I’m having a tough time getting over this breakup

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Dear Meredith,

I'm in my late 30s and I've been living in Boston for nearly 18 years. As a gay man, it always seems difficult to meet quality men who are also looking for a relationship. I'm outgoing, confident, love my career, love my family, and have joined leagues and many social groups in and around Boston. In those 18 years, I've had really only three to four people I dated seriously. Most recently, I met an incredible guy out of the blue over the 4th in Provincetown— essentially, I found love in a hopeless place, as Rihanna once said.

We continued dating for seven months. He was the first guy I introduced to my family as my boyfriend, we spent the holidays together, and we even travelled abroad for a vacation. Not only were we physically attracted to one another, we had so much in common, from TV shows to music and food. Three days after arriving back home from that vacation, he asked if he could come over and talk — I knew there was something up. That night, he ended things on his terms and he felt it was the best to unfollow, block, and not speak to me for some time. I was blindsided, and it shocked my system for weeks and months to come. We briefly discussed his reason for the split (he felt he wasn't a good boyfriend, he felt like our personalities were different, and he felt like he had a lot of things in his life he needed to figure out). We had few disagreements, but he seems to have had issues being honest about his feelings and hiding internal pain or insecurities.

Post breakup, I've been depressed and feeling hopeless, even after being supported by my friends and family. I found a therapist to speak with, but as soon as I think I'm healed, I'll see him out and all of my healing evaporates. Boston's a small town and he and his friends have crossed my path a few times. But the most hurtful thing is that he treats me like a stranger – with no interest in communicating.

For the past eight weeks, I've played in a gay league I joined with friends. Randomly, he signed up as well but has never acknowledged me at matches. I can't fathom treating someone like a stranger after being so close to them. I've been trying to meet new people and date but in the back of my mind, nothing can replace what him and I had. I've been trying to focus on taking care of myself through therapy, running, working out, and surrounding myself with friends, but I'm having a hard time moving past this breakup. Many of the apps are a nightmare and full of people looking for short-term transactional stuff. Any advice?

– hopeless


My advice is to give yourself more time to grieve and get used to life without him. This was a big disappointment – a huge loss. Having the support of friends and family – even therapy – doesn't erase bad feelings. This kind of breakup knocks the wind out of you. Over time, it gets a lot better ... and then there are bad days ... and then, eventually, it's better again. It's not a linear journey.

We've talked about death grief vs. breakup grief before. The thing with breakup grief is that you're mourning something you had with someone who, depending on who you are and where you live, might be on your gay sports league. That is a different kind of discomfort. Please be patient with yourself.

Also know that the kind of guy who can't be honest about is feelings probably has trouble knowing what to do when he sees someone he hurt, even if there was no malice in his decision. He's not equipped to know what to say or how to be kind. It's possible he thinks that ignoring you at a game is the best thing to do. Don't expect him to be good at this – because he wasn't good at communicating his discomfort during the relationship.

I wish I could give you a timeline for how long it takes to get over things. I do know that when you hit anniversary points – like the 4th, let's say – you make a new memory that makes the previous one that much older.

Continue to do as many of these league-type activities as possible. Meet people through friends. Remember that there's a difference between someone saying they want something transactional, with specific boundaries, and a person saying they want to have fun but might be open to more. Sometimes intentions change over time. Use the apps sparingly (no more than 15 minutes a day, let's say) and pause if it feels terrible.

Stay busy with things that make you happy, and I promise, it will all start to change.

– Meredith

Readers? What's the timeline here? Is the league helping or hurting?