I’ve decided to stop hooking up with him

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Hello Meredith,

I am a 35-year-old woman. I broke up with my ex (34) almost a year ago. He told me he didn't really care about me then, and admitted to leading me on during our relationship. He told me this information as we broke up. We both agreed to have a casual hookup relationship.

Eventually I talked to him about getting back together. He told me that I still haven't changed – that I am still emotionally reactive. I reminded him that I've been through a tough time; I lost two relatives in less than a year, and my family is grieving. He told me that even though that happened, he won't give me a pass. It seems to me he isn't compassionate about my family situation.

I saw him last week and we had a nice time. He told me he was seeing a few people. He told me one of them wanted more, as well. The other one was snooping on his social media and was asking if he slept with his female friend. He told me he wasn't into her and they technically "broke up". She blocked him on Instagram. I am not sure if he's being honest with me, or if they're still a couple. I don't trust him. He also parties a lot. He also told me he rarely uses protection during sex. I am worried for my sexual health.

All of this is why I decided to stop hooking up with him. But I'm sad about this. Do you have any advice how to move on? Please help, any advice is appreciated.

– Sad Ex

I read this letter and thought, "Why do you miss this man? Why are you sad about ditching him?"

But then I realized you're probably not sad about letting go. You're upset because the whole thing was a bad experience, one that chipped away at your self-esteem for more than a year. It went from relationship to sex to constant criticism to nothing. In the middle of it all, you had family tragedies. This is the aftermath of a lot of difficult things at once.

That's why my advice is to wait this out a bit. Be upset, grieve, spend time with family, and do things that make you feel calm. Listen to music or take a walk. Get outside. Anything that changes the mood.

Also, you spent a fair amount of time on this man – even thinking about him. What else can you do with these bonus hours? Take a class? Lean into work? Volunteer? Extra time is a real gift here. Use it to thrive when you have the energy.

Date again when you feel pretty great about yourself. It might take some months (or weeks, at least) to get there. The extra activities help – because they’re things you can talk about during a coffee or dinner. The second you feel excited about life after this man, get on an app. See who's nice to you. If people are not nice to you – or clear about their intentions – move on. Remember, you don't have to convince anyone to like you. If they're interested and you reciprocate, great. If not, thank you, next.

Therapy might help, of course. It would be good to talk about all of these feelings and how they change over time. But the smaller step is accepting that this is Breakup: Phase 1. The relationship didn't end a year ago, really. You can start building yourself up and rising like a phoenix ... now.

– Meredith

Readers? Is this breakup sadness or exhaustion? How do you deal with sadness when it also feels like good riddance? How do you reset your brain?