Trying to move on from an abusive relationship

What's been on your mind about your relationship life? Got a problem or question? Email [email protected] or use this form.

I'm 34 years old and currently dating. I recently got out of an abusive relationship. He is 10 years younger than me – let's call him B. The abuse was physical and emotional, but recently it's been hard to stop thinking of him. For example, I texted my cousin (same age as B) about seeing her this summer. It reminds me of him. Or I talk to another cousin (two years younger than B), and it reminds me of B and our fun times.

In the past, he made negative comments about my age. For example, he told me when I was 32 that I was too old to have a baby, and that because I’m older I was obligated to pay for our dates.

After dating him, I'm afraid to date. Thinking I'm too old to date younger guys or I'm not sexy enough. I'm currently in therapy but still struggle with self-esteem issues. I feel he has won. Please help. I'd appreciate some advice and support on how to move on.

– Struggling


He hasn't won. You're feeling a bunch of feelings, which means you're working through it. You're sitting with your discomfort and figuring out what you've learned. That takes time.

Let me be clear: it's OK not to date right now. If you take a break to focus on getting to a good place, it does not mean the relationship ruined you or that you won't be able to find a partner in the future. All it means is that you’re giving yourself space to feel good again. To find a new routine. Please don't feel like you have to rush to couple up with someone new or better.

Also, it makes sense that you miss him and think of him. Sometimes after a breakup, even from someone who was terrible to us, we think of the rosiest moments – how special they made us feel. Just don't forget the other stuff. You're grieving a loss, but it's one that was necessary.

Therapy is good. Group therapy is also an option – something you could add to the mix if your therapist thinks it's a good idea. Maybe it would help to talk to other people who have had similar experiences.

Please know that 34 is a great age. You might (eventually) love the experience of dating someone who understands what it means to be 34. I'm just wondering why it’s so important to attract someone younger. People change their priorities as they age – often in a good way.

He was bad for you. Spend time thinking about what brings you happiness now. Focus on those things and then think about what love might complement your better life.

I'll say it again – take your time.

– Meredith

Readers? Does it make sense to think about the good times? How can the LW miss this person but also remember why they were bad? When should the LW focus on dating again?