the sand will become glass / crystal again. However, it will never be the perfect object that it once was. It will be forever changed and will be an imperfect object. The biggest question at that point becomes, when do you, as the owner of the crystal, feel as though you can show it to another person? When can you trust another enough to be able to reveal your true self? No one can tell you how long that will take. When it does happen, and you can share it with another, what will they think of it when it’s brought out in the light? Will they see patched cracks? Will they see imperfect lines or repaired shapes? Or will they not even notice and instead, think it’s the most perfectly created crystal in the world?

    Thirdly, with regards to your specific situation, please do yourself a favor and respect yourself enough to put down an ultimatum: you two are either in a relationship or you are not. If you are not, then you don’t contact each other on holidays, you don’t talk for hours on the phone, and well, obviously, you don’t have intimate relations. You will never heal, never be able to move on, and never be able to give yourself another chance at a legitimate relationship, until you do so. You will not be alone for the rest of your life, but you need to be alone now. I’m sorry, but that’s what you need to be told now. You will heal. You will get back control of your emotions and of your life. You will be able to have a healthy relationship with others. You will find the spark and this will have all been worthwhile for it will have changed you in ways you would never have expected. You just need to know that there is no timetable established for any of these things. You merely need to ride the waves (purposefully not aimlessly), but do not ask where they go.

    I wish you peace.

    - Hoss

    Posted by hoss August 4, 09 11:37 AM
  1. In my late 40's I have recently broken up with the woman that I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I still love her and miss her greatly. But I know that we are incompatible... she would rage and I would distance in the face of that rage. She would demand and I would feel unimportant and unloved when I spoke up for my needs and she would not acknowledge them. She was still angry and resentful towards me that I did not want to have more children after she said that she had accepted my decision nearly 9 months ago. In the end, I didn't feel respected..

    It is painful, but I am aware that while there are some things about her that I will always love about her, people and situations cannot be changed. You must move on, grieve and heal. I know that any contact going forward would slow that process down. It is VERY hard to not call your best friend when you miss her so. But it is necessary so that both her and I can be open to other relationships in the future. It is loving to both yourself and to the other to end all contact, but it can be very hard, especially when you have connected on such an intimate level (that is why you can talk for hours...). I know how difficult it is, but essential to put you in a better place.

    Posted by sanity123 August 4, 09 11:40 AM
  1. THANK YOU Meredith for sharing your own experiences in such a humorous way (I'm pretty sure I dated Draco's twin brother). And like Katya said, this feeling is universal, perhaps everyone has that "lost love/one that got away" story.

    I read somewhere once that for every three months you are with someone, it takes a month to get over them. As someone who got out of an intense four-year college relationship, I can tell you it DID take 16 whole months to get over that person and find someone new. And that time starts from the last contact with that person, not from the official break up date. But please please please do not spend that time eating pizza and watching TV - you are only missing out on YOUR life. I know because I spent most of those 16 months moping and sobbing while my friends disconnected themselves from me. Every day was the same - get up, go to work, come home, watch TV and sob. I will NEVER get that time back, it's wasted and gone. Instead, join a gym, take that trip you've always wanted to take, even move to another city or go back to school if you can.

    When you do find that next guy, expect that there will be a spark but it will be just...different. Perhaps we fall in love differently at different ages and so the spark feeling changes as we age.

    Posted by Marina August 4, 09 11:41 AM
  1. It would be interesting for more details on the breakup, but if you are really trying to move on than you have to do just that. No contact at all. Do the things you love to do, watch the movies and tv shows you love, etc. Force yourself to date others even if you don't feel a spark every time you go out with someone new you are one step closer to your happiness. Good luck it does get better, take it from someone who tried to seperate three times before finally divorcing, it will happen if you really want it to..

    Posted by techdood August 4, 09 11:41 AM
  1. It would be interesting for more details on the breakup, but if you are really trying to move on than you have to do just that. No contact at all. Do the things you love to do, watch the movies and tv shows you love, etc. Force yourself to date others even if you don't feel a spark every time you go out with someone new you are one step closer to your happiness. Good luck it does get better, take it from someone who tried to seperate three times before finally divorcing, it will happen if you really want it to..

    Posted by techdood August 4, 09 11:46 AM
  1. THANK YOU Meredith for sharing your own experiences in such a humorous way (I'm pretty sure I dated Draco's twin brother). And like Katya said, this feeling is universal, perhaps everyone has that "lost love/one that got away" story.

    I read somewhere once that for every three months you are with someone, it takes a month to get over them. As someone who got out of an intense four-year college relationship, I can tell you it DID take 16 whole months to get over that person and find someone new. And that time starts from the last contact with that person, not from the official break up date. But please please please do not spend that time eating pizza and watching TV - you are only missing out on YOUR life. I know because I spent most of those 16 months moping and sobbing while my friends disconnected themselves from me. Every day was the same - get up, go to work, come home, watch TV and sob. I will NEVER get that time back, it's wasted and gone. Instead, join a gym, take that trip you've always wanted to take, even move to another city or go back to school if you can.

    When you do find that next guy, expect that there will be a spark but it will be just...different. Perhaps we fall in love differently at different ages and so the spark feeling changes as we age.

    Posted by Marina August 4, 09 11:46 AM
  1. After a bad college break up, I knew I had to do something to kick myself out of the funk I was in - so I decided to stop thinking about *me* and focus on others. I traveled and worked as a volunteer for a refugee agency. I spent the better part of a year helping others and in the middle of it, I learned to let go of my heart ache.

    It's a dificult thing to do, but you need to follow Meredith's excellent advice.

    Posted by Diet Coke August 4, 09 11:46 AM
  1. THANK YOU Meredith for sharing your own experiences in such a humorous way (I'm pretty sure I dated Draco's twin brother). And like Katya said, this feeling is universal, perhaps everyone has that "lost love/one that got away" story.

    I read somewhere once that for every three months you are with someone, it takes a month to get over them. As someone who got out of an intense four-year college relationship, I can tell you it DID take 16 whole months to get over that person and find someone new. And that time starts from the last contact with that person, not from the official break up date. But please please please do not spend that time eating pizza and watching TV - you are only missing out on YOUR life. I know because I spent most of those 16 months moping and sobbing while my friends disconnected themselves from me. Every day was the same - get up, go to work, come home, watch TV and sob. I will NEVER get that time back, it's wasted and gone. Instead, join a gym, take that trip you've always wanted to take, even move to another city or go back to school if you can.

    When you do find that next guy, expect that there will be a spark but it will be just...different. Perhaps we fall in love differently at different ages and so the spark feeling changes as we age.

    Posted by Marina August 4, 09 11:46 AM
  1. This is so so so hard. I did nearly the same thing, except it was me who broke his heart. We spent almost a year "half dating," which is basically a horrible compromise. I wanted to keep talking to him because he was my best friend and first love, but not right for me, and it was too hard for him. Recently, he told me he couldn't talk to me cause it hurt him too much. It hurt me, too, to hear that, but I understood, and your guy will understand as well. I really hope the best for him, and for you.
    As for the spark, I've gone out with a bunch of guys since the breakup, but haven't gotten that "!!!!" feeling with any of them. I worry that I don't know how to date again (we were best friends before dating) or that I'm subconsciously comparing the trajectory my ex and I took with these guys. I hope I get over it and find a great person, and same for you. All you can do is keep going out, meeting people and not holding back.

    Posted by Mary August 4, 09 11:46 AM
  1. I ask myself "when does it get better' daily - and I've finally noticed that every day that goes by - it does get better.
    First - you need to end all communication. It's going to be very tough, but its the best thing for you.
    Second - make a change and set some goals for yourself. I did this after my big break up and it helped me become happier with life/myself.
    I've yet to find another spark like I had with my ex, but I know some day when I least expect it, it will happen. For right now, I'm just enjoying spending time with my friends and doing things i wouldn't have normally done. Take this time to learn about what you really want.

    Posted by singleinthecity August 4, 09 11:47 AM
  1. I feel your pain, I was with someone for over 2yrs, we worked/lived/commuted together. It's been 3yrs since the breakup, and guess who now sits 2 cubes behind me at work again?? You guessed it. It's hard to look at him, (he broke my heart) and I'm still alone (he just started dating someone). But I know that it was the best thing that could have NEVER happened, and I would rather be alone then knowing what my life would have been like. Hang in there, I know it's sounds corny, but time does heal all wounds, but you do need to break off all contact with him, you are still young, and will have plenty of time to find someone else with that "zazazu", sorry Sex In The City reference!

    Posted by Too Close For Cubicle Comfort August 4, 09 11:50 AM
  1. If you really want to move on you need to cut all ties with him. No more phone calls on holidays, birthdays, or any other special occassions. No phone calls at all. No emails, no texts, no social website messaging. No dates, no sleepovers. Nothing, nada, zilch. Take down the pictures, take his favorite sweatshirt, the cd's he made for you, all things that remind you of him and put them in a box and bury it (figuratively or literally). Avoid places that you associate with him, change the channel on songs that make you think of him--- do anything you can to get separation. It isn't easy but it is necessary. Hopefully your ex can be as understanding as Draco Malfoy and give you what you need: no contact.

    Once you do this you will start opening yourself up to finding someone new. You're seeing everyone through tainted glass right now, of course they don't look sparkly. You need time to let some of it go. Once you do you will see the difference; things will look a lot brighter.

    But there are no guarantees this won't happen again. In fact, it probably will. The most important part about finding and starting a new relationship is accepting your vulnerability. You need to be open to get hurt otherwise you will put a wall up and that wall will hinder your ability to find someone new. You will fall in love again, and you might get hurt but you know what? You'll be strong enough to move past it again.

    Posted by Kathleen August 4, 09 11:50 AM
  1. I just want to let you know that how you are dealing with your break up is normal and healthy. You are allowing yourself to experience all of the emotions.. the good, bad and the ugly. You havent rushed into new relationships and carried all of your emotional baggage with you. Making it through the bad times is how you attain emotional strength. You will be a wiser, happier person after you've healed. It will come one day. Something will click in your head and you will be over him.

    Posted by trueluv4eva August 4, 09 11:51 AM
  1. been there, done that, even bought the T-shirt. If this was the "first" big love, then you will love him forever. First loves are like that. They always have a piece of your heart. However, the heart is a muscle with amazing powers to stretch, so while it is sad, you need to say goodbye to this person and go get a new life without him. Yes, it will hurt, but the heart also has an amazing capacity to heal itself. You'll be fine.

    Posted by linda August 4, 09 11:53 AM
  1. Listen to Meredith. What she suggests IS necessary and what she says about the outcome IS true. Nothing more to add. Really. Good luck.

    Posted by yupokay August 4, 09 11:55 AM
  1. Wow this is the best advice Merideth has ever given! She is so right. And for the record-after I felt my heart would never heal and I was missing out on the fun of dating, a guy walked through the door at the most unsuspecting time and the sparks expolded. It will happen when you least expect it and you will never look back!

    Posted by capecodda August 4, 09 11:56 AM
  1. So far everyone has given you good advice. I was once told that men get back in the "game" to quickly after a breakup and women wait to long. Don't wait to long, don't let fear stop you. Best of luck

    Posted by beentheretoo August 4, 09 11:58 AM
  1. I've done this a few times (I'm like that...pine-y). Yes, you have to cut off all contact and reminders, as hard as that sounds. If you have mutual friends, ask them not to mention the ex around you for a while. It sounds harsh, but what's worked for me is pretending they're dead. I can't call them, because they're dead...that kind of thing. The point is to put them in the realm of memory, not the present day.

    One reason why new people don't seem to have that "spark" is because I don't know them yet...You can't meet someone new and right away expect to feel the same as you did with the ex. It takes time to develop...in the meantime, make your life about you and what you want out of it.

    Good luck - it will get better. One day you'll wake up and realize how far you've gone and it will feel really good.

    Posted by Cassandra August 4, 09 12:02 PM
  1. It DOES get better, trust me. I know it seems like the end of the world right now, but as someone I know and love very much says - this too, shall pass. I think we have all been in this situation before. Best thing to do - CUT OFF contact, and I mean for good...... no more messing around. It's the best thing you could do for yourself. You are not allowing yourself to meet someone else who is wonderful, because you are holding on to something that is not meant to be.
    I went through this same thing - living with my boyfriend, plans to get married, etc. etc. We broke up, he wanted to stay friends. I would not allow it. Man, was I smart to do that. I met my future husband a few months later, and I NEVER looked back. When my ex BF tried to get back together with me months later (and yes, the odds of this happening are probably high, so be prepared), I ignored him all together. I actually felt really sad for him at that moment, if only he knew that I had moved on......I didn't have the heart to tell him.
    Bottom line, cutting off contact 100% was the best thing I could do for myself, and ultimately for the both of us. This may take you some time, but you have to be strong about this. I will keep my fingers crossed for you. You really have to believe that you will be ok, and there IS someone else out there for you.

    Posted by dontlookback August 4, 09 12:03 PM
  1. Draco still loved her, but he was moving on, dating various muggles he didn’t even like that much.

    greatest line ever.

    Posted by mz August 4, 09 12:05 PM
  1. This is a great letter b/c obviously it's a universal experience. I'll save the boring details, but just say that I've had a few breakups that should've in theory taken much longer to get over...then there was a 2 month relationship about 4 years ago that I still force myself to put out of my mind. Charlotte in Sex and the City said that every relationship takes 1/2 the amount of time that you were in it to get over it. This would mean 1 year for you, but obviously this equation doesn't work b/c it would've meant I'd be over my ex in one MONTH. It's happening...but it's a SLOW process.

    Ditto PM and Meredith. You WILL get through this and learn something from it. One of these days, you'll look back (when you're happily married or coupled) and realize why this didn't work out - because it wasn't supposed to. There's more than one great person out there waiting for you. Good luck!

    Posted by alipie August 4, 09 12:05 PM
  1. Meredith is right on with this one. I (as all of the previous posters) have also been there. Twice, actually...

    One was my first love, to whom I was actually engaged. Eventually, I had to cut off communication for my own sanity, and for almost 2 years he was not part of my life. At some point, he reached back out to me and although I worried about falling into our old pattern in which I ALWAYS ended up hurt, I allowed the communication. He came to visit, and the most amazing thing happened- the moment I saw him again, I realized I was over him. We are still somewhat friendly 10 years later- we exchange birthday and Christmas cards and the very occasional e-mail, but have both since gotten married. We've both changed so much over the years that we just don't have that spark for each other...

    The other was about 5 years later. This guy used to pride himself on being friends with most of his exes- but that was too painful for me. One day I left him a "never call me again" message and while I deleted his e-mail address, phone number, everything- of course I had them memorized. For nearly a year, I had to fight calling or e-mailing on a daily- sometimes hourly- basis. We have never been in contact since. Eventually I met someone who I ended up with a crush on and life started again...

    It also took me counseling both times- I just needed someone to talk to (really, to "purge" all of my emotions- to pick the scab and let the wound bleed till it dried, metaphorically speaking- and not worry about being "that girl" to my friends). I'm not suggesting that is or isn't right for you. But like everyone says, it is a loss. It deserves to be mourned. As with any grieving process, if the loss truly is complete (i.e. cutting off ALL contact, at least for a good long while), acceptance and healing WILL eventually make their way to you.

    I feel for you, because while I no longer have feelings for either of these guys, it is so easy to bring back the memories of the pain I went through at the times of the breakups. Time really is the only remedy... good luck, I think you'll be treated kindly here especially compared to many letter writers, because while we aren't all sharing your pain right now, we can all identify with you...

    Posted by sc6218 August 4, 09 12:09 PM
  1. Been there, done that, yadda yadda yadda. My one piece of advice: don't worry yet about finding a new boyfriend, but do try to find a new friend or two. Establishing relationships with people who don't know him and don't know the two of you together will help you. It will help you have new experiences, see new sides of the world, and see yourself as having an identity that doesn't involve him. And it might....just might....also somehow lead you to the next spark in your life.

    Posted by Drea August 4, 09 12:11 PM
  1. SLH stop torturing yourself !!!
    Put your Big Girl panties on and tell him "Its all or nothing"! He obviously doesnt want a relationship with you or to settle down. Stop being his doormat. He may have feeling for you, but you are not the one. If he was in love with you, he would do everything in his power to make you his girl. Wake up, the world is waiting for you! Yes it will take time, but the time should start now.

    Posted by LilShorty98 August 4, 09 12:13 PM
  1. ok, a couple of things...
    A. if you don't want to date him now b/c he broke up with you b/c he was young and wanted to see what else is out there...I'll be honest...I think that is typical and normal. As long as he didn't cheat on you....he may be "the one". I would say though, getting back should be on a much more serious level like engagement b/c you both have done the dating thing.
    B. If you simply don't want to get back with him b/c he no longer is the "one". Then for you (other people can talk after a breakup become freinds and move on) you need to not answer his calls and be really direct, that you are trying to move on, you know there is no future romantically. Once I am back on my feet, if he doesn't mind then you will email / call to see how he is doing but that you for the next year or 2 can't talk to him. You need to really sever this relationship and do not compare him to the new guys you meet, you will always be disappointed. Noone can compete to a wonderful exboyfriend.

    You have the control to move on. Let him go. Don't communicate. Don't compare. Be open minded to new guys who may look different or might not be your type. You might be pleasantly surprised. Good Luck!

    Posted by Lisa August 4, 09 12:15 PM
  1. Wow, I actually loved reading all these stories...I only wish Love Letters was around when I went through this same experience. I agree with everyone else: you have to cut ties with him. All ties. Completely. It will be unbelievably hard and honestly, you won't do it till you're ready. I can't tell you how many people told me to do just that but I didn't listen until I was ready. Don't worry about how long it takes - eventually you'll be ready and it will be freeing (though sad) to finally let go. I wish you good luck.

    Posted by sneeks August 4, 09 12:16 PM
  1. I'm in the exact same boat! I keep running into my ex and we end up spending the night together. Only he wakes up sober and immediately regrets his decision. I'm left feeling rejected, disappointed and used -- over and over again. I know I'm better than this. But I'm attached. It's very easy for him to walk away, while I'm left feeling like my heart has been used as his pinata. I know once and for all that I'm done with this. My tears have dried. The ONLY way is to cut off all contact, which can be next to impossible if you live in the same area....but it's the best thing you can do for yourself.

    Posted by cubedweller09 August 4, 09 12:16 PM
  1. I too, have a story. My friend (let’s call him Sol Balentino) was a pretty straight arrow in high school, but when he got to college he began experimenting with herbal supplements. Oh how he loved those herbs and spices. Without fail, after he engaged in these practices, Sol became ravenously hungry. There were no cell phones or speed dial when Sol went to school, but the dorm’s hall phone had the local Pizza Hut phone number scrawled on the wall. It was so funny to see Sol dial the wrong number over and over again. What a klutz. Sometimes the giggling got so intense, he wet his sweats. Eating pizza every night really took its toll on Sol’s intercollegiate athletic dreams, but those dreams were replaced by other dreams. I think Sol lived in his Laura Ashley flannel nightshirt for his entire junior year. One day, he wrote Pizza Hut to tell them how much he loved their pies (I think cardboard with sauce would have sufficed). His letter was poetic enough to catch the eye of the folks at corporate. Before he knew it, he was flown to Dallas to interview for a position in marketing. After a year he was introduced to a young lady (let’s call her Barbara the Hut), home from college, at the Hut Summer Picnic. They made love…then went on a date. She turned out to be the Chairman’s daughter. Big wedding, kids, stock options, splits…and the rest is history. So, if there’s a moral to the story, it goes like this:

    “I Never Knew…” Haiku

    My first love, now gone
    Could never find my G-spot
    Sparks in new places

    Posted by valentino August 4, 09 12:17 PM
  1. I emphatically second what Meredith and others have advised. And as everyone is sharing personal stories, let me tell you the flip side as a cautionary tale. I was compulsively in love (addiction is a perfect description) with a guy in college. Let's call him Ralph Fiennes, whom he resembled. He and I shared a rapport that I've never found since, etc. But for a lot of reasons, we couldn't live with each other and he wasn't as committed as I was. I decided that friendship with him at any cost was better than giving him up.
    Fast forward 20 years. In the intervening time, I could never commit to anyone else, suffered a string of dysfunctional relationships as a result, and steadfastly refused to surrender the friendship with Ralph. He and I drifted in and out of a sexual relationship, just enough to screw any other relationship. And then he died.
    I was completely bereft for a long time. But after that--and only then--I was able to meet someone and make a wonderful new life. So don't be as dumb as I was. It's time to move on.

    Posted by addicted to love August 4, 09 12:17 PM
  1. the sad truth is, it doesn't get better for EVERYONE. i'm 51 and still alone. i still can't get over someone from 2001. the older you get the harder it is to meet anyone, because men my age want someone your age, letter writer.

    it probably won't happen to you, though. but you need to cut that guy off completely. what is it with men? they don't want you, they want to see (i.e. sleep with) others, and yet they want to keep you on the hook and "be friends."

    Posted by bitter and lonely August 4, 09 12:23 PM
  1. Hey Hopeless
    Life is too short!! Stop wasting your time fixating over this guy. Have a bonfire and burn all your momentos from this relationship and start over.
    Take a little advice from my friend Mark Twain "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    Good luck!

    Posted by Been there, done that. August 4, 09 12:23 PM
  1. #1 move out of Waltham, there is nothing good coming out of there anyhow.

    Posted by Paul in Wellesley :) August 4, 09 12:24 PM
  1. Some great advice on here, from... um, "Deredith" and other posters. I have nothing to add other than I have also been there, and guys go through this too. Make yourself and what you want the focus of your new life. In time, the hurt will sting less and less. Gradually, it will become just a dull ache, and with more time, even that will go away.

    We've all been there. We made it through and so will you!

    Posted by sticksnstones August 4, 09 12:27 PM
  1. Rico wants to add...

    Yes this happens to everyone, it happened to Rico and his frind Pico and it happened a few other times as well that Rico will give a break and not detail...for now :)

    Rico wants you to know that if you need to talk to someone it is OK. You need to get it out, you need to talk to family and friends about it. They can help and they will if you let them.

    Rico missed the chance to have his family help because being a man it was not ok to talk about feelings. Rico made this mistake and won't make it again...he hopes. Rico also suggests you need to get into new hobbies and other activities to keep you busy. Try biking, running, museums, travel, books, etc...Escape to a new you through experiences.

    Love always,

    Rico

    Fear not what tomorrow offers us

    Posted by Rico August 4, 09 12:30 PM
  1. Dear Scared-

    The story of Deredith and Draco - well told, and good advice too! Step number one is to remove him from your life. Totally. No more calls, no reunion sex. Continue to get out there and experience life. Seek new friends, both male and female. Go to new places, do some new things. This relationship will be in your rear view mirror, and will get smaller, as new experiences and people take up your time. The goal is not to erase it - but to put it away.

    I have been going through a similar experience, and I'll bet I'm a lot older than you. It can happen to anyone at any time!

    Good luck

    Posted by ava August 4, 09 12:30 PM
  1. I read this column frequently, but have never commented before. Both the original letter, and Meredith's response struck a chord and touched me deeply. I think that Meredith's advice is perfect--difficult, but perfect.

    Except for one thing (sorry, Harry Potter geek here)--Draco Malfoy would never, never ever date a Muggle. Pureblood wizards only for that one.

    Posted by Hermione August 4, 09 12:31 PM
  1. Meredith is giving rock star level advice here. Seriously, look no further than the 'Tale of Deredith' of what could, should and will be. Here's how I know:

    I just ran across a picture of old flame I was going to marry many years ago, it hurt to be reminded but I am over her. Then I ran across the picture of another woman who I was very serious with several years later. It hurt like wholly hell to be reminded of her, I think I may have actually gasped out loud, but I am over her: I think...I'll check back in a few years to see if I really am over her...

    Posted by Darwin August 4, 09 12:33 PM
  1. I think the very best thing you can do right now is get out from inside yourself. Do something that reminds you of how very small you and your problems are - travel, volunteer for great causes, help people who are truly suffering, fill up your schedule with work and positive social interactions. Living in the past and dwelling in your sorrows are very bad habits and once gotten, very tough to break. But it can be done, by not giving yourself time to do so and redirecting your energies whenever you feel it happening. Train yourself to live in the moment and you'll find that the past no longer has the power to paralyze you.

    Posted by Rae August 4, 09 12:36 PM
  1. As for fearing you will never have that "spark" - you cant compare first dates to the comfort you had with a man you dated for two years. When you are ready and try to get to know someone; the spark is possible.

    Posted by hope August 4, 09 12:39 PM
  1. Call him tonight, and tell him he has a choice.... either never talk to you again, and cut off all communications, or get back together. There is no "still friends" nonsense, either your with him or not. If your not together, don't talk to him ever again. By still talking to him, you are grasping at every last string you can.

    Join an online dating site and go have some fun.

    Posted by he's not worth it August 4, 09 12:44 PM
  1. Also have been there, done that...there is no question that you MUST lose all contact with him. You will never move on if it continues. Once I did that, it was unbelievable how quickly I was able to let go. Do yourself a big favor and absolutely let go!

    Posted by listentomeplease August 4, 09 12:47 PM
  1. It's ultimatum time. You and he either need to be completely in this, or you need to cut him out completely. So, if you want to try again, talk to him about it. If you aren't going to have a full on relationship again (for whatever reason), tell him goodbye, and have no more contact with him.

    Good luck. I know this is easier said then done. Follow the advice of other posters who suggested picking up new activities or clubs to get involved with. It's both a great way to meet new friends, and simply something to do to get your mind off things.

    Posted by two sheds August 4, 09 12:47 PM
  1. Meridith's advice is perfect. You need to cut him out of your life completely. Keeping in touch in any way is never going to allow you to move on. Good luck.

    Posted by msg813 August 4, 09 12:48 PM
  1. Been there. Done that. I totally agree with Mer. You just have to sever all ties. It's the only way. Tell him no more phone calls, emails, etc. Erase his #. And when you go to sleep at night, put your cellphone on "alarm only" mode, so he can't call you late at night and tell you how much he still loves you. Block his profile from your facebook and myspace accounts so you can't look at his pictures and read his wall, and he can't check up on you either. Your friends boyfriends must have friends of their own, ask them to set you up. Have fun with going out with your friends and when you least expect it, you'll meet someone new. And better.

    Posted by Sugarmama August 4, 09 12:53 PM
  1. For starters, I don't think your letter is trivial at all. It is perfectly normal and OK to miss a past love - especially if you happen to be alone right now. There are two points in your 20's when you can feel particularly 'single'. Right after college, many people pair up and start living together and in your late 20s lots of people get married.

    My theory is that you are not in love with your ex - and you broke up for very good reasons, however, you are attached to him. And it sounds like he would have you back in a second if you were up for it. Your intuition is smarter than you are. Trust it.

    What you need to do right now is very counterintuitive. Stop worrying about men and ending up alone. Period. Focus upon your job, grad school, a favorite sport, a favorite hobby, and meet some new girlfriends (making friends is an art. Once you master it, your social calendar will be overflowing and you will not have to worry about 'putting yourself out there' you will naturally be in situations where you meet men).

    You don't need to be in a relationship to be happy - but it takes some effort on your part to stay focused in the present and make the best of the life you have right now instead of wishing for a fairy tale romance.

    If you invest in yourself, when you do meet someone, you will be able to take it slow and let the romance unfold - and I promise you when it happens, you will be so glad that you took the time to learn how to be happy as a single person.

    Posted by older and wiser August 4, 09 12:55 PM
  1. You need to cut off all contact with this guy if you ever expect to get over him and get through this. Two and 1/2 years is way too long to be morning a relationship and he isn't helping. Ya know, it seems the best people come along when you least expect it. Stop trying to find someone. That's when you end up meeting all the wrong guys. Break off all ties with this old boyfriend, go have fun and enjoy life. Someone special will come along, trust me and it could be tomorrow or could be 5 years from now, but in the meantime go live you life and please, drop the old boyfriend, he's just holding you back.

    Posted by Pam August 4, 09 01:00 PM
  1. SLH,

    Meredith's advice is perfect.

    But don't be scared of "ending up alone" if you don't happen to find that perfect long-term relationship. I know quite a few women in their 40s, 50s and 60s who have either never married or have divorced and don't want to marry again. They lead happy, unburdened, fulfilling lives.

    Posted by TallGirl August 4, 09 01:02 PM
  1. I'll 2nd, 3rd, 50th, whatever, the advice to cut this guy COMPLETELY out of you life if you want to move on. Every time you have one of these long conversations, and especially if you go on a date and/or sleep with him, you are starting from scratch as far as getting over him. And you probably won't be able to feel that spark until your are well on your way to being over him. So using the 3/1 month rule, don't expect to feel a spark with anyone until next April, if you successfully cut off all contact starting now.

    He has 3 possible reasons for continuing to contact you: 1.) He's having trouble moving on too and lacks the self-discipline to cut himself off from you; 2.) He feels guilty about breaking up with you, espcially since your relationship cut you off from other friends who might have formed a support network after the initial break-up, so he's looking for absoluton from his guilt; 3.) He's a jerk who enjoys the flattery of having you still in love with him & enjoys the friends-with-benefits status quo. These are not mutually exclusive, BTW.

    To reiterate what nearly everyone else has said...Tell him in no uncertain terms to stop contacting you. No calls, no email, no text messages, no snail mail, no nothing. De-friend him on Facebook. If he's a decent person, he'll respect your wishes, even if it's hard for him to do so. If he's a selfish jerk, he won't, so you'll have to find the strength to screen your calls, delete the emails without reading them, and cut the conversation off at hello if you run into him on the street. If you find it too tempting to contact him yourself, delete all contact information from your cell phone, email, etc. But if you have the discipline not to contact him, then keeping these can be an effective tool to screen him out if he turns out to be a selfish jerk.

    While you're mourning the loss & getting over him, work on being happy single. Nuture the relationships with friends who support this & keep your distance from those who seem to think that women can only be happy as part of a couple. You'll attract a better class of guy, when you're ready, and this also will protect you from getting lost in the relationship when you do find that spark again with someone else, because as you have learned, having that "spark" is no guarantee against heartbreak.

    Good luck!

    Posted by BeenThereToo August 4, 09 01:04 PM
  1. WTF? What RIGHT does this jerk have to constantly be messing with you just when you're OVER him? That would infuriate me. You're either in or out. Not both. This guy is having his cake and eating it 2. You need 2 have it out with this guy. Call him. Don't see him because you know where you'll both end up and it isn't vertical. If you both decide that you want another shot at a relationship, hell go for it. If not, don't. Just cut it at the quick. It'll suck but that's it. And he's not perfect. You're just making him that way. He sounds like an opportunistic reject. Sorry but it's true. Good luck.

    Posted by Chris August 4, 09 01:11 PM
  1. WTF? What RIGHT does this jerk have to constantly be messing with you just when you're OVER him? That would infuriate me. You're either in or out. Not both. This guy is having his cake and eating it 2. You need 2 have it out with this guy. Call him. Don't see him because you know where you'll both end up and it isn't vertical. If you both decide that you want another shot at a relationship, hell go for it. If not, don't. Just cut it at the quick. It'll suck but that's it. And he's not perfect. You're just making him that way. He sounds like an opportunistic reject. Sorry but it's true. Good luck.

    Posted by Chris August 4, 09 01:11 PM
  1. much the same case with death, i think its interesting that once someone has departed they instantly become a saint that never did any wrong. i did the same thing with my ex. it wasnt obvious how messed up our relationship had been til i met someone else. instead of putting him on a pedistal concentrate on all the things that DIDN"T work between you two. there are always a host of issues in any relationship, at least then you can feel good about at least not having to deal with "said issues" again. if indeed he was perfect, the fact he doesnt want to be with you has got to be a total turn off. be realistic and dont let your imagination get away from you..... and please, i think she understands that cutting all communication is a good idea by now.

    Posted by be a realist August 4, 09 01:15 PM
  1. So confusing - neither has "had the spark" with anyone else, yet neither seems to see that maybe there isn't anyone else. I guess the big question is, "Why did you break up at all?"

    If you want to get over him, you're going to have to make more of an effort as suggested. You're choosing not to get over him and you're the only one who can change that. I wish you peace and I do not take for granted what you are going through. You'll get through this, and you really have to believe in that.

    Posted by Terri August 4, 09 01:16 PM
  1. another note,
    you are, in a way, "drunk" with depression right now. for that reason really really think about all your actions. nothing sucks more than when you do pull out of this, and you will, feeling embarrassed by the way you acted while in the depths. spoken from experience!

    Posted by be a realist August 4, 09 01:21 PM
  1. Book a trip to Hawaii, go surfing and get baked, then meet a nice guy who writes music and plays with puppets.
    But remember to keep your shirt on.

    Good luck,
    DrK

    Posted by DrK August 4, 09 01:21 PM
  1. Well, I won't tell you that you're young and to get over it, because I broke up with someone 2 yrs ago at the age of 37 and it took more than a year to heal, and I have yet to fall in love since then. I know it's easier said than done, but try not to compare yourself to others with respect to friends that are happy and in love. Think about it...you were the same way about 4 yrs ago and someone else could've looked at you and thought your life was perfect and you had a magic fairy-tale relationship. When we see others happy, it's just a snapshot of a moment in time that we happen to focus on...we don't know what will become of their relationship, and even if it turns out happy, it's happening on their time schedule of what's meant to be for them. It sounds like you're able to be occasional friends with your ex, but that you just wish you had found someone special to focus on now. There's really no magic time frame to meet the person who will give you that spark. It just may be that the person right for you hasn't entered your atmosphere yet and you need to just take this time to focus on yourself. Use it to your advantage of getting in tune with who you are as a person with respect to career, activities outside of work, and relationships with your family, friends and community. In time, you will heal even more and in the midst of doing the things you enjoy doing, you will exude the energy that will lead you to the person that is right for you...and vice versa. Being in love is great, but you have to trust that it will happen in time and that it can't be speeded up. In the meantime, love yourself as you want others to do. That way, your life is not on hold waiting, but enjoying the now.

    Posted by bklynmom August 4, 09 01:23 PM
  1. Hey LW - I'm going through the post- breakup motions myself. Read this, it might help:

    Anticipatory Anxiety...

    Resides within a self-fulfilling prophecy...

    Pay attention Miss Intuition: Your ignorance has been just cause for ammunition toward your unwanted remembrance...Forevermore indebted to another cynical lesson…

    I am so very through with love lost; Let me assure you I would rather not love at all

    Because all the while merciless and obvious, inevitable change resides to once again remind us seasons come with time; times fade by days and our days fade by night…I’ve read love is to be as strong as death...If love were thus alive...

    Let me now reiterate:

    Each time the heart breaks, the affect creates a stronger bond between yourself and survival. Not to become numb but to realize all was not lost...

    Since our beginning there was this misrepresentation of who I was; I only attempting to stress significance within a selfish love;
    striving to position meaning in the mind of a careless man who by no means could reciprocate sleepless nights and swollen eyes as best I can

    It all taught me not what I've yet to learn…I am far familiar exasperating love never met with honor

    Though through all those tears and the hours I mourned, my escape led to freedom awakened to a path completely my own...

    Posted by Rossia August 4, 09 01:23 PM
  1. You deserve someone who is 100% committed to you. The ex may be a good person, he may be confused, but that doesn't change the fact that he isn't giving you what you need. Staying friends with him is poison for you. Tell him in no uncertain words and without anger that you can't be in contact AT ALL. I say "without anger" because you don't want to be tempted to apologize to him later if your words come out (justifiably) angry. Tell him that as he cares for you, he should respect your wishes here. It's the best thing you can do for yourself.

    Next, as others have said, get involved. Make new friends. Don't look for love -- but realize that it often finds you when you stop looking. Reinvent yourself a little -- not in a way that tries to change who you are but in a symbolic way that says, "I'm breaking with the old."

    Also, consider counseling. It's far better than to hash out your feelings for and confusion about your ex than have them resurface in a bad way when you meet someone new. Men (and women) can sense when someone they're interested in is looking to replace someone they've lost or is still caught up on an ex.

    Finally, be proud of yourself. Severing ties isn't easy. Losing love isn't easy. But you have gotten this far and one day the pain will be a memory.

    Good luck to you!

    Posted by Michaela August 4, 09 01:28 PM
  1. "Being scared of being alone" is a toughie. You see, you need to actually want to be alone, and by that I mean you begin to get comfortable in your own skin, in order to make another spark-y connection with someone new.

    The good news is, there is a solution for this. Since this fear is like any other fear you might have, what you'll need to do is prove to yourself you can overcome fear in general. Start with a small fear and build yourself up from there.

    After my heart was broken when i was 22, I took to traveling and hiking alone. It often terrified me, but I did it, and was empowered by what I acheived on my own.

    Posted by lilmonkeybean August 4, 09 01:29 PM
  1. You need to give up hope. Not your hope for your own future, but for a future with him. Until you do that, you haven't really broken up, and you won't begin to heal. I agree with all those who said you have to cut off all contact. Do it now. If you don't do this, it will take its toll on your self-esteem and eventually you will stop thinking you're desirable to anyone but him. I'm sure you can guess how I know this.

    Posted by Ashley August 4, 09 01:33 PM
  1. SLH AND FELLOW SUFFERERS, my heart goes out to you all; I walked in your shoes a long time ago and for a long time: tried everything, ranging from phone calls only to occasional sex to absolute silence; it felt equally painful, no matter what I did. That's when I realized that it was not the man, that I craved: it was the relationship; it was the closeness, the intimacy, the ease of being understood and being able to be myself...the relationship filled a gap in my life that I didn't know it was there: I went into therapy, and it was the best thing I ever did; in a few weeks, the therapist brought to the surface the real problems and we started working on it; six months later, I met my husband... and the sparks were so much more powerful and bright, because now I was in love with the man, and not the relationship: all the gaps filled, I was free to feel and love this person for himself; I believe this could be your story too…sometimes we are unable to handle things as easily as we wish to: so, why not ask for help? As fellow (once) sufferer, I wish you all the happiness your heart can hold…it is yours, if only you muster the courage to ask for it.

    Posted by Creativecook August 4, 09 01:34 PM
  1. Thanks for all your advice and while I would never wish this on anyone, it is helpful to know that so many people can relate to this situation. I feel that maybe some more clarification is in order?
    1. He broke up with me. He said that while he loved me and always would, he just didn't want to be with me anymore. No other explanation given. He said it would break his heart to see me with someone else and asked that I "not get into another relationship right away", which I didn't but not because he told me not to but because I was grieving and it was too painful. I've been ready and been looking for about a year, I just haven't found it.
    2. After we had been broken up for about 6 months, I deleted him from my phone, took him off my buddy list, deleted him from facebook, changed my gym schedule so we wouldn't run into each other, avoided the places I thought he might be, the whole 9 yards. Occassionally, we would still run into each other. While I made it clear that I didn't want to be his "holiday girlfriend" he continued to contact me on these days and I would let myself talk to him.. just for that one day (as I would tell myself).
    3. I realize that I need to completely break it off and move on completely. I have moved to a brand new city - 130miles away. While he hasn't contacted me since I left, his best friend has.. "just to catch up". He claims he wants me to update him on my life... Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but his best friend and I were never close and this sudden interest in my life does seem quite odd. But on the other hand, he could just be saying hi.

    I know that he doesn't want to be with me anymore, I've asked him. I've given him that ultimatum (we are either together, or we are nothing) and he's said that he doesn't want a girlfriend at all right now. As much as I respect that, I need to do what's best for me. And that is to get far away from him. It's so hard for me to have him come back into my life and not wonder if this time it will work... especially when I'm struggling to find someone else. It's hard for me to see that being alone truly is better than being with him, when I fear that I will be alone forever. Sometimes it feels like im in this cycle that never ends and that's why I finally wrote in.

    I really appreciate all your advice, though. Especially because there seems to be a general consensus for what I should do - which is much better than trying to sort through multiple options. And, I intend to do it. Next holiday, there will be no response from me if he does contact me.

    Posted by scared, lonely, hopeless August 4, 09 01:40 PM
  1. You need to stop talking to him. I dated a guy who, once we broke up, refused to leave me alone. I, unlike you, did not want to see him anymore, so it was much easier for me to break off contact. However, you need to stand up for yourself. If you keep letting yourself get dragged around like that, you'll never recover.

    And Meredith, Draco Malfoy does not date _muggles!_ *is scandalized*

    Posted by BAM August 4, 09 01:40 PM
  1. I'm sorry for your situation, the awkward, horrible, post-breakup malaise is the worst, I have definitely been there myself a couple of times. You say that you don't even necessarily want him back -- you need to be totally honest with yourself about that. I think it is strange that apparently he has not moved on either, so I don't feel comfortable saying there is no chance, but after stringing you along for more than two years post-breakup I would think that you wouldn't want him anymore. If it really is the case that you honestly don't want him, you just want to get over him, you MUST STOP TALKING TO HIM. As much as you cared about him and as long as you were together, you will NEVER get past this if you keep talking to him. Like Mere described, you just have to say "I will always care about you, but for my own emotional well-being, I cannot talk to you anymore." Then you have to stick with it and don't answer his calls, or return them, or read or respond to his emails or texts. You might also want to think about seeing a therapist. I did that after my last breakup, and it really helped me to sort through my feelings and have the strength to make a final, clean break. Really -- we had lived together for 18 months, and by six months or so after I broke off all contact, I felt a lot better, not completely over the situation, but in a much better place. Good luck.

    Posted by acp August 4, 09 01:47 PM
  1. Hopeless in Waltham (wow that describes about 3000 people!),
    Your 'connection' to your Ex is a fantasy. You have created a fantasyworld and it's time to break out of it. Cut off all contact immediately. Here you are in mourning over 2 1/2 years-when you only dated for 2 years!. Time to move on. Unless he is prisoner of war, if he really loved you or it was "meant to be"-you wouldn't be apart now. People cross oceans and give up everything to be with the one they truly love. My husband and I did. He didn't-so there's your answer!
    There are a few more weeks of summer left-take action now.
    Your tasks for today_
    1. Change your cell phone and home phone numbers-don't give him the new ones,
    2. change your email (or block him)
    3. Remove his privileges from your "MyFace" account (and you stop accessing his).
    4. Take all of his pictures, cards, letters and other mementos-invite your girlfriends over for martinis-and have a ceremonial bonfire in the Hibachi. Once you don't have these reminders you will heal much more quickly.
    5. And for goodness sakes Move out of Waltham! It's depressing-also he won't have your address and can't mail cards and letters to you.

    Posted by Gonna have to face it you're addicted to love August 4, 09 01:50 PM
  1. You never get over your first love – you just learn to live with the pain and hope it fades. My first love came back 15 years later only to dump me this time around. As everyone suggests – I cut facebook friendship, deleted numbers, emails, and finally sent him one last email asking if he saw a future with the new woman he was dating. He said yes. So, I wrote a list of things that I hated about him and carry it with me in my wallet. I also repeat the mantra – I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me. Maybe one day I’ll believe it, but for now, self-pride has stopped me from ever contacting him again. Who knows if I’ll ever have a ‘spark’ with someone new, or ever get over him? I think he’s pretty much done irreparable damage. In the meantime, I am going on 3 worldwide vacations in the next 6 months, visiting exotic spots, enjoying my freedom and good times with my friends.

    “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” - Proverb

    Posted by LuLuLemon August 4, 09 01:57 PM
  1. I agree with M (D?) and everyone else, but just had one thing to add: the important thing is that you do GET OVER HIM. DO NOT indulge in "he might come back" or "we'll always be connected" crap. My story was a post-college break-up motivated by geography and a pretty serious alcohol abuse problem (his, he wouldn't stop for me and I wasn't going to watch him kill himself). In many ways it's easier to get over a break up that has a bad guy - someone cheats or dumps; you hate them, your friends hate them for you and everyone moves on. These mutual things just linger. The result of me and the guy has been 12 years of sporadic late-night calls, sleazy hotel hook ups when we wind up in the same city and emails of bad song lyrics ("Lips of an Angel" ugh). I slept with him during a business trip when his wife was 9 months pregnant - the most horrendous thing I have ever done, for which I will never forgive myself. That all went down 4 years ago. I haven't seen him since but still there are emails and calls every now and then. Whenever things are less than ideal with our current partners, we turn to each other and start saying dopey things like "you're my soulmate" (ok, that one was me. also ugh)

    he's been married for years, has 2 children (one born the night I got married). I'm married, and I love my husband. This has gone on too long and I've decided that I'm not going to do it anymore.

    But for you, you can stop it NOW. Don't put yourself through years of torment. Enjoy the memories of the times you shared. Nothing sparks like the first one, but there are different and better sparks out there.

    Posted by Q August 4, 09 02:00 PM
  1. He's perfect, except that he doesn't love you the way you deserve...which makes him not perfect at all. That was the realization that got me over my college ex (and a few other guys, to be honest). Hang in there...I spent three years not feeling the spark for anyone before some came along - those people are far and few between - but they're out there!

    Posted by emmj August 4, 09 02:04 PM
  1. All the advice up to now is pretty much correct. But no one has noted that J.K. Rowling completely ripped off Tolken's "Lord of the Rings" for her books.

    Posted by JRRT August 4, 09 02:04 PM
  1. So many philosophical responses, and yes, I have been there as well. There is such a feeling of disappointment when something like this happens, and anger that you are now back in the game. I believe the reason you strike out on dates is because you are comparing everyone to "him". Get to know yourself and to like yourself again. If you truly want to move on, you have to break all ties, hard as it may seem. If you want to keep talking to him, then you have to realize that you cannot move on completely. Maybe he cannot let go either. As others have said, the details of the breakup are not known to us, so it's hard to say exactly what he wants or why the few random dates you've had with him didn't lead back to a relationship. The future is up to you, not to him or other men you date.

    Posted by californiadreamin August 4, 09 02:16 PM
  1. I know someone named Mievel who can relate.

    In a sea of "good luck, kid" messages....I'd like to add one more. And as for being single, please remember that it only takes one. If it feels like you are searching for a needle in a haystack - well, it's because you are. You only need to find one person who can give you those "!!!" feelings again, but there's a whole haystack of "..." folks.

    And as for your friends....they may be happy today, but happiness at 23 is not a guarantee for happiness at 63. Personally, I'd take 63-happiness over 23-happiness any day. I'd take both, but where would be the personal growth in that?

    Posted by Fievel August 4, 09 02:17 PM
  1. SLH,

    My advice is not going to be any different than that of most of the other posters. You need to move on from this guy and the best way to do it will be to cut him out of your life. You can't attempt to move on from someone while still talking to them or seeing them. I would suggest since he still contacts you at times that you email him letting him know that in order to move on and re-establish your life you need for him to respect the fact that you two can't talk or see each other. Ask that he not respond to the email and then do what others have suggested (take his number out of your phone, block his email address, etc.)

    In college I dated a guy that I met while studying abroad in Australia and he broke up with me our senior year in college to "find himself". I was devestated. We still emailed and periodically talked over the year and I could not move on or get over him because in my head there was a glimmer of hope that he still wanted to be with me because he reached out to me at times. The summer after our senior year he wanted to get back together and I stupidly did, in September he broke my heart again, but this time I think I was more prepared for it to happen. At that point in time I told myself I would never call him again and deleted his number from my phone. It was hard at first but hanging out with friends and doing things that made me happy helped me move on.

    I am happy to say that after almost a year I met the guy who is the one when I wasn't looking. It is now 5 years later and my new guy is still the one. You need to go out and live your life for you because when you aren't looking you will meet the guy who ignites your spark again. Don't worry about it now, just go out and have fun!

    Posted by IPromiseItGetsBetter August 4, 09 02:21 PM
  1. You said your biggest fear was that you will not find not something as good as what you had with someone else and that you will end up alone for the rest of your life. the reality is that unless you let go of the past / this guy, there is a good possibility that you will not find something as good or better than what you had. Guys will be able to sense that you are pining over someone else and will not be interested in a relationship with you and therefore, you will end up alone. YOU are the only one that can stop yourself from realizing your biggest fear. For your own sake, you must cut this guy off completely! I wouldn't even bother calling him to ask him not to contact you, just cut him off! It appears that he is using you! You have already asked him to stop communication with you and he hasn't respected that!

    Posted by ditchhim August 4, 09 02:27 PM
  1. SLH- bravo. I've been following this thread all afternoon. Your situation is SO much like both of mine except they were the ones who moved away. You seem to be a very self-aware, realistic young lady, and I'm sure all who see your second post will say that yes, you are doing the right thing. Best wishes to you- I think you are well on the way to healing yourself and being "whole" for when the right person does come along, whether it be tomorrow or years from now. You keep taking care of you!

    Posted by sc6218 August 4, 09 02:38 PM
  1. Based on your follow up, some additional advice:

    Stay strong.

    He is trying to continue to use you as a puppet. Pulling your strings on holidays, stringing you along, not letting you move on, having his friend do some of the dirty work by checking up on you for him, etc.

    You are not alone if you are happy with yourself. It's time to get busy and improve your selfworth. Get out of your comfort zone and get some things on your calendar. Take a class. Join a club. Work on new hobbies or revisit old hobbies. For me, it's going running at various times of the day. Sometimes at night, sometimes during lunch, sometimes first thing in the morning. Just to run down some self-doubt, clear my head, and improve my fitness. Believe it or not, I also do jigsaw puzzles late at night. Things to occupy your mind and things that have tangible results. Of course I'm older than you, so I also use up huge chunks of time playing with my kids. Forgetting about myself and stepping into their world of imagination and simplicity.

    Posted by Hoss August 4, 09 02:40 PM
  1. As everyone else, I've been there and I was heartbroken and ridiculously upset, but I wouldn't trade it for my life because I am a better person because of it. I realized that I had no idea who I was in a serious relationship and I needed to take some time to learn about me. Dating other men will not solve this problem, so don't try for a while. I would seriously consider spending some time with a psychologist or counselor to help you talk through the pain and build a solid foundation for yourself for the rest of your life. It helped me immensely and I hope it does the same for you. You have a strong and determined person in you, it just takes time and courage to pull back the curtains to let her out.

    Posted by gradstudent6 August 4, 09 02:43 PM
  1. The 1971 movie 'Carnal Knowledge':
    Candice Bergon: "We can still be friends; can't we?"
    Jack Nicholson: "God, I hope not."

    Posted by CPThree August 4, 09 02:48 PM
  1. SLH, regarding your update:

    He broke up with you, but asked you not to get involved with anyone else because that would break his heart?!?

    Sweetie, that guy doesn't even pass the straight face test. Next time a man says something like that to you, roll on the floor laughing. Because it's truly hilarious. He probably thinks he's another George Clooney - set him straight!

    Don't spend another minute "mourning" that relationship. You go girl!

    Posted by TallGirl August 4, 09 02:48 PM
  1. SLH....I think most people can relate. The thing to keep in mind is it's easy to fall back into old habits. You are his "easy layup" in basketball terms. He knows you are around and he can get something emotional or physical. at times, when he needs it. Same for you. You are both still attached grabbing the occasional grilles cheese sandwich or meatloaf.

    Do as Mer says. Clean break, but leave as friends. I've in the past gone back just to say sorry when I ended something badly, in an angry way. But even that can dredge up things. if you must, talk or see him one more time..then move on. take out chinese food works wonders ;-)

    Posted by byubba August 4, 09 02:56 PM
  1. Just read the follow-up. LW, even if it takes 10, 20, even 30 years, you will someday meet someone who actually cares about you and your well being, and then you will realize that this guy cares about nothing but himself. You might as well be in love with a stranger for all the concern he's shown you. Stay strong, listen to Hoss and get some new hobbies and single pals (male & female). If you accomplish nothing in your 20s besides building a strong network of friends, that's something you will cherish forever. Let yourself have some FUN!

    Posted by Q August 4, 09 02:58 PM
  1. Well, if it makes you feel any happier, Im in a relationship and am as happy as a pig in ****. hope that helps.

    Posted by peanut4649 August 4, 09 03:02 PM
  1. Three things:
    1.Ever read the book "He's just not that into you"? Read it. And then again.There's a reason it was a best seller.
    2.Don't contact him again, and don't allow him to contact you even for holidays or special days. Be strong. Refer to #1. Yes, this is like an addiction. Don't trust your mind. Break cleanly. A wound never heals if you keep opening it up again.
    3. Can you honestly say to yourself there is only 1 man in the world for you? No. So pray, stay active, and give yourself a long time a chance to heal and find another. And honey, love yourself first, respect yourself. I sense there is some of a lack of love of yourself in this.

    Posted by jindigo August 4, 09 03:03 PM
  1. "He said it would break his heart to see me with someone else and asked that I "not get into another relationship right away""

    Never talk to this controlling jerk again, he doesn't deserve your time, attention or respect. I'll bet he was in bed with someone by the next weekend. What a freaking prick.

    Keep away from the best friend, too. He's either looking for something from you or he's spying on you for your ex.

    Posted by K August 4, 09 03:09 PM
  1. Great follow up! Stay strong, no contact. Make some new friends in your new home! The LL readers are here for more advice when you meet that new guy. Good luck.

    Posted by summa! baby bumma! August 4, 09 03:10 PM
  1. I have had the experience of having my heart broken and the guy keeps popping back in my life. The hardest part is to say 'no contact means no contact' and follow through on it the very first time. Before you start protecting yourself, you feel weak - like this guy has some hold over you.

    After you do it you may feel that you aren't a nice person in the moment. That's OK. Once that feeling wears off, you will realize that you can control this relationship. You always have the option to hang up, walk away, protect yourself.

    Posted by older and wiser August 4, 09 03:11 PM
  1. Good update. You sound like you know what you need to do. I'd also say cut ties with his buddy that is strangely trying to "keep in touch". He is just getting info to relay to your ex most likely so I'd stop talking to him too.

    And I wanted to mention, when you do find love again, use this as a learning experience. You don't want to cut your friends out of your life, as you're learning now, you need friends in times like these. You need to make being close to your friends a priority even when you're in a relationship; your girls are your support system.

    Posted by Kathleen August 4, 09 03:15 PM
  1. LW -- "He said it would break his heart to see me with someone else and asked that I not get into another relationship right away"

    OMG what a complete self-centered a-hole! He's breaking up with you and tells you not to hurt him? This defies belief.

    If you need a kick in the gut this is it. Break this controlling addiction now. And for fun why not tell his best friend him you were cheating on the guy the whole time you were together.

    Posted by Alvin August 4, 09 03:21 PM
  1. Hermione - agreed! Draco would never ever date a muggle OR a mudblood. Pure Bloods Only.

    To Scared and Lonely - I feel for you. I have been there done that too. Maybe you could also join some sort of group/activity thing to meet new people. Not just men, but potential female friends. Join a softball league, a community pool or something. It will also give you something to do so you are not thinking about your ex all the time.

    {{{HUGS}}}

    Posted by Sirius Harry Potter Geek August 4, 09 03:24 PM
  1. The friend wants to get with you or he's spying for his buddy. If the latter then the weirdo factor for both of them is "beyond the pale". Either way run, run far and fast away from the friend.

    BTW, If I recall correctly there were a few great places to eat in Waltham. I remember an Iguana talking to me as I literally stumbled into a bar hammered out of mind with a group of friends, laughing my ass off. Then screaming out lioud as I used Tequila to stop the burning sensation in my mouth...Oh yeah and then I met a very serious woman who loved me.

    Posted by Darwin August 4, 09 03:26 PM
  1. Okay, I'm no acme of cool, but if you people keep refering to Harry Potter, you're ALL destined to be alone for the rest of your lives.

    Posted by Nerds, aka Sally August 4, 09 03:35 PM
  1. I remember a few years ago I was so crippled by a break-up that the level headed me didn't want to go on with life. Getting out of bed was difficult, and this went on for months.

    Tomorrow will come. For me it came unexpectedly at age 29. And it wasn't a spark- it was something much better. It was a a sigh of relief, a breath of fresh air, the feeling wasn't a spark, the feeling was much more. It was finding home in someone. Hang in there. It is so cliche to say it happens when you least expect it, but honest to God, that is the truth.

    Posted by peonylovesthepru August 4, 09 03:36 PM
  1. Thank you to the LW! for writing the letter and the follow up. As you saw, so many of us are in the same boat, with varying degrees of success in moving away and moving on! Toughest thing is to cut off all contact..... it is TOUGH. I have been struggling with this for many many years.... and still move in the same friends circle as my ex (who broke up with me). It is brutal.... I benefited a lot from today's letter too! Thanks LW and errr. Deredith! :)

    Posted by chins August 4, 09 03:38 PM
  1. After reading your follow up (#82) I have to say that this guy is a real jerk. I think he keeps checking in on you not because he cares for you, but because he wants to make sure that you are still hurting, not over him, and not seeing anyone else. He doesn't want you, but still wants to be the object of your desire. It's manipulative to say the least and you need to stop adding fuel to the fire by just cutting off all communication. I know you said you've tried, but he is still somehow able to find his way in to your world. He had his friend contact you as a spy... are you kidding me?!? Sounds like a real psycho.

    Like many other posters, I have also been there and done that. Right now it sounds like you are towards the end of the "hurting stage". You've wondered why did it happen? What is it about you that isn't good enough for him to want to be with you? You've cried yourself to sleep and woke up with tears in your eyes. Now you're realizing that you need to get on with your life, even though you're still hurting, still care about him and still hold a bit of hope that he will change his mind. Now is the time to do something that you've always wanted to do, or something you never thought you could do to boost your self-esteem. Travel, take up Pilates, sky dive, etc. For me it was joining a running club and running the Boston Marathon. Soon that bit of hope for you two to get back together will get smaller and smaller and you will hit the "angry stage". You'll realize how much of a jerk he is and always was. You'll wonder how could you let a loser like him treat such a fabulous woman like you so poorly? Once you hit this stage it will be smooth sailing and someday down the road you'll bump in to each other, he'll see what an amazingly hot woman you are and he'll be kicking himself (and probably do ridiculous things to try and convince you to get back together with him).

    Hang in there, and be patient! It WILL get better and you'll be a much stronger person in the end!

    Posted by rebs August 4, 09 03:39 PM
  1. So the worst thought is being alone forever? Trust me, all my friends got married 5 years ago, and now have kids. All they do is b*tch to me about their fat spouses and themselves, their obnoxious kids, hanging from the chandeliers and how they never have time to themselves and they want to ‘get away”. I wrote this yesterday - it’s better to be lonely and sexless than in a loveless marriage, trapped with a man that doesn’t adore you and you don’t adore him - with kids, and the two of you are staying together for the sake of the kids. If you read this column everyday – there are tons of cheating spouses in loveless marriages. Consider being single a blessing – not a curse. Being single allows you to take up hobbies/volunteer/travel/move/buy clothes etc. whenever you like! Channel your desire for kids into your nieces and nephews and your loneliness into a dog/cat.

    Worse case scenario, you can come and hang with me and my single friends on a yacht in the south of France!

    Posted by LuLuLemon August 4, 09 03:40 PM
  1. Rico's final thought for today:

    Rico wonders after reading your update and thinking all day about this what reason he could have had to break up with you yet still want you in his life. Rico has an idea that you may want to ponder. Tell Rico what you think of this...

    Rico thinks that possibly this guy is going through a stage of confusion right now? Maybe he is questioning his sexuality? Is he possibly gay and doesn't want a girlfriend while he figures out what his preference is? He is attracted to you and wants to have some type of relationship with you but not a girlfriend. This is all strange and could very well be that he just wants to be free from relationships to concentrate on life, career, etc...but it sounds eerily like a boy confused.

    Rico thinks you should consider this and if that is the case a friendship with him would be fine as long as it is kept non-sexual. Maybe he is bisexual and likes both? Rico doesn't have a good answer for you and Rico knows you are looking.

    Sorry but life isn't fair...Love always,

    Rico

    Embrace the unknown

    Posted by Rico August 4, 09 03:42 PM
  1. SLH--Holy moly. He broke up with you but asked you not to date anyone? I stand corrected--next time he calls, put him on speakerphone, gather your girlfriends around, and mock him relentlessly for being a Xanadouche.

    OK, not really. All this moron deserves is radio silence.

    And you know, don't continue to talk to his best friend. Even if his BFF has pure motives, it will be a reminder of your ex, and it will then make it difficult for you to move on. So I'd cut off contact with him as well.

    And ditto what Kathleen said--don't lose yourself when you get involved in another relationship. ALWAYS keep your friends in your life and be who you are. I think this is why it's been so hard for so long for you--it's hard for you to let go because you don't have the friends who'd give you the support you'd need.

    Posted by PM August 4, 09 03:45 PM
  1. @ Darwin--"BTW, If I recall correctly there were a few great places to eat in Waltham."

    Yep. Moody Street ROCKS. Good food, an indie cinema, a decent bodega, and a nice walking path by the Charles. Also a decent cafe in the town center, if you're around there during the day.

    Posted by PM August 4, 09 03:50 PM
  1. "I’m not saying that I want to be with him again but I want to be able to move on from this and find someone who won’t break my heart and leave me."

    It took me over three years to get over my ex-love. During that separation we dated a few times, but timing was a problem. That said, you sound an awful lot like me.

    My concern for you is that you have begun putting up those barriers (wall) that are so difficult to penetrate. You WILL find someone - it took me a little over 3 years. Even so, I was SO FEARFUL of getting hurt that I remained a little restrained in my becoming so vulnerable to someone else. This did manifest itself into some problems later in that relationship, but it was such a good one that it lasted 28 years and counting.

    Since you cannot control another person's feelings and heart, you MUST build a life for yourself, find a person you are not only attracted to but whose goals and lifestyles are similar. Sorry, but no guarantees. All you can do is give of yourself (even if it means putting yourself at emotional risk and heartbreak) and hope for the best. You WILL meet the right guy because you've been there before - let it be a learning experience for your next man.

    Every relationship should have takeaways - things that help for you to gain new perspectives and opportunities for inner growth. Think of the failed relationship as a postive experience in your life and move on. You may cope better if you can think of him as a closed chapter in your life, entitled, 'He's not coming back'. Brighter days are coming, but they need to begin with your new perspective. Sure it's hard and I when my relationship ended years ago, I looked at the good and the bad and grew as a person. I was interested in becoming a better girlfriend and learned how to deal with not feeling sad when I wasn't with my guy. I practiced this as I began dating guys I didn't care so much for and the practice evolved my thinking.

    The old adage, 'never put all your eggs in one basket' is the moral of your story. At some point (new love, children, etc.) we become overengaged and lose ourselves. The happiest people I know are people who involve themselves in many different things and enjoy being around different people. 'variety is the spice of life' When one aspect of life falls apart, you need other aspects to help sustain you.


    Posted by BetterDaysAreComing August 4, 09 03:50 PM
  1. SLH,
    As painful as this may be to hear...Your ex is a selfish, immature, insecure jerk who does not deserve you. See #3 in my previous list of motives for continuing to contact you. And I'm starting to think he may be a bit controlling too, given that your lack of a life outside the relationship while you were together & the fact that his best friend seems to be checking up on you. Mourn the loss of what you thought he was, but know that was an illusion. Also, protect yourself & cut off your ex's best friend too.

    As for feeling like you'll always be alone, being single does NOT mean being alone. Nothing wrong with wanting to find that spark with someone you can share the rest of your life with, but there's a big difference between adding happiness to an already happy & independent life vs. feeling dependent on someone else for your happiness. And the funny thing is a strong independent woman who is happy single will be more likely to attract a man who will treat her right (because he knows she could just go back to being happy single if he doesn't) instead of an insecure, selfish jerk.

    So cultivate your friendships. Try new activities, take adult education classes, join a club. Seek out activities & people who make you feel good (platonically), and avoid those who cling to the antiquated (and false) idea that a woman must be part of a couple to be happy. Seek out activities & people that increase your self-confidence. Someone suggested a solo vacation, and I can attest to how empowering that can be. Make it solo-but-with-a-tour-group if completely solo is too big a step at first (but avoid vacation romances for now). A friend of mine joined an all-women soccer league after her divorce. Another tried rock-climbing after a bad break-up.

    You will get through this & you will feel better eventually.

    Posted by BeenThereToo August 4, 09 03:52 PM
  1. Do people ever really get over their first love?

    Mine broke up with me over 11 years ago. He's happily married now and I'm in love with my boyfriend of 3 years; but as happy as I am (and have been) in these 11 years, I still can't say I'm completely over him.

    Posted by been wondering August 4, 09 04:04 PM
  1. #117 - PM
    Moody Street Rocks if you lost your licence and can't drive.

    Posted by Grover Cronin August 4, 09 04:09 PM
  1. SLH-- Thanks for your update. My heart breaks for you -- behavior like asking you not to date anyone else after he breaks up with you is selfish, manipulative, and abusive. My first boyfriend was like this as well -- I thought it meant he loved me and it took me a long time to realize that couldn't possibly be further from love. You may or may not get over this or find closure, but over time you'll find it doesn't sting as much as it used to. Not having any contact with him at all is very important. Be strong and good luck -- when you do find the one who really loves you, you'll be glad.

    Posted by move on August 4, 09 04:18 PM
  1. Deredith...I mean Meredith...is right on. It's time to cut him out, completely. It will probably be the hardest thing that you have ever had to do in your entire life, but you can't move on if you're still hanging on to him. It's natural to have such attachment to your first love, but if it didn't work then it didn't work. Once that is done and you've had some cooling time, the right guy will make you forget about your ex. When that happens, you'll know that it's right.

    Posted by Tibbs August 4, 09 04:31 PM
  1. The "total devastation" part of your post is the most disturbing to me. At this stage of your life, you made this relationship "the Sun, the Moon and the Stars" - your total focus. Lose that and you lose your life.
    As you mature, and by that I mean learn to create meaningful friendships, hobbies, activities, creative pursuits and BALANCE in your life, you will find that losing a boyfriend is not going to leave you feeling like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Sure, it will hurt, be disappointing, but it will not destroy you because you have become more than "the guy I'm dating".
    Being by yourself is not a "less than" end result. You have the chance to travel, do what you want to do when you want to do it. Embrace your situation as an opportunity to grow into your womanhood. This guy is part of your past, not your future. The longer you hold onto him the longer it will take you to heal and re-create yourself as the woman you are meant to become. Set yourself free!

    Posted by exvermonter August 4, 09 04:31 PM
  1. been wondering asks: Do people ever really get over their first love?

    I ask: Why does it have to be their first love?

    I was in love with someone for a few years over ten years ago. We're both married to other people now and still chat occasionally. While I may not be "in love" with this person anymore, I still miss this person, will always love him/her, and will always wonder what it might have been like if we were together. All of us may have someone that we were in love with once that we don't ever get over completely, much as we may love the ones we're with currently. Do others feel this way as well?

    Posted by still pining August 4, 09 04:36 PM
  1. Rico…This one’s for you. I agree. The holiday contact is to put on a show for his family.

    “Let me be straight with you” Haiku

    Only years later
    Did his rainbow shine brightly
    Behind closet door

    Posted by valentino August 4, 09 04:39 PM
  1. #52, Bitter and Lonely, wow, I feel so badly for you. Your anger is almost palpable: “the sad truth is, it doesn't get better for EVERYONE. i'm 51 and still alone. i still can't get over someone from 2001. the older you get the harder it is to meet anyone, because men my age want someone your age, letter writer..."
    Since everyone else has given the LW great advice - and since she knows what she needs to do, as evidenced by her terrific response – here's some possibly unwanted counsel for Bitter and Lonely. I always told my kids this and I think it's true. Barring great tragedy – terminal illness or the loss of a child or something – people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. If you decide to find comfort in little pleasures, it will become a habit. Comfort becomes happiness, happiness morphs into joy, and it's contagious. Suddenly, you're the person everyone wants to be around because it's all good when you're there. Even if you have to fake it at the beginning, do it. Look for comfort, find joy. Be your own shining light and see it reflected and magnified. Good luck.

    Posted by Kate's Nonna August 4, 09 04:41 PM
  1. Okay, my new favorite word ever is Xanadouche. Thank you PM. Can I use it at parties and such?

    Posted by Sally August 4, 09 04:46 PM
  1. Rico says Thank you to Valentino...

    Posted by Rico August 4, 09 04:48 PM
  1. SLH,
    I just read your update. He broke up with you-he's a fool, albeit a controlling one who wants to make sure you have no life. I had the same question Rico had about your Ex questioning his sexuality or some such issue. No matter what the issue-it's not your concern. And he is incredibly selfish. On the creepy friend, the next time the he or your ex contact you tell them you are engaged and getting married in June. As luck would have it, you just got a fantastic offer from the Los Angeles office today (!) and you'll be transfering there next month. What a coincidence that you called! Isn't it great. Now I can live with my fiance at his place in Santa Monica before the wedding. "Oops-sounds like Jehovah's Witnesses at the door-gotta go." Click! Then never answer a phone call, email or any other communication from the Ex and his creepy friend.

    Posted by Anonymous August 4, 09 04:55 PM
  1. SLH,
    I just read your update. He broke up with you-he's a fool, albeit a controlling one who wants to make sure you have no life. I had the same question Rico had about your Ex questioning his sexuality or some such issue. No matter what the issue-it's not your concern. He is incredibly selfish. Both he and his friend are playing head games with you which is really sick! On the creepy friend, the next time he (or your ex) contact you tell them you are engaged and getting married in June. In fact, as luck would have it, you just got a fantastic offer from the Los Angeles office today (!) and you'll be transfering there next month. What a coincidence that you called! Isn't it great. Now I can live with my fiance at his place in Santa Monica before the wedding. "Oops-sounds like Jehovah's Witnesses at the door-gotta go." Click! Then never answer a phone call, email or any other communication from the Ex and his creepy friend.

    Posted by Leavin' on a jet plane August 4, 09 04:59 PM
  1. Sally...Rosebud -
    Just don't use "Xanadouche" at the Hearst Corp. Christmas party.

    Posted by valentino August 4, 09 04:59 PM
  1. 120, 125 - i think that's the point. If left unchecked, we DON'T get over it, even if we really should.

    Posted by Q August 4, 09 05:05 PM
  1. The guy broke up with you and had the nerve to tell you that he didn't want you seeing other people and you... OBEYED him?!?!?

    I know you say you didn't date for reasons other than him asking you not to, but in his mind he's convinced that you obeyed him.

    DO NOT respond at all to this guy. And cut off his best friend, too, as it appears he's fishing for your pseudo-ex boyfriend.

    Practice saying, "I have to go. I can't talk right now". Repeat it to ex boyfriend over and over as necessary. It's the only thing you need/should say to him.

    Posted by Sigh August 4, 09 05:12 PM
  1. @Sally--"1.Okay, my new favorite word ever is Xanadouche. Thank you PM. Can I use it at parties and such?"

    Hey, go for it. I'm also a fan of "douchetastic". ;)

    Posted by PM August 4, 09 05:15 PM
  1. You will get over him, in time.

    You may or may not find someone else. Mostly it's a matter of luck.

    It does not necessarily happen "when you least expect it/aren't looking" etc. etc. I detest it when people spout these cliches.

    Life is hard and complicated. Do the best you can, love yourself, cultivate community, look outward into the world.


    Posted by lisalisa August 4, 09 05:16 PM
  1. As a guy, let me try to help you understand why he treats you the way he does: the unexplained break-up, the request not to date, the on-and-off-again contact. Let's look at the possibilities...

    Is it because he loves you AS MUCH as you love him? No. If he did, he would not have broken up with you. He would have moved heaven and earth to make the relationship work.

    Is it because he loves you ALMOST as much, but some overpowering outside factor (religion? family pressure?) prevented him from staying with you? No. If he did, he would have told you the reason why he broke up with you, and he would have urged you to find new love. Someone who genuinely loves you wants you to be happy.

    Is it because he "loves you as a friend," but not romantically? No. Friends don't drag friends through years of hell. A good friend would tell you the reason for a break-up, and would urge you to move on. A genuine good friend wants you to be happy.

    So what's left? Just this: He's fond of you. He likes to have sex with you. But most of all, he LOVES the fact that you adore him. He's been doling out just enough attention and affection to keep you hooked. (If you haven't experienced it, you don't know the thrill you get from having someone worship you in a desperate, needy way. It's the crack cocaine of ego rushes.)

    He broke up with you because he wants to find someone better. He couldn't say that because it sounds "bad," and because it would have driven you away. He played his cards just right, so you were available for the full-contact "girlfriend experience" until a real girlfriend comes along.

    I'm assuming that this fellow isn't a sociopath or "evil." I'm sure he's smart and personable. But he's weak. You fill some sad hole in his character. He loves the ego boost he gets from having a one-woman fan club. He loves the eagerness in your voice when he suggests you meet. He loves the dramatic, Romeo-and-Juliet-together-again sex. He loves the worshipful way you gaze at him.

    But what he doesn't love is you.

    The sooner you understand that, the sooner you can move on.

    Posted by Jasper's Buddy August 4, 09 05:26 PM
  1. Valentino...no wonder you got offered a position in marketing....your haikus are brilliant ! Loved this last one!

    Posted by Une August 4, 09 05:44 PM
  1. As difficult as it may be, you need to cut all ties with him at least until you have completely healed. He's having his cake and eating it too. It may take a while (or not) to find someone who is crazy about you but it will happen when you finally break away from this user. As wonderful as this "spark" is, you are spinning your wheels and yes, he is a user. If it's too much to handle this on your own, I suggest therapy to help you reagin your sense of self-esteem. Best of luck.

    Posted by senorita August 4, 09 05:59 PM
  1. Valentino - Will you marry me? HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Rozwell August 4, 09 06:30 PM
  1. Ouch, hon. I'm so sorry. I'm sure your ex is a really great guy in a lot of ways - enough to make you fall for him as hard as you did. But from an outsider's point of view, not knowing what his good qualities are, I'm pretty pissed with this guy for how little consideration he's shown for you. You've already basically said "don't contact me unless you want the relationship, because otherwise it's too painful for me" and it sounds like that went in one ear and out the other for him.

    I hate to jump to conclusions and call him an insensitive, conniving jerk who just wants to keep you on a string for the ego boost - I'd like to think there are few people who are that deliberately cruel. But regardless of whether or not he means to, he's treating you horribly. A little anger might do you good. Remember every single time you've tried to cut him off so that you can heal, and how he wouldn't let you. I know it's weird and hard to be mad at someone you have such strong feelings for, and I'm not telling you to convince yourself that you hate him (you don't, and you never will). But getting a little pissed off will help take him down off that "first love" pedestal and help you resist the temptation to answer the phone when he calls.

    Posted by Lala August 4, 09 07:06 PM
  1. Scared and Lonely,

    One of the reasons you probably strike out with men is that they can sense that your thoughts are elsewhere. And as long as that is the case, you're going to have difficulty finding a new spark. So you now need to make a crystal clear decision: either get back together with your old boyfriend (it certainly seems like you still have strong mutual feelings), or make a clean and definitive break, and agree not to contact each other again. I have to tell you, my spider sense tells me that your old boyfriend may still care about you in some sense, but in reality you are only his reliable 'shoulder', an old flame he doesn't want to be a current flame but on whose sympathy he can rely when he neds it. So in my opinion your only real option is to make a clean break.

    And once you make that clean break, DON'T DATE. Not for a while. If there is one lesson I learned from many years of off and on unsuccessful relationships, followed by the happy, fulfilling relationship of my life that I am in now, it's that UNTIL YOU ARE COMFORTABLE BEING BY YOURSELF, ALL WEEK AND ALL WEEKEND, you don't have the right foundation to enter into a strong, lasting relationship with someone else. That's just how it works. So, when you make the clean break, learn to be happy by yourself. Learn to go to movies by yourself, museums, sit in cafes and read books, go hiking, paint or play guitar . . . do whatever it is you like to do, but do it by yourself. Once you reach the point where you are content and happy to pass an afternoon by yourself, the man you deserve will fall into your lap. That's a promise. You will not end up alone. Good luck. And know that every single of us has been where you are now . . . it's a necessary step on the road.

    - CambridgeDayandNight

    Posted by CambridgeDayandNight August 4, 09 08:23 PM
  1. Deredith, I mean Meredith, thank you for sharing your story. My respect for you grows everyday. And that is the best advice for SLH. You don't things are ever going to get better, BUT THEY DO, in time.

    Posted by bbqueen August 4, 09 08:24 PM
  1. My dad gave me the best advice when I went through this...finish crying today! Cry hard get it all out. Wake up tomorrow. Put on your nicest clothes. Wear pretty make up, do your hair. He said "no one looks prettier than you do when you get all dressed up". Once you're looking your best, go out. Go anywhere! Notice that one or two guys will look at you tomorrow. Maybe more the next day. And in a couple of days when you are feeling more confident and your most beautiful run into him, by accident, and walk with your shoulders back, a big smile on your face and show the world that you are beautiful and happy. And just then you might realize how beautiful and happy you can be and you are!!

    You know what it worked!! Now whenever I feel down in the dumps, for whatever reason, I do this! You can always cry again when you get home, but the more you go out there and show the world the new you the more you will start believing in the new you!!

    PS - I'll be married 10yrs this fall, with a wonderful family! Before I got engaged I called "him" and said "Goodbye". That was 5 years after our break up and it was still hurting! It felt soooooo good to hang up that phone that night! It will work out!

    Posted by onceinwalthamtoo August 4, 09 08:31 PM
  1. My dad gave me the best advice when I went through this...finish crying today! Cry hard get it all out. Wake up tomorrow. Put on your nicest clothes. Wear pretty make up, do your hair. He said "no one looks prettier than you do when you get all dressed up". Once you're looking your best, go out. Go anywhere! Notice that one or two guys will look at you tomorrow. Maybe more the next day. And in a couple of days when you are feeling more confident and your most beautiful run into him, by accident, and walk with your shoulders back, a big smile on your face and show the world that you are beautiful and happy. And just then you might realize how beautiful and happy you can be and you are!!

    You know what it worked!! Now whenever I feel down in the dumps, for whatever reason, I do this! You can always cry again when you get home, but the more you go out there and show the world the new you the more you will start believing in the new you!!

    PS - I'll be married 10yrs this fall, with a wonderful family! Before I got engaged I called "him" and said "Goodbye". That was 5 years after our break up and it was still hurting! It felt soooooo good to hang up that phone that night! It will work out!

    Posted by onceinwalthamtoo August 4, 09 08:31 PM
  1. I am going to start off exactly the same way many folks did by saying I could have written that email. My old love and I went out for over 4yrs and he was the absolute love of my life I adored him and he I. We obviously didnt make for so many silly and ridiculous reasons. I truly think that with you first love your heart never mends because it was so crushed and devastated but it does move on. I have never loved another man liked I loved him not even my husband. That kind of love so good and pure and kind and fabulous really only comes around once in a life time because your heart I believe only allows it.

    Posted by Emily August 4, 09 08:56 PM
  1. Wonderful, Meredith. What a lovely job today. I enjoyed the Potter reference. Such happy entertainment this column is.

    Yes, Scared, you are absolutely correct. One must let go before they move on.

    Pictures down, stray pieces of clothing thrown away, gift put out of sight. All traces. These steps are actually common for widows and widowers when they have past the first stage of mourning and move into the next stage of deciding to live without their spouces - the need to purge and begin again..

    Exercise. Five days a week. Make no excuses to me unless you are a mother who has a child in her house whom she cannot leave and is responsible for 24/7 . Short of that, not a single excuse. Exercise, five a days a week do NOT miss a day. Why? Besides loving what you see in the mirror in three weeks? Chemicals. Nature's chemicals from increased exercise (at least 3 days a week cardiovascular) will give your mood and energy a HUGE lift. I never reccommend anitdepressents unless one has sincerely tried exercise for five days a week for a month. In two weeks you wont recognize yourself in this letter. Anything, a 2 mile walk, a 1 mile jog, a bike ride, pilates. You're single. The world is your oyster, all your time after work is 100% yours. Use it constructively and not going home direclty after work will give you a boost as well.

    Learn to play a musical instrument. Piano or guitar are good for beginners, Particularly piano can give you some instant feedback, though acquiring the instrument is pricier.

    Take lessons once a week. Walking into a music lesson shop opens up a whole new social network of very intersting people whom you can possibly take group lessons with. Music is a wonderful mood booster, even in animals, it has been proven. Playing music provides an emotional outlet, and it, literally, grows your brain. It makes connections that were once not there. When you grow your brain, you change. It's unavoidable.

    The key is growth. Physical growth, intellectual growth, results in emmotional growth. It also opens you up to multiple new social networks. A wonderful way to start. It creates more possibilities of more ways to bond with others for new friendships as well as possible new romances. Life will be fuller. I promise.

    You will be fine. I am very impressed how together you are (and meredith was) to acknoweldge your simple, yet difficult need, to move on. How refreshing.

    And do take heart. For so many years I have heard this fear, of growing old alone. Of all the many many voices who have voiced it, never has it materialized. All in good time, my bright young lady. All in good time.

    Stay strong.

    And GROW!

    Good luck.



    ,

    Posted by A few Grey Hairs August 4, 09 09:29 PM
  1. #136 WOW JASPER! what a read. I almost fell of the couch. Disturbing.... but true.

    Posted by lisa August 5, 09 06:28 AM
  1. Did I stumble onto a Harry Potter board for middle-aged people masquerading as a love advice column??? I seriously need to reevaluate how I spend my time. I should have known it from the constant song references and questionable haiku and the deep adoration for a few oddballs on here.

    Posted by thisisbecomingdorkville August 5, 09 07:05 AM
  1. I did something completely random when I was in a similar situation. I went to a psychic. It wasn't by design, one of my friends had a psychic party and I threw beliefs and caution to the wind. She told me he "wasn't the one" and my guy was waiting out there for me but I wouldn't meet him for 3 years. Okay, she wasn't right on the money but it gave me hope, I started re-designing my life by doing activities that I thought I might enjoy, taking classes, just getting out there and re-programming my brain. I did meet my guy four years later, after I changed jobs and had become comfortable with "just me" and had plenty of self worth and self esteem.

    Posted by stellabella August 5, 09 07:33 AM
  1. Young Lady:
    you're soo young. Here's the best advice - lose 10 lbs., go blonde, join an online dating service and MOVE FORWARD! Crying yourself to bed in a fetal position isn't furthering your life now, is it? Your paralysis is not attractive towards other men. And when you do start going out on dates, please don't bore new men with this drivel. Men are attracted to women who make them feel good about themselves, and a cryinng, whimpering woman (or man) is so ugly.

    My lengthy observations in these matters reveal that you MUST remember why you broke up in the first place - something was broken. Whatever was broken hasn't ever been repaired by your efforts; it's broken - go get a new man.

    You're not still in love with him; you're in love with your false image of him and the future you two had planned. It's the death of that dream which is holding you down; it's the death of that dream which hurts. You better let that dream go and realize what you're doing to yourself. You're like a teenager who cuts herself, cries because it hurts, gets a lot of attention and then rinse and repeats.

    And he's a mean oaf if he's so dumb he can't see what he's doing to you. In the long run, you'll see that he's done your a BIG favor! Man up and stay away!


    Posted by JeffreyInMalibu August 5, 09 08:10 AM
  1. He is Agamemnon to your Cassandra. You can see the future of this "relationship"; he won't hear you though, because, you know, of that curse of jealous Apollo.

    You know what to do. Step of the chariot and run as fast as you can, as far as you can. Let your hair grow out. Don't read Seamus Heaney poems about the Trojan War characters (they will make you sadder), and don't listen to Stevie Nicks songs as you heal.

    But stay away from nets; baths and other women brandishing swords.

    Posted by reindeergirl August 5, 09 09:01 AM
  1. The question is when you will finally break up with him. In this case, breaking up means no contacts of any kind. No phone calls, texting, dates, or sleep-togethers. You have not done that. Once you complete this long overdue breakup process, it will take some time to recover. I bet it will be a lot shorter than this 2 1/2 years paralyzing and bizare period that you are in right now.

    Time heals all. However, the clock won't start until one has stopped making self-inflicted wounds.

    Posted by HeavyFog August 5, 09 09:57 AM
  1. SLH-
    I was glad to read your follow up and to hear that you have made many strides to distance yourself from this ex. You mention in your earlier letter and again in your follow-up that you are looking for someone else, but have struck-out many times, and are afraid you will always be alone.
    Many years ago, I too had a rough break-up where the ex kept torturring me by calling me and telling me how much he cared. Like "Deredith", yourself, and others who have posted, I was a wreck for a long time. I did end up finding someone else, 10x better. And you know what,...he was someone who I actually had met soon after the break-up. But I never even noticed him because I was so busy wallowing in my own pain. The truth is, nice guys are not going to approach you if your heart and mind are with someone else.

    Posted by bellyb August 5, 09 10:26 AM
  1. I am posting this late because it feels necessary to say so. But here it goes, some practical things beyond deleting him off your phone email. I have actually gone further and changed the name of the person and when he rings it comes up as DO NOT ANSWER, or REMEMBER WHAT YOU PROMISED. It works wonders and makes me feel good.
    1. Now stop contact. You cannot start grieving until you stop contact. Stop trying to find someone to date. First heal and then date. Just my opinion.
    2. Allow the sadness to live with you for a bit, it is normal. But also do good things for yourself.
    3. Entratain yourself and do good for others, spread love and good will and you will feel better. Volunteer to help in your new community, there are many opportunities such as a soup kitchen, a political campaign, a homeless or batter women’s shelter, etc.
    4. Make decisions based on what YOU need. Stop giving him power.
    Most of us have experienced this type of loss and it does take time but it also takes your willingness to take control of the situation. So don’t answer that phone!

    Posted by PoliteG August 5, 09 11:07 AM
  1. Been there - in fact… I’m there right now. the person that compared an ex to booze for an alcoholic is SOOO right. “Hi My name is N…Darlene & I’m an alcoholic and its been 3 months since I had my last drink”. And by “drink” I mean, correspond w/ my ex. It’s hard! I know!! We dated for 7 years. It’s a struggle every day. It hasn’t gotten easier, but I know one email will start the process from scratch. He’s no longer the first thing I think of when I wake up. I don’t cry anymore. I’ve been on a few dates. I’m still waiting for the wound to heal - it hasn’t yet, but I’m moving in the right direction – I think!

    Why do they keep getting in touch? Honey – I HAVE NO IDEA!!!! My ex broke up w/ me too, said he loved me, but wasn’t ready to commit. I think they stay in touch b/c we give them something… power in knowing how much we love(d) them. support / encouragement? we make them feel good. He contacts you b/c he’s looking for something… who knows what!! DON”T GIVE IT TO HIM. Whatever he wants, let him find it somewhere else. Focus on you! Find a hobby, take a class, go to the beach, volunteer, get a dog/cat, get away, focus on work, do something to take your mind off of him.

    Good luck sweetie – you’re not alone!!

    Posted by JJ August 5, 09 12:37 PM
  1. The same as almost everyone else - you need to end contact with him. 100%, no "just this one time", no "it's a holiday" - nothing. If you need to, let him know that you want no more contact with him because you're still hurting. If he actually cares about you the way he says he does, he''s respect your wishes. You're dragging this grieving process out by not letting the death happen.

    Posted by Kate August 5, 09 12:50 PM
  1. What a sensitive letter, with an equally sensitive reply. And what a painful situation. It is because of these life experiences that they invented the phrase, "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger." You will be stronger -- and wiser -- and more mature because of this experience. And that makes you more ready for marriage. So many of us have been where you are! I tried doing the friends thing, but it wasn't until I cut off all contact that I started to move on. Without that termination, you are always secretly hoping or expecting a call. I used to believe Sally from that 80's movie -- she thought men and women could be just friends -- but now I believe Harry. If you are friends with an ex, it's because one of you wants to get back together. This time, it's you. Time to move on......

    Posted by Sadder But Wiser August 5, 09 01:39 PM
  1. LW, in your follow-up, you say "He broke up with me. He said that while he loved me and always would, he just didn't want to be with me anymore. No other explanation given. He said it would break his heart to see me with someone else and asked that I "not get into another relationship right away..."

    This guy is a first-class douchebag! How dare he ask you not to see other people. He broke it off, you are no longer a couple, and he has no right to ask or dictate what you do with your life.

    Go on a cruise or a trip with your girlfriends. Just get away and take your mind off of him. And the next time his friend calls you to "check in," tell him your ex has a tiny cock and the sex was terrible!

    Posted by Regina Felangy August 5, 09 03:59 PM
  1. there is a picture in a frame in a box inside another box in my closet that is the last memento of the two of us. its candid, we're dancing on the patio of a restaurant on the ocean and we are beaming at each other and that moment was one of the best of my life. 5 1/2 years together, 2 1/2 years apart and I know that I will never completely get over it until a week goes by when I don't pull that picture out and have a bit of a cry.

    that being said, it can get better but you have to help it along. things that help in addition to all the other comments are not thinking about meeting someone else as something you have to achieve. Think about things you love to do and do them, let the boy situation work itself out. You have to stop talking to him. He has to get it that he can't have his proverbial cake and eat it too. He doesn't want to be together, it sounds like you do. So he can't have the parts of your relationship he wants to have and not the other parts. And you don't need me to tell you that sleeping with him only makes you exponentially more confused.

    Someone rejecting you once hurts but when you set yourself up to feel rejected over and over again, you're almost doing it to yourself.

    You're better than that.

    Best of luck

    Posted by AG August 6, 09 10:57 AM
  1. You say it has been two and half years since the break up. Start hating him and Get over it!!!!!
    It has been long enough for you to move on.

    Posted by beenthere August 6, 09 02:04 PM
  1. Congratulations SLH on moving. I think the first great love is the hardest to get over. My first broke up with me when I was a freshman in college and that 6 months relationship took me 5 yrs to get over. In the meantime, I had married someone I considered to be my best friend - we later divorced because I wanted that 'spark'. Fast forward, 30 years later and I've met someone I finally have 'the' spark for - but he's unsure about making a commitment. I think he's still in love with his departed wife, his first love. We're both in our mid-50's but I'm more in love with him than he is with me. Though we get along great, the thought of letting go has been hard for me. I really appreciated #138 Jasperbuddy's comments, from the male perspective. One thing I do know is that a guy in love will move heaven and earth to get back to you. If things don't work out for me, like many people have already said, my comfort will be in knowing that I'm in love with the hope or what could've been. And I will also be happy to know that at least I could love and love fully. Best of luck on your path to reclaiming your life.

    Posted by Lostinthehills August 6, 09 05:48 PM
  1. It took ME almost 6 years to fully get over a 1-year relationship with a guy whom I had started to imagine playing on the floor with our babies someday. Right before I moved to go back to school and start a new career, he broke up with me.

    And I know I am truly over him because I can now fondly remember that luxurious summer we spent together in that mountain town, practically continuously joined together by some body part or another, and not mourn for that time again or seethe in anger that he later dumped me. It was a blissful time, being young and carefree and in love and together.

    My one regret? That my husband deserves all of that so much more than that guy did, but since hubby and I met 7 years later, we're now too busy with our careers and our mortgage and trying to see our friends who don't all live 5 minutes away; and in my "new" career (at it for 14 years now), nobody gets the summer off. So I draw from everything I had and learned that summer years ago, to insert little moments of bliss into my time with my husband. LW, someday you will take what you have learned and make it even better with someone else. I promise. And however long it takes to find that someone, it will have been worth the wait.

    Posted by once upon a time August 6, 09 08:44 PM
 
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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