What’s your love and relationship problem?
Ask Meredith at Love Letters. Yes, it’s anonymous.
I need help untangling the thoughts in my brain right now. Six-ish years ago, my first love and I broke up. I was absolutely devastated at the time. For an entire year, we would get back together and break up over and over again. He would tell me he didn’t want to be with me and then get jealous if I went on a date a month later … your classic early-20s immaturity, and an inability to let each other go. The back and forth made it impossible to move on.
Eventually, he moved a few states away and the cycle was broken, but I didn’t fully get over it for a long, long time. With time, I did move on. I’ve dated since then and am now engaged to a caring, smart, and funny man. I’m genuinely so excited for our future and I love our life together. Last night, however, I was talking to a girlfriend and she asked if I ever think about my first love. I answered that I honestly do. I want to hug that confused, heartsick version of me and tell her she’ll be OK.
But a big part of it, I realized, is that I never fully got closure. After all this time, the breakup still confuses me and hurts even though I am not hurt by it anymore … does that make sense? This morning, for the first time since 2018, he commented on my Instagram story. It was a story about some success at work and he responded more or less congratulating me. And now I’m left here like … Huh. Twelve hours after talking about him, he DMs me. It’s like the universe wanted to poke an old wound.
I guess my question is … do we ever really get over our first loves? I don’t really care about the DM. It was harmless and genuinely nice of him. I just want to stop thinking about this breakup once and for all. I don’t want this relationship to have any power over me. (Yes, I’ve tried therapy).
Thanks in advance,
I think you’re going about this all wrong.
You’re trying to figure out a way to be at peace with this breakup – to understand every part of it so you can let go forever. But you can’t, and that’s OK.
Who says we have to become a fully enlightened, always-calm version of ourselves to be happy? Who says we have to contextualize every experience so we never have a complicated, uncomfortable feeling ever again?
Sometimes I spend 15 minutes googling a guy I loved in college, get upset about how we failed each other, and reconsider decisions I made when I was young. Then I don’t think about it again for five years. Those painful moments – and my doubts about my choices – will always be part of me. I’ve learned to accept they’re not something to conquer, but to live with.
It’s like grief that way. The goal isn’t to graduate from a feeling. You let it change, grow, and minimize itself over time.
You say your experience in this relationship had a lot to do with 20-something immaturity. Assuming you’re in your late 20s/early 30s now, let me say this: you’re experiencing a very 30-something desire right now. The need to get through a to-do list of personal growth is something a lot of my peers gave up by 40. Now they understand it’s just about doing the work every day, sometimes feeling wonderful, sometimes not. They know it’s about continuing to learn, accepting new feelings and problems, and trying to be better to ourselves and everyone else.
Yes, you might wake up at 75 and google this man and think, “Why?” Or not. Give yourself a break and shrug.
Also, when an ex from long ago reaches out via social media, it’s exciting, even for a second. It’s drama! It’s OK to take a beat and feel a bunch of different ways about it. It makes sense to call friends to say, “OMG he DM’d me!”
After that, life returns to normal … until there’s something else that makes you remember a past version of yourself. That’s how it works.
Readers? Advice for haunting feelings? Are you over all of the experiences from your past?
“The ‘universe’ didn’t do anything. Did you know that this ex still followed you on Instagram? Because if you did, there was always a chance that something like this could happen. But it’s meaningless. Or at least it should be.”The-Blog-Consigliere
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