Enjoy a new podcast episode today. It might make you cry. Maybe.
I broke up with my girlfriend of a year and a half. We spent half of our time in a long-distance relationship flying to see each other once a month. I'm 27, she's 23. I work and she is in college. I'm a face-to-face person and struggle with texting. We had great times together, never fought or anything, sex was great etc., although she had some issues (anxiety and the effects of a tough childhood). I did/do love her and care for her a lot, however she is very sensitive and emotional, whereas I’m much more closed off emotionally (to a fault).
We got on well, however I struggled with only seeing her for two days every few weeks and then back to small talk by text, Skype, etc. I did try and make the effort to communicate more, but probably didn't fulfill her emotional needs at times. I did treat her well otherwise. To be honest, it broke her heart when we ended things (which was fairly mutual). I was the one she turned to for help (mental health, making her feel better, giving advice, etc.). Since she moved away, she hasn't had many close friends or family close by. I feel guilty and can't stop thinking about how she is coping.
Don't get me wrong, I am hurting about the breakup, but she is probably worse off having heightened emotions. 1. How can I get over this guilt? 2. Do I contact her again to make sure she is OK? 3. Do I say there is potential for the future or does that make it too difficult? (She may live in my state after college again in three years, and if we are both single, I wouldn't rule it out.) Not sure whether to go no-contact or not, as she might think I don't care about her wellbeing anymore, which isn't true.
– Broken Up
You say she doesn't have close friends or family where she lives, but it sounds like she has them elsewhere. This is a good opportunity for her to call on others.
I don't know what you said to each other during that breakup, but I imagine there were some declarations of love, concern, etc. I'm sure you told her you care. I do recommend that when people break up, they talk (if they can) about what kind of breaker-upper they are. Do they want to reach out? What are the boundaries? In your case, if you didn’t have that discussion, you should assume a wall is up. Know that the guilt is part of the process. You have to train your brain to stop thinking of yourself as the person responsible for your now-ex's happiness. It might take a bit because you were with her for a very long time.
No matter what, you should not reach out with thoughts about the future. I suppose it's possible you could get together in three years (that's twice the length of your relationship, by the way), but you might meet someone else by then. Or maybe she will. There's no reason to try to predict.
For now, allow yourself to lean into your own breakup grief. It's sad to lose her, but it's easier to consider her feelings than your own. Think about what you'll miss. Understand that it was nice to feel needed, and that it might be difficult to let that go. All of these complicated feelings are OK. You're supposed to sit with them. If you need to talk about everything, find someone in your own community and discuss face-to-face.
Readers? How do you cope with breakup guilt?