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My boyfriend, of 8 years, and I just finalized our breakup. (Sorry this is long, but there are even more details than this This is a huge surprise and nightmare for me. Although we have been having problem over the last year off and on, he always was the rock in our relationship. He never faltered on his love for me. I was the center of his world. He has always been, even during the hard times, very respectful, caring and loving. Sometimes I thought he loved me even more than I loved him. He talked non-stop to everybody about how good I was doing in school and how much he loved me. And somewhere along the way I took it for granted and didn't return the affection.


We met young, and were friends for 4 years before we actually got together. I thought I knew him more than anyone on the planet. And we had a nice strong healthy relationship for the whole first 7 years. Then the pressures of school and the threat of my parents getting a divorce pushed me to depression. I gained weight and was mad all the time. But he was still supportive, always. I managed to make it out of that and thought all was well, until I began to notice he had started drinking heavily with his college friends. I hadn't noticed because I was so involved in my own problems. We worked it all out and I thought everything was going well, until his dad passed away. He was SO close to his dad. It was one of the hardest things I have ever seen him go through, and it pulled us even closer. But then he messed up in school while trying to deal with the death and comforting his mom. He started drinking again and I pulled back. I separated from him hoping he would change. But we still acted like we were in a relationship, I just held back my affection. Then all the sudden I felt fear and I knew I didn't want to lose the man that he was prior to all the stresses of the year. And I knew I loved him very much. But it was too late.


I found out that he had met some girl. He denied it at first and claimed it wasn't serious, but I found letters they had been writing to each other. He said he needed time to think about what he wanted in life and he needed a few weeks to figure it out. But I found out all this information about what a loser she was, a stealer and drug user. My ex was mr. morals and used to give me crap if any of my friends smoked weed, and now he was going out with a girl that seemed the complete opposite of me. I couldn't take it anymore and I told him to forget about it.

Now I regret it. I feel like he is almost putting himself in a cocoon away from people who love him and are critical of him. He says he sees no hope for the future, but still wants to be friends and can't believe I don't. He even talked to me about his new relationship saying he can't explain why he is setting aside his morals to be with this girl. He said there is just something there.


It is strange because right now, I don't want the man that exist, but I fear and am so saddened by the loss of the man that was there for those 11 years. And I am scared I let go too early because this is just a reaction to the unbelievable stress of this last year. I wasn't supportive this last year and I even went months without telling him I loved him back even though he said it every day. I am getting mysel f together and have lost 24lbs and working on my career. And as strong as a woman I am, it is hard for me to give up on my ex. What do I do? Give up on a man who has until now been such a good person to not only me but everyone?


He says he can't tell me he doesn't love me, but claims it has changed. And he has called a few times to set up a time where we should meet (not to get back together, he says he is with this girl). We're supposed to meet next week. But everytime I do talk with him he is very cold and short, and he has NEVER been that way to me. I am so confused and I am sleepless every night thinking of him with this girl that is my complete opposite! HELP!

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Oh dear!


Lelou.... I am really sorry that all of this has happened.


But I've kept a few of the parts of your story that I wanted to comment on.


To make a long story short, it sounds as though this guy loved you very very much.... he was supportive of you EVEN WHEN you were depressed, had gained weight and were UNAFFECTIONATE with him.


Then the tables turned. His father dies... he has trouble dealing with it and where he always supported you despite your unhealthy, self-defeating behaviours, the only way you knew how to support him was to distance yourself from the relationship. To withhold your love and (if I read between the lines) to tell him that if he couldn't correct himself, you would leave him permanantly.


Please correct me if any of that is wrong.


So..... now you are wondering how this other girl factors in? You are wondering why he is cocooning from the people who love him AND are critical of him?


To me it seems very obvious. When you were behaving unhealthily he stood by you... steadfast in his love and was supportive NOT critical. In contrast, what he was getting out of the relationship from you were "months when you couldn't return an I love you", and "correct your behaviour or I will withhold my love".


Whether he is right, or wrong... it seems obvious to me that this guy thinks you OWED him greater support than you gave to him. He probably feels that despite doing (in your words) everything RIGHT for the better part of a decade, as soon as he needed your support you crumbled under the pressure.


Now some other girl who threatens your identity comes into it, and immediately you want him back. Why? Is it because you truly love him, or is part of it because he was supporting your esteem for all of these years?


I don't mean to sound harsh.... and he/I could be TOTALLY wrong... but from what I've read, it doesn't sound like you were able to OPEN YOURSELF UP to love and be truly GIVING in the same way that he was.


You took more than you returned when you were depressed (and perhaps before that, based on your thoughts that he loved you more than you loved him). And that was OK with him as long as you would return the favour when the going got tough.


Now the going got tough, and you split.


I think you need to do some soul searching... discover your own independence, and THEN, once you are sure that you have enough strength to GIVE YOURSELF to the relationship, you need to fight like hard to win his trust back.


It is really unfair that things happen this way. But when you were taking more than you returned, he should have told you so... or he should have left you. He should never have tolerated that imbalance. No relationship can sustain that for so long.


Instead he likely internalized that pain, and it came out as him expecting that you OWED him that same sort of endurance. Unfortunately, his expectations may (or may not) have been unreasonable and the relationship failed as a result.


To me there is A LOT of pain and A LOT of history behind your relationship. It will take A LOT of (at times one sided on your part) effort to fix things. Are you ready to take this on? Is it what you truly want?


Take your time to sort through these questions (like a couple months at least)... leave him alone while you do... he's going to need time to heal from the pain you caused each other, and possibly to follow this other relationship to its natural end (and it will likely end).


Once you've come to a clear decision, be ready to expect resistance on his part. Don't let it cause you resentment, or you will go through this entire imbalance again.


If you succeed in getting him interested enough to try again, I'd suggest you leave your dates as dates (fun) and also try and arrange counselling sessions so that you have someone to help get at your feelings.... to me it seems a lack of communication and self knowledge may be partially to blame.


Good luck



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Shorter Answer:


It's not to late.... it's too early. Take your time.


If you start the process before you are both ready you will end up with exactly what caused this in the first place. Two people taking turns injuring each other and relying (perhaps too much) on the other for support.


Think this through... work on yourself. Allow him to do the same.


Don't worry about the other girl... it's a good thing that she is the opposite of you... it will help him heal.... and hopefully help him realize your positive traits.


Your job for now is to find some peace and let this old relationship go (for now).... then make sure you rediscover all of the positive traits you can bring to this (or any other) relationship.... Then to figure out a way that you can GIVE of yourself without feeling threatened or afraid to GIVE LOVE.


Easy advice.... extremely tough answers.

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Thanks for your comments. They are REALLY helpful. I used to want to put all the blame on him, but have recently looked inwards. I am going to give myself those couple of months to decide what I want to do and give him time to figure out what he wants. However, one thing I do want to make clear is that I did try to get back together with him before I knew about the girl. I had apologized for my lack of affection (I actually found out I had a thyroid problem at this time that contributed to my weight gain and lack of affection the doctor said) over the last six months and told him how wonderful I thought he was, etc. And he responded a little, but then I found out that he had been talking to the girl and unfortunately he had started before I reached out.


One question I do have, is this meeting next week. I really want to meet him face to face and not even necessarily talk about the relationship but show him how I have eased up and opened myself up. I hadn't only closed myself to him, but to lots of people. And now I am getting out of the house, dancing, yoga, etc. I don't want to leave him with the image of the old me. He initiated the meeting, and I know it will be hard, but I want to show him the calm, more loving me before we don't talk for awhile. It has been over a month since I have seen him last. What do you think?


ANd again, your comments were awesome! I really appreciate your sympathy and good advice. It makes me feel a little better, even though it is hard to look at the bad side of me.

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Hey Lelou,


I'm glad I can help in some way.


I should be honest by telling you that your relationship sounded ALL TOO FAMILIAR.


I was in your EXes shoes when my 7 year relationship ended.


I can tell you that after so many years of supporting my EX. Dealing with her insecurities... trying, trying, trying, to get her to trust me.. trust my love. It was exhausting!


I can also tell you that there were moments when her love for me would come out SO strongly... and seemingly SO out of the blue. How did I react? Obviously I'd be thrilled! But also, part of me would be embarrassed because this overt display was so unexpected... and another part of me would be angry. Like "ohhh... so NOW you love me. Where've you been all this time?"


Sucks... b/c that's the type of teeter-totter that gets set up when a relationship gets stuck in an imbalance for so long.


My guess is that by the time you came around, your EX was already feeling very resentful toward you. In his mind he probably ISN'T totally happy with his current girl, but felt he had no choice since he was forced into realizing that you weren't capable of giving him the same type of support he gave you. It's so very frustrating what people who (should) love each other end up doing when we aren't respectful of that love.


I missed the part about him asking to meet up with you. At this point I would be very careful. He is likely (as you are) still in a VERY confused state. On one hand, this new girl is not YOU... and you are the one he was so in love with. On the other hand, she likely appreciates him... and that is what he felt was missing with you. Also... and don't take this the wrong way.... but if he felt you were closed off, he'll likely find her easygoing outlook on life a breath of fresh air.


Now... all is not lost. It will be VERY possible for you to win him back IF you are willing to fix some of the problems that led you to where you are.


For this first meeting, your task is simple. Show up. Smile. Keep smiling. NO DRAMA. LISTEN. Don't interrupt. If he calls you on something, either a) apologize, or b) say you never realized he felt that way. Validate his concerns. Let him have the floor for this meeting... there WILL be others. Also... DON'T tell him you've changed. If he hits on a growth area you've already identified, simply say "yes, I've been giving that some thought... I realize I have some work to do".


This doesn't mean you need to take all the blame... but just hear him out first before you react to anything. You need to leave him with the impression that you'd be willing to try again, but that you believe his (and your) concerns and issues are mendable, but that it will take time. You don't need to SAY this to leave the impression.... just listening to him without getting into an argument about it will show him that you have the maturity and strength that will be required by both of you to work this out... when you are both ready.


The REAL work comes after the meeting. If all goes well, you'll both have left things in a place where there is some opportunity, but also no closure yet. From there you need to really focus on you... improve your life for you.... and know that you will find love again... perhaps with him, perhaps with someone else.


One last tip: As best as you can, DO NOT REACT to your emotions. I've found through several mistakes and slip ups, that it takes a good week after a meeting for me to TRULY know how I feel about something. So if something hits a button, give it a week... and then if you really must (and if you've both agreed to be in contact) write your thoughts about it.


The times when I (or she) reacted on emotions, it became ONE MORE injury that we had to recover from. Every time there was another injury, the time to be ready to see each other again took longer.... first it would be 2 weeks of NC, then 3, then a month, now 6 weeks and counting. That isn't a good pattern to establish, but that is what happens when one or both of you aren't yet ready.


If you guys aren't ready to see each other without repeatedly injuring each other.... then you aren't YET ready to work things out. That's not a doomsday scenario... so just be prepared to say to yourself... "it's not time yet".


I'm hoping for you....



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Wow, your words are just what I needed to relax a bit. And you sound like the perfect person to talk to since you were in my ex's shoes.I will definitely remember your words when I meet with him next week.


One last thing since I found out you are somewhat in the same shoes as my ex. Did you have a lot of anger towards her when it was over? It is strange b/c one second he couldn't miss a day without calling me and saying he loved me, and then the second he met this girl it seems all his emotions for me just vanished (which I felt was never possible). And you can hear this anger when he calls me, and when I ask him why he sounds so mad, he claims he isn't.


Also, I feel bad b/c all my criticism of him seems to really have affected him. I believe he thinks this is mostly his fault and he has even said "I guess I am not cut out for relationships." (Although he stuck by me for 12 years in all as a friend first, then a boyfriend). Don't get me wrong, he was doing things that were not good for himself that last year (the messing up in school and drinking). But instead of trying to help him through love I just lashed out.


You are right though, all I can do is continue working on myself and hope he can see that I truly love him. If worst comes to worst, which I really hope not, at least I will be better for the next guy. And I definitely think you are right about the time issue. In my heart I know neither of us are ready, but that this is too big just to throw away.


And good luck in your future relationship. I hope it works out for you too. You seem like at least on your side you know what needs to be done and you have definitely helped me see his side.

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Hmmm.... My guess is that his emotions didn't vanish. He's likely angry with you because he feels you forced him into the (unhappy) situation he is in now. He may (and I am really not sure) have been telling you he loved you so much because he somehow felt (perhaps due to your criticism and distancing) that you either (a) didn't trust his love for you, or (b) really didn't love him back.


Either of those things could have made the idea of something new seem so much "easier".


Being in an unhealthy relationship is exhausting. You try and try and try, but if there are issues that aren't fully understood, or fully discussed, there comes a point where people lose faith and give up.


Judging by the fact that he seems to be taking on the blame ("i'm not cut out for a relationship") and wasn't able to express his displeasure with the way you were treating him, it *could* be that he doesn't really realize why he is angry with you. He just feels tired and frustrated... and maybe dissatisfied with the new relationship. So he denies being angry with you b/c he hasn't sorted out his feelings yet.


It's a tough call. You'll have to work through this very slowly, and allow him to reveal his feelings to you.


What is tough is that he may lack the self awareness to KNOW... in which case there is nothing you can do at the moment to help him.


Keep us posted.

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Hi lelou,


I was just reading your post and found out that your story is very similar to mine. Unfortunately I don't have much advice to give you; just want to tell you you're not alone

In my case, I've been talking a lot with my ex; I think we are making some real progress; I know he still loves me (although he is in a new rs) but at the same time he is "mad" because I didn't gave him the support he needed. The good thing is we are talking about how we feel and are learning to trust in each other again. In fact, yesterday he asked me: "I need to know you and be with you a bit more, to be certain there will no be more moments of stress between us. Please trust me". And is what I'm doing. I'm living my life and let him live his; without pressures. And to tell you the true I'm loving this moment. I'm feeling very happy; happy as I wasn't when we were together (in the past months). It's strange – here I am suffering because he is having all that special moments with another girl (moments that were supposed to be mine) and at the same time very happy; I found myself (I've been working on me) and I'm having some good moments with him. This gives me a tranquillity that I can't describe; I can only say It's a good feeling. And then again, I know he is feeling the same.

I don't know the future, I don't know if some day we will back together – I mean start a new relationship; but I hope so. In the meantime, I'm trying to live my life and let him do the same.


One more thing:

shocked&dismayed, thank you so much for your advice.

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Thanks again S&D. I am seriously going to keep your advice handy when I am down. And I will also definitely give an update, especially after this Tuesday.


That last sentence about him not having the self awareness yet is probably true. He has been on tour with friends and is constantly with people, so he hasn't even had alone time to deal with the reality.


And sunlight, it is good to know someone else can relate! It's nice to know I am not the only person who thinks important people in your life are not disposable. Good luck!

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Lelou and Sunshine -


I read both your stories. I am in the same boat. My ex broke up with me 4 months ago for the same reasons that your exes did. I had alot of problems during the last year of our relationship and although he was always my rock, I pushed him away and took his love for granted. He got with someone else a few weeks after our break up and at first claimed she was nothing more than someone he hung out with, but during our last conversation admitted that she was his girlfriend.


In my situation, he does not want to remain friends. He thinks that we need to truly get over each other and that it is too hard to be friends. He says that I need to move on and experience what else is out there (I am guessing he means in terms of other guys). I don't want to though....I know that I want nothing more than to be with him and give him the love and support I should have during our relationship. My ex claims that he is not angry (which I don't know if I believe) and that he loves me to death but is not in love with me. During our last conversation, he kept saying that he didn't know what the future held....that if it is meant to be it'll be. He said he even tells his new girlfriend about me and how much he loved me and that he doesn't know what the future holds.


I am trying my best to live my life for me right now and to do a lot of soul searching. I feel like I have grown so much as a result of this...I just wish I had contact with him so that he could see the positive changes I am making and how strong my love for him is. I am trying to respect his wishes and not contact him....I am just so sad when I think that he will forget about me and move on with his new girlfriend. On the other hand though, I realize where I went wrong and that I treated him terribly, so I just want him to be happy. I guess I just wanted to let you knwo that I am in the same boat and that if you need someone to talk to, you can count on me.


Also, shocked and dismayed, I have read your advice in a number of posts, and I always think it is amazing. Do you have any advice for me in this situation?



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definitely sounds like my story to a tee. and shocked and dismayed really has helped me. i have finally taken his advice and cut off contact. let me tell you it is hard! i wrote you a private message and would love to keep in contact with someone going through the same turmoil. i definitely understand how it feels to see too late what you did wrong to push someone away.

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