Q. Dear Meredith,
I’m 27 and have been going through a very foggy breakup for about a year, after more than four years together. We drank a lot. We had great moments, but our final year was terrible because of the alcohol. Toward the end, he even stopped coming home after work, going straight to the bar.
We were taking a “break” for a few months, but once I moved away from him, I found a good job, stopped partying as much, and started focusing on myself. We’ve been through periods of no contact, but he always reaches out saying he can’t live without me — that we’re “soul mates.” He starts acting like we’ll get back together (I can’t deny that I like it when he does this), and promises to visit. But he doesn’t.
Last week, I told him I can’t speak casually to him anymore, and if he wanted to say something meaningful, he’s welcome to send an e-mail or show up at my door. I’m not holding my breath. Even in the most fairy tale scenario — where he drives across the country and begs for us to work things out — I’m not sure I’d be able to forget our turbulent past.
It’s sad because we had so many plans together. This breakup has seriously affected my mental health, and I’ve even reached out for therapy. Any advice for someone still feeling the fresh pain of heartbreak almost a year after I left the man? — A Year Later
A. Well, it hasn’t really been a year. Technically, you went on a “break” last fall, and have been making those “soul mate” phone calls ever since. Even now you’ve basically told him that if he decides to show up on your doorstep to be your boyfriend, he’ll be welcome. In all of your paragraphs, I didn’t read anything about a definitive end.
So let’s say the breakup begins now. He hasn’t shown up or written you a meaningful e-mail, which means he doesn’t have anything life changing to say. Knowing that, you can finally start grieving. You can talk about the relationship in therapy. You can begin thinking of yourself as 100 percent single, which might make life easier. Much of what you’ve been dealing with are the feelings that come with not knowing where you stand.
This will continue to hurt. Four years is a long time, and your ex was almost a lot of things. He was almost an incredible partner in adventure. Almost a best friend. He taught you plenty about what you do want, and that makes it hard to let go.
But I promise that after you’ve had 12 months to process what happened, things will look different. Maybe not perfect, but it’ll be something new. — Meredith
Soul mates bring out the best in each other. He was not your soul mate, not then and not now. BOSTONSWEETS21
The “fresh” pain of heartbreak is due to the fact that you keep picking at the scab. You should dread this guy driving across country with a fistful of roses. FINNFANN
It hasn’t been a year. It’s been a week. The only way to stop this toxic cycle you call a relationship is for one of you to extricate yourself completely. MCDIMMERSON
No contact is the right idea. Build on the positive steps you’ve taken and move on. JOERILLAMeredith Goldstein is in her ninth year of writing Love Letters for The Boston Globe. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.