How To Recover From Being Dumped By Boyfriend

knifeDear Elsa,

About two months ago, my first serious boyfriend of about a year dumped me flat on my ass. Not just broke up with me – dumped me. He left me for someone else while I was away at school, told me a month after the fact in a letter, and didn’t even have the decency to return my calls afterwards. It was not the best relationship in the first place, and especially considering the cowardly way he broke it off, I have absolutely no interest in trying to get him back or anything like that.

I don’t know where to go from here. I realize I’m probably not in any condition to get into another relationship just yet, but on the other hand, I feel so lonely and repulsive. I really just want somebody to hold me and tell me I’m beautiful. Except that I’m really starting to doubt my own judgment. I mean, I fell for that loser – what’s to keep me from doing so again? That’s a thought that scares the hell out of me, especially since I’m not exactly the sort of girl who has men waiting in line.

The rest of my life is pretty much under control – good summer job, going back to school in the fall, awesome friends, all of that. But most days I just want to curl up in my room and not come out. I’ve never had to work through anything like this before, and I don’t know how to approach it. Any words of advice would be much appreciated.

Emotionally Drifting

Dear Drifting,

OUCH! I am so sorry for you. And I wish I had some sort of magic short cut, but I think you’re going to have to just continue to lay low and sort through this. Because somewhere in this mess, there’s a nugget. There are probably a bunch of nuggets, but you’re not going to find them unless you stay in your pain.

For example, you write that you “fell for this loser”. How’d that happen? You need to find out. You need to figure out how this happened. Did you miss the signs? Did you unconsciously want this sort of experience? Why? What did you hope to get, or glean?

See, there is an opportunity for gain here and I advise you take it. Because otherwise this will continue to haunt you. Right now you are questioning your judgment, but you have to come to see that entering this relationship was your judgment and you are not a fool. There is some rhyme or reason to the fact you were cut this way and you have to find it. It’s that, or be compromised.

I always say, “If you cut me, I get your knife.” And this is true of you as well. But you have to go into the muck and dig it out. Otherwise you’re just injured.

So this is my advice: Stop thinking about what happened. Instead, ask why. Come up with the answer to that and you will heal. Not only that, you’ll have this guy’s knife for the rest of your life

Take care and good luck.

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How To Recover From Being Dumped By Boyfriend — 26 Comments

  1. Oh, I think you should go out and meet a whole bunch of better guys, real quick. Sorting out is fine, but you also need some ego boost! You deserve it!

  2. don’t be too hard on yourself, either, dear. early relationships are often like this from my observations. years later, my friends and i all still ask ourselves, “WHAT were we thinking?!? eeek!”

    part of early relationships are often focused on finding out who you are and building up your sense of self and self-esteem.

    and remember-his behavior doesn’t speak to who YOU are. whenever someone treats you poorly, regardless of the reason they may or may not give, it’s ALWAYS their shit, man.

    take good care of yourself. if you’re feeling too distressed, check out your school’s counseling options, and most of all, enjoy the freedom you’ve gained from an obviously unappreciative boyfriend. peace out.

  3. something similar happened to me 6 years ago and it took a long time for me to recover and regroup [dang pluto square moon transit!]

    the one thing i wanted – an explanation/closure/something! – never came, but in the process i came into my own. when i stopped looking for an answer from him, i started going deep to heal the wound from withn.

    i bristle occasionally when i think about it today, but it’s a battle scar i’m actually proud of now–for if i hadn’t gone through it, i wouldn’t have come this far.

    so hang in there and take good care of you.

  4. Thanks Elsa, and to the people in the comments too. This is kind of what I was afraid you were going to say, so I guess I’ve just got to buckle down and deal with life. It wasn’t so bad when I was away, but now I’m back in my rather smallish hometown for the summer, and see him around now and again. His complete refusal to talk to me hurts even more than the break-up did. At some point I’m going to have to accept that I’m probably never going to get that last conversation/explaination/whatever. But thank you for your support and wisdom.

    -K

  5. You feel like you never got any closure. I completely understand that. But that makes it all about you. You can close this anyway you like. You have the power. Good luck. (I need this advice too!)

  6. Elsa, the link to “stabbed in the back no problem” is dead. I am enjoying reading this series and finding it very informative.

  7. Wow! Awesome post and awesome comments. Im still struggling with a “separation” from a boyfriend who said he wanted time to sow his wild oats and then come back to me to settle down and get married. He died before we could get back together. I have been hanging onto this like an old dog with a bone. This break up happened in 2009! I was devastated and cling to the pain and miss him everyday. I have let it define me. Ive felt like the broken people Elsa writes about. Letting an immature boyfriend who wasnt ready to settle down dictate the tone of the rest of my life? Staying a victim? I can choose to see it and myself in another light. Use that experience to grow from. I reeeeally wallowed. Sobbed inconsolably for two years. Im the one that suggested the “separation” when hed expressed interest in seeing someone else casually. I left. I cried. I rebuilt my life and his ended prematurely. He was self destructive, obviously, and the relationship was destructive to me while i was with him. If wed stayed together i dont think i would have been happy long term. He had a ton of drama, and i found it overwhelming just being his girlfriend. I Thank God that my life is where it is now. Im in a much better place with a man that loves me, is committed to me and has always been there for me. We have our issues but not too many. It was for the best that it didnt work out and that we went our separate ways. It was his loss/ mistake/choice that had everything to do with him. It was him, and his issues that i chose for whatever reason. It wasnt a good match And It didnt work out. And thats ok. I dont want it to define me or wound me for life. I remember the love and carry it with me, the good part of the relationship. But the end, the pain, the other woman, the devastation, i dont need to keep letting it define me subconsciously or consciously. Thank you for the wisdom youve shared Elsa. It is priceless.

  8. Be kind to yourself, take it easy for a while. I was dumped by my husband of seven years, I think the best thing you can do is NOT date or get into another relationship for six months to a year. Give yourself time and space to heal and sort things out.

  9. He’s a coward. He didn’t have the guts to tell you to your face. I think the ‘lesson’ here is that people can be cowards. He knows he’s a coward. He’s scared to speak to you because he’ll have to confront his cowardly behaviour. Men/boys don’t like to think of themselves as cowards, so he’s avoiding you because you remind him of what a shit he is. Turn it around. Vow to never speak or look his direction again, even if he eventually grows some balls and speaks to you. Blank him. End of. Chalk this up as ‘the one that was a coward’. Think about how lucky you are that you got away from this guy before it got more serious (married, kids)! Phew!!!

    • Kate, that really sits with me too. Thanks for this comment, I needed to hear that.

      My ex dumped me in the Fall of 2016, he hooked up online with another girl until he had the decency to tell me about it, a week after we broke up. After I moved out he didn’t speak to me at all, and I haven’t heard from him ever since. Looser. As you say, it’s their own shit. They will have to face it if he should ever choose to talk to me again. But sometimes it’s good to hear it from others, and your words put a final nail in the coffin – cause you are so right and spot on.

      Still, that boy (not man), hurt me deeply. It sucks. But as you say, he’s afraid of his own shit, so I’ve never said a word to him either. Luckily we live very far away from each other.

  10. I wonder how she looks at it today. Ten years have passed. I’ll bet she went on to do wonderful things and is probably married with children ….he is probably not even a thought in her head today. I hope that is how it all turned out.

    • I hope she found happiness too. Not everybody does. 20 years ago my coworker was getting married and my boss asked me when I was making plans. I told him there was no one to make plans with. He said confidently, “That’ll change.” It never did.

    • Hi soup, since you asked….

      Every now and again he crosses my mind, usually when I accidentally run across a mutual acquaintance on Facebook or the like, or when this post popped up, but for the most part, nope. Working through this mess really did help me face some of my own motivations and habits, as well as made me much more perceptive of potential red flags in relationships.

      No kids, but happily married for the last 9 years now. 🙂

        • Lots of introspection to start with. I have a lot of 12th house & other Neptune stuff, it’s very easy for me to dream somebody up and ignore what’s really going on. Had to realize that and learn to be kinda ruthless with that tendency- force myself to evaluate reality rather that what I want to be happening. Went back over the relationship in my mind and journals to see where it went wrong, what I missed. In retrospect there were things I should have paid attention to, but I was 18 and desperate to be loved. Became much more selective. Learned to trust my own judgement better.

          Bout six months later had kind of a crazy fun short fling that both of us knew wasn’t serious but did help a lot. Honesty up front is a wonderful thing. The evil ex was totally a gaslighter, it was so refreshing not to be questioning myself all the time.

          About a year after that I met the man to which I am now married. We actually got married very quickly, which most people told me was a bad idea. But through all the inner work I’d had to do as a result of the first mess, I feel like I had a realistic view of this relationship and knew how special it was from the beginning. We have our ups and downs like everybody else cause marriage is a whole new set of challenges, but we’re solid. Funny thing is he went thru a similar experience a few years before we met. I guess you can wallow in misery and repeat the experience, or you can dig deep, learn from it and refuse to let it happen again.

  11. Girl.

    There are worse things in life than getting dumped. I’m not in your situation but when I read this I know for a fact there are people out there who would trade their situation with yours. Lessons reveal later down the road when you’re far enough from the situation that you can look back and see it through a telescope.

    Nurse your wounds but don’t give it too much time. Get up from your bed, take a shower, brush it off, put some make up on and get going. If it happens again that’s life and you got to roll with the punches. And trust me when I say, there are worse things.

    -Pepe

    • I guess. What you say is very true but also I hate this argument as it is dismissive and unsophisticated. I know you call for perspective, which is valuable and necessary, especially in situations like this, but people are complex, situations are nuanced and the “grass is always greener” or “it could be worse” mentality really invalidates this person’s individual process and experience. In other words, yours is correct advice, but not very helpful.

  12. @Korellyn, glad to hear you’re now happily married!

    “At some point I’m going to have to accept that I’m probably never going to get that last conversation/explaination/whatever.”

    The thing is that when others (not just ex partners) treat us badly, it’s a dead-end to seek an explanation from them. I mean, what COULD they say? “I treated you like a piece of dirt because…” – because what? What could they say that can justify behaving nastily and cold-heartedly?

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