A reader wants to know if she has a chance with her ex boyfriend.
I am a 46 year old woman with a 9 year old daughter. Four and a half years ago, I started dating a man who is 13 years younger than me.
Our relationship wasn’t always easy and the age difference scared me. I always felt it would end because of the difference and knowing that eventually he would probably want children (I was 42 when we met). He assured me he didn’t want children, but I think I pushed him away often because of this fear. He always came back and was so loving and good to me. My daughter also fell in love with him and thought of him as her dad. I feel now that I took him for granted.
I believe we came together because we were both broken in many ways. We always had fun together, but it often turned into nights of drinking too much, and then terrible fights. We both would end up apologizing, but it continued. Within the first year and a half, one of his best friends took his life, and my ex-boyfriend (who I was still friends with) tragically passed away. We both turned to alcohol to try to heal the hurt and pain. At the same time he also decided after watching all his friends getting married that he might want children someday.
After a hard night, he realized his life was not going the way he wanted, that he had made too many mistakes in his life that he wanted to fix. He said he wasn’t happy and wanted to make himself happy before it was too late. We broke up and we both were devastated. I knew I had to make some changes too, but the separation killed me.
Over the next 6 months, he continued to call me twice a day, and we were still intimate. It almost felt like we were still in a relationship. I always felt uneasy, but was so afraid to not have him in my life. He also was struggling, often crying because he didn’t know what he was doing or wanted or how to even change his life. We held onto each other out of fear, I believe. We both loved each other very much, but knew that things had to change. Out of my own fear, I didn’t give him space, and questioned our break up all the time. I felt he was rejecting ME when he was saying that he just wanted to get his life together. He also said he didn’t know how to break the ties with me either.
The last four months were hell. He was slowly detaching from me, trying to live his own life and heal himself, and I couldn’t let go. I kept asking how he could let me go if he loved me so much, and he said he was willing to if it meant we would both become happy and better people. Deep down, I knew this was true, but I was scared. I would constantly try to get him to react to things I said, along with threats that I was leaving and never coming back. He was always there to answer my calls and be there for my daughter, but he became angered by the same conversation over and over again. This continued for a few months, but he would still sleep with me. He would tell me he didn’t know what was going to happen, but no matter what, he would always love me and my daughter.
Slowly, he pulled away. Times where he could have been spending with me and my daughter , he was out with his friends and was drinking. Even though we weren’t officially dating, I was hurt and would accuse him of wanting to be with anyone but me. I felt his explanation of why he wanted to break up was bogus, since if he really wanted to “fix” himself, why was he still out drinking with his friends?
The final fight was two weeks ago. He had been desperately trying to avoid me the last few weeks because he felt all I ever wanted to talk about was “us” and he had already explained there could be no “us” if we both didn’t change. I felt confused all the time since we had slept together and he periodically would tell me he loved me and missed me. A lot of awful things were said on both our parts during that fight. He was out that day, and I asked him if he was with another girl. After swearing and becoming increasingly angry that I was still trying to talk to him about us, he admitted that he was with a girl. He wouldn’t pick up the phone and when I asked him to speak to me, he told me that it was over, that there was nothing else to talk about and that I should “let it go”. I asked him about this girl, what had happened between them, and he said that nothing did, they were just talking. I felt like I deserved an explanation, as he had told me he wasn’t dating and didn’t plan on it for awhile until he got his life together. I had a panic attack, but he wouldn’t answer the phone and we fought over text the rest of the night, both of us saying horrible things to each other. I tried desperately to reach him up until 1:15 in the morning, but he wouldn’t answer the phone.
We haven’t talked since. I woke up the next day, dejected and devastated . I vowed I wouldn’t call him and I haven’t. That was two weeks ago. I sit here wondering if he has started dating someone, if he missed me at all and I feel guilty for feeling as if I pushed him to the point where he is gone for good. I also have anger as I feel very deceived and used over the last year. My daughter also feels a sense of loss, as she lost a friend too.
I don’t know what to do. I go back and forth in my head, thinking he misses me so much and doesn’t want to call because he needs space, but then I feel that he has really moved on, and that is why he hasn’t called. The unknown is killing me. I know there is still the issue of his maybe wanting kids someday, and I don’t want to sit here having hope for something that will never happen. I feel anxious all the time and as if this feeling of loss will never end.
Since this happened, I have done some soul searching. I stopped drinking, and plan to continue on this path because I do want to become a better person for both me and my daughter.
Do you have any advice for me? Is there any hope that we can get back together eventually? Or has he moved on? Is this just an example of bad timing? My stomach has been in knots for over a week, and I can’t eat and sleep. Please help!
Thanks for your question. I’m very sorry you’re hurting. I’ve lost several really important relationships and it’s no small amount of pain.
Your question deserved it’s own post, because YES, I do have some breakup advice for you, and I want to make an important set of points that I think a lot of other readers who want their exes back will get something out of.
First, let me say that I’m really excited that you’ve done the soul searching to stop drinking. That is a big deal, and will serve you so well in the future.
Also, I’m proud of you for not calling him after that mucky last evening two weeks ago where he wouldn’t respond to your calls. I’m glad you’re wise enough to know when enough’s enough.
And now, for the harder, real-talk breakup advice.
You need to continue to pull yourself together and stop worrying about what he’s doing completely.
Detachment is power.
Letting go is power.
Regaining your emotional center and making yourself happy no matter what is power.
As far as what will happen with your ex, my crystal ball is stubbornly refusing to spit out perfect fortune telling.
But, let me explain what will happen for certain if you keep obsessing over your future with this man.
You will lose him forever.
Now, he may very well be gone forever anyway, AND it’ll probably be a good thing, which I’ll explain in a minute.
However, if you don’t detach, let go and regain your emotional center, you’ll continue to waste time being unhappy AND he’ll be still. be. gone.
You can NOT get anyone back by stubbornly holding the equivalent of a miserably unhappy emotional candlelight vigil for their return. Happiness and moving on gets people back.
Surrender, give up, throw in the towel.
By not letting go, you’re giving up your power and that will only keep you incredibly unhappy and stuck.
If you get your center back and leave him alone like you have been, you might have a chance, but you’ve got to let him go.
When you push anyone to get your way, they automatically pull in the opposite direction.
Instead, you must surrender, forgive, move on and let him have his way. He might not LIKE the consequences of having his own way (since it means forever without you), but if he does what you want, he’ll feel controlled and powerless which will kill any shred of feeling for you he has left.
Now, the reasons why this breakup has a serious silver lining:
You will gain emotional resiliency if you choose to do the work to heal— no matter what happens in the future.
Two codependent, broken people don’t equal even ONE healed person.
Your relationship was filled with drama. Bonding over drama doesn’t bode well for a long term, healthy bond because your relationship is based on propping each other up— not being happy, whole and complete as separate beings who come together to joyously share.
Once the drama and trauma subsides, one of you has to cook something up so that the relationship can continue— as evidenced by the “I want you, I don’t want you” thing he put you through already.
And, you said he was wishy-washy and flip-flopped on wanting his own biological children. If you were with him, it would mean he couldn’t get this need of his met, which would eventually make him feel resentful and make both you miserable anyway. For me, if a guy wants biological children with me, it’s a deal-breaker today, tomorrow or 23 years from now. The specifics of when someone’s mind changed don’t matter. The only thing that counts is the reality. And for you, it’s that you both seem to want different things.
You deserve better than a man who is willing to put your feelings on a hook until he’s done, “sorting out his issues.” All of that is crap just immature subtext for “our relationship doesn’t work but I’m willing to use you until I find a jumpoff.”
Luckily, you obviously want something better than this hellish last 4 months, so now you’ve got that. This PRESENT MOMENT is better than that hellish limbo. You have answers right now, and that is a powerful place to be in, even though you obviously don’t feel super powerful. I get it.
Please, immediately resolve to stop letting him circle around (in person or your thoughts) and reopen your wounds. No contact will do you a lot of good.
Don’t worry about what he’s doing during no contact. Seriously. Just close that book for right now. Worrying about it, obsessing over it and crying about it will not change anything for the positive. You cannot and DO NOT WANT control over what he’s doing, nor can you get that control by thinking about it.
But, if you stick in there, the terrible feeling of pain and loss WILL END. You WILL feel better.
Dawn is going to come after this dark night, but you’ve got to give yourself the gift of perspective and self care. I’m a big fan of just taking these difficult times minute to minute. Eat something. Take care of yourself. Take sleeping pills if you must— honestly, you can’t be emotionally stable without sleep even during happier times. Don’t listen to sad breakup songs (seriously, if Adele comes on the radio, turn that OFF). Get a workout in here and there. Do the best you can and it WILL get better.
You’re a strong woman who has already been through a lot before this man ever darkened your door. You’ve got this.
Keep me updated on your progress.