Go Celtics again.
Q: Hi Meredith,
My ex-boyfriend and I dated for a little over a year. He is a brother of a friend, so I've known him for years. We're both in our mid-20s. While we were dating, he decided he wanted to join the Marines. I told him that I would support him either way, but that if he decided to join, we would have to break up and just be friends. While I respect everything that the Marines do and think that it is great that they are willing to serve our country with such honor, courage, and commitment, it would be too difficult for me to date someone who would be committed for four years and might make a career out of it. All of the time apart and distance from my family would be too difficult for me.
Our relationship was great. Although we had our differences (he's conservative, I'm liberal, he's country, I'm pop, he's a meathead, I'm ... not) we got along very well. Lots of grilled cheeses and everything! My family loves him and vice versa. We really became a part of each other's lives. I could have really pictured us getting married if it hadn't been for the looming Marines departure.
Fast forward to a month ago when he broke up with me. This was a complete sucker punch. I know this sounds hypocritical considering I wanted to break up with him when he left, but I thought the break-up would happen when he left. During the break-up he told me that the reason why he wanted to end things now was because he wanted to be able to concentrate on preparing for the Marines. He told me he still loved me and that he thought that it would be too hard getting over me. Because he wants to make officer, he would need to commit himself more than anyone else and he didn't want our break up to distract him. This reasoning made sense to me and I did not want to stand in the way of his goals. We kept in frequent contact and proceeded to hook up a few times. The last time was recently, on my birthday. We had a great time and made plans to go to on a day trip the following Monday. That weekend, though, he went to a wedding as a date of a girl he went to high school with. Because she had a boyfriend, I thought nothing of it. However, after texting/calling him on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to see if we were still on for Monday, I never heard back from him. Monday morning he called to say that he couldn't take the day trip because he needed to help out his father and that he HAD to go to the girl's barbeque later on.
Later that night, he called and I asked him if he had hooked up with her. He told me the truth and said that they had (apparently it didn't matter that she had a boyfriend). He was not apologetic. I was heartbroken. It seemed like he didn't think he did anything wrong. And while I understand that he is not committed to me, some human decency would have been nice. After telling me he still loved me, that it was going to be too hard getting over me, and then hooking up with me, he had hooked up with this old friend just FIVE days later. In a moment of weakness, I begged him to come over the next night but then he dropped another bomb on me. He couldn't because their mutual friend had a couple extra Sox tickets and he was bringing her.
The next day I came to my senses and realized, he does not love me anymore! You don't treat people that you love like that -- not returning phone calls, cancelling plans, hooking up with other girls just five days later … He is a different person now, nothing like the great guy I dated.
I have been avoiding his phone calls and text messages (they are not apologetic either). But my question is: if he is leaving for training in a month (for three months), should I listen to what he might have to say? Should I put this in the past so when he leaves we are on cordial terms? I would hate for something to happen to him and not be speaking to him. But on the other hand, he is the one who broke up with me and then hurt me again when he hooked up with this girl. I don't think I owe anything to him. What should I do?
– Not In Love With Him Now, But the Man He Used To Be, Newton
A: NILWHNBTMHUTB, he did love you. He does love you. Everything he said is true.
We all have different ways of getting over lost loves. Some people (me) curl up in a ball and mourn until we get sick of feeling miserable all of the time. Others become compulsive shoppers. Others lose weight. Others distract themselves with new women, men, nightlife, etc.
Your ex is leaving for the Marines. He told you that he has to focus on becoming a person who can cut ties and act like an officer. I'm not saying that this new girl is an essential part of that process, but she's most likely someone whose company he can keep without it causing him too much pain when he leaves. If he spent these last few weeks becoming even closer to you, it would be more difficult to bail when the time comes.
You're coping with a big loss. The fact that there's a practical reason for the break-up doesn't make it any less stressful. Don't assume he isn't going through the same process. He's just doing it differently.
All you have to do is tell him that this hurts. I'm sure he'll tell you he feels the same way.
The meathead you love isn't gone. He's just trying to get over you. Follow his lead. Semper Fi.
Readers? Any advice for the woman left behind? What does this new woman represent? Has the letter writer's ex become a different person? Thoughts on the many ways of getting over someone? Talk.
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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.