Posts Tagged ‘break up

19
Apr
11

old ex new girls

Reader T. C. writes:

A few weeks ago, the girl I was seeing broke up with me and went on a long trip. I jumped right into seeing other girls, and I haven’t told her this. She has been sending me emails about how much fun she’s having, but that she misses me and she wants to see me when she gets back. Seeing as she’s the one that ended it, it feels kinda’ weird. I haven’t blocked her on Facebook or restricted her access or anything, but I haven’t been direct about the other girls I’m seeing. If she doesn’t know now, she’s definitely going to find out when she gets back and sees me out with one of them. What should I do?

Dear T.C.:

Sounds like you’re getting your heart jerked around a little bit, which can suck, but it’s all a part of life. Take it in stride, but do what you can to stop the bleeding.

Keep a few things in mind when you’re considering what to do:

girlfriend

Don't let this happen to you. Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. She broke up with you. That means the ball has been in her court, whether you wanted it there or not. She took control of the relationship, and she’s going to continue to do so unless you put a stop to it.

2. Traveling makes us miss people we wouldn’t otherwise miss, or we would miss less. She’s out of her element, and she’s thinking of you. This could mean one of two things: either she’s not over the relationship, or she’s just lonely. Either way, her feelings here don’t matter too much, seeing as…

3. You’ve taken steps to move on. You’re already seeing other girls. This may have been a cover-up for the fact that you’re really hurt (which would be my guess), and you’re trying not to feel bad about the break up by having other girls to think about. I don’t necessarily approve of that approach, but I get it, and I think it’s pretty natural for a lot of people. Like I said, she took the control away from you, and your way of getting it back could be just dating as many other people as you possibly can until you’re over it. HOWEVER…

4. That means you’ve made your stand. You’ve decided you’re going to get over it, so that’s what she has to do, too. Basically you’ve drawn a line in the sand and said that you’re not going to get back together with her. If you try to get back together now, it’ll just feel shallow and empty, and she may never trust you, anyway. Your indirect communication was, “Screw you, I’m gonna’ go get some strange.” Whether that’s how you actually feel or not, that’s the message you’re conveying, and I think you should probably stick with it.

Since this is a blog about letting her know you’re seeing other people, and not one about trying to get her back, I’m not going to launch into that latter, dangerous subject.

I don’t think you have to tell her directly that you’re seeing other girls. Like you said, you’re not trying to hide it. If the new ladies post something on your wall on Facebook, she’ll see it. (As will all the other girls you’re dating, BTW. Maybe you should check out my post on dating in multiples, too.) And yeah, she’s going to find out when she comes back and you don’t have the time to hang out with her. Hell, she may even guess now if she’s trying to set up a Skype appointment with you and you’re not available. That’s a pretty tell-tale sign.

However, if her emails to you are getting overly mushy, you can’t pretend you’re not working to get over the relationship and get all mushy back. Don’t write back that you miss her, too, even if it’s true. (If it’s still true in six months, we could reconsider, but I wouldn’t.) My best advice to your claim that she’s saying she misses you is just not to respond. She’ll figure it out. Or she’ll ask you what’s up. In which case you can be honest (and uber courageous) and admit she hurt you pretty bad and you’re doing your best to get over it by sleeping around. Or you can continue not to respond.

Sometimes after a particularly hard break up, even if it wasn’t ugly, we just need time off from the person we fell for. It’s the worst feeling in the world, to be separated from the one person you feel could help you deal with the heartbreak, but you’ve got to go through it. You’re dealing with this by filling your time with other people to think about. It’s kind of a blessing that your ex went out of town, because you’ve automatically got some of the physical space you need. Although she’s apparently not taking the steps to get over you that she should be (c’mon, girls — go to Italy and just hook up with a strange Italian man, what could be better?).

It might be a good idea to tell her you’re seeing other people and you need more space. Doing so will mean the emails will probably stop, at least for a while.

But I think the fact that she’ll probably figure it out on her own is good enough. She’s not your girlfriend anymore; you don’t have to tell her every detail of your life. She doesn’t have a right to that information anymore, either, whether she still wants it or not.

While I’m here, I should probably point you to my blog about getting over it. That seems to be what you really need in this situation, anyway.

11
Nov
10

le book club divorce

Reader M. E. writes:

I just went through a pretty nasty break up with a girl. She has some really cool friends that I still want to hang out with. Actually, as weird as it sounds, she got me hooked on this really great book club that meets once a week, and I don’t want to quit going to the book club just because we broke up. I really like the people I’ve met there, and I have a great time every week when I go. It’s honestly the highlight of my week. What do you think?

Dear M.E.:

Are you insane?

And I’m not saying that because a book club is the highlight of your week.

I’m talking about the awkwardness you are going to cause yourself and everyone around you if you insist on continuing to go to an activity where your ex gf will assuredly be, with people to whom she introduced you, and to whom she has probably talked in large amounts about how much she currently hates you.

book club

These people are dead to you now. Image: br3akthru / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here’s the deal in bad break ups: the only classy way to go through one is to relinquish any non-mutual-before-you-dated activities, friends, or places to the ex, especially for the first few months. If she had a favorite bar she introduced you to, tough cookies, pal, you should take it off your list. I’m not saying you can’t go anywhere in town anymore, but if she had an absolute favorite dinner place she took you to, you should probably eschew going there for a while. Even if her friends actually want to still be friends with you, the right thing to do is cut ties as much as you can without being uncivil. Sure, stay Facebook friends with them. Hang out with them in casual settings and say hi to them when you run into them in public. But do not deliberately show up in a place where your ex is supposed to be and hope her friends are going to choose you over her. Because that is exactly what you’d be doing by going back to that book club. And that is terrible.

The fact is, in break ups, and especially really bad ones, one ex must demonize the other ex entirely, or it’ll just hurt too much. One of my therapists once told me I should just have ex-bashing sessions with my friends to help me get over the break up. You are officially a monster now, and the whole book club has probably heard it. Showing up to the book club knowing full well that it is your ex gf’s activity and that she will probably be there only makes you more of a monster. Why would you want to be so monstrous? And why would you want to hang out with a bunch of people who now officially get an earful as often as possible about how much of a monster you are?

It’s hard, I know, but if the break up is really as bad as you’re saying it is, your presence at the book club is going to be awkward for everyone there, not just you and your ex. Why drag yourself through the drama? I’m sorry to say it, but you lost the book club in the divorce.

I’d like to think that we are all adults, and the adult thing to do after a break up is just carry on with life as we know it. That would be an ideal world. We don’t live there. Save yourself a lot of drama and awkwardness and whatever other bad things could come your way, and be the bigger man. It is far more adult of you to relinquish this book club than to make everyone uncomfortable and angry by insisting that you get what you want all the time and nobody else’s feelings matter.

The bright side is: there are plenty of book clubs in the library. And even if that’s the only book club in town, you should be able to find a new activity that will satisfy your social needs without having to drag those book club friends (not to mention your ex) through your mucky drama. If her friends were the only people you were friends with anyway, you’ve got bigger problems than thinking a book club is the highlight of your social week.

18
Oct
10

ex communication

Reader A. B. asks:

My ex-girlfriend and I kept up communication after we broke up, mostly over IM. Last week I noticed that her name never popped up as “online” on my buddy list, and I haven’t heard from her via text, so I have a sneaking suspicion she’s blocked me from her chat list or something. I can’t decide if I should text her to see what’s up or just let it be. What do you think?

Dear A.B.:

As always, I’m going to recommend you consider your own feelings here, rather than those of your ex, because frankly, you’ll never know what she’s really thinking.

So how do you feel about not talking to her?

I think you’re probably being a bit paranoid. Maybe she’s just been on vacation or something and hasn’t turned her IMs on.

blocked

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

If you are genuinely concerned that she may be in the hospital or kidnapped or something, by all means, send her a text to check in. But keep in mind that this kind of genuine concern could communicate more to her than you mean to, namely that you’re still interested in her. She may take it as a sign that you want to hang out again. She may think you’re interested in rekindling things. If you’re not totally opposed to that awkwardness coming up, then go for it.

But if you’re not looking to respark a flame, you might hold back a bit. If your concern is actually just curiosity, remember: that shit kills cats. As her ex, it is actually your duty NOT to be all up in her business all the time. I know, being exes can be complicated, and it’s hard to just let go of someone that you’ve really cared about, especially if it was for a long period of time and the break up was amicable. But checking in on her is not always the right thing to do, especially if you’re trying to let go of something that was pretty serious.

Of course, calling her out on the lack of communication will put your mind at ease, regardless of what the reason is. If she doesn’t want to talk to you anymore, she’ll tell you, so you can forgo all the worrying about it being a fluke or an emergency. Or you’ll feel like an idiot when she tells you she just moved and doesn’t have internet access for the time being.

Another good way to get around this is to check with a mutual friend, if you have any. It’s a sly workaround, but it works. You have to trust the friend, of course, because if they go running to the ex telling her you’re asking about her, it’ll ruin the workaround entirely. But a good friend may know what’s up, or if she’s been saying she doesn’t want to talk to you anymore, or if she’s in the hospital.

I say if you really want to keep her in your life, talking to you, man up, and ask her what’s up. If she’s really, seriously hell bent on ignoring you, she won’t tell you anyway. Then you’ll know for sure it’s over, too. Which is, in my mind, the bigger question here.

10
Sep
10

girls with boyfriends

Reader D.K. writes:

I went to a party this weekend and met a very beautiful woman. She was a professor and studying to get her PHD. We talked for most of the night and eventually she said, “You seem like an interesting person, I’d like to get your number so we could talk more.” I didn’t even have to ask for hers! No sooner did she do this than her bf walked up. He was a really tall skinny drink of water. And while I’m no prize myself I was clearly better looking than he. Question is, should I follow up on this or should I steer clear of some potential drama?

Dear D.K.:

My immediate answer is: steer clear of the drama! One of my personal rules is that I won’t get involved romantically with someone who is in a “committed relationship”, whether it’s bf-gf, marriage, or whatever in between. Even open relationships are off limits to me most of the time, just because I don’t want to deal with the drama. I have no problem with other people doing whatever they want, but I personally will refuse to be “the other woman” in any situation. I also don’t have a competitive bone in my body, so if a guy expresses that he even likes another girl, he is all hers in my head.

That said, your own morality must dictate your actions here. If you feel you can withstand the kind of drama that is inevitably going to result, and you have no qualms being “the other guy”, go for it.

Magical

I'm sure she's magical. Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Keep in mind that she may just want to be friends with you. This is one of those “When Harry Met Sally” moments, where I have to explain to you that some ladies just want to be friends with a guy, and you respond that guys can’t be friends with girls because in reality, the guy just wants to sleep with the girl. Just because you’re interesting (and better looking than her current partner) doesn’t mean she’s definitely got her eyes set on you for any purpose beyond just getting to know you. Especially if she was willing to get your number at a party where her boyfriend was also in attendance.

Furthermore, unless she gave you her number, she’s the one in control here. You might not even have the chance to pursue her. If she wakes up Monday and realizes getting your number implied something she didn’t mean, she may decide never to call you in the first place.

Keeping this in mind, if you do decide to pursue things with her, you might want to clear the air from the beginning to see what she’s after. Ask her if she intended her advances to be seen as romantic or just friendly, because you noticed she had a significant other at the party. You’ll probably figure out what she’s after pretty quickly without having to ask, but it may be best just to know up front so you don’t spend months chasing after a girl who isn’t playing chase. She may be in that relationship for the long-haul, and you may have no idea what you’re actually up against. Your best route here is to ask her.

Maybe you’re the competitive sort, and even if she has no intention of breaking it off with her bf, you’re going to pursue it romantically anyway. I can’t understand the reason you would put yourself through that sort of hoop-jumping and heartache, but if splitting up couples is your thing, have at it.

One piece of warning here. I’m going to grab a quotation from Othello on this one: “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:/She has deceived her father, and may thee.” That’s Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, warning Othello that if his daughter is capable of deceiving her father, she may very well deceive her husband, too. My take on this is: would you trust a woman who left another man for you, not to leave you for another man? Just something to consider. Maybe you are better looking than her current bf, and maybe you’re more interesting, too. But I doubt you’re the most interesting or good-looking guy she’s going to come across in her life.

Good luck, whatever route you decide to take. She sounds charming and fun, and you may just get a great friendship out of the deal. Maybe she has some hot, actually single friends you could snipe, too — you never know.

08
Sep
10

sad in st louie

Dear Kat,
I met this beautiful girl 2 years ago and we started dating. She was an amazing human being. I thought that maybe she was the Trinity to my Neo, you know, The One. Well, this was not to be so and she broke up with me. I was so depressed for months that I did not know what to do with myself. It didn’t help that I was unemployed and verging on homeless at the time. Just as she did things took a turn and life perked up. I landed a good job, found housing and all in all managed to turn things around. And although we remained broken up (we had a lot of unresolvable issues), we managed to stay friends.

The other day we went out together and she snapped some photos that she posted on The Facebook. In the photos I have a huge fake grin that looks like I’m happy, but in reality I was incredibly uncomfortable having my picture taken with her. My friends all think I should never talk to her again, but she’s really not as bad as they think. She’s not very outgoing but I love people and crowds. She told me that the thing that she hates most about me is the way I behave when I’m around people. Anyway, she posted the photos and all her friends back home commented on how pretty a couple we were. She immediately posted that unequivocally we were not a couple. This sliced open old wounds and I am miserable. Should I stop hanging out with her altogether? I thought I was getting better over the break up but apparently I have slid back into misery. Advice?

Sad Sack in St. Louie

My dear Sad Sack:

This is painful for me to read. Sometimes hanging out with your ex can be the most painful experience in the world. My mirror neurons are hurtin’ for ya.

I have always been proud of my ability to be friends with exes. Most of the people I’ve dated have remained my friends — some more close than others. There are a few exceptions, most notably when I was angry or too hurt to deal with the person after we broke up, or sometimes because the other person was too hurt to be my friend anymore.

sad sad sad

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos

I talked with a shrink once about how bad it made me feel not to be friends with someone I was that close to, and he spun it the other way. If you’ve gotten so close to someone that you felt they shared your soul or whatever, of course you’re not going to be able to be half-close to them. Being soulmates is an all-or-nothing bet most of the time, and sometimes you’ve just got to take the nothing.

Breaking up requires a period of mourning. As I’ve said before, you can usually count on your mourning period lasting at least as long as half the time you were together. That can be a very long time to heal. And you may find that you need to sever your ties with your ex to make the healing actually happen.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be friends again later on in life. If it hurts you too much to be around her, and even your friends are telling you it’s bad news, I think it’s time to take a break.

Let her know you need this time off and ask her to respect your boundaries. Block her on Facebook for a while so you don’t have to see news feeds about her — you don’t have to defriend her per se, but just make sure you’re not getting pictures and updates every ten minutes about her. Ask her not to call you. Take her number out of your phone. Tell your friends about it and they’ll jump in to support you.

You can set yourself a goal of a few months (or half the time you two were together, if you want to be really official), or just make it an open-ended moratorium until you feel better enough to talk to her again.

Think of this process as peeling a bandaid off. You can do it real fast so it hurts all at once, or you can do it slowly and prolong the pain. You’ve already broken up, which is the wound under the bandaid. Seeing her again is the adhesive. Okay, lame metaphor, but you get the idea. Not seeing her will probably hurt a helluvalot, but seeing her and having these little pins stick into you every few weeks is the other option.

You are probably going to see her in public, especially if you have mutual friends. I’ve already written about what to do if you see your ex in public, but my best advice in this arena is to limit your exposure to her as much as possible. You’re the one who needs the space, or else she would have taken it herself. So you’ve got to be the proactive avoider. I know, it sucks having to limit your social life, but it’s for your own good. Avoid the bars she goes to; don’t attend events that she’s been invited to; find new places to go. Don’t go places that remind you of her, either, as hard as that can be.

Also, it sounds like you’re starting to realize she’s not perfect: you said she’s not very sociable. She actually criticized your personality, which isn’t a very nice thing to do. Try making a list of things that aren’t great about her, stuff you probably missed when you were in your swoon stage. Everyone has flaws. Perfection is just in the eye of the beholder. Bust through that membrane and concentrate on the traits that make her somewhat unbearable. Ask your friends for help. It’s not character bashing just for the sake of character bashing — you’re trying to get over it. This can help.

As usual, you know deep down what you need. I think forced breaks are fabulous ideas. People you love are a hard habit to break, but when the bond has been broken, you’ve got to do your best. It’s like quitting smoking. Hard now, but so good for you in the long run.

17
Aug
10

more ex-etiquette

Reader C. D. asks:

Is it appropriate to ask your friends not to tell you when they see your ex? It seems like there is such an inclination to say, “Hey! I saw (insert asshole’s name) at the bar on Saturday.” The truth is, I don’t want to know because then I start wondering, “Who was he with? Why was he out? Was he with a girl?” Or should I just accept that my friends will see my ex and will continue to tell me they saw him because we are in the same social circles?

Dear C.D.:

I think it is perfectly appropriate for you to ask your friends not to tell you when they see your ex.

However, they will probably forget that you’ve asked them and tell you anyway.

Part of being human is that we want to share stories that excite or titillate us. Seeing your ex is a piece of drama that may just be too irresistible to let go, especially if the person doing the seeing thinks your ex is an asshole, too.

I’ve heard it many times myself: “Oh ugh I just saw your horrendous asshole of an ex at some bar with his horrible new girlfriend!”

I don’t want to know he’s alive and well and has a new girlfriend, regardless of how ugly she is. If you see him in a terrible accident or being mauled by dogs, by all means, let me know. Otherwise, keep his happy goings-on to yourself, kthx.

Of course, I just smile and nod. “Yes, she must be horrible to date him, huh.” And we all laugh.

Even though it hurts to know he’s still living and breathing and capable of doing fun things, remember that your friends are just telling you because they care. When they see him out, they think of you, whether you like it or not. They want to tell you because it’s on the list of things they know you care about. Friends who really care about us are like living Google news feeds. They make lists of things they know we care about and then give us the news feed, whether it’s going to hurt our feelings or not.

I’ve had a similar problem with an ex and not wanting to hear or see anything about him, which is particularly difficult if you have some of the same Facebook friends. Nothing quite like going to post that you like someone’s status and seeing that your asshole ex already has. I don’t want to have my name on the same page as his. Why don’t my friends recognize this? How are they still friends with someone who was so clearly awful?

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know this is what you'd really like to do. Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But you can’t ask people to defriend others on Facebook, regardless of how much of an asshole said ex was to you and your family (and continues to be, for the record).  Just like you can’t ask your friends not to go to bars where your ex may show up.

So what I did was I blocked him. When you block someone on Facebook, you don’t see anything they post on other peoples’ pages, or anywhere on Facebook. Sometimes this can be quite funny, as when someone responds to something he’s written on one of their posts, and the response now looks like it was made to thin air. Thus I have made lemonade out of lemons. I have turned what was once a stomach-turning event of rehashing all the horrible things he’s done and continues to do into a funny scene, like watching a drunk bum talk to himself.

Of course, there is no “block” button in real life. And while you can tell your friends that it hurts your feelings to hear anything about him, you are going to have to steel yourself against the inevitable: they are going to see him and want to tell you about it. In fact, you may have to deal with actually seeing him yourself one day.

So let’s find you some lemonade punch to make. Maybe even a champagne punch with lemon zest.

Here’s how:

Be so fabulously happy in your own life that it doesn’t matter if he’s out with someone else. This takes time and practice and a straight face. Sometimes you have to act the part before you actually believe it. It will take time to stop caring about him. And you may never fully stop. But at some point there are going to be things that are more important. And that is what matters.

Start laughing if your friends tell you they’ve seen him out. Pretend they are drunk bums talking to themselves. Tell them you didn’t really want to know, but thanks for thinking of you. And laugh. If you can’t laugh about him or at him, laugh at how silly the situation is. Better yet, find something really funny that always makes you laugh, and laugh at that. Mine is a Strongbad Email from homestarrunner.com about writing a children’s book. If I need to break myself out of a mood, I simply say to myself: “No two people are not on fire.” Instant giggles.

And in time, the sting that he’s still out and about with all his limbs in tact hurts less because I’ve got my own life to live. And you do, too.

Of course, you could just dump all your friends and move to an exotic locale where no one knows you.

But that’s a bit over the top, don’t you think?

11
May
10

ex etiquette

Reader S.J. asks:

I’m getting a divorce and I really don’t ever want to see my ex again. However, I live in a small enough town, and we have similar enough interests, that I will assuredly run into him at some point. What should I do when I see him?

Dear S.J.:

I tried to make this into a flow chart, but it didn’t work out. There are just too many factors that go into it.  I’m going to give you a couple scenarios. It’ll be like choose your own adventure.

NB: Some of these are really bad ideas. Bonus points for whoever can identify the really bad ideas.

1. Are you alone? Yes –> Do you feel sexy? –> Yes –> Is your ex alone? –> Yes –> Do you really hate your ex? –> Yes –> Does your ex owe you money? –> Yes –> Are you in a private setting, like a party? –> No –> Punch your ex in the face and walk away

2. Are you alone? Yes –> Do you feel sexy? –> Yes –> Is your ex alone? –> No –> Do you really hate your ex? –> Yes –> Start up a conversation with the words, “So how’s that infection treating you?”

3. Are you alone? No –> Are you with a date? –> Yes –> Is the date sexy? –> Waaaay sexy –> Is your ex alone? –> Yes  –> Make a point of introducing your ex to your new fling

4. Are you alone? No –> Are you on a date? –> No –> Do your friends hate your ex as much as you do? –> Yes –> Are you in a private setting like a party? –> Yes –> Get your friends to ask your ex to leave.

5. Are you alone? Yes –> Are you feeling confident and sexy? –> No –> Is your ex alone? –> No –> Just leave. You’ll feel better.

6. Are you alone? Yes –> Are you feeling confident and sexy? Yes –> Is your ex alone? –> No –> Do you really hate your ex? –> No –> Have five or more years passed since the break up? –> Yes –> Is your ex looking sexy? –> No –> Go say hi and see how the ex is doing. It won’t kill you.

7. Are you alone? Yes –> Are you feeling confident and sexy? –> Yes –> Is your ex alone? –> Yes –> Do you really hate your ex? –> No –> Have five or more years passed? –> Yes –> Is your ex looking sexy? –> Yes –>Make up and make out. Do it.

The basic idea I’m trying to convey here is that it’s a touchy moment, seeing your ex. Your surroundings can also completely influence your reaction. You’re going to have a rush of feelings — most of them terrible. For the record, I think that, as a rational being, you should be able to tame those terrible feelings and react in a proper manner. So in reality, options 1 – 4 are not options I would promote.  The whole “punching them in the face” thing or embarrassing them may sound like fun, but you’ll feel really bad afterward. And seriously, who the hell is going to get their friends to ask someone to leave a party? Suck it up. The break up is between you two, not everyone else in the world. Be the bigger man/woman. Either ignore them or leave. Those are basically your options.

Should your ex leave? Maybe. But the fact is, you can’t control your ex’s behavior. If your ex isn’t going to leave, and you really can’t stand being in the same room, it’s up to you to change the situation.

As an aside, for those of us that are the uncomfortable ex, it can be very gracious of you to leave, even if you don’t have those same feelings of hatred towards your ex that he or she has towards you. As a general rule of thumb, I try to take the other person’s feelings into account. If I think my presence is ruining their night, I’ll leave and find something better to do. Of course, I’m crazy.

Scenarios 6 and 7 are recommended for a later time. That time will come, trust me. After a lot of time has passed, you may find that you don’t hate that ex so much (or maybe you’ve got a new one to hate more!). If you can’t get your ex to move to Hawaii, just remind yourself that water under the bridge will heal all wounds. Throw in a few other mixed metaphors. That sounds soothing to me.

My last idea in this department is to have a healthy fantasy life. I don’t just mean a healthy sexual fantasy life. I mean all those things you want to do to your ex, like embarrass him in public or beat him up (scenarios 1-4), can take place in your mind. My shrink once recommended that I have an ex-bashing night with my friends. Get together and talk about how crappy the ex is, and then get over it. Water under the bridge, again. And maybe you’ll feel better the first time you see the ex in public.




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