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Slightly Jarring. Post is a bit long - apologies.


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Hi, Folks. As far as topics go, I should probably be posting in the "Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend" subcategory, but I've spent most of my ENA time here, both when seeking advice back in the day and when giving it more recently. I had kind of a strange experience, and just wanted to get it off my chest and receive any commentary.

 

I have an ex from a few years back. (Don't we all?) It absolutely crushed me when he ended the relationship. (That's how I first found ENA.) On the surface, the break-up had to do with differences in values, and his not being ready for the idea of a potentially permanent relationship...but I blamed myself. I went through a lot of life changes during the relationship, and handled them less than perfectly. From my point of view, I failed to be a good partner, and so he left me...kindly, and under the guise of the less important (but still truthful, particularly due to his religion) "incompatibilities" issue. I can never know for certain why things ended, I suppose - but I was terribly hurt, and, for the first time in my life, I cut ties pretty much completely, despite our professional (sort of...I work at the same institution, but not the same building, as he does) and social proximity. It was a tough time - I had to reorganize my entire life, and make a whole host of new friends. But it was too painful for me to maintain any association, whatsoever, and my new social life is an improvement on my old one.

 

Fast forward a few years. I've been in a new relationship for over a year (with a man of similar characteristics and values as those of my ex. That's neither here nor there, but I think it makes me feel a bit better about humanity, and my ability to "hone in" on what I want in a partner). Things were rocky at first, but they've improved: I think, after both having been burned, we're finally learning to trust the relationship. As of yet, there have been no declarations of love, which is a bit of a problem for me at this stage, and the subject of another post of mine. Overall, though, we do pretty well, and the relationship is a supportive one. He's a bit older than I am, and he socializes differently...goes out less, has fewer friends - but close ones. This difference works fine, as he doesn't mind at all if I do things without him, particularly if he's got some plans of his own. He is not at all jealous or domineering, and doesn't mind if I associate with men, even past partners. (He associates with some of his, and I don't mind at this point.)

 

To the point, finally: recently, I was invited to an outing I knew my ex would also attend. I used to avoid these outings, but I've rekindled a few individual friendships within the "old" group, and as a result, I've run into him once or twice at parties and such. Up to this point, we've been more than civil, but not engaged one another in conversation. Sometimes he would seem to be trying to initiate more dialogue (he, of course, said that he wanted to be friends post-breakup), but I always found a way to excuse myself. At this recent outing - probably in part due to alcohol, regrettably - we ended up in proximity for much of the evening. I was his dance partner, bar buddy, and the person he picked for all his social "asides" and expression of mild, situational insecurities - much like I was during our relationship. A couple times, he expressed surprise and pleasure when I remembered something about his family, his life, etc that he brought up. There was a bit of strange physical contact, but certainly nothing that would go beyond slightly-intoxicated, opposite-sex, good friends out together. At the end of the night, we shared a cab and conversation with a similarly-minded friend. (A lot of the group he socializes with has a lot of no-strings-attached sexuality, and one never knows who's going to go home with who. The departure situation, then, gets humorous sometimes.)

 

I don't know why I'm posting about this situation - I think it just made me a little sad, and brought up feelings that I'd never been able to resolve (but was able to effectively "shelve"). Our relationship was so different from my current one - more passionate, less restrained, a bit more wild and youthful. Also, it's strange to see him socializing with folks who do little more, relationship-wise, than hook-up within a tiny social network - I'm unfortunately privy to a large share of their gossip, and it seems he's more or less left out of that, and has, in fact, been rejected some - maybe because people see him as a serial monogamist. Since our relationship, I've moved on to have more partnered friends, or at least friends who keep their "sex only" relationships out of their immediate social circles. It was a strange "regression" for me to encounter behavior I haven't indulged since college, and, in fact, the ex and I had kind of a laugh about that.

 

If the "recently-dumped" need to gain anything from my post (and I hope they don't - I don't quite know what to do with it myself), they might think about the following:

 

1) If you think you are crap because your partner left you, remember that he or she probably still has SOME level of attraction, fondness, and preference for you over others. Time apart (a LOT of it) can bring it to the surface, and it can sooth your wounded ego to experience it. But don't seek it out!

 

2) Perhaps this one is depressing: time may or may not dissolve the affection you have for your ex. What it will almost certainly do, however, is give you control over that affection. It is possible to still care deeply, even love, somebody - but move on to find happiness for yourself with someone else, and hopefully grow to love him or her even more. Some people might say it's wrong to seek a new relationship if you can't definitely say you no longer love your ex, but I don't think there's a choice - one has to move on and accept that you can't have a particular person, but you can certainly love someone else just as much. (I'm not endorsing the "love the one you're with" philosophy - merely stating that an affection can remain and be joined by another one. I guess that's only sustainable if you keep the first one out of your life, however.) Thoughts on this one, in particular?

 

3) People in their twenties are all in ridiculously different places when it comes to relationships. Maybe it's no different thereafter, even.

 

Haha. That was random. Thanks for reading!

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That was good to read. I think we all (me anyway) get stuck thinking our exes hate us and they never give us a second thought after the break-up. It is nice to hear that that may not be true.

And I'm sure it was a little vindicating to you since you felt like it was your fault.

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Perhaps this one is depressing: time may or may not dissolve the affection you have for your ex. What it will almost certainly do, however, is give you control over that affection. It is possible to still care deeply, even love, somebody - but move on to find happiness for yourself with someone else, and hopefully grow to love him or her even more. Some people might say it's wrong to seek a new relationship if you can't definitely say you no longer love your ex, but I don't think there's a choice - one has to move on and accept that you can't have a particular person, but you can certainly love someone else just as much.

 

I still care a lot for my ex. I don't know if you could call it love in the same way it was when we were together because I don't feel the need to talk to him every day, and I can be with another man and not think about him.

But I still care about his feelings, and I still feel affection towards him. He was a massive part of my life and he helped me grow up in a lot of ways, and I him. We have a huge shared history and there was a lot of love there for a while.

 

It's extremely scary to think I might never be 100% over him. That I might still feel this way in 5 or even 10 years time. I don't want to still have an affection for him as anything more than one of my friends. But I think you're right. For some people, you just never lose all of that feeling. They mean so much to you, it's like they're branded inside you, and even once it heals it leaves a faint scar.

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Thanks, A and HK. I appreciate input and relating - I think I feel a bit guilty for even giving those happenings a second thought.

 

HK, you're right that never clearing someone from your heart can be a scary thought. For me, thus far - and it's too soon to say never! in fact, we can't say that 'til we're dead - the faint scar has served as a check on my behavior in all my relationships. You never know when one might end, so you should do your best in all of them while you have the chance. That's a positive for me, anyway.

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You never know when one might end, so you should do your best in all of them while you have the chance. That's a positive for me, anyway.

 

Christ, for me it's a huge massive enormous negative. My first few relationships lasted between 6-12 months and were fairly childish. Then my most recent one happened and it was proper and adult, and then it ended. And now I'm absolutely terrified of going through that again. The thought of getting into another relationship that I might give a lot into and then end up having to end... it makes me feel physically sick.

 

Part of me feels like it might be easier to be alone and just have casual sex every now and then.

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