For 5 years, I was in a great relationship with a fantastic woman. Never crazy with infatuation, but never, ever bad. Shared values, great time together, all-in-all great. Story ends when LDR, move to a new city, and new person contribute to my decision to end things. Now I'm not sure what to do and looking for resources, related journal articles, advice from strangers. A lot of details inside.
Relationship background: We had mutual friends in college and began dating right afterwards. For me, there was never the spark/crazy infatuation/crush that often starts things out. Things were just good and easy and happy and continued to be for five years. Love grew. Shared values, shared life plans, shared sense of humor, shared interests. She was my best friend. No compromises. We planned to spend our life together, but weren't in a hurry to formalize the commitment. Sex was never great. Just okay.
What happened: She left our city to begin a two-year grad program in a city 4 hours away. I had one year left of my own program and could not move with her. She had options in our city and in cities that were more convenient, but chose based on program fit. Some resentment occurred immediately. The first year, things were hard for me, and less hard for her. Then, I was offered a job in NYC after I graduated. This fit in with our grand life plan together. I moved with plans for her to follow when class finished.
The transition was hard for me. I was unhappy and isolated. Distance continued to be really difficult. I became close friends with a new woman. Strong, crush feelings developed. While Id noticed other women before, Id never had a crush on anyone else for the entire 5 years. Crush was all the things a crush is: sparky, exciting, intense attraction, close connection, etc. Alarm bells went off. Something was wrong. I asked for a break in the relationship. I started therapy. I started sleeping with the other woman. I broke up with my girlfriend (approx Feb). My new narrative was that we were good companions and friends but weren't meant to be together forever.
Now: Ex-girlfriend is terribly depressed. I am terribly depressed at having caused her this much pain. I have started a new relationship with the other woman. It's going well, but I miss my ex very, very much. I was in a good spot until my ex called 6 weeks ago and asked about getting back together and I realized how devastated she is. I feel devastated too. So guilty, and so sad for our ruined life plan, so sad for her, and I miss her. I know these things are normal. You spend 5 years sharing your every thought, feeling, emotion with someone, of course you're going to miss them. New girlfriend knows about this and has said she can take me "healing." What I dont know is whether I've made a huge mistake. Ex-girlfriend was good and steady and things were great and could have been good forever. I still love her, certainly, and things could still be good, maybe. Things are great with the new girl too, and we also share interests and values (though fewer shared interests) and great communication and she's been my best friend in the city since I've moved, and the attraction is much, much stronger, and I love her too. But did I frame this wrong and let restlessness ruin something great? Or are these feelings of missing and guilt and buyers-remorse just par for the course?
I know that there aren't right/wrong answers and the internet can't solve my problems (which I created), but there's a lot of smart folks out there who might have some insight.
1) Have you ever successfully reconciled with an ex after one of you screwed up and caused a lot, a lot of hurt? How did it work?
2) Any similar situations out there or general advice?
3) Any literature on emotional decision-making anyone can recommend? Sometimes I feel like the rational/logical thing is, and what my head wants, is to reconcile with the ex, while what my heart wants is to be with the new girlfriend.
Maybe I'm just a jerk who screwed up and wants to whine about it. And you can tell me that too.
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