Dear Steff Metal
I’ve just been dumped by my boyfriend of three years. I feel like shit. He wasn’t a bad person or anything, and I thought our relationship was pretty good. I don’t understand why he suddenly changed his mind about us. I still love him and all I want is to have him back. I cry all the time and txt him begging him to take me back.
He now says he can’t handle me txting and calling and crying anymore and he doesn’t even want to be my friend. What? I lost my boyfriend and now I have to lose my best friend, too? We always said if we broke up we would still be friends – I feel totally betrayed. I miss the person who’s been beside me for over three years. My friends keep saying I need to calm down and forget about him, but I don’t WANT to. I want him in my life. Is that so much to ask?
What’s happening to me? It’s been a month – why don’t I feel any better?
Tr00 Metal hugs to you, sister. It doesn’t sound like you’re having a fun time at the moment. I’ve been there – it sucks to get dumped. It especially sucks when it comes from nowhere – you thought everything was peachy and then BAM. Welcome to lonerville. Population: you.
I’ve been here. And let me tell you how it turned out. It was not pretty.
My first boyfriend. We went out for 8-9 months. I was besotted. I had gone from a person who literally NO ONE would talk to, to having a sweet, caring, intelligent, totally hot boyfriend. I couldn’t understand why someone so awesome could like me, but he did. For a little while.
I got too much for him. I did not have a good time at school and I struggled with depression and hating myself. I was so much fun when I was happy, but as time went by I grew less and less happy. I had a lot of emotions to work through, and I loved this guy and trusted him and dumped all of this on his shoulders. And it got too much for him. I can’t blame him. I wouldn’t have been able to handle me, either.
So he broke up with me. I didn’t take it too well. I went a little crazy. I was so in love and so happy and it totally floored me how much it hurt. It hurt more than a lot of the things bullies had done to me over the years. I did some stuff I’m really not proud of. His parents and my parents had a talk. I thought they were going to send me far, far away.
And one morning I just woke up and said “WTF?” I realised how ridiculous and selfish I was acting, and how my behaviour looked to other people, and how much I was hurting this person I supposedly loved. And just like that, I was ready to move on with my life.
Because of the shit that had gone down between us after the breakup, it was several years before he and I could look each other in the eye. Now, we’re not friends exactly, but we can hang out and everything’s cool. He’s still an awesome guy. We both understand that what happened in high school isn’t who we are now. We wish each other the best in life – it’s cool.
The reason you don’t feel any better is because you’re acting on all your conflicting feelings and not giving yourself space to grieve the relationship. You’re becoming the crazy ex, and you have to stop. Trust me, I was the crazy ex, and although everything’s okey now, that guilt doesn’t go away easily.
You don’t want to be the crazy ex, trust me on this. You don’t want to be the person responsible for causing pain and stress and anger and worry to another person, especially one you still care about. You don’t want to be the person your ex talks about with his mates over beer, where they all laugh about how nuts you are. You don’t want to be the person begging, the person saying “but I can’t live without you.”
You can live without him, and you don’t want to be the crazy ex.
You still love your boyfriend. But you’re angry with him, too. Angry and confused and frightened. You had a life with him – you had plans for the future. You had that security of knowing he was there. And now he’s not, and you don’t really understand what went wrong.
Maybe he was the most wonderful boyfriend in the whole world, but the fact is – he wasn’t happy with some aspect of the relationship, and that’s bothered him enough that he feels it’s time to move on. I’m not privvy to the details of your breakup, so I don’t know his reasoning, but he felt something wasn’t right for him. Maybe, once you’ve had a chance to mourn the relationship, you’ll be able to sit down and think about the things he said without crying, and you might start to understand where he was coming from. You might realise an aspect of your relationship wasn’t working as well as it could have, and you can formulate a plan to ensure this doesn’t happen with future lovers.
For now though, you can’t think that clearly. But consider this – he left you and you want him back. Why? Do you want a relationship with someone who’s not 100% satisfied with fabulous you? I don’t think so! He might be kreig, but he’s not the man for you!
You’re in a rational enough state that you can see your ex is not a bastard, and you can’t hate him. In many ways, breakups are easier if you can hate the person. But you love your ex so much you still want to be friends, even if you can’t have him, you still want him in your life.
But you can’t be friends with your ex right now. Maybe one day you can, but it can’t be now. I’ll tell you why. For three years you’ve come to him every time something horrible happened, and he’s made you feel better.
But this time, he can’t make you feel better when he’s the cause of the pain. You can’t expect him to hang out and be friendly and make you feel better when you both know the one thing you really want is for him to take you back. That’s not friendship.
Staying friends with your ex gives you control – you remain involved in his life and can keep an eye on his latest female interest. This isn’t friendship, either.
You need to stop trying to be friends with your ex, and cut off contact completly. No phone calls, no “hanging out”, no txts. Throw away your cellphone if necessary, unplug the internet, go and stay at a friend’s house in the next town over, anything to avoid that gnawing desire to cry at him and tell him how much he means to you.
When my second boyfriend and I broke up, I told him “I can’t see you for two months.” Even though the decision was totally mutual, I spent two weeks frantically pushing myself away from the phone so I wouldn’t ring him and beg him to take me back. It’s a symptom of suddenly being thrust into the world alone, again. The two months went by, we had coffee, the feelings had played their course without incident, and we’ve remained friends.
If you don’t give yourself space to grieve the relationship and rediscover yourself, neither of you a chance to really move on. And that’s not fair.
Here’s what WILL help:
Allow yourself to feel all the feelings. Take a day off work to cry, get angry, plot revenge, write a list of all their faults and bad habits. But don’t ACT ON THE FEELINGS. You’ve been acting on these feelings and causing unnecessary pain to yourself and you ex. Work through the pain in a healthy way, by relaxing, looking after yourself, being excited about the future, disentangling your lives, and reaffirming your own goals and plans.
Keep away from drinking, drugs and sex with other people. Your mind and soul are already fragile enough, don’t bruise them further.
Channel your mixed-up feelings into positive activities – create music, write, paint, volunteer at local charities. Instead of getting angry at him, get angry about water pollution or animal cruelty. Making a positive impact on the world will help you realise how special you are.
Take a course in something you would never normally consider: Indian cooking, karate, kite surfing – show yourself you’re ushering in a new chapter of your life.
Stop obsessing over mementos – find all those cute soppy letters you wrote, photos or the song lyrics dedicated to you, and stick them in a box, way at the back of the closet. (Don’t give them back or burn them, because twenty years from now, you wish you had them to remember the good times).
Fall in love with yourself, because you really, truly, cannot have a happy, fulfilling relationship with another human being until you have one with yourself. You can’t give away what you don’t have. Cultivate a deep, healthy friendship with your body, mind and soul. Take yourself to a movie, treat yourself to a picnic, go to see your favorite band, buy your favorite ice cream and eat the entire tub while reading your favorite book. If you can’t spend time with yourself without feeling isolated, weepy, frightened, uncomfortable or lame, you need to work on falling in love with yourself (it’s not selfish, I promise!) I’ll write more about that in an upcoming post.
And lastly, listen to lots of heavy metal. It really does soothe the aching soul.