Dear Sara: I started dating someone in the beginning of November. Everything was going great, [until] he called to tell me he heard from an ex. [He said it] messed with his head, that possibly down the line we could open back up communication again. I have been continually hurt by men, and started dating him because he was the opposite of what I normally go for and he made me laugh. After his comment about possibly texting one day, I just hung up, later sending a message that I was blindsided …
From what I understood, he is getting back with the ex who has hurt him, and if it doesn’t work out he will call me. However I also wanted to know if he just needed time to be on his own and get his mind right. I’m trying to be ok, but this was a blow. Any advice? – C
Dear C: Oh gosh, that is a blow. It’s so disappointing to have a relationship that feels so right, only to get blindsided like that.
My only advice is to not take it personally. It can take people a very very long time to get over exes, especially if the ex keeps trying to pull them back. It DOES mess with people’s heads. So he’s not in a place to be in a relationship with you right now, and in a way it’s good that he knows this.
There’s no way to really know what’s going on with him—if he’s going to come back, or if you’ll even want to take him back. So let him deal with his stuff and in the meantime be kind to yourself. What you’re going through is very, very hard and it’s okay to allow yourself to feel bad for a while.
But don’t feel bad for feeling bad. You’re in a period of grief—you’re grieving the loss of this relationship, and you’re grieving the hope and happiness it brought you. So if you want to spend some time eating ice cream and watching sad movies, do it. If you start to criticize yourself for feeling sad, just remind yourself, “I feel sad right now. That’s okay. Everyone feels sad sometimes. This is hard, but it will pass.”
We often think that suppressing or denying emotions will make them go away, but it’s not true. When you allow the sadness to simply exist, rather than tighten around it, it tends to move through you more quickly. This isn’t wallowing—it’s simply being patient with your experience.
Being kind to yourself doesn’t just mean indulging in TV and snacks. It also means taking care of yourself: exercising, eating well, etc. Treat yourself to a delicious meal. Get a spa treatment. Take a yoga or zumba class—whatever you know will make you feel better physically. Physical pain and emotional pain are essentially the same thing, so if you take care of yourself physically you’ll also feel better mentally.
If you can do that, you might start to think about whether or not you actually want him back. Yes, you had a good time together, and yes people are entitled to question their relationships. But it does sound like he treated you quite carelessly. By treating yourself with kindness and compassion, you might realize you’d prefer to hold out for a man who will do that, too.