Dear Carolyn: How important is it for me to express my thoughts and feelings about the end of our relationship to my ex? I dated this wonderful guy for a few months, and then one day he said via email that he didn’t think we were a good fit, and that was the end. We had one phone conversation that ended up being me asking questions and him getting defensive. I haven’t seen him face-to-face since the day before the breakup.
I have completely opposite thoughts as him, apparently. I thought things were wonderful and I really, really liked him. Now I’m having a hard time moving on because, literally, the only bad memory I have of him is the email. I think he is wrong and I don’t feel like I ever got a chance to say what I thought.
I’ve been hanging on to hope that he will come back. I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to contact him to clarify what he’d said (though the email language is pretty final) and to find out if he cares what my thoughts are on the subject. Thoughts and help?
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I’m sorry. I’m sorry things didn’t work out as you had hoped, I’m sorry he cut you off abruptly, I’m sorry you didn’t see any signs to prepare you, I’m sorry your last conversation gave you no satisfaction.
And I’m sorry I can’t offer you anything you’re asking of me. I can’t say, “Yes, contact him, share your thoughts” – because he has made clear where he stands on your thoughts by not asking for them.
Hope, meanwhile, does nothing for you. It not only holds you in a place the facts don’t support, but also actively talks you out of accepting what the facts are saying. Fact: He chose not to keep dating you. Fact: He has not taken any steps to reverse this choice. Fact: Breakups don’t have to be fair or logical.
Accordingly, I can’t leave the notion unchallenged that he is wrong and you are right, because this is not a math problem. If he writes the equation of your relationship as 1 + 1 = 0, then that’s as correct as he needs to be. You can be perfect for each other (assuming there were some objective way to measure that), and still split just because one of you wants to.
But here’s a different kind of fact that’s actually in your favor, if you choose to embrace it: What makes a relationship “wonderful” is two people who mutually, gratefully seek each other’s company.
By that measure, what you had with him wasn’t wonderful, it merely appeared to be for 90-ish days … or maybe it was wonderful, but then wasn’t anymore. Marked by the kind of coldhearted breakup wonderful people don’t resort to.
So if wonderful is what you want, then updating your opinion of him to reflect reality is what you need — both to create your own wonderful in being unattached, and to clear the decks for wonderful with someone else. If you believe it improves your chances at healing to “express your thoughts and feelings,” then do — to someone not your ex, please. Just as a relationship requires a willing partner, so does talking one’s way through grief.
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