Coping with an unexpected breakup

Your Drafts folder, please.

Dear Meredith,

My boyfriend and I recently broke up after 1.5 years. I am having such a hard time getting over it. I've been through serious breakups before, but that was when both parties could see it had ended for good. In this case, my boyfriend was unhappy but I didn't know until literally two days before the breakup, and thought it was something to be worked on rather than break us apart.

We were doing long-distance, and the last couple of times I visited we had been bickering a bit more then usual. Having been in a long-term relationship before, I just take for granted that phases of bickering will happen for most couples. Then right after the last visit, my boyfriend calls and says that he's been feeling unhappy the last few weeks and that we bicker too much when we're together. He said he needed a few days to think about things to do about it. A few days later he said he couldn't see what we could do about it and effectively ended the relationship. He didn't want to prolong it until we came to the point of disliking each other.

I now stand back with so many unanswered questions, as this came as a complete surprise to me. I was quite happy. We were at a stage where he was finishing his degree, and he had decided that he didn't want to move to the city I am living in. I was fine with this, but the whole idea of two more years (at least) of long-distance did not sound great. Furthermore, his two best friends back home recently got girlfriends. Both are only two to three months into their relationship, and in the clear honeymoon phase. I think that in comparison, our relationship must not have seemed as cute or as lovely as theirs.

I would move mountains to make him happy and for us to get back together. Now I need some help figuring out what communication should be like going forward. We both want to be friendly to each other. Whether we might meet up for coffee if we're both in town is probably too early to say. Any good ideas for some self-TLC to do after a surprise breakup and how to handle the communication with the ex going forwards?

– Now what?


The best way to handle communication with your ex is to make a clean break. No calls or coffee. No going out of your way to stay in touch. After a breakup, especially an unexpected one, the "friendliest" thing you can do is give each other space.

The best move for self-care is to change up your routine. If you spent your days texting your ex, try messaging someone else. If you called each other at 7 p.m. on weekdays, find a show or class to keep you busy during that hour. The point of this phase is to remind yourself that you have many things to do without this person. In fact, without a long-distance relationship to tend to, there will be many more opportunities to engage with everything – and everyone – in front of you.

The worst part about this breakup was the surprise of it all. When you don't see something like that coming, you can doubt your instincts and lose trust. But in your case, there were real problems – whether you wanted to see them or not. You were facing more distance, and had no plan to figure out how to be together.

That seems like the real reason your relationship is over, by the way. The mountains weren't going to move.

– Meredith

Readers? Coffee?