Advice on All your Love Life Woes
Welcome back to another edition of Dear Dating Bitch – the modern, slightly crass, version of Miss Manners.
Last week, I wrote about one of my more difficult breakups and many of you sent me such heartwarming messages of support, so thank you for that! And now I wanted to share some of your questions about breakups and hopefully give you some sound advice.
(*Note: questions have been edited for length/clarity)
Q: My ex keeps texting me after we broke up. I know that he wants to be friends and we ended on good terms, but I like not having him in my life. What should I do?
– Love, Confused after Breakup
Dear Confused after Breakup:
My advice might vary slightly here depending on the circumstances of your situation. It’s not entirely clear how long ago you broke up or if you were the initiator or recipient of the breakup.
If you were the recipient of the breakup, your ex may be reaching out to you out of a sense of guilt or because he wants to ensure that you are doing alright.
This could be the product of good intention on his part (I don’t want to dismiss the fact that there are some genuine souls out there), but it could ALSO just be him trying to ease his own conscience.
Either way, you don’t need to worry about why he wants to talk to you. He broke up with you and no longer has the benefit of your attention. Ignore.
If, on the other hand, you were the dumper here, your ex could be seeking closure from you.
In that case, I think it would be a kindness to reply, if only to help someone you once cared for move on. You can reiterate your reasons for ending the relationship (if he is asking you for that type of closure) OR you can simply tell him that you wish him the best but would prefer not to talk to him.
You mention that you ended the relationship on good terms, so it’s no wonder that he has an expectation of maintaining a friendship. However, it sounds like you don’t actually want to be friends with him. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but I wonder if you’ve made that clear to him.
If you haven’t, I think that now would be a good time to do so. Be kind, but direct, with him: “I’m not able to have a friendship with you right now. If that changes, I will contact you. But for the time being, I’d rather you give me some space.”
He might balk at this – in fact, there’s a pretty high likelihood that he will – but you are never obligated to keep someone in your life if you don’t want to.
Q: Why won’t my ex give me closure? We were together for over a year?
– Love, Seeking Closure
Dear Seeking Closure:
There are a million reasons why someone would refuse to give closure after ending a relationship:
Your ex may not have a good reason for breaking up with you and thus might not know exactly what to tell you. They may think that you’ll react badly to whatever it is they say and that opening the door to any communication between you will lead to an argument. They may feel guilty about hurting you, so they’re choosing to avoid you and repress their guilt.
The reasons vary widely and obviously, the only person who could actually answer the question isn’t telling you, but I think that what you’re really asking is how you can get closure from them.
For that, I have a few things:
- Accept that you can’t make anyone talk to you if they don’t want to. You may never get your ex to tell you their reasons for ending the relationship and as painful as that is, you have to accept it (see my story about Brad for more on this.)
- Know that “closure” is a subjective word and, in some ways, the concept itself is a misnomer. You may feel that knowing certain things will give you peace of mind, but that may or may not be true. It’s possible that knowing the reasons for the breakup would only make you feel worse. In reality, the ONLY person who can actually give you closure is yourself.
- This is a thousand times easier said than done, but remember: Your ex DID NOT want to be in a relationship with you. That right there is enough to know that they’re not the right person for you.
- Providing closure is an act of kindness. This person, who presumably cared for you, is CHOOSING to treat you unkindly now by ignoring you. That’s not someone that you want to be in a relationship with.
With all that being said, if even after reading that you’re still seeking closure, I think it would be OK to send your Ex a (VERY BRIEF) and polite request ONCE:
“Brad, it would really help me to understand what happened between us. I’d appreciate if we could meet for coffee or have a chat in order for me to get some closure.”
If they don’t respond, you’ve done everything in your power and can move on with peace of mind.
Q: My ex has never checked in on me even though he said he would. I want him to know how upset I am about it. What should I text him so that he knows how much he hurt me?
– Scorned Lover
Dear Scorned Lover:
Before I get to my advice, I think you should take a minute to ask yourself what it is that you’re wanting to get out of this?
It seems like you’re wanting to send this to let your ex know how much he hurt you – but what is it that you want that to accomplish? For him to feel like a bad person? For him to realize he made a mistake and reconcile with you? For him to change his behavior so that the next girl doesn’t get hurt?
If I had to wager a guess, I’d bet that the last one isn’t it. You’re hurt right now and I get that, so what you likely want is to find a way to feel less hurt.
To do that, you probably feel like one of two things needs to happen – either he needs to suffer as much as you are, or he needs to fix your suffering.
Both of those are flawed, though.
Say I do give you the perfect script to text that will, indeed, make your ex realize how much you’re hurting. What then?
One of three things is likely to happen:
- Your Ex doesn’t respond at all
- Your Ex responds, but only in anger and self-defense
- Your Ex responds, apologizes, and you feel better for a minimal amount of time until the anger surfaces again. At which point, you’ll have to craft another message to send and the cycle will repeat.
None of those are good outcomes, I’m afraid. You’re seeking closure, but you’re not going to get it from him.
So, say nothing. If you need to vent, do it to a friend. Or, hell, write it out on a piece of paper – write a letter you’ll never send – and try to move on from this heartbreak.
As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below and share this article with anyone who might need to hear it.