Why can't I get over this breakup?
August 20, 2009 9:44 PM   Subscribe

The break-up was the logical, sane conclusion to my doubts about my ability to stay faithful. The relationship of a few years did not have a future in a happy marriage--I needed more experience and growth, she needed growth, period. So why, over half a year after I broke it off, am I still wondering if I made the right decision? Why can't I get her out of my head?

The relationship was very good, the break-up was messy and hurtful. We've only really had total silence for the past month or two (four months after we were still talking fairly regularly, a bad idea in retrospect). I'm trying to move on, but am having a terrible time of it. I need some kind of coping strategy--I've been really busy with work, but haven't had much time for a social life or dating since I just moved to a new area. Is this normal? Can I get advice from anyone who has found themselves unable to let go of a relationship even when they knew it was not a good idea?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've been really busy with work, but haven't had much time for a social life or dating since I just moved to a new area.
This will surely be the key - since nothing new has come along since, it's hardly surprising that your thoughts are preoccupied with 'what might have beens' from your last relationship, particularly where the actual relationship itself was good albeit by your measures ultimately untenable.
So, make all the time possible for a new social life; if you can get that going, time will do the rest. As for coping, I'd say don't worry about the nostalgia, let it come, it's natural, just don't wallow in it or self-pity as that's not going to help you move forward.
posted by Abiezer at 9:56 PM on August 20, 2009

What Abiezer said. You need somebody else to focus on. It's like when your Xbox gets the red ring of death, so you send it away to Microsoft, and there's this dust-bordered square on the shelf where it used to be, and you stare at it longingly and think about all the noobs you could be teabagging at that very moment, but alas, alack, and you wonder what the hell it is you used to do with your life before she came along, maybe you go pick up a book or take a walk outside, but it isn't enough, there's still that hollow churning inside you, nothing seems to be working, you stagger through the world like an old plastic bag on an updraft or something, and fuck it I'm buying a PS3.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:09 PM on August 20, 2009 [31 favorites]

I hope you're getting some counseling about this, as a "very good" relationship that "did not have a future in a happy marriage" and made you doubt your "ability to stay faithful" are somewhat conflicting. Obviously, this relationship has passed, but it sounds like the "logical, sane" thing to do may be to deal with some of those emotions. Maybe that's what you mean by needing more experience, but if not, you should consider it. One reason you might be returning to the relationship a lot in your head is because you don't understand your own emotions very well.

I agree with the others about your social life and activity, and I also think that you can't expect your feelings for her to just magically disappear after only a month of [true] separation. People have lots of reasons for still talking to their ex(es), but very few are reasonable. What was your reason?

In a way, you'll never know if you made the right decision, but then is there a right decision when it comes to relationships? I can think of a million and one wrong decisions, but I can't really think of a right one, considering there are so many fish in the sea and so many ways to make or break just about any relationship.

To be honest, I think you're still going through the grieving process, and so time will be the best pain medication. Three years is a long time, especially when you've continued to hang on to the remnants of your relationship after the breakup up until a month ago. Time and distractions.
posted by metalheart at 10:46 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Seconding time and distractions. Break-ups are hard, even when they're a good idea. When I broke up with my ex, I knew it was the right thing to do, but it took a long time before I was completely "over" him. Some people just stick with you, but isolating yourself socially and wallowing in those memories isn't going to help. The sooner you can get out into the world and start meeting new people, the better off you'll be.
posted by Diagonalize at 11:01 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

You haven't found anything better yet, that's all. You will.
posted by Billegible at 11:26 PM on August 20, 2009

The break-up was the logical, sane conclusion

Words to live by.
posted by philip-random at 11:29 PM on August 20, 2009

Maybe it wasn't such a great idea. Maybe it was. This is one of those things that you won't know for a few years yet.

I don't know, perhaps you could get back together with the expectation of reasonable non-monogamy on your part. Probably not, and if not, you have to accept that what's done is done and live your life day-to-day in the present and not in the past or the future.
posted by kathrineg at 6:03 AM on August 21, 2009

If it's meant to be, it'll happen. You might run into her 20 years from now after you've both grown a bit and realize you were meant to be together.

For now, just do the things you need to do to get the experience and growth you feel you need.
posted by bink at 6:42 AM on August 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure that the answer is just to "find someone else" -- sometimes it just takes a lot of time to get over things, particularly if the relationship was intense, if it was something you hoped would last, etc, etc. it's hard to let go of that base, emotional attachment. it's completely normal.

in the meantime, focus on you, and do things you like to do. remember all the things you loved before that relationship? do them. even if it's just realizing you have time to read again, or watch UFC or, screw it, lifetime movies.

over time it will fade. it will just really take time, and you need to know that and be okay with it.
posted by unlucky.lisp at 9:24 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

in my opinion if you've only had total silence for a month you've only been broken up for a month.

that isn't to say that i advocate not speaking to an ex. far from it, i'm friends with almost all my exes or at least friendly. for the most part they're awesome.

but i also think you need time to heal and for me that's meant a complete break from the person until that happens, then slowly reintegrating them into my life in a new context.

i don't end relationships over my inability to not be interested in other people, though. i just view that as normal and have open relationships instead
posted by groovinkim at 1:26 AM on August 23, 2009

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