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I don't feel bad

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  May 21, 2010 09:35 AM

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Thank you to those who entered the Huntington Theatre "Prelude to a Kiss" contest yesterday. Your entries put me in a really good mood. I did pick winners, but really, all of the entries were fantastic.

I've posted some of the entries here so you can read them. I figure ... we read about so many problems … it's nice to get a taste of some happy stuff. Good material for a Friday.

According to today's letter writer, I am a genius and she is "pretty awesome." I'll buy that.

Q: I recently discovered your column and absolutely love your advice. You are a relationship genius. Maybe you can help me with my current situation.

When I was in college, I had a rocky relationship with a great guy. We treated each other pretty badly. We were probably addicted to the drama, but besides all that, we really clicked. After college, I moved back to Boston and he remained in our college town.

Eight years later, I had ended a long term relationship, and even though I had always known that the guy was not right for me, I was devastated. Then I dated a series of losers. I found this confusing because I am pretty awesome. I decided to seek out the ex. I figured a fling with an old flame would boost my self-esteem and nothing serious could come of it because we lived in different cities. However, when we saw each other the connection was absurd. We ended up doing a year long distance and then moving in together. After two years of living together, things were not going that well. He had lost all interest in sleeping with me. I think this was his way of forcing some emotional distance in order to avoid a deeper commitment like marriage and kids. We lived apart for two years. We set a date to move back in together, but he backed out because our problems were not resolved.

In the interim we had tried couples therapy, individual therapy, and had been trying to get pregnant (we're in our 30s and I figured it wasn't the fairy tale but I wanted kids and took it as a sign of his commitment to me that he was willing to try). Though he was a pretty terrible boyfriend, he was an amazing best friend. After five years, I was still excited to see him, we always laughed together, he was extremely supportive of me, and we were still affectionate with each other, though the intimacy was infrequent.

I suspected that our not moving back in together marked the end of our relationship but I decided to wait until he finished a major project at work before discussing it with him. There were some signs that he was cheating, though in my heart, I still trusted him. But I checked his phone. He caught me and was furious since his privacy is a huge issue with him. I found something that implied he had been cheating. I don't know for sure and at this point I just don't care. He stormed out and emailed me later that day that we should consider our relationship over and that if I wanted to discuss it, we could do so after his major work project ended. I didn't reply. That was three weeks ago. Though we used to talk and email every day, I have not contacted him at all and he has not contacted me. His work project was finished this week.

I feel amazingly OK. When I saw the email, I felt relieved. I had been trying so hard to keep the relationship together that it felt great to just let go, to not have to deal with his emotionally distant behavior anymore. I felt instantly more attractive. I signed up for Match.com and already have some dates lined up. My friends keep checking in on me to see if I am really OK.

So my question is this: Am I naive to think that I'm really OK? Am I just in denial? Will the emotional bottom eventually fall out? Should I discuss any of this with my ex? Though he was my best friend for five years, a friendship at this point does not seem feasible. I do not want to fight and I'm sure he doesn’t view the break up the way that I do. I also do not want to know if he's seeing anyone else. Is cold turkey the way to go? Your advice is appreciated. Thank you.

– Surprisingly Over It, Washington



A: You know, SOI, I'm not shocked you're over it. You've been breaking up with this guy for years -- in your head and in your heart. Even when you were trying to make a baby with him (and wow, I'm so glad that didn't happen), you were thinking of him as a friend who couldn't offer much more.

Love Letters has taught me that usually, the people who are the most devastated by break-ups didn't see it coming. They feel as though they didn't get the chance to try to make it work. Their have unanswered questions. The rug has been pulled out from under them. The rug has punched them in the face.

You exhausted this one from every angle, at different ages, in different settings. You've seen it fail over and over -- and if anything, you're relieved not to have to try again.

This is proof that there's no wasted time in failed relationships. When people say to me, "I wish we had broken up a year ago ... so I wasted less time," I say, "You would have spent that extra year processing this break-up." There's no way to rush this stuff.

Cold turkey is great for now. Maybe someday you can check in with each other and be pals with boundaries. For the moment, though, revel in the fact that you did the right thing by watching it play out over and over again. You have all of your answers. You care for him but can't be his partner. And that's OK. And that's why you feel just fine.

Readers? Will the bottom fall out? Is there denial going on here? What am I missing? Do you agree that she's OK because this break-up has been going on for years? Other thoughts?

– 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.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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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