Q: Dear Meredith,
When I read the entry about Draco and Deredith, I thought it could have been written about my ex and me. And like that letter writer, I'm worried that people might think this is silly because I'm only 23, but I'm really torn up and hope you have a little time to listen.
I dated this guy in college for about a year and it was so great, so fun, so easy. I had dated someone before him, but I consider him my first love, and I think that's why I loved him so freely, because I didn't have any jaded or cynical ideas in my head going into the relationship. I think that's also why our breakup was so devastating to me.
He broke up with me with basically no explanation except that he didn't want to be in a relationship. I was completely caught off guard and so heartbroken that I couldn't keep food down. For months I struggled to get through each day just so I could cross it off my calendar. Meanwhile, he started seeing another girl within a few weeks. Eventually I got to a point where there was no contact between us and I was completely over him, and I dated a few people over the next two years, but nothing serious.
After graduation, we both got jobs in the same city, but we still weren't in contact and never saw each other. After a few months I got a new job and moved to my dream city a few hours away. Out of nowhere, he contacted me while on a business trip in my new city, and I learned that he and his girlfriend had broken up. We reconnected, and he apologized about how he handled our breakup, but it wasn't any kind of earth-shattering apology. Looking back, I realize that I forgave him extremely easily because all my feelings for him came flooding back immediately.
That was about a year ago. Since then, we started visiting each other and talking all the time. These visits would be amazing and make me feel like the breakup was just a blip. I thought that the fact that we broke up and ended up returning to each other proved that we were meant to be. We talked about it too, and he told me that he cared about me, that if we lived in the same city we’d be back together, and that he thought that things would work out between us.
But he wouldn't commit to getting back together while we were living in different cities. I was scared that if we didn't end up together, I would never find that amazing feeling with anything else. I hoped we'd end up together down the road, but I didn't want to be waiting around for him, so I tried to fill my life with work and friends and activities, and I tried to date people in my own city. But in my heart I was totally in love with and committed to him. I thought he felt the same way based on our talks and how great things were when we were together.
And here's the surprise that maybe won't surprise you. He broke my heart again. He started acting distant over the span of a few weeks. I had a feeling that he had met someone else, and when I asked him about it he said he had. He said that he didn't want a long-distance relationship with me and claimed that he'd been clear about his intentions from the start when we had reconnected. I had known that we weren't getting back together right away, but I was hopeful about the future when we'd eventually be in the same city, and from our conversations, I thought he understood. But when I told him how hurt I was and he basically had no reaction, I realized that he had completely checked out emotionally, with no explanation. Just like the first break-up.
I don't really know what else to say. I just feel stupid for trusting him again. Strangely, I also feel happy because I know that I will never forgive him a second time (if he even asks me to), so now I guess I can move on without wondering in the back of my mind if we’ll end up together. But then I wake up in the middle of the night and think of him and his new girlfriend and cry myself to sleep. Or I obsess over the "what-ifs" -- would we be together if I hadn't moved away from the city where we'd gone to college? My friends and family tell me that he's not a good person and that I shouldn't question my life decisions for someone who wouldn't do the same for me. But why can he be in a relationship with another girl but not with me? I guess maybe he was just using me while he was lonely, until someone else came along who was more convenient.
I don't really know what my question is. I know I'm only 23 and some readers will say I’m being silly, but it feels horrible right now and I just want to know that it will be OK and that maybe I'm not as stupid as I feel right now.
– Fool me once ..., Washington D.C.
A: You're not stupid and it will be OK. Eventually. For now it stinks, and that's a good thing. All of this misery and mourning will help you make the right decision when he contacts you again -- or when someone else tries to pull the same nonsense.
Some of this experience is just about being 23. I'm not belittling your age -- you're an adult, and many people meet their future partners in their 20s. But when we're not yet 30, it's easy to play make believe about the future. We can say, "He can't commit now, but give it a few years and he'll be in a different place." We can make assumptions about the future because the present feels like a warm-up.
From now on, make decisions about people based on what they offer right this second. Don't assume that anything will change. Now is just as important as later.
As for the other girl, who cares? I mean, I know it's painful, but don't go crazy with fantasies about about her or their relationship. Draco wound up with someone else, and eventually I realized that it didn't matter -- because he was still Draco, and not right for me. (I mean Deredith.)
You know the drill -- you have to give this time. It doesn't heal all wounds, but it makes them feel a lot better.
Readers? Can you give her a pep talk? How did she fall for this again? Does it matter that she's 23? What’s up with her ex and this other woman? 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.