What Am I Missing With These Breakups?

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Dear Meredith,

Some background: I’m a 46-year-old woman, born and raised in Europe, came to the U.S. decades ago. When I was in my late 20s, I married a nice man. After seven years of what I thought was a good marriage, he said he wanted to be single again. Just like that, he left me. I begged, I cried, but he didn’t want to reconsider. I moved out and lived by myself for two years without hearing much from him, however, he didn’t divorce me. After two years of that separation, my mother-in-law (a wonderful lady) reached out to me saying that it might be a good idea to extend an olive branch. He didn’t take any steps to reconnect with me (with the exception of leaving my favorite flowers on the windshield of my car one day). I didn’t think it was my place to try to mend things. I was incredibly hurt and I guess I wanted HIM to show that he wanted me back.

One day I received an email from him, telling me how much he missed me … and that he’d been sleeping with his roommate (he couldn’t afford to live in the place without renting a room to some girl he met online). When I read that email, I threw up (apologies for the TMI) and filed for divorce. After the divorce, we actually remained pretty friendly and kept in touch. He remarried someone else two years later and moved away. I hear from him on my birthday, and sometimes he sends me a picture or a link to an article.

It’s been 10 years since our divorce and I wonder sometimes if we could have saved that marriage. I’ve been trying to date most of this time. I ended up in one horrific relationship that almost killed me and literally bankrupted me. I’ve had other traumatic experiences.

In October of last year, I met a wonderful guy (on Bumble). We hit it off so amazingly, I felt my heart heal. However, with all the past experiences, which I believe made me grow-up tremendously, I tried to give my new love the space he needed. I understood that relationships require work and patience and being open with each other. After six months, I received a cold text from him, so I called him. He said that he couldn’t see me anymore, that he still loves me, and I am the nicest person he ever met, but he can’t be the man I want him to be. Once again, a man left me without an explanation and a bit blindsided.

I cried so hard after that call and then I blocked his number. I don’t know if he tried to reach out after that, but I figured he knows where I live. I don’t want to stop trusting men and lose hope that some of them are decent and strong enough to get through life’s storms with me. When does it make sense to try to reach out to a guy who leaves without much explanation, and when should I just let go? I’m in this limbo of sadness and anger with so many unanswered questions. I understand that six months is not THAT long, however it felt so good to finally meet someone who I thought understood and cared about me. Thank you very much for listening/reading through this letter. I hope you can help me understand what I’m missing in this picture.

– Missing


I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you why people are so bad at breakups.

I do think I know why some of these people leave without giving you a good explanation. It could be that they don’t have one. Maybe this most recent boyfriend knew he wasn’t up for being a partner, but didn’t know why. He told you that he couldn’t be the man you wanted him to be. Perhaps he wanted a more casual relationship. That’s enough of an answer, even if it’s not the one you want.

As far as you ex-husband is concerned, he also told you his motive for leaving. He wanted to be single again. It’s a big “yikes” of a reason, of course. I’m sure there are many times during good marriages that people wish they were on their own. They’re supposed to stay and work on it. It sounds like he signed up for a big commitment before he understood what it would require.

What’s missing in this picture is some focus on yourself. I know you want a partner, but this is a great time to focus on the parts of life that make you happy with or without love. Hobbies. Friends. Maybe family or travel. Fill your life with things to look forward to that will remain part of you, regardless of the state of your love life. Also, consider talking to a mental health professional about those experiences in the middle. If there’s trauma, you want to figure out what it means – and how to live with it.

I know you’re thinking about the flowers on the car and, more recently, the blocked number. You’re wondering whether a little more effort and openness could have changed the fate of these relationships. In the case of your marriage, he should have shown up. As for this recent breakup, yeah, he does know where you live. Maybe you would have received another phone call with more of an explanation, but … the end result would have been the same.

You did what was best for you. You’re doing your best now. These experiences don’t represent everything that’s possible.

– Meredith

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