How Do You Deal with a Surprise Breakup?

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader:

Dear Em & Lo,

Me and my ex were together for almost 2 years. He broke up with me last month, and I was so shocked and hurt. He texted me while I was at work saying he wanted to talk to me that night about some things that had been on his mind. We started talking and at the beginning of our conversation it almost seemed as though he was asking me to fully move in with him (I lived there 4 days out of the week), but by the end of the conversation he said he felt he would be a better friend than a boyfriend. I couldn’t believe it, I was so surprised. He hadn’t shown any signs of it, but said that he had been feeling like this the last few months and was starting to feel like he wasn’t IN love with me anymore. Not even 3 weeks before was my birthday and we went away with my friends and I had never felt as loved by him than while we were there!

The one thing that really mad me upset is that he was not willing to try and work things out at all, even though this is the first I’d heard of any of this. We agreed on being friends, and have texted here and there. I don’t want to cut him out of my life but it’s been really hard. I want him to see that he made the wrong choice.

I’m still upset about it and the mornings are the worst time of day. What do you think I should do?

— Shocked and Awed

What should S&A do?
Let her know in the comments below! 


  1. Bummer! I’m sure almost everyone can feel your pain. we’ve all been dumped at least once out of the blue. I agree with the others. don’t look for closure : overrated and near impossible to achieve. don’t try to change his mind : the fact that he didn’t leave any room open for “relationship work” means his was made up. don’t beat yourself up about it — sometimes people just aren’t compatible, that doesn’t make one of you better than the other. allow yourself to feel the pain of it, but don’t dwell on it. try to cull some lessons from it and move on.

  2. My response that I wrote before refreshing and reading Johnny’s 🙂 –

    S&A, my condolences to you. Almost 2 years is a solid chunk of time, and a breakup for a couple that had been in a good place is very painful. Add to that being on the receiving end and not seeing it coming, and it’s that much harder. No one should dismiss your pain.

    Your ex, he sounds fairly un-douchey to me. He could’ve talked to you when he started having doubts, but if he felt like fielding advice from his friends, family, preacher and shrink was the right course for him, I won’t indict him on it. It did make for a big shock on your part, but I don’t believe the relationship handbook has a section about providing a gradual last act. And as far as warning signs go, they’re not all as in-your-face as a Vegas billboard. Inversely, if you feel like cutting him out of your life for now would make it easier for you to navigate this crappy period, I wouldn’t blame you at all. Being consistently exposed to the source of your hurt might not work for you, and he should be respectful if you need to be left alone.

    Now, I know you want him to see that he made the wrong choice, but sentiments like that come from the negative parts of our personalities, and I’d advise you not to feed into it. Whether this breakup was the right or wrong move, that approach won’t help you regardless of what you want. It just makes things more crappy. There was a sitcom a while back where a boyfriend informed Lindsay Price’s character that he was breaking up with her. Her response was, “I don’t accept”. It was funny because, unfortunately, a relationship is over when one person decides it is.

    I should also mention compatibility. The thing about it is, sometimes there’s no huge red flag involved when two people aren’t compatible. In the post mortem, you might not be able to identify anything like bigotry or a bad temper. You could be two nice folks that just didn’t work out. Try not to obsess. It could take a while to get over this; allow yourself that time and know that it won’t last forever.

  3. Ah jeez. That sucks. This is the type of break-up that takes a long time to get over. Unilateral rejection is a tough pill to swallow.

    I’m sorry, but he’s done (you mention his unwillingness to work things out). Delete his number and cut him off. Not angrily, not because anybody did anything wrong, but because having this guy in your life is going to make it harder to move on. It’s about your well-being, and he should get that.

    He may or may not decide that he made the wrong choice – don’t wait for that to happen. If he does come to that decision, maybe you’ll be willing to try again, or maybe you’ll be in a totally different place.

    Good luck.

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