In Season One of her new Love Letters podcast, Meredith Goldstein explores what happens when love ends in a breakup. Listen to the podcast now, and subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and RadioPublic.
Q. Dear Meredith,
I am 23. After graduating college last year, my boyfriend of almost four years broke up with me. I was devastated. Being apart only lasted for about a month. But then he broke up with me again a month and a half later. He said he wanted a “break” because he “sometimes felt we should see other people,” but I felt so hurt that I told myself it was over for good. We agreed to not speak for a month. During that time, I moved to a new city and started a new job. I also started dating a new friend at work; we’ll call him “Pierre.”
When my ex found out, he freaked out. He sent letters and told me everything I had always wanted to hear. I was heartbroken. But I decided to move on with Pierre instead. Fast-forward to now. I am still seeing Pierre and he is wonderful. I feel so ashamed to admit that I still think about my ex. I have thoughts like, “Should I have taken him back?” and then, “Why did I just think that? Aren’t I happy with Pierre?”
I feel the stress of simultaneously trying to grieve a past relationship while enjoying a new one. Maybe I should just take some alone time. However, I feel that dismissing my ex and Pierre would be throwing away unique, wonderful people. — 23
A. It’s important to remember that if you’d chosen your ex, you’d probably have very similar questions about Pierre. You’d wonder whether you’d prioritized the right person. You’d long for the man you turned down.
It’d be lovely to have some time for yourself, but . . . that’s not realistic advice. You have strong feelings for the person you’re dating, and lingering feelings for an ex. It’s easy to say, “Hey, take a break,” but I don’t think you can do that when you have a great partner right in front of you.
Instead, it might be nice to try some therapy, because you’re processing so many things at once: grieving your last relationship, coping with the very normal stress of a new one, your recent graduation. The transition out of college is its own weird experience. Every choice seems to put you on some permanent path, and it’s difficult not to think about all the roads not taken.
Please remind yourself that nothing has to be permanent right now. Try counseling so you have some guidance as you make all of these decisions. Don’t hate yourself; you’re being thoughtful about so many things at once, and you’re into Pierre. You just can’t give him everything — yet.
Your ex was probably hoping that he would find his own Pierre (in female form) while you remained celibate. But it happened the other way around so he’s insanely jealous for giving you up and getting nothing in return. ALLUSERNAMESARETAKEN
You’re young and haven’t had many relationships. So, yeah, I’m sure there are things you do with Pierre that bring back memories of your ex. That is to be expected. You need to focus on how your ex broke up with you —TWICE — per you, out-of-nowhere.
The nagging feeling that you should take some time alone — listen to it. That’s your gut.