We’re still breaking up

Meredith,

I've been going through a very foggy breakup for about a year. I left him and moved back to where I'm from last fall. I'm 27 and met him when I was fresh out of college. We were together for more than four years and lived in multiple cities. We drank together – a lot. Our final year together was terrible because of the alcohol (even though there were also home-cooked dinners, wonderful intimacy, and our sweet pets). But the negativity took over. He wasn't willing to compromise his drinking habits (I was constantly trying to drink less or not at all). Toward the end, he even stopped coming home after work, going straight to the bar to do who knows what. I was EXTREMELY unhappy.

The premise of our breakup was that we were taking a "break" for a few months, but once I got out here, I found a good job, stopped partying as much (which had seriously effected my mental health), and really started focusing on myself. We've been through periods over the last year of "no contact," which I usually initiate, and then he usually contacts me two weeks later saying he can't live without me. Then ensues a phase where we discuss how we are "soul mates" or meant to be, say we love each other, sext, etc. Basically, he starts acting like we'll get back together (I can't deny that I like it when he does this), and then he promises to visit. But then something changes. He stops sweet-talking me and doesn't respond to my requests for communication. Then I end up sending him long-winded texts as a result of being ignored, putting the ball in his court once again, and at the same time as looking like a crazy ex.

During our last point of contact (last week) I said that I can't speak casually to him anymore, and that if he wanted to say something meaningful, he's welcome to send me an email, write me a letter, or show up at my door. I'm not holding my breath, but I feel like this tiny part of me still isn't ready to get over the fact that we are obviously over. Even in the most fairy tale scenario – where he drives across the country, shows up with flowers at my doorstep, and begs for us to work things out – I'm not sure I'd be able to forget our turbulent past. Getting space from him made me realize that I apologized for a lot of things that I should never have had to apologize for. I realize that I deserve more.

It's sad because we had so many plans together. We spoke of having a family, and we just had a lot of entwined dreams for adventure. This breakup has seriously effected my mental health, and I've even reached out for therapy. How do I move on from the thought that this could work out? Any advice for someone who still feels the fresh pain of heartbreak almost a whole YEAR after I left the man?

– A Year Later


Well, it hasn't really been a year. Technically, you went on a "break" last fall, and have been making those "soul mate" phone calls ever since. Even now you've basically told him that if he decides to show up on your doorstep to be your boyfriend, he'll be welcome. In all of your paragraphs, I didn't read anything about a definitive end.

So let's say the breakup begins now. As of October 24, 2018, it is officially done. He hasn't shown up or written you a meaningful email or letter, which means he doesn't have anything life-changing to say. Knowing that, you can finally start grieving – for real this time. You can talk about the relationship in therapy and remind yourself that you do deserve more. You can begin thinking of yourself as 100 percent single, which might be nice. Much of what you've been dealing with are the feelings that come with not knowing where you stand.

This will continue to hurt – and that's OK. Four years is a long time, and your ex was almost a lot of things. He was almost an incredible partner in adventure. Almost a best friend. He taught you plenty about what you do want, and that makes it hard to let go.

But I promise that a year from now, after you've really had 12 months to grow your community and change your routine, things will look different. Maybe not perfect, but it will be something new.

– Meredith

Readers? How does one detach from an ex?