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He's too close for comfort

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  April 8, 2010 09:25 AM

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Q: I am in kind of a sticky situation. I recently broke up with my boyfriend and we have less than ideal living situations. He is my neighbor. That is how we met and we dated for about 2 1/2 years, on and off. The relationship got really serious really quickly and was great for the first year.

However, after that, we would take breaks and get back together. I think we always ended up back together because we run into each other all the time. This time, I am pretty sure that enough is enough and that we are both ready to move on. We called it off for good about two weeks ago.

My problem is that he is already bringing girls home! He did this other times we broke up, but it wasn't as quick. I would see him leaving with a random girl in the morning. It was uncomfortable, but at least I knew it wasn't serious. On Saturday, I ran into him and a girl in the middle of the afternoon. This morning, I saw her car here when I left for work (I am not a total stalker, but I did see her walk from her car on Saturday!). It might seem weird that we always run into each other, but we do. I think we are both in and out a lot and I have a dog so I am outside walking it, etc.

I am not upset that he is seeing someone. I understand we are both ready to move on, but I am upset at his complete lack of respect for me in doing this. I feel like he should wait a little longer, go to her house, or just not bring girls home.

What makes it even harder for me is that I feel like I don't know the man I loved for the past 2 1/2 years. The guy I fell in love with would never do this to me. He was always such a good guy. I knew we were growing apart toward the end and I am fine with moving on. I know people and things change, but this is from one extreme to the other. It's like he is a completely different person now. I am so uncomfortable living next to this. Any suggestions of how to deal?

– Way Too Close, Boston

A note: the letter writer sent an update saying that her living situation might be changing soon. So there might be some reprieve, although I'm not so sure it matters. With that in mind ...

A: It's annoying that he lives so close, WTC. Obviously. I'm sorry.

To me, the big issue his post-break-up behavior and how it has made you feel about the man you dated. Even if one of you moves, the damage has been done. You feel disrespected. Less loved. You're questioning the whole relationship. And I get that. But … you shouldn't.

We only go out of our way to hurt the ones we love. And this guy has been parading his singleness/dating out there for all (especially you) to see. It doesn't mean that he wants to get back together. It doesn't mean that he wants you to beg him not to date this woman. But it does mean that he's acting out. And that means you mattered. Quite a bit. Even though it didn't work out, your relationship was important.

The good news about the harsh reality of his dating someone else just two weeks after your break-up is that you don't have to play what-if games with yourself. When an ex disappears and we never see them, we can imagine them however we want. We can decide that they're pining for us ... lonely on the couch ... better than they are in reality. His in-your-face dating is going to make it easier for you to move on for good this time.

Also know that it will only be slightly easier if one of you moves. When relationships are difficult to end and involve bad feelings after many years, exes can never be too far away. If they work in the same building, it's shocking to run into them in the cafeteria. (How dare they eat at the same time?) If they live in another state, it's hard to hear that they've stopped in for a weekend visit. (How dare they tread on our territory?)

Until it all seems like ancient history, every ex might as well live next door. It can feel that way even when they don't.

Readers? What does it mean that he's parading around with this woman? How can the letter writer not take it personally? Will it be much easier if one of them moves? Am I right to say that his insensitivity means he actually did care a lot? Discuss.

– Meredith

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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
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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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