Hi, my ex and I were together for close to 3 years. She broke up with me just over a month ago via text. Didn’t want to talk much and was eager to cut me short when we met up for the last time before the breakup. She got a new job just that week and suddenly decided that she wanted to focus on her career. It was just snap a decision made quickly without considering me. That career thing was probably just an excuse to get rid of me. She was cold and distant and seemed almost like a completely different person. Nothing I said could get through to her. I had no choice but to accept her decision, but it really hurts, as I feel blind-sided and it’s hard to come to terms with what happened. What do you think? Is this really over?
I want to start by saying that I’m really, really so sorry this happened to you. Whatever else your ex has going on in her life, whatever her reasons or motivations might be, the way she treated you is really not ok. Being who I am now, I would never end a three-year friendship so coldly, let alone a relationship (unless there was abuse involved, but that’s a whole other situation, so let’s set it aside for the moment). At the very least, she should have been willing to talk about where this decision came from for her. And I don’t say that because I think it would give you some kind of closure (it wouldn’t) but because it’s just basic decency.
Unfortunately, your relationship really is over. Your ex pulled the plug, albeit in an incredibly unexpected and unkind way, but it’s over, nonetheless.
I can only speculate at your feelings, but I’m guessing that part of your pain may come from two places: first, an undermining of your reality and second, a lack of control over the situation. Based on what you described, this break up came out of nowhere, and your ex controlled it entirely – including your ignorance of the fact that she was ready to move on. When I was faced with a somewhat similar situation, I realized, after several months, that part of how I was feeling was tied not to the fact that we broke up but rather how my ex broke up with me. My breakup was different from yours in a lot of ways, and the details aren’t particularly relevant to get into right now, but the commonality is this: one day we were together, and then the next I very unexpectedly found out that my ex and I had extremely different understandings of what our relationship was and what the future might hold for us.
It’s really deeply unsettling when something like this happens, and it can undermine your own sense of judgement and your own understanding of your experiences. A close friend of mine who went through a similar breakup reflected on how the suddenness of it made her question whether what she and her ex had was even real? Had she just been making up the sense of closeness she and her ex had for the years they were together?
The incredibly important conclusion she came to was that what she and her ex had was real. She actively affirmed her own reality, and I know this isn’t the question you’re asking, but I very, very strongly encourage you to do the same. Perhaps I am projecting, but I wonder if buried in your question, “Is this really over?” is a desire for confirmation that you truly had a shared experience of intimacy with your ex. You did. No matter what your ex’s current situation, she can’t erase that she was an active participant in your relationship.
But the fact of the matter remains that your relationship is over: Your ex ended it. I wonder if part of your grasping onto this relationship stems, not only from the fact that you clearly cared about her and about your relationship, but also from wanting to reclaim the agency that was taken away from you because of how your ex broke up with you. Again, I may just be projecting, but in my own experience, part of what was so deeply upsetting was the fact that I had been left in the dark for so long. All I had wanted was a little bit of honesty, to know what I was in and what I was getting into, rather than to have that ending thrown at me so unexpectedly.
It took me a long time to arrive at this, but eventually I had to ask myself: “Much as I might still love my ex, do I really want to be with someone who treated me this way?” The answer, quite simply, was no. I knew I deserved better, and I don’t know you, but I really believe that you deserve much, much better than your ex.
This isn’t to say that people can’t recognize their mistakes and make amend. There are certainly times where I have very, very deeply hurt people I really love, and they have welcomed me back into their lives, nonetheless. But I had to earn that. I had to reflect on my behavior and have an honest (and very uncomfortable) conversation with the people I hurt, and there was never a guarantee that they would or should have trusted me in the same way again: I apologized because I knew it was the right thing to do.
Your ex hasn’t earned that. Her coldness and her unwillingness to even talk to you, the fact that she broke up with you over text — she has a long way to go in her journey on communicating better and treating people with kindness and respect. That isn’t to say she won’t get there, but that is the journey of her life and not yours: your paths have parted.
I really do understand how hard it is to believe in this new reality that’s been so casually thrust upon you. And I am really, really sorry. I wouldn’t wish a breakup like that on anyone. Center yourself: center your feelings in all their conflicts and complexity, center your experiences, your reality, your agency. Learn what you can from this by reflecting on how you want to be treated by a partner and how you would like to treat others and carry yourself moving forward. In the end, I know and believe that you’ll get through this.
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.