February 23, 2014 10:29 PM   Subscribe

Turns out my ex, who I dated for 4 years before it ended (at my instigation) last October, is engaged. I don't really know how to process it.

We've had no contact since the break-up, and obviously that will continue, although we do work in the same relatively small community, so the possibility of bumping in to each other exists (and terrifies me). I think about her more than I want to - I find myself wondering how she's handling the break-up, if she's still thinking about me, how our relationship looks from this vantage point, etc. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not over the relationship - I find myself questioning whether or not ending it was the right thing to do (mostly I believe it was, and lately I've been consumed with anger that I didn't end it sooner). It generally takes me a long time to let go, to get over relationships, to process things. And I can't help but feel smacked in the face by the reality of this news. Has anyone else had to process anything like this? What can I do to care for myself? I don't want to bog myself down with predictions of how the marriage will play out - I don't want to think about it at all! How can I keep from thinking about it?
posted by fingers_of_fire to Human Relations (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This is your opportunity to affirm to yourself over and over that the woman for you would not be engaged and that the chapter of your life involving your ex is now officially over. Start sending her mental well-wishes any time you find yourself fixating. If you're religious or spiritual, pray. I found it very soothing to go so far as to take time to think to myself, "Universe, thank you for the lessons you taught me while I was with (my ex who also got engage no less than 3 months after dumping me over our engagement). I wish them happiness and peace, and I hope that our paths never cross again so that we may go on with our lives as we each need to. Bless them and their new partner, and help me find mine." YMMV.

This only stings for a bit if you're firm with yourself. I promise.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:55 PM on February 23, 2014 [21 favorites]

I'm sure it'd be better if you didn't think of these things, but if you find yourself overthinking past decisions, I think what sometimes helps in setting them aside is to think of them as things that just happened. You had a need to end that relationship, and so that happened. That's all. If it hadn't happened then, it would probably have happened eventually.

It would also be better if you didn't concern yourself with your ex's future, but if you find yourself overthinking it, I think what helps is switching things up a bit to see the world literally from their point of view. They're in their own place, watching TV, doing things they do, wondering what snack would be good, etc., and generally not thinking about you (maybe a tiny bit, but not with any action items attached). They're just getting by and trying to be happy, come what may, which is good but also at a certain level really boring, because it's what we're all trying to do.

In both cases, I guess what I'm saying is cultivate some sense of the banality and happenstance of these things. Also, if there's something you can do that excites your curiosity or that gives you some sense of success, really focus on that for a while, as much as you can, until you just forget to worry about this other stuff.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:11 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

So this has happened pretty quickly, it's true. But, you should feel reassured that you absolutely made the right choice. You ended it, yes, but it sounds like things couldn't have been good for a long time. (The tail end of which must have been difficult, but, it does take time to understand what's going on when you're in the middle of it. Forgive yourself for that one.) It means your judgement was entirely correct, and that you now have better information about what you need and want in your next relationship. Which is growth, which is good.

If you've been close to someone for a few years, it's normal for it to take a while before you can loosen your grip on your investment in how they feel about you, what they think of you, etc. There's still an urge to "correct" their point of view so it aligns with your own evaluation, even though you know, intellectually, that a disconnect was part of the problem anyway. It'll take time, but distraction will help it along. Do some new things, try a change of scene.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:19 PM on February 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sounds awfully like you didn't get sufficient closure when you broke up. Honest enquiry: is it possible that you didn't expect the breakup to stick?

You might be well served by sitting down and writing yourself a point-by-point list of the reasons why you ended the relationship; get it out of your head and down onto paper. Really get present to the facts of why you ended the relationship; take ownership of having done so. Part of that ownership may include finally acknowledging that her life is no longer your business. Part of that ownership may include feeling like you owe an apology, either to yourself or to her. (If that is the case, feel free to apologise to yourself however you see fit, but be circumspect and considerate if you need to apologise to her; don't go barging in, expecting attention or with an underlying expectation of disrupting her new status quo.) If you feel like you want an apology from her, reconcile yourself to the fact you'll likely never receive it.

I'm not much of a 'goals' or 'ambition' or 'getting dressed before 10am' kind of person, so saying this next bit is a little out of my comfort zone: write another (short!) list of where you want to be in 6 months' time. Personally, professionally, artistically, whatever. Keep it tidy, keep it concise. Burn they key points into your mind; then when you find yourself thinking of her, refocus on where you want to be instead, and how to get what you need from what's ahead rather than what's behind.

It's not magic, but I've found it helps me really form clear, understandable connections in what would otherwise be a cloudy soup of unhappy emotions.
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 11:25 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been through this myself, quite some time ago. I broke up with a girlfriend after a two year relationship because I just didn't feel like it was headed in a strong long-term direction, even though we had a great friendship in many ways. During the breakup, she seemed completely shattered. But within a month she had met someone, within four months she was engaged, and within a year she was married and pregnant.

It was not easy to process, given that we shared a circle of friends, who all went to her wedding and kept up with her closely.

Today I can look back and realize I made the right choice, as I have a fantastic marriage with someone who is extremely different. I can't even imagine life married to that person. Even though she was (and is) a fine person, my life would not be anywhere near as rich as it is now. It sounds like you made the right choice, too.

But at the time, it sucked. I got through it by utilizing some of the things others are suggesting to you in this thread.

Like others are suggesting, I took some time to put my thoughts on paper (but then, I destroyed what I wrote... it helped to sort out my feelings, but was not a wise thing to keep around).

Most helpful was when I came up with a couple of mantras for myself. Whenever I would sink into regret and wondering about the past, I taught myself to say to myself: "what's done is done, there's no reason to keep thinking about this now." Whenever I would slip into feeling envious of how quickly she had moved on, or feeling jealous of her husband, or anger at the situation, I would simply repeat to myself, "I hope things go well for her, and that's all there is to say."

Any time anyone would ask me about her I'd repeat these same mantras. "Did you hear that X is going to have a boy?" "Yeah, that's awesome, good for her! I hope things go well for her."

Time will heal this situation... I guarantee you that. But take some steps to offer yourself some positive reinforcement. And sometimes, thought-stopping is a good thing... stop yourself from slipping into needless destructive negativity by coming up with some positive affirmations that you can bring to the table out of habit.

I know how you feel and I hope your frustrations are calmed soon. Best wishes.
posted by Old Man McKay at 11:39 PM on February 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

What can I do to care for myself?

Hope that they're happy. If you still have any love or respect for your ex left, or for what you had together at one time, or for the love and respect you had for her at one time, you'll wish her the best. Also, if she found someone she's happy with, and has a better relationship with than she had with you, then there's hope that the same thing will happen for you, too, right?

You're probably going to think about it quite a bit and be very sad about it, and miss her. Find a song that taps into that, and while you listen to it, cry your heart out. If you can't take your mind off of her or this new relationship, put on the song and cry your heart out again. You'll feel better and get some release if you let yourself feel the shitty things you're feeling, and having a set way of triggering that release can be pretty helpful. On the other hand, I listen to the radio in the car, and can become a driving hazard when certain songs come on, so -- be careful, too!

To be honest, I still think about my ex who is now married (happily, I have every reason to believe). I regret breaking up with him. I second guess all of it nearly every day, more and more as time goes on. I try to tell myself, well, my reasons for breaking up were valid, I made the best decision I could at the time, there were all kinds of things about him and about the relationship that drove me nuts and probably still would, etc etc etc. But the truth is, I miss him. I've had a couple serious, long-term relationships since then and I *still* miss him. I don't speak to him out of respect for him and for his wife, and frankly, I don't expect to ever see him again. But it still hurts, I still miss him, I still wish we could get back together and try it again. Life just goes in one direction, though. Even if you have regrets, you still don't get a do over.

You can't control your thoughts or feelings, not really. You can control your behavior. So just make sure that you don't act on any of these impulses -- don't reach out to her, don't talk about her, don't *do* anything related to her if possible. That's about the best you can probably accomplish through force of will. The rest is just up to time and luck, I think.
posted by rue72 at 1:00 AM on February 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Plenty of good advice already about dealing with your issues related to the break-up and her quick engagement.

Re the possibility of bumping in to each other exists (and terrifies me):

If I were in your place, I would want such an encounter to be upbeat, brief, and free of any hints (tone of voice or expression) that the situation is making me a little crazy. e.g., "Hi! [optional quick hug]...I'm good [a quick detail or two]...You?...[listen to response]...I'm happy for you, best wishes for your future! [if he is with her, shake his hand and congratulate him]...Must go, I'm running late for [some fun event with interesting people]. You take care now."

Run through this scene in your head until you're confident with the material and if/when you see her, slip into the role.

Suggested comforting mantra during this difficult time: this too shall pass.
posted by she's not there at 1:49 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Life always contains a certain quantity of unpleasant feelings, it's not the unpleasant feelings that get you, it's clinging to them. Let the thought happen but then think about something concrete instead. Go do dishes. Go run. Whatever. At least for me, I've found that putting a lot of time into trying to "process" just makes things linger longer. The best way to move on is to move on--that doesn't mean you never feel crappy about it, but the crappy feelings don't take over your life.

You just broke up in October. I think you are totally allowed to just avoid her in public, even if you run into her. If pressed: "Hey, sorry, I don't really want to talk right now." Five years from now, maybe good manners will dictate that you should manage to be a little more polite, but at the moment, go ahead and blow them off.
posted by Sequence at 2:53 AM on February 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Excellent advice upthread.

I was in a similar situation years ago; after I asked my then-husband of 17 years to leave and as I began divorce proceedings I discovered (because our kids were friends) that he had moved in with another woman and her family.

Although I knew ending the marriage was the only healthy option for me and my children, I was beyond hurt that he immediately moved on to someone else. I spent far more time than was healthy really hammering my brain that I had made the wrong decision and how dare he move on so quickly.

Mostly I was angry.

Anyway, I did exercise and therapy and journaling and yoga and all those helpful things, but what really helped me was to make a pre-emptive strike of happiness towards him that I couldn't take back.

So I emailed my ex that I heard his news and wished them the best in their lives together, and I made that my mantra. "I wish them well...I wish them well...".

Whenever my brain would cycle back to sad/bad/angry thoughts about him, I reminded myself of that email and I was able to really reframe my thinking and feel more positive.

I'd wish her well and see if that clears up some headspace.
posted by kinetic at 3:19 AM on February 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

No contact is good. Keep it up. Cautionary tale ahead, since you asked: I've been the other party - I got married eight months after my divorce was finalized, though we'd been perma-separated for a good long while (only two academics could procrastinate on getting a divorce). My ex and I kept in contact (which was ended way too late). I think having no contact is an excellent way to take care of yourself. I can't emphasize enough that you should continue and really, really don't ever entertain impulses to change that. If you get an invitation or "just so you know" email/call/whatever, just (politely) decline it. Don't give in to any pressure (even if it's just internal!) to be a big person who is friends with their exes and their exes spouses. Put your boundaries above all - there's no award for the person who buries their feelings down the deepest. And be honest with yourself about how you're likely to feel. For god's sake, don't try to be friends with her fiance/fiancee! All those things, while things are obviously still raw and unresolved for you, would be damaging not just to you but likely to her as well.

My ex, M., instigated our breakup as well. We stopped contact. . When I was getting married, M. contacted me and wanted to get to know my now husband in the spirit of being big people, wanting to stay in my life on such a momentous occasion. I think he was in good faith but he ended up really bungling things for everyone. When my husband and I experienced a rocky period (complete with facebook relationship status changes; called off our engagement for 48 hours), M. actually wrote my husband a "comforting" email saying I was an impossible person to get along with (with a list of other reasons I was not likable and why he'd divorced me). We then stopped contact but damn it was hard to receive that email. It still hurts me to think about it. But it makes sense: you are very likely at different places if she is contemplating marriage and you are feeling painful and unresolved.

With that in mind, from my own breakups: Definitely also don't talk to people who know about the engagement/relationship - tell them not to give you the news because you are still recovering. Don't look for pictures. Don't try to find out who the guy/girl is. Resist that internetty urge with every fiber of your being! It will only make you miserable, I promise.
posted by sweltering at 3:42 AM on February 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ugh, I'm so sorry. About six weeks after my divorce, my ex-husband took me out to dinner for my birthday and told me he was getting serious with the girl he dated right before me and they were married within the year. It suuuucks.

Keep doing what you're doing with contact -- none. It's OK to run scenarios about bumping into each other through your head. "Hi ex, how ya doing, oh hey fiance, nice to meet you, congrats, gotta go," and don't stop walking for too long, then get in your car and cry or chain smoke or punch the steering wheel or what have you. I, luckily, have not actually had to execute any of my plans.

As for self-care -- you're doing it. Honestly. In a high percentage of cases, relationships like theirs are fucked up -- but that's not a reward for you. It is, however, a lesson in the self-care you seek. You have to take the time to mourn the relationship, conduct the autopsy, then practice avoiding whatever it was you didn't like about the last relationship when you get out to meet people. And not like meet people to marry next week -- casual hookups, casual dating, finding a girlfriend, whatever you want.

Things that have worked for me to battle invasive thoughts have been journaling and touch-and-release. Sit down and write it all until your hand cramps; describe what was wrong (WRONG, not RIGHT) about the relationship, why you broke up, exactly how the breakup went, how you felt after, when you heard about the engagement and how it makes you feel. As for touch-and-release, Pema Chodron is going to explain that better than I ever could.
posted by mibo at 3:59 AM on February 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well, I handled similar news by picking a fight with my brother. On CHRISTMAS EVE. I wouldn't recommend that.

But what helped in the long run is sort of mentally rehearsing the polite and brief things I'd say if I did run into my ex (as well as letting myself rehearse a couple of the lengthier wish-fulfillment versions of those conversation where I told him off), and....letting time pass. Unfriend her on Facebook if you still have her there, do all of that no-contact stuff, but otherwise.....time. And chocolate. And maybe one emergency cocktail at a bar afterward if you actually do run into her. Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:24 AM on February 24, 2014

I think it's good you are acknowledging how jarring it is. This kind of news always seems to come a few months later, and it feels like a setback. There are reasons why people break up and then quickly marry someone else so often-- they're at a point in life when they want to get married, and the breakup made them realize that, or whatever. But when you are still processing a breakup and find they have moved along so soon, it's a weird feeling. In those circumstances, I've wondered if I was disposable, or a placeholder or something. I like the suggestions about substituting other thoughts/preoccupations and wishing them well (or whatever your best self would do). But also, don't feel bad for having these thoughts or kick yourself for having them. That actually perpetuates them in my opinion.
posted by BibiRose at 5:10 AM on February 24, 2014

profound gratitude, folks, for the wisdom and kindness. This has been a long night.

2 salient points that I ought to have mentioned and that I would really appreciate some feedback on: first, regarding the bump-in - starting in about 2 weeks, we'll be working a block apart from one another. This doesn't guarantee a bump-in, but it will undoubtedly contribute to my stress level as I'm walking between the train and work, and as I navigate the neighborhood during lunch, etc.

Also - I have an enormous amount of unstructured time in my life - I'm a musician, I work nights only for the most part. I know the solution is to DO something (get a job, volunteer, get a hobby) - but my self-esteem is sort of at low-ebb at the moment, it's so hard to think about what to do, how to do it, taking that first step. I'm in therapy, thankfully, but I'll need more by way of filling the time, distracting myself, learning, growing, meeting new people, etc.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 5:12 AM on February 24, 2014

Mostly we've all been there. I know I've been on both sides of this, in fact. The advice above to reframe it in positive terms is golden -- and since you say you will be working near each other, maybe rehearse a short positive sentence in case you run into her. "Congratulations, I was really happy for you when I heard the news, I wish you luck and happiness, oops, sorry, have to run" is a million times better than talking about your real feelings or worse, rehashing your breakup.

but I'll need more by way of filling the time, distracting myself, learning, growing, meeting new people, etc.

This happens by doing it, not by thinking about it. It's totally artificial and feels kind of weird, but you just have to invent shit to do. Schedule things, take classes, make friend dates with people. The good thing is that it gets its own momentum pretty quickly, but the first few weeks really take being intentional about it and just plain finding stuff to do.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:46 AM on February 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Actually this happened to me-broke up with my exfiance, he was engaged in a matter of months.

In my case it reinforced the rightness of my decision to break the engagement.

I wasn't dealing with the proximity issue, so can't be much help there, but other than that you have to remember that you ended the relationship for a reason, and that that didn't change just because they found someone new.

You probably dodged a bullet, and that might be a helpful way to think of it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:54 AM on February 24, 2014

My second-to-last ex broke up with me in one November and got engaged the following April. I got absolutely hammered when they got married that July.

I then moved on with my life. Haven't interacted with her at all since the engagement. Took me a year or so to get over it, but it happens. Taking and passing the bar and starting my first job after law school certainly gave me things to think about in the mean time.
posted by valkyryn at 6:24 AM on February 24, 2014

I've been on both sides of this. I think St. Alia is right. You made a 'gut instinct' move to move on; you should be able to grow to own this decision and recognize that you made the right one. Ideally the best way forward is to wish the best for for your ex - and also think about why doing so makes you feel bad at the moment. I think once you start to wish the best - and this doesn't mean being a cheerleader - all the other stuff will start to fall into place.
posted by carter at 6:26 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Proximity issue - just remember that you have nothing to prove. Even if you run into them in your pajamas and covered in Cheeto dust, and they leave shaking their heads "oh my he looks rough tisk tisk" well fuck em.

But try not to leave the house covered in Cheeto dust.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:27 AM on February 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

Re: proximity, your ex has absolutely no bearing, control, or impact on your life anymore. You don't have to prove anything to her. Seeing her literally means nothing now. Practice saying to yourself, "oh, look, it's my ex. Hello ex. Bye ex" any time you feel like your brain and heart are going triple time with anxiety over seeing her.

She has no power over you so stop letting your mind and body think she does.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:21 AM on February 24, 2014

And you know what? You could even do the same thing I suggested above in my first comment if/when you see her. That way you always have a plan and you'll always be prepared for the eventuality of seeing her. Commit to blessing her from afar, but don't engage with her. At all. Just notice her presence, nod to acknowledge her, and move on as you repeat the mantra that you are glad to not be with her any more.

If you fixate on her you will never open yourself up to the right person. Let it all go so you can heal and be ready for the one who will erase all thoughts of this ex from your mind with all they have.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:25 AM on February 24, 2014

Husbunny and I were engaged within a year of his break up with his ex. Sometimes it just happens that way. He wasn't looking to be in a relationship (far from it) but we connected, and married and are very happy together.

I think what you need to concentrate on is that you knew that you and she weren't going to be happy together, and now you are both free to find the right person to be with.

Find things to do that will keep you from dwelling, or dwell deeply and create music inspired by your angst. (after all isn't that what Gwen Stefani and Alanis Morrisette did?)

At the end of the day, she was never going to be right for you, and what you're regretting now is the idealized version of your relationship, that never really existed.

As for when you bump into her, "Hi. I wish I could talk, but I'm in a giant rush."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:41 AM on February 24, 2014

So, she exited a long-term relationship, and in the space of four months, somehow managed to process the end of that relationship, get herself all sorted out emotionally so she was in a good, healthy place for her next relationship, met someone who seemed compatible, spent enough time with him in a variety of situations to confirm that he was compatible, spent enough time discussing long-term goals and values to determine that they were good for the long-haul, and got engaged?

This screams rebound to me. And for every edge-case where you'll hear people saying they had a happy, healthy marriage that came out of such a short-turnaround courtship/engagement, I think you'll find many, many more where it ends in flames, sometimes as quickly as it started.

I know we're supposed to be all enlightened and wish each other all happiness and all that, but sometimes it helps to be a bit squinty-eyed and skeptical.

Whatever. It's her life. At this point, you are free to wash your hands of any self-imposed responsibility to monitor her happiness (or lack thereof), or to concern yourself with presenting some sort of Cool Guy persona when you bump into her. Allow yourself to react however you see fit in the moment -- ignore her, burst into tears, be a happy-clappy-backslapper...it's all fine. Her opinion of you is no longer your problem. You're free now.
posted by nacho fries at 11:12 AM on February 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

Hey, are you me? I did this exact thing a few years ago - my ex and I had broken up earlier in the summer, but circumstances led to me going no contact in October. He proposed to his new girlfriend on Valentine's Day the following February (owwwwww).

My current SO had the same thing happen to him, actually! His (soon-to-be-official-as-of-tomorrow!!!!!) ex-wife left him last February stating that she didn't want to be married, and was engaged 7 months later to someone else. That one was like twisting the knife, although, to be fair, he is in a relationship with me now after the same amount of time . . .

It hurts. It hurts so bad, and what you need is time and no contact. This means that since you will be close to each other and possibly commuting on the same train, that headphones are your friend. You can't hear them, freeing you from awkward chit-chat. Done.
posted by chainsofreedom at 12:21 PM on February 24, 2014

OK, I'm not sure if I'm violating some thread-sit protocol here, so if I am - apologies. BUT: I find myself super self-conscious about re-entering our professional circles (I start a new job tomorrow). Like people will be gawking at me and looking for signs of the meltdown, or else wondering how I could be so messed up as to waste 4 years of her life, the proof being that it only took 4 months once she was freed from the burden of, well - me, and suddenly - fireworks, roses, sunsets, etc. I know - mad distorted thinking here, and I am exaggerating a bit. But I don't really understand what is at the heart of my self-consciousness. Have others experienced this?
posted by fingers_of_fire at 12:27 PM on February 24, 2014

I find myself super self-conscious about re-entering our professional circles (I start a new job tomorrow). Like people will be gawking at me and looking for signs of the meltdown, or else wondering how I could be so messed up as to waste 4 years of her life, the proof being that it only took 4 months once she was freed from the burden of, well - me, and suddenly - fireworks, roses, sunsets, etc.

I'm confused; it sounded earlier like she was just going to be in the neighborhood, but from this it sounds like she's actually working in the same office and/or the same industry and/or with the same people. Can you clarify?

I know - mad distorted thinking here, and I am exaggerating a bit. But I don't really understand what is at the heart of my self-consciousness. Have others experienced this?

Well, yeah. And I'll bet what's at the heart of your self-consciousness is the same thing that was at the heart of mine - that at these are things you're wondering about your own self, and you're just projecting them outward.

The reality is, most people are probably going to side with you ("damn, they break up and she marries some other guy right away? Ouch"), and even if they do think about you what you think they are, so what?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:00 PM on February 24, 2014

same industry (music) with lots of overlapping colleagues. different employers, places of employment, etc.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 1:09 PM on February 24, 2014

Nah, people aren't going to expend that much energy assessing your lovelife -- we may do that here in Ask, but in the real world, people are mostly preoccupied with their own problems and insecurities.

Look, pretty much EVERYone has had to run to the office stairwell to have a good cry, or hide in the men's room with clenched fists, or leave work early, due to heartbreak. No one is immune. Maybe if you see this as a way to connect to the near-universal suffering that you share with your fellow beings (including colleagues, people in the audience at your shows, and yes, even your ex and her guy)...you will feel less isolated and freakish, and more a part of humanity.

You've done nothing to be ashamed of.
posted by nacho fries at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

Like people will be gawking at me and looking for signs of the meltdown, or else wondering how I could be so messed up as to waste 4 years of her life, the proof being that it only took 4 months once she was freed from the burden of, well - me, and suddenly - fireworks, roses, sunsets, etc. I know - mad distorted thinking here, and I am exaggerating a bit. But I don't really understand what is at the heart of my self-consciousness. Have others experienced this?

In my experience, people's not-great reactions after a tough breakup have been limited to:
-- talking trash/complaining about my ex.
-- saying "I told you so" (if they never liked my ex).

People probably did the same to him about me, it's to be expected. Don't worry about it, that's just people trying to soften the blow of the breakup, it doesn't really mean anything.

Nobody is going to be as hurtful to you as your ex was during/in the aftermath of the breakup, because nobody is going to be as hurt as she was then and nobody is going to have as much emotional power over you as she did then. So don't worry about bystanders twisting the knife, even in the vanishingly small chance that they would want to do that to you, they aren't going to be able to do it well.

The reason the chance that they'd want to twist the knife is so vanishingly small is that most/all of us have been there, and have gone through shitty breakups of our own. None of us sitting in here in glass houses are going to start throwing stones or going to be OK with people throwing stones even in our proximity.

Probably, people will hear about the breakup and make that "ouch!" face to each other, and that'll be pretty much the sum total of their involvement. If someone does want to talk to you about it, just say you're hurting, but what can ya do? (and change the subject). If you run into your ex, just congratulate her on her wedding announcement and say you've got to run.

Breakups happen to most/all of us, at one point or another, so don't worry too much about other people not getting it. Unfortunately, most/all of us get it pretty well. Your ex definitely does, there's honestly no reason to even try to front with her. You're not a freak, people aren't going to think of you as a freak; expect commiseration, not condemnation.
posted by rue72 at 5:12 PM on February 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Let me reassure you again.

When I broke up with my exfiance, I expected lots of people to trash me. Turns out everyone to a man (and woman) congratulated me. These were all HIS friends, btw.

I think most folks won't think much about it except to give you a hug and then introduce you to their friend. *wink*
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:31 PM on February 24, 2014

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