LittleGirlBigAppetite asks: I broke up with my boyfriend three months ago. The reason for the break up was that I found out through a mutual friend that he had updated his Tinder profile with new pictures. I felt betrayed. We had met on Tinder too but I had deleted the app when things started getting serious between us. Tbh, he was the first guy with whom I had a normal and real relationship. There was no pretense. We would tell each other anything and everything. I got really attached to him in the 6 months that we went out. But when I confronted him about the Tinder thing, he said that he was still using the app just for making new friends (which I know is a pathetic excuse). He also said that as I was still using the app (deleting the app does not removes your profile), he thought I would be ok with him using it. This hurt me even more and I told him to never message or see me again. But the thing is that it’s been 3 months and I still can’t get over him. I feel as if I lost the one guy with whom I was totally comfortable. I miss him every single day and cry myself to sleep thinking that he must now be having fun with someone else. What hurts even more is the thought that he’d been lying to me the whole time we were together. He has tried making small talk with me a few times over text but I ignored him. I really wanna know what I should do to forget him and move on once and for all. Please help!
Hi LittleGirlBigAppetite –
I get questions all the time about how to deal with someone cheating, and you’ve done just what I suggest. I can forgive a cheater, but someone who cheats, then lies, and then puts the blame on the other … I’m all for walking away with your tail up in the air and never looking back.
But you’re suffering, and I hate that.
Getting over an ex is really hard. I’ve never had to do it (my only connection as strong as you had with him is with Handsome, a relationship I know will last far beyond this lifetime), but I’ve sure seen it. I’ve seen Handsome go through it, I’ve seen his friends go through it, and wow have my sensitive ears heard a zillion songs about it!
So overall, I have two big awful truths for you. First, that you will get over him someday, even though part of you won’t want to, because so much about him was wonderful. And second, that it will hurt till then.
But imagine if, instead of a breakup, you’d written me about having had a horrible painful physical ailment for the last three months, and you just had an operation to fix it, but that you were facing a few months of recovery from it. Would anyone be saying “how tragic, this is the worst thing ever?” Of course not – we’d all be saying “Isn’t modern medical science amazing! Instead of having to live with this awfulness for the rest of your life, you’re already on the road to a pain-free future!”
And you are.
Here’s the funny thing – the fact that you wrote me about this shows that you’re already moving past it. Have you ever heard about the Stages of Grief? These are usually talked about in relation to death, but they’re just as true with breakups. They’re the five stages that everyone goes through when they’re grieving a loss:
Now I’m no expert on these, but I’m going to guess you went through Denial very quickly (“Maybe he didn’t really mean to post those pictures…”). Anger is what you felt when you told him (YAY!) to go sit in a litter box. Then my guess is that you’ve spent the last few months in a mix of Bargaining (“If he would just put out his own eyes so I’d know he’d never look at another girl, I could take him back!”) and Depression (“My life is over, and I’ll never get over him.”).
And I’m guessing, just guessing, that your writing me is a sign that you’re entering the final stage, Acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean you’re happy about it – again, he had so many great qualities! – but it’s realizing that this is just the way it’s going to be.
So what should you do, during this Acceptance phase, while you recover from this “operation” removing Mr. Stupid from your life? Well, again, I say you’re going to be fine soon, but there are some good things to do in the meantime.
1) Hang out with friends. It might be too soon to look at dating again, but the more social life you can have, the more your brain’s going to get used to being happy again. Go out as much as you can – go to new places, places you like, movies, hikes, anything. And find ways to LAUGH!
2) Get exercise and eat well. Depression often gets people to sit around eating junk. And both of those add to make the depression worse! Walking is great if you can’t do more just yet, but eventually running, swimming, and any sports you like are the best. And while I’ll never say you shouldn’t eat fun things you like, I’ll also urge you to have lots of fruits and vegetables and water. You’ll feel better, sleep better… and when you’re ready to try romance again, won’t you be happy that you look better too!
3) Write. If you don’t already have a diary, this is a great time to start. Write down how you’re feeling every day, if you can. It’s so good at helping you feel good about yourself and your feelings. And be sure to write down what you think of that guy. And every now and then, go back and read what you wrote about him before. Because when you start to think he was wonderful again, it’ll be fantastic for you to read – in your words – what a waste of time he was!
4) Pick out some really specific music to listen to. If you usually listen to what’s popular, that’s all fine, but see if you can start taking care of your emotions by choosing some other stuff and letting it affect you. Maybe one day you want to listen to sad songs and cry over your loss. Maybe another you just want fun dance music so you can bounce around to it. And maybe on another you want to try some interesting classical or jazz you’ve heard about but never listened to, to expand your world. But I’ll throw a fun thought at you, because it’s so right for this time – either buy, or just listen online to, the greatest hits of the group I was named after, The Shirelles. So many of their songs speak to just your experience. “Mama Said,” “I Met Him on a Sunday,” and of course their amazing masterpiece “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” – and all their stuff is fun. Which is what I want you to experience more than anything else!
5) And of course, last but not least, my biggest suggestion is that you find AS MANY DOGS AS YOU CAN! We are walking, barking Antidepressants, and when we cover you in kisses, it won’t make you feel any pressure at all. Let us show you how easy it is to live in a state of constant love and joy. Because that’s what your life ought to be… once you get through this.
All this simply adds up to one wish I have for you, my dear friend. That you remain the wonderful little girl you’ve always been, but that your appetite for life gets the chance to get bigger and bigger and bigger.
And one other comment for you – I showed this letter to Handsome, and he said it made him think of another song. One that goes, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!”