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So without going into the full backstory, let's just say I am not broken up with my ex for around five months. There was some incidental back and forth immediately after, mostly breadcrumbs on her part, which I ignored. She lives in the same small town as me, along with the guy she left me for, who was some kind of ex or another that I never really knew much about.


I'll include a link to the whole sordid tale at the end of this, just in case anyone reading wants to know more, or remember my days of endless perseverating.


So here's the thing: I am getting really sick of avoiding her, but I am not sure my emotional composure is solid enough just yet to risk casual run ins. And the thing about that is, there is a show I'd like to go to tonight, and it's pretty likely she'll be there too, quite likely with this guy.


I haven't had any contact with her whatsoever for around two months, and really almost none before that. When she told me the news I told her I'd let her go and I did.


I have my moments still, but for the most part I am a LOT better. I credit that to being strict in No Contact, and also to resuming a pretty solid exercise regime. But the thing is, I do still have my moments. They come unexpectedly. Here's an example: Just a few days ago I wanted to get a hamburger at a local restaurant that only occasionally serves them. This is a place where I am known to be a regular. I didn't feel like walking in the cold so I texted ahead to see if one was on the menu. The hostess replied, yes, but x + y are here. x and y being who you would think. It was a Sunday and would have been slow, so I decided to skip it rather than sit there by myself while my ex was on a date a few stools down from me.


Okay, fine. I figured I'd go the following night. However, when I got there I could see once again a pretty quiet bar and my ex and a couple of her friends hanging out. I was on the verge of just saying screw it, because like I said I am getting really frustrated circumscribing my actions for someone who has no apparent thought or concern for me whatsoever (I mean, why go on a date where you know I might be otherwise?) The thing is, day to day, I am pretty fine. I don't get morose about it anymore, and I am rarely under the impression that having anything to do with her is a good idea.


I will admit I sometimes miss her, or miss how she used to make me feel, but I can't square that with reality, so I try to remind myself how lousy she was to me and move on. I usually do pretty well.


So now there is tonight. This is a show I would normally go to. Other friends will be there. Me not going would be specifically because I did not want to run into her or especially her and him. That's the one and only reason. It has been a long, long time since we broke up, relative to the brevity of our "relationship". I am beginning to feel like I am creating a monster by continuing to avoid her. She doesn't deserve that power over me. She probably doesn't even know she has it at this point. She is just living her life.


The very few interactions we have had since we broke up have either been text messages she sent to me to which I did not reply, or random run ins which were brief and awkward, but polite.


The girl did me wrong. There is no way around it. It treated her well, and she burned me. All is fair in love and way, so I try not to dwell on it. In fact, what I want most is just to forgive her and move on, so no anger ties me to the past.


What would you do? Would you go to this show? There's a chance she won't even be there. That would be nice. But then again there is a chance she will be there making out with her boyfriend who she dumped me for in the middle of the dance floor. Who knows?


I don't suspect I would deal that well with the latter. But at what point does one say enough is enough.


It doesn't help that I find the woman so attractive I can barely look at her to start with.


Here's the tip of the iceberg if you want to look into it. Other posts you can find by my username. A lot of people have offered insight so far. If anyone is inclined to give it a look, I'd appreciate it.


I do want to stress this is not freaking me out anywhere near as bad as it once was. What was once a sharp stabbing pain and almost constant distraction has become an occasional dull ache. To honest, there are days I don't care at all, even though I have come to accept that it will probably always hurt at least a little when I think about it.


Here is the thread from when things first started going down. Seems a long way away now. I want to go to the show, but the effect the girl has had on me in the past is alarming. She will look amazing. I don't want to lose my composure.


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Have you ever heard of exposure therapy? It's the idea that when fears build up sometimes you need to be exposed to the feared situation. Mildly at first with an easy way to tap out. And building towards more and more intense exposure. People do this with phobias. Fear of heights or spiders or anything that could make getting around in the world harder for the person with the phobia.


To me? It sounds like you need to start to treat this fear as a phobia. You are going to have to be in the same place with her. You are going to have to deal with seeing her with this other guy. Small towns are hard that way. But you can't let the fear of it limit you. So maybe you start with some early exposure therapy. Go to the show but give yourself permission to tap out anytime, for whatever reason. You can go in with the knowledge that you could split any time.


Unfortunately seeing her and seeing them together is just a reality you need to deal with. You can't keep limiting your life out of the fear of the pain that seeing them might cause you. You need to SLOWLY and carefully start exposing yourself to them. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself an easy out. Understand that it might be scary and painful but it won't always be that way.

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Thanks rosephase.


This is helpful, and it is my instinct as well. I think this has taken out outsize proportions because of how it ended (let's just say I have never been burned quite this way before) and I think my ego just doesn't know how to deal with it. No one has ever left me quite the way she did, nor embarrased me as much.


I may or may not go to this show. However it goes down, it will go down in just about an hour or so. If I do go (leaning that way) and they are there, I just hope I keep it together enough to maintain my dignity. I don't want her to see me affected. I think that might be my benchmark for tapping out, as you say.


I want to live an honest, genuine life and feel the full spectrum of emotions. But there is a part of me that feels like if she sees me and I am visibly upset, she wins.




I realize how silly that sounds. This isn't a game. But it's that ego. If this fear has become a phobia, it is because ego has fed it. It will be hard to navigate without it in this circumstance. I have some pride. Whatever happens, I don't want to be the obvious ex, the one who can't take it. If I go, I want to appear fine. That might just happen. We will see.

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That's why the easy escape plan can be important. If you feel upset or like you can't control your emotional response? You can leave.


I get that it sounds like a silly game. But it's a real emotional truth for you. You have your head screwed on right about it. You get that this is something you need to get over and that it's a bigger deal because of the way she left you. And with all that knowledge it probably bugs you that you can't simply dismiss the feelings your dealing with. But that's feelings for you. They take time a work. If you go and you feel like you can't appear fine... leave. Take it slow. Be kind to yourself and understand that it's hard because what you are dealing with is hard. It's not a failing on your part. You are just doing hard work.

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hi Jackofmany,


Firstly, your writing is lovely :)


I am in a similar predicament to you.. been split up for 4 months, barely any contact since, I think she is still with someone else, but haven't seen it, live in a small town etc...


You seem to be in a decent place with it all.


I admire your courage if you do go.. I don't think i am in the zone yet that I could go and fully trust myself to act/be indifferent, which is the key, right?


Sending you strength to make the right decision for you. That's what matters. Let us know how you get on!


S x

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Thanks everyone for the kind words and support. And Wiseman2, I would say it is quite close to time to start dating again. In fact, I would probably be happy to go on a few casual dates soon enough, if I could find someone I was genuinely interested in.


But I suppose all I can do now it tell the story and ask for your honest assessment. This is unnecessarily long, but it's been banging around in my head all morning, so I'm going to try to exorcise it. Here's what happened:


While I was debating going to the show, I found myself nervously sipping wine. If there is a takeaway to the story I am about to tell it is if you are ever in a situation like the one I described, take the advice I should have taken from a friend: drink water.


Not that it got ugly or anything. I just don't trust my judgement that much and feel I might have done better.


But I did go. I decided I had had enough of not doing things on account of this woman. She can't just have the town, especially as really I am the wronged party here.


At any rate, I arrived at the venue (a small restaurant/bar -- in fact, the one I mentioned earlier) and was greeted by a handful of friends, some mutual, some not, the moment I walked in the door. One of them was her best friend and she just put out her arms for a hug and in a way that struck me as simultaneously friendly and slightly fake, said something like, "I feel like I haven't seen you in forever."


I kind of breezed through some hellos trying to relax. I did not see her. I walked into the back where the music was. The plan was just enjoy the music. As it turned out, it was quite sparsely attended and just about over. A very close guy friend of hers was back there watching. He is a mutual friend. We had kind of fallen out of touch since the breakup and it was good to see him. We talked a bit about the music as it was ending then he walked out to go sit at the bar.


Now, I'm not exactly sure how the next things happened, because they seemed to happen fast. But she walked in. I don't know who saw who first. She looked, of course, amazing. She was wearing some kind of backless shirt or dress that accentuated he unfortunately still perfect figure. I'm trying not to be petty here, but to say that didn't affect me would be a lie. I was leaning against the wall talking to a woman I know as she settled at the bar near where my other friend had sat down. There were about five people sitting there, including her. I tried to stay focused on the conversation in front of me. At some point my ex got up to use the bathroom and as she did she walked by me and made eye contact. I couldn't tell you what kind of eye contact it was because I hadn't really seen it before. It seemed to communicate more than anything else, "I see you." We both smiled.


This is about as much interaction as there is going to be in this story. As she was in the bathroom, I went to the bar to get a drink, as I decided she wasn't going to chase me out of there. I flirted a bit with the bartender, because I always do, but also because I wanted to make someone laugh. Turning around I could see my ex had sat back down with the group. I was trying to think of a non-awkward way to say hello to everyone without singling her out, but I didn't quite have time for that. I ran into another friend and started talking and a soon I was talking to basically the band. This was fine. At least I wasn't standing around by myself, but I was literally about ten feet from her, if that. I was half in the conversation, half trying to think of a graceful exit when she stood up and started putting on her coat.


Now here's where I don't know what to think. I decided to not let the opportunity to say goodbye happen. As she was getting ready, I excused myself from my friends and went to use the bathroom myself. Except for the fact that it was exactly as she was getting ready to leave, it wasn't unusual. When I came back out she, as well as the rest of the women in the group, were gone. This is the moment I am not sure would have gone the same had I not been drinking. I might have just stood my ground and seen what she would do. I might not have. Who knows? What I knew then was that I did not want some kind of tepid hug or half smile or whatever. Telling the story now, I realize that dinged me more that I imagined, the fact that she left. Ah, well . . . so it goes.


So I went over and sat down with my friend. He had stayed behind.


"Finally," he said, and we toasted to whatever.


"I miss when everybody was friends," he said.


"Everybody is friends," I said.


"I tried to tell her to at least go give you a hug," he said. This made me want to kill him. I waved it off. He started reminiscing a bit. I did not want to get into a conversation about her, as I have little doubt she would inquire about me and I don't want her knowing anything. Still, he said, "She wants to be friends. She knows she screwed up." Well, he didn't say screwed up, but you see what I mean. He said some other things.


I think he could see I didn't feel like talking about it and we changed the subject. The bar was about to close.


There is another bar upstairs, one that she goes to often and it stays open later. Again, with the wisdom of alcohol in me I made insinuations that maybe we should go up there, but not, I said, if she were up there with her boyfriend.


"If she's up there, she up there with her friends or by herself," he said, "So-and-so left just before you got here."


So we went up there and she wasn't there and I am a little worried I may have spoken more about her than I would have liked, but I don't know because I forget. Rarely do I drink enough to forget conversations, but that one is blurry. I only hope I conducted myself with some dignity, because whatever I said to him most likely will find its way to her. She may not want much from me, but I'm sure she is curious.


So there it is. My non-eventful event.


I don't know how I feel about it yet. I think I am glad I did not approach her, and I am glad I was engaged socially the whole time she was there. I'm not so sure I'm happy I dipped into the bathroom when she was leaving. She's a smart woman. She won't miss the timing of that. What bothers me is that it might make me seem weak. It's ego, like I said, all this ego. But I don't want her to know how much she got to me, how much she still gets to me.


Had she been there with her boyfriend I'm not sure how I would have handled it. Seeing as much of an impression on my psyche this small episode without him involved got to me I don't imagine it would have been great, though I suspect I would have done more or less the same things.


I feel like I've been knocked a few steps backwards. I'm thinking about her more again, worrying what she thinks, where that was much less pronounced before. I guess that is to be expected.


The truth remains I cannot avoid her forever. I had to start somewhere and that's where it was. Not sure I'd recommend the experience to anyone.


Unless you only drink water. That would surely help.


I realize there is very little to analyze there, but I'd love anyone's opinion. I am going to be turning this story around in my head all day.

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hello Jackofmany,


Very proud of you for going. It took alot of courage.


Yes, it will probably hurt a little more for a couple of days, but it's quite likely to help your overall healing.


It may well have been different if her new guy was there, but who knows for sure?


I think you handled it well buddy.


Stay strong.

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You handled it well, jack. Don't go the pathway of overanalysing every second of your interaction with her, it was just a normal one. You showed to be strong enough just to be there and socialising. THe bathroom thing in the end is just nothing. She could be as well thinking whether it means you wanted to avoid her or if you just wanted to go to the bathroom at that time and couldn't care less if she was leaving at that time or not.


We tend to think our dumpers are fully confident creatures but this is rarely the case. They're just people, like you and me, with their own insecurities. Don't think she was fully comfortable in the situation, because I'm sure she wasn't.


I had an interaction with my ex for about 10 seconds the other day, a kind of awkward one. I did overanalyse every second of it in the next days, if I looked confident, nervous, if she was nervous, awkward, etc., but then realised it just doesn't matter. I did it for the same reasons you're doing, just to feed my ego. As long as I just can be me and be happy with it, it doesn't matter what my ex thinks of me.


If you keep thinking that you need to be a very confident, unaffected person every time you see your ex, that is just going to add an extra level of anxiety in your life. Just try to be yourself.

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Now that a couple of days have passed I'm just going to update this quickly. As sputnik123 suggeseted, things have seemingly gotten more difficult, in the sense that I am thinking about her again, and find myself missing her. As much as I do think it was necessary to stop letting fear of running into her dictate my actions, I don't think I'll go out of my way to do it again soon.


I'm hung up on her, it would appear. I find myself wishing I could have the feelings I used to have with her very strongly since that night. But I am also aware that is impossible.


I also find myself rooting against her relationship again, which had kind of sort of backed off.


The urge to get in contact also came back, but I am not a fool and will not give in to it. This all makes no sense. I didn't date the girl for all that long, though I enjoyed our time together immensely. She is too young for me anyway, and proved herself selfish and untrustworthy. Yet here I am missing something or someone, even if I can't tell what exactly that is.


I am not starved for female attention, although the few intimate nights I've spent since the breakup have all left me feeling down, so I stopped that. How I can be feeling this way after five months is beyond me.

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