Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I’ve been a long-time reader of your articles, and after so many years, I now find myself in need of your advice. It’s a bit of a long story. For context, I am a single 27-year-old man, and the woman in question is my ex, and is about to turn 26. We both work in the same profession. I’ll start with the background first.
In the fall of 2018, my ex and I first met when we were working together at a new internship. We clicked instantly, and the attraction was mutual. We began dating almost immediately. I have no doubt about the sincerity and genuineness of the relationship at the time; I have never been happier, and she loved me and appreciated who I was and what I could provide. Having said that, I need to say that at the time, she was married — to a man who I later found out was emotionally abusing her, before and during our own relationship.
Unfortunately for me, this was also my first ever relationship, which means I made some mistakes of my own, and those mistakes — combined with her renewed desire to try to make her marriage work — resulted in her ending our relationship in December of 2018. I was absolutely heartbroken.
This was not just some work affair or side thing for me — she was my girlfriend, and I was devastated. So much so that I ended up making the mistake of playing the “We can still be friends” card on the table, and ended up locking myself into that emotional prison for a further four months, until in April of 2019, she finally made me promise not to contact her anymore, because she was committed her decision and wanted to focus on that relationship. And I agreed, because I wanted her to be happy, and because I could understand where she was coming from.
And so it was for nearly eleven months. As I’m sure you know, going no contact cold turkey from a person you WANT to be with is one of the most horrible experiences a person could have. In my case, I developed depression, felt lonely and miserable, and I even sought help in a support group for failed relationships to find solace. Not one day went by that I didn’t think about her, and — surprise surprise — I was, and am, still in love with her. After so long without hearing from her, I eventually wrote an acceptance letter to her which I did not send, and I’m quoting myself here, “because I had to let her go.” That’s where I was.
Imagine my shock, then, when she did reach out to me! Almost eleven months later! It felt like a miracle. She wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear from her (she couldn’t have been more wrong), but she said that she was finally leaving him for good, due to the continued emotional abuse, and that she thought of me. We have been texting daily since (as of this letter, almost a week), and have even had a short phone call. I haven’t been this happy in a long time. I missed having my friend in my life. But I also miss having her as my girlfriend. And that, finally, is where my question begins.
Dr. NerdLove: I am still in love with my ex, who is now formally separating from her husband. I want her and I to try again. I want us back together. Should I tell her? How should I tell her? When? And is there any hope for us, in such a complex situation?
I have been happy talking to her as normal, and discussing our work and so forth, but when she left, I told her that I loved her and would always welcome her back; surely she’s at least considered the possibility of trying again, otherwise, why reach out to me at all? I can tell she’s a bit different now: she seems a little distant and sad, and a tad overworked, perhaps as a coping mechanism. I want to support her, but I’m not sure how.
To make matters even more complicated, right now, my ex is still located near me, but when she graduates from school, she will be moving back home to Texas, and then after that, when she acquires her license, she will be moving one state over from me (I’m in Virginia) to begin her dream job. Which means even assuming that she wants to actually rekindle our relationship– which is still a huge unknown and may not even be a possibility — it’s going to be forced to take on a long-distance component very soon. But I can deal with that. After having once gone fourteen months without seeing her, there’s very little now I wouldn’t do to be able to be with her.
Doctor, is there any hope for us? And is there anything I can do to let her know that I don’t care about the past, but that I do want to be there for her in her future? I love her so much, but I feel like a compass that doesn’t know where true north is anymore.
Thank you for reading, I know it was long, but if this is or can be a second chance, I want to do it right this time, and any advice or insight is appreciated 🙂