Should I make this breakup less ugly?

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Dear Meredith,

I'm a 48-year-old woman dating a 50-year-old man for two years. He's a caring, devoted, loyal, and funny man, and we've shared many wonderful memories together. Despite the problem warranting this letter, we've never doubted our love and commitment to each other. We've had our share of ups and downs, mainly due to his excessive drinking. These "downs" always resulted in him ghosting me for a period of time, until I couldn't stand it any longer and reached out via text. He'd always respond, and we'd be on our way again as if nothing had happened. I've been very clear how I feel about this behavior, however. He will verbally state he understands where I'm coming from, but then repeats the pattern. He excuses his behavior by saying he has always run away from his problems, and he won't be treated the way his ex-wife treated him.

Recently, he bought a townhouse (with the help of a generous gift of money initiated by me). He hosted an open-house party; I was part of the planning process. He ignored me all day. He appeared to make a deliberate point of not introducing me in one instance when he introduced everyone sitting in the pool (skipping me and going to the next person). I should mention he was 10 sheets to the wind at that point, so I'm not sure he knew what he was doing. I was hurt and left shortly afterwards (the party was winding down). I do question myself for being too hard on him with this slight in the event he did it inadvertently. Before the party even started, I told him I'd be leaving toward the end, as I had to work early the next morning. He understood then. But when I left, he was mad I left "early." Two hours later he texted me, saying I must have been embarrassed to be seen with him. That no one knew we were a couple. I responded via text, stating I felt he seemed embarrassed by me, and that I was hurt about the lack of introduction I mentioned above. I tried calling, but it went to voicemail. Just as well, as his reasoning is long gone after eight-plus drinks.

Unsurprisingly, he proceeded to ghost me, and a few days later he put all my belongings, including gifts I'd given him, outside of my garage with no attempt at communication. I learned through mutual friends he's saying "we broke up" or "he dumped me," depending on who he's talking to. He was always one for the drama, and self-pity gets him. I see how this is not a healthy relationship. I've used the last month to process everything that happened. I fluctuate from feeling angry to feeling pity for him. I see that it will take two people willing to fix it to make it work. I'm not sure either one of us has what it takes at this point. We're too old for this dance. But the fact it ended ugly is what ultimately gets to me. I would like to reach out just to smooth things over so there's not a negative, ugly ending – but not to reunite. I know if we met in person, our exchanges would be pleasant and we could end on the same page. (We don't use social media). Do you think I have anything to lose by reaching out to make this happen?

– Nothing to lose

"I would like to reach out just to smooth things over so there's not a negative, ugly ending."

The thing is, the ending is negative and ugly. He hurt your feelings after drinking too much at a house party. Then, instead of talking about it, he returned all your stuff.

You say that in the past, he'd ghost you until you couldn't stand it any longer. Then you'd do the work to smooth it over. One of the great things about this breakup is that your work is done. You don't have to make anything look less messy. The ending wasn’t clean, and you can let him – and yourself – sit with that.

I think that's my question for you, after reading this letter. Is there a reason you can't let this be an ugly ending? If you do the work on his behalf to make the narrative more palatable, does it change anything?

If you're worried about running into each other in person, and want to make peace so it's easier, I guess I understand. But take a beat to ask yourself what's required of you, what would make you feel good, and why. He drank too much (again) and dismissed you without a conversation. I don't think you should have to do any extra work at all. Your mutual friends can work around it.

Maybe try sitting with the discomfort of this being a bad breakup. That might help you get over it.

– Meredith

Readers? Worth a conversation?