We'll have regular letters through Thursday and then New Year's updates on Friday.
Q: Hi Meredith,
You've probably heard this story before, someone having trouble getting over an ex especially around the holidays. My ex and I dated for a year and things were OK but we would have the same argument every month. I thought she had anxiety issues and suggested counseling, which she's done before, but she thought I just didn't want to deal with her emotions (which was also sometimes true).
We dated for a year and then stayed friends for a long time after that. For the first couple of months we were friends with benefits, but I stopped that because I was afraid I was leading her on. Just before our last FWB encounter she told me she "would always love me as a friend" and that's why I shouldn't feel guilty. I took that very seriously since I don't make friends easily and we were really close. I considered her my best friend even after we stopped having sex. But I always knew she wanted to get back together.
Fast forward to about three months ago. I knew she was dating but she finally got serious with another guy. I, being an idiot who has trouble reading my own emotions, didn't deal well with it and told her I thought I still had feelings for her. She told me that we needed time apart to help me get over her. I've been in this situation before and "some time apart" turns into "I'll never speak to you again." And this was a week after I helped her move.
Since then I've seen pictures of her and her new bf -- her taking him to meet her family and going on vacations with him (I consider that pretty quick, but my opinion doesn't matter). I defriended her and all of her friends on FB because I can't handle seeing updates with her and her BF without getting incredibly hurt. I've sent her an email for Christmas just wishing her the best but I doubt she'll respond.
I understand through therapy and friends that I can't control her actions and that she's an ex, etc.. I've also been told that since she won't talk back to me that's a sign she still feels something too, but I'm trying not to read into her emotions. But I've always felt that because we were friends and especially because she said she would always love me as a friend that I'm particularly hurt (even though I know people say things they mean at the time but won't follow through with). I've been dating someone else and I'm not even sure I'd want to date my ex again. There's just this huge amount of hurt that I haven't been able to get rid of. And the uncertainty of knowing if we'll ever even talk to each other again makes it hard for me to move on properly.
Am I being unreasonable? Do I just need more time? And is there anything I can do to help this situation?
– Home Alone, Cambridge
A: She cut you off because you're both dating other people and trying to move on, HA. I mean, how else could this possibly work? Do you think that you could have an easygoing friendship with her right now? Do you think that her boyfriend would embrace you as a platonic pal? Do you think you could keep your mind straight about what she represents?
Your ex wants to make sure that if you ever speak again, it's truly platonic. You need this space. Be thankful that she's giving it to you. And for the record, she has every right to focus on her new relationship. You should focus on whether you want to be in yours.
"Some time apart" doesn't always mean "I'll never speak to you again." This isn't "taking a break" in a romantic relationship -- you guys are already broken up. In your case, time apart means time for perspective. It's about giving each other the chance to mourn the end of a relationship, something you never got the chance to do.
You're right -- the holidays are particularly rough, but you just have to get through the week and try to stay close to your friends. And if you feel sad, that's OK. You had a bad breakup. It's just taken you a long time to admit it. Even if you're the breaker upper, you're supposed to be miserable. You're supposed to miss her friendship and want to text her little inside jokes. That's how it goes. But the truth about why you broke up is still relevant. Remind yourself of that, and assure yourself that she will speak to you when it feels less urgent. Of course, by then you might not care so much.
Readers? Tips for a guy whose heart hurts during the holidays? What happened here? Be nice. It's the most wonderful time of the year, after all. Help.
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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 new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.