I’m struggling with this break up

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  • This topic has 8 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by Bell.
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    This is my first post. I’ve sat writing out the history of my 15-month long “affair” for a couple of hours now but it’s making me feel awful.  The longing is dreadful and what I’ve written would bore any reader to death!

    So, I fell for a beautiful woman I met by chance at a gig in London about a year and half after I split up with the mother of my kids in a painful break up.  We were very close friends but we’d grown apart and she’d started something with a new man. She left me sexually damaged (emotionally) and heartbroken that my kids’ family life was broken.  But I got through it, kept my house and remained committed to my kids who were/are with me 50% of the time.  I never thought anyone could hurt me after that – the most awful thing I’ve ever dealt with.

    The woman I met – M – was very different to my ex.  Sex was amazing. A dream come true for a 40-something dad and after the misery of 13 years with my ex.  We had some things in common, including our kids who met and got on.  We chatted daily, we adored each other and shared incredibly intimacy even just 24 hours before we split up.  We loved each other.

    But we couldn’t see much of each other and it wasn’t getting easier.  I know it was probably too early for me and I wasn’t able to see a future for us at first. I think I always knew it would end.  Honestly, I don’t think I was ever ready to try and make it last. I had doubts as to whether it was enough for me and whether it would help me to grow as a person. I wanted to remain independent so that I could focus on my kids and building a future for myself.

    She’s really lovely – fun, bold, interesting.  I fell in love with her life in the countryside and her home, as well as her.  But she clearly had emotional issues to deal with and I felt she was depending on me for her happiness.  When things started to go wrong in the autumn I was preparing myself to walk away.  I think the trigger was her ex husband moving in with his girlfriend, something we couldn’t do.

    I thought things were back on track over Xmas.  She came to mine boxing day and hung out with my kids.  We made love and it was the best ever.  And 48 hours later she called and finished it.  She said she couldn’t do it anymore.  She’d been trying but things weren’t the same.

    At first, I was gutted but kept busy.  It started to hit me a few days later.  I was in pieces.  I went through a depression like I’ve never felt before.  I talked to my counsellor.  She told me I’ve got to be aware of becoming emotionally dependent on women that aren’t right for me.  My self-esteem is shot.

    The withdrawal was so bad I was moaning with the physical pain.  And then M reached out to me.  She said she didn’t want to confuse things but asked if I’d go out with her in future.  We spoke. She said she was hurting really badly and wanted to hear from me but she couldn’t continue with our relationship at this time.  She was going to get counselling.  She said I didn’t do anything wrong. Then she was gone again.  She wished me happy birthday by text this week and sent me a card, but she hasn’t asked how I am or reached out since.

    So it’s been 4 weeks since I saw her, 2 since we talked.  I’m trying to tell myself that it wasn’t right.  That she’s hurt me enough and I need to let go and move on.  I’m telling myself all the times and things that weren’t right.  She wasn’t my type, there are millions more women, it wasn’t really working for either of us.  Nothing helps.  I found myself crying again last night and this morning.  I still wake up at 4am thinking of her and can’t sleep again.

    I know I’m getting stronger.  I’m getting jobs done. I’m laughing. I’m riding my bike again (yay!).  But I hurt for her so much I don’t know what to do with myself.  I can hardly think of my kids, who aren’t with me this week.  In the first 2 weeks I couldn’t bear to be alone.

    I’m torn between my heart and my head.  It’s difficult because she’s left it so open.  Sure, she can’t do our relationship right now but she hasn’t said we’re finished for good.  In my card she said she wished she could be at mine for my birthday and looked forward to going out in future.  My heart wants desperately to hear from her – to text and ask how she’s doing etc.  I miss her so much.  I’m grieving.  I’m jealous.  The sadness is overwhelming.

    But I also know that it wasn’t working. She was hurting me.  The relationship wasn’t fulfilling my needs either, other than sexually (and even then, only when we could see each other) and I was becoming emotionally dependent on her. If she wanted more, she wasn’t making an effort herself. It was looking at how much I could give up and that can’t be right.  I know I need to be happy with myself and happy being single.  And there’s a better relationship out there.

    But today, I just can’t let go.  I don’t want to or know how to.  I’d die from excitement if she texted.  Help! I’m a grown man with kids acting like I did when I was 16.  And perhaps that’s the answer.




    Dear Joe:

    I will read and reply to you in about 13 hours from now.



    Dear Joe,

    I chance upon your post after I finished mine, after a break up, people are always torn between the heart and the head, it always seems like the head is one step forward than the heart, I remembered 4 years ago I was hurt a lot by a break up, it took me almost 3 years to fall in love with another person (though it didn’t end well) to forget this pain, the main point was, we will eventually get over it, it’s just a matter of time, how much time do we need.

    You need to accept what has happened, just because she did not say word by word that whatever you both had has ended, it doesn’t mean you have to keep holding on. It’s better to look at a person’s action than their words. (It was a lesson that I’ve recently learned)



    Thanks for taking the time to read my “journal” and I appreciate your comments.  And I know you’re right. If I think about her actions in the weeks before we broke up, she was pulling away from me.  It’s painful looking back – almost too painful at the moment because there are some harsh truths to accept.

    I know that I could have done more but try to tell myself I did what was right for me at the time.  But I sincerely believe that these were her issues and I was naive enough to start something with somebody more broken than I am. I believed I couldn’t get badly hurt again after what happened with my ex.  I thought I was too strong when actually I neglected to really work on myself before getting involved again.

    I mentioned her ex husband who she had serious drug problems with and struggled for years with. She threw him out eventually.  He’s still an addict. They split up years ago. He was abusive and controlling and he stalked her.  Yet they were friends when I met her and I was concerned that their boundaries were far weaker than I’d expect.  I nearly split up with her because of it after the first few weeks, but then chose to overlook this red flag.  I think this was a mistake.  I feel so sure that things changed when he moved in with his girlfriend.  She was hurting, grieving, but said she didn’t understand why and didn’t know if it was because of him.  She wouldn’t open up to me.  I think it’s very telling now.

    I wrote out an email last night to her, pointing out how she’d been vague and asking for closure, however painful it was. But I haven’t sent it.  I agree with you – I need to try and accept it now and let go.  It’s in my power to do so.  For some reason it was a bad weekend.  A bit of a relapse.  Crying, longing thinking about her 24/7.  I’m back at work today and my kids come home later for a week.  Hopefully I’ll be a lot stronger.




    (by the way, I’m reading your other posts with interest)


    Dear Joe:

    First, I will retell some of what you shared, with quotes; second, I will offer you my thoughts.

    You shared you were “very close friends” with a woman you lived with for many years and had kids with, but “she’d started something with a new man”, and left you damaged, heartbroken. A year and a half after the separation, you fell for a beautiful, fun, bold, interesting woman (M) whom you met at a gig in London, “Sex was amazing. A dream come true for a 40-something dad”. But you “always knew it would end”, and had doubts about the new relationship: “doubts as to whether it was enough for me… I felt she depended on me for her happiness… The relationship wasn’t fulfilling my needs either, other than sexually.. and I was becoming emotionally dependent on her”.

    At the end of December 2020, 48 hours after the two of you “made love and it was the best ever”, “she called and finished it. She said she couldn’t do it anymore”. A few days later, you were “in pieces. I went through a depression like I’ve never felt before.. I was moaning with the physical pain”. Four weeks after you saw her last, and two weeks since you last talked with her, you are “grieving.. jealous. The sadness is overwhelming… I’d die of excitement if she texted. Help! I’m a grown man with kids acting like I did when I was 16”.

    My thoughts: it seems to me that you never wanted a relationship with M, beyond the sex,  and that you are not over having been betrayed by a woman you trusted, a woman who was your very close friend before she got involved with another man, a woman who is the mother of your children. I think that what you’ve been grieving in regard to M is the sexual distraction that she provided for you- a distraction from your heartbreak and misery about your former best friend turning her back on you.

    Interesting, the title of your thread is “I’m struggling with this break up”, referring to the breakup with M. I think that you are struggling still with the other breakup, the one from the mother of your children.


    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by anita.

    Hi Anita,

    I’m really grateful you took the time to read what I wrote and respond.  And there are truths on what you say, some of them harsh but understandable based on what I’ve written.  I need to face up to some of them.

    I agree I wasn’t over my ex.  I don’t know that I’ve even truly reached a place of acceptance yet but the pain isn’t nearly what it was.  We actually see each other frequently now. I am friends with her new boyfriend (not the man she was seeing – another old school friend).  She talks to me a bit about the original man but I try to change the subject if I can.  My ex has been very supportive during recent weeks but there’s an unspoken friction between us.  She is nothing like the person I settled down with now and we aren’t the friends that we were.  It’s my fault as much as hers. I still harbour a lot of bitterness.  But  we’ve always tried to get on for the sake of the kids and because we both avoid conflict, rightly or wrongly.

    I admit, I leant on M.  I thought I was in a good place when I met her but I was still in the anger phase of my break up, I think, and she supported me.  She took away the pain.  It’s true. I know I became emotionally dependent on her.  She also talked a great deal about her ex husband who upset her frequently.  We vented our frustrations.  It was a two way thing.  But looking back I know it wasn’t healthy.  But it built up trust between us and gave us some common ground.

    I didn’t know what I wanted with M.  I liked her but was reluctant to get into anything too quickly.  I wasn’t looking for a relationship, it’s true. But people told me not to overthink things.  Just enjoy one another, and we did.  It was reckless in retrospect.  We should’ve talked properly early on.  I had dated someone a few months earlier but ended it after a few dates because I knew it was too soon.

    You’re right that the sex was a massive part of it, for both of us.  It’s how it started – we were both very attracted to each other.  I’m sorry now to have put such an emphasis on it above because it wasn’t only that.  I’ve never had a particularly high sex drive or anything.  I never went out looking for sex and in fact have only had sex within relationships.  I’ve never cheated.  I say a dream come true because towards the end of my relationship with my ex, I was so unhappy about how I felt about sex and I thought about how sex was in my first serious relationship. I wanted that again.  But I never wanted to leave my life or break up my family.

    But I didn’t only see it as sex.  Our children met many times. We camped and did days out.  She met many of my friends.  I met most of her family. I had plans to take her kids out in London after the pandemic. We spoke about dozens of things we were going to do together.   Gradually I had started to think more long-term and I told her, but I didn’t know how we could live together.  But over the past 2-3 months, it had seemed like an affair – just meeting for one night at a time.

    It was exciting and fun and in huge contrast to what the previous 13 years had been like.  It’s true.  And it’s true that the way I feel now is probably disproportionate to how serious the relationship really was.





    Dear Joe:

    You are welcome. You wrote about the relationship with M: “she supported me. She took away the pain.. I know I became emotionally dependent on her… We vented our frustrations. It was a two way thing. But looking back I know it wasn’t healthy. But it built trust between us and gave us some common ground”-

    – a relationship that is a two way thing, built on trust and common ground with a woman who supports you and takes a way your pain, with whom you can vent your frustration (what you stated above) is a healthy relationship.

    Yet, you refer to the relationship as unhealthy. It is my impression that you think that having been emotionally dependent on her meant that the relationship was unhealthy. But emotional dependence on one’s intimate partner is an intrinsic, natural part of a healthy relationship.

    You wrote about M earlier: “she was depending on me for her happiness… I was naïve enough to start something with somebody more broken than I am”- seems to me that you view emotional dependence  in the context of an intimate relationship as brokenness.

    Brokenness happens when a person you are emotionally dependent on betrays you and breaks your heart, but if you are fortunate enough to be emotionally dependent on a woman you can and should trust- your quality of life greatly improves.



    “M” probably does not understand that leaving her options open “for the future” is killing you, and since she is drowning in her own sorrows, she can’t see that you are waiting, hoping and hurting on the inside. Who knows how long you’ll wait, how many days, months, or even years.

    I’m a woman, and I did not understand how dreadful it is to make someone who likes you wait on you (for god knows how long), because it seemed better to just “be friends” and be all nice about it, especially if I cared about the man, than just to outright say No and reject him and see his heart break right in front of me. But now I know that it’s selfish to not say no, to not let go of a man I care about, to not give that man the opportunity to look for someone else. He deserves that chance at love, and you do too.

    And I also didn’t understand how terrible the “wait” period was, until a longtime friend left this hateful message, and then she ignored my existence. Even after I apologized to her, I waited and waited for her response, nothing. So after a week I was through with waiting, I decided to end the friendship with her, wrote her a final message, and continued on with my life.

    It was liberating to realize that you don’t have to wait for someone to respond to you, as if they’re the only ones who have the power to keep you around or cut ties with you. You have those options as well, to either wait or to liberate yourself. But that option is up to you.

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