Hey Doctor NerdLove,
Im contacting you because I need a non-biased opinion about my situation. It’s about my ex who pushed me away, then broke things off via text, then apologized three weeks later. Can’t ask friends or family because they will obviously side with me and just hate on her.
So, first thing I want to start off with this girl I dated for a while had her own problems dealing with anxiety. Just stating that to help explain what happened afterwards. The start of the relationship was fantastic for me and her. The first month and a half were great and a lot of fun, I connected with her on nerd stuff like games, comics, tv shows, a ton of stuff. Then stress starting piling up with her due to her job and possibly looking for a new job out of state which would mean the unfortunate end for us. The weird thing is we talked about it and suggested that we could still make it work. Anyway, as stress grew and I tried as much as I could to help and be there, she started to push me away. To a point that she wouldn’t see me or even have a phone conversation with me. She put up walls and made excuses to not see me, then after a little over a week dumped me.
Three weeks later she texts back to apologize, and explain that she couldn’t handle the stress and was too proud to have anyone help her including me. That and she has had good people leave her and hurt her, so she instead pushed me away and hurt me so she wouldn’t get hurt. I do forgive her, because its over and done with. I’m not someone to stay mad easily. She didn’t try and get back with me or said we should get back together, just the explanation and the apology. (All via text.) Afterwards though I thought of the line from Avengers 2 where Bruce Banner is done fighting after the intro fight of the movie and says “You know, sometimes exactly what I want to hear isn’t exactly what I want to hear.” Made me realize hating someone who hurt you is easier than forgiving them. Which brings me to my question.
Should I say something to her a long the lines “Hey, if things work out with finding a job close by, and if you feel like you’ve changed and would like to grab a coffee sometime and start over, give me a buzz.”? I mean, am I wrong in even thinking about this? Should I believe in the romantic side of me and give it a second chance if there is one? Or was I right in my initial thought and move on, because there is a possibility she won’t change and could do this all over again? Interested in your thoughts.
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
OK let’s break this down a little.
First of all: you weren’t with her for that long, as near as I can tell, before things started to pile up. As unromantic as it is to say, a relationship of a month and a half is not a terribly serious one and most people aren’t going to be as invested in one of, say, six months or longer. Relationships can take a not inconsiderable amount of time and attention, especially if you’re looking for something with potential to be serious rather than a casual one. We all have limited emotional and mental bandwidth and that means on occasion we have to prioritize what gets our attention. When shit starts to pile up and something has to give, a fledgling relationship is going to be on the chopping block. This rarely is a comment on the relationship itself or the person they’re dating; it’s more of a case of “right person, wrong time.”
Now, could she have handled this better? Oh yes. Just squeezing you out – probably in hopes that you’d get the hint dump her – wasn’t cool. It would’ve been better for her to say “Listen, I have too much to handle right now, so I need to end this for now. Maybe we can get back together when things are different,” instead of the passive-aggressive path she took.
The fact that she’s gone out of her way to apologize and at least explain is a good thing, in my opinion. At the very least, it’s an olive branch, an expression that she knew she did you wrong and wants to at least make some amends. Of course, this does make it a lot harder to stay mad at her. I mean come on, how can you hate her as what done you wrong when she stubbornly refuses to be a cardboard cutout of an evil ex and takes responsibility for her behavior during the break-up? The nerve of some people!
And that brings us to your question: do you make any tentative overtures about maybe, possibly get back together? Or do you forgive, forget and put her in the rear-view mirror? Well… that depends.
Deciding whether trying to get back together with your ex is a good idea hinges on two very important questions: why are you trying to get back together and have the circumstances that caused your break-up changed?
Many people who hope to get back with their exes have just refused to move on. Either they’ve developed oneitis or they’re missing the nostalgic comfort of the known (usually plastering over those unpleasant parts about what the relationship was really like). In your case, you’ve handled things the right way – you’ve made your peace with things and moved on.
So we need to look at the second question: have things changed enough that your relationship will be viable this time around? Is her self-awareness matched with a willingness to do things differently the next time the stress piles up (and it will)? Is she in a better place, where she’ll be more willing to let you in, or at least give you a heads up about what’s going on instead of just squeezing you out?
Personally, I don’t think three weeks is really enough time to make that substantive a change if this is as deeply ingrained a pattern as she implies. But you know her better than I do, so you tell me. As it stands, I think it would be ok to make the offer to at least see each other again and then take things from there. Although if you do get together, I would suggest that you take things slower this time; leaping back in with both feet will only get you hurt again.
Dear Dr NerdLove,
The past five years I’ve had a very toxic relationship which have now ended. In that time I’ve changed and grown as a woman and mother, now having a completely different attitude from five years ago. I’ve now made the right moves for a secure and stable future. I couldn’t have that with my ex. My ex-partner never changed or grew at all, even though he promised to try. I decided that enough was enough, I was never going to have a life I want if I stayed with that man. To put it in a nutshell: in our five years together he’s spent 2-3 in prison, 1 year out with his friends and the rest in between my home and others.
Now I’ve had the space to think, I don’t believe I’ve let that rubbish be normality for so long. Don’t get me wrong we was very much in love at one point, but not going nowhere in life which I couldn’t stand. Neither of us had the strength to walk away and we were in a pattern of breaking up and getting back together. Now I’ve got myself together away from him, I feel absolutely fine. I Am proud I had the strength to get out of that rut. I genuinely have no bad feelings towards him I’ve let it all go so I can move on with my own life, wishing him the best of luck for his future.
I moved on and I met somebody else. I started to get feelings for him which I was very surprised at; I expected it would take me a long time to love again. He felt the same way- or at least he made me believe that he did.
(My ex always drummed into my head that no one would love me, so it was strange at first for me)
I thought the new relationship was going to be great. We had the same expectations and goals in life,. I decided to keep it quiet as I know what my ex-boyfriend is like and 100% would cause trouble. The only person who knew is my best friend at the time. However, my ex began to see her. Unfortunately for her I could see the bigger picture and knew that he was using her to hurt me. Which he did. I was very disappointed in her but I didn’t expect any different from him and got over it pretty quickly. I even wished them luck. I didn’t see why I should hold on to feelings that didn’t matter anymore to me.
When my ex found out about my new partner, he then began to start so much trouble. Other people started spreading rumours. It’s really frustrating because I can see the bigger picture that me and him were not good together and I would rather him be happy with somebody else. I wouldn’t even get involved in his life. He just can’t seem to feel the same for me. All the trouble made my new BF back right off. I wouldn’t even say he was my BF anymore; I’ve barely had any contact with him for 2-3 week. He has given me mixed signals. I’ve stepped back and left him to deal with his own thoughts. It did make me feel like my new relationship rushed. Like we had to prove something to others, I don’t know. It’s quite annoying; it made all the fun go away. I’m feeling very confused. Should I just forgot about my current boyfriend now?
Back In The Saddle Again
Damn, BITSA, it’s a damned good thing that you and your ex broke up. He sounds like an incredibly toxic person and you’re far better off without him. Sadly, he seems to disagree, judging by the fact he went out of his way to make trouble for your current relationship.
Considering how all the shit went down, you need to do is start taking steps to excise your ex from your life and insulate yourself from his future attempts at manipulation. You don’t need to keep your dating on the down-low but you do need to make sure that the people in your life who are privy to your relationship status changes know about your dirtbag ex-boyfriend. Doing things like dating your best friend in order to mine information about you isn’t just creepy, it’s potentially dangerous. That’s some serious stalker behavior in and of itself. Starting a whisper campaign to sabotage your current relationship is equally disturbing.
(Also: Christ, high-school never ends for some people, does it?)
The first thing you should do is start putting your information on lockdown. Tighten up all of your privacy settings on your social media and let your friends know what he’s doing. Some stalkers and abusers will try to insinuate themselves into the lives of their victim’s friends in order to gain access to the victim; they may even start relationships with friends in order to use those friends as catspaws. I’ve seen plenty of vengeful exes (ahem) try to pour poison into people’s social circles as a means of getting their revenge and “punishing” their victims. As cold-blooded as it may be, if any of your friends continue to let him into their lives, you may need to consider cutting them out of yours. This includes friends who were willing vectors for the gossip he was spreading. The less access he has to you – either directly or by proxy – the less damage he can do. If he continues to interfere with your life, you may want to consider talking to a lawyer and see what your options are with regards to getting a restraining order filed against him. Even high-school grade bullshit can have a toxic effect on your life.
Once you’ve cleaned house and sealed this guy off from you… then it’s time to reconsider your current relationship. Right now, all that drama has made your current boyfriend take a few steps back. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about that; very few people want to date a drama bomb, even when that drama is being inflicted by other people. It’s not fair to you, but it’s the current state of play. It takes a special kind of relationship to last when the shit hits the fan like it has here.
Did you and your current rush into things? I can’t say. You don’t mention how long it’d been since you and your ex broke up when you got together or how quickly things progressed. This is made even more complicated by the fact that your ex has done a serious number on you and your self-esteem. It may be best to let things with your current boyfriend go for now and take time to recover – not just from this bullshit, but from your relationship with your ex. Getting away from him was the first step. The next is to let the wounds heal and excise the poison he’s left in you. It may be worth your time to talk to a counselor, just to process things.
TL;DR – lock your ex and his proxies out of your life and then take some time to recover from the damage he’s done. Surround yourself with Team You and take care of yourself until you’re sure you’re ready for a new relationship.