‘Aren’t I happy with Pierre?’

Chat at 1 p.m.

Dear Meredith,

I am 23. After graduating college last year, my boyfriend of almost four years broke up with me. I was devastated. Being apart only lasted for about a month until we were back together. I really thought everything was going to be different the second time around; we talked about what went wrong, as well as our hopes and expectations. I told my friends it was going to be better than ever, and I believed that.

But then he broke up with me again only a month and a half later. This time he said he only wanted a "break" because he "sometimes felt we should see other people," but I felt so hurt that I told myself it was over for good. We agreed to not speak for a month and during that time, I moved to a new city and started a new job. I also made a new friend at work; we'll call him "Pierre."

Pierre and I started hanging out every day as friends, and eventually we kissed. He knew about my ex (he'd recently ended a long-term relationship, too). Things escalated very quickly and we started dating. We had everything in common. When my ex found out, he freaked out. He sent letters and told me everything I had always wanted to hear. I was heartbroken. But I decided to move on with Pierre instead. Fast-forward to now, months after all of that drama. I am still seeing Pierre and he is wonderful, so sweet and affectionate and speaks about the future all of the time. For this reason, I feel so ashamed and guilty to admit that I still think about my ex. I feel so confused about missing him. I'll become anxious and have thoughts like, "Should I have taken him back?" and then, "Why did I just think that? Aren't I happy with Pierre?"

I told Pierre in the beginning that I needed to move slowly because I wasn't over my ex. Things have not moved slowly, and I can feel the stress of simultaneously trying to grieve a past relationship while enjoying a new one. I don't want to lose or hurt Pierre but I don't know what to do. I do love Pierre but I also find myself missing my ex and getting random, unwarranted flashbacks from my life with him all the time. This whole thing has me really hating myself. I feel like a terrible, selfish person for basically wanting two people at the same time. I know that is not possible, and maybe I should just take some time for myself and be alone. However, I can't help but feel that dismissing both my ex and Pierre would be throwing away unique, wonderful people I am so lucky to have met.

I know my ex probably doesn't sound so great from this summary, but I do believe he is still a great person. Any guidance or advice would be much appreciated. I know that I have to make decisions on my own, but I feel too lost in my own head to even know what to do.

– 23

It's important to remember that if you'd chosen your ex, you'd probably have very similar questions about Pierre. You'd wonder whether you'd prioritized the right person. You'd long for the man you turned down.

I do think it'd be lovely to have some time for yourself, but ... that's not realistic advice. You have strong feelings for the person you're dating, and lingering feelings for an ex. It's easy to say, "Hey, take a break," but I don't think you can do that when you have a great partner right in front of you.

Instead, it might be nice to try some therapy because you're processing so many things at once. You're grieving your last relationship while coping with the very normal stress of watching a new relationship become serious. You want to talk about the future, but you're not ready at all.

On top of that, there's your recent gradation. The transition out of college is its own weird experience. You're probably prone to analyze everything right now. Every choice seems to put you on some permanent path, and it's difficult not to think about all the roads not taken.

Please remind yourself that nothing has to be permanent. Consider counseling so you have some guidance as you make all of these decisions. Don't hate yourself; you're being thoughtful about so many things at once, and you're into Pierre. You just can't give him everything – yet.

– Meredith

Readers? Does she need time alone? Didn't she already take her ex back once?