Q: Hi Meredith,
I was dating a man for a few months about six months ago. I had known him and was attracted to him for a long time before anything happened between us. There was always a sort of tension there, but he was seeing someone pretty seriously. Eventually they broke up and a few months later we ended up hanging out a few times (with friends). I knew that he was recently single, but I ignored my misgivings and we started seeing each other. Things were going well but then it got too serious too fast and it freaked him out. He was looking for a rebound, and I was looking for something more. He broke up with me and I was pretty devastated. It was awful, but he's actually a lovely person. He was never cruel to me and always treated me very well, even when breaking up with me. I feel like I sound like one of those pitiful girls who puts her ex up on a pedestal, but he truly is wonderful.
But that's what makes it awful. I was fine for a few months. I was going on dates, meeting people, picking up new hobbies, reconnecting with friends -- doing all those things that you're supposed to do when your heart is broken. But then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I miss him terribly and I want him back and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. So I guess my question is: When the relationship doesn't end badly, how do you get closure? How can I move on from this guy when I still think he's so great?
– Wants to Move On But How, Boston
A: This kind of breakup can be so awful, WTMOBH. You don't even know what you're trying to get over. It's just lost potential. Sometimes it's easier to move on from someone after you've fought with them for two years and you can't even stand to look at them.
Anger can be such an important part of the healing process. You could use a little of it. You're allowed to be upset at him for turning to you (of all people!) when he wanted a rebound. You can be angry that after six months he hasn't run back to you because he misses your company.
It's not that I want you to walk around stomping your feet and fuming. I just want you to be honest about how you feel so that you can forgive and really move on. I don't care that he ended things for an understandable reason. I don't care that he was polite. He hurt you and left you disappointed. He wasn't careful with you. And now you're sad.
The bad feelings will bring you as close to closure as you're ever going to get. I don't believe in real closure, but I do believe in rising up from loss. That's why you've fallen -- so that it can get better, for real. You want to know how to get over this? You're doing it. Let yourself be bummed.
Readers? Should she get angry? Did she try to skip the stages of grief? Is this guy really so great? Is anger a necessary part of moving on? 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 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.