So, we usually take questions from our readers, but this week I came across a question on Slate that I’d like to throw in my two cents.
I broke up with my long-time boyfriend for the fourth time yesterday. He’s a manipulator and a drunk and a narcissist but also fun and charming. I don’t have a lot of friends in this town, but I have joined some clubs and do some volunteering at an art gallery in order to see people. Seeing a therapist helps, and I also go to Al-Anon, but I don’t have a lot of friends here and I work at home. My ex has lots of homeless, unhealthy, alcoholic friends who hang out in the park. I am basically his job. He hangs out with me so he can afford his lifestyle of drinking in the park and still keep a roof over his head. I met him a few years ago in a larger city where he had normal friends and family members. He doesn’t speak to any of them anymore. He is no good, but I am kind of a weakling. Please advise.
Prudence’s advice was to move.
Yes, that would probably be the easiest way to move on. And, yes, that might be the best course of action for this one particular reader.
But how about those of us who can’t or don’t want to move every time a relationship goes south?
This isn’t a question of whether or not you should get back together but what to do when you know you need to stop playing the “are they or aren’t they” game.
Take some time away
You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?
No talk, no touch, no eye contact.
Yes, it’s great if you still want to be friends (or friends with benefits), but you obviously aren’t there yet. If you take a break from contact now, you’ll be more likely to preserve the friendship rather than inevitably dragging it out until you both hate each other.
How much time do you give it? It depends. It may be a few weeks, it may be a few years, it may be never. But if you start pressuring yourself by saying “I should be over it by now,” you’ll backslide.
Be honest with yourself. Are you really over it?
Do you think about her less? Dream about her less? Does it hurt just as much to think about her with someone else? Does it still make you as nervous to think about running into her in public? Act accordingly.
Divide up your people & places
I know. Why should you have to stop going to y’alls favorite bar? Why should you be the one to skip your mutual friend’s birthday?
Because in the end, that will suck a lot less than the emotional turmoil and temptation dealing with your ex before you should.
Be the bigger person. Reclaim your spaces when you dgaf.
Go dark on social
Hide her on FB. Hide her friends that post pics of them together.
Stahp late night, sad-sack social media stalking. Unfriend her and ask her to change her privacy settings if you have to.
Cut loose ends
Divide your stuff earlyish on. Figure out what you’re going to do about the dog you got together. Pay her back for the airline ticket she bought you for the trip y’all planned this summer.
Try to clean up any excuses they would have to contact you again.
Figure out what hole she’s filling
Are you drawn back to her because of the sex? companionship? validation?
Pinpoint what keeps drawing you back and seek it out in a different, healthier place.
TL;DR? Make a clean break. It’ll be a lot harder and then a lot easier. You got this, guy.
Good luck out there.