#1091: Sorry, but she’s not The One.

Hi there,

I’m 36, my (ex)gf is 25. Met in August last year. Fell in love. Never met anyone like her and ticks all the boxes. I felt set for life (love, kids, the lot) and when she was there, there was no one else in the room (not something I had felt before).

We fell out over something stupid and then spent the next two weeks kinda reconciling but not really making progress.

Short version: she thought I deliberately misunderstood and belittled her, didn’t like it when I would storm off in some situations (it was completely unacceptable) and was upset that I didn’t ask her about her past. I hadn’t asked because it sounded horrible and I didn’t want to put someone I love through that again. I made the wrong call. Our sex life was strained due to an pre-existing psychological ED issue, which was exacerbated by her reactions.

On the other hand, I refused to be judged by the incredibly low standards her mentally and physically abusive, serially cheating drug dealer ex had set – she called me out about an innocuous photo on insta which kicked things off. I didn’t feel heard in the relationship and I had started to feel more and more peripheral to her life, despite the fact I’d looked after her through illness and post-operation.

Communication was poor and we had both made mistakes. A bit of regrettable game playing on both sides ensued, but throughout everything, I always thought that it was all temporary and we would get back on track. We just needed to talk it through and listen to one another.

She had given me the silent treatment on a few occasions and I was reaching out to try to reconcile. Then she sends me a message effectively ending it. I tried to message, I tried to call. Nothing. I wrote her a letter in which poured my heart out and gave it to her when she came out of work. She promised to read it. Nothing in reply. I sent her cacti (sentimental symbol for us), one each day for a week, each with a sentimental note. Nothing in reply. It’s been nearly a month since her last message.

I’ve effectively been ghosted, but from a relationship that was six months of love and plans and fun and joy.

I know she’s the one. And I know we can easily overcome the things we argued about. But we can’t do that if she won’t talk. What can I do, to either win her back (as unlikely as it seems) or move on with such little closure? I’m sad, angry, lonely, frustrated, scared, confused, desperate and utterly heart-broken. I still love her.

Any help here would be most welcome.

Thank you.

She’s not The One. I know this for sure because if she wanted to talk with you, she would have by now. If she wanted to be with you, she would have let you know.  The problems between you can’t be worked out if one person decides not to work on them, and people get to make a unilateral decision to end relationships. It hurts to put yourself out there and realize that the other person isn’t picking up what you’re putting down, and I’m sorry you’re hurting so much, but it’s past time to let go.

Above all: You have got to stop sending her letters and succulents. When someone isn’t responding to you and you keep sending gifts and messages, it can quickly cross the line from “sad/awkward” into “scary.” Unfollow/block all of her social media. Do not show up at places where you know she will be. This is a kindness; it means that you are giving her space to feel safe and free and also giving yourself space to grieve.

Stop trying to contact her. Then, stop telling the story about how she was the one who got away and how everything was so perfect (when really it sounds like you had a bad sex life and frequent arguments that involved storming off and the silent treatment).

Instead, start telling yourself a story like this:

“I loved this woman a lot and I thought we were going to go the distance. We had some issues, but I thought the problems we had were surmountable. She felt differently, and ultimately it didn’t work out. She has decided to go no contact, so I’m going to stop sending her letters, texts, and cactuses. I’m going to unfollow her social media accounts and break myself of the habit of monitoring  how she’s doing. I’m going to assume that I’ll never hear from her again.

Then I’m going to grieve for what we had and do my best to put the love I have to give into my family, my friendships, my community, and other relationships that sustain me. If I have trouble letting go, I’m going to find a therapist who can help me process everything.

I know it’s gonna hurt for a while, but I know that it will get better with some time. The good things about me that drew this lovely woman to me are still in me, and hopefully they will eventually draw other lovely people into my life.” 

Leave her alone. Tell yourself the new story. Tell it until it’s true.


418 thoughts on “#1091: Sorry, but she’s not The One.

    1. Yeah, ghosting means the person vanished, the ex sent him a letter saying, “We’re done.”

    2. Yep. LW, I think the details you’ve included in this are obscuring your view of the fundamental story–you’re missing the forest for the trees. The fundamental points here are really just this:
      – You were dating a woman you really liked.
      – She broke up with you.

      That’s it. I know that’s painful to recognize, and I understand wishing that it wasn’t the case…but it is the case, and there’s really nothing you can do to change it. She sent you a message ending things. You can’t make her change her mind. You can’t have a relationship when only one side wants one–relationships require reciprocal interest, and that doesn’t exist anymore–so it’s done, no matter what you do.

      You can control how you react. My suggestion is to stop contacting her, stop hoping for reconciliation, and stop looking for closure. Closure is mostly a myth; very few people are ever satisfied with how their SO breaks up with them, no matter how much information is given or how thoroughly it’s talked out. Find ways to move on anyways. Pick up a hobby–take a pottery class, develop a gym routine, join a local comedy group, whatever strikes your fancy and gets you out of the house and busy on a regular basis. Make efforts to spend time with your friends and family; they’re your people, let them keep you busy and help you feel loved and wanted. Start a new TV series, or pick up a new book from the library: something that will keep your mind occupied when you have some down time. Make new connections–join a meetup group, volunteer, get a pet (if you want one and are up for the responsibility), invite that casual acquaintance you’ve been meaning to get to know better to do something with you. The more you fill up your life, the easier it will become to live and be happy without your ex.

      1. “Closure is mostly a myth” This is so important. Closure comes when you take the time to grieve the end of the relationship and move on; not from some magic words the ex can say that will make it all make sense. Clinging to the hope of reconciliation, or even the hope of a “good explanation” will only prevent the LW from moving on.

        1. I remember seeing somewhere once that closure is a gift you give yourself. It’s not something that someone else can give you. It feels deeply true, even while I wish it weren’t.

  1. This does suck, but you’ve got to stop. Closure is sadly going to have to come from yourself. And if you can grieve, you can indeed meet someone who will be your One.

  2. I just wanted to say that I love “You have got to stop sending her letters and succulents.” Brilliant. Captain’s advice? Also brilliant. If things are this bad six months in, I don’t know why you are working so hard to keep this dead relationship alive. At six months you should still be in the honeymoon stage, not fighting all the time and silent-treating each other.

    1. Not only this – LW didn’t *send* their ex a letter. They showed up outside her workplace and gave it to her after she had already told them she was ending it and had not responded to attempts at contact. “She promised to read it,” yeah, I’d promise to read something an ex (of six months!!) showed up outside my work to give me, too…

      1. Is this like the African violet of ending friendship? The Cactus of Trying to Get Back Together with an Unwilling Ex?

          1. There’s a concept in a great SF series I read called the Liaden Universe called “nubiath’a”, when one of the partners wants to conclude a romance they bring a gift (often a plant), the gift being called nubiath’a, and once that is given then both parties basically go on with their lives and don’t refer to the past relationship. Liaden customs might be a bit much for us to manage, but that it’s what the society mandates makes for extreme disapprobation for the party who does not accept it.

          1. Haha, yes, dry and pointy. Perfect for a dead-end activity.

            Also, it only just occurred to me that he said he sent her a cactus a day for a week. Why would you send any more after the first one if that one didn’t get a response?

        1. The trouble with giving the Cacti of Reconciliation is that it may make you look like a prick.

        2. Instant classic. Henceforth “don’t Cactus people” will be standard shorthand among Awkwardeers, along with African Violets, Return Awkward To Sender, and BEES!

      2. That bit was scary. Do not ever track people down at their work or home after they have told you they don’t want to talk to you or see you!

        Dude, you had the chance to be a fond memory for her someday, someone where she can say ‘it wasn’t a good relationship for me and I ended it, but we had some good times too and he wasn’t aweful, just not for me’.

        If you keep sending her things, showing up at her work, etc, you will become instead the scary story…

      3. I really didn’t want to draw that conclusion since the LW didn’t word it that way, but that is what it sounds like. LW, I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but if you did show up where she works so you could talk to her when she got out . . . NO! Bad ex-boyfriend! I would be extremely alarmed if someone I recently dumped, or tried to distance myself from in any way, did this. If I’m not answering your text messages, or returning your calls, I don’t want to see you when I get out of work.

          1. Reply to William Kitcher (not sure how threading’s going)

            Presence of a penis (and associated erectile issues) is not proof of pronouns. Thanks!

          2. @Kaos Some women have penises. Some nonbinary people have penises.

            While we know this LW is male due to the Captain telling us, you cannot tell someone’s gender by their genitals. Don’t be cissexist, yeah?

        1. Direct quote: “I wrote her a letter in which poured my heart out and gave it to her when she came out of work. She promised to read it. Nothing in reply.”

    2. Ex grew up. That’s what happened. I don’t like the age difference. Ex is young adult and LW is near middle age. And is being stalky. And so out of touch. Actually writing a letter asking how to get the girl? You get the girl by asking the girl. If the girl tells you it’s over you don’t get the girl. I had limited empathy due to the inherent power imbalances prevalent in relationships like this and it crossed to a world of nope as soon as he related how he camped out at her job. And sent creepy presents every day. LW if you don’t stop she can file an RO and based on all you’ve said she’ll get it. Stalking is illegal. You don’t have to threaten someone. It’s just not legal, full stop. So stop.

      1. I agree with this. I get that different age gaps can exist in healthy relationships but there exists a kind of patter with some men (though it may also happen with women) when a guy is controlling or in some way toxic and always dates a lot younger women, ’cause they are less experienced and don’t yet know that those things are not-okay in a relationship, or lack assertiveness. Then those women grow up, get a clue, stand up for themselves and leave the guy. And at this point he keeps dating a lot younger people for the same reason and the cycle repeats, only it gets harder and harder with age, ’cause the guy gets older but he still needs women in their early 20s for this to work.

        It’s very possible that this is what happened here, considering how controlling and stalky the LW behaves. It would be very weird for him not to be controlling in the relationship itself and then show all this creepy behaviors after the brake up.

        And the part where he says that she THINKS he belittled her is especially concerning. Look LW, I don’t know you or her but if she thinks you did, I think you did. It would be so much better for you to look closely at this instead of invalidating it with ‘she thinks’, as if she’s making it up! Is that how you always treated her concerns and issues with the relationship? That’s a problem and also probably one of bigger reasons she left. If you want this not to happen again in future relationships, you need to look at this and improve! Be sincere with yourself for your own sake.

        Sadly I’m really suspicious of men that date much younger women due to this pattern. It’s not accurate 100% of the time but I consider this a personal red flag.

        1. To your second paragraph – I had an ex who was pretty much the definition of a pushover during our relationship, but who bought very heavily into bad romantic movie tropes about “winning back your one true love”, which led to some pretty similar behaviors to those of the LW. (He drove 4+ hours to surprise visit me at my out-of-state school, he left letters and flowers on my car when he knew where I would be, and he showed up outside my parents’ house late at night after I broke up with him (thankfully without the boombox).) It wasn’t so much an attempt to be in control, it was more that he really truly believed I was the one and thought grand “romantic” gestures was how you showed that. However, he was in his early 20’s and only a few years older than me, and he later recognized how not cool his behavior was and apologized.

          What I am definitely in agreement with is that someone who makes a pattern of dating significantly younger partners is definitely worth looking at with suspicion, as it’s unlikely to be anything other than taking advantage of people who are less experienced in life / relationships.

      2. Age differences by themselves don’t have to be squicky – the ex is a young adult, but she is an adult, it’s not like the LW is dating a teenager.
        I’d agree, though, that LW is definitely old enough to know better.

        1. People of different ages who fall in love (as long as everyone is of age when it happens) = not necessarily a big deal.

          Men who serially date only much younger women = massive side-eye. In my OKCupid days, listing your desired age range as 18-your age minus 1 = instablock.

          1. Thanks for the first line in particular, Captain. I’m seeing a lot of judging about age gap relationships, here, and it’s both not necessarily true – and rather hurtful to those of us who are in one.

            My DH is 13 years older than I am. Most of the time, the age difference isn’t something we think about. Because we have more in common than otherwise – we’re both geeks, with a lot of overlap in how we prefer to “do geek.” He demonstrates, regularly, that my preferences and opinions matter at least as much as his do. We have the occasional disagreement, of course, but we talk it through and work it out. We’ve now been married for well over a decade.

            My dad is 11 years older than my mom is…they’re still married, and still happy.

            It’s not for everyone, and anyone who isn’t comfortable with the idea shouldn’t engage in one. But please don’t throw shade or make assumptions about such relationships in the absence of further evidence.

            In this case, there’s plenty of further evidence. And there are definitely cases in which an older guy only chooses to date younger women because he’s a controlling jerk, feels like he wants to “hang on” to his youth, and all that other unhealthy stuff.

          2. Same, especially if I suspect they are already receiving Social Security checks. What would you even think you could do with a teenager that makes you such a prize, Uncle Creepy? Also lazy first messages (“hey”) or negging first messages (“you look pretty good for your age”) got blocked. Ain’t nobody got time for that. What’s more annoying is that I was on OKCupid to find activity buddies, not dates, and was very upfront about that, so anyone ignoring my profile and sending “hey baby yo baby hey baby yo baby yo yo yo baby yo yo yo” messages got instablocked with extreme prejudice.

        2. THIS. I’m a bit tired of people automatically going “ewww creepy” whenever there’s an age gap between 2 consenting adults. 25 is firmly into “adult” territory (and BTW, 36 is NOT “middle-aged”). It’s also pretty insulting to those of us who have been in perfectly healthy relationships with older people.
          Being controlling has nothing to do with age difference and there are many ways in which a relationship can be imbalanced.
          (That being said, I agree that guys systematically targeting much younger women are a red flag, esp. if they’re going after “barely legal” women. Also, LW is definitely being stalkerish, but I’m not sure age is a factor).

          1. 20-some years ago, my mom was in the latter half of her thirties (as I am now) hanging out with a single-friend-from-shared-activity who was a few years older than her. She mentioned something along the line of “what can you expect, I’m middle-aged” and her friend freaked out. Because my mom couldn’t be middle-aged because then she, the older, would be too. I’ve taken to saying that I have 2 kids and a mortgage to express the same sentiment; but I know that the youthful half of my three-score and 10 are behind me.

            But there’s nothing wrong with being in the middle of your life (I’d say 30-50) … you’ve grown! you know who you are as a person! you’ve schooling done (or done for-now, or are seeking to go a new direction) and some work experience. You’ve interacted with adults as an adult – as a peer at work, or at the bank, etc. etc. … LW; relationships happen. My second big one (counting the first in HS) became my husband and that’s how I reached middle age (or 2-kids-and-a-mortgage … you decide). I had a lot of friends with that goal, but they didn’t find love, or battled infertility, or both, or just … grew … and realized that they wanted other things.

            You seem to know what you want – the house, the kids – but not someone to go there with you. This relationship seemed like it could have been it; but it wasn’t. The good thing is: it’s over. Put yourself out there; especially when seeking a more traditional phases of growth there will be plenty of people in your life – clergy, busybodies at political phone banks, your real-estate lawyer, your parents, maybe (depending on where you live) even a boss, who know other people your age looking for the same thing and can set you up.

            Or you can go on the internet and pick a dating site – be clear on who you are and what you want, think of your profile as a love-letter to yourself: “I walk with Fido morning, evening, and before bed; but my favorite walk is the evening one because it’s a time to relax after a long day and we can really take the time to see – and smell! – the neighborhood. I’d love to date another dog-owner so that we could share this together.” … What you like about you, is what you want someone else to like about you. And congrats! you’re 35 … I imagine that you have a good idea of things you like & dislike (cooking in! eating out! comfort food! exotic dishes!)

          2. (and BTW, 36 is NOT “middle-aged”)

            It’s not? It’s half 72. That puts it in the middle of a healthy life span. How long were you planning to live?

          3. 72 is a healthy lifespan? Seriously? The average life expectancy for both men and women in the US today is higher than that (76 for men, 81 for women), and that’s AVERAGE. Hell, my mother made it to 98, I’m in better health than she was at my age, and I’m 60 now and don’t really feel any different than I did at 40. Tell me I should probably last just another 12 years… oh, HELL no. So to answer your question, “how long were you planning to live”, I say 100+.

  3. There are SO men who say they were ghosted, but really mean “I didn’t give her permission to break up with me.”

      1. I took the mention of sexual dysfunction termed “ED” to mean erectile dysfunction, hence a man (if I read it correctly).

        1. Ahhhh, I read that and assumed “Eating Disorder”, but I think your interpretation makes more sense in context.


          1. I had initially interpreted “ED” as eating disorder too, but I firmly interpreted the LW as male because of the attitude displayed

        2. Hi! I’d just like to mention that not everyone with a penis identifies as male. Therefore, it’s possible to have erectile dysfunction and not be a man. (In this case the person is male, but in the future that may not be the case.)

          1. Seconding. A couple people are presenting “Erectile dysfunction == man” as fact here in the comments and it definitely is not. This guy is a man, but due to what’s between his ears, not his legs.

        1. Thanks! I just…I don’t know. I hadn’t seen pronouns and am working hard to make sure I don’t assume. I was rushed at work and I think my question came off without the “genuine inquiry” tone I was going for. Sorry!

      2. We don’t know -LW doesn’t share pronouns, but it is highly likely. Everything about this letter smells of the toxic ‘persistence is love, just keep bugging her until she gives in’ mentality that our society and culture soaks men in.

      3. I think the “pre-existing ED issue” implies it strongly. Some women have penises, but I don’t think they’d be talking about their ED as a problem for their partners to solve. (I could be wrong; if I’m displaying cis privilege here, please educate me.)

        1. I used “men” because I was drawing from my own personal experiences in which men who tend towards controlling personalities often call the silence after their partner has given them a VERY CLEAR message that the relationship is over ‘ghosting.’ They usually go on to whine about being denied “closure.” It’s their way of reframing the narrative so the ex looks like an asshole who threw away months/years in a relationship with a caring partner. That way they don’t have to really deal with the fact that their own behavior might have been the cause of or at least a contributing factor in the relationship. For the most malevolent–and the LW seems inclined this way– calling an actual breakup “ghosting” lets them rationalize away that IT IS OVER and keep pestering their partner.

    1. Yes this!! How was the LW ghosted if she send a break-up message? The LW is not in denial about the break-up message ’cause it’s mentioned in the letter black on white, and yet a couple of paragraphs below that, lo and behold: she ghosted me. That’s some double-think right there.

      LW, I’m so sorry you are suffering. It sounds like an absolute heartbreak! But what you are doing is not okay and the way you are lying to yourself – about how she ghosted you for an example – is disturbing. Come on, you KNOW she did not ghost you! She broke up with you fair and square and then refused to contact you which is a perfectly normal scenario during a break up. Please stop. You are not helping yourself with this.

      1. Good point that the LW is lying to himself. And not only that – he is telling a lie about her. It’s as though he is defining her as “that person who ghosted me” when in fact she did nothing of the kind. If he tells other people she ghosted him, that is definitely painting her in a false light and possibly character assassination. Just another reason why the LW needs to stop telling himself (and others) this story right now.

    2. Yeah she wrote him that it was over. Not ghosting at all just words he didn’t like. Honestly this letter makes me nervous for ex’s safety. Captain handled it so much better than I would have!

    3. It’s bizarre and a little frightening how some guys will latch onto any piece of vocabulary to make it look like a woman is the villain of the piece. I had a roommate once who complained about constantly getting friend-zoned, and one case in particular that had just shattered his faith in women’s ability to behave decently. With a bit of prying, I managed to get out of him what had happened: there had been a female friend, he had liked her, and asked her out, and she had said yes, and they’d gone on a few dates, and then she’d said she wasn’t really into dating him and just wanted to be friends. So apparently women are not only not allowed to be friends with men unless we plan to follow through on a romantic relationship, we’re supposed to forfeit the right to dump them after giving them a chance.
      Ghosting is one of those phenomena where it obviously happens enough that society came up with a term for it, but you have to wonder how often it really happens and how much people are choosing to be flexible with the definition. I’ve seen it used for everything from “we went on a date and I just never texted them back” to “I moved out of the home we had shared for two years and left the country without even leaving a note* ” to, well, the LW in this case.

      *If you haven’t seen it, it is a hell of a thing: http://www.askamanager.org/2017/08/i-ghosted-my-ex-and-shes-about-to-be-my-new-boss.html

      1. “It’s bizarre and a little frightening how some guys will latch onto any piece of vocabulary to make it look like a woman is the villain of the piece. ”

        Well said! I remember the shock but also clarity (and kinda..relief?) I gained when I realized for the first time that there is no way to not-be-a-bitch when you are saying ‘no’ to a guy who does not want to hear a no. It’s simply impossible and trying is a exercise in futility – he will always twist reality so that you end up a bitch, or will simply lie about it as the LW does.

        I wish someone had told me this when I was young, like in school or something. There should be a class on this, with textbooks and exercises and everything. Would make my life so much easier when I was younger.

        Also, #notallment I guess. I don’t want to sound like I’m making hurtful generalizations but.. just most men I met were like this about hearing an unwanted no. Not every no, mind you, only when they Really Really wanted something, so they might have seem to be better than this
        to a point, ’cause the situation when they Really Wanted Something has not arisen yet.

        1. Not to mention the guys who straight up won’t listen to a ‘no’ that’s not delivered in a manner that is well…bitchy.

          Sometimes it still makes me suspicious of guys who were visibly chill about receiving a polite rejection. Not that I expect a huge outpouring of emotion (I REALLY don’t want that either) but if a guy carries on as if literally *nothing* happened my antennas stay up for continued flirty gestures or other signs that it might not have been taken seriously. Some guys keep pushing to the point where you have to go nuclear.

          1. Exactly. A decent guy (or person of whatever gender, really) is going to hear “No, sorry, I’m not interested (in you) (that way) (right now) (whatever),” and probably be disappointed if they’d been hoping for a romantic and/or sexual relationship, and the disappointment may show, at least for a few minutes, but Actual Decent Human Beings will basically go, “Well, damn,” and then reset their expectations.

            On the other hand, someone who is going to be an ass about being told “No,” will generally either pitch a fit or pretend that the other party never said “No,” possibly even after the party who isn’t interested has to be very firm with the “Nope, not gonna happen.”

      2. I’ve had this happen enough times with so many different kinds of concept words that I’ve started trying to get in the habit of defining terms when the conversation is starting to get wonky. Like at some point it just becomes clear that the other person is not reacting to this concept in a way that seems normal or perhaps in a way that doesn’t fit with the other aspects of their character, and at that point I’ve started just kind of taking a step back and going, “Wait, when you say [term in question] what do YOU mean? Because I don’t think it’s what I mean.” Once they have given their definition of the term, you have a much better idea on how to respond to them. And you’re response may indeed be, “Yeah, dude, that’s not friend zoning, that’s a breakup, and it’s allowed.”

  4. It sounds like you had high hopes, but she decided you two weren’t a good fit. That’s a tough call to accept, but you need to do that. Follow CA’s advice, stop contacting her, stop sending her feelingsmail and succulents, stop persisting in trying to change her mind, because this behavior is only going to drive her further away.

    And it does sound like maybe your age difference played a role here. Not that 20-somethings can’t date 30-somethings, I’m 28 and my boyfriend is 35, but when you’re in your mid-30’s and she’s still in her mid-20’s, still only a few years out of college, there’s bound to be a significant difference in maturity and life experience that can have a negative impact on relationship dynamics.

    1. >>because this behavior is only going to drive her further away

      I think this is the wrong reason. She is definitively “away”: there is no further away, which suggests that the reason for stopping is that the LW retains some sort of closeness. Stop it because it’s creepy and scary and wrong, and nobody deserves to be stalked or harassed.

  5. You may have felt that she was “The One” for you, but clearly you are not “The One” for her. It does have to be mutual, you know.
    Also, “The One” is not really a thing.
    There’s a song by Tim Minchon called “If I didn’t have you”. You really should listen to it some time.

    1. we need to abolish the concept of “the one”

      It hurts relationships but setting the expectation that fate, not our choices, is the most important factor.

      It asserts feelings are more important than actions.

      It teaches some people that someone better be perfect or they are not “the one.”

      It teaches others to put up with damaging, boundary violating and even abusive relationships.

      Also, where does it leave widow and widowers? Guess you had one shot. Too bad.

      There is no such thing as “the one.” Only people with whom a relationship is positive for both parties (or all parties if you are poly). Also, so,e people just can’t have a healthy relationship with each other no matter how intensely they feel for each other.

      Does the relationship work or not? If not, your hopes and expectations won’t make it work.

      You need to stop focusing on an unrealistic, romanticized view of this woman. Look at how you acted. How she acted.

      1. One of my paternal aunts was a widow and she actually got a lot of flack from her sisters for remarrying a few years later. They really did believe that a woman was entitled to only one husband in her lifetime. I don’t know know if they held that same belief for men, but given the number of male ancestors on that side who married wife #2 after wife #1 died in childbirth bearing kid #12 or 14… maybe not.

          1. I just had the weirdest thought–were they old enough that they lived through WWI? I remember it coming up in a book that there really was a husband shortage for a while because so many young men died in the war or of the flu–resulted in a lot of “old maids.”

          2. This is a pretty common element in the practice of criticizing widows for having the temerity to actually have a life after being widowed.

            Although my favourite was the time a dreadful woman told me that I had taken a man away from her because my (now-late) (older) husband was her age, and I was causing a man-drought for her or something. I laughed at her. A lot.

          3. How do I divest myself of husband-shares? (husband futures? Never been married)
            I don’t want one.

          4. Oh, NoveldeVice, I have been there, too, with my ex. A woman I knew had – seriously – decided to reserve him for her sister (whom he did not like and who did not like him in return). No-one asked anything of him but when I told them that we had began dating she sort of… exploded. A very toxic group of people and I am so very happy to be rid of them.

            I hope they will not take my current husband future back. I love him so much.

          5. @Convallaria majalis: He wasn’t the heir to a large estate in Derbyshire, by any chance?

        1. The cemetery where my mom is buried is Civil War-old, and you can walk around and find a family history, a la “Here’s the man and his first wife, and they buried 3 kids before she died, then he remarried and they buried 3 kids before he and she died.” And a lot of this was happening around 1918, the flu was killing them off

      2. This. Kill it with fire. And its soulmate: the concept of “soulmate”.

        (I’d throw “closure” on the bonfire too, but YMMV.”

        1. Also at-first-sight. You can be attracted to someone at first sight. You can’t know if they’ll like you back, or if you’ll be able to make a relationship work with them at first sight. And it’s a bit creepy to act like your eyes landing on them was the really significant part of the process.

          1. Meh, the particular phrase is overbearing but I’ve found my first impressions of people tend to hold pretty well. My best relationships were with people I knew I liked when I first met them; the worst were people I ended up in a relationship despite initially not really liking them. YMMV.

          2. I think “love at first sight” is just confirmation bias. You fell in love, and were also attracted at first sight, so it was love at first sight, as opposed to all those other people you might have been immediately attracted to, but never fell in love with.

            It’s like when people ask if I think things happen for a reason. I always say yes, things happen for lots of reasons! Just not in the order you mean…

          3. I’ve known people who experienced love at first sight (note: I’m not saying it happened; only that that was their experience), and I’ve experienced something I could have reasonably called that if I’d chosen to look at it that way. Instead, what I see is attraction at first sight that becomes love thereafter, and is retroactively redefined as love from the beginning because it worked out. The cases in which someone fell in “love” at first sight but discovered after a few weeks that they had nothing in common except attraction get retroactively redefined as “wasn’t really love at first sight at all,” and therefore the entire validity of the concept need not be challenged.

      3. I’ve thought about it many times, and my husband and I never would have met if it weren’t for the Recession. I had no intention of leaving my state, and he had no intention of leaving his, but then somehow we were both unemployed and then both got job offers in California.

        So I guess if we’re soul mates who are meant to be together, Cupid caused the Recession on our behalf.

        Sorry everyone.

          1. Seconded. I envision “Good Omens” meets the demigod version of an AI that destroys the universe in pursuit of its single-minded goal. “Cupid had a job to do, no matter what the cost.” Hold on, I might write that novel…

          2. I humbly request a free copy if anyone writes a book about my love deflating the world economy like an old balloon.

          3. My apologies for including the link above, I got carried away by my amusement. There’s no inappropriate content, but it comes across as self-promoting in a way I didn’t intend. Please do delete from the mod queue and sorry about the extra work I caused.

        1. Not to mention all those couples who met because one of them was a soldier in the other’s country in the world wars… did Cupid cause two world wars just to get a bunch of people together?

          This is starting to sound like the warnings about business AIs who destroy civilization in order to optimize for the production of paperclips, because they don’t realize that their orders to optimize paperclip production is supposed to be limited to, y’know, sane things to do.

    2. SUCH a good song, though at this point maybe the Captain owes him royalties or something. It shows up here a LOT. Maybe the commentariat should chip in for a fruit basket? 🙂

  6. From the point of view of this internet stranger, it doesn’t sound like your relationship was the Best Ever. Sex problems, communication problems, silent treatments, game playing, storming off…I’m sure there was good stuff that you’re not describing here, but honestly, it just sounds like a lot of effort for both of you.

    Two things:

    First, let her go. She’s been pretty clear that she’s not interested – she told you so! With words! Stop showing up at her work, stop sending her cacti, stop messaging and calling and pouring your heart out to her. Whatever your intentions, you’re probably scaring the shit out of her right now, and she’s certainly not going to come back to you after all this. I agree with the Captain – she needs SPACE, more than anything else. And she’s showing you this every time you try to contact her and she doesn’t respond. If you love her as much as you say you do, please give her the space she’s so clearly asking for.

    And second, please set the bar higher in your next relationship. Yes, relationships take work, of course they do. But not *this* much work, and there has to be a reward for both people, for all the work they put in! Seek out a relationship where both of you are happy, where you communicate without game playing and silent treatments and storming off, where the sex is fantastic – and most importantly, where all this is easy and fun for both of you.

    1. I really like this kind, sensible advice and I really hope I am not undermining it with my snark, but….

      Please set the bar and the age minimum higher in your next relationship?

      1. The One True age standard outside of high school is 1/2 your age plus 7. As my favorite engineer once said : why use common sense and good judgement when we can just let numbers tell us what to do?

        1. I believe that “half your age +7” thing has been attributed to Hugh Hefner. It was his belief that that was the ideal age for a woman to be – not a man, of course.
          Most people now take it to be the very youngest partner you should possibly have, rather than the ideal age.

          1. I feel like the last half of my comment should’ve clued everyone in to the joke? I apologize if that wasn’t as obvious as I thought.

          2. I think when I was dating online I set it to partners +/- 5 years, but that’s just me. (And that net is a bit wide, I think–I’m actually more comfortable with people really closed to my own age!)

          3. @codename
            Eh, in my experience it’s less the years than the mileage. My husband is 10 years older than me (we met when he was 30 and I was 20) but I’d done, felt, traveled, lost, and experienced more than most 40 year olds by that point. Maturity past 18 is usually a function of life and not age.

          4. @Dopameanie: I grant that it’s true (my ex was 3 years older than I am and had the emotional maturity of a child), but I’m saying that I’m personally comfortable with dating people near my age, anyway.

          5. I’ve literally never heard that formula used as an “ideal age.” Not once. It’s always been about giving an approximate range for Not Being Too Creepy.

            Now, my experience doesn’t invalidate your experience… but I wanted to give an anecdote to explain why this keeps coming up. I think most of us got it from xkcd.

            Also… it’s a range. Not one sided. So if I’m 34, that means my range is 24 to 54. Not real wild about either of those extremes for myself, but I know people who seem to do fine.

          6. @codename
            Oh! Sorry, didn’t catch that. My mistake. Side note: isn’t it So! Frustrating! when an ostensible Adult turns out to be a pouty 12 year old?! Drives me up a wall. On the other hand, some of the things that happened to me that gave me perspective and matured me in a hurry I wouldn’t wish on ANYONE. So I’m not exactly sure how to parent in a way that encourages maturity. All the maturity I got…..hurt. Do you have any advice, since you know exactly what I’m trying to avoid here?

          7. @Dopameanie: So with the caveat that I’m not a parent (unless helping to raise my brother counts), I’ll tackle the answer with what I would have liked to have seen from my ex, and things that I wish my family had done differently.

            I think it’s important to teach kids to Use Their Words so that they can communicate their needs to others instead of expecting people to immediately anticipate them. I’d hope that if it were my kids, they could feel safe and heard whenever they expressed concerns or complaints, and not feel like they would be scolded or dismissed. I feel like that leads to hiding things and letting them fester until it’s too late.

            I also think it’d be vital to teach kids to be considerate and responsible, but also teach them that some things just aren’t their duty to fix/deal with. Sometimes some things are out of their control, and that’s not really on them to apologize for. It’s good to teach responsibility, but the flip side of that is feeling responsible for uncontrollable stuff, and that’s what I’m trying to unlearn as an adult–that I am only responsible for my own thoughts/feelings/behaviors, and if people don’t like it, that’s on them.

            Finally, I’d also teach them that it’s OK to fail a few times or just be bad at something they’re learning. They don’t have to automatically know it and do it perfectly, and the failures shouldn’t be seen as personal. Obviously we want to encourage improvement, but berating them for not being automatically great at it is counterproductive.

            I hope this helps, and answers your question! (I think the books Emotional Intelligence and How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk would be helpful, too. Also, calling me Mina is fine. :D)

          1. There’s no “up until a few years ago” about it. An 80 yo could date a 60 yo and nobody would bat an eye.

        2. I think it really only works for people under 35. If I were 26, half my age plus 7 would be 20, which would be a difference, but theoretically I could still be at the same life stage as a potential partner that age if we’d never been married, didn’t have kids, maybe were both still in college/grad school. But I’m 46 and widowed with a young adult child, and I don’t think there’s any way for a 30-year-old (half my current age plus 7) to relate to any of that.

          1. It’s a misogynistic objectifying way for some men to justify wanting not a partner but an acquisition. Not that relationships with age differences don’t work bc they can be great! But how many ‘nice’ guys deliberately target only much younger women? It’s a sense of entitlement also. I’m 46 and so on not a kid but I’ve been hit on aggressively by retirees! I thought the older guy thing would stop once I was out of my early 30s. At this age it’s not really predatory bc in not a young adult but it is offensive. I used to be nicer but now I just say no once and firmly and if I get argument I am quick to say I prefer to date men my own age. I don’t dislike older men but I do dislike older men who routinely troll for much younger women. And this guy’s letter reeked of enough red flags that I have a hard time seeing him as a nonabusive type. I noted how he said there were ‘stupid misunderstandings’ and actions that were ‘regrettable on both sides’ (paraphrasing). I thought: how would she characterize it? Would she regret her actions? Bc I’ve known a couple of physically abusive folks and they say things like ‘we just had a misunderstanding’ when they’re arrested. And I’ve known a guy who persistently stalked a woman and when she once answered the phone to tell him to stop calling he said: if she didn’t want to talk to me she wouldn’t have picked up the phone. People will say anything to make themselves sound normal when They are abusive.

          2. There are 30-year-olds who are widowed with children. Maybe not grown children, but it’s a little strange to assume that no 30-year-old could relate to “any” of your situation.

        3. I know I’m happiest with a peer give or take a couple years. On the other hand, my unattached peers seem to have a thing for women 15-20 years my junior.

      2. Man I almost wrote something more snarky about entitled older men objectifying younger women and refusing to date a woman their own age bc they didn’t want an equal balanced relationship but then I felt ng filter kick in. Not sure it applies here but there are red flags all over this guy.

    2. OP, lest you misunderstand JMegan’s advice above (which I agree with), note that giving your ex SPACE is not intended to read as “Give her some space until she’s calmed down and then you can resume trying to get her back.” You need to give her space now and FOREVER. This relationship is 100% over, and you should never initiate contact with her ever again.

      1. Yes, thank you for clarifying! OP, if your ex wants to contact you at some point in the future, she knows how to do it. But you need to leave her alone forever and forever unless she initiates contact. You’ve made your point, and she is trying hard to make hers. Let her go.

      2. Heck, don’t even look at it at giving her space. You need space so you can accept that she’s really gone and won’t be coming back, and move forward from there. I know you don’t want it, because it feels like giving up, but you’re not fighting for the relationship at this point. There is no more relationship to fight for. You’re fighting her express wishes, and you’re fighting your own best interests. Time to pick a new battle. Getting your life back and working toward moving on seems like a good one.

    3. Absolutely set the bar higher. Work is one thing, constant serf-level toil for a reward you will never reap is another.

    4. ” it doesn’t sound like your relationship was the Best Ever. Sex problems, communication problems, silent treatments, game playing, storming off…I’m sure there was good stuff that you’re not describing here, but honestly, it just sounds like a lot of effort for both of you.”

      Possibly that was what the LW liked about it.

      The drama.

      The intensity.

      If it’s not full of wild ups and downs, how do you know that what you’re feeling is really love? Calm, steady relationships are boring and mediocre and a sign that you don’t feel passionate about each other. Tears and screaming, followed by over-the-top reconciliations, the fear that you’re about to lose them, the relief when you don’t … it’s like a drug.

      Not that my younger self would know anything about that no sirree nothing to see here …

    5. “It doesn’t sound like your relationship was the Best Ever. Sex problems, communication problems, silent treatments, game playing, storming off”. Seconded.

      LW if this ticked all your boxes, you need more boxes.

  7. You haven’t been ghosted, she ended things with you (IMO doing so by text is classless but that’s beside the point). You are continuing to ignore the fact that she ended things with you by contacting her, sending her plants daily, and showing up at her work. This is the behavior of a stalker. Stop, stop, stop. Grieve, feel sad, feel angry even, but leave her alone and move on.

    Frankly I would recommend you examine why a relationship that appears so troubled (poor communication, bad sex life, a host of other issues you allude to) is “the one”.

    1. “(IMO doing so by text is classless but that’s beside the point)”

      Sometimes ending the relationship by text is the safest thing to do (esp. when the person is prone to showing up where you work and drowning you in plants) . I’ve read lots of letters here where an in-person conversation means enduring several hours of getting talked over, cried on, hugged, pleaded with, etc. Plus, it still counts. For people who really hate this, I think they should use that hate as more evidence things weren’t working out and they aren’t compatible- “Plus, she did it in a text message!”

      1. Count me in as someone who would HATE to be broken up with in person. To have someone invite you out, you get ready for your date, and they tell you _to your face_ they don’t like you, you have no privacy to feel your first reaction, they are watching everything, then you have to find a way to end the conversation and leave gracefully.

        A text, an email, a handwritten letter, surely anything is kinder than breaking up with someone to their face.

        1. I would hate to be broken up with in person in public, but I still to this day give full credit to this one guy I dated for about 6 months who came to my house to pick me up for a date and told me in person that while he liked me, etc. that he just wasn’t looking for a serious relationship and it was obvious I wanted more than he was willing to commit to, and wished me well. He could have just texted me, but he felt like he owed me a better parting than that, and I think that speaks well to his character. Granted, we were both rational, non-abusive people and I fully acknowledge that sometimes the text breakup is necessary for someone’s safety. Just saying that not all in-person breakups have to be terrible and awkward.

          1. For sure not everything is the worst case scenario. But for me, I wouldn’t want to be dealing with the first reactions of having been broken up with, with the person who broke up with me, if possible.

            I’m saying that _even_ when everyone is kind and reasonable, sometimes a letter is better. I guess you have to know yourself and them and then just take a best guess.

          2. In all fairness, I think the reason I found being dumped by email to be utterly offending was the content of it–I think had my ex been kind, I might have been able to get over it sooner, but the fact that he escalated his abuse in the message and caused wounds that took a long time to heal (and are still healing) are what bothers me. I’m not saying I was perfect, but I didn’t deserve to be dumped with false accusations and impossible expectations.

            tl;dr: I think had the dumping email been kinder I might have less of a problem with it.

          3. I still hold a grudge towards the ex-boyfriend who felt that he owed me an in-person conversation to break up with me, so he drove the 2.5 hours to see me at college and break up with me … in his car … 2 hours before I was throwing a huge blowout Halloween party at my apartment. It was so shitty. Dump me over the phone.

          4. Big, big same.
            For me this applies to friendship and work stuff and just all communication. Much better to process information and have whatever feelings about it and process them in private.

        2. An ex picked me up for a date at a nice restaurant out of town, told me he wanted to break up while we were waiting for our appetizer (after ordering a three-course meal) and because I hate drama with the power of a thousand suns I felt obliged to remain calm and friendly while we started and finished dinner (almost two hours?)and he brought me back because I didn´t have a chance in hell to get home without him. No public transport, no taxis. Horror.

          1. @tawg – “…I felt obliged to remain calm and friendly…”

            Dumping someone in a public venue is a way to keep them from making a scene. Or if they do, it’s proof that the dumpee was “crazy” and justifies the dumping.

        3. Or have someone say “can I come over for a bit? want to talk” before breaking up with you, and for the next 20 minutes you know exactly what’s about to happen. I still prefer face to face, but whether you know it’s coming or you’re blindsided, it still sucks. But my best breakups, resulting in the most positive outcomes, have occurred at my place or his, not in public.

          1. Oh I once said that to my partner and he was so worried I was going to break up with him, but I actually just wanted to see him. Oops.

            The worst break-up decision I made was to break up with my then-boyfriend at the start of a camping trip with friends. He talked me into not breaking up until after the trip so it wasn’t awkward? Turns out pretending to still be with someone you don’t like anymore is at least as awkward as being broken up in front of people.

          2. Apparently, the best way to tell someone they may have been exposed to an STI is to awkwardly text, “I have to tell you something important, can I call you?” They’ll be so relieved you’re not dumping them that going to the clinic will be a breeze by comparison!
            (Please don’t actually rely on this method, especially if you’re not in an openly non-monogamous relationship. But do get tested regularly!)

        4. I’ve had this argument with people about getting rejected from jobs and it seems like there are two major groups — people who think anything but a job rejection via phonecall is rude, and people who would prefer to be rejected via LITERALLY ANYTHING BUT A PHONECALL — email, postcard, carrier pigeon — so they can deal with their feelings in private.

          I think there should be a checkbox on job applications.

          But anyway I digress — I suspect people feel the same about relationship breakups. Some people think anything other than a face to face conversation is disrespectful, and for other people the idea of a face to face break up conversation makes them want to sink into the ground and disappear into the earth’s core and live out the rest of their life as magma.

          I’m a feel my feels in private kind of person. I’m happy for my SO to make any major emotional declarations via text so I can chew them over in private before we address them in person. I wonder if this is something we should start disclosing in relationships.

          1. This sounds like the sort of thing where “know your audience instead of trying to follow some sort of Inivisble Social Groupthink” is the best approach. Different people are different, and at least with breakups (as opposed to job applications) you should know at least some basic things about the person, like communication preference.

          2. I think it would be something worth disclosing–I’ve had a friend break-up in person that also was acrimonious, and while I’m over it now, I have no wish to see that party’s face ever again because it was so crushing. Still, personally, outside of extenuating circumstances, I’d prefer at least a phone call. Although I’m happy to communicate by text/email, I personally feel some things need to be done face-to-face or over the phone, and it’d be good to know early in the process that the person I was dating was on the same page about that.

          3. a few years ago I came across the concept of a “relationship user guide”. the idea is you take time thinking about what you want & need in relationships, and write that stuff down. you don’t necissarily send your new partner the document, but having written it you should know your own needs & preferences well enough to have conversations with them about it.


            “I like to process big emotions in private, so I’d prefer a partner to make major emotional declarations via text/email/carrier pidgeon” sounds like a thing for a relationship user guide, if that’s a thing you’re interested in doing.

        5. The worst form of this is in a long distance relationship, where they SCHEDULE A VISIT in order to break up with you in person. I’ve seen that play out in real life and it’s not pretty. Not only is there all the anticipation of having a visit soon (yay!), there’s also the clearing of the calendar and the telling of friends/roommates to scram for the weekend. In other words, the dumpee temporarily dismantles their own support network just before being dumped.

          I’ve also seen that recommended as the proper way to break up a long distance relationship! Because “in person” is so important.

          1. Been there; done that. I was pretty sure it was coming for a week, but it wasn’t great. Was the one travelling for it, though (back to an abusive home situation where my parents make a point of isolating me from friends when I’m upset), and we’d had plans on the day he chose for months to celebrate my birthday together (especially after I had to spend the actual birthday negotiating a sexual harassment issue with the university. They chose not to kick me out of my dorm for being leered at, so that’s… a plus?). All because he thought it _had_ to be in person. And there were some things he didn’t know how to say indirectly, which I GET, but dear _god_, that was terrible, and it was a week before I started final exams. Did not end that semester well.

          2. Friend of a friend went to Europe to visit her boyfriend- Thats a 22 hour plane trip from here-Boyfriend broke up with her before they were out of the airport. Was engaged to another girl. Had not told her because he thought he should tell her ‘in person’ rather than in a letter. Left her broken hearted, without supports, and supposedly on holiday in Europe- but without anyone to travel with or share accomodation with. Because making your Ex travel half way round the world so you can tell them in person is more kind? Yeah, Nah.

        6. Yep, that happened to me once and it felt very strange (in a not good way). I knew the relationship had been a bit off, but when he invited me out for coffee, I thought maybe things were good after all. I got to the coffee shop and he gave me a Christmas present. Then he broke up with me. And yeah, it was just strange. It would have been nice if he’d at least done it not in public (and not given me a Christmas present in the same sitting).

          1. Reminds me of when I last have been dumped: Shortly before Christmas, she was at my home, and we had eaten dinner with my roommate, then we went to my room and I asked her if there was anything she wanted to talk about (because she was looking a bit strangely), and to my surprise she said “yes” (which she never did before, it was always a “I don’t know”). So she told me she was ending it. I hadn’t seen it coming. I said “okay… I guess if you’re telling it like that, it doesn’t make sense to ask if I could do something differently because you wouldn’t have told me that way if you weren’t sure about it” and she said “guess yes”. Then we talked about how to handle the awkwardness (How do we stay friends? Who contacts whom? etc) and then I started to cry terribly and asked her to please take the Christmas gift that I had bought for her with her. (She looked really heartbroken when she saw it.)
            Then she went home (I didn’t want to involve her in my crying because it did no longer concern her though she would have stayed a bit), and I went and cried a lot while my roommate tried to say calming stuff.
            And then I called *other* people and moped around and didn’t contact her.

        7. Legit. Like I would so much rather be able to react the way I want to without throwing those feelings at somebody who isn’t responsible for them. If I wanna break down and cry, I can’t do it at the Red Lobster.

      2. Because I’m a dinosaur, I remember trying to end a relationship with a controlling, abusive partner before texts and Facebook and anything else even existed. (I KNOW!) And honestly, it was awful. He would NOT GO AWAY. All the in-person conversations ended exactly as the Captain described – I was talked over, cried on, hugged, pleased with, etc, for hours on end, until I gave up and agreed to stay with him just for the sake of getting the fuck out of the conversation.

        Not that he would necessarily have gone away any sooner if I had been able to tell him by text instead of in person (witness today’s letter), but at least it would have made it easier for me to ignore him in the meantime.

        1. In high school, I had a darth vader boyfriend literally collapse in a sobbing heap in the front hall of my home when I broke up with him. He wouldn’t leave, he wouldn’t stop wailing, and I finally opened the door, physically dragged him outside, and closed/locked the door on him. He stayed there, in a heap just outside my front door still sobbing and wailing until I opened a window and told him I would call the police if he didn’t leave. I have broken up with other people in person in the years since then, but not many. And not in my home unless they also lived there.

          1. Did we date the same person???

            I dumped this guy at my sister’s while we were visiting her and my sister quickly ushered me out after because he was scary abusive. He then proceeded to sob hysterically AT my brother in law. Who was on the phone with his brother. Who hung up almost immediately because “who’s that dude scream-crying at you? This is weird.” So my BIL just stayed on the phone talking to no one to avoid my ex. Who I had to return to, drive to the airport, buy him a one way ticket back to his country, while he sobbed into my lap the ENTIRE way to airport. My crotch was soaked from his tears.

            TLDR: if you sense the other person will not go quietly into the night – go right ahead and text/email/carrier pigeon -> block.

      3. It does count, even if you hate it, and I’m saying this as someone who was dumped via email and found it incredibly insensitive and tacky (e.g. I hated it, but it was the dingleberry cherry on a large shit sundae, in hindsight). That being said, if you’re not feeling safe around someone, email/text is definitely the way to go.

      4. If someone doesn’t want to break up, there’s no perfect way to break up with them that they will not complain about. And that is not the fault or responsibility of the person desiring the break-up.

        Last time I was broken-up with, I told my ex that if he felt differently in a month or so, to contact me. And if he didn’t, no worries, we’d attempt friendship at a later time. No one was the bad guy. And almost 2 decades later, we’re still friendly. Did it hurt? Very much! Did I like it? Nope! But he thought we weren’t working out, and it is not a decision that requires agreement of both parties. It’s unilateral. If one person wants to break up, it may suck, but you’re broken up with. Be gracious.

      5. Every single one of my sister’s boyfriends* have either ghosted her or broken up by text. She’s always baffled by this behavior, but nobody else ever is. She thrives on drama and honestly would make a scene if they did it face to face. I actually overheard her telling one poor guy that she’d make him regret it if he ever tried to break up with her. She had one long term boyfriend who she lived with for two years (his home). He actually texted her to break up and then had his parents (who owned the house) escort her off the property.

        * She calls them all her boyfriends but honestly most of them never get past the one month benchmark.

      6. When I broke up with one boyfriend in college, I told him I “wanted a break” in person, and then we discussed things over FB messenger, during which I offered to talk in person or on the phone if he wanted. He kept it to messenger. We broke up, of course, because that’s really what I should have outright said originally.

        A week or so later I got a letter in which he Feelingsed at me and told me how hurt he was that I broke up with him over messenger. But..

        1. That was partly his choice, and not exactly how it happened.

        2. He ASKED ME OUT OVER FB! I’m sorry but if I get asked out over FB by you you forfeit any rights to feelingsdump on me about being broken up with on FB.

        Anyway, I ignored the letter and we avoided each other and he seems to have matured from that stage, judging by the few times we’ve interacted in the ten years since.

      7. The point about safety is well taken, especially in retrospect here given the many red flags with this LW.

        But IMO doing it by text is still bad, not as bad as ghosting but on the spectrum, at least if you have had multiple dates.

        And saying breakup but text is NOT the same thing as saying breakups have to be face to face, much less FTF in public.

        Am I the only one who felt badly for Carrie Bradshaw when her boyfriend broke up with her by post-it note?

        1. “The point about safety is well taken…but IMO doing it by text is still bad.”

          You get to have your opinion. You even get to judge people who don’t do it the way your opinion says is “good”. But if it were me, I’d keep that judgy-ness to myself, because the times when you are going to have all the information and be justified in your judgement, even in just your own opinion, are going to be far fewer than the times when your judgement ends up making you look a bit toolish.

          “It’s bad to break up by text!” he says, about the woman who was then stalked relentlessly with unwanted letters and calls and texts and succulents even after doing her best to ensure her own safety and peace of mind.

          1. I don’t think the point about personal safety was well taken actually?

            Also, if someone dumps you by text, and you don’t like that, add it to the list of things that you don’t have in common. Look, they dumped you by text! It’s a sign that you shouldn’t be together!

          2. I totally agree. MassMatt doesn’t seem to have any understanding at all that if people break up with you by text, they’re doing it because that’s the best way for them.

            And I think it’s well-established at this point that there is no “right way” to tell someone an unpleasant truth that they won’t accept. Like, MassMatt (and the LW!) seem to think that if it was just said in the exact right way, they wouldn’t be so unhappy/upset/angry/whatever, but seriously.

          3. Cacti are not succulents.

            I realize this is not the main point, still, cacti are not succulents!

          4. mm sez: “Cacti are not succulents.”

            What? Of course they are. “Succulents” denotes a life strategy, not a taxon.

          5. There is a horticultural usage where cacti aren’t called succulents. Or at least a desire — I think I’ve heard gardeners more often stating their usage preference than just using it.

            My sense is this is older, and the botanical usage is getting used more in horticulture too, but I could easily be mistaking that.

        2. I had to break up with my last ex via text because he was refusing to take no for an answer. He later broke into my home.

          I don’t care if anyone thinks I was “wrong” or not. I was worried at the time, though, and had to be convinced it was okay to put my safety over his feelings. Maybe consider that.

          1. Sounds like you were right to me–AND now there’s a paper trail. Even with people who are “just” emotionally dangerous and not physically, it’s super important to have “I’m breaking up with you” written down in black and white so YOU can refer back to it if they try to argue you out of the breakup. I know I’ve been in situations where referring back to what I’ve written a manipulative person and seeing that yes, I was perfectly clear and understandable the first time has massively helped me understand they were manipulating me.

    2. There’s something in the guys letter that’s niggling me. I think he may have some unexamined control and communication issues.

      I’m not sure, but the situation could read that way.

      He really needs to examine why he felt

      1. She was “the one” when there are so many red flags he relationship was disfunctional. Why are his expectations so Low?
      2. He could not communicate with her, but had to flee when there was conflict.
      3. He felt the need to persist after she gave him a hard no.
      4. He can’t let go after she is non responsive and absent.

      Dude, she gave you a hard no. Period. Why do you think it’s ok to violate someone’s consent, particularly someone with past trauma. Cause that’s what you did.

        1. Yeah, I think in this case, it was the right method to use. There’s a lot of boundary trampling here. I would have completely understood if she just ghosted.

    3. Spoken like someone who’s never had to end a relationship with someone because they felt unsafe. Which: good for you! HOWEVER…don’t judge other people by your good fortune.

      This young lady’s decision to break up via text has been AMPLY justified by the LW’s subsequent actions, so maybe a little less namecalling of the victim here.

      1. There are myriad ways to communicate, face to face and by text are only two of them. Someone afraid for their safety could call or send an email, IMO those are better methods than a text. And I didn’t name call the LW’s GF, I called the BEHAVIOR classless.

        This is reminding me of a movie where someone’s called into the boss’s office only to find the boss isn’t there. Instead there’s the boss’s parrot, who says “You’re fired! Squawk!” When he gets upset, the boss’s receptionist gets furious with him: “If YOU KNEW how MANY HOURS he spent TRAINING that bird!”

        1. @MassMatt: Consider this a text (or email if you prefer) to say: Your point is made, people disagree with you, it actually has nothing to do with the OP, and there are no points for class participation. Stop.

    4. I never got why breaking up via message is something bad. If someone was to break up with me, I would sooo much prefer them to do this via written message than in person or even via phone. I would consider this to be much more empathetic, considering being broken-up-with is humiliating to me. I don’t want the person breaking up with me to see my face and maybe tears. I just want the information so I can go hide in a corner and get myself together.
      I guess it just depends on a person. I’m writing this to point out that there is no one objective rule that breaking up in person is somehow better or classier. It depends on the individual preferences. If someone was in a relationship with me then – I hope! – this person would know what my preferences are.

      1. Also – I don’t wanna be too hard on the LW, but I would break up with him via message, hands down! I’m guessing his reaction to break up could be… unpleasant. And she knows him way better than we do, she probably knew exactly what she was doing by choosing this method. The more I think about it, the more I feel she must be pretty scared right now.. I feel so sorry for her ;/

        1. I once texted a guy to say that there wouldn’t be a second date, rather than just ghosting him (which was my first impulse, for reasons which should become plain). His response was “I know where you live, and I will stand on the sidewalk in front of the building screaming your name until you let me in”. At which point I was A) terrified and B) extremely regretful that I had not just ghosted him.

          1. “Or until the cops drag me off,” hopefully. Why do people think this kind of insane escalating behavior is going to change a person’s mind?

          2. I always ghost after a first date doesn’t end with me wanting a second. There is no relationship to hurt by ghosting. And most guy friends I have think it’s fine. When I used to use words about 30-40% of the time I got either a mean response or a refusal to accept my no. I’d rather ghost bc then at least I’m not subjecting myself to bring pooped on. After a second or third date I text that I’ve enjoyed our time together but I don’t see a future and then I wish them well. But after a few dates I have never been popped on in that way. I think the older I get the easier I can spot the crazy.

          3. …I will never understand humans. Who thinks that after one date, if someone declines a second, that kind of behavior will yield a different result?

          4. Well, SOMEBODY has way over-binged on romantic comedies!
            Seriously, that sounds horrifying, but did he actually do it?

          5. At some point, Ms. deVice, I would love to hear the rest of the story, should you ever happen to feel like telling it.

          6. I don’t even really consider that ghosting–meeting up once does not a relationship make! Three or four dates is where I start considering it rude to just fall off the map; one or two dates is just ‘it didn’t work out’, no harm no foul.

          7. @J-
            Really jealous of your radar. I seem incapable of seeing the bucket ‘o Hoo Buddy in advance. Had a cop friend tell me once that I have anti-police instincts. Any tips?

          8. For the curious…A few days later, I did in fact hear someone on the sidewalk in front of my building screaming my name, but I stayed away from the windows and pretended nothing was happening. It was probably not actually him? There were only a few repetitions and then it stopped.

            But it definitely inclined me toward just dropping off the face of the earth. That particular guy had been texting me every couple of days after our first date inviting me to various activities. After I had turned down four in a week and a half, including a group outing with his coworkers (!!), I thought that perhaps providing a proactive “we are not going out again” message might make him stop. I think his threat to Dobler was just an extinction burst, but it was pretty scary.

          9. I’d be tempted to dump a pan of cat litter on the head of anyone standing outside my home yelling my name after they were told I wasn’t interested. That’s scary! But I wouldn’t, because YUCK and because it would be giving a response to the bad behavior, even if not the desired response. Any response that could lead to a potential escalation of bad behavior is not a good plan.

        2. My guess is that she *did* try breaking up with him in person, and he just kept arguing and saying it didn’t count because she’s the ONE, and breakups have to be MUTUAL!

          Why do I guess this? Because he sounds exactly how my friend’s ex sounded after they broke up. He kept telling people they were still together for SIX MONTHS after she broke up with him. Then finally she got engaged to someone else and he told everyone they both knew that she had two-timed him. Because just because *she didn’t want to be with him anymore and told him so* didn’t mean they weren’t together!

          1. A few years back I dated a highly accomplished and successful middle-aged man. It started well, but we had incompatible ideas of how conflicts should get resolved. I was more patient than I should have been. He dumped me during a period of extremely high career stress. Fair enough. It lasted less than 5 months.

            He made several overtures which I now realize were coming from his delusion that the relationship wasn’t over, despite his having dumped me. You would think that if one person dumps another, then regrets it and wants to re-start the relationship, they would say so and apologize, saying that the dumping was a mistake they regretted. Since he didn’t say anything of the sort, I was assuming the romantic relationship was done and gone forever.

            You all will love this: About 7 or 8 months after the dumping (note the relationship had been over for longer than it had lasted in the first place), there was this burst of communications about wanting to fix things enough that we could be cordial. Huh, I thought. I didn’t think he was serious, because of that problem of extremely incompatible ideas of conflict resolution. He was wanting to meet in person, so I sent a message back that I would only consider that after the events of one particular day had been addressed appropriately — on that day he had thrown a rather histrionic fit by text message. I figured there was no way he would address even just that one day in a manner I thought appropriate. He responded with a beautiful sounding apology for one small part of it, then claimed to have forgotten the rest.

            I laughed when I saw that — what a lazy response. Plus, why would I want to be around someone who could behave in such an extreme fashion and then not be able to remember doing so? Nope.

            The best part: At this point, he proposed couples counseling. For two people who had been broken up longer than they’d been together. He said he’d pay and I could set it up, and it was clear he thought it was absolutely wonderful of himself to make such an offer. I’ve never seen such glaring subtext: “Get that bitch some couples counseling. Bitches love couples counseling.” He seemed astonished and baffled when I replied with, “No, I don’t think that would be a good use of my time.”

            At the time, I was laughing at the irrationality of it. Now I can look back and see the patterns — he thought we were still in some kind of relationship and were trying to work things out and get back together. So now whenever I hear a dude telling a story of, “We were trying to work things out and get back together, but then it all went bad somehow,” I tend to be pretty sure that the dude was harassing an ex who didn’t want him back.

          2. I’m still legally married to my ex, because in my country we must have a 12 month separation before filing for divorce. I left him. I told him it was over. I told him I was leaving because he was abusive. I told him I wasn’t going back. I was actively trying to get him to split our property.

            Then my 18 yo daughter had her birthday party, which included her Dad. At the party, I introduced him to someone as my ex. Ex corrected me to tell them that he was my husband and we might still get back together.

            Hard nope. The divorce hearing is next month.

      2. I guess the preference for being broken up with in person or via text is based on personal history?

        My last ex dumped me with a text message when he had the opportunity to break up with me in person instead.

        The very last time I ever saw him in person, we were still together. Unbeknownst to me, he had already decided to break up with me and not stay friends. Instead of just telling me there and then, he chose to play along, lying by omission, in order to get his dick wet one last time. Afterward he dumped me with a text message.

        I have never felt so used and discarded, so worthless and unlovable in my life. I had been depressed for years, but after he did that to me, I started experiencing suicidal ideation in the form of intrusive thoughts. I had to quit my job and drop all but one of my classes. I didn’t think I would live to see New Year’s.

        It felt like I wasn’t someone worthy of a real goodbye, just trash to be casually discarded.
        Ugh, text-message break ups. Sorry, just needed to vent.

        1. Yeah, this is where I sit, personally, with text/email breakups, although obviously I’m quite outnumbered. I share your feelings because the way my ex did it made me feel worthless and discarded. It didn’t help that the content of the email was straight-up abusive with false accusations and emotional blackmail that I’ve spent roughly two years to get over. Long story short, he wanted to throw me away in the trash and he wanted me to think it was my fault, and doing it by email was a nasty final touch. A year or so later, my therapist confirmed that he’d been abusing me throughout the relationship, and the email was one of the ways he’d done it.

          In other words, my experience, having been dumped by email, was that it was straight up unkind and inconsiderate, without a shred of empathy. I’ll grant that there are really good points in not dragging this out in public upthread–I don’t think I would have handled it well had my ex been that horrible to me in person–but I will say that if breakup emails are to be empathetic, the content matters. It really does–be firm, but also be kind. Because the cruelty of my dumping was amplified by the fact that he’d sent it by email.

          That said, LW’s ex was in the right to dump him by text, given circumstances–based on the letter, it looks like she was prioritizing her safety and well-being. Not that she needed my online permission or validation, just saying that I disagree with a poster upthread about how her choice of medium shows a lack of class. I think it was the best decision.

        2. Wow, he sounds awful! I’m sorry that happened to you.

          Even then, though, it sounds less about the method he chose and more the fact that he intentionally delayed the breakup for selfish reasons. He could have chosen any method and that still would have been an absolutely shitty move. Just…what an asshole.

        3. Sweetie YOU were not the problem! Anyone who would do that to you is not worth your effort! I’m so sorry you were hurt and I hope something very bad has happened to his weiner. But no man is worth your life. I know we say this and it doesn’t erase the feelings, and you can try a different short term approach ‘i WILL NOT let this asshole be my last BF, my last anything!’ This is a short term response to suicidal thoughts bc ideally we are not living just to have the last word. But if you died that jackass gets to tell your story and it’s not his it’s YOURS. And he’s just a garden variety douche. Jedi hugs if you want them.

        4. I don’t think it’s so much the media used for the break-up as it is the way someone handles breaking up; if someone is an ass about breaking up, they’re going to be an ass about breaking up whether the “I’m breaking up with you” conversation happens in person, over the phone, via email, via text message, whatever.

          And absolutely, sometimes it is far safer to break up via text message or email or some other way in which the former partners don’t have to see/hear each other for the break-up. As with the situation in this letter.

          1. Yup, this is not about the text. I had a bf of 7 years break up with me in person immediately after sex. I would have preferred the text message in my case.

    5. I guess it was super classy of me* to break up with someone while we were stranded on a weeklong camping trip together, ahahaha (not my best moment but it was one of those things where THERE WAS NO GOOD TIME once I realized I was done and well yeah)
      *joking of course

  8. I had a relationship that sounds similar – I was convinced This Was It and emotionally invested accordingly. That was not it. That was not even close to it, and the further I got from it the more I realized that all of the things I was dealing with failed the Sheelzebub principle. I could not have handled it for 5 more years or 10 more years or even 5 more months. Him storming out after fights, or making me so mad I stormed out? Screaming at each other in the middle of the road at 2 in the morning? Constantly feeling like we existed on his terms and his terms only?

    Limerence is a powerful thing and all those chemicals that run freely around your brain when you’re first in love are powerful things but reality is much more powerful when you let it in: just like that guy was Not The One for me, this woman is Not The One for you. There are unworkable things between the two of you, and while it was powerful, I wonder if you’re doing what I did – mistaking intensity for quality. They are not the same thing, no matter what rom coms tell us.

    All the best to you, LW. It’s going to be a rough road for a while, but once your life and emotions calm down (and that may not be soon, it legit took me YEARS to get past that relationship) you’ll realize that life can be calm and it can be pleasant and that whether or not you ever have another relationship, your life is significantly better than it would have been. I know that may sound cruel now, and I apologize for that, but I know that you’ll get there and we’ll be here cheering you on until then.

    1. >>I wonder if you’re doing what I did – mistaking intensity for quality. They are not >>the same thing, no matter what rom coms tell us.


  9. OP, you got broken up with. If she sent you a message ending it, you didn’t get ghosted, you got broken up with. Now you need to go into break-up recovery mode.

    Can you sit down, think about the relationship, think about the fact that it’s over, and just feel sad about it? Not try to think up ways to fix things, not try to justify anything you or she did in your head, just take the sadness that you are feeling and sit there and feel it? Uncomfortable feelings may be uncomfortable, but no one ever died just of sitting there and feeling. Do you know yourself and your emotions well enough to think “I feel sad that I’m not going to wake up to her this weekend” and accept that sadness? You can also think things like “I feel angry that she didn’t want to work on the relationship in the same way that I did” and “I feel hurt that I invested a lot of planning and happy future-thoughts in this person and now it’s over.” It sounds in your letter like you’ve been pushing your emotions away in a variety of ways, but the sooner you actually let yourself feel sad about this and accept that sadness as part of your life right now, the easier it will be to move past this.

    I recommend ice cream and/or finding a (non-cactus!) plant to nurture as assistive devices for this process of, well, processing. Makes it go faster, in my experience.

  10. The relationship between you two sounds like it was tiring, to be brutally honest.

    She told you she was breaking up with you. You weren’t ghosted. This isn’t the time to negotiate. She was done. I’m sorry, I know it sucks, but the letters and gifts are not going to ‘win’ her back; they will creep her out. They’re telling her that you aren’t respecting her wishes. Please stop that.

    Take time to enjoy your life. Do things you couldn’t do when you were with her. Hang out with your friends, enjoy (or develop new) interests and hobbies. Make fun plans for yourself. Be good to yourself.

  11. I have been a position very like this one. It took me a while but one of the best things I got out of it was learning that I have the capacity to love someone that much, to be that excited about a relationship, to feel ready to make a commitment. It’s hard when it doesn’t work out – but you now know that you have the stuff inside you to make it happen with someone who feels the same way.
    One of the best “cures” I have found for this kind of grief is to find something new to fall in love with. SomeTHING, not someone – a new hobby, a style of music, a new way to prepare food. A cause, an event, an instrument. What have you always wanted to try?

  12. I suspect you’re looking for either a) some kind of closure or b) a concrete “reason” you can use to convince her that she’s wrong, because “she’s the one for me”.

    If it is the first, I would suggest that there is no such thing as closure, and that looking for it will cause you untold pain and in addition will delay your recovery. In my opinion closure is a fictional construct we’ve all collectively chosen to believe in because we see it every day on TV, in movies, and in books. But closure exists in fiction because fiction does not reflect reality: fiction has to end, and closure creates that end. In real life, though? I don’t believe it has ever or could ever exist. (People will say “oh, but closure is what you do for yourself” or “closure is choosing to let go”, but that is in my opinion just rules-lawyering.) If this is the case, it sounds like you’re expecting her to perform emotional labour to make you feel better about this break-up. That’s horrendously unfair to her – she does not exist to please and comfort you, she’s a full and complete human being independent of you – and also counter-productive, because being in contact with her will stop you from healing. If you want to heal you have to put in 100% of the work yourself, and that means stepping away completely.

    If you’re looking for a concrete “reason” to argue her out of dumping you I’m not about to help you with that, and I sincerely hope and pray nobody ever does. She is not a semi-sentient chunk of meat someone created to serve and service you, dude; she’s her own full and complete human being, just as human as you, and she has every right to believe that YOU are not “the one” for HER. I mean, how dare you reduce her to nothing more than your sidekick? How dare you reduce her essential humanity to how she fits into your life? She’s not the deuteragonist in the story of your or anyone else’s life, no she’s not, no she’s not, no she is NOT; she’s the protagonist in the story of her own life, and she has every right to live that life the way SHE wishes, not you, not ever you. Have you ever, even once, considered how she sees the world? How she sees you? How she sees your relationship? Because I can guarantee you, she has her own completely independent view of things and you don’t seem to be remotely aware of that.

    1. Closure is often about control. Realizing we don’t have it – and never did- is important to being healthy in relationships

      1. “I need closure” so often seems to be code for “You are required to provide me with a reason for ending this relationship that I find acceptable”.

        1. “…and I will never deem any reason acceptable, so you will be forced to stay forever on pain of being deemed a horrible human being who just wouldn’t give me the closure I so desperately needed, you cruel harlot you.”

        2. Yup, Charlene said it better than I could have, but I tool “she ghosted” to mean “she failed to respond further and somehow explain things in a way that magically makes me feel no negative feelings.”

          Closure is a myth, and I doubt that any dumpee in the history of dating has ever received an explanation from their dumper that felt satisfying.

        3. I always thought of “closure” as an attempt to get the other person to move you through all the stages of grief straight to the acceptance part. Except that grief doesn’t work like that. The only way to move through is to do it yourself. Nobody can carry you kicking and screaming to that place where it doesn’t hurt so much. And even if they could, you are going to miss too much along the way. “Closure” is for people who like to avoid doing emotional work. Like the kind of guy who thinks he found The One, but who can’t have a disagreement with that One that comes to any kind of resolution. Or who blames the One for trying to navigate healthy boundaries after a prior bad relationship. I think LW has plenty of work to do figuring out how to do the emotional work in a relationship and I bet if he spent his time on that, he would look up in a few months and find he doesn’t need his closure any more because he has worked through his grief instead.

      2. TBF this relationship didn’t exactly sound healthy so . . . a “healthy” breakup was probably never on the table.

        And as a person who does not handle feeling powerless well (and therefore almost never entered relationships that required intimacy or vulnerability) I agree. Closure is what keeps the denial alive that you aren’t helpless to this horrible thing happening to you.

        LW – perhaps this person met some very deep needs you didn’t know you had. Or you felt a connection you hadn’t been open to before. But at the end of the day, this sounds like a very tumultuous relationship, regardless of THE FEELS attached to it. And often, the more tumultuous, the bigger the feelings. Read through these comments and do some self reflecting and start to heal.

    2. This is such a great comment. I have come to agree – there is no such thing as closure, in the sense most people seem to want it. When people say “I just need closure”, what they mean is “I just need this pain to go away”. They make up things in their mind that they think would take that pain away: if only they explained what happened, if only I could see them for the very last time, if only they would write me a nice letter, if only… But these things wouldn’t take the pain away!

      Only time heals some hurts and most breakups go into this category. LW needs to tell himself a new story and needs to focus his energy elsewhere. He’ll probably still feel like shit for a while, but in a few months he’ll think about her less and less. Eventually the pain will go away. But it won’t if he keeps on actively trying to get her back, since the rejection will be a new hurt every single time.

  13. Yes, please do stop sending her succulents, or contacting her at all. Dude, you’re being a little creepy. Sorry this relationship didn’t work out, but ya gotta let it go.

  14. LW, Love is a drug. A STRONG drug. Your dealer cut you off and you’ve got some withdrawal going on. That is hard. But if you keep rifling through your metaphorical drawers for any dregs you might have missed, any scrap of that love that will help you get through the day with your dream of love still alive…well…you won’t ever detox, and you won’t ever heal. The part you are in now is the WORST part, and that alone is reason enough to get out! Treat yourself like someone leaving an addiction behind – because you are exactly that – and distract yourself with exercise, work, volunteer, eat well, take a class, do something creative, journal, etc etc. There are whole reddit communities dedicated to what you are going through if you need more support around you.
    You can do this! One day at a time.

  15. “I felt set for life.” No such thing. The only problem romance solves is “needing romance.” No other problems are solved. In fact, more problems come in. Feeling set for life might then mean your partner is supposed to participate in a game where you pretend everything is wonderful and agree to not talk about problems because, after all, you’re set for life. That’s what you’re supposed to “mean” to each other. And then that person is never supposed to argue with you or misunderstand you or dislike you or leave you…

  16. Key point: if you care for her (and you claim you do) you will leave her alone because that’s what she wants.

    Yes, it sucks for you. It does. But you cannot tell yourself that you care for her if you do not leave her alone. Doesn’t matter if you think she’s somehow, some way, just not seeing things the right way. If you care for her you will leave her alone because this is what *she* wants.

    Once again, you must put her behind you, permanently, if you care for her. Period.

  17. I’m sorry, this sounds really frustrating, confusing, and sad. It also sounds like one of those times when the “only way out is through.” Feel your feelings, seek support from someone who isn’t her, be kind to yourself, and let time pass. Wish there was a fast-forward button to get you to the place where it doesn’t hurt so much anymore, but you *will* get there.
    And seriously, be kind to yourself.

  18. “Then she sends me a message effectively ending it.”

    She didn’t ghost you… ghosting is when you just disappear. Sounds like she broke up with you explicitly.

    1. Although even if she had ghosted you, that’s still a clear message.

      Find a way to mourn, and stay away from her.

    2. This twisting of what women say and do to fit the male-first bias is society insidious. It’s not on women to solve. It’s on men.

      If this man wants to be a good man he needs to start right here, right now by accepting her no.

      If he does not, he ne de to accept he’s putting he’s feelings ahead of hers to the point he doesn’t care about her consent, he wants a relationship. So her POV must be wrong.

      She’s not a person, she’s a prop.

      She said “no.” He doesn’t want to accept it, so he is spinning the narrative hard to twist it into something that gives him permission to override her wishes without having to admit he’s being a consent violating.

      We all, at some point in our lives, find ourselves in situations where we don’t want to accept someone’s answer to not do something for us. All of us.

      Part of being an adult is learning to say no and to accept it without protest. You can’t see other people as fully equal humans with their own inherent worth if you don’t accept a no from them.

      No isn’t the start of negotiations, it’s the end of conversation.

      1. I think No isn’t the start of negotiations, it’s the end of conversation. needs to be on a cross stitch pattern, kind of like “Behold the field in which I grow my fucks. Lay thine eyes upon it and thou shalt see that it is barren.”

  19. I once had a close friend end our friendship – I think around here it’s called an African Violet of Please Don’t Talk to Me or something like that. On my end, it felt abrupt and unfair. It hurt – probably not as much as ending a romantic relationship, but it did hurt. The thing is, my former friend made her boundaries clear, and when someone does that, you have to respect it. It’s really non-negotiable. So I haven’t seen my former friend or made any attempt to contact them ever since.

    I’m telling you this because I get that it’s hard, especially when you feel like you have a lot of unanswered questions. But this really isn’t a gray area. If someone doesn’t want to see or talk to you, you don’t try to see or talk to them.

    It sounds like you’re in pain right now, LW, and I’m sorry about that and I do hope you find a productive way to cope.

  20. LW I believe in some situations gentleness and tact is called for and in some situations it’s best to be blunt. I think this is one of the ‘blunt is best times: Refusing to acknowledge you’ve been broken up with, forcing contact by hand delivering letters to her workplace, trying to guilt her into contact with unwanted succelent gifts – bluntly: THESE ARE THE ACTIONS OF A STALKER. SHE IS NO LONGER YOUR GF, SHE IS (BY YOUR ACTIONS) THE VICTIM A STALKER. STOP IT.

    Please for the good of all concerned go no contact, get some therapy, talk through your feelings. Take a couple of weeks to mourn the relationship’s end. Then join a new club, try a new sport, meet new people and get more social outlets. But never, ever contact this girl again.

    1. Yeah, uh, if my stalker showed up at my work with a letter I also would say, “Sure, I’ll read it and get back to you,” and then I would go shred the letter without opening it and have freakout time in the bathroom for at least twenty minutes. Because in that situation, saying, “I’m not going to read this and I want you to leave me alone,” could put her in physical danger.

      1. This!!!
        Also, LW, if you’re tempted to reject this with something like “BUT I WOULD NEVER HURT HER”, please consider that -she has no way of knowing that- and no reason to believe you given your demonstrated willingness to ignore her boundaries. Which is what you’re doing by continuing to contact her after she told you not to.

        1. Exactly. She already knows you don’t respect her boundaries, so why should she trust in your good intentions?

        2. Also? He is ALREADY HURTING HER. Violating people’s boundaries is hurting them. Whether you do it with a fist to their face or words that cut them to the bone, if they have established a boundary and you consciously (or even unconsciously) violate it then you are, indeed, hurting them. A boundary is just a way of saying “this hurts me, don’t do this thing.”

        3. Men always say shit like that, as if a person who would attack me is gonna go, “Oh, yeah, I am gonna attack you! Thanks for asking :)” Like what goes through their heads lmfao…

      2. No keeeeep the letter! You may need it later if things escalate. You can have a friend read it in case it’s threatening and there might be stuff that’s ‘need to know.’ Bc I bet if he posted this letter here we’d be singing differently. Or just more intensely. Or maybe less bc we’d be afraid.

        1. That sounds like the objectively smarter thing to do. In the moment though I would just want it destroyed so I could pretend it never happened. Kind of like the time a creepy customer brought me jewelry and I just threw it in the garbage in the back room.

  21. I want to call out two specific things in your letter –

    “I had started to feel more and more peripheral to her life, despite the fact I’d looked after her through illness and post-operation.”

    Looking after a partner after they are ill or have an operation is not a heroic act, it’s not a feature of a relationship. Caring for your partner when they have surgery or are ill is a standard feature of any relationship, like windshield wipers. You wouldn’t buy a car that came without one, and you shouldn’t date someone who does.

    You don’t earn a higher relationship status by being a caregiver when someone else needs you. You earn a thank you, and an acknowledgement that you are not a failure as a human who would like to have relationships.. (Exceptions being long term care that involves job quitting and training and having it be your full time job for a period of time, but that doens’t seem like that is what happened here.)

    Secondly – “On the other hand, I refused to be judged by the incredibly low standards her mentally and physically abusive, serially cheating drug dealer ex had set”

    It’s good that you don’t see yourself as a person who would be abusive or who would hurt his partner. But, I think it is important to differentiate specific actions from generic ideas about being a good person. Sometimes we learn habits in our lives that are unhealthy, and those habits don’t really line up with the person we want to be.

    For example, I would not describe myself as passive aggressive at all. But, from my Mom I’ve learned to do a lot of “Woe is me” type stuff when i’m feeling insecure, i’m simultaneously putting myself down and making my partner feel guilty. This isn’t really great, it’s REALLY annoying and doesn’t reflect how I feel, and I need to be better about asking for reassurance instead of making this gross passive aggressive attention seeking statements. But it’s something I saw my Mom do my whole life and it’s hard to break out of.

    I’m concerned that you have learned some unhealthy relationship patterns that might have caused some big issues in this relationship. While I’m sure that you never intended to be abusive or even be manipulative of your partner, sometimes we just learn to interact with people in a way that is manipulative because it is a behavior that has been modeled for us or it is a behavior that works. Try to think about some of the specific things your partner took issue with, and not get wrapped up in comparisons or value judgements. Did you do X in a way that was hurtful? Could you have handled X better?

    For example, could you have been more respectful of her wishes with regard to the breakup? These might be some good things to talk over with a therapist, it seems like you’ve internalized some behaviors and ideas that aren’t great and it would be good to think about how you can improve on those behaviors for future relationships.

    1. Great points. “I took care of her during an illness” and “I am better than her horrible ex” may be facts, but they aren’t debts that get repaid by staying in a relationship if things aren’t working.

      1. I know people who have stayed in relationships for those reasons to, but really, they are not good enough reasons if you are both miserable!

      2. ::raises hand:: I have stayed in friendships for way longer than I should have because I felt that they *were* debts that I owed these friends, despite clear signs of toxicity. This did not end well. I think it honestly would have been kinder to both sides had I just cut things off at that moment.

      3. Too many men think that caregiving is something women do for men, not something they should do. They want a cookie when they do it.

        All one has to do is look at divorce statistics when a man gets an chronic illness or disability or something devastating like breast cancer v. when the woman is the one suffering. There is no uptick in divorce rates if the man gets sick. The women gets sick and the risk of divorce goes up (how much depends upon other factors).

        Women care, men leave.

        He wants a cookie for doing what he should have done. But it’s not surprising.

        Given his tone in the letter, I think he needs to have a good long think about his view of gender and relationships. He’s carrying a lot of internal baggage he needs to unpack.

        1. I have to say, that first sentence explains a lot about why there was little to no gratitude from my ex despite the emotional labor I expended on him when he was having a crisis. If I’d known then what I knew now, I’d be figuring a way out instead of going through roughly six more months or garbage.

        2. TBH, I’m wondering how much of LW’s caring for Ex was because that’s what partners do and how much because LW is a Nice Guy(TM)?

          1. This. I got a strong whiff of “she OWES me now” from his comment about caring for her after an operation.

          2. That and/or he’s auditing her reasons for breaking up with him, even if only subconsciously: “Here’s why I’m not a bad enough partner for the relationship to be over”.

        3. I remember reading about a study like that. The couples (hetero, married) were more likely to divorce when either the man or the woman had cancer or multiple sclerosis, but they were six times more likely to divorce when the sick spouse was female.

      4. Yes! His ex doesn’t have to stay with him because a former boyfriend was an ass. Relationships aren’t bearer bonds where whoever’s holding the Dating Paper gets to decide what she does and who she sees.

      5. Yeah I felt the first was a ‘she owes me’ thing and the second was ‘I’m better than him and she’s got crappy judgement.’ In reality it made me think 1. He might have been loan sharking her with smothering and that made her want him to be ‘peripheral’ and also that he 2. May have invalidated or gaslit her boundary setting with ‘you just think I’m like your ex’ or ‘what do you know your last guy was horrible’ type comments. Bc both of those things he mentions have exactly nothing to do with the problem.

        1. I continue to be boggled by LW’s writing “I refused to be judged by the incredibly low standards her mentally and physically abusive, serially cheating drug dealer ex had set” when in fact that’s exactly how he’s demanding to be judged.

          I mean, OK, I do get that he meant something else by it. I think. It sounded like he meant that he felt she was treating him with distrust and suspicion that he didn’t deserve but were hangovers from her previous relationship. Something like that?

          But the rest of the letter reads like, “How dare you reject me? I’m better than the last guy you had the poor judgment to date! That means I’m good enough!” Having cleared that incredibly low bar set by her previous BF, he thinks he’s earned Happily Ever After with her. He’s hella resentful that she evidently disagreed.

    2. I LOVE this: “I think it is important to differentiate specific actions from generic ideas about being a good person. Sometimes we learn habits in our lives that are unhealthy, and those habits don’t really line up with the person we want to be.”

      So good. So important!

    3. Yeah, wtf does her shitty ex have to do with anything? She’s not allowed to dump LW because she once dated someone worse? I once ate at a really shitty diner – am I now not allowed to leave any restaurant that technically might not be as bad?

  22. LW, sometimes our writing reveals something we can’t see about ourselves. I’m not saying this to be cruel, but so that you can have an outside perspective, that may help you grow for the better:

    You think you are saying “the reasons we argued were silly, and we should both forgive and forget.”

    But you’re ACTUALLY saying “the reasons she was angry with me were silly, and she needs to get over it.”

    The things you bring up that you were arguing over were reasons that SHE was upset. You can’t just unilaterally decide that she doesn’t get to be upset about things because you feel they are minor. They’re not minor to her. It doesn’t matter whether you think they are silly–they are clearly dealbreakers for her, and she gets to make that decision.

    You think you’re asking for a compromise, but this isn’t actually a compromise situation. There’s no halfway point between what you want (“we make up and get back together”) and what she wants (“we break up and go no contact.”) You’re asking her to give in, not compromise.

    It hurts when someone doesn’t want to be with you, but you deserve someone who emphatically DOES want to be with you–not someone you had to pressure, cajole, beg, and explain back into your arms. There are relationships that are just “It’s really great!” rather than “It’s really great except when it’s not.” Let her go, let yourself heal, and when you’re ready, go out and get that person who wants the same thing you do.

      1. That’s what I always wonder. I’ll hear someone complaining that issue X just ISN’T IMPORTANT, so they refuse to change. Well, if it’s really not important, you’d change the thing and never think about it again, wouldn’t you?

        I first ran across that with two friends who were roommates. Friend A hated going to take a shower and finding the hair trap full of Friend B’s long hair, especially since Friend A made sure to clean her own hair out after showering. Friend A’s method of dealing with this was to go get Friend B every time to empty the hair trap. Friend B’s method of dealing with this was to rant about how it was NOT IMPORTANT, so Friend A should stop bugging her.

        Well, if it’s not important, why not just clean the hair trap after using like Friend A does? Sounds easy.

        I’ve since learned that, “I won’t change X because it’s NOT IMPORTANT,” is a power struggle thing. Whoever is saying it has decided that X is really fucking important and is lying about it.

        I’ve also learned that in American society, men using this tactic on female partners is pandemic. It’s all part of the massive pattern of not-pulling-their-weight fuckery, whether over housework or emotional labor.

    1. PS Very early on in my marriage, I said to DH, I know this is trivial to you, but doing things X way matters to me. I can’t explain why, it just does. So can we do things X way?

      He did. Still does.

      If things are truly trivial, then why are you turning them into a power play instead of being the person to concede and give the other person what they want?

      There’s a lot in these letters that are about power and control, not balance and compromise.

      1. It doesn’t sound trivial to me. It sounded like he was minimizing things that are likely huge to the ex. My ex would always minimize things with those statements. And ‘we can work it out’ statements. But he refused to do the work so I got tired of giving up my life for that and I left. And he stalked too. It’s weird how the ones who can’t do the work to keep a relationship will put so much work into not letting go. This isn’t about folding the towels into thirds. This stuff I’m guessing is big stuff. This guy sounds very controlling. He is not allowing her to leave. I am afraid to think how the ex would characterize it. A commenter below nailed it with the flags of darth Vader.

      2. Yes. And – LW, you put a lot of emphasis on how easy it would be to work out all those ‘trivial’ problems. The thing is, you DIDN’T. Maybe it would really be super-easy if you went and did it, but you did not and that makes all the difference. It seems to me you think something should not be a problem ’cause it’s easily solvable, but the fact is – as long as it’s not actually solved, it remains a problem and keeps dragging the relationship down.

        Problem in not lesser just because it could be easily solved if no one actually solves it.
        And all those ‘could have solved’ and ‘we just need to talk’ in your letter were in theoretical future, not something you sat down and put effort while in the relationship. Theoretical problem-solving and effort you “may put in, latter” does not count in the relationships present and you seem not to get that and want points for it.

        But you need to do stuff to get points for stuff, the fact that you COULD do it EASILY does not give you the points and does not repair a relationship.

      3. To clarify, I wasn’t saying they are trivial, and I wasn’t saying the LW is actually seeking compromise–if you’ll look at my comment again, I was saying the opposite. But LW BELIEVES they are trivial, and BELIEVES he is seeking compromise. I’m trying to help him look at it from a different perspective and understand why her reactions aren’t at all unreasonable.

        1. Oh, absolutely yes and I think your comment is very clear about that. Also, I think you put this perfectly:

          “You can’t just unilaterally decide that she doesn’t get to be upset about things because you feel they are minor”.

          I DOES seem like LW thinks he gets to veto if something is just Not Important and then it no longer matters in the relationship. And the Not Important things happen to be the problems his ex has with him, how surprising.

          That’s not how it works, LW. You don’t get the right to take away things your partner is allowed to be upset about just ’cause you think they are minor. If this is how you are dealing with her issue you are going to have a bad time.

  23. LW, you chose an excellent place to seek advice. The Captain is wise, witty, and expereinced, so I sincerely hope you take her advice to heart.

    I understand the pain of being dumped by “The One.” Like a commenter said earlier, it’s like being an addict suddenly deprived of your supply. You’re in withdrawal, and the first part is the worst part. It does heal over with time.

    That said, you’re being a creep by not accepting her “No,” so STOP IT. You referred to her as your “(ex)gf,” which signals you don’t accept that the relationship is over. She told you “NO”! You were dumped! That Is The End Of This Relationship! She told you “NO” again by going no contact, yet you persisted in sending her letters and plants, calling her, and you dialed up the creep factor even more by orders of magnitude by showing up at her job! Dude, NO! Get it through your head!

    You need to honestly examine why you think it’s ok to not accept her “NO”s. When else did you disregard her no? Do you think SHE felt “listened to in the relationship”? Is this how you conduct yourself with other women? Other people? Uproot that part of yourself and burn it with fire. NO is part of life. NO isn’t just yours, as you were “refusing to be judged by” blah blah blah. She judged you alright; and it is her judgement call to make if she wants nothing to do with you. And I don’t blame her.

    Sometimes the medicine is bitter. Take it anyway. Use this opportunity to do some serious soul-searching and self-improvement.

    1. Yeah, that detail with the brackets creeped me the eff out. LW, she’s not your ‘(ex)gf’. She is your ex-gf. You might not like it or want things to be that way, but it takes two* people to decide to be in a relationship. She does not want to be in a relationship with you; ergo, you two are no longer in a relationship. It doesn’t matter if you think you could work it out; she doesn’t want to work it out.

      You’re trying to rules-lawyer your way into dragging this out by insinuating that she didn’t break up with you ‘correctly’, and that she needs to do it differently in order for it to ‘count’. I know and you know that that is BS. If you don’t feel like you got the breakup you ‘deserved’, whether it’s because she didn’t do it to your face, or she didn’t give you a ‘good enough’ reason or whatever, that sucks for you but it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or it doesn’t count.

      And I think you know deep down that you don’t actually want a ‘good enough’ breakup. You don’t want ‘closure’. It wouldn’t matter how she did it; you would find some reason to discount it because you don’t want to be broken up. But you are broken up. She is not your girlfriend anymore. She is someone who is probably afraid of you, and you need to leave her alone FOREVER.

      *Assuming it’s a relationship of two people. If it’s a poly relationship, then substitute ‘two’ for ‘however many people are involved’.

    2. Yes, the brackets really said it all. Stop deploying the Parentheses Of False Hope, LW. She’s your ex. It’s not temporary or practice or a filler status. Trying to pretend otherwise isn’t helping yourself.

  24. Leave her alone. Move on. Don’t reply to the Captain’s advice with ”Yes, but . . .”

  25. LW, I’m sorry you’re hurting right now.

    But please look at this relationship without the Goggles of Love Fog.

    You were together for 6 months. 6 months is supposed to be the short-term, early honeymoon period where everything is great. And that 6 months for you guys was marked with a poor sex life, frequent arguments and disagreements, issues held on from previous relationships and an inability for the two of you to communicate effectively together.

    Stop writing, calling and turning up where she works. She has communicated clearly to you that this is over. I promise that another 6 months from now you’ll look back and, if you’ve put it behind you and moved on, you’ll see those 6 months differently. You’ll undoubtedly still remember the good parts fondly, but she is not The One.

    1. Let’s hope you’re right. Remember the guy on medium who was still caught up in his 4 month relationship two years in the past.

    2. Exactly. 6 months is EXTREMELY short. If you’ve had that many issues over a 6 months-relationship, there’s no way it’s going to work out (beside the fact that, you know, she explicitly broke up with you).
      I know it’s hard, but LW needs to Let It Go.

    3. When I was reading the letter, I kept going, “No…..Nope…..Whoa! No.” Then I got the part about 6 months and just went, “Six months?! Move on, buddy.” If the relationship was that much work at 6 months, it can only get worse.

  26. If this letter were coming from your ex, I’d tell her not to respond to you and to start documenting in preparation for getting a restraining order. Because from here, it looks like you’re a stalker and your relationship had many of the hallmarks of abuse.

    Met in August last year. Fell in love. Never met anyone like her and ticks all the boxes. I felt set for life (love, kids, the lot) and when she was there, there was no one else in the room (not something I had felt before).

    So after six months you’re convinced she’s The One. You say she ticks all the boxes, well, the box this ticks on the list of “warning signs of domestic abuse” is “comes on too strong, rushes into an intense relationship”.

    She had given me the silent treatment on a few occasions and I was reaching out to try to reconcile. Then she sends me a message effectively ending it. I tried to message, I tried to call. Nothing. I wrote her a letter in which poured my heart out and gave it to her when she came out of work. She promised to read it. Nothing in reply. I sent her cacti (sentimental symbol for us), one each day for a week, each with a sentimental note. Nothing in reply. It’s been nearly a month since her last message.

    This is stalking. Right there. What you are describing is stalking. It’s not love.

    I’ve effectively been ghosted, but from a relationship that was six months of love and plans and fun and joy.

    Sounds to me like it was six months of her feeling belittled and you feeling ignored, and you storming off in the middle of arguments.

    Also, she hasn’t ghosted you. She broke up with you. And now you’re stalking her.

    I know she’s the one. And I know we can easily overcome the things we argued about. But we can’t do that if she won’t talk. What can I do, to either win her back (as unlikely as it seems) or move on with such little closure? I’m sad, angry, lonely, frustrated, scared, confused, desperate and utterly heart-broken. I still love her.

    She doesn’t want to overcome the things you argued about. She’s already moved on. You need to leave her alone, get a hobby, and possibly consider counseling if things don’t improve.

  27. If this letter was posted 6 years ago, it would be about me. I swear I dated the LW (and took him back after the stalking behavior and refusal to let go) for about 8 or 9 months when I knew it wasn’t something I wanted.

    Learn from my ex and let go now. You aren’t doing anyone favors by holding on, and if she decides to take you back because you stalked her for long enough it still won’t last. (Mine was…1 month of dating, 2 weeks of stalking, about 8 months of misery on both sides before I ended it)

  28. I gotta admit, I kind of got bad chills reading this, because aside from a few details this easily could have been written by an ex-friend of mine who had some serious boundary issues surrounding exes, and turned out to be an extremely scary & dangerous human.

    LW, it doesn’t sound like you are to that guy’s level of nope yet, but please take a step back and realize that not accepting someone’s breakup is a totally inappropriate thing to do. You cannot win her back. If she wants to come back, she will, but I don’t find it likely she will want to do so, and you are actively making things worse by continuing to pursue her.

  29. I have a group of young people I work with occasionally. I have to work hard to teach them to see each other as real people and to not overrun each other’s boundaries.

    One group I worked with was so bad (mostly young men with respect to the women in the group), that I had to come up with a visual cue.

    I would bring in my stuffed fox toy and hand it to the person who was violating a boundary.

    When I handed out the “boundary violating fox,” the violater had to look at the fox and try and figure out what boundary had been violated, how that would make the person on the receiving end feel, how it was unfair to the group, and why the violator did it. (Often it was “I’m being selfish.”) They had to explain this to Mr. Fox and then make any appropriate apologies.

    It worked.

    I hope the OP can read all these posts and see where he went wrong and what he’d have to say to Mr. Fox.

    1. Question: how old exactly are the young people you are working with? Because this is actually really brilliant.

      1. PS it helps to talk about how foxes behave, trapseing all over the place not caring about property lines. Real physical boundaries.

    2. The thing I love most about the Boundary Violating Fox is that he doesn’t do the emotional labor of explaining why you fucked up. He just stares at you helpfully, and waits for you to figure it out yourself.

  30. So instead of taking someone you profess to love and RESPECT at their word, you bulldoze over it in order to show them why they’re wrong — because how you feel and what you think is more important and more correct than how they feel and what they think.

    That is kryptonite, my friend. For me, this would be a clear sign that who I really am is not actually that important or valuable to you. It’s not ME you love, it’s the idea of me, which is yours to mold. Hell naw.

  31. In one important sense of the word, you do have closure: you know what happened. You don’t like it, but you know: she broke up with you.

    By contrast, I can think of some people who didn’t have closure. In some cases, they literally don’t know whether their spouse or relative is alive. That includes people who were “missing in action” during a war, and someone in a story that turned up on Ask A Manager a while back, in which Woman was away for the weekend, Guy packed up some of his stuff and left the country without any sort of note, text, or similar. (That one is weird because it was Guy telling the story, years later, after Woman had given up on finding out what happened, because the school he worked for had just hired her.)

    Arguably, people whose parents just abandon the family without a word don’t have closure: the guy who walks out the door, says “I’m going for a quart of milk,” and never comes back is probably still alive rather than having been gone for a longer walk, drowned, and the body swept out to sea, but he’s making things a lot harder for his spouse (and children) than if he had at least sent a letter from wherever he wound up, saying that he wasn’t coming back.

    In some sense, we can never entirely know why someone leaves—or why they stay. Most explanations are partial, and what you think or say now may not be the story you tell yourself later, or the story you told yourself on your way to picking up the phone and saying “I’m not coming to dinner on Thursday, and I don’t want to see you anymore. Do you want me to send you your copy of ‘Return of the Jedi’?” But you have the basic narrative, this happened and then that happened.

    The curtain will be rising for Act II soon; what script do you want to write? Soliloquy or bar scene? Trip around the world, or adopt a guinea pig?

    1. I was thinking of that AAM as well. She didn’t know if he’d been kidnapped or murdered or what the heck was going on. LW knows, he just doesn’t like it.

      1. I think my favorite part of that was that he acted like she’d been totally unreasonable by making a fuss and trying to track him down in the few weeks immediately following. 😛 Like, literally all he had to do was leave a note saying “I’m leaving”.

        1. I was rather pleased when he flounced out of that job. Poor Sylvia didn’t need that stress, and since he quit he’s no longer her problem.

  32. LW, once she broke up with you, you were broken up.
    Could you have gotten together again after that? Maybe. Until you showed up at her work with a feelingsdump letter and inundated her with a week of sentimental cacti. Those were nails in the relationship’s coffin and a match to the funeral pyre.

    For your own sake, follow the Captain’s advice, read and process the comments here, and figure out why you did what you did and with work your next relationship will be healthier and happier.

  33. LW she did not ghost you she communicated via the written word it was over. You sound like a stalker. I’m not sure if that’s your normal behavior but when someone ends it and you camp out AT THEIR WORK… And sends gifts once per day. Dude she could file for an RO. If you’re just out of sorts back off and accept this bc she’s made it super clear she doesn’t want you. She owes you nothing. You may not like it but those are the facts. Catcalling is creepy and wrong. Stop it.

  34. A necessary condition for someone to be “The One” is that they want to be with you as much as you want to be with them.

    The person does not want to be with you.

    Ergo, this person is not The One.

    I would guess, in fact, that she never was The One, and she certainly will not be The One in the future.

    1. I was about to write in the same thing. By definition, someone who doesn’t want to be with you is not The Once, since the prerequisite of true love is mutual consent.

  35. Hey, LW. You say you know she’s the one. The thing is, for her to be the one, she has to agree to that. And she’s not.

    Whether there really is only one person for someone or not, this isn’t your one. You can’t pester someone into loving you. You can’t pester someone into being right for you. The best thing you can do is accept that it’s over and keep on living your life.

  36. Why do you want this person back so badly when you don’t like the way they handled their past trauma and you think it’s unfair that that past trauma led into difficulties with you. Do you want her back or do you just not want to be the one who got dumped by the problem girl they thought they’d be able to fix?

  37. Looking at the letter again after reading the Capain’s advice and the comments, it makes me feel icky and anxious how LW put the “ex” in brackets in the very first sentence. Not only does he downplay her breaking up to “ghosting”, he still refers to her as … somewhat of a gf? LW, you are not taking her choices seriously. You say “she thought I deliberately misunderstood and belittled her”, and then you go on and do exactly that in the letter.

    I know we sometimes do things we bitterly regret afterwards in these situations; it doesn’t mean we are bad people. But – you are not a safe person to be around women at the moment. Don’t date again until you see how unsafe and awful you can make women feel with that behaviour.

  38. Dear LW,

    I, like many others, focused on your desire to get back with your ex. I ignored your request for closure tactics.

    Here’s my response on that head.

    Closure isn’t a thing.
    Or, rather, you create a life post breakup. That’s your closure.

    Things to do
    – If you have friends the ex didn’t like, or hobbies she poo-pooed, take them up again.

    – Consume media created by women.
    The Captain recommends this often. She’s right. Watching movies and TV directed by women, reading books by women, going to gallery shows featuring women, etc will expand your universe.

    – Take care of your body. Sleep well. Eat foods you like. Exercise happily.

    – Love your family and friends.

    1. Ok to all this but I don’t understand why you had to say ‘if there was x your ex didn’t like, do tgat’. Why would anyone say that? Why can’t he do hobbies or see friends, full stop? Your wording almost makes it sound revengy, like ‘ha I can do this now she’s not here…’ Why can’t he just do stuff he likes and not spend time trying to do things she disliked?

      1. I’m advising him to pick up any threads of his life that he dropped while with his ex. For most people I know such threads exist. Going back to them helps many people get over their exes.

        Revenge doesn’t come into it.

        1. Yes to picking up threads I just don’t get how ‘things the ex didn’t like or people ex didn’t like’ really matter. they are hobbies or friends. What the ex likes shouldn’t come into play here.

          1. I think the assumption is that he had to stop those during the relationship BECAUSE of the ex. Now that the ex is gone, those are activities/friends that he is not likely to run into ex with.

            ie, if I date someone that hates bowling, so I stop bowling while with them, going bowling after we break up is a great idea. It’s something I like that I had to stop, and it’s something that I know I can do with zero chance of running into my ex!

            It’s not a revenge thing, it’s just an easy way to avoid her as well as be happy.

          2. Then it doesn’t for you.

            For many people, a breakup becomes a chance to reconnect to people and things they’d dropped for the ex.

          3. Or it can just be symbolic. I lived with a partner for years that was allergic to pine, so I couldn’t have a Christmas tree. They obviously weren’t allergic out of any kind of malice. After we broke up, buying a tree was symbolic *to me* of moving on. It wasn’t about them at all, it was about me.

      2. I don’t think of that as vengeful but you usually do have to give up some things to make time for another person in your life. And it’s a way to look for the upside of being dumped.

        1. For example: I am currently madly in love with a man who has told me that it is a deal breaker for moving in if I ever get another cat. Given that I would very much like to move in with him someday, I have not gotten another cat. Were we to break up, I would immediately rush out and try to adopt a second cat.

      3. When I was younger, I got into an all-consuming, passionate relationship with someone who did not share all my tastes. Because we spent a lot of time together, I stopped listening to a segment of my music collection, and didn’t spend time rereading a number of books that I found formative and important, as I was suddenly too busy having sex to read much.

        When we broke up, I remembered that I hadn’t listened to that music/read those books in a long while, and it felt really good to reconnect with something that was just mine.

        This doesn’t have to be sinister. Sometimes you put part of your life away because you can’t share it with your partner, and you’re spending a lot of time around your partner. In a healthy relationship you eventually carve out time for those things, if they’re important to you. For me those things were less important to me than time with my partner, but it was still nice to rediscover them later.

        1. Yeah, this. It doesn’t have to be about “well, fuck THEM!” It can just be a reminder that no matter how much a relationship meant to you, it wasn’t the only source of happiness in the world – there are other things that can give you pleasure.

        2. Way back in _2005_, an um-friend* of mine wrote this piece about his first relationship. https://everything2.com/title/Your+first+relationship+will+be+nuked%253A+Don%2527t+give+up?author_id=1684407#Akchizar

          He later confessed privately to me that he did manage to find a CD he hadn’t shared, and he listened to that on repeat for a few days. He even told me the name of the album –and out of respect, I have refused to ever try and track it down and listen to it. I wanted him to have something that could be just his, if he needed it.

          There’s a playground in my hometown that I have never gone to with anyone else, for much the same reason. There’s literally dozens of almost-identical wooden playgrounds throughout the suburbia, but this one is Only Mine. No memories attached. It’s nice to have that space, even if it’s 600 miles away now.


          *This is Jose! He’s my…um…friend!

        3. I mean, hell, even in a healthy ongoing relationship, sometimes you find you can’t spend a particular bit of time together because of schedules, obligations, surprise circumstances. That time spent reluctantly apart can turn into “Oh, there’s this [THING] that I don’t often do these days because I am so often with [PARTNER] and they don’t enjoy doing it–how about I take a little time to do that by myself now?” It makes what could have just been a bummer more enjoyable, and it’s a nice reminder that, happy as we are together, who we are individually is worthwhile too.

      4. I think this was great advice from Mrs. Morley. In my experience people can end up molding themselves around a partner when they’re trying to make a relationship work, especially if they see it as a “soulmates” kind of thing. Even if the GF never tried to make him give up interests, places he liked to go, music etc., he might have spent less time with those things because he was pouring all his time & energy into the relationship. Reconnecting with things he likes to do might help him feel like himself again.

      5. It can be a really great way to speed up recovery from a breakup. If there was something you had done before you dated your ex and stopped during the relationship (because they weren’t into it, they didn’t like it, you were now spending time with them instead of with whatever it is, etc.), it can be really empowering to pick it back up again post-breakup. It reminds you that even without them, there are still lots of things you enjoy in life. And maybe there were things you didn’t know how much you missed them, and reconnecting makes you realize that perhaps the relationship wasn’t as perfect as you had been imagining it to be.

        1. Yes, it helps to have something that is yours and not a couple thing. Not quite the same, but when my mom died, my dad still had his music and he could practice and go to his band and that was a space where mom had never been because her musical interests were radically different, so it gave him a little island in his grief.

  39. Oh, LW, it sounds like you are going through a very rough patch. Unfortunately, I, too, am familiar with the pain after a breakup and I know it is tough to deal with it. The Captain gave very good advice and you do a service to yourself if you follow it. I would like to add just one thing to it: I warmly suggest seeking counseling or a peer support group to handle your feelings – and also to learn from your own and others’ mistakes. You do want your next relationship to be easier on yourself and your partner, don’t you? Growing as a person is the key and eventually it will also make you feel better in your own skin.

    Closure is not something that she owes to you; no-one else can give you closure except yourself, through time and possibly counseling. I do not really like the word “closure”, if I understand it correctly it refers to an abrupt process which leads to a “Heureka!” like realization – and world does not really work like that. In neither of my native languages is there a word which means quite the same. So, in real life, there is only grief – and a process of learning and letting go.

    Guilt is a double edged sword: with it comes responsibility – but if you do not accept the guilt you cannot have the responsibility and that is a truly bad thing. Without responsibility you cannot change, learn or grow. So, own up your mistakes but do not dwell on them longer than necessary. It sounds like you both did some hurtful things so it is pretty clear you were not ideal for each other. You cannot change her reasons, but you can change yours.

    I also join the choir of the commenters here stating that they do not believe “The One” exists. I believe there are just people and some are better suited with each other than others. Also, one’s ability to cope with one’s own emotions and thoughts affects this suitability a lot. Your feelings and thoughts are your responsibility.

    I hope things will be better in the future.

    Uh, also, what happened to the cacti? Perhaps it is just me but… Yes, plants are my field of expertise.

  40. Please, please, please LW, cease interacting with women. You are a danger to us. Your attitude is entitled and your actions show that you have no consideration whatsoever for our wishes, desires, and stated boundaries.
    No women deserves this.

    1. Hmmmm, the LW has definitely overstepped here, but I don’t think asking them to cease interacting with women is necessary, helpful or realistic. I would prefer that the LW examine their past actions, try to understand why their behavior was wrong, and commit to doing better in the future.

    2. People who act immaturely are not the same as rabid dogs. It is possible to learn from past behavior and turn one’s life around. He is not Evil to be Scrubbed from Earth. He’s just a guy making bad choices and probably creeping this lady out. He has work to do, not a cave to move into.

      1. Women aren’t practice dummies for men to improve their social skills on. He sounds dangerous to women and he should stay away before he hurts more women.
        Why is the priority for him to have opportunities, rather than for women to be safe?

        1. Well, let’s take this in order. You assert women are not practice dummies. I disagree, only in that EVERYONE is a practice dummy for everyone else’s social interactions. That’s how you get better at socializing. Practice. No matter your gender. You assert he is a danger to women. Maybe! According to him he is not dangerous. That is also what dangerous people say though, and he has exhibited dangerous behavior, so let’s agree that he’s Not Ready to be in a relationship right now. He has some work to do on himself before he is able to be a good partner. I would even agree that it is not in his best interest to get involved romantically at ALL until he’s had some distance from this relationship and can understand why his actions are unacceptable. But if, as you assert, the priority is for women to be safe over him to have a shot at growing into the mature man he needs to become, we have a system for that already. It’s called prison. If you think ANY person should be in prison for being a total creeper then what you say is logical. I disagree. Many many many creeps learn from their mistakes and mature into solid dating material. I think that might be one of the main themes of this whole blog.

          1. most of us get our “social practising” done in school when we are kids. if you need to practise socialising on adults because you are an adult that didn’t learn how to socialise as a child without being abusive, then what you need is not “practice dummies” but therapy. lots of therapy.

          2. Hey, let’s walk the rhetoric back a bit. Therapy is great, but this whole site is for people who didn’t figure out social skills as kids.

          3. yes, and i am one of those people. i am autistic and went to therapy for many years so i could learn coping skills i never learned from my shit parents. needing practice learning how to socialise with people is not an excuse to be abusive to people, it’s a reason to go to therapy. that was my point with my comment.

          4. There’s a difference between practice dummies and the human beings we interact with on our trips around the sun. Yes, we learn from the people we interact with, and they from us, but we don’t get to beat on people until we learn to control ourselves. LW has no right to expect anyone else to put up with his flailing until he figures out how to improve his behavior. If LW can’t figure out how to treat women better without treating women badly he’s SOL, since women’s safety does take priority over his opportunities. It’s on him to figure it out, not on women to put up with him.

            But if, as you assert, the priority is for women to be safe over him to have a shot at growing into the mature man he needs to become
            That sure sounds like you *don’t* agree that women’s safety is the priority. Is that actually what you mean to say?

            Even if it’s not your intent to say that, the options are not “use women as practice dummies” or prison. Women can be safe from LW if LW stays away from dating until he acknowledges he needs work and then does the work. To even suggest that adgisga was saying creepers belong in prison is hyperbole to the point of dishonesty.

            In the meantime, suggesting that LW has the right to use women as practice dummies until he’s learned to human is straight up “he’s only awkward! give him a chance!,” as if a woman owes it to anyone to put up with bad behavior so a creep “can learn from their mistakes.” Main themes of this blog are that no one has to put up with bad behavior and women don’t owe men anything.

          5. it’s not that men didn’t learn social skills as kids. both men and women recognize both hard and soft “no’s” when applied to other contexts. Men simply ignore them when the context is women’s boundaries. They continue to violate those boundaries because they enjoy it, not because they don’t know that it’s wrong. \
            As a class, men are one of the most hazardous things that women have to deal with. Look at the stats on rape, domestic violence, homicide. If those things were a priority for men to change, they would have changed by now.
            Women deserve to not have to deal with that, from this gross, creepy, stalking dude, or any other. We deserve our freedom.

          6. @bigdoglittlecat – so I said in my comment that I AGREE he should not be in any romantic relationships until he does his work on his own time to better himself. I was responding to a comment that asked him to never again interact with 50% of the world, which I think is a ridiculous thing to say. I agree with you that no one is OBLIGATED to deal with bad behavior, but to act like he is Permanently Terrible is really defeatist? And kind of cruel, actually. People can learn, grow, and do better. He will *hopefully* realize his mistakes and eventually decide he is ready to try again to be the partner another person deserves. This is an internal process, not something any woman can “put up with”. So if society agrees his freedom to associate is a danger to women…then prison literally is the system? Like that’s not hyperbole. That is what we do to people our system deems dangerous. (Violating restraining orders, threats, etc)

            Maybe the confusion is over *whose* priority? I’m talking about the state. People in the dating pool are ALSO free to associate-or not-with whomever they choose. I think we agree more than what you typed. I still think one of the main themes of this blog is that no one is Forever Doomed to be Awful.

        1. Interesting because on this site I usually see this invoked as a plea to not forget that non-binary and genderqueer people exist and get abused by men, and they shouldn’t be misgendered by this kind of rhetoric.

          But, yeah, I don’t think that men deserve to get abused by this guy either? If he’s bi/pansexual, let’s not give an okay to treat dudes this way?

        2. do you only post comments to pick fights about gender and sexuality? and to dunk on any gender other than ciswomen? because that seems to be most of what you do here.

          1. why did you assume that my post about women was only about cis women?! when did I “dunk on” anyone but violent, abusive men?
            sounds pretty transphobic of you.

          2. * ad hominem attacks
            * shifting goalposts
            * ignores when confronted with provable facts

            I’d continue arguing with you, but it’s obvious (because searching past comments on posts is a thing) that you’re arguing in bad faith, so there’s no point. seems like a strange hobby to me, but I guess if it makes you happy, good on you! I’m not interested in it, though, so you’ll have to keep going without me. have fun!

          3. Her comments seems to be zealously righteous and hostile, but because they are framed in an LGBT context it seems that some people are side tracked by that.

            It’s like she threw a giant rainbow glitter bomb and now some commentators are saying “oh no we can’t comment on the substance of her arguments because we don’t want to be misconstrued as anti LGBT”. I hope she doesn’t act like this offline, I can’t imagine being able to maintain that many meaningful relationships with that attitude.

  41. LW, I’m sorry you went through this. The involuntary end of a valued relationship is sad. It doesn’t matter how or why you lost this love. You do need to allow yourself to feel the sorrow of the permanent loss. It is OK to mourn. It is also OK to look for small daily pleasures of your own. Listen to the Captain, be good to yourself and kind to those around you.

  42. LW, years and years ago, I ended a relationship like your ex-girlfriend ended your relationship. For quite a few reasons, but the main one was that I realized that (as someone said upthread) intensity does not equal happiness, and I was not happy with him. It was a long-distance relationship, so I told him over the phone. I assured him that I still considered him a friend and hoped our bond would remain.

    He called me every night, sometimes angry, sometimes crying, sometimes to literally sit breathing into the phone at me.

    He messaged me whenever he saw me online, to the extent that I had to block him because I could not do a thing without pings every minute. He created multiple other names, and I blocked every one of them.

    He sent anonymous gifts (except I knew they were from him, because his nightly message deluges would mention them) until I moved and did not tell him my new address.

    He suggested that I meet him in a private chatroom on a site he frequented so we could talk things out. The site was solely for cyber hookups, and he immediately tried to distract me with hints about his boner.

    It is now 13 years since I broke up with him, almost eleven years since I married someone else. He still sends me random Facebook messages out of the blue. “Remember me?…I miss you…our time together was the best of my life…” A month ago, his latest message begged me to meet him in a private chatroom (on the same cybersex site) so he could “get some things off his chest”.

    I no longer consider him a friend. We have no bond, because he broke it into pieces, and to this day is pounding it into dust and ashes. He is somehow still convinced that I am his One, when I am no longer his anything. Do not be this guy, because this guy is who you’re being.

    1. Wow…. Not to be all me. I have an ex friend I never ever dated or kissed or anything and he used to mildly stalk me (we were in undergrad and both 19). Not scary just awkward and obnoxious. I eventually ended the friendship as I found it annoying. A few months ago (which is 26yrs later) I got a letter from him apologizing for his terrible behavior but the creepy thing was, the behavior I knew about actually wasn’t so bad. Nothing like LWs. Just annoying. And not scary at all. It also was weird bc he sent from a PO box and didn’t put his last name. Which actually made it take a while to figure out who he was bc I never think of him. The more I thought about it, the more creepy it became. Bc the letter said oh you’ve done so much with your life and you’ve got all this success you wanted blah blah and made it so clear he’d been keeping tabs. Obnoxious persistence from a 19yr old is one thing but the 27yr persistence from a 46yr old is spooky. The more I read it the less it felt like an apology though the words seemed ok as far as tgat went, except it was far outsized to the behavior. It felt like a hook for me to respond with oh it wasn’t so bad or something. And also the self protective tactics in the not IDing himself in the letter were also weird. First nane only. So now after decades of no contact I am stuck keeping the guy’s letter bc he might have been obsessing and might have gone nuts on the intervening yrs and it scares me just a tiny bit.

      1. Holy crap- i’m freaked out on your behalf.
        I hope the postmark is Very Far Away. Be safe.

        1. It’s across the country and it took me three days to recall his last name but then I blocked him on everything I could find. LinkedIn, FB.

      2. Wow. I hope he’s doing some kind of 12-Step “make amends” work and not nurturing a nearly three-decade-long obsession. I’ve had some surprise contacts from long-forgotten acquaintances and former friends who were doing 12 Step work of some kind or another, and most of these “surprise, I’m here to force an interaction on you, accept my apology and forgive me now” were not met with a lot of enthusiasm. To be clear, if someone is doing 12 Steps and you don’t want to interact with them long enough for them to try to make amends, you certainly are not required to do so! (The desire to make amends is at least a much more benign possibility than a creepy quarter century habit of obsession. Hope that’s what’s going on! Supporting you in your decision, whatever it is!)

        1. “amends” is one of my main beefs with 12-steps.
          Too few in those programs understand that making amends often means leaving the other person the hell alone.

          1. What irks the shit out of me is that step nine explicitly says not to attempt to make amends if it would cause (more) harm. (The exact phrasing is, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, <b<except when to do so would injure them or others,” but I believe non-physical injury, including creeping someone out or outright frightening them, is implied.)

          2. Drat. Typo. What I meant to type was: except when to do so would injure them or others.

          3. @ DesertRose: true, but, alas, I’ve known too many people in 12-step who are so self-absorbed they think if it’s good for them it is good for the other person.

          4. @BigDogLittleCat, too true! I don’t think much of twelve-step programs either, because most of the people I’ve seen use them (my bio-father, an ex-friend, among others) seemed to skip steps and/or interpret the directions in any given step as they wanted to interpret them, not to the benefit of other people and not as a spur to better behavior in general.

            I’m sure there are plenty of people who’ve had great success with twelve-step programs; I just don’t know many.

          5. Agreed. Making amends does not mean that you get to force your presence on people. It might mean that you don’t ever again contact someone you know darn fine won’t want to hear from you and instead wish them well on your own and leave it at that. Maybe write a burn letter giving that apology and then don’t send it.

        2. Oh don’t worry I know!!! Amends actually aren’t about the response they are about the effort so if he is truly making amends he won’t ‘need’ a response. And there is no way I’m going to respond. I never thought of him for decades he was never important to be back then he was just a summer subleaser of my neighbor one yr. the fact he is still thinking of me 27 yrs later is creeping me out. He’s been looking me up. He sent the letter to my work address. If he really felt he’d been over the line and creepy then, how does 1.i know where you work 27yrs later, 2. I know your education and your achievements over 27yrs, 3. I’ve taken the precautions of not signing my name or using my last name and using a PO box return address… Sound??? If he wanted to frighten me score one for him. So much for his supposed enlightenment.

          1. I hope sending it to your work was a result of the fact that he’s unable to attain your home address. Still creepy, completely agree, but maybe a silver lining?

            I hope nothing further comes of this, wishing you luck!

  43. I have always wished to tell the very few people who have done this to me what it actually feels like to have an unwanted suitor. You feel hunted- terrified that said person is going to show up where you live/work etc. When you see said person, your heartrate skyrockets, and you look for ways to escape.
    Dude, please don’t hunt this woman. I know it is easy to fall into the romcom trap, but you are treating her like someone who doesn’t have legitimate desires, and that’s horrible.

  44. Ooh boy. There’s a lot to unpack here, and others have done most of it already, but I’m gonna jump in.

    “We fell out over something stupid… she thought I deliberately misunderstood and belittled her, didn’t like it when I would storm off in some situations (it was completely unacceptable).”

    Wow… that’s some prime, grade-A vaudeville material right there. “My wife’s mad at me. She says I don’t listen to her – or something like that, I wasn’t really paying attention.” You calling her concerns “stupid” IS belittling.

    “I refused to be judged by the incredibly low standards her mentally and physically abusive, serially cheating drug dealer ex had set.”

    Meaning… what? You don’t get cookie points for not hitting someone, nor are they obligated to date you because they’ve done worse in the past.

    “I’ve effectively been ghosted, but from a relationship that was six months of love and plans and fun and joy.”

    1. you weren’t ghosted, you were dumped, and 2. it seemed you two had quite a lot to argue over in that “fun and joy” relationship, and 3. six months is still in the honeymoon stage. An intense relationship crashing after 6 months just means reality ensued long enough to overpower the endorphins.

    “I know we can easily overcome the things we argued about. But we can’t do that if she won’t talk.”

    That sounds an awful lot like “I know I can browbeat her into taking me back even though we argued for 2 weeks about how she thinks I treat her terribly, and then dumped me, because (as established above) all her objections are stupid, because she’s just a stupid little girl who doesn’t know what’s good for her. I mean, she had an abusive boyfriend, for christ’s sake! Clearly her judgement is faulty and I will be able to make her see reason.” It’s not a good sound, LW. You don’t get to decide that her reasons don’t measure up. She wants to break up, so she can. She doesn’t have to petition you for a breakup, submit a pleading to the breakup arbitration committee, fight the Goblin Champion of But We’re So Perfect For Each Other, or beat the Labyrinth of Sparing Your Feelings in order to win her freedom.

    “What can I do, to either win her back…”

    You can’t.

    “or move on with such little closure?”

    What do you consider closure? You guys argued for weeks before the breakup! This was hardly out of the blue. If you mean “not feel bad about being dumped,” well, that’s not something she can give you. She’s not obligated to find a painless way to dump you – mainly because it’s not possible.

    “I’m sad, angry, lonely, frustrated, scared, confused, desperate and utterly heart-broken.”

    That sucks. Really, it does. But that doesn’t justify stalking your ex. She dumped you, you need to let it go.

    1. “I refused to be judged by the incredibly low standards her mentally and physically abusive, serially cheating drug dealer ex had set.”

      Meaning… what? You don’t get cookie points for not hitting someone, nor are they obligated to date you because they’ve done worse in the past.

      I think what that means is that she told him he’s doing things her ex did. She, learning from experience, thought that he was showing signs of abusiveness. He didn’t like that.

      1. I could see how she might’ve felt that way, though! Storming out of a room during an argument isn’t exclusive to abusers but it’s definitely a thing abusers do, and doing that to someone who’s been abused can trigger them and raise some serious red flags.

      2. When I read LW’s letter, I was applauding Ex for recognizing the signs and getting out of another bad relationship before it was too late.

      3. ” she told him he’s doing things her ex did. She, learning from experience, thought that he was showing signs of abusiveness. He didn’t like that.”

        Y hello thar, red flag!

      4. I think what that means is that she told him he’s doing things her ex did. She, learning from experience, thought that he was showing signs of abusiveness. He didn’t like that.

        And to be fair, he was. He acted in a way she perceived as belittling and then argued about it (and he’s continuing to belittle her concerns in this very letter)w`, he stormed out, he escalated this relationship too fast, he apparently feels entitled to her affection because he helped her through a rough patch, he blames her or her ex for most of the problems in this relationship (and I, for one, am very curious about that alluded to instagram photo), and now he’s stalking her.

      5. He said that in the context of an instagram photo that made her jealous, if I’m understanding correctly. So it’s like, the photo made her feel like he might be cheating on her or coming close to it or just disrespecting her feelings/boundaries. And he got angry because he felt like she should trust him and the reason she didn’t was because her ex cheated.

        Honestly, LW, please read some self help books about how to fight fair in relationships. Don’t blame your partner’s reaction to your flirty instagram photo with another woman on emotional baggage from a past relationship.

    2. ” She wants to break up, so she can. She doesn’t have to petition you for a breakup, submit a pleading to the breakup arbitration committee, fight the Goblin Champion of But We’re So Perfect For Each Other, or beat the Labyrinth of Sparing Your Feelings in order to win her freedom.”

      +1000 ❤

    3. I feel like we should thank LW for inspiring the Labyrinth of Sparing Your Feelings and the Cactus of Reconciliation.

  45. LW, you said She had given me the silent treatment on a few occasions and I was reaching out to try to reconcile.

    I can read that two ways, and neither of them describes a good situation.

    (1) Your ex was in fact giving you the silent treatment, while expecting you to keep guessing at what was wrong, or waiting for her to decide that you had made sufficient amends for what you had done. The Captain has said before that the silent treatment is emotional abuse. If your ex was giving you the silent treatment, you can do better, because being alone is better than being in an emotionally abusive relationship.

    (2) She had tried breaking up with you before, perhaps by ghosting, and you pushed until she took you back. If that’s what was happening, if this is the fourth or fifth time she broke up with you, and she took you back after the previous break-ups, let her go already.. A relationship that has had that many breakups, and that much unhappiness, in six months wasn’t good for her, and probably not for you, no matter how much you were prepared to fight for the relationship.

    1. I too was wondering if the “silent treatment” was attempted ghosting, which Ex figured out wasn’t working, so she used her words. Her using her words via text seems even wiser.

  46. LW, if you do end up seeing a therapist it might help to talk about your ex with someone who isn’t your ex. But also it could be a chance to discuss the issue of “storming off.” Not many future girlfriends are likely to appreciate someone storming off in the middle of a disagreement, though many reasonable people do accept (or learn to tolerate) when someone says, “I’m too upset to discuss this now, I’m going to take a walk by myself and we can talk about it again at [later time].” And then actually talking about it later when they’re calmer. Anyway, this falls under the aegis of “anger management,” if you’re so inclined to seek self-help books and so on.

    You sound pretty bitter and resentful when describing your ex’s actions in the relationship itself– not the breakup. But it’s very couched in the romantic language you used. And it’s ok to feel those things! It’s a less socially acceptable part of being “confused and heartbroken.” Allowing yourself to really feel these things is constructive and nothing to be ashamed of or hide from yourself… or it would be if you weren’t engaging in stalker-y behavior. That makes your resentment scary and vengeful, and helpful to no one. Like, maybe you really did get jerked around by this person. That’s a golden reason to *cut ties* with them, congratulate yourself on dodging that bullet, and focus on dating different people and breaking those patterns yourself.

    You listed some problematic things your ex did to you AND some very problematic things you did (and that you’re still doing) to her. I think other commenters have thoroughly covered the boundary-crossing creepy behavior of yours (though I’ll add– it feels as if you’re not just seeking advice from CA but triangulating this community against GF in an abstract sort of way; yes you should look that up if you don’t know what it means because it’s important). A lot of times people who have been exposed to abusive/problematic people (drug dealing exes, parents, friends, etc etc) pick up nasty problematic habits from those people. Then after severing ties and undergoing the long work of recovery from the abuse, those people discover they need to examine their own behavior. Additionally, people in relationships often mimic each others’ unhealthy behaviors and it swirls around to the point where it’s hard to tell who is “at fault” (and other times it’s dang clear who is the problem). Sometimes the answer isn’t a clear “you were wrong” or “I was wrong” but “wow this isn’t working.” Anyway, when you think back on a relationship that’s over, it can help to ask yourself in a neutral detached way, of both her behavior AND yours, “was that helpful? Was there a better way to go about that? Do I want that in my future relationships?” The sooner you can get to that point the better because right now it’s like you’re still *in* the argument.

  47. “I know she’s the one. And I know we can easily overcome the things we argued about.”

    I know this, I know that. *sigh* The only thing you really know is that she broke it off. You know how *you* felt about the relationship. She most likely saw things differently. That is to say, you two weren’t on the same page. There is no magic phrase you can use to change that, or to make her talk to you.

    1. Arguably he doesn’t even know that she broke it off, he says she ghosted on him and thinks he still has a chance.

  48. I’m sorry, I’m just getting stuck on the whole “sending a cacti for every day of the week.”

    Like…even in a good relationship, that would be kind of a freak-out to me, especially one that had only been going on for 6 months. (Where would one even put 7 cacti? “Here, take care of this thing too.”)

    Also, the stalking her to work is just…so much no. And it is stalking. She took steps to make herself unavailable, to cut ties, to not respond to you. So you showed up to the one place you knew she would be that she couldn’t avoid you. That is just…very frightening.

    You made her feel unsafe, my dude.

    Even if that wasn’t your intention, that’s where things stand right now. Any further attempt to contact her will only make her feel more and more unsafe, because she expressed a hard boundary, repeated it in word and action, and you didn’t listen. You are behaving in an unsafe manner.

    1. Like…even in a good relationship, that would be kind of a freak-out to me, especially one that had only been going on for 6 months. (Where would one even put 7 cacti? “Here, take care of this thing too.”)

      It reminds me of a scene in The Good Place, where Janet keeps generating cacti instead of answering questions. The other characters find it frustrating and concerning, and rightly so!

      (actually, now I’m wondering if it’s a deliberate reference to something like that, one of those things that seem cute if you’ve got RomCom glasses on because it’s “remember how we both love this thing” but in reality is “this thing you like is now associated with my creepiness”)

      1. Oh. Yeah, I suppose that would make more sense.

        I guess once someone stalks you to your workplace I just figure go for the least normal explanation after that.

  49. LW, I kinda get it. I had a “one” unilaterally end a relationship on me a while back -we were both in our early twenties (and had never dated anyone else) and things seemed so great, because we were both still wearing the heart-shaped goggles the entire time we were together. Had we dated under different circumstances, we possibly would’ve been able to work things out, but with the situation being what it was, we couldn’t. I handled it… poorly at first, and am incredibly thankful that I didn’t let that hurt get back to him, because the “let’s be friends” offer was sincere, and the friendship is one treasured on both sides.

    Here’s the thing. A year and a half later, _he was right_. We both have depression and anxiety and were at snowball points at the same time. Long-distance caused some recurring communication problems, and I didn’t know how bad things were for him, because he was trying to keep me from worrying, and part of that was attempting to give me spoons he didn’t have. We were not good for each other as a couple. I value our time together, and as my dad said shortly after the breakup, “he was a good starter boyfriend”. I learned some of the things I need from a relationship -both that I was and wasn’t getting. We’re not getting back together. The break-up itself caused so much pain that neither of us wants to handle any of that again, and we’re done gambling our friendship.

    Stop contacting her -she’s told you she’s done and wants you to cut it out. It’s the ONE thing you can do here to keep yourself a “y’know, we had a good run and it ended badly, but on the whole, I don’t regret it” guy and not a horror story. If she’d wanted you to chase her down and keep talking, she’d be letting you know that. She’d contact you, she wouldn’t have sent a ‘we’re done’ note. Then wait. Take as much time as you need to hurt, because breakups suck, but it’s not her job to help you handle that or to be there for you; she’s told you that that’s not what she wants. And then, when you’re ready, start to think about the relationship. Think about the arguments, the communication issues, the stress and pressure and the mutual hurt and frustration and anger. Right now, you’ve still got the “but PERSON I LIKE WHO IS GREAT” thing going, but that’s not always enough.

    As the Captain has said before, you can’t make other people do things. You can’t work on a relationship if one person doesn’t want to. People unilaterally end things sometimes; it’s their right, and while it’s painful, it’s far better than an alternative where everyone is always chained together forever with the first person they get involved with.

  50. Hi LW. I’ve been where you are. I had an intense relationship that ended with him dumping me in a way that I found really unfair. I went to pieces. Didn’t accept it, spent months obsessing over him, “happening” to show up at places where he was, basically stalking him. I felt resentful towards any woman who was his friend and I’m sure it showed. My mental health suffered and I made things terrible for him. Looking back I’m not proud of myself. We both made mistakes but the horrible, painful, unending awfulness of the breakup was all on me. I can’t even apologize to him now because I finally got it through my head that the only caring thing I could do was to leave him alone, forever.

    That was a very long time ago. I’m telling you this because I want you to know that my life got so much better when I stopped living for this fantasy of a reconciliation that was never going to happen. It took a long time but I finally moved on, dated again, got married. (twice, but that’s another story!) It’s been decades and now I can see that as intense as that first love was, it wasn’t right for me. I like who I am now and I wouldn’t be this person if I had stayed with him.

    You can do this too. Right now it hurts like hell and it makes no sense. But you can do it. Let her go, don’t worry about dating, live for yourself for awhile. The silver lining of being alone is you get to be you. You can be a good, fun & interesting person not for someone else, but just because that’s who you want to be.

    By this point you may be feeling upset and defensive about some of the harsh comments here. It stings, I know. Believe me, reading some of these comments makes me feel bad about how I must’ve made my ex feel, and that was decades ago. Right now when you’re hurt and raw, it must be awful. I hope you can be a big enough person to embrace the gift the commenters are giving you, when they share how it feels to be on the receiving end of behavior like yours. Maybe not right now but someday. Soon I hope. I’m rooting for you LW.

  51. I keep expecting the Letter Writer to turn up in the comments, with some “I am so misunderstood, please let me clarify what I meant, and what wonderful intentions I have” words. He strikes as the type who has good intentions that no one understands.

    1. Honestly, this is exactly what I thought while I was reading the letter and then the comments. I was once in his position many moons ago, having a hard time with a “breakup” and it really embarrasses me to think I ever used to think like this (except for the stalking, because nope, just nope). But hey, I will keep out hope that the LW will realize that he needs some serious self-work.

      1. When I ended an 11-year marriage, my ex wrote me a long letter, on index cards, held together with a clothespin (weird choice given our laundry issues). The crux of it was you’re not understanding my good intentions, and therefore you are wrong.

        If good intentions were good actions, we’d all be fine, wouldn’t we?

  52. Dear Captain: please delete my last post. I have three blog pages open and have not had my coffee yet. Fairly certain I posted to the wrong one and I apologize for the inconvenience.

  53. LW, your letter fascinates me and I’m dying to parse it.

    — ticks all the boxes.
    What were the boxes?

    –she thought I deliberately misunderstood and belittled her.
    Maybe you didn’t *deliberately* misunderstand, but it sounds like you misunderstood. And if she felt belittled, you accidentally belittled her.

    –didn’t like it when I would storm off in some situations (it was completely unacceptable).
    Of course that’s unacceptable! Storming off is not a good relationship skill. If you need to take a break, the guideline is that you *say* you need to be by yourself to calm down. Then you give a time to resume the conversation. Like, can we talk tonight?

    –was upset that I didn’t ask her about her past. I hadn’t asked because it sounded horrible and I didn’t want to put someone I love through that again. I made the wrong call.
    So explain that and say you’re sorry and you want to support her. (Not now, but in future relationships with someone else.)

    –Our sex life was strained due to a pre-existing psychological ED issue, which was exacerbated by her reactions.
    Again, what boxes did she tick? If you have ED, you need a partner who can decrease pressure, not increase it. But note: this is not a skill some women possess as if by magic. It typically requires a bit of reading and education. This is the kind of thing you talk to your partner about in advance. With lots of info about techniques that help you deal with it. She might not be willing to meet you halfway — that’s her prerogative. But if she isn’t, I would consider that an unticked box.

    –I refused to be judged by the incredibly low standards her mentally and physically abusive, serially cheating drug dealer ex had set – she called me out about an innocuous photo on insta which kicked things off.
    “Refusing to be judged” means you leave the relationship, not that you force your partner not to judge you. But it sounds like you’re dragging a lot of baggage into her concerns about the photo. Maybe instead of bringing her past into it, just listen to her concerns. This time it’s your prerogative to decide whether or not to meet her halfway. If you want to post photos like that and she doesn’t want you to and you can’t come up with a comprise, that’s yet another unticked box.

    –I didn’t feel heard in the relationship.
    Another unticked box.

    –and I had started to feel more and more peripheral to her life, despite the fact I’d looked after her through illness and post-operation.
    If you do something for someone, make sure you don’t attach strings to it. People can’t help how they feel, which means she doesn’t owe you a lifetime of romance just because you were there for her in a difficult time.

    –Communication was poor and we had both made mistakes. A bit of regrettable game playing on both sides ensued, but throughout everything, I always thought that it was all temporary and we would get back on track.
    Honestly, it sounds more like you need to learn and practice healthy relationship skills. No relationship will work long-term without them. Get some books on the subject.

    –We just needed to talk it through and listen to one another.
    That’s true. But it’s also true that if you did that, you might still find out you’re incompatible. Look, what you felt was infatuation, not love. You didn’t know her well enough to love her. Then you got to know her better and you found out she wasn’t right for you. She figured out the same thing.

    –She had given me the silent treatment on a few occasions and I was reaching out to try to reconcile.
    It might not be “the silent treatment” registered trademark. It might mean she needed some time and space to sort through her thoughts. When you use phrases like that, you imply that the other person is using a strategy to hurt you rather than meeting her own needs. You need to give your partners more credit than that. I suggest books on Non Violent Communication.

    –Then she sends me a message effectively ending it.
    No means no. Breakups hurt a lot, but you have to accept them and move on.

    –I tried to message, I tried to call. Nothing. I wrote her a letter in which poured my heart out and gave it to her when she came out of work. I sent her cacti (sentimental symbol for us), one each day for a week, each with a sentimental note.
    No, dude. That’s not how it’s done. You can’t convince someone to want a relationship she doesn’t want.

    –I’ve effectively been ghosted, but from a relationship that was six months of love and plans and fun and joy.
    No, you haven’t been ghosted. And your relationship may have included fun and joy, but it also included all the issues you outlined above. Also, the love and plans part is more “infatuation and hope.” People daydream about the future. They hope that what they have will deepen into love. They get to know each other better, and if it works out, it works out. It’s like mixing a bunch of ingredients together, putting them in the oven, and seeing if what comes out is cake. Your relationship wasn’t cake.

    –I know we can easily overcome the things we argued about. But we can’t do that if she won’t talk.
    Right. You can’t do that. She doesn’t want to do that. Do you really want to be with someone who doesn’t want to talk to you? She took an eraser and unticked that very basic box. Which, by default, makes her wrong for you.

    –What can I do to move on with such little closure?
    There is a lot of closure here. You learned more about what you want in a relationship. Hopefully you’ll learn more relationship skills, like how to respect your partner’s feelings and wishes. And most of all, you had the opportunity to learn that relationships are not about trying to bang a square peg into a round hole. They’re about taking the time to get to know each other, and noticing when you and your partner’s choices don’t match. They’re about mixing up all the ingredients you both brought to the kitchen, baking it at 350 for 45 minutes, and taking it out of the oven and seeing if it’s cake. If it’s not cake, it’s time to move on. But be happy for all the other things you’ve baked in past relationships. Muffins and cupcakes prepare you for cake. All those things you want to do in a relationship — like talk things through and listen — you can do in your future relationships.

    Let yourself learn all these valuable lessons. Be excited for the future: as wonderful as this relationship was, your next relationship will be EVEN BETTER!

  54. This letter reeks of toxic masculinity. LW, you need to take immediate and serious steps to correct this, if you ever want to have a decent relationship with anyone other than similarly toxic dudebros. Take all the advice on this forum and become your best self, while there’s still time.

  55. Would deleting the viralstuff.org pingback be possible? Clicking it gives me a “woah this site is hella risky” warning (One from McGee, another from…windows? Idk the non-mcaffee one mentioned attackers and credit cards)

    1. The title of the article on that link doesn’t even seem to be applicable to the LW’s letter, if you ask me.

      1. Yeah, looks like clickbait on top of not understanding that boundary-breaking =/= a sign of love for a person.

  56. I know this is a side note, but I want to point out that avoiding the subject of a partner’s traumatized past is a great way to make your partner feel horrible and rejected. My first 7 boyfriends avoided the subject and I went cold with every one of them. Then I had a boyfriend who gently told me he would like to hear about it and I fell in love like never before, and actually stayed in love long term for the first time ever.

    I don’t want to speak for every traumatized person, but I think most of us are yearning for someone to make us feel safe opening up about it, to listen to us talk about it, and accept us for it. Don’t push and prod them to tell of course, but make it clear that you want to hear about it and make them feel safe opening up about it and it will mean the world to them.

    1. Would, “I would like to hear about it when you feel ready,” be a good approach? Or does it come off as pushy?

      1. Oh thanks for asking. When it comes to these kinds of subjects, I think people worry far too much about seeming pushy, and far too little about seeming disinterested. I would recommend something more like:

        “I would really like to hear about it. Do you feel ready?” and if they say no, go on to ask if you can do anything to help them feel ready.

        1. Thanks! I think there’s kind of a feeling that you don’t want to be that creepy person who pushes someone to discuss their trauma when they aren’t ready or don’t want to, and it’s a difficult line to walk. I don’t want someone to feel that I’m not interested, but I don’t want them to feel interrogated or cornered into talking when they don’t want to, or like I want all the juicy details because I’m secretly judging them or being prurient. If the subject comes up, I’ll use this line, but if they say no to both then I’ll step back from the subject.

    2. Seconding this, actually. There’s stuff that I don’t feel safe talking about and I’m scared to bring up on my own for fear of scaring people away/making them feel awkward/how they might react. A partner who cared enough to ask and listen, who could reassure me it’s okay to have ugly broken parts of me, would be amazing.

  57. LW, you’ve probably stopped reading the comments here, but there’s something I wanted to highlight in your letter.

    You said: On the other hand, I refused to be judged by the incredibly low standards her mentally and physically abusive, serially cheating drug dealer ex had set – she called me out about an innocuous photo on insta which kicked things off.

    This woman is 25 now, right? So there’s a decent chance this ex of hers was the first adult relationship she had. And said ex, by your description, hurt her physically and emotionally while destroying her trust over and over again. Despite that, she tried to move on and date you. But humans in general are aware of patterns of behavior, and will use previous witnessed behavior patterns to predict future actions, especially when they’ve been hurt. And something you did (or multiple things you did) reminded her of the warning signs she had that he was hurting her and cheating on her. Rather than respect her pain and her experience, you are dismissing that as her holding you to her ex’s low standards.

    Look, I absolutely understand that it hurts to get accused of something you didn’t do. As a parallel example, my brother’s girlfriend had also had a previous relationship where the guy cheated on her and manipulated her. My brother did something he considered just as innocuous as you considered your insta photo to be. His girlfriend saw it, was furious and deeply hurt, and called him out on it. They were on the rocks for a while as a result.

    My brother hadn’t done anything that he felt was wrong or disrespectful of her place in his life. But he respected her feelings and why she was upset. He had to make a choice to change his behaviors to avoid hitting her trigger points, or to break up with her if he felt it was too much for her to ask of him. And she had to make a choice to trust him again, after he’d unintentionally hurt her. Both of them had to continue to chose the relationship, and to decide that it was still worth the emotional work they were going to have to put in to get past that.

    At least in this letter, you’re not respecting her feelings and choices. Maybe that’s a reason that she decided it wasn’t worth continuing to put in the emotional work in a relationship with you. Find someone else, someone you will chose to put the effort into respecting her emotions and choices, someone who will find enough good in a relationship with you to be willing to put in the work that any relationship takes.

  58. I re read your account of what led to the break up and it seemed familiar to me. Historically, I have been bad at communicating in past relationships. I didn’t grow up seeing open, respectful relationship negotiation in action. When I met my current partner, it became clear how much I had these very intense habitual ways of dealing with conflict (defensiveness, leaving, passive aggression.) I had no idea what to do to solve a problem as a team.

    One argument, late at night, I was sat on the floor crying in a fit of self pity. I felt my partner was being difficult and I felt inadequate and vulnerable and selfish. That put me in this soup of ‘not my fault.’ And my partner said ‘you can sit there feeling butthurt or you can sit on the sofa with me like a grown up and we can sort this out.. But you can’t do both. I love you and think we can sort this. But if you want to carry on arguing this way, you need to find someone else.’ I never had anyone who was prepared to hold me to that higher standard, who loved me enough to challenge me. I decided to stop falling back on my default arguing moves and learn to do better. This meant getting a grip on my emotions. It meant being able to say what I meant, in real time, with patience. It meant trusting that a solution could be found and I could tolerate imperfection.

    What you describe is not how adults deal with conflict. This break up can be a spark that sets you on a path to learn how to truly solve conflicts fairly so that when you meet the love of your life, you aren’t sat on the floor in self pity, or storming out to play games. I wish I had done that work before I met my partner because although we have been together happily for five years, I could have relaxed into our first year together a lot sooner. When you can solve conflict as a team, it’s amazing how much easier and harmonious relationships are.

    A person who loves you, who is good for you and is on Team You, is worth doing that work for. So I encourage you to reflect on where you act from old habits and practice doing conflict differently with the people around you.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think you are absolutely right about the need to deal with conflict like a grown up if you want a grown-up solution. Even if LW was 100% in the right and his GF was behaving outrageously, that still applies, because you cannot address the problem of someone’s outrageous behaviour by storming off and expecting this to work (which is not to say that you can’t address it by removing yourself from the situation by splitting up if you realise that the other person is not going to open to behaving in a way that would make you feel heard in the relationship). The very fact that LW says he thinks the problem can be overcome easily if only he could talk to GF shows how wrong he is, because it is clear from the letter that a mega problem here is itself communication, quite aside from anything else. Maybe that is genuinely a problem on both sides, but it doesn’t matter – it is still a problem that LW will need to address in any relationship.

  59. LW; I hope this advice is helpful, but stop trying to be in the right. You can be ‘right’ or you can be in relationships.

    When you say your differences could be ‘easily overcome’ what you mean is one more painstaking explanation into her deaf lobes would have revealed that her preferences and judgements were not ‘right’. You are. The dispenser of common sense.


    In relationships people have personal preferences which have to be respected regardless of whether they are right enough for you and all third parties to agree to. (But I actually agree with your version of her complaints anyway!)

    1. Claiming that if it wasn’t ‘deliberate’, it doesn’t count. It bugged her. End of.
    2. Diagnosing her right to feel jealous. She feels how she feels. Headshrinking her as to the causes is just an extra annoyance.
    3. Storming off when she refuses to be taught that her preferences don’t matter.

    Those were her preferences. If you couldn’t live with her preference for you to be extra careful of her feelings on Instagram, YOU should have ended it. If you didn’t want to know her preferences on how to avoid what she considered belittling; end it FOR her. If she’s that wrong, that often , then she’s wrong for you!!

    But her preferences work for her. They are with her to stay. Women aren’t ‘won’ and certainly not by the shining righteousness of a man who is so right about everything that he even knows how she should feel, better than her own feelings do.

    Disrespectful. Very..

  60. Good grief… she’s not “the one”! You don’t know how to communicate together, she overreacts at pictures, you fight to the point where you storm out, your sex life was strained less than 6 months into the relationship and she’s told you specifically that she doesn’t want to date you. Continuing to pursue this is unhealthy and controlling.

Comments are closed.