Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: After eight months of dating, my ex moved from Boston to Salt Lake for work. We broke up because he said eight months wasn’t long enough to start a long-distance relationship, but he’d be back to Boston for me.
I reached out a year later and he agreed to try long-distance. That lasted, oh, three months before he said, “I love you more than anything but can’t do long-distance. I’ll be back in Boston in a year for you, I promise.” I offered to move to Salt Lake, anything to make it work.
Finally, after I stopped reaching out to him and he never contacted me, I slowly felt normal without him. Until this week when I learned he has a girlfriend in Salt Lake. Now I am just a flood of anger — at MYSELF.
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How could I be so logical and reasonable in all aspects of my life but have offered to move and do anything for this guy who you can tell just by reading this short description obviously was not in love with me like I was with him? And of course in just 12 seconds on her Facebook I have determined she’s prettier, skinnier and smarter than me – and if I had just been prettier and skinnier and smarter, the distance would have been worth it to him.
This is all uncharacteristic of me and I just feel like I don’t even know myself and my judgment anymore. I spent two-ish years pining for something that won’t work, and I just don’t know how to tell myself, “It’s OK. You’ve learned a lot and you can trust your judgment in relationships still. Also you’re pretty and smart and don’t ever look at her Facebook ever again.”
OK, maybe you should have seen through his lie, but he did lie to you — it’s not as if he was saying, “Don’t move out here because I’m not that into you,” and you just ignored it. “I love you more than anything and I promise I’ll be back for you” from someone you thought you could trust is easy to mistake for an actual promise.
And you have learned a lot, you’ll see if you stop beating yourself up long enough to: You’ve learned that words are only useful if backed by actions, and that people who actually “love you more than anything” go out of their way to be with you.
Seeing it in writing after the fact might be a complete “duh” experience, but it’s not as obvious when you’re living it if you’re not fluent yet in the language of your own feelings. Again, that’s OK, because craptastic experiences like yours are exactly how we become fluent.
Do I have to tackle the prettier, skinnier, smarter? All you actually know is that she’s photogenic, big whoop. Stop (de)grading yourself on someone else’s scale.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax.