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Rites Of Passage: Moving On

Question:

I am 26 and have been in a relationship faithfully for 7 years. Completely unforeseen, she writes me a letter stating that she is confused and cares for me dearly, but doesn’t feel it is fair for me to wait while she sorts things out. She left this letter on my side of the bed that we shared for the past two years for me to find when I came home from work. We have spoken very little since and all the times it has been me to contact her. This happened just over a month ago and I have tried to “move on,” but I cannot because I now realize just how deeply I love her. We shared some rough times together and I feel towards the end it was those times and stress of both of us establishing careers that caused her doubt. I keep thinking that if I could just talk to her face to face, that we could iron things out. Would this be the wise thing to do? She has been shy and rather sheltered since I’ve known her. I think she is acting out (i.e. belly piercing, drinking, cursing, crazy different sex all in the last few months). Your advise would help a lot. She responds with concern when I call and she wants to “stay friends.”

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Answer:

What a horrible and completely typical experience you’re going through now. Horrible because I can think of few conventional experiences that a person can have that hurts more than being dumped on your ass. Typical because it happens all the time to all sorts of people. People leave relationships in the manner that your former girlfriend chose (e.g., a letter on the bed) when they are too immature to do it in a more direct, honest and face to face way. My best sense is that your rather shy and sheltered girlfriend of 7 years is immature and acting out right now. It would have been much better if she had the courage to do this earlier when she was younger and when you two didn’t have so much time invested in each other. It probably is good that she is getting it out of her system though. Think about it. For her to act in this way means that for some time she was unhappy with the state of your relationship, but couldn’t find a way to tell you. There was no future in a situation like that. Only a time bomb. You’re ultimately better off that the bomb has gone off. Don’t think that you necessarily did anything wrong either. That she left you is not a reflection on you, but on her. One month (probably several months even by the time you read this) is not a long enough time to expect that you should be done with grief over the loss of a 7 year relationship. I’d expect to spend a good couple months feeling upset, and a longer period still with pangs of regret popping up here and there. Grief is the natural and normal emotional reaction to being abandoned. That you’re experiencing it is good and means you are healthy. Don’t wait around for this woman. that doesn’t mean you have to abandon her either, but don’t wait around for her. Start asking yourself the question, “What do I want for myself next?”, and let the past be the past. You go forward with your life. If she is interested, she’ll contact you in some way and you can decide if you want to pursue that contact later. You go forward with your life and let the past be a treasured place, but not an imprisoning one. As Bogart said to Bergman in the movie ‘Casablanca’ (which by the way, you should rent if you haven’t already seen it), “We’ll always have Paris”.

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