We ended long-distance – and then we broke up

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I'm 26 and and my ex (27) and and I ended eight-plus years of distance late last year when I moved to her for education. Then, weeks ago, she ended the relationship.

She said she's had a crush on her friend who is in the area for work. She had told me that this friend has asked her questions like, "If you didn't have a boyfriend, who would you date?" He also told her to "be careful of her boyfriend."

She did not object or stop him in his tracks, and she told me all these stories as they happened. We've been in the same town since December, and she got irritated by me a lot. She used to tell me to be more like her friend. The communication was mostly about her and her traumas or her goals, or how she likes certain qualities in her friend. She said she lost the spark in the relationship, does not love me, and does not see a future with me.

Now that she is gone, I feel a lack of fullness in my life. I feel I am inadequate to pursue further relationships. I feel I have missed out in my life a lot. I have an unhealthy relationship with myself. How do I turn this mindset around?

– Missed out

"Now that she is gone, I feel a lack of fullness in my life."

That makes sense after a breakup. Something is missing – because one of your primary relationships is gone.

But that doesn't mean life was better before. This is painful, but if you can't be happy together in the same place, it's time to move on.

It's also time to build a world without this person. After many years of thinking about where she is, what she wants, etc., you have freedom to consider yourself. How do you like to spend time? Who else is good company for you? What do you like to read, watch, and learn?

You feel like you've missed out, so treat yourself to some experiences. Especially hobbies. The more you do things you like – things you can love on your own – the more you'll have to talk about with someone new.

As a student (if that's what you mean by education), you can also reach out to your school for therapy. Do that.

You don't have to pursue new romantic relationships right now. Give yourself a break to get to know yourself again. This is a process, and it could be a joyful one over time.

– Meredith

Readers? Pep talk about starting a new phase of life, without the stress of this particular relationship?