We broke up after four years -- but he moved on so fast!

How can I stay friends with my ex and get on with my own life too?

By Cary Tennis
Published September 14, 2007 2:56PM (UTC)
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Dear Cary,

I recently ended a four-year relationship with someone I had every intention of spending the rest of my life with. We have moved to two different states to be with each other and have lived together for a little over three years. The last move that we made together cemented the fact that there was trouble in paradise, and we split up about three months after that. Of course, we had been broken up in every sense except officially referring to each other as "exes" for almost that entire time.


My problem now is that he has already moved past our relationship, so far as to begin dating someone else who is planning on moving up to the state we are in now to live with him. This new relationship started within a few weeks of our becoming "officially" broken up, and the new girl is actually one his best friend's exes. That being said, I really believe that this relationship is not going to work out. He and I have talked at length about the problems his friend had with her, and I see it as being mostly a rebound that is going to end in a lot of pain on all sides. I still care about him deeply, and want to spare him from more pain.

I am doing my best to be the bigger person, even trying to help with some of the logistics of this move. I want to continue having him in my life, even if that means dealing with another girl (on as limited a basis as I can). I feel like I should give her the benefit of doubt, which is more than I feel she gave me. But I am unsure of how to move on in my own life. I moved over 4,000 miles away from my friends and family to be with him, and now I am left on my own. I am 22 years old, only a baby by most people's standards, and I want to get out and start dating other people, while still remaining as close as I can with my ex. But how do I juggle all these problems with him and still find time to go out and become my own person again? He is still my best friend, but I feel like I am losing a part of my body, knowing that he is no longer there for me whenever I need him. How do you pick up the pieces and move on? Where do you go to find other people? Am I just setting myself up to be continually hurt by the one person who meant the most in my life? Should I keep hope that things will work out between us, or just give up on that altogether? What are your thoughts on the matter?



Dear Stuck,

People complain I take too long to get to the point. Today that will not be a problem.

Get away from this person. Cut off contact with him. Do not sit across from him in a pleasant cafe. Do not call him. Do not answer his calls. Do not help him move. Do not write him letters or e-mails. Do not inquire of your mutual friends how he is doing.


Let his presence become a void. Feel the void.

If you feel sad, cry. If you feel angry, yell. But make travel plans. Pick a date. Inform your family and friends. Move back to your hometown. Get the gas and electricity hooked up. Get a job. If you are going to graduate school, begin the application process. If you need professional certification, begin the process. Make new friends. Go out with men. Make love to them.


Forget him. Acquire self-knowledge.

All but the last two can be done quickly. The last two may take years. They're supposed to take years. That's what years are for.

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