Help me get over my breakup
February 24, 2010 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Break-Up-Filter: I just broke up with my first-ever boyfriend, of two years. I don't really know how to deal or how to react to people when they bring it up. I feel really awful right now and I've never done this before.

We've been dating for over two years. I am 23 and he's in his late thirties. The big reason we decided to end it is because right now, we want different things. He is a serious musician who wants to devote all of his time to mastering his instrument, and is pretty horrendous at time management. I was unhappy with the twice-a-week amount of time we talked / spent together and wanted more. He was unable and unwilling to give me any more time. It's been an ongoing struggle (we've actually broken up once before over the same issue, for about a month) and over the past few days we've both finally come to the conclusion that it isn't worth my unhappiness. It seems especially shitty because when we are together, we are so affectionate and happy and comfortable. It's the time apart that is the issue, and I know it's not going to change. I've tried to be happy with it but I'm just not.

He stayed the night last night and left this afternoon. I've been crying a little, off-and-on for the past few days so my head is puffy and achey. But when he left today, I wasn't out of my mind. I know, I KNOW it's for the best. But as the hours wear on I've gotten more and more tangled up in my mind. I think of myself, sometime in the future, kissing someone else and it makes me sick to my stomach.

I've never broken up with anyone before, he is my first and only boyfriend and I've been with him since I was in college. I know I need to cut off contact, but I am pretty much his only friend and he really thinks that we are going to remain best friends. But, I feel like if I continue to see him (even in a "just-friends" way) I will secretly hold out hope that the timing will change and he will realize that he wants to be with me. Or, that we will fall back into the relationship, because it is so easy and nice. I know that's not whats for the best, but the idea of spending the next three months (or whatever) without contacting him/seeing him at all makes me burst out crying.

And I'm having trouble believing that I will meet someone who is better for me. I never wanted a boyfriend before I met him.

I'm also unemployed right now (whomp whomp) so I have a lot of free time on my hands - which is bad. I'm housesitting for my parents so I will be out of the town we both live in for the next week.

I guess I'm just looking for some advice on how to deal. I took my dog on a long walk today, and I will continue to go on daily long walks. My roommate is great and we are going to hang out tomorrow night. But the idea of telling acquaintances that we are broken up makes me really sad.

I'm sorry this is so long. I've spent the last hour reading old break-up posts and I was just wondering if I could have some guidance on how to get through this. book recommendations? movies? personal experience? I just want some reassurance that this will get better.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Could you ask your roommate to tell your mutual friends for you, and to also tell them to please not bring it up as you're feeling sad about it all? If they're a good friend they'll probably be okay with it, and it'll create a buffer for you.

Sorry I don't have anything more interesting to contribute. Hang in there. :(
posted by Xany at 8:21 AM on February 24, 2010

I'm sorry you're going through this. You're grieving something, and that's hard.

1. Give yourself permission to just be sad for a while.

2. Give it lots of time, and I promise you, absolutely promise, that it will get better.

3. Re-read your favorite, comforting books, and watch your favorite, comforting movies.

4. Do things you couldn't do with him, stuff he didn't like but that you do.

I do recommend time apart. If 3 months seems too long, give it two weeks to start with. I know it seems crazy and hard, but it'll give you time to sort of reassert yourself as yourself and not yourself-with-him. It's so easy to get tangled up just post break-up; spare yourself that rollercoaster.
posted by hought20 at 8:25 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

I just want some reassurance that this will get better.

It will get better - I promise. You just have to give it the time to.

Walks are good, as is hanging out with friends - stay busy with hobbies and treat yourself to the degree that you can afford to (breakfasts out w/the Sunday paper and a beer and a book at a comfortable bar have always been helpful for me.)

I am pretty much his only friend and he really thinks that we are going to remain best friends.

This is not a reasonable belief for someone in his late 30s to have - he's being immature and unrealistic, and you shouldn't allow this to make the process of breaking up any harder than it has to be. Set a firm boundary and keep your distance so that you can work on moving on.

It will be hard, but it's the only way to do it.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:26 AM on February 24, 2010

I promise you it gets easier. Just apply for volunteer positions, keep yourself as busy as possible. I was really sad when I stopped moving. Get in even better shape, go out drinking with people you haven't hung out with since college, whatever you do, just surround yourself with people who love and care about you.

As far as the how to tell people, people tend to give the subject a really wide berth. If they ask how X is doing and you say "oh, we broke up..." and change the subject only assholes will drag it back and interrogate you for tidbits of gossip. It's a pretty good litmus test for friendship. It's less of an issue than I expected it to be.

My final word of advice is to avoid the friendly hookup. It seems like a great idea, "we're friends, we're adults, what's the big deal?" but it ends up just hurting and restarting the healing process.

Just take a deep breath, some days are better than others but I promise you it gets a little easier every day.
posted by JimmyJames at 8:30 AM on February 24, 2010

I'm really sorry. The first real break-up is a miserable thing. But if it had to happen, it had to happen. What's important is to stay strong and always tell yourself that the pain will end, no matter what your heart tells you.

I know I need to cut off contact, but I am pretty much his only friend and he really thinks that we are going to remain best friends.

Well, he's wrong for the time being and if he wants to be deserving of your friendship he will give you the distance you need to successfully recover from this. Which you will. With time. You've already admitted to yourself that continuing having social contact with him will put you into a dangerous place re: holding out hope. That's a big step. Now make it so. Defriend him on your social networks. Wipe his number. Put away the pictures and mementos into a box in the back of your closet. It's the called the blackout, and it is, as far as I can tell, a globally acknowledged if not understood thing. If he has a problem with it, well, then he has a problem with it.

...but the idea of spending the next three months (or whatever) without contacting him/seeing him at all makes me burst out crying.

So cry, cry, cry. Cry your goddamn heart out until you haven't any tears left. It'll help Unlike continuing to have contact with him or repressing your emotions, which will hurt you ten time as much in the long run and make it last just as longer.

But the idea of telling acquaintances that we are broken up makes me really sad.

So will just about everything for a little while. You will see a bag of chips he particularly liked in a store somewhere and you will break down. It's all part of the process. One day they'll just be a bag of chips he liked and not a knife through your heart. But not yet.


Stay as social as you can, when you can. When you need to get the pain out, no matter how much you think it won't stop once you do, it will. So let it out. It is okay to be sad. It is okay to lay in bed in the dark and listen to sad records and think about this person and cry and be sad. Just don't let your emotions control you. When you think "okay, I can stop being sad for a while," get up and go hang out, walk your dog, read a book or watch a movie.

Take advantage of every moment you have that you aren't thinking of him and with an unfortunate snail's pace, those moments will get longer and longer until the time when you are sad becomes the moments and peace is the status quo.
posted by griphus at 8:31 AM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]

It will get better. It will get better faster if you cut off all contact for a couple of months. I won't be the last person in the thread to say that, but honestly, we're all speaking from experience here.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:32 AM on February 24, 2010

Hells yeah, it's going to get better. (it's not this relationship, is it?)

>: But, I feel like if I continue to see him (even in a "just-friends" way) I will secretly hold out hope that the timing will change and he will realize that he wants to be with me.

Yeah, I'd suggest you not continue to see him, even in a 'just-friends' way. It's only going to lead to more angst, more unhappiness, and even if you do get back together with him, he's already shown himself to be a flake- haven't you been through this breakup-makeup cycle before?

I think the first thing to do is to learn to be happy on your own. It's going to be rough at first, but... get him off your mind by doing things you like to do.
You can look back at this guy as a learning experience, and next time you can shoot for someone who's got it a bit more together. But don't go and restart this whole cycle again.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:33 AM on February 24, 2010

You'll be fine. It'll suck for a while, but you 'll get over it.

Take him at his word when he says that he wants to master his instrument and doesn't have the time to devote to building a relationship. When a guy tells you that, he means it.

But he also needs to man-up and accept that broken-up means broken-up. You're not gonna be hanging out, and he needs to go develop more friends other than you. Because he's using you otherwise.

Because it's beastly unfair if he thinks he can get what he wants (companionship, friendship, convenience) when he's not offering what you want (a boyfriend invested in the relationship).

Emotionally, he's using you. And I'm a suspicious monkey who think he's angling for the occasional blowjob "For old times sake". And if you keep hanging out, essentially nothing has changed for him, but you've got even less than you had before.

Plus, if (and when) you run across someone new who could be a relationship possibility, you don't want the ex-BF hanging around.

Tell people "We broke up, would rather not discuss it. Thank you." Then don't. And if people continune to press, getting indignant is appropriate. "I told you I would rather not discuss it". It's not their business.

Best wishes.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:35 AM on February 24, 2010 [7 favorites]

I broke up with a guy I loved for reasons similar to yours. That was in August, and I am only now thinking seriously about dating again. For the first few months, thinking of other guys made me feel awful too.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:35 AM on February 24, 2010

See yourself from imagined retrospect.

Imagine being happier single, or being with someone who makes you happier than he did, in a year or so. Look back, and see youself now, and imagine how it will feel when you know that this is a positive step - because getting out of a relationship which is not working is ALWAYS positive.

So, allow yourself to be sad, but do not allow yourself to despair, or think that it will not get better, because it absolutely will, absolutely. And until then, your friends, your family, your friendly mefites, and time will help you along.
posted by greenish at 8:36 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

It will get better. Trust me. Not only better than now, but better than ever before in ways you can't possibly have guessed.

For now, feel the pain, experience it totally, feel alive. Cry, rant, rage, lose your mind. Watch heartbreaking films. Listen to the saddest music.

Don't be tempted to look back.

When you are ready, slowly, lovingly, you will emerge into a new reality. You will try new things, luxuriate in being free from the frustrations of your last relationship. Happiness will spread inside you like the warmth of a summer morning.

And you will find someone who wants to devote more time to you than their musical instrument.

It will take time, but you will get there. I went through this last year. MeFi mail me if you want details/support.
posted by Conductor71 at 8:36 AM on February 24, 2010 [5 favorites]

But, I feel like if I continue to see him (even in a "just-friends" way) I will secretly hold out hope that the timing will change and he will realize that he wants to be with me.

psst . . . this is far more likely to occur if you don't continue to see him.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:39 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

A 2-year relationship that's the first relationship of your life is a huge deal. So, it's inevitable that you'll feel this way shortly after the breakup, especially when it's due to a discrete issue and the relationship was largely positive otherwise. Your feeling that "I'm having trouble believing that I will meet someone who is better for me. I never wanted a boyfriend before I met him" is understandable considering what an important, formative experience this has been for you. But the fact that it was so formative also means you're now much better at being in a relationship than you were when you got together with him, and you probably have a much better sense of who you're compatible with. So, there's every reason to think that when you enter another relationship in the future, not only will the other person be as good as your ex, but he'll be better, because you'll know things like, "I need someone who prioritizes seeing me on a regular basis." And you'll be better at all sorts of relationship-y things without even thinking about them.

None of what you're describing sounds unusual or problematic. I'd say this even if you had broken up a year ago. If you still feel this way a year from now, that would be more of a problem. But you just had your first breakup today? I'm amazed that you're even together enough to write a coherent, multi-paragraph statement like this.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:49 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

this is far more likely to occur if you don't continue to see him. (Ironmouth)

But you shouldn't think about that! Focus on yourself for now. Tell him that you need space for a while, and don't contact him for several months while you work on taking care of you right now.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:51 AM on February 24, 2010

I'd say this even if you had broken up a year ago. If you still feel this way a year from now,

Sorry, that first "year" should have said "month."
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:51 AM on February 24, 2010

What griphus said re the Blackout is true. In addition to defriending him, block him on social networks and chats to the extent possible. Explain that it's to help you recover. The blackout is important. You can't stop yourself from googling him or whatever (or at least I can't, but then I google everyone I've ever known so at least I can tell myself it's not just b/c they're exes...), but at least you won't have to see pictures of him and you'll know he can't see pictures of you, or status updates, or .

Eventually you'll probably unblock him, but for a few months I think it's a good idea to isolate yourself from him so you'll re-explore all the other awesome people out there, whether you know them yet or not. This eliminates the comfort you've derived from him. Being uncomfortable and feeling disconnected is an important part of healing, because it forces you to get out there and engage with other people. Remember that and it'll be a lot easier to suffer through.

Also, note that it's actually a *good* thing you only saw him a couple times a week in terms of recovery time. The love hormones are a lot harder to dampen if you've been living with someone or seeing them all the time. You will feel bad, emotionally, but you can comfort yourself to think that other people have felt this pain and probably worse as well and have moved on.

Be picky with the next person you get involved with, and keep all the lessons you've learned with this man in mind, and I'm sure you will find someone who fits you better.

Also, right after a breakup is a GREAT time to meet new friends. The slightly teary-eyed "oh I just broke up with my boyfriend so I'm getting out and making new friends" will get you a lot of sympathy and will make people feel comfortable with you (because you've exposed yourself emotionally) and they might even share their own breakup stories with you or help you meet new potential love interests once the time is right.
posted by lorrer at 9:03 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been crying a little, off-and-on for the past few days ... I KNOW it's for the best ... as the hours wear on I've gotten more and more tangled up in my mind ... I think of myself, sometime in the future, kissing someone else and it makes me sick to my stomach ... I'm having trouble believing that I will meet someone who is better for me.

When I broke up with my first real boyfriend, of two years, when I was 20, I felt exactly like this. Except instead of crying off and on, I was crying pretty much nonstop all day from in my bed for the first few days. And off-and-on for the next few weeks. I would watch movies about lovers who couldn't be together and pined for each other the rest of their lives, and got myself really freaked out and despondent. I, like you, hadn't done much dating since I rarely found guys I was that interested in. I was certain I would be in love with him, miss him, and be constantly staring at my phone hoping he'd just call me, until I died.

Three months later, I was dating someone new. Six months later, I was able to see my ex as friends without (many) pangs. A year later, he started dating someone new and I didn't feel like crawling into a hole and dying like I'd thought I would. It's now been 5 years, we hang out every once in a while when we're in the same city, but I could not imagine ever wanting to date him again, and I can barely even remember what I was thinking when I was in love with him.

So, just be patient. If you let it go away, it'll go away, I promise. It might actually help to keep a diary, because then you can see this process happening in a concrete way.

the idea of spending the next three months (or whatever) without contacting him/seeing him at all makes me burst out crying.

Well, you don't have to do this. The more time you spend still in contact with him the longer it'll take to move on, but you can still detach slowly. In the beginning of my breakup my plan was to only let myself talk to my ex for an hour on Sundays. I planned to whittle that back even further, but what ended up happening over time was that I actually eased up on it because I felt myself moving on, so it was okay. Just whatever you do, don't get physical with him because that'll really fuck with your mind and it's not fair to you.

I know I need to cut off contact, but I am pretty much his only friend and he really thinks that we are going to remain best friends.

This is what would make him happy and make his life easier. At this point right now, it happens to come at the expense of what's good for you. I think his wants/needs should not overrule what's good for you right now. Why don't you? FFS, you guys broke up because he made it clear that what's good for him right now overrules your wants/needs.

Other than that, I agree with everything Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey said.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:31 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Try not to fantasize too much--about 'what if we got back together' type scenarios. When you catch yourself fantasizing, just focus on the here and now.
posted by stray at 9:49 AM on February 24, 2010

Do everything you can to take care of you. Take advantage of the fact that, since you're unemployed, you have time to take long walks, naps, bubble baths, rambling car rides, reread favorite books, have friends over for potluck dinners. Fill up your time however you can, because the passing of time is what will ease the pain and give you perspective.

I felt this way not after my first 'serious' relationship, or even my second, but after my third. It hurt like heck and took me a few years to get over it. And then I met and married my future ex-husband. I know it feels like you'll never find 'someone else' but trust me, you will. Someone who takes your wants and needs into consideration, which is what you deserve.
posted by noxetlux at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2010

Everything that griphus said, x100. Mourning is a natural part of the process.

Listening to this episode of This American Life, about breaking up, was quite therapeutic.

But the idea of telling acquaintances that we are broken up makes me really sad.

It took me nearly a month and a half to get those words "We broke up" out of my mouth after my most recent break-up. Only close friends really knew. Casual acquaintances would ask me how he was, I would say, "He's fine." And that was it.

It will get better, I promise. Live in the pain and the grieving and the mourning now. To quote Leona Lewis' awesome breaking up song, "Better in Time":

Thought I couldn't live without you
It's gonna hurt when it heals too
It'll all get better in time
Even though I really love you
I'm gonna smile cause I deserve to
It'll all get better in time
posted by so much modern time at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2010

The fact that he seems to think it's no big deal for you two to be friends after what was, to you, the most significant relationship of your life so far is yet-another-sign that he wasn't that into the relationship. The less committed person during a breakup always thinks (probably sincerely) that being friends is no big deal. You'll probably feel some guilt about rejecting this friendship for now, because you're supposed to want to be friends with everybody, right? Always remember: It's a trap. When I broke up with my long-term girlfriend, I wanted to be thoughtful for her recovery. I made a point to let her know that I would be around if she had any questions or if we had to resolve anything, but I also let her set the pace and initiate contact on her schedule. I was mature enough to hold back during those times when I was lonely and wanted someone convenient to reach out to.

I have a premonition that you'll probably get a booty call in the upcoming weeks. It's a trap! "Best" case scenario is that you get back together and in a few months end up exactly where you were before. Likely case scenario is that you'll feel confused and lame for giving in.

You should be proud of yourself that you were strong enough to stand up for what you need out of a relationship. There are a heck of a lot of unhappy, passionless people in the world who never had the strength to see beyond their lukewarm boy and girlfriends.

Meditation has helped me in my most recent break-up, although I haven't kept a regular practice and I'd benefit more if I did. I've heard good things about the book Radical Acceptance. I read "How to Meditate" by Kathleen McDonald, and she has MP3s online, too. (

The main reason I mention meditation, though, is because I half stole/half invented a guided meditation that has helped me with breaking up. Your mileage may vary. (I got most of it from this really weird, culty, new agey but intriguing book called, "How to Die and Survive".)

Start with a meditation on the breath. Find a quiet, distraction free place and sit comfortably, possibly in the half lotus position or just in a chair with your feet planted firmly, flat on the ground. Close your eyes or look at a point on the floor. Think about different places on your body working from your feet to your head and imagine letting go of the tension in each of those places. Focus on your breath, either in your chest or in your nose and the sensation of it. If a stray thought enters your head, don't be upset with yourself, but let it pass without reaction, noted but untouched, as if it were a cloud passing in the sky.

Meditate on the breath for several minutes. When you feel clear and relaxed, close your eyes and imagine you are standing in front of a door. On the other side of the door is your ex and if you could get through the door, you would regain everything that you loved about your past with him. Let yourself feel how badly you want to go through the door. Imagine that you are banging on the door, trying the handle, screaming as loud as you can to be let through the door, but it will not budge. Scream in real life if you want!

Now, imagine that you suddenly notice that there are ropes that have bound you to the door. You're trapped by the ropes. You can't move. Can't escape. Notice that some parts of your body are more tightly bound than others.

Realize that you have the power to remove the ropes. In fact, when you decide to remove the ropes, they come off very easily. Let yourself feel relieved that you're no longer tangled and trapped.

When you turn away from the door, imagine that you see a hallway of dozens of doors or more. Walk down the hallway. There are hundreds of doors that you never noticed before! As you walk, look at the doors. Does one seem more inviting or appealing than the others? Walk towards that door. When you try the handle, it turns effortlessly and the door opens easily. Something really great is waiting for you on the other side of that door. As you walk through the door, what do you see? Allow yourself some time to explore this new place or scenario.

posted by Skwirl at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2010 [6 favorites]

I have some advice for a bit further in the future. In a few months, if you're still sad but not incapacitated-sad, go on vacation. Go visit a friend who hasn't met/barely knew your ex, in a place that you and your ex never went. Have an amazing time, see the sights and collect a bunch of new memories that have NOTHING to do with him. Maybe this doesn't work for everyone, but for me it was as if I started a new life. Seriously.

I think everyone else has got the here-and-now stuff covered. It sucks. It really, really sucks, and I'm sorry you're going through it. But it'll get better.
posted by inmediasres at 10:43 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

I found that exercising regulates my funks. Also eating well. It's important to take care of yourself even if at first it seems pointless. Remember that depression breeds more, deeper, darker, depression.

The first break ups are very tricky in life. I think they're even worse if they happen past 20. At 15 you're expected to have dramas, by your 20s there's a feeling of the beginnings more general stabilization in our emotional life. But they (breakups) are part of life. They're useful so that you don't settle into a relationship where you can be potentially abused.

I had the deal of breaking up and getting together with the same person several times. It kinda never worked very well, and the subsequent breakups were even more painful than the first. The reasons we broke up the first time were correct. Trust your instincts.

The dealbreaker here is that you want somebody who spends a lot of time with you and your former partner wasn't into that. It's a situation where you were in completely opposite sides of a spectrum. You have to acknowledge that that's highly unlikely to change. It's not your fault, it's not even his fault, really. But to move forward you have to acknowledge the very basic reason why your relationship stopped.
posted by Omon Ra at 10:50 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

All I know how to do is go ahead and be a mess. About three days after my last serious dumping, I had to attend a serious business lunch, at which I burst into A HUGE SOBBING FIT. Oof. People are remarkably understanding, though, you will find out! I told them "Sorry, recent breakup, let's not talk about it," and we didn't. They were super-nice, and my humiliation did not last. So: ask for what you want and do whatever you want right now. (Not including self-harm.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2010

This American Life.

Perhaps it will help you realize that you're not alone, and that things get better. I really liked this episode.
posted by R a c h e l at 11:07 AM on February 24, 2010

Came into suggest The Break-up Book, especially if you feel alone. A friend used it after her first break-up and definitely raves about it. She said it was most comforting because the book had stories from all kinds of break-up situations (including her scenario) and a section to the effect of "it could be worse."

Like a lot of self-help books, it's filled with activities, so perhaps something to do in your downtime.

Also, I wish you the best, but it will get better, and you will get over him, though it doesn't feel that way now.
posted by alice ayres at 11:34 AM on February 24, 2010

A rebound?

Won't help with the mental/emotional side, but might help with the physical side of things.
posted by TheBones at 11:34 AM on February 24, 2010

I broke up with a serious boyfriend when I was about 23 and I was a total mess for about three months - would go to bars with my friends and start crying, called all my long-distance girlfriends and my mom and talked their ears off about it, was just completely despondent, lost ten pounds from not eating, etc. Three months after that I got a new boyfriend, and then years and years went by and now, ten years later, he's married to a great girl (I went to their wedding) and I live with my now-boyfriend and although I still like him as a person, I would never ever want to date him again. This will pass, I promise. And you will find someone again. I can say this with certainty because every single person I know who went through a terrible breakup ended up dating again.

For now, let yourself cry and eat ice cream and watch bad movies. Go out with anyone who asks you to do anything, even if it sounds boring or not your cup of tea. At worst, it will get you out of the house and around people, and at best, it will take your mind off the breakup for a few hours.

Cut him off completely and expect him to honor that. You're totally right, being friends with him will make everything much harder. Reconnect with your other friends and make new friends, who don't know him and only know you as a fun single girl.

And yes, when you can think about it, a rebound definitely helps.
posted by alicetiara at 1:24 PM on February 24, 2010

I went through a terrible break-up last year, and didn't want to talk about it with anyone. After a few days of people upsetting me by asking about it, I posted a Facebook update reading: "Michael is now single and DOES NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT." That did the trick. Your friends will naturally want to be there for you -- make it clear that the best way for them to support you is to not discuss it unless you bring it up.

You already know this, but it bears repeating: You need to cut off ALL contact with him for at least 3-4 months in order for healing to begin. Had I taken this advice, I would have healed much, much sooner.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:36 PM on February 24, 2010

Yes, it will get better.

A lot of people are glossing over this point, but please, do me (and yourself!) a favor, and don't think about being with anybody new yet. It's a fine thing to think about, when you're ready, and you might test it out now and then (every couple weeks or months, depending on how you're doing) just to see how it feels (and, yeah, booty calls are fine, if you're into that), but give yourself the time you need to grieve first.

In time, it will be easier to see the ways in which the relationship wasn't the best thing for you (to paraphrase what you've said here: he chose his instrument over you, he wasn't willing to give you more time, it was a constant struggle). That doesn't mean he isn't a wonderful person, just that he wasn't prepared to sacrifice much in service to having a wonderful relationship. There are guys who are.

So if and when you want to, yes, you can meet someone again, but until you are ready, try to let that worry go. Just stay in the present, live through the grief, and above all, take care of yourself (it sounds like you already know that means cutting ties for a little while; it's not your job to get him through the breakup, it's your job to get yourself through it).
posted by emumimic at 6:07 PM on February 24, 2010

First, I'm so sorry. Hang in there.

Your instincts are VERY right: I know I need to cut off contact, but I am pretty much his only friend and he really thinks that we are going to remain best friends. But, I feel like if I continue to see him (even in a "just-friends" way) I will secretly hold out hope that the timing will change and he will realize that he wants to be with me.

You will do that, and you will also break your heart over and over and over again. This is not fair to you. He will likely get upset and say that it's not fair, but don't give in. It took me 40 years to learn this truth. Please, benefit from my previous stupidity.

It is not your fault that you are his 'only friend' and it is not your responsibility. You will not heal if you have to see him or talk to him all the time.

The other thing to keep in mind is - you weren't wrong. You need different things in a relationship than he does. I remember when a girlfriend of mine said, years ago, "I need a lot of attention" when talking about relationships - and this is a strong, succesful, independent businesswoman. But she knew what she wanted & needed and eventually found a man who absolutely dotes on her. She wasn't "wrong," no matter what previous guys had told her. Different people want different things from relationships.

Cry. Eat ice cream. Hug your cat. Listen to sad records over and over again. YOU HAVE TO PROCESS THIS. You have to mourn. Your friends should understand this and be willing to help get you through it. I bet they will. Sleep. Sleep lots. It will help. You will cry, and cry again. Your eyes will hurt. You will crave cupcakes. You will need to fall asleep with talk radio on so you don't feel alone. All of this is normal.

I swear to you that it does get better with time. The blessings of being an older lady is that I know this in my bones, all things will pass. It is a comfort.
posted by micawber at 6:52 PM on February 24, 2010

About a year ago I broke up with my girlfriend of 2years. One of the most difficult times in my life. Like you I was unemployed and struggling to find out what I wanted to do with my life. Everything seemed to be closing in on me and I felt terribly alone.

For now you will be sad and cry. Let it be.. That's ok.... Take it one day at a time and you will eventually move on. Just do anything you can to keep your mind distracted. TV and Video Games helped me.

Oh, and I'm in agreement with others when I say, cut off communication for awhile.
posted by Wanderer7 at 9:21 PM on February 24, 2010

I've been through two bad break ups. It really, really does get better. Just believe that. The best advice I have is to keep yourself busy. Really, really busy. Volunteer. Go hiking. Go to meet ups. Whatever you can find. Just don't sit around by yourself. The second piece of advice is to really and truly break off contact. Your ex will be fine, but you need the space to heal. good luck.
posted by bananafish at 9:57 PM on February 24, 2010

Post my break-up post...I had some ups and downs but can honestly say, it being a year later, that is DOES get better.

Seriously, I can't give you the magic formula, just take it day by day and work on doing things that make you happy and feel good. Appreciate a beautiful sunny day, take a day trip somewhere else, go visit a friend from college, attend a mefi meetup (hi bananafish!) Busy yourself doing new and different things and make an effort to go out and meet new and different people - not with an eye towards a relationship - but just to make new friends.

And I have to "second" cutting off contact. My ex wants us to be friends and I did try, but (for reasons beyond the breakup) I can't be friends at the moment. I had to cut off contact as much as possible because I always ended up feeling awful when we did spend time together. It's okay to cut off contact, it's not the end of the world, you just need to get to a place where you can be okay with it being over.

Before you know it, everything will be okay. Promise.
posted by buzzkillington at 3:35 PM on February 26, 2010

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