How to get over a really bad breakup?
January 13, 2008 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Fell in love with a prostitute. Lasted 3 years; ended badly. How to get over it?

She's half my age and gorgeous. I loved her, she said she loved me. I believed her, even though I was giving her money the whole time. She needed it to get on her own two feet. The idea was to free her from prostitution altogether and get her on a productive path in her life.

We also talked about living together, even getting married some day...... well, wouldn't you know it, turns out she was seeing guys her own age the whole time (as boyfriends, not customers, though she was still seeing those too). As soon as she gets a real job with a decent salary, she dumps me.

More to the story, of course. I could barely afford to support her. This caused many unpleasant fights; I felt that she should be doing more to become independent; she felt that I should have kept my promise to support her at the level she was used to (even after it came out that she was seeing someone else, i.e. after she broke her promise).

Part of what makes this so hard is that for most of the three years, she was very supportive emotionally to me and encouraged me to pursue my artistic dreams. In fact, she changed my life in this way. We had become very close --- or I thought we had. When the end finally came, she dumped me with incredible cruelty.

Obviously I should have known better. She's so much younger than me, yet she was able to take advantage of my every insecurity and weakness. That might be the worst thing of all about this -- on some level I "knew" it was happening, but I played it through to the end anyway. She got a pile of money from me, and left me with a broken heart.

It's eating me alive. How can I get over this?

So much to the story, I can't begin to cover it here. Temporary email at
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Former sex worker says:

She hustled you. She did it well.

While you were in a relationship, she had a fabulous regular.

I'm sorry you're hurting. As they say, time heals all wounds.
posted by streetdreams at 9:19 AM on January 13, 2008 [7 favorites]

How can I get over this?

See a therapist and learn how to deal with this, before you get manipulated by someone new.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:21 AM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Benefits of a therapist - the therapist can also provide support and encouragement to follow your dreams. The difference is that it will be an honest relationship - you pay the therapist money and he or she helps you figure out how to get the life you want. No sex, no lies.
posted by metahawk at 9:34 AM on January 13, 2008

What blazecock pileon said, see a therapist, she/he may help you greatly

1) in discovering what your insecurities are , the ones she probably saw, so that you have a fair shot at reducing or removing them

2) to deal constructively with invalidation feeling and denial (i "knew" it was happening) , fear of rejection (I played it through to the end)

Consider that the worst thing at this point would be, in my humble opinion, to just forget this and dismiss all the history as if ALL the fault was her and her alone, as
if she was some kind of "devil" able to cheat and manipulate you like nobody else could ever do. That is comforting because that would allow you (or anybody in a similar situation) to remove your spine and accountability for your actions or inactions, which feels VERY good initially, but it's a real trouble for the next time.

I am confident you will do your best and achieve improvements, make the most of this bad event.
posted by elpapacito at 9:35 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Think of the pile of money you're going to save now (unless you get a therapist). Consider novelising or autobiographising the whole experience: if you can get perspective on it you may eventually feel it enriched you as a person overall, harsh as it clearly has been. And it might be a good book.
posted by Phanx at 9:58 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

You are an artist, use that pain to create some kick ass art! I know that might sound trite, but sometimes your best work comes from the suffering, not the happiness. Purge it out through your work.
posted by 45moore45 at 10:05 AM on January 13, 2008

Books aren't always written solely to entertain others.

Writing can be a cathartic and great way to express emotions and sort through your deeper thoughts in privacy. There are a lot of ways you could write about this if it helped you. You could choose your audience... write to yourself, write another person, or you could even be writing to the unsuspecting and person you were before all of this happened, someone who was just looking for affection and let themselves be taken advantage of, as a cautionary tale. Maybe that will help you to try to sort it out... what went wrong... what went right (there are probably many ways that you will grow from this, painful as it is). And to let go of the pain in time. Reading your story back as though someone else wrote it will probably help you to see yourself with more compassion as well. Even if you do get therapy (you probably should, it'll help) you should try writing as well.

Just know one thing: we ALL fuck up once in a while. Each of us in our own unique, regretful, spectacular ways.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:27 AM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Become a maleinist :) Seriously though, therapy isn't for everyone...your friends can also help you through this as well (just don't dwell on the negative while around them, instead find something fun to do). In the larger scheme of things this really isn't that a big deal. Life throws everyone these surprises, and we all learn from them. The key thing to focus on is to not let what she did make you jaded or angry. It's important to remember there are a lot of good people still out in the world.

Definitely sever all ties with this woman if you haven't already, and be the better person if she ever tries to contact you again (I guarantee that she will slip back into her old ways again and will try to contact you for God knows could take 2 years but it'll happen...think of it like some universal karmic rule). Don't fall for her again of course...or if you do for some reason, definitely DON'T give her any more money, no matter how desparate her story is.

Use this as an opportunity for self discovery. What things were you into before you met her? Try being yourself again, and try to move on. Most of all return to the things that made you most happy. Time will do its magic and you'll be fine. She isn't worth the effort you're putting yourself through to be unhappy.
posted by samsara at 10:36 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

[a few comments removed - if you're not constructively answering the questin, please feel free to take your eye rolling comments to metatalk]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:28 AM on January 13, 2008

I feel for you. Except for the part about you being an artist, you could be my ex-husband. He was/is prone to falling in love with age-inappropriate women, almost always unattainable or somehow tabu. His weakness was/is for women with needs far greater than his own, and in life circumstances that (obviously) required his intervention to set them on the right path... a path that he and he alone could illuminate, having set his own feet on path after path after path...

He was the ultimate Savior. I can't count how many times he 'saved' some poor soul from whatever oblivion she was falling toward. I can't tell you how many times his poor heart was broken when it all came crashing down around him. Sometimes he was taken for a ride. More often, he found someone who was more sick and more needy than him, and the weight of both of their dysfunction was crushing.

I'm sorry that you're in such pain. Therapy isn't a bad idea. You need someone to help you see clearly why this relationship became so important to you, and to help you recognize a way to see yourself in a healthy relationship - first with yourself - and certainly before you attempt to pair up again with someone else.

Good luck.
posted by Corky at 11:32 AM on January 13, 2008

I'm so sorry. If you have a religious belief system, I would suggest speaking with a pastor or minister from that system, just to get this off your chest to an authority figure who might absolve you. A therapist might work for this purpose as well.

To some extent, you were exploiting this woman--you agreed to support her as long as she had sex with you and told you what you wanted to hear. You benefited enormously from the relationship. She was in a relatively powerless position due to her age and gender. That might explain some of the bitterness she felt for you and the cruelty of the breakup, although you were in the situation together and it was not entirely your fault, either. I think it is important to have a small bit of empathy so you can understand that it is not entirely about you, but also about your mutual insecurities and needs.

I would also suggest a long, long break from dating. It wouldn't be fair for you to date another woman before you're over this. You would, I'm afraid, treat her quite badly.

RE: Your art. A community of artists can help enormously when it comes to an assessment of your artistic talents and encouragement that you are doing something valuable with your time. Seek out such a community. If you are afraid of their assesment of you, don't be. Critique leads to progress which leads to pride in your work and your effort.

Best of luck.
posted by sondrialiac at 11:44 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

if you haven't already, stop seeing prostitutes, strippers and anyone else you pay for sex or atention.
posted by buka at 11:44 AM on January 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

also, be kind to yourself. The pain you must be in is terrible, but do your best to take care of yourself. get plenty of sleep, take your vitamins, eat well and every time you start thinking very negatively about yourself, try to redirect your thoughts about how you are going to make sure nothing like this will happen again.
posted by buka at 11:48 AM on January 13, 2008

I'm sorry you're in such pain. Nothing hurts like a broken heart. Time will heal it. It really will. Try to stop berating yourself for falling for it all. There was probably a time in there where you knew it on some level and it was worth it anyway. Try to not to ruminate about it. Distract yourself. If you do think of it: think about the good you got out of it only. DO NOT damn yourself for falling. We all fall. Especially in matters of the heart. Forgive yourself. Let the past be the past. You know more now. You will fall in love again.
posted by dog food sugar at 11:59 AM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm with buka on this one. You sound like you're beating yourself up. We all make mistakes. It's in the owner's manual for being human. I once posted a question (anonymously so I'm outing myself here) and got some advice that said something to the effect of "it doesn't make you a bad person because you opened yourself up to the possibility of love and companionship." You chose very, very poorly. Get some therapy so you don't do it again.

And when people say "get therapy," it sounds trite but trust me on this one: Even if you have to go through ten therapists to find the right one, it really does help. This is not just about someone one hustling you (Which is exactly what she did. I have a former friend who was in the sex industry. She tried to hustle me too ... except as Mos Def once said, "I'm from Brooklyn. Certain sh@#! you just don't do.) This is about the fact that you allowed yourself to be hustled. You need to figure out why and you need to figure it out soon.

Good luck ... and ignore any sanctimoniusness you see here. The whole "people who live in glass houses" thing applies across the board.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 12:02 PM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I used to work -third shift- at a Waffle House where a large proportion of clientele were strippers. From things they said to me and to each other, seems like your scenario, on a larger or smaller scale, happens a LOT. I won't say that a sex worker or dancer is always all about the money, but a large proportion of the time, no matter what they are telling the guy, they are seeing him as a wallet object. Period. It would be bad for "business" otherwise.

Now, do I think she had some affection for you? Probably. But she was a businesswoman, and you were business.

I think you truly wanted to do something for this woman, and that is not a bad impulse-but on the other hand a healthy relationship can't be based on "rescuing" somebody. I think the suggestion of therapy, and of spiritual counsel, is a wise one.
posted by konolia at 12:47 PM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

you know, she sort of hustled you, sort of not. In her own mind, I suspect it was far more complicated. I think it was unrealistic of you to believe that you were some how "exclusive" but I also think that she doesn't get into that and start saying things that are designed to help you get better without there being some sort of attachment and feeling for you. These aren't black and white, all-or-nothing things. Knowing that can be very helpful to you. I'm certain that there was some level of manipulation on her part, but I would not be suprised if that wasn't a part of all of her relationships.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:53 PM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

1. take solace in the fact that this happens pretty frequently.

2. Make friends with some girls. Friends, not sex. (That's your therapy session.)

3. Ultimately she'll be much worse off than you. Girls like that don't get better with age. If she keeps this course, when her beauty begins to fade, she'll find herself with nobody and nothing.

I used to travel in some pretty fast circles and have known some girls and boys like this and it rarely ends well for them.

Good luck man, and keep your chin up!
posted by snsranch at 4:09 PM on January 13, 2008

listen, this is not the end of the world, we all got dumped pretty badly once, or twice. some may even have a pattern of unfortunate endings. but by dating a whore you really put yourself in the position (pun not intended, I swear to God) to get fucked (in a monetary-emotional sense). you're suffering from a bad breakup, which is normal and not really a reason by itself for therapy or even worse, medication. it's life, people get dumped, we all have. I suggest avoiding contact with prostitutes and other sex workers in order to at least eliminate a large part of the people who can probably scam you the way you've already been scammed. the monetary damage you suffered does seem to be bearable. work harder, pay more attention next time, and don't see any more hookers, you may save yourself heartache and STDs and it's kind of misogynistic anyway to buy women the way one buys groceries.
posted by matteo at 4:12 PM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I second matteo, notjustfoxybrown, and dog food sugar. Take it easy on yourself.
posted by salvia at 7:16 PM on January 13, 2008

Jesus Christ, suck it up man. This is all about your poor judgment. Learn better judgment in the future through this painful incident. Next time try a relationship with someone who might be able to reciprocate. Look inward. You fucked up, and fucked up big. Learn from it. Ouch. I feel for you, but sometimes a kick in the teeth is a growth experience. I hope this is for you.
posted by caddis at 7:36 PM on January 13, 2008

I think a lot of us have (or have had) the fantasy of rescuing a damsel (or dude) in distress. So you are not alone. But as many people said above, it rarely ends well in real life. Only in Hollywood perhaps.

What strikes me is that you allowed her to continue to control you even after you found out she was seeing someone else. This tells me that you seem to be lacking a lot of self-respect or self-worth for yourself.

You are worth it! You are worth the love and loyalty of a woman! Do not compromise this!

You also give the impression that you relied on her support in order to find inspiration and motivation. INspiration comes from the INside!

Work on your self-esteem! Make yourself your muse! Rescue yourself from the dragons that are slaying you! Love yourself!

Love yourself, and everything else will start to fall into place.

and stop watching those bloody happily-ever-after Hollywood movies!
posted by bitteroldman at 7:42 PM on January 13, 2008

Read Mary Gaitskill's first short story collection, Bad Behavior.
posted by ifjuly at 7:51 PM on January 13, 2008

I would favorite Corky's comment a half-dozen times if I could. This isn't just a bad breakup, a one-off honest relationship mistake, etc....if you really want to get over this, an internet group hug isn't what you need. You need to figure out why you would be attracted to paying a woman half your age (i.e. a financial dependent) to play girlfriend, instead of seeking emotional support from a woman who is a peer, and independent. This ain't all "I'm a romantic and she looked like she had a heart of gold and it was all Breakfast at Tiffany's meets Pretty Woman until I realized I had been terribly betrayed" (though this is certainly part of the truth).
posted by availablelight at 8:23 PM on January 13, 2008

Therapist. See one. Now.

I'm sure your friends are awesome, and you should lean on them as well, but friends can't be everything. Your friends were clearly with you when you were making all these poor decisions. You need someone with distance from you, who is trained to cut through your bullshit and shine a light on all the many things that are good about you.

This woman hustled you. I'm sure she compartmentalizes her feelings for her men very well, and I'm sure she's a person, too, but what she did to you shows that she is clearly not good for you. As is obvious now, she makes a living by identifying the weaknesses of various men and playing off of that. What she did to you was not normal or OK. Do not contact this woman ever again, and if she ever contacts you, do not respond. She is not your problem anymore. We don't need to make any definite moral judgments about her one way or another - whether she's genuinely bad or secretly good or whatever. Just don't deal with her ever again.

So yeah. I'm really sorry that you went through this, but there's hope for you. Attack your art with great ferocity, and seek guidance. Treat yourself well. When you're financially able, you should buy yourself something really nice - perhaps something conducive to making newer and better art? As someone else pointed out above, the therapist will encourage your work and deal with you honestly, as opposed to this person, who, as you know, used you.

You also seem aware that this wasn't simply her doing. You let this happen. You're not stupid or insane for doing this. I've done plenty of self-destructive things in my life, and they're all so obvious in retrospect. But the real test comes now. Get some guidance and start a new life. Get your revenge through living well.

Trust me on this. Therapist. Now. See one. You'll become a stronger person, and you know what? Your art is going to get better, too. You'll also have more walking money and more self-respect, to boot. And I'm sure after all this is behind you, you'll meet a genuine person who will ACTUALLY support you, and not just tell you what you want to hear because she wants something.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:34 PM on January 13, 2008

You got off lightly. If you had married her, she probably would have taken you for everything you had. After running into various types of women I decided to read Booby Trapped and get educated about all the ways things can go terribly wrong with the wrong woman. Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. I'm sure it hurts like hell. Part of the pain is losing the connection, another part is probably feeling like a chump and another is losing some hopes/dreams. The best you can do for yourself is be as honest as possible with yourself about what you are going through and give it the time it needs to heal. Concurrently seeks therapy, coaching, landmark or some other environment that can give you some support in the meantime as you work and learn through this.
posted by blueyellow at 10:36 PM on January 13, 2008

Heh, funny story. It's like a movie, but this would be the second act. You know the low before the climax where the hero gets to overcome. Of course, if you do not overcome, then there will never be a movie made of your story.

I have an idea. How about you write a screenplay detailing everything that happened so far in that story, and then when you reach where you are now, you write in the dream end you would give your hero. Then act out this dream end.
posted by markovich at 11:32 PM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

You've got to change your frame of reference from being a victim to being an active participant. Don't say: "She got a pile of money from me." Instead face the truth - You gave a pile of money to her.

The money that you gave her is gone. Sunk costs. You can consider that you bought some experience from it, or you can stew and brood and feel victimized and bitter and resolve never to love again.

When people get to a certain age their unlived life can come back to haunt them. Sometimes people call it a midlife crisis. All the choices and sacrifices you made, and didn't make, come around in the guise of some lovely young thing and it feels like you've got another chance to find love and do it all differently! And that voice in your head that's telling you to "be careful and hold on" is just an old fuddy duddy, and you know better.

Then when it all comes crashing down, it's really easy to be bitter and hard on yourself, because you know that at some level you *did* know what was going on and you proceeded anyway. You're now having a "hitting bottom" experience which, though painful, is priceless.

Instead of indulging yourself in recriminations, figure out the true meaning of this experience - who was this young woman to you, what was your need that drew you to her so intensely? What were you *really* looking for? There's a lot of excellent suggestions above about where you can find these things out - from using your creativity, from friends, from therapists, from ministers, from self-help groups, etc. But you need to do the work to benefit from this experience yourself.
posted by jasper411 at 9:29 AM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

Hey anonymous. I have been here as well, not quite as long term or hard as you, but similar stuff.

I think the "see a therapist" advice is bullshit, but then I usually do. You are a big boy, and you'll get beyond it. As you say yourself, you sort of knew it was happening at the time. Well, duh, of course you did.

My honest advice is almost the opposite of others here. Find another one, if possible rotate through a few different ones. Get some mileage between you and her. You are now a more seasoned john, with a better understanding of the game.

Relationships are wonderful things. It can also be very liberating to be able to just enjoy the time, pay them, and have them go away.

Feel free to email me if you want to talk more, good luck.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:06 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hi Steve here.
Similar situation for me my friend. Still heartbroken. Bet this girl was the most wonderful girl in this world eh.
I know exactly what you are going through my friend and it is so hard to deal with.
Let me see now she did not answer messages regularly and you would think to your self "what a bitch" but then make a reason to forgive or justify her actions. Been there and still got the scars.
Would never tell you certain things about her life so you found out things yourself and then when you knew she was lying you still gave her the benefit of the doubt.
We are true suckers my friend, romantc ones but never the less suckers and we both know it.

Where was she from Albania or another eastern euope country ?

If this sounds familiar then get in touch. I mean it. Probably the same girl. (sorry thats not really funny)
e mail me and we can talk it would really help both of us.
posted by picuki at 2:08 PM on February 16, 2008

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