Saturday, August 05, 2006

X-ing out the Ex

My friend "Sandy" wears her heart on her sleeve. When she's dating someone, she is fully involved, as fire dispatchers describe a house engulfed in flames. That's fitting since her relationsips usually wind up like the house: Burnt down to ashes.

She just had her latest flameout and announced it on a media message board we both frequent.

The hardest thing after a break-up? Not talking to that person ESPECIALLY when something really good or really bad happens. It's like second nature to want to share it with that person who used to be in your life 24/7.

She lists positives including that she can rent any movie or listen to any music she wants without judgement and that she can eat what she wants. "He was the pickiest eater on the planet, so I had to censor everything I's so nice to be able to eat sushi and seafood again!"

She concludes by asking for advice on how to move on. "I'm doing pretty well," she writes, "but there are those days when I need him like crack cocaine."

Sandy will survive. She always has. I've listened to a crying jag mourning a previous lost love and as soon as the tears dried, she had bounced back, ready for the next flame.

But it doesn't mean she doesn't need support. She gets plenty of replies to her message. I send mine directly to her:

If it didn't hurt to lose him, he wouldn't have been worth having in the first place. You have these jumbled feelings of being glad to be rid of him yet missing him and the confusion only makes you feel worse! If breaking up was such a good thing, you wonder, why does it feel so bad? Remind yourself why you broke up. Your crack cocaine analogy is apt: Just because you want something doesn't mean it's good for you.

From your "24/7" description, it sounds like you devoted yourself so totally to him that you closed yourself off from other people close to you. That makes the void he created by his absence seem even larger. In the future consider making sure you nurture your friendships outside the relationship even when it feels like the company of your "better half" is all you'll ever need. Close friends can be places to share successes, vent frustrations and just trade "girl talk." The outlet can improve things in your relationship. It can also be your lifeline if the relationship goes bust.

A real man will never make you feel ashamed about anything you like. No woman subjected to hearing my guitar or piano playing will get a raised eyebrow from me no matter what song she turns on. Nor will he dictate what you eat or when you sleep. What the...? I'm a finicky eater myself but if you want sushi, go for it! I'll get the beef teriyaki. How difficult is that?

I know you want him to feel as miserable as you do. But as much as misery loves company, it's not going to make you feel better. Not much, anyway. Set your sights on something or someone else and let that occupy the part of your mind you're using on him. Focus not on dragging him down but on lifting yourself up. I know it's not easy. If it were, it would put a lot of songwriters out of business.

Sandy writes back: "How come you never put these great responses on line?"

Now I have.

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