Dear Em and Lo,
My ex boyfriend and I were together for a little over 4 years (I’m in my 20s). For the first three years I loved him so much. I put in so much effort. He was the most beautiful, funny and wonderful man.
But then things got a little rocky. I felt like he took me for granted in so many ways. He lied about little things. He was on Tinder and claimed it was because his mates ran out of swipes (he deleted it, after my best friend found it). While he wasn’t willing to do the same little things for me, I felt resentful and stopped appreciating all the little things he did do for me. I also wasn’t the most amazing girlfriend and made plenty of mistakes myself.
Last year our relationship became long-distance. I had to move for a year and instead of coming with me, he decided to move to a different city all together. Six months into the long-distance situation, I grew tired of him making promises he wouldn’t keep (like saying he would call then never calling, or just not calling me back). I was so scared, but I asked for a break. While really upset, he agreed. I said three months; he asked for six.
I messaged him once after that and he never replied. During the break I felt okay, but looking back I can see I was self-destructive: sleeping with arseholes and burying myself in my work. Four months into this break he changed his relationship status to single and didn’t tell me. I messaged him asking why and he said, “We haven’t spoken in so long, I just assumed we weren’t together anymore.” When I called him, he coldly said he was at work and would call me back — it took him two months.
Basically when he did call he said, “I don’t love you anymore, I haven’t for a long time.” He then said it took him only a month to get over me. This still hurts now.
We finally got to see each other and talk properly around six months ago. Cool, calm and collected, he said he was happier single and wanted to get to know himself. Meanwhile I cried on the inside the whole way through the conversation. After we parted, he messaged me saying I was still so gorgeous and that I was always welcome to talk to him. This fucked with my head.
He moved on so quickly, he seems so happy. I recently found out he is with someone new. I am not angry, but it hurts. It sucks knowing he likes her or maybe even loves her. After a year, he deleted all of our photos together off Facebook, basically erasing completely. I shouldn’t care but I do.
I still struggle. It’s been over a year since we went on the break and six months since we finally broke up properly. I still think about him everyday.
He broke my heart little by little. I haven’t contacted him in six months (self preservation) and he hasn’t messaged me either. How can you be with someone for so long and not even think about them? I wish he had just acknowledged that I meant something and still do.
I guess I just want some reassurance that I’m not crazy!
— Pity Partier
You’re not crazy — breakups totally suck! Especially when the split feels like a run-in with a mack truck to you, but seems like a flitting little butterfly to your ex. But while it’s totally normal to pine for an old boyfriend, staying hung up on one is not great for your mental health or your romantic life.
If he had just acknowledged that you meant something to him and still do, we imagine that would have only given you false hope now about the possibility of an eventual reunion. Even though you might be fantasizing about that scenario right now — saying over and over to yourself “If only…” and “What if…” — we think deep down you know this is not the right person for you.
Just listen to your own letter! He made promises he wouldn’t keep, he took you for granted, he lied to you, he officially broke up with you without telling you, he told you he didn’t love you anymore and hadn’t for a long time, he has a new girlfriend and he says he’s happy.
Why are you still hung up on this guy? Whatever great times you once had — and we’re sure you did — he has clearly moved on from them. Don’t blame yourself for saying you needed a break: it sounds like he basically forced your hand. The relationship was already strained, and the long distance didn’t help. Chances are, if you hadn’t made the first move, he eventually would have. Your ex ultimately decided this was not a relationship he wanted to be in and, from your account, got out of it in a fairly douchey way. In the end he was admirably clear with you that it was definitively over, but the cold, unnecessary turns of the knife along the way — changing his status without a word, saying it was easy to get over you, erasing all your old photos — are revelatory of his character. You deserve better.
That said, could you have been better about communicating your frustrations with the relationship before you moved apart? Most certainly. Rather than using the “break” as punishing incentive for him to be a better boyfriend, should you have instead had an honest face-to-face sit-down (at least over Skype) about the state of your relationship? Fer sure. But the fact that he chose to move to another city entirely suggests that the relationship was already over by then. Think about it: a long-distance fizzle can seem a lot easier and more gentle than a clean break out of the blue, especially after so much time together. So maybe he’s not a total douche, just three-quarters of one.
Try to cherish the fond memories you have of him — when he was beautiful, funny and wonderful to you. But understand that people change. That most relationships aren’t forever, especially when you’re in your 20s. If you can try to learn and grow from past relationships, they’ll make all your future ones even better. And that’s the direction you should be looking in: towards the future.
Not looking back,
Em & Lo