You Need Help: How Do I Get Over the First Woman I Slept With?

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Q:

I’ve had short relationships here and there with girls but when I met this one we fit almost perfectly it seemed. She was unique and liked her own things different from me, but we also shared interests and had great sexual compatibility — and she was the first and only person I’ve slept with. Even then, we only slept together twice because of circumstances before she called things off. It felt like a sudden uprooting and I felt like a new door was just opened up and then slammed as soon as it opened.

I should’ve known better because she had just gotten out of a bad relationship with a biphobic and mentally abusive ex (she’s bi herself) and she said she wasn’t sure she wanted anything — especially since she’d be going to another state for six months. Despite all of that I got feelings for her and it seemed like she returned those feelings — talked about me visiting her, things we should buy for sex, everything. Then one day I think she got overwhelmed because I sent too many memes on Instagram — I scroll through it to pass the dead time at work and send things that remind me of my friends to them.

We lasted as “friends” for a little less than a month — her level of communication greatly decreased while mine stayed the same. Eventually she stopped responding all together and when I asked if we were good she said to send less stuff, so I did. But I didn’t realize she meant send nothing at all. Eventually I asked if anything changed and she said I wasn’t matching her energy at all, but I had kept the same energy we always had. I asked her a week or two later if I could fix things so we could still be friends and she saw my message and never responded, then removed me as a follower and unfriended me on everything. I was at a bar partying with some friends when I noticed and I followed her again because my drunk self thought maybe I accidentally unfollowed her, and the next morning she blocked me.

It’s been 4 months now, but I still feel the same as I did day one. A month ago she blocked me on Spotify (I still listened to our mixed playlist, but I don’t know how she’d know I did), and then last week she friended me on tiktok (I already followed her long ago, she followed me back last week) and then blocked me. It feels like she hates me, and hates me as much as the first day she blocked me since she keeps dragging it on. I’ve not tried to reach out, but I constantly think about how when she’s back to our state I want to reach out and text her asking what’s up, I guess in some vain hope that the time and distance may have given time for things to settle down. I think these feelings are made all the more worse because she was the first person I’ve slept with, and it feels like a harsh case of right place, wrong time.

Would it be wrong to reach out? If/when that happens, or even if I don’t do that, how do I get over her? It felt like we fit perfectly like puzzle pieces until I suffocated her.

A:

I’ll start by saying I don’t think you should reach out. I just really don’t think it’ll give you what you want, and I think the only way to truly get over this person is to create a lot of space and distance — space and distance she seemingly wants as well.

I have a lot of empathy for you in this situation but also for her. I don’t think she’s been super direct in her communication, and some of her actions have technically been confusing or contradictory, like blocking you on some platforms only to then follow you on TikTok…and then block you again. But I think you have to accept that blocking you on a platform in the first place is a pretty direct sign she doesn’t want to speak with you. It doesn’t necessarily mean you did something wrong or she has super negative feelings about the relationship you had. I think sometimes people just cope with their emotions by taking extreme actions. Now, she probably was frustrated by you following her back after she soft-blocked you, but I also understand why one might do that accidentally. Being soft-blocked is not a super direct form of communication and can be more ambiguous than a full block. But I’ve been soft-blocked by folks before, and sure, it can hurt. But I ultimately have to just accept it as a boundary someone is setting.

Her telling you you weren’t matching her energy is similarly a somewhat indirect way of communicating. She asked you to send less things, when really what she meant was send nothing. She should have been clear about that, but I also think it’s possible she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted or didn’t want to hurt you. Ironically though, it’s more hurtful to not be direct and then to lash out at the other person for not honoring a boundary you didn’t really know was set in the first place. While I wish she’d been a bit more direct, I do think that her decrease in communication was the first signal to maybe pull back a little. I do think sometimes with early relationships, in casual dating situations, or even in friendships it can be important to pay attention to communication cues, especially because we all are at different places of how well we communicate our needs/wants.

I think she wants time and space, and while I don’t think her ways of communicating that have been perfect, I do think they’ve ultimately been clear. You don’t block someone who you want to continue a friendship with. If I’m being honest, I doubt sending her too many memes was the original turning point for her when it came to your relationship and dynamic. It sounds like something else may have been going on there, which is especially hard for you to know given the combination of 1. not a ton of direct communication and 2. long distance.

Whatever her reasons are for not wanting to pursue a relationship with you, I think she has shown repeatedly now that she doesn’t want to talk. Unfortunately, closure can be elusive in situations like this. Do I think she owes a bit of communication to you, especially since you were friends before? I do. But I at the same time think it’s acceptable for her to set boundaries with you if she isn’t ready to talk or if she’s dealing with complicated emotions she’s still working through. I think it’s complicated and nuanced. And I really just think you have to let her come to you next instead of trying to talk to her. Which means you also have to accept that she might never reach out. You can also feel free to set your own boundaries though! If her following you after blocking you makes you feel weird/bad, you can ask her not to. You get to have a say if she tries to come back into your life and it gets confusing or feels fraught. It never feels good when it feels like someone is merely keeping us on the backburner.

For now, I think you need to focus on yourself and not on her. She might not give your closure, but you can seek closure on your own. Send the memes you would have sent to her to your friends. Try to minimize speculation about why she’s making her choices and focus on your own choices. Sometimes, the fit can feel perfect but it isn’t, especially when a relationship is cut short at the beginning, when New Relationship Energy is at its strongest. I don’t think you need to blame yourself for “suffocating her.” Again, I doubt that’s the main reason she started pulling away in the first place. Blaming yourself for the dissolution of the relationship isn’t going to get you anywhere. But neither will repeated attempts at contacting her, which at a certain point becomes you ignoring her boundaries. I know this relationship didn’t last very long, but I think you should take the time to grieve it like a proper breakup. Focusing your energy on moving on and healing rather than trying to reconnect is the best path forward — and not just for you, but for her, too.

I think you can hold and honor the incredible experience you had with her and how meaningful it was for you to sleep with her without needing to continue to pursue communication. What’s happening now doesn’t have to take away from how special that was for you. Hold onto your truth and remember the good parts instead of focusing so much on the aftermath. Just because it ended doesn’t mean it wasn’t a meaningful thing, one you can carry with you into the future as you work toward moving forward instead of only looking back in frustration and confusion.


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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 861 articles for us.

4 Comments

  1. I think it’s okay for LW to be mad at this person, especially if that helps them let go. There’s no way she could’ve thought they had any idea what she was feeling, and there’s no way she couldn’t have known how attached they were, but she still prioritized herself getting to avoid an uncomfortable conversation over LW not being ghosted by the first person they had sex with. I don’t believe and am not saying tht this is monster behavior or anything – I’ve done equally stupid avoidant shit – but it’s absolutely the kind of behavior it’s perfectly fine and even constructive to resent someone who broke your heart about.

  2. I agree with Aster that you can let yourself be mad at her. I think she was a bit of a jerk– when you’re the first person to sleep with somebody you should try to leave them in better shape then you found them– but more importantly, being mad can help break the addiction that you’re feeling right now. Your brain was making a bunch of chemicals that attached you to her and now that you’re separated you’re sort of going through withdrawal.

    A couple suggestions: lean on your friends right now. When I’ve had to go through rough breakups, I’ve needed lots of time with friends who were willing to tell me the person was a jerk, to listen to me complain and obsess, to take me to movies and buy me ice cream and just help distract me. You will get over her with time– in a month it’ll be better, in six months better still, in a year better than that, and so on. So, right now you have to get through a chunk of time until you feel better. Focus on distracting yourself, not contacting her, and spending time with the people who love you. I also recommend changing her contact in your phone to “Bad Idea” or “Poo Head Miss Jerkface” or whatever will remind you not to reach out to her.

    (About being mad at her– right now, you don’t have to try to be objective or fair to her, you have to get over her. This will probably be easier to do if you let yourself be mad, and let yourself pretend that she’s more of a jerk than she actually is. Later on you can be more objective and fair– right now your job is just to get through this rough period of time.)

    I also have a self-help book recommendation for you. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment etc etc. I have reread this book multiple times when dealing with a rough breakup, I find it incredibly comforting and useful. I don’t know whether you can stand self-help books or not, but it’s worth giving it a shot.

    Most important, be nice to yourself! Do what feels good, do what distracts you, get a calendar and put a gold star on it for every day you manage not to contact her, recognize that it’s the passage of time that will let you get over this and get through that time. Lean on your friends and the people who love you, ask for their love and support and distraction, and know that it will get better.

    xoxo

    Nabil

  3. Kayla, this is a really good response, in my opinion.

    I recently experienced heartbreak and the end of my first relationship and I have constantly tell myself that reaching out to her likely won’t bring either the reconciliation, or more fulsome explanation for why she broke up with me (and that itself might not even bring the closure I’m looking for). Your column is a well-written reminder of how you can’t always wrap the end of a relationship up with a nice little bow.

  4. This sound similar to my first lesbian relationship. We didn’t sleep together and were together for a very short time, but they were my first lesbian kiss, first shared sexual/romantic chemistry experience. They left me in the bloom of New Relationship Energy and I’ll never understand fully why they did that. However, I know their reasons for leaving had nothing to do with me and everything to do with what was going on in their life/head. I think that is something to keep in mind with the ex of this OP.

    This ex clearly has avoidant communication tendencies, however as indirect as it is, blocking is a form of communicating. So I wouldn’t recommend reaching out even if they were to unblock. I don’t think any good would come from it, this person has proven they are wishy washy with stating what they want.

    I agree with another commenter about leaning on your friends during this. Reaching out to the sapphic queer community as well. I posted something about being broken up with on Lex and sooooooooo many lesbians liked it and responded with their condolences.

    I’m still hurt over the fact that my first lesbian relationship was not a long passionate love filled one with lots of sex but instead it was short lived and left me absolutely gutted. But, I wouldn’t take back any of what I felt or experienced with my ex. There were wonderful things you experienced with your ex and that’s why you grieve. That is why I grieve.

    You will feel good again.

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