How not to self-implode following a breakup

Love hurts ..

It is common knowledge that breakups are the heart’s equivalent to getting stabbed in the crotch with scissors. To the recipient of walking papers from a relationship, even the brightest, most sunshiny day can feel like a canker sore. And, barring the passage of time, there is no single effective cure for the gut-wrenching angst associated with heartache.

The typical breakup is comprised of a series of standard stages through which everyone progresses in roughly the same manner. However, the “actions” associated with each stage differ for men versus women. The male breakup recovery cycle is largely counter-productive in comparison with the female version – especially once “breakup anxiety” begins – in which case a routine breakup for either sex becomes a case-study in maladaptive social bizarredom. For the anxious individual, the symptoms and manifestations associated with the breakup stages are measurably more self-defeating, sadistic, lengthy, and, oddly – awe inspiring – than that of a split for the less anxious populace. And, though the phases for a breakup involving an anxious person can affect both males and females – it is far less socially acceptable in a man. This is the primary reason there are so few books available to men regarding breakups. You have to look no further than the breakup book covers and titles to validate this claim: “He’s Just Not That Into You“; “The Smart Girl’s Breakup Buddy“; and “Breakup Girl to the Rescue“, for example. The list is long, and each cloaked in pink, pastel, and effeminate covers. As general practice men go to bars and strip-clubs, hook-up with a random stranger, stalk their ex, or binge drink upon having a significant relationship terminated. But, once anxiety kicks-in he becomes an emotional crash-test dummy. Sulking within the aisles of a bookstore is just one of many places you might find this hapless soul seeking consolation. And, you can spot him from 50-yards: watery eyes; heart on sleeve; morose; slow talker; wreaks of pessimism; all while seeking asylum to mourn. He is the poster child for Kleenex, alcohol, and anti-depressants. And, he was recently … “me.”

Post breakup advice from a guy is seldom, if ever, helpful. “Man-therapy” is worthless – unless the man has “LCSW”, “MFT”, or “PhD.” following his name. After my very first breakup, my dad bluntly dispensed some advice while we worked on my Dodge pick-up. It was one short, memorable statement he made as he torqued on something important under the hood with some large torquing type of instrument. In referring to my ex, he said, “Son, there is nothing between her legs that you won’t find between another set – so, move on.” Sage advice. But clearly, my father assumed I was as shallow as my brother, whom rolled through breakups like a pimp with a titanium heart and sealed tear ducts. But, dad made a decent point – I have yet to discover some elusive North American rhinestone and sequins, vanilla-scented vagina – outside of a strip club, anyway.

There are basically three stages of any breakup. And, the following are how each plays-out for an anxious individual:

Stage I for the Anxious Breakup Victim is “Shock & Awe:
This initial period feels like a cannonball fired directly into the abdomen, accompanied with a false sensation of, “I can totally fix this“. It is marred by feelings of inner turmoil, all-consuming grief, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, jealousy, lack of food or sleep, complete disregard for personal hygiene, and sprinkled with regular moments of irrationality. It is further accompanied by a sense of defeat that this was the single greatest partner you will ever have, that you will never meet anyone as good, and you will die alone with only a stray cat and a self-propelled Roomba vacuum to care for you. The downward spiral continues until you have plummeted into a dark abyss of self damnation. Sure, you’ve somehow recovered from previous losses, but this one is seemingly insurmountable. It is within this early state that you believe the resultant heartache will actually kill you. Furthermore, your current state of emotions feel worse than had your love interest actually died in a freak beer bong or hair straightener/White Rain aerosol accident. Had they actually died, you would not be picturing them naked in ritualistic Conquistador-type sex orgies. And, in the instance of their death, you would receive paid time off from work with copious sympathy from colleagues and peers. Not so with breakups. People quickly tire of your incessant whining and ideological droning about times past. The Serenity Prayer rarely makes a dent here – no matter how many times recited, or how aggressively. And, the hours begrudgingly whittle away like a constant panic attack with alternating chest and stomach pains. If this stage of heartache was our national security, it would be “DEFCON 5″ – a most precarious state, in which appalling, regretful antics such as calling his or her mother to plead your case is not uncommon. In my most recent breakup, I phoned my ex’s mom in Idaho in an attempt to have her facilitate my planned reconciliation. When this failed, I sent a litany of texts and emails to my ex to argue my case and somehow win her back. And, after my pathetic writing campaign solicited little response, I went where no man – anxious or not – should traverse: a Tiffany’s jewelry store at the local mall, where I purchased a “Tiffany Novo” engagement ring, and vowed to make her happier than The Wiggles.

In the campaign to win back the object of your desire, this stage will most often include regular and methodical text diatribes (aka, “terror texting”), along with emails and
voicemails in futile attempts to recon the defector – while each time, vowing not to send another – only to do so within hours. This stage is rife with a fuzzy logic that there is just the right combination of words and dire pleading to get them to reconsider. Like reminding them that no one will ever love them the way you do. Sure! How could this not work? And, what if you add some tears? How ’bout a $15,000 engagement ring?! It is wise to keep a dose or two of Ativan, Xanax, or Klonopin readily available to prevent the inevitable emotional meltdown or impulsive purchase. I took some during a long mountain bike ride after my breakup, and passed-out midway on a remote hillside. At least I didn’t pedal to another jewelry store. And, offering to do everything now that you were unwilling to do while in the relationship is a colossal ‘red-flag’ to yourself. Pay attention to it. The color of desperation is ‘safety orange’, and people will only pass you by with a look of extreme caution.

Remedy for Stage I:
If you take away anything from this article, let it be this: Do not ask him/her to sleep with you one more time in the hope it will somehow woo them back. Walk away before you ever mutter this hopeless request. If you pose this question, you will be denied without even a sliver of dignity upon which to rest. Just think how bad Moses had it while wandering the desert for 40 years. If you plead unsuccessfully for reconciliation sex, the Gobi Desert will be paradise compared to the emotional banishment you will reap after proposing this request. Notwithstanding begging for breakup sex, The only souls who appear less fortunate than you during this state, are those exposed nationally on a “Dateline’s, ‘To Catch a Predator‘” documentaries. This is proof-positive that things can always be worse, and perspective is a very helpful tool at this juncture. But, just in case, stay out of internet chat rooms, and don’t keep a 6-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and condoms in the car with you. It is also imperative to limit self-humiliation and to avoid further contact with your ex. You would not leave your mangled arm in a running wood-chipper, would you? An effective technique to implement at this early stage is deleting the object of affection’s number from your phone contacts list. Even better, is turning off the phone and keeping it in the trunk of your car. If – as in my case – the number is permanently etched into your mind from days of deranged dialing, then change the object of affection’s name within your phone to something repulsive such as, “Rotten Crotch”, “Skank”, “Lucifer”, “Man Whore”, “Doucheba,g” etc. This will limit moments of nostalgia and the certain romanticizing of his/her name. And, be proactive regarding the division of shared friends and alliances. This act may feel eerily reminiscent of 5th grade, where two team captains alternately select the best classmates for a game of dodge-ball – sans the gratification of legally pummeling your ex’s face with a rubber ball. Additionally, perform an exorcism of all relationship mementos: Emails, cards, photos, half-used massage oils, candles, Chinese love beads, concert tees, CD’s, the bedroom sex swing, etc. Despite how expensive, memorable, or impressively crafted, they must all be discarded. Jewelry is excluded, as it should go directly to a consignment shop, with the resulting cash used on strippers or facials. I still miss the beautiful desk globe my ex got me for Christmas – but, it looked much better at the bottom of my garbage can. The sheets we slept on – given to my landscaper to bundle yard waste and grass trimmings for disposal. My shirts she loved to wear – now used to wipe the mud and bugs off the front of my truck. Her toothbrush – perfect for removing hard-to-reach toilet algae from under the rim. Bath gels, shampoos, lotions, hair clips – all trash. I found that ridding of her hair was the final and most tenacious forensic leftover of which to dispose. I found it everywhere – for months. In my truck, all over my floors, in the dryer, permanently intertwined in my hair brush, in my sock drawer, adhered to my shower tile, clogging pipes, etc. It’s a wonder she had any hair at all, with a shed-rate of a Wookie.

Next, change all venues you regularly frequented together, such as gyms, bars, naughty shops, theaters, cafes, Pottery Barn, etc. You could probably use the change of scenery
anyhow. And, no matter what month the breakup occurs, it will seem everyone else you know is in a happy, healthy, sexually charged relationship. Even your ugliest and socially stunted of friends will somehow secure mates during this time, then say asinine things like, “Hey, when you get a new partner let us know so we can double-date!” Ignore these dumdums. Look at them with pity as you would passengers on a doomed flight. They are headed toward imminent demise on account of their absurdity and lack of self awareness. And, skip rebound dating for now, under the presumption that “The quickest way to get over one, is to get under another.” This is a brief distractor and, invariably, turns into date-therapy and sound-boarding your problems on to some innocent philanthropist kind enough to get naked with this woeful, depressed version of you. Your sole focus is making it to the next phase while limiting any carnage to yourself or some unsuspecting prey from

Stage II for the Anxious Breakup Victim is “Death-by-Analysis“:
This white-knuckle period of time is infused with just enough “What’s wrong with me” self-loathing to completely derail any chance of near term recovery. As the rest of the world seems to pass by on the giant teacups at Fantasyland, you publicly disintegrate into a plume of smoke and debris. It feels like a vapid waste of life that varies in length – though, always too long – and wreaks havoc on the synapses, short circuiting the neurons while your exhausted brain runs endless scenarios trying to solve the severed bond piece-by-piece in some macabre “CSI” type of relationship re-enactment. I wish this stage upon no one. The gestation further involves painstakingly dissecting every past conversation, event, moment, expression, and nuance of the relationship in a futile attempt to construct a reconnaissance and recovery strategy. It is a dark period where guys copiously violate many statutes of the “man code” through constant unsolicited contact, drunken weeping, the making of mixed CD’s, and “un-friending” their love interest from Facebook, only to panic from their cyber absence and sending a new friend request days later. I deleted my ex twice during our first month apart, then sent follow-up requests to add me back. She went along with it – but, clearly out of pity. Pathetic? Yup. This insidious stage takes a hold just as you feel you could not sink any lower, and upon realizing the breakup was probably all your fault and that he/she is really never coming back. It is kind of like breaking-up all over again. Each day you awaken yearning for a mere 1% reduction in sorrow and heartache, and more than 4 hours of sleep. This assumes you get any sleep at all, with that constant reel of self-berating thoughts streaming your conscious like the scrolling news ticker on CNN. Immediately after my anxious breakup, I avoided my bedroom entirely and slept on the living room couch for the next two months. Additionally, I spent all of my time outdoors and ‘on-the-go’ in an attempt to stay distracted till I was physically spent, then I would down a couple of sleeping pills to ensure unconsciousness for a few hours. I felt like a strung-out street junkie. I avoided my memory-tainted bedroom altogether. Her aura hung in there like a fat, lazy demon – always looming, while unresponsive to exorcisms. And, oddly, one whom sadistically hid her scrunchies and hair-ties throughout the night for me to find later. Her ghost was a bitch.

Remedy for Stage II:
To counter the morbid feelings inherent to this stage, it is imperative to spend time outside, get regular sleep, eat right, and exercise. Seems basic enough, right? Not so much. Because, by this point you’ve probably succumbed to considerable weight loss. Wean off the liquor and Mylanta, and introduce your body to some calories in the form of broth, dry toast, and perhaps graduate to an actual fruit smoothie. And, wash it all down with some heavy metal. Because no matter when you breakup, you will hear only sappy, dismal love songs on the radio to feed your anguish. Richard Marx, Air Supply, The Commodores, John Waite and the grocery store Muzak play-list – all ready to drive a rusty stake into the tiny piece of heart you’ve got left. I found that even my local weather channel would play morose, tantric background instrumentals while illustrating the pending cumulus cloud patterns on a forecast map. There is often no mental escape except the unexpected solace brought on by the death metal genre. You won’t find any pantywaist power ballads on the Sirius “Heavy Metal-XL 40″ channel, for example. So, embrace your inner head-banger and savor some Goatwhore, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Hatesphere, or Napalm Death. Sure, it feels a tad Satanic and insubordinate at first. But, this audio ecstasy greatly facilitated my own recovery … at least while commuting. And, rather than sulking into the lump of moist waste that John Mayer and Maroon 5 will produce, death metal will usher you to the “healthy” angry stage of a breakup. As for television, it’s a semi effective distraction. But, watch only sitcoms or episodes of “COPS“. No dramas, no sophomoric “Bachelor“/”Bachelorette” series, and no episodes of “Cheaters.” Though, I have occasionally found solace from watching “Cheaters,” simply through the “misery loves company” premise, and that nationally televised ‘train wrecks’ overshadowed my own pain and grief.

Hopefully, you have already done so; if not, stop sending flowers and/or gifts and recoup some losses – mainly your dignity. Stop idealizing, and
begin reducing your love interest’s grandiosity by confirming with family and friends that he/she was not that attractive, and will only get uglier/fatter/dumber/ or herpes now that you are not together. Friends usually have your best interests in mind, and make convincing liars. In my case, however, my male friends only added to my distress by stating that my ex was doing some other guy at random moments – and, probably – multiple guys. And, even though she was not sexually adventurous with me, she is certainly now an amateur porn star, while pulling ecstasy-induced all-night sexcapades. She was a former gymnast after all. In my mind, she made the “Kama Sutra” read like a beginners guide to yoga. And, whom will I be with now?? A girl can have sex at anytime with nearly anyone she chooses. Whereas a guy must constantly troll and toil at it – or, pay. It’s a disparity of nature. And, I was hideously cloaked in desperation and insecurity. Retail therapy often helps women within this state-of-mind regain some self assuredness. Many spare no expense when purchasing their way into temporary bliss. New clothes are not as cathartic or therapeutic for an emotionally wounded straight man, however. Retail therapy for a guy means a muscle car or a new truck with thousands in aftermarket modifications, followed by a serious bout of “buyer’s remorse.” This is precisely how I acquired a new $45,000 lifted, customized 4×4 truck. The high lasted about 60 hours, and until I had to fill the gas tank for the first time. Women also tend to splurge on new hair styles – also something that is wasted on men. Well … not on this anxious man. I once got a hair weave following a breakup, at an African American salon called the “Hair Kingdom,” simply because my ex loved long hair on guys and my nappy blonde hair would only curl and get bigger as it grew, until I looked like a giant microphone. But, the Hair Kingdom stylist hooked me up, and I walked out with a straight, foot-long, blonde mullet. It was the late eighties, so this was perfectly acceptable. I looked like any effeminate member of Poison, Motley Crue or Winger. That horrible decision lasted for one week. But, only because the anti-itch scalp spray could not save me from the constant scratching I performed using a dinner fork where the extensions were tied against my scalp because – realistically – my hair was far too short for a weave. What is more disconcerting is that I even sucked at growing a proper mullet. I may be the only guy on record who has bought a mullet that was not part of a “Joe Dirt” Halloween costume.

The Final Stage (III) for the Anxious Breakup Victim is “Reattaching Genetalia
Congratulations! You are beginning to feel some emancipation from your emotional purgatory. Liberating, isn’t it?! It is this stage where you no longer wish scabies and STDs upon the ex whom so callously discarded your heart. You do not feel as physically repulsive as before, and you actually have some real marketability to leverage now that you’ve given-up the pastime of wallowing in anger and self-defeat. As a dumpee, you are on the right path if you think the guy (Alfred Lord Tennyson) who said, “It is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all” could be right – but is probably still an insensitive jackass. Thankfully, the visceral imagery has stopped, and no longer do you fondly muse over your ex every minute of each day – maybe once every 30 minutes or so. But, what a glorious reprieve found in those 30-minute windows! A couple of months ago, the loss seemed insurmountable and definitely fatal. You have even moderately accepted that – depending on your ex’s “promiscuity index” – he/she has been naked with someone you despise. Somewhat unsettling to know, but no longer a deathblow. And, you can watch as the season changes and know that you are not going to perish from a bleeding heart. On the upside, you’ve even lost enough weight to rock those skinny jeans. But, don’t.

Perhaps the best part of this phase is that you have stopped idealizing the relationship and see it for what it was: A two-party ‘shitshow.’ All of their annoying behaviors – the reason you should have broke-up in the first place – were in fact irksome – not endearing. In my scenario, I clearly recall not wanting to be with her anyway. Her shrill cackle of a laugh was reason enough to flee the relationship. In the end, I did not want to hurt her, and I still loved our time together … when she wasn’t laughing. After she was gone, I came to realize it was solely the friendship I missed … and, the yummy egg sandwiches she would make for breakfast. Use this time to accelerate gaining distance from the person and the past. It really is okay that your supposed “perfect” relationship is irretrievable. It’s a delusion that if you had back, would end in the same twisted wreckage. You may even consider going on a date and not verbally vomiting the name of your ex. There is a limitless frontier of “strange” showcasing itself within bars, grocery stores, salsa clubs, festivals, concerts and even at traffic lights. Intersections are not my preferred venue. But, everything is fair game now that you’ve removed your head from your ass and rediscovered your innate potential. What is important is that you get out there and take some swings, or jabs, or cracks – or, whatever your preferred sports analogy. Your individual success will hinge on how high you set the bar. Anyone with low enough standards can post some impressive numbers. My recommendation? Start high and adjust accordingly. Hooking-up with an ogre on your first attempt may qualify. But, anything that you have to muscle out your back door under the cover of night, or chew off your own arm to avoid waking, does not count. So, save yourself the extended shower and bad conscience.

Finally, it is important to note that is within this final stage of your recovery that your ex will fortuitously make a reappearance. This assumes you followed the aforementioned recommendations, and their reappearance is not in response to a court subpoena for your criminal stalking trial. The moment your ex senses you have moved on, will be the moment they can’t stand knowing you have. The sick irony of this, however, is that they will absolutely not contact you prior to you getting over them. It’s yet another cruel discrepancy of nature. Plan for this momentous day by readying yourself for the moral high-ground. Quiet confidence speaks volumes here. There is no need to remind him/her what they lost in you, because This isn’t about you. It’s about their own fragile and bruised ego, and the fact they only care that you have managed to somehow prevail in their absence. It’s one of life’s oldest traps to test your mettle. Keep moving forward – preferably with someone else.

Remember, “It’s Called a Breakup Because it’s Broken.” I read that on a neon pink breakup book cover somewhere …

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508 Responses to How not to self-implode following a breakup

  1. Jeff Nags says:

    JP looking for advise, read your article and had a breakup several months ago and we thought we went our separate ways and then we re-connected thru a mutual activity and we discussed getting or trying again. We go back and forth on should or shouldn’t we. We both are worried on issues we had in the past coming back and we said we would try to resolve those and move forward.. We both have that sinking feeling, a feeling of heaviness on us and not quite sure but we both have that feeling away from each other and when together and talk on the phone or in person it disappears We are both questioning why we are drawn back to each other and why are we doing this, communicating, calling and texting again ? and what and why is the heaviness we both feel ? we both have feelings for each other. So why the heavy feelings and the other associated feelings unless we are talking or texting or communicating in some fashion. We are both afraid of trying it again but we both have the feelings of heaviness and not sure the being drawn back together. Any advise or words of wisdom ? thanks jeff

    • JP says:

      Hey there, Jeff! I’m sorry to say that I cannot accurately provide much feedback with my limited knowledge of your situation. I cannot discern why or what is causing you or her to experience these feelings of “heaviness” that you describe. It seems there are a lot of emotions involved. Which can be either good or bad. The only thing I feel comfortable in advising, is that you both spend metered time together in a platonic fashion. No dates, no overnights, no physical interactions, etc. Just spend some quality time together. In doing so, the emotions you question will surely surface and you can both identify the origins and sources. But you can do so from a non-invested state with minimal risk to you both. Does that make sense?

      You simply don’t need to rush back into anything, or define what you currently have or might have in the future. Just be in the moment with one another in relaxed settings without labeling things. Being physical will only muddy things. From there, you can jointly determine if it’s wise to move forward in any fashion. I hope this helps, Jeff. -JP

  2. Larry says:

    Hi JP
    Larry here, Not too long ago, my girlfriend and I decided to end things, mutually, we thought it would be the mature decision to make as we were both at different stages of our lives, different places, she is much older than I am, 3 years to be exact. So in general it is safe to say that she is a lot more matured and further in her life than I am, I am working on my career to achieve the goals I have set out for myself, which doesn’t make me completely useless, although It was one of the reasons I decided to let her go, I constantly felt that I was not good enough for her, I couldn’t always provide for her, when I thought love should have been enough, I know now that love cant always be enough, you cant always make it work with just love notes and butterflies, you need to sacrifice, in a relationship you have to put your partner first, most of the times, in my case when I didn’t, it ended up in a war, although throughout the relationship she kept telling me to put my self first and be confident with the person I am and decisions I make, but when I did she found it hard to accept that. Now we have reached that stage where we cant live with each other, and we cant live without each other, but I cant seem to let her go, although my mind keeps telling me its for the best, because she deserves more, not to long ago she told me that she doesn’t know how to love me anymore, she tries, but she cant, just the next day she wanted to come over, kissing me, joking around like good old times you know. Then all of a sudden she asks me to do something with her for one night, to which I said I cant, not tonight, she ended up ignoring me since I said I cant, not a word, like she just suddenly forgot I exist. This is messing with my feelings and I have reached a very high level of anxiety, making me realise that I love her so much and I don’t know what she wants from me. I obviously cant force her to love me, but I keep staring at the phone wondering if I should text her, and clear the sky, or at least ask her what’s going on… maybe she thinks I don’t care, when that is the last thing I want her to think, when that’s not what I want for her at all, she is so precious to me, but I know in the long run, she deserves somebody who can settle with her on the same page. but I am so grateful for stumbling across this page, I am pretty sure you have gave a lot of us the hope we deserve, regardless the circumstances.

    Thanks man.

    • JP says:

      Hey, Larry! Thank you for reaching-out. A three year difference it age is not much. Though, you’re correct – women mature far more quickly than men. Hell, most of us never grow-up ;-) Honestly, from your brief descriptor of your ex, she sounds to be quite manipulative at times. And, she punishes you in one form or another if she doesn’t get her way. It seems you find yourself in a no-win situation many times. Or, it could be your presentation of the relationship. It’s often difficult to discern things accurately from just a posting. It could be that she is telling you one thing (i.e., go be yourself and do what you need to for you), while wanting more. Which is why she becomes frustrated if you actually follow her advice. I simply don’t have enough information to formulate a sound opinion here, unfortunately. That said, no matter how wonderful you both are, if the timing is off – nothing else matters. It definitely seems you are in much different points in your life. This will cause a push/pull relationship that struggles for middle ground, to no avail.

      It seems are able to see things clearly for what they are, however. And, I commend you for that! If you are not able to be as present for her as she needs you to be, there is no fault to be placed, or regrets to be harbored. Moreover, hopefully, you can part amicably while expressing your great care for her. -JP

      • MPH says:


        Thank you for expressing all the thoughts in my head on this site. I can say has a educated, financially stable person, these feelings never go away.

        The part of your essay that resignated with me is the part where it would be easier if she had passed away of natural causes rather than break up with me. Having said that I don’t wish any harm to come to my former GF i just want the anxiety to stop.

        Here is my story. We started dating and it was unbelievable. We kept telling ourselves that we could not believe how amazing it was going. We often spoke the words ” I have never fallen in love so quickly”. 8 months later after the initial high had subsided and life’s circumstances started started consuming more of our time and energy, i noticed that she was slowly pulling away. She promised me it was not me, it was her. She told me she was consumed with life issues and still had strong feelings for me. I became more anxious and started breaking down every email and every text like a foot ball coach breaks down a game film. I noticed a different tone. Where she once put an “XXOO & I love you” there was one or two word responses. like a normal, feeling rejected desperate male, I started questioning. Mistake. She started getting annoyed at my questions. Thats when the boat started taking on water. I started getting relentless with my questions and accusations. She told me she was feeling detached and checked out. In our break up conversation and subsequent e-mails, she said its not that she does not care about me but she felt like her life was getting out of balance and needs to focus on other areas of her life.

        Our last exchange i tried to come across as cool and its for the best. Now I am tortured. I still love her and I am soooooo physically attracted to her. I know I will never find anyone that lovable and hot at my advanced age of 47. When I close my eyes I see other gents enjoying her the way i did. I see her responding to them like she used to when we started dating. Very generous and enthusiastically. These thoughts are hunting me and I want them to stop.

        • JP says:

          Do I ever know how you feel. We all do. If you read some of the comments below, you will quickly discern that the anxious thoughts are almost always a part of the split. They’re torturous and unrelenting at times. But, they are only thoughts!! Thoughts do NOT equal facts. And, anxiety has a way of spinning things subjectively to make us feel like shit. And, not just a run-of-the-mill “shit” … but, a desperate variety that makes life feel unbearable.

          First of all, read through as many of the comments below as you are able. It will help and guide you. Our goal is to get your self-damning thoughts to become less potent. It’s okay to have them. It’s not okay to assign them any power. They are just baseless, anxious thoughts not grounded in any sort of factual evidence or truths. That’s what anxiety does, my friend. Let the thoughts pass through and over you, while assigning them no relevance or power. They WILL subside. If you hang on to the thoughts, or give them any significance, they will increase in strength. They’re like little, living bastards running amok within our heads.

          Next, you cannot possibly figure her out. We don’t know what is going on in her head. It’s simply impossible to do a forensic analysis on her state of mind. Chances are, she doesn’t even know what or why she’s feeling what she’s feeling. THAT is the truth. Your response to the perception she was slipping away was perfectly normal. It’s a natural human response to panic and question why things changed. Don’t fault yourself for trying to determine what was happening. Also, 47 is not “advanced age!” The only way age could have come into play here, is if she was young – like in her twenties, or even under 35 really. In which case, it’s tough to make a sound relationship work with a gap at pivotal age points. My guess is that this woman was fairly young. I’ve made this mistake numerous times myself (being swayed by youthful beauty).

          Your primary task is to deal with the anxiety. It would greatly benefit you to see a professional to help you through it. That’s the single best thing you can do at this moment. You need plenty of sleep, healthy food, and no alcohol!! A professional soundboard would really assist. It might even be beneficial to receive a prescription for a sleep-aid and/or anxiety medication (short-term). We’ve got to get you through the sticking point. Most of all, however, it’s about MANAGING THOUGHTS. And, they are all just thoughts.

          Can you schedule an appointment to see a counselor? Do you need help with this piece? Please let us know. -JP

  3. Samantha says:

    I’m halfway between Heaven and Hell with stage II leading into III, currently.
    This is what I needed to read.. word for word.. almost (we did all the metal shows together). The office peered in at me as I laughed loudly in agreement with everything you’ve listed!
    You always feel alone and that your situation is unique during a break up. That no one understands, that no one “gets it”.
    Thank you!

    • JP says:

      Hi, Samantha! So nice to hear from you – despite your current pains, of course. You are absolutely not alone. Not by a long-shot. We don’t even advertise this site, and receive a lot of emails and posts from sufferers everywhere. I dedicate as much time to this subject as possible, simply because I so greatly empathize with your level of emotional discomfort. We all “get it.” ;-) There is nothing as universal and transcending as a good ‘ole breakup.

      I wish you a healthy and measurable recovery. Reach out any time. -JP

  4. Chris says:

    Reading your website has given me hope and I hope maybe you can respond to me as well. My story is long, so I will try to shorten it. Within the last two weeks my girlfriend of a year and a half broke up with me in a very ugly manner, insulting my character and appearance. She is a survivor of domestic violence, and had a good deal of resentment toward men, but I tried to be nice and be the ideal guy. For a year she would say we were “exclusive but not bf/gf” and continually said one thing to make me think she really cared, and another to show she didn’t. I was so confused, but I really cared about her so I stayed. Though she was critical at times about my lifestyle, my appearance, etc, I tried to show her what kindness was. We have been drifting apart for a while, discussed counseling, but two weeks ago, before I could get an appointment we had a fight over these issues, and she told me she “can’t do this anymore,” trying to blame me for a lot of the things that went wrong and saying that she always hated my appearance though “this was not the reason she was ending it.”

    My friends tell me this is for the best, but I am having shifts between your two first stages, mostly intractable panic, thinking that I did something wrong, should I contact her and fight for this – because I know she’s traumatized – while I also know somewhere deep inside I deserve better. Any thoughts on how to calm down/address the situation or move on?

    • Larry says:

      I can completely relate to your story, as unspected as this might seem, I think us guys have to stick together, and I just want you to know man, you are not alone, a lot of us are going through this disastrous mixed anxiety of emotions and expressing them can be really hard sometimes. As we are obviously the more dominant factor in the relationship, blame will be shifted over to us, because we seem stronger to them when it comes to dealing with certain feelings, and at this stage I fore one, believe we should not accept blame, when we know we have done possibly everything in our power to keep the our partners happy, and we fought, not with them, but for them, and that alone should comfort us knowing. that we tried, and cant accept all the blame, when making a relationship work, it cant only come from one party, but both, they will obviously tell us certain things to not feel guilty, but lets not get misleaded with that temptation that they really care, they care, but not enough to stay, they care about moments shared, memories made, but enough to make more.. We often misunderstand women, they would bring up all sorts of reasons why things couldn’t work out, not mentioning how they really feel and why it couldn’t work, because they wanto be the victim to not have to live with all the guilt. I for one know, you do not get a lot of girls that can be completely open when it comes to break ups, because maybe the thruth will hurt just way to much, or maybe they care enough to rather make us think we are ugly than not loved anymore. I cant possibly tell you what goes through their minds, but for one I am very sure, that you need to let go of this chick. Dude, as much as it hurts, as much as you wanto take your phone, call her, text her, try, just that one more time, at the same time being afraid of the rejection, rather leave the relationship with pride, then totally worthless, it will make it a lot easier for you to move on… We love them, we don’t want them to think we don’t, we don’t wanto loose them, BUT, for one. They didn’t want the same things, because I am pretty sure, if they still wanted us, they wouldn’t have left so easy or make up excuses why it couldn’t work. its very simple. if you want it, make it. if you don’t, move along. Good luck man!

    • JP says:

      Hi, Chris! This is actually my second posting to you – as my first was deleted due to a system crash. The perils of technology …

      Your case is black & white, brother. RUN. You are the victim of emotional abuse. Period. Google the term, “emotional abusers.” Also, Google “Cycle of abuse.” You will realize it all fits precisely with your recent experiences. Your friends are dead-on: It’s beyond “for the best.” This woman is a toxic shit-show that I’m sorry you ever met. She is a miserable specimen whom thrives on inflicting emotional pain to anyone she can lure into her despicable trap. You should be out celebrating that you didn’t get her pregnant, or worse: Land in jail for snapping after she pushed you too far. Trust me – it’s an all-too-common a scenario. More men are victims of emotional abuse than most realize, and many of these men eventually snap. These are men who would otherwise never lose their tempers over anything.

      Do not make contact with this woman again. There is a good chance she will try to hook you back in some way – unless she is able to find someone else to abuse. And, don’t start thinking she would treat any other guy differently. She won’t. And, there is NO CURING/FIXING/HELPING someone like this. Her only hope is that she (1) Realizes she needs help; and (2) Obtains professional counseling. Most do not, however. They just go on tainting people in their self-loathing tornado of chaos. She is incapable of loving you or treating you respectfully. Not you, not any other man.

      It’s quite normal – believe it, or not – to miss even a negative influence in your life in the form of a woman. It’s more the norm than not, actually. As I’ve mentioned previously, our brains work in a breakup scenario similar to a drug addiction. The cure is to ride-out the pangs and withdrawals of her until they subside. This is your ONLY cure. Complete avoidance feels daunting and hellish – but, it’s your ticket to freedom and the happiness to which you are entitled, Chris.

      I hope this helps. I know what you are feeling. Emotional abuse is worse than physical in many ways, as it is tough to recover from. Your recovery is within YOU. There is absolutely nothing good in seeing/speaking with her again. Not a thing. Nor is there anything you ever need from her again.

      Please let us know if you need additional assistance or resources. This is serious stuff, my friend. Flee the scene. -JP

      • Chris says:

        Thank you for response JP. This whole thing has just been so confusing. This woman would frequently tell me she wanted to marry me, have kids with me, but if I talked about wanting to move to a new city when I find a job, but she would say she is too tired to move and start over, or if I took the job I would be choosing that over her. She would say she could never imagine being without me, but that she didn’t think we were a good match. She would say if I knew what I wanted out of life more perhaps more women would be interested in me. I made one mistake in her eyes, by responding to her in a irritated way when I felt she demanded me to do something that involved cutting a vacation short, and she continually brings this up as evidence that “I showed I can never be there for her.” She told me she wants to work on her anger and treat me better, but would say she had too many issues in her own life to do that right now, even though she knew it hurt my feelings. She would tell me I’m too sensitive and can’t handle negative emotions which is why her anger bothered me. I thought she was angry because of her past trauma, but my patience just didn’t work. I read your advice, but I’ve never been through this before. She never screamed at me, or called me a loser, but would make subtle references to me needing to improve certain aspects of my appearance or saying weird stuff like “you walk funny.” She was very critical of most people, and called me “her only friend.” What I chronicled here is definitely abuse in your eyes? I was just so confused because she made it seem like the breakup had most to do with me, minimizing her role. We had planned to go to counseling together, but for months she always said she couldn’t afford it or “we shouldn’t need to go to counseling. Relationships should be easy.” Thanks again for your comments, it is helping me get through this. I have yet to contact her but it is hard because I feel so strongly for her.

        • JP says:

          Hi, Chris. This woman is miserable and toxic. She needs help through counseling. Since she is so unhappy that she will take you down with her. I know you still have feelings for her. And, that’s normal. But that doesn’t mean you should be with her, or even contacting her. Furthermore, she does not appear interested in getting help – not for herself, and certainly not for you. “She told me she wants to work on her anger and treat me better, but would say she had too many issues in her own life to do that right now, even though she knew it hurt my feelings.” This is sociopath behavior. Trust that there is nothing good in being around her long-term. It’s best that you sever all ties, brother. It’s not your job to save the unsalvageable. Nor should you want to. -JP

  5. Scott says:

    Hi JP–

    After much searching on the web, and reading every ridiculous article about “the no contact rule”, yours is the first I’ve seen that feels true and honest, and is geared toward men like me. Thank you!

    I’d love your take on my specific situation if you have the time: I was in a relationship with a lovely, honest woman for about a year. I could never commit due to still being a bit hung up on a previous love, and honestly took her for granted a bit too much. In December, she went on a trip, and met up with an old love– someone she was with 15 years ago (he was off again-on again back then), and had remained friends with since. They apparently had an amazing rekindling of feelings. He actually said that he had been missing her all this time, and wanted to become serious, with intention to marry her. She returned from this trip and told me she still loved me, but now was going to try to pursue things with this other man.

    Of course, I immediately regretted my inability to commit, and told her that I also wanted to become serious. She was very torn. She didn’t trust (understandably) that I wasn’t just having a panic response to losing her, but she did love me. She loved the other guy as well, but he lives far away and she doesn’t completely trust the change in his feelings toward her. She decided to travel to see him several times for the next 6 months to see what develops, and told me that if she didn’t pursue it with him and came running back to me she’s wonder for the rest of her life what might have been.

    I pursued her with everything I had, and tried to convince her to stay, but she just left on her first trip to see him, and I felt that I had to go no contact with her (and sent her a long letter explaining that) in order to preserve my self respect. She very much still wants to see me. says that she hasn’t truly decided what she wants yet, and has not ruled me out. I, being anxious, though, was a basket case knowing she was going to be with this other man, and was unable to just stick it out through this and act normal.

    I know that this is my fault to start with, and I let her slip through my hands, but I question whether the no contact is the right thing, or if I should try to stay in touch, as grueling as that will be, just to stay in her life. I don’t want to be in the friend zone, but I don’t want to lose her.

    Your thoughts?

    • JP says:

      Hi, Scott! It’s a sincere pleasure to hear from you. I am quite sorry to hear of your current feelings of remorse. That said, you need to cut yourself some slack. When you began dating her, you were still recovering from your prior relationship. For better or worse, you processed the prior relationship while in the most recent one. Consequently, it was impossible to be fully present and ready for more. That’s the disparity of timing between partners when entering into relationships. EVERYTHING comes down to timing. So, please try to go easy on yourself for where you were, and where you now find yourself.

      First, consider if she truly is the one you want to be with going forward – and, how much of this is anxiety. IF she is, in fact, the woman for you long-term, then I would be clear in letting her know before leaving her be for awhile. That’s all you can do, and it’s the best plan going forward. I assume you’ve already had an opportunity to convey your heartfelt feelings for her one-on-one. If not, take whatever opportunity you can to convey this to her once, and in-person. After you’ve done so, rest confidently that the rest will work itself out, and she is wise enough to (1) Know you are a great guy worth her strongest consideration, and (2) that you truly believe in yourself and have enough confidence in whom you are to be ‘okay’ with however things play-out.

      Truth is, we don’t know precisely where her head is at. And, you are not some forgettable guy she can just move on from and post to her personal dating history. Hardly. So, once you’ve conveyed your honest sentiments, be your best, and trust that she will consider everything in front of her.

      One last note – if you were “taking her for granted” and not being as present in the relationship as possible – there are reasons for this. Maybe you weren’t entirely ready. But, perhaps she wasn’t the one for you long-term. Anxiety is masterful at duping us into a state of panic fueled by erroneous thoughts. These thoughts do NOT equal facts. Strive to separate the anxious thoughts from those based in reality.

      Regarding contact, if it were me, I would be clear with her regarding my honest feelings (after performing a thorough gut-check), then rest on my self-esteem – while respecting her space – and do not contact her for awhile. Please keep us posted, Scott. -JP

      • Scott says:

        Thank you so much JP for the reply, and thank you for reconfirming that I’ve made the right decisions. I told her how I truly feel, then told her that in order to preserve my self respect, I needed to step away and let her explore what she felt necessary with this other person, and let me know what she decides. True, that I don’t know what’s in her head, but I do feel that I’ve lost her for good, and am grieving just as if it was a permanent breakup. Rough, but the only way to preserve my sanity on this situation.
        Thanks again for the help.

        • JP says:

          We’ve got your back, Scott! It sounds like there is nothing more to tell her – which is good. You’ve share your feelings, and the rest is up to fate and forces outside of our domain and control. I hate that cliche, “If you love something, set it free …” – but, it really applies at times. If this is the right fit for both of you long-term, you will end-up back together. But, neither of you can know this without a little time and perspective. And, we cannot force our will on others. I’m happy to see that’s not at all what you’re doing. You are handling this as a gentleman. Let us know, brother. -JP

          • Scott says:

            Hi JP–

            I would like your take on this new idea, since you’ve been very helpful so far. I’ve been in “no contact” since I wrote last, and I feel like I should be fighting for her in a more active way. I’ve had a few weeks to see if it really was a panic response, and it isn’t– I truly love her and we are truly compatible. I can’t take the passive “wait and see” approach, and want to prove myself. Do you think this is a hopeless or even counter-productive idea?
            Thanks, as always. Scott

          • JP says:

            Hey there, Scott. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’ve done some thinking into your situation. I’m wondering if you’ve already reached out to her. I’ve been traveling again and could not respond prior to tonight. Based on what I know about your scenario, making contact could do more harm than good. I’m under the impression based on what you’ve shared previously that she knows how you feel, and that you have shared this with her. If so, than it is highly unlikely you will solicit the response you want. If you have not conveyed your most heartfelt sentiments to her, and you feel it’s mandatory to do so at this point – then my advice is to share your feelings with her once. But, I honestly don’t think it’s the right way to go.

            It sounds like taking such action would provide you the closure you seek, however – while affording you a last opportunity to determine where her head/heart are pointed. I get that. But, your emotional mind is ruling your rational mind right now, and anxiety is building to a crescendo leading you to want to make contact.

            Before doing so, I would chain out the possible outcomes of doing so. The possible scenarios are (1) She ignores your attempt leading you to feel shittier; (2) She responds unfavorably with information that is hurtful, again leading you to feel shittier; or (3) She responds favorably, and she comes running back. Is this likely? Likely enough to warrant the contact? Only you can decide.

            I hope this feedback assists you. Moreover, I hope you obtain the answers you seek and find peace and the happiness you rightfully deserve with or without her. Keep us posted, brother. -JP

  6. Vanessa says:

    Hi JP.

    What a wonderful article, your sense of humour is incredibly intelligent and hilarious. Came across your article when searching anxiety after a break up. I’m on the the 3rd break up with a narcissist. I tend to attract this type. I was completely amazed and humbled to learn that there are men out there going through the same BS as women. You’re right in saying that men are usually prone to suffer in silence. You seemed to help many of them. And us ladies too. I would like to reiterate to anyone reading this that cutting all contact is going to guarantee the best possible outcome on your road to healing/full recovery. If the ex continues to make contact. Write down what you think you should say/want to say/or could say. Don’t send!!! Re read down the line and you’ll be thankful and grateful you controlled your urge to send. Wishing all here a speedy recovery and the strength to fight the anxiety demons. One day at a time…

    • JP says:

      Thank you for writing, Vanessa! We love hearing from the prettier gender :-) Narcissism is impossible to date. I recently had two dates with a female narcissist before relegating her to the “Never call again” pool. I wanted to tell her how utterly ridiculous she is, then realized it wasn’t worth the breath. I am sorry to learn of your experience. That said, you are a sage woman with wise words to dispense. So I’m glad you did so here.

      One of my favorite sayings is the following: “Would you rather be peaceful or right?” I try to live by this. Since we cannot change the madness in others, it’s so much easier on us to simply walk away without trying to teach them the proper way to behave. Opt for “self peace” every time and you will be far ahead in this world.

      It’s so nice hearing from you. Let us know if we can ever help. That said, it seems you’ve got a solid handle on this ;-) -JP

  7. Alex h says:

    Hey great article !

    I am a 24 year old male who recently (3 weeks ago)got out of a on and off 6 year relationship with I guess a high school sweet heart. I was actually doing fine until 1 week ago when I tried reaching out to her and she said she is seeing and talking to someone new. I’ve since done all of what you did including the multiple social media requests to the point where she thinks I’m crazy I bet. I guess it’s been tough knowing she is able to move on already and I’m stuck here after she dumps me. I guess it’s a self esteem issue.

    • JP says:

      Hello, Alex. Thank you for writing in. Your current pain is one with which we can all commiserate. It’s impossible for any of us to “get into her head” and figure out what’s going on with her. What I am certain of, however, is that you are a formidable individual in her life, and not at all “forgettable.” We all handle breakups differently. So many people – men and women alike – will dive onto a dating site/app or jump into another “relationship to distract themselves or try to alleviate the pain. It’s a horrible idea. Always. Not only does it not work for the sufferer, it’s unfair to the people online who are actually seeking a normal and healthy relationship. In all fairness, I’ve been on both sides. I was guilty of this myself. We must all take time to process the loss of a relationship – especially one as long as yours, or at such a vulnerable time.

      You’re not at all “crazy.” You’re doing what most of us do when on the receiving end of an unwanted separation. She knows this. But your behaviors are damaging to you. What you should be doing right now is practicing “opposite actions” of what your affection and anxiety are driving you toward. For the time being, avoid reaching out to her in any format. Read the posts below. You will see this is one of the single biggest struggles, and so many commenters provide sage advice regarding this difficult task. It comes down to first realizing that in the brain a breakup plays-out the same way addiction to a drug does. Act accordingly and go cold-turkey. In time, the withdrawals will subside, as will the cravings to make and re-establish contact. Let your loved ones and friends be your guide right now. What makes sense to you in the heat of the moment, is often the most damning behavior you can perform. I like to call this recovery model Opposite George. I’ve even implemented the “model” myself following a breakup – with interesting and impressive results. You don’t need to go to any extremes and start eating different sandwiches – but, when it comes to your anxious breakup related behaviors, do as I’ve suggested to so many others below by … DOING NOTHING. Don’t react either way to anything regarding your ex. NOTHING. Let the anxiety, thoughts, cravings, and emotions pass over you like waves, clinging and reacting to nothing. This, my friend, is the most effective way to manage your current state. Doing nothing ensures you do nothing “wrong” nor have any regrets.

      Regarding her talking/seeing someone else – she might be trying to solicit a reaction. Or, she might be distracting herself. Who knows. It’s not important and completely irrelevant to what you need to be doing for yourself. Okay? Please keep us posted and write any time. We’re here for ya! -JP

  8. CraigH says:

    Hey, really good article, brought me some comfort which is what I am after at the minute!

    Gf split with me yesterday, it was a really good relationship but she told me she doesn’t feel that way about me anymore.. She doesn’t think she has had enough time been single since her last relationship (which was 3 years and spent 2 months been single before our 4 month relationship). She kind of mentioned she would see how she feels after time but said it was cruel to me to stay in the relationship while she felt this way.

    She told me I didnt do anything wrong but I think that’s the problem, I was too available all the time and I never said no to her, which has probably made me boring :-/. Any advice for this situation? I do hope in the not too distant future it may rekindle and I will definitely work on not been available to do everything all of the time.

    It would be better if something did go wrong but because there’s no reason it’s more horrible because it’s just myself she got bored with :-(

    • JP says:

      Hey, Craig! Your case is actually really clear, and you can walk away without feeling any regrets. Unfortunately we can never really see things with as much clairvoyance when we’re in the midst of the angst. That said, you will have to trust my outside perspective until you’re able to discern this for yourself. In essence, she’s right. She wasn’t ready to be jumping into another relationship. I often raise the issue of “timing” in life and relationships. You can take two people who are perfect for each other – but if the timing is off for either party, it doesn’t matter how right they are as a match. Timing precedes all. And, EVERYTHING in life comes down to timing. From sports, to accidents, to the lottery, and to love. The key to peace and your happiness is accepting that which you do not control – such as this relationship.

      Accept what she is telling you: You didn’t do anything wrong! Your anxiety and current state of mind are insisting that you blame yourself for the outcome. NO. And, “being too available?!” Your mind is screwing with you in your post-breakup depression. If you think you should have been anyone but yourself to have kept her attention or to have made her like you more, that’s crazy talk brother. Any time we feel we need to put on a facade, and act or be anyone but ourselves within a relationship to secure another person’s long-term interest is a colossal red-flag. Chain that out for me for a moment: Suppose you were less available and managed your role in the relationship like a chess pawn. Isn’t that a game? Isn’t that not being true to yourself, to her, and to the relationship itself? If you have to alter your behavior in such a way to keep someone actively engaged, that in itself is reason to not be in the relationship. And by deductive reasoning, this disproves your point that you should have played your role differently ;-)

      In other words, accept what she is telling you at face value. I truly believe she is being honest with you. My guess is that by being accommodating to her you made it easier to be with you – thereby preventing her from second-guessing her involvement earlier on. She was comfortable and at-ease with you. But nothing can replace the need for her to process her past relationships and give herself the time she indeed needs to move forward in a healthy manner for herself and others. Perhaps things can work out in the future when the timing is more optimum. Be there for her, but at a
      distance in order to preserve your feelings and emotions, while focusing on YOU and future dates. Try not to worry about what she’s doing. And for the love of … please take solace in what she told you rather than creating false constructs to blame yourself, Craig. Make sense? – JP

  9. Brian T says:

    I googled “anxiety due to relationship breakdown” and got to this article.
    Thank you !!!, you have put a little smile on my other absolutely miserable past 14+ days , so far its been lots of alcohol and (xanax when needed) , I am trying to understand what makes a person suffer so much due to relationship breakdown, it makes no sense I have been in car accidents and it did not hurt this much. Again your article and comments by users are very helpful, more helpful to me than seeing a psychologist or antidepressant meds.
    My case is sort of strange as I went through this 2 times already with the same person, in short I met this girl with whom I (we) fell in love big time and all was really great for about 1 year + , then due to some computer fixing on her PC I accidentally discovered that she is a sex worker , (I am a very senior IT professional ) , anyways this had me visit the hospital , consultations with psychologist/psychiatrist , medication (effexor, remeron) which was useless. She also went through similar experience (we are not drug people) educated and financially stable. After the first breakup due to me learning some facts which were well … I spent a year away after which we got back she stopped “working” and we spent over a year travelling and just having a great time , I got the bomb 2 days before new year , she will return to work , and she did , since then I feel like I got hit with a sledgehammer in the stomach , …..
    …. … … Thank you for having this article on the web , thank you

    • JP says:

      Hey, Brian! I am incredibly sorry to hear of your current anguish. Thank you for reading and providing valued feedback. First off, remain mindful that alcohol is a formidable depressant. It provides a temporary distraction from what ails – but that’s it. The rest is downhill. And, fast. If you can get out and be active; get in some great workouts; spend time with valued friends/family; etc. it would be much more beneficial. And this is coming from a guy whom loves his beer and red wine!

      Your case is interesting and harrowing. It’s also quite simple: It begins and ends with her chosen occupation. Despite the love you’ve shared, the mutual attraction, the memories, etc. – that’s the biggest deal-breaker of all time. It’s non-negotiable. There is also the issue of discovering her “career” the hard way – then the fact that after some respite, she opted to return to it. “Pretty Woman” was just a fairytale. It doesn’t translate well to real life – as you’ve unfortunately discovered. This doesn’t end in you rescuing her from herself. It would end in her taking you down a darker, deceptive path of no-return. Cash-out, brother. Cut your losses right where you stand and only look into the moment.

      I reviewed your back-story with Tom and the only way over this is out of it. Despite the overarching red-flags, dire warnings, and preponderance of future bad tidings, I know you love her and it will be agonizing to process. But, Brian, it’s the only sensible option for your sanity and well-being. I applaud you for making it this far. Anything else is just self-flagellation. YOU DESERVE MORE. You are an intelligent man – you know what’s best for you in the long-run.

      I’m ecstatic that you obtained some help here – especially through reading the plights of others. But you would greatly benefit from a private practice therapist (as opposed to a mental health worker in a hospital setting). You would get much further with regular direct assistance from a third-party provider. There’s simply no need to navigate this on your own. You are deeply invested in this, with all your emotions involved. To divest yourself will be visceral and difficult – although inordinately necessary. Is there a professional you can enlist nearby? If not, please advise and we can further guide you. – JP

  10. DP says:

    I read this post after every breakup. As a generally anxious man, I find solace in my peers. I’m dealing with yet another split, but I’m well on my way to healing (practice makes perfect!). I figure I’m somewhere between stage I, sans the desperate attempts to win her back, and II. I tend to cycle between remorse, melancholy and anger/jealousy (she’s probably consoling herself with an emotionless hookup!) but with great periods of inner quiet between them. Those 30 minute breaks are great.

    Mine is an odd concern: I’m afraid she’ll try and come back, at least for a casual encounter. Now, I know that this is a fantasy that we all delve into, so I hope you –and others — will take me at my word that I cut/sever all forms of contact after a breakup. Staying in touch never helps and, to ammeloriate the pain, it’s best to process and move on. Ride the wave, I shout to my confused coworkers when the inevitable emotions crash down on me.

    But seriously, during the inevitable breakup, she pushed for a friends-with-benefits situation or casual dating situation (ahem, not exclusive) while wondering what my reaction would be if she came back around. Now, my reaction should be — since she initiated the split — a resounding, no. One trip to crazy town was enough, thank you.

    So while I worry about making the mistake (of potentially taking her back in some form), I also have to emotionally deal with the concept that she will come back! This makes it very tempting to fall into fantasies of “winning her back.” Basically, she — inadvertently or not — put me in a spot where I fantasize/worry about her eventual return to her senses. It’s not the end of the world, but it sucks. I like closure. This is not it.

    I compare it to “Inception.” She planted the idea of a return and I would like to go ahead and skip the scene where I am the sad, old man trapped in dream level 6 waiting for help.

    Any advice for shunting that out would be very welcome.

    • JP says:

      Hey, Derrick! Great to know we’ve been supporting you from afar. And, you’ve got an anxious accomplice here. I struggle with it each and every day. Rather than getting mad at myself for it, or allowing it to rule my life in all its weird manifestations, I opted to source the humor from it all and show the rest of our anxious society how “normal” they’ve actually are. I feel that anxiety makes itself most prevalent during a breakup.

      Thank you for your support. Soon you will have an entire book on the male breakup in your hands. Tom and I are about 6 months away from completion. It’s quite the comprehensive tome. I am certain you will benefit from the content. Writing a book is just far more work than I had envisioned at the start. But it will help all males navigate a breakup – anxious or otherwise. And, therein lies the meaning for us.

      You mention that with particular woman, you fear her reappearance. Is this fear based on knowing she is ill-fitted for you? Or, is it something else? From reading your third paragraph, it seems she is sort of a “whirling dervish” putting you through a gamut of bullshit – in that she wants to do her thing while keeping you around. How insanely selfish of her. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all put someone on a shelf for whenever we want some more of them?? I’m stoked to see that you’re not even close to allowing that scenario. It’s a great sign that you’ve got your wits about you through this, and see it for what it is (= not worth your time and emotions). Cutting all ties is extremely sage of you. Continue Mission.

      It’s not about “winning her back” in an instance like this. Because based on your explanation, you did not create any sort of rift. She just seems young, or immature in mind, and wants to have fun and keep you around because she knows your worthy of her time when she’s ready to give it. Too bad. Neither she, nor anyone I’ve ever encountered, deserves this luxury. She can mourn the day she screwed things up with you later.

      As for “advice for shunting,” well that’s the hard part, Derrick. But, you’re well on your way – a huge positive. The rest involves “Time and Mind Management.” That means staying as healthfully distracted as possible. Hit the gym or pay racquetball with the guys, get our for some hikes, runs, movies, or other sound activities in your area. Try to do these with close friends that make good soundboards. It will take some time, of course. But be accountable to at least a friend or two that you won’t reach out, make contact, or have a weak moment without contacting them. You’re human, and you’re anxious. So, it’s all about not letting the anxiety gain enough strength to drive your behaviors. Counter it with direct opposite action. Read what other commenters below have said. You will see this is a struggle for everyone. But, it’s the integral piece that gets us over the proverbial hurdle and on to the side of well-being. Honestly, it sounds like this girl is the varietal that causes more than a few guys a lot of mental angst. You don’t need that. Even worse, sometimes it’s the emotional instability and chaos that we’re attracted to as men. If so, work on being attracted to the opposite ;-)

      I can discern from your writing that you’ve got a great handle on all of this. Stay the course. If one day she is able to figure her shit out and is ready to show some monogamous loyalty – so be it. Maybe there’s a chance down the road. However, I’m hoping you’ll be over her and with someone more deserving by then.

      Keep up the good work, brother. You’re handling this better than you realize. Write us any time. -JP

      • DP says:

        Thanks, JP. I appreciate the advice and will gladly put it into action. I hadn’t thought of the “will/when will I see her come back despite my best wishes” anxiety as just another symptom of an anxious breakup. This was my first time giving it the ol’ college try with someone I knew was immature (which is much more positive than “emotionally stunted,” the term I’ve been using) and didn’t recognize or know how to process this particular flavor of anxiety

        I will be certain to purchase a copy of the forthcoming book. Best of luck!

        • JP says:

          Hi, Derrick. I was fairly certain that she was just really young/immature. This is a no-win scenario for you. You will go through mental/emotional hell trying to stick through all the ups/downs of her relationship learning curves. Though, I love the term, “emotionally stunted.” ;-)

          Walk away with her head held high and your sanity soundly intact. Great to hear from you! -JP

  11. JP says:

    Nice work on not sending the text!! That takes some major discipline. It’s the anxiety related to the breakup driving you to reach-out and make contact. The more you successfully counter this, and do the opposite, the weaker the anxiety will become. I know what I’m asking, however. It can be insanely difficult to continually counter the urges to make contact. But try to mentally chain out what sending a text would do. Would she ignore it making you feel even worse?? This would result in you giving more of yourself away – the OPPOSITE of where we want you to be going in your recovery. Resist the urges your anxiety is driving you toward, thereby weakening it over time.

    You’ve got at least a month of positive momentum in your favor. The urges will dissipate, ebb and flow. Your goal is to not react to those urges, but to let them pass over and through you like ocean waves. Do you have a “Breakup Buddy??” If not, it’s not too late to recruit one or more. These are counterparts who you can text/call/email instead of reaching out to your ex. I recommend this resource to anyone navigating a breakup/divorce. They serve as an integral part of our recovery.

    Let me know how we can help you. -JP

  12. Andrew says:

    Hey, I’m in a severe state of anxiety, heart racing, sick feeling, irrational thoughts etc.

    Quick synopsis

    With GF for 10 months,she is 1 year into a messy divorce and has two young adopted children, we are in our mid 40’s. during this relationship 3 times she has pulled away and said she needed space, ive won her back by saying open up to me and things have then been good for a little while. we live seperatley aaround 10 miles from each other.
    Last Tuesday after a strange christmas when she was very distant I called it and said, whats wrong, to cut a long story short she feels she wants to spend more time with the babies, and that our relationship for her wasnt going the way she was happy with and she didnt know why except she felt it was in her gut feeling and that there was no fixing it, since then I have had NC but have driven past her house a couple of times.

    Today I set myself up on a dating website and guess who appears on line, yep youve guessed it , the ex, in her glory clearly looking for dates.

    So clearly she is looking for someone else, maybe she just couldnt fall for me, at times it was amazing but shes hard to get her to express her feelings, not very touchy feely. I spent a lot of time getting to know the kids and trying to be a help in her busy schedule.

    So when I saw her on line i felt sick, was nearly puking, heart racing and nearly cried. How can she do this to me this early on ?

    I want to reach out to her before she arranges dates but advised NC is the way to go, but what if its too late then ? im guessing theres not much chance of me talking her back if shes on dating sites again, ive lost self confidence as this has happened before with other partners, im tall, attractive, outgoing, clever but not edgy or bad boy type and she mentioned over christmas a couple of times whilst watching TV she likes guys with tattoos etc like David Beckham which I dont have.

    Need some help, im not eating or sleeping and drank myself into a coma last night only to wake up two hours later. Ive been going to the gym and stuff but im very low, have considered taking my own life but wouldnt go through with it for my little girls sake.

    • JP says:

      Andrew, thank you for writing. I have a pretty good understanding of your situation in that I’ve been in the same un-winnable situation – twice. Dating a recent divorcee is a crap-shoot at best. And, yes, one year is still considered recent. For most divorcees, it takes a lonnnng time to allow the full gamut of feelings, emotions, and behaviors to play-out. Her being online has nothing to do with you or anything you did or could do – even if you were Superman with a magical penis. At one year, she is probably just beginning to get her bearings after the divorce. Add two adopted kids, and … well, she needs a LOT of recovery time. Going online for her is more of a distraction to fill a void than anything else. In time, she will realize that the void won’t be filled by you, any guy online, or a mythical idyllic man with xylophone abs and sheathed in tattoo sleeves. It’s all Novocaine to numb what ails. Brother, you did not stand a chance in that scenario. I honestly don’t think anyone will. Not for a long time. She needs to go through all the ups and downs and manifestations of the divorce. Nothing you do will speed this up or placate her.

      It took me twice to learn the divorcee lesson. It takes me at least twice to learn most lessons. I dated two different women who were recently divorced for about a year. I felt like I was on a damn roller coaster at all times with both of them. What they wanted and needed changed from day-to-day. No matter what I did, how great I was, or what role I fulfilled at any given time, it was a no-win. I was losing my mind daily. They were bottomless pits of emotions, and I eventually tired of trying to fill them. Both of these women needed at least a couple of years, a lot of new life experiences, and an abundant amount of self-discovery to figure out who they were. I took it all personally, at first. But that was foolish because it had nothing to do with me. I was intervening and playing “rebound” where I should not have been. If that’s all I wanted to be, then it would have been fine. But, I wanted more at the time. That just isn’t possible when someone needs ample recovery time from a divorce.

      By way of example, I remained friends with the second divorcee that I dated. We stopped dating about 3 years ago. I remained friends with her and watched and advised her through many life trials, which included dating a few different guys after me. Eventually, she was able to figure out what she really wanted and needed in this next phase of her life. She is now dating a guy that was part of her mountain biking group. I like him a lot, and they are very happy together. But even if she met him when she met me, it would not have worked. Life comes down to timing. Sometimes the timing is unfair to us. Other times, it works in our favor. It doesn’t always balance out, however. That’s just life.

      The fact that you are punishing yourself for something completely out of your control is disconcerting and so unnecessary. I want this to stop. This is about life’s timing, Andrew – nothing more. I hope you can begin to see this so that you will go easier on yourself. You don’t need to be anyone but whom you are at this moment! What you DO need is to cease the self-berating. This truly isn’t about you. You could be David Beckham and that wouldn’t play out for her long-term either. She has a lot to go through, and no matter how attractive, smart, and awesome you are it’s not going to prevent what she needs to do for herself. And, if she thinks that entails trolling online for a bit, so be it. It’s a waste of time. PLEASE do not take it personally. Again, she is trying to fill some holes that she will have to fill with healthier things than online dating.

      At least for now, be great and be gone. Rent the “Tao of Steve” and get as busy as possible with being the best version of you possible. Make a ton of plans each week AND weekends with friends. Designate a breakup buddy … or three. Sleep over at other friends’ houses. And, honestly, you shouldn’t be online yourself right now. You’re not ready, and what you’re doing is no different. And, I will likely be writing this same advice to the woman whom falls for you while you retreat and she writes to us about it ;-)

      Is this beginning to sink in? We have your back. Please write as often as necessary. To US – not her. Do your best to make absolutely no contact with her whatsoever. Trust me. – JP

  13. Bill says:

    You, my brother, are a fucking god! You should publish this shit and make all the money you deserve for this fine piece of man-wisdom! My situation is different and I’m not going to drone on about it. However I’ve felt all but the last one. I’ll be taking it easy for a while and collecting my thoughts. I’ve never been by myself in my 41 years; mom to wife, wife to neighbor, neighbor to new GF, back to neighbor then off to another GF and finally neighbor and me finishing it. Yeah, that’s my bullshit. I need time alone. I’m scared. I’m uncertain. However I’m going to be ok and your article spelled it out just right. The ex-wife breakup was terrible, this is bad but I’ll live. Life will play on and I will learn. Thank you!

    • JP says:

      Bill, my man … I am indebted for the uber kind words. Tom (my clinical contributor) and I are actually working on the State of Anxiety book currently. I would love to give you a signed copy upon publishing. By the way, I love the term “man-wisdom.”

      It seems you are embarking upon a HUGE journey. Being alone for the first time in 41 years. I’m impressed and love your positive outlook on it. This will be a kick-ass journey of self-discovery for you!! Kudos, brother – you need this. You truly need this. I hope it includes some travel and time with male friends. It’s never too late, and you’re young enough to start and savor a whole new life. And, when you’re ready, you can add a great woman to the mix. But it sounds like you should take a long, much needed solo break for now. Everything else will fall into place.

      Do us a favor and check in periodically?? We’d love to hear of your progress, what you’re learning about yourself along the way, and how this exciting new trek plays out for you. Bro hug … -JP

  14. DMB says:

    Thanks for writing this. As I googled “anxiety after a break up” at 3:30 a.m. a couple nights after I got the Dear John phone call I came across your story, It really helped me a lot as I was racing through a storm in my mind, at that time of the night you really got nothin but your own thoughts of despair and of course your turn to anything that could possibly get you through the night. I found by reading other persons posts that everything that was going on in my head is a very common thing and your replies to everyone sounded so sensible.
    My story for whatever it’s worth I’ll share a brief bit of it. I’m in my early fifties and divorced for ten plus years, completely settled with that and over the years have had a couple of nice short relationships that had ended and are also settled. Last year in Oct. 2013 I met a widowed woman on a dating site, we got along from the get go and everything was ever so perfect throughout all of 2014, we had a few differences of opinion from time to time however never any problems came of it. We went on a trip together to Cuba in September for my Birthday, awesome time for both of us for sure. Things are going fantastic. We even talked about another trip for her Birthday in December, I was down for that and then without notice she booked it and went with her daughter, kind of surprised by that but didn’t make a big deal out of it. Then I noticed things beginning to seem odd. Her birthday was in early December and I bought her a nice ring, she loved it! She even wore it on her trip. nothing like yours JP however a nice gesture towards a future together so I thought. Let me define odd, she was invited to a couple of Christmas parties and to my surprise, I was not invited to go along with her, Hmmm right! I figured she just needed to go on her own as they were her friends in her married life, no big deal, I totally understand. Then she said I got a nice surprise for your Christmas present which was, a night on the town, Awesome hotel and all, and awesome if you get me… Perfect, I truly am in love with this woman. My Christmas gift to her was a nice white gold necklace, humble but nice just the same. She loved it also and I thought everything was Perfect. We both had spent Christmas Eve and day with our own families, we both have young adult children and after all, were are still growing a relationship as time went by. After the Christmas stuff was done we got together for a winter night skating and then back to her place as we had done many times before, all is still awesome and again I love this woman and she loves me so she tells me often. Now the big one, New Years eve, we were supposed to go to her cottage and then her sisters for a New Years Party, a three hour drive so drive together right?
    She calls me at work on the 30th and says she’s packed up and leaving… needless to say, I’m now kind of pissed. We don’t talk again until 1:00 a.m. on Jan. 1st., not a nice phone call as we both had been drinking. Then I text her on the 3rd, asking, How are you doing?
    Then I get the phone call, “were not good for each other” BAM, your could have knocked me over with a feather,,, and now I’m a mess of anxiety, probably the rebound don’t you think? Thanks again to everyone here, it does help!

    • JP says:

      I am really sorry to hear of the ups and downs you’ve been through with this woman as of late, DMB. I know we can all relate. I read through your scenario a couple of times, and it’s impossible to discern what might be going on with her. She has certainly exhibited some ambivalent, contradictory behaviors – which is extremely frustrating to contend with. It’s also hurtful. And, the way she ended things was both callous and unexpected. And, when we experience a breakup with no information related to the cause, etc. it’s a lot tougher to get over. There are a million possible variables influencing her behaviors and decisions. I won’t even venture to guess.

      As I advise others in your position – and, as I have done so myself – the single best course of action at this point is self-preservation. All of the mental energy you are spending towards figuring her out, redirect toward caring for you. I’m hoping you get some answers from her in due time. But in my experience, and based on the overwhelming evidence you can read below – the best thing you can do at this moment is to retreat from her 100% in every way, and do some cool stuff for yourself. Get busy, get distracted, and improve your health, fitness, and overall well-being as best you can. Think of her as a dry well. You can keep going back to it, but you won’t get any water. She may not be willing/able to provide you any information that will make you feel better. And, you may not even want to hear whatever she comes up with. I fully realize that not knowing anything is a complete mind-f@ck. But, no matter how many people you ask, or how much time you expend trying to figure her out, you will get exactly …. nowhere. That leaves you with what’s important: YOU.

      Let HER be the one wondering where you’ve gone, and what you’ve been up to since she pulled the ripcord on things. Let her wallow in the silence from your end. If she’s worth your mental real estate, she will prove it with future action(s). If not, then you’re already on the course you need to be on. You can never go wrong taking care of yourself. In all honesty, there is nothing more you need from her. Nothing. Her previous actions have been erratic, etc. You don’t need any more of it. So, whether you divest yourself, or she makes the call – you can take control of the situation by not reaching out to get emotionally smacked further.

      Let us know if we can further assist or help to get you focused on your recovery track. I know you’re in the midst of the toughest part of all this. But, as you’ve noted, what you’re feeling/experiencing is quite common as illustrated from the other commenters. We’re all in this together, brother. -JP

  15. 288GTO says:

    What can I say? I’m just sooooo unbelievably and emotionally grateful for all that experience and knowledge that you have espoused JP. I really am. Whether you believe in the “Good Lord” or the “Cloud in the Sky,” I wish you every success, health and happiness because in elaborating your own experience of breakup you have (either knowingly or not) helped so many others in dealing with their own.

    My story is rather odd – it was ME that broke up with the other party. It was ME that received a few chase ups and clear evidence that she was in trouble, (all of which I ignored). And finally, I even got capitulation – a request to “please call me back.” (which again I ignored). I had been dating an experienced master manipulator, which is why it had to end, and I’ve taken great pleasure (by that I mean HORRIFIC PAIN) by resisting all attempts at contact. She’s been disappeared now for 3 weeks (I honestly believe in disbelief, shock and horror, that a man that had invested so much in her could so completely and utterly walk away from her). It’s been 6 weeks since we broke up in total.

    However, in spite of all the “control” I have exercised, the dignity I have INCREASED from the end of our relationship, the pain has still been horrendous. The analysis of the last days has been continual but lessening. The sick feeling in the morning (many times I gag with anxiety) comes and goes. I’m at the stage of “one day good, one day bad.” Initial weight loss was extreme but it’s stopped and reversing. I’ve done no stalking. I’ve done no messaging and I swear it’s taken every ounce of the willpower of ALL my friends, who have really rallied around me from ALL angles. ALL angles..
    Perhaps the point of my post is this, no matter whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, the pain of extricating someone that was once DEEPLY important to your life, is horrendous… and it’s consistent. Every man goes through the same. Every man. There’s no shame in it. It’s all NORMAL. It’s all standard. It’s all routine. Once you get over the fact that it’s all normal… it makes it easier I’m sure to deal with it. Certainly it did for me…

    And the other point of this post is once again to thank you JP from the bottom of my heart. Yourself and ALL the other posters here. Thank you. We’ll laugh about it one day!

    • JP says:

      I am humbled by your feedback, brother – thank you! Your story is more common than you realize, however. I had a similar experience myself, and some of the comments below are from your same perspective. The admirable thing is that you removed yourself from a bad situation. I know it hurts – truly. The fact that you severed the bond does not take away from the loss of the relationship and the companionship upon which you became accustomed. But, breaking free from a manipulator is a HUGE accomplishment!! I know full-well. I dedicated an entire chapter to this in my new book which is coming out in 2015. Although you’ve physically extricated yourself from the bond – no matter how unhealthy – you still miss it. In the brain, it’s similar to how heroine or meth addiction works. As toxic as drugs can be, we can become addicted and crave them to the point of a bitter end. Manipulative women work in a similar way on men. The antidote, however, is the same: Total abstinence. In time, the craving for her interaction will subside. If you feed the cravings, you start the healing process anew. You seem to know all of this quite well. Clearly, you’re a smart and savvy guy, and I commend you to the Nth degree for kicking her to the curb. You have done yourself a life-saving favor. I’m not exaggerating.

      Here’s the downside: The cravings take awhile to subside. You’ve got to ride them out and replace them with healthy distractions. The hurt you’re feeling, and the cravings to contact her are 100% normal. Keep in mind that it’s purely the anxiety that’s driving you to miss and want to contact her. The only way to weaken the anxiety is to counter it. It’s the only formula for success versus anxiety. It’s called “exposure therapy.” The more you give in to the anxiety, the more it is reinforced and strengthened. Every instance you counter the anxiety, is another opportunity to chip away at its deep groove in your brain, while you literally create new pathways that are calming and productive. That’s the laymen, 3,000 foot physiological version anyway ;-) In other words, just stay the course, my friend!! You’re doing a stellar job. Come back any time for a boost. That’s why we’re here. In the interim, just Google “female emotional abusers” and read some of the great material out there. You’ll probably feel like they’re describing your ex. -JP

      • 288GTO says:

        JP, my friend, you ought to know that you’re more or less saving peoples LIVES here. Seriously. You really are. I believe in karma, and you have some wonderful good fortune coming your way – you deserve it. Thank you. In the meantime, I thought I’d update you and all the other readers of this fabulous website with what’s happened with me.

        a) Good news – I’ve not made any contact. AT ALL. She’s got absolutely nothing from me since the day we split – where I told her I didn’t love her and to basically F*** off from my life after manipulating the hell out of me. As I said before, she emailed and messaged me repeatedly around 3 weeks later but I ignored everything.

        b) Update: she emailed me last week – 2 months after we split up and exactly a month to the day (how predictable!) from when she last made contact in the form of an email, which back then, was asking me to “please call her.” In this new message she mentions how I’ve ignored her post-break-up messages and emails because of the way “we ended things” (yeah right)! She then asks whether I still have a very cheap pair shoe of hers at my place. Now she knows my temper. When we split up before, I threw out all her clothes in the bin (my conscious is clear – I spent many thousands supporting her and her broke mother, and generally looking after her, buying her things.) She knows there’s no chance anything of hers at my place. No. Chance. She’s got no reply to this. Perhaps this is the fortuitous reappearance you mention but it’s come earlier because I’m not fully into phase 3 yet.

        c) I made the absolutely horrible mistake of looking at her Whatsapp profile pic. Once. And JP, it utterly leveled me the following day. I’ll never make that mistake again. It was horrible…

        I’ve been doing a bit of research as move in phase 3 of my breakup and I think she may well have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s not a sure thing as she’s not free with her body which restricts her ability to move from man to man, but there’s lots to suggest she does have NPD. I switch dramatically between anger at her and want for her, and then sometimes, indifference.
        I’m getting there. I can feel it. But my God, this is slow… Recovery mentioned in months…
        Your thoughts and comments are much appreciated as always my dear friend. And sign me up for your book – I mean it – by the time it comes out, I hope to read it with a smile!

  16. Barry Coppersmith says:

    Hi JP
    Well it has been 1 month of no contact :-)
    I have struggled not to contact her even as far as yesterday when I wrote a text and didn’t send it.
    It is extraordinary how powerful the urge is to make contact…even when you know that the person is emotionally abusive and any contact will just leave you hurting as you did in the relationship.
    My feeling now is that we fantasise who our ex is…that loving caring person that we thought they initially were…I have to remind myself when I get the urge to contact that this woman is toxic and abusive, is not going to change and subjected me to horrific abuse and character assassination.
    One thing that I have thought about is that this woman was unable to give any praise or compliment to me at all.
    It seems that she would see giving praise as significant loss to her?
    I am a weaver and showed her some of the beautiful work that I do…no comment from her at all, in fact she would pick out some fault with the work and tell me with a smile on her face.
    She did this with everything.
    The phsycological loss that she feels by giving praise, I believe, is a manifestation of her self loathing…and an ego defence.
    How could he do anything that is praiseworthy….I am better than him and I will put him down then I will feel better and keep him under control.
    These woman are very sick and , I believe, will never have a successful relationship as they are not prepared to look at themselves and their behaviour.
    I noticed that there was never an apology from her for her behaviour or anything for that matter…would be another loss for her.
    How fragile their egos are!!
    Anyway an update on my current thoughts and situation.
    No contact is great and I feel myself starting to move on despite the contact urges.

    Cheers Barry

    • JP says:

      CONGRATS, Barry!! That’s remarkable news, and we greatly appreciate the update. I know you still experience strong urges to contact her. Perfectly normal. These will subside with time and not doing so. Each time you don’t follow the impetus to reach out to her, you’re creating a stronger neural pathway in your brain. Think of it like a groove that gets deeper and deeper as you do what you know is right. While the groove to respond to her weakens and disappears altogether. That’s exactly what you want. You’re creating new pathways in your brain. Healthier ones. But, you’re also mourning the loss of someone whom was around for many years – despite being abhorrent.

      You mentioned, “One thing that I have thought about is that this woman was unable to give any praise or compliment to me at all.
      It seems that she would see giving praise as significant loss to her?
      ” Absolutely! Apologizing, complimenting, giving praise, etc. is a sign of personal weakness to her. She’s so vapid and self-loathing that all she can do is criticize and withhold niceties. You’ll never get it from her. And, she’ll never change. There’s nothing you can do to salvage the relationship or help her. She will only repeat her patterns going forward. She needs help. And, I hope she seeks it. But, in my experience, rarely does that happen. I feel for her on some level. My guess is that she’s passing along whatever abuse she sustained much earlier in her life. But, it’s not your problem to save her. You won’t. Your mission is one of self-preservation now.

      Keep up the outstanding progress, brother! I’m stoked you see her with clarity now, and you removed yourself from a horrible situation. Never look book. Keep yourself rooted in the present. Always. -JP

  17. Kenny says:

    So, ill try and make this short. Fiance left me about 3 months ago. It was a bit difficult the first week or two but I had been through break ups before and I know hot to handle them. It was a quick break up, she gave her reasons and I said goodluck. I was moving along fine until about a month later when she spoke with a friend of ours saying she kept wondering if she made the right choice. I left it alone seeing as anyone making this type of choice would have doubts. It brought me a few steps backwards for a few days, but i was ok again.

    Two months later she speaks to the same friend asking if I ever talk about her good or bad. She went on to ask if I was seeing anyone. Again I left it alone, I didn’t want to possibly try something and then fail and feel pathetic. She then called me about 4 days after that. This was now about 2 months and a week or so after the break up and I had gone no contact to get over it. When she called we face timed and we spoke for about three hours. We laughed a few times and she said she missed me and us. She said she loved and missed me but wanted to be friends for now. I agreed to try and be friends. The next 3 weeks to a month was basically some type of cat and mouse thing, She would do things or say things a friend would not say to another friend, she would flirt a lot and tease with pictures and what not. I knew this could end up with me being strung along so I would not talk to her much, She would ask if we could watch some shows over the phone. I would agree . Then we would not talk for 4-5 days. At the beginning I had decided I was not going to make contact no matter what, she would have to try and speak to me. So 4-5 days would pass and she would call me either crying, or talking about our past. Whens eh called crying she would say it was not about me and she just felt sad. Which I understood, then we would not talk again for another 4-5 days and she would call comparing me to an ex Saying things were so different with me, with the other guy she was so annoyed at the end with him, but with me she always felt so comfortable, she would ask” I wonder why we didn’t work” things like that several times. Again We didn’t talk, by now I was getting annoyed by this and It did not feel good to basically be hanging on hope which she had now given me. I told her she has patterns, that whenever we don’t talk for a few days she calls me either sad or talking about our past. I told her this because I know how prideful she is and i knew this would make her feel Like i was implying she is not over me. This made it so she didn’t talk to me for like 8 days. I was done with it, I care about her but i didn’t want to do it anymore. I sent her a text to call me and that we needed to talk, she called me over skype with some other guy in the group call”which she accidentally added” he didn’t have a shirt on in his pic or something, but anyways I didn’t care. If anything that made it easier, it could very well have been a friend she has a bunch of male friends who are that way. I told her I was confused but now I am not anymore and said goodbye, she said ok and bye.

    I now feel like shit, I know what i did was probably the smart thing to do as it seemed she may have been stringing me along or was confused and ended up doing so with out meaning to.But i still feel like crap. I’m 27 and well yeah. Did i do the right thing?

    • JP says:

      Hi, Kenny! Great to hear from you. In short – YES!!!! You did the right thing. If you were to blame yourself for anything at all (which you shouldn’t), it would be for the simple fact you hung in there with this girl for so long – giving her ample opportunities to mindf#ck you. It’s egregious what she’s put you through. I know you feel like shit – believe me. It’s a perfectly normal reaction to feel badly at the moment. Losing someone crazy can still feel like a loss. You are mourning your idealized version of her. The woman you want and have needed her to be. But, that’s not whom she is. At the moment – from a dating perspective – she’s a one-women shitshow. Nothing you do or say is going to change that. She’s a cyclone of toxic emotion from which you need to seek shelter immediately. That means doing precisely what you’re doing now. No contact. Relegate her to the annals of history – at least for the time being. You’re far too young to partake in this drama. It’s odd how we get such myopic tunnel-vision when we clutch on to one woman – crazy or not.

      Rest-assured you did the right thing. The tough part will be maintaining the “no contact” plan. Just know it’s the only ticket to your sanity and well-being, brother. I’m impressed by your actions thus far. You’ve got a great head on that torso and you’re clearly well-grounded. Keep yourself a priority, while you keep the whirling dervish at an extensive distance. She may figure her stuff out down the road. But, you certainly have better things to do in the long interim – like living your life on your terms!! Nice work. -JP

      • Kenny says:

        So its been about 2 months since then, I was going to California to visit a friend and still am. The ex found out and she started talking to me again because she was also going to be there around the same time. She suggested her staying with me at the hotel. I told her that would be somewhat weird but ok. Ever since then seems we have started to try and work things out (over the phone at least). She says neither one of us should commit yet till we meet and see how things go. Which is smart. She has started to say she loves me again and all that other stuff. She went to her sisters about 5 days ago. Ever since she has been very distant. I understand her not talking to me much because she didn’t want to let her sister know we are talking again till we both know its actually going to work. But at times it feels like s hes trying to escape me. Puts not effort to talk to me the past 5 days. Am i Being over dramatic?

        • JP says:

          Good grief, Kenny – I owe you a fat apology. I’ve been working my ass off on the State of Anxiety book, and have been grossly sidetracked away from this site. I know this is ridiculously late, and I sincerely hope you are doing much better.

          To answer your original inquiry, I do not think you were being at all “dramatic.” And, I’m hoping you can provide us an update as to how things played-out for you. – JP

  18. Barry Coppersmith says:

    Hi JP,

    I have managed to stay no contact with the abuser :-)
    Something I have thought about recently is, do these abusers know that they are inflicting pain and hurt?
    If so why do they do it?
    Is it about control?
    I pulled her up several times on her behaviour (by email) and she didn’t reply. It is as if she didnt want to know about her bad behaviour and avoided dealing with it by not responding.
    I pulled her up one night, about her criticism, when were having dinner out and she folded, was speechless, became submissive then promptly dumped me a week later.
    My Phsycotherapist told me that she dumped me because she was unable to deal with my confronting her, in other words doesn’t want to hear about her behaviour.
    I went fishing with her once after she told me how great she was at fishing.
    I am a good fisherman and managed to catch 2 lovely fish and she caught nothing.
    This seemed to unnerve her that I was better at something than she was?
    I think that she is ego based and below the ego is a lot of self hatred.
    My confronting her penetrated her fragile ego and she didn’t like that.
    I guess I just don’t understand how someone can inflict pain, see that they are inflicting pain and have no remorse…awful…
    Are they damaged beyond repair these individuals.

    All the best

    • JP says:

      GREAT news, Barry!! That’s 90% of the battle (no contact). I know it’s a tough thing to do – despite her miserable treatment. You raised some incredibly valid questions that I wanted to address on my own. However, I am going to defer to one of the many blogs by Dr. Tara Palmatier in this precise area (“Men abused by women”). This is related to the link I sent you via email. The particular information that follows, addresses most – if not all – of your inquiries. That said, you answered all of your own questions spot-on! However, if I’ve missed anything with the following, let me know so that I can further elaborate …

      “In a non-abusive relationship, if you can both maintain love, communication and trust during the third stage you’re likely to progress the fourth and fifth relationship stages. The latter relationship stages include a rebirth and re-commitment to the relationship built on mutual acceptance, trust, realistic expectations, realistic perspectives of mutual strengths and weaknesses, shared history and maturity.

      The pathology of abusers, sociopaths, high-conflict people and many personality-disordered individuals makes it impossible for them to progress past the second and third relationship stages. They simply lack the emotional maturity, communication skills and conflict resolution skills necessary to reach these stages. Many also seem to lack the ability to engage in any meaningful change oriented self-introspection and personal growth.

      Many sociopathic abusers lack empathy, refuse to be held accountable for their hurtful behaviors and are unable to trust. How do you trust someone who won’t trust you? How do you trust someone who abuses you, puts you down and tries to control you? I don’t think it’s possible.

      Some of the men and women I work with become stuck after having the WTF moment. Oftentimes, they’re stuck because they’re clinging to the memories of the honeymoon stage and engaging in wishful thinking. They have a difficult time letting go of the idealized fantasy person their abusers initially pretended to be. These men and women seem paralyzed by a combination of misguided hope, uncertainty, fear and longing. They have had the WTF moment, or several WTF moments, and seem to become bogged down in a paralysis of analysis of their abusive partner’s behavior, looking for answers and any sign that the abuser might change. These individuals become self-taught experts on personality disorders and other relationship issues, yet remain stuck.

      They have seen behind their abusive partner’s mask, yet refuse to see. They’ve read every relationship book, been through numerous rounds of individual and couples counseling, and have turned themselves inside out to win their abusive partner’s love and approval. They believe if they try harder, love more, earn more, spend more, do more, are more sensitive, more nurturing, etc., etc., that it will bring back the person with whom they fell in love.
      What many fail to realize is that the person they fell in love with was artifice; an illusion. In the end, all of the effort and machinations they employ to return to the honeymoon stage are about as effective as pouring water into a bucket with a hole in its bottom.

      If we look at this vis-a-vis the stages of loss and mourning, this is a form of denial and bargaining. This is often when the non-abusive partner has another WTF moment. Except this one is directed at the self. Oh my god, WTF am I doing? Why am I trying so hard? Why can’t I walk away? Why can’t I let go? Why do I want to be with someone who treats me so bad? If this rings true for you, perhaps you had similar experiences in childhood with your parents.

      As a child, it’s terrifying to realize the adults you depend upon are mean, crazy and abusive. For children, it feels safer to believe the reason mom and dad are cold, neglectful or mean is because they’re bad. Why? If mom and dad are mean because you’re bad, then maybe mom and dad will be nice if you work extra hard to be good. This damaging belief provides children with some measure of false hope and control in an abusive, dysfunctional and chaotic family environment.

      Many of these children carry these faulty beliefs into their adult relationships. They recreate the familiar dynamic with abusive partners and believe they can gain their love if only they work harder at being the perfect partner and meeting all of the abusive partner’s unreasonable and ever-shifting needs, demands and expectations.

      If this applies to you, you need to realize that you’re no more likely to get your abusive partner to treat you with love, approval and respect than you were your parents. Your partner’s abusive behavior is not about you or any defects you may or may not possess; it’s about them and their emotional and psychological defects. Until you fully understand and accept this, you’ll spend your life pouring water into a bottomless bucket or pushing a boulder uphill only to have it roll back down onto you.

      After you have the WTF moment and recognize it as such, you have a few choices:

      1. You can put the blinders back on and pretend that you don’t know your partner is abusive. You can keep making excuses and blame her behavior on stress, hormones, the kids, anxiety, an abusive childhood, etc., etc., and keep on jumping through hoops, pouring water into a bottomless bucket and/or pushing that boulder uphill.

      2. You can stay in the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) and tell yourself you made a commitment and that you’re obligated to stick it out no matter how bad it gets while a little part of your soul is crushed everyday.

      3. You can do for yourself what your parents did not. You can love and respect yourself enough to end an abusive relationship with a person who is more interested in controlling you and using you as a whipping post and target of blame for her self-created unhappiness than she is in loving and accepting you, and having a mature relationship.

      This is how you go from having a WTF moment to a GTFO moment.”

      Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:
      Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes.

  19. Christian K says:

    Hi JP,
    I really enjoyed your article, there’s so much truth here it hurts and I’ve unfortunately made many of the pathetic mistakes you warn against in my past relationships. Considering this, i’m doing my absolute best to avoid these mistakes in my current relationship which is on the verge of ending but my painful anxiety makes it seem almost impossible. Here’s my problem; Me and my girlfriend have been together off and on for ten years and currently we are on a five year ride. We’ve been threw so much and always ended up working it out, so I kind of figured this must be really love. To further complicate matters we both moved out West (supposedly the place we both dreamed of living in) and are living together with a dog (whom I also love dearly) and a whole household of things in which we have mostly shared cost for over the last five years. Heres where things get even more complicated: My girlfriend originally was hired here in SLC while I had a steady job back home, as well as plans to teach abroad in Asia (my dream was to travel). Knowing our history I spent months trying to persuade her to take the job out West, be independent, hopefully strengthen our relationship through time and distance. This sounds crazy, but knowing I didn’t have a job lined up out West and she did I feared the inevitable consequences of uneven financial disparities as well as her being a teacher and knowing the first year is always very stressful. In my mind, even if the relationship went sour the year I lived abroad at least I’d have a once in a lifetime experience and save some cash to supplement moving to a new city should our relationship still be intact. As you might guess, she hated the idea of moving alone and completely broke down a month before I was planning to leave. Being the sensitive man that I am, I gave in, canceled my contract and had a long discussion about how should I make this move she must promise to give me some time to figure out my job situation. Of course she promised, saying she’d do anything to be with me. We have now been here only two months and I luckily was employed a mere week of being here with a good job with prospects of being great, however only part time. Honestly, until a week ago we seemed to be on cloud nine. The new scenery seemed to be just what we needed, and the economy seemed much better leaving me feeling more confident about my future job prospects. Then, on the first rainy day of months of being here we get in a petty argument about grocery costs, she calls me lazy, on account she’s working full time and I’m not at the moment, confirming my worst nightmares about the this situation. Now, she feels distant, completely unlike herself, and the end feels inevitable. I’ve been trying to be the absolute best boyfriend I could be, keeping the apt. spotless, skipping my lunch to bring her her favorite food, staying late at the library to give her space, and yet these attempts feel ill warranted and honestly more pathetic than romantic after reading your article. The weird thing is before we moved, I’d fantasize about ending our relationship sometimes, but now that I’ve given up my dreams to teach abroad and have landed in a new city where I know absolutely no one and share basically every possession I own with my S.O. I feel completely naked and confused about how I would move on should/when the end comes. I do still love her and would like to make it work, but she’s done this before and honestly I don’t think theres anyway to solve it other than significant time apart or just completely moving on. Im sure everyone here can relate to the feeling of being on top and then out of nowhere being crushed, but this is more complicated than anything Ive felt with due to the fact that we moved our whole lives out here together. I value your time if you were able to make it through my miserable ramblings, and any sage advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks JP

    • JP says:

      Hi, Christian – thank you for writing. It sounds like you’re in SLC. I lived in the Gateway area of SLC in 2004 for a job. Similar story in that I moved there for a year for a change of venue and took a job in the Cottonwood Heights area. Disaster. For me, anyway. After a year of treading water and a failed relationship with a “Jack Mormon” girl, I got outta Dodge, and returned to my life in CA. I love Salt Lake City, however. It’s a great place to raise a family. Your situation is unique and complicated. It’s tough to advise upon as I cannot discern what her temperament is all about. It could be the stress of it all – not even having to do with you. Or, she could be bat-shit crazy. So, I will withhold comment on plausible influences. I certainly appreciate how hard you’ve tried all along. It seems you’ve done more than most anyone would. That said, this isn’t a contest in determining your BS threshold. Half the battle is knowing when to cut-bait.

      I’m a huge communicator. This may be irrelevant, but if it were me in the situation, I would take her out to lunch/dinner, and have a heart-to-heart about what you’re feeling and solicit the same from her (assuming she will open up and provide her true sentiments). Approach this with 100% openness and honesty going forward – to include her past behaviors. You cannot address what is not presented in an open discussion. I’m guessing you might have done this already. I’m concerned about something. You stated, “I do still love her and would like to make it work, but she’s done this before and honestly I don’t think there’s anyway to solve it other than significant time apart or just completely moving on.” I have to wonder if you’re trying to fix someone ‘broken.’ It’s a dire task you’ll never win. Nor do you need to. Are you possibly sticking in a relationship from which you should’ve walked? We’ve all done it. Now is the time to take a serious person inventory to determine if this is worthy of your time and emotions. DO NOT LET YOUR ANXIETY KEEP YOU WHERE YOU DON’T BELONG. Anxiety hates change. It hates the unknown even more. So, counter it with rational thinking.

      I hope this is of some help to you. Let me know if I can provide further feedback – okay? -JP

      • Christian K says:

        Thanks JP. I tried this heart to heart talk and she basically blew me off completely. Since I last wrote she left me and has been staying in hotels until we can figure out what to do with the apt. and all the things we share. I broke down the other day and called her Dad because he is actually a very rational person and I’ve just invested so much in this that I felt I should at least let him know I care about his daughter and tried my best. He seemed very understanding but also at a loss for why his daughter is so irrational. My problem now is what you mentioned about envisioning my future. I woke up today and went on a long hike which I thought would clear my head but when I returned to my empty apt. I completely broke down, unable to shake this painful loneliness. The thing is my rational mind knows she is crazy but my anxious mind just can’t comprehend being so alone in a place where I have no one. I took her back five years ago knowing she had issues but until a week ago I honestly thought she had changed, and we’ve been planning this future for so long that it feels surreal that it would end so quickly and so close to our dreams. Also, I just can’t get over the fact that she’s been my best friend for so long. Like you said in your article, loosing that friendship does feel more painful than dealing with the death of loved ones. My mind can accept that a loved one has passed away but it can’t seem to understand how someone so important could just disappear after dealing with so much together. I really appreciate anything else you could add to help me get through this. Also, I know it’s been awhile since you’ve been in SLC, but if you have any recommendations about how I could get myself out there I’d greatly appreciate it. (I live near Cottonwood Heights at the moment) I really love it here, but this disaster happening so quickly is really making it hard to see this place like I did a month ago. I also read somewhere this is not a good city for single guys so thats not helping. I’m not the rebound type, or a person that needs someone, but at 27 years old and 1000 miles away from friends and family my anxiety about the future is quite soul crushing at the moment. My real name is Anders by the way, thanks so much for your time JP.

        • JP says:

          I am so sorry to see you going through all of this, Anders. You are in a geographically beautiful place. But, it all looks and feels tainted because of what you’re experiencing. Look, we all know she has some radically unacceptable issues that entail making you feel like shit. It doesn’t matter what those issues are – you aren’t going to fix her. Not is it in your best interest. There is simply no need to understand what’s going on her head. Actually, it’s an impossible and needless feat for you to even allow your thoughts to drift in that direction. You’ve given her far more understanding than most anyone would extend. It’s disproportionate to what is deserved given the situation. Even her family is at a loss. So, the only question you should be asking yourself sounds something like, “Why am I dealing with this? / Why am I still engaged in the process? / Why is this acceptable to me?” I get that you’ve spent many years together, she has been your single best friend/lover for that time, and the loss seems insurmountable. It’s not. She is toxic for you. Period. You have permitted all of this anguish because your anxiety is driving the train. Right now, you don’t need her as a lover, nor a friend. What kind of friend knowingly makes someone feel so badly? I know it doesn’t seem realistic in your current state of mind – but, NONE of this is about her. It’s 100% about your anxiety running your decisions and life. You knew long ago she was ill-fitted for you (and, probably for anyone until she gets some help). Like a tanking stock, you’ve hung-on tooth and nail hoping for a turnaround that never materialized. You took a HUGE leap of faith in moving. And, you’ve done absolutely everything possible to remedy the situation – to no avail.

          SO … how about taking care of YOU for a change? My advice – since your asking – is to return home and leave SLC (if that’s an option and you haven’t found the career you need) and get back to your life. Cut ALL ties with this woman. If you cannot move back, then move elsewhere in SLC or Park City (more singles in PC). You’re way too young with so much life ahead of you to put up with anymore of this BS. PERIOD. Cut your losses now before they increase. Look upon her as a lesson learned, and wish her well. But, do so from a distance. Meanwhile, get help for the anxiety. If you need a phone appt., I can put you in touch with my partner/co-writer, Tom. At this point, there is nothing for you back with her. It’s time to take care of you, my friend. -JP

  20. Kyle C says:

    My situation is tricky. I am currently a junior in college who has suffered from anxiety all my life. My relationship started out great, she was the first girl i could actually see myself with and i could honestly say she was my first love. after the first few months passed i started to see her true colors and see how controlling and manipulative she really was. everything from my hair that she said she loved to the nice sweaters she said looked good on me, all of a sudden she hated. she hounded me to cut all my long hair off, which i eventually did, and never had anything nice to say about how i dressed and made myself look. it got to the point that she would only make me feel bad about myself, no more compliments, no more affection, yet i still loved her. i put on about 30 pounds while i went out with her, and eventually she said that she was no longer sexually attracted to me and said im lazy, and honestly really got my well being down in the dumps. i got so used to her abusing me that when she started to act distant and stopped wanting to text, and call, and hangout, that i would even feel relieved if she said something mean or not nice. any thing she said showed me she atleast wanted to talk. I have honestly emotionally destroyed myself, i dont know how i feel about myself, and any decisions ive made in the previous two years i was in a relationship. we broke up about two weeks ago, and having to see her everyday on campus is making it almost IMPOSSIBLE to get over her. she apparently seeing a new guy, and im dreading the moment i see them together. my stomach is in knots, and im falling behind majorly in my classes. i cant concentrate, and honestly all i wanna do is stop caring about this emotionally abusive horror that was the last two years of my life. no matter how hard i try, part of me still wants her back, i wish i didnt, but she really was my first love so i think thats whats making it so hard, what should i do X_X

    • JP says:

      Hi, Kyle! First off, I am stoked this troll is out of your life. And, you will be too. In time. I am going to write you to your personal email. – JP

  21. Barry Coppersmith says:

    Hi JP,
    Thank you for your honest and enlightening post :-)
    I recently had a short relationship with a woman I met on a dating site.
    I am an anxious preoccupied man.
    At the start of the relationship she began criticising everything I said and did.
    I found myself having to defend myself all the time with her accusations.
    I crumbled under the onslaught and thought I was losing my sanity and my self esteem went through the floor.
    I should have walked then but I found myself hanging on for the crumbs of affection that she occasionally gave me.
    She could be nice at times.
    We slept together 4 times (had sex) which was OK but she seemed to need to be in control and it was all about her.
    I became a mere shell of myself and felt like I was walking on eggshells when I was with her…waiting for her to pick up on something that I had “said” or “done” wrong then the subsequent criticism would ensue.
    I got to the stage where I couldn’t defend myself and stood there and took it like the “bad boy” that I was.
    The strange thing was that the more she did it the more I felt in love with her and wanted her acceptance..
    When I texted her or emailed her she often wouldn’t reply or if she did it was a curt 1 liner.
    My anxiety went through the roof.
    She ended it about 3 weeks ago citing that I wasn’t strong enough for her and she felt that she had hurt me to much.
    I did the usual texts…phone calls…emails (none answered except when I had her attention on the phone) to try and convince her that we could work through this together.
    On the phone she told me that “I was the loveliest man she had ever met” then
    proceeded to tell me all things I had done wrong?
    The last text I sent her was to say that I apologised for all the unwanted phone calls etc that I had done and that I wouldn’t contact her again.
    I haven’t now for two weeks and have had to fight the urge to do this constantly.
    I have done some research and discovered that she is a “dismissive avoidant”.
    Incapable of intimacy, expressing her feelings etc.
    The opposite of what I want in a relationship.
    So my logic tells me that she is wrong for me yet I have had major pain in letting her go.
    The good news is that I haven’t contacted her (2 weeks) and I am feeling better as the days pass.
    There is still a lot of pain but I am feeling more that it is OK to be who I am and that this woman has major issues which are nothing to do with me.
    I noticed that she is back on the dating website already trawling for another victim?
    The upshot of all this is that I have learnt that it is important for me to recognise early the traits of “dismissive avoidant woman” and flee for my life, my mistake was staying in the relationship for the occasional crumbs she fed me to keep me there I guess?
    I hope this post can reassure all the anxious men out there who have had this experience.
    There is nothing wrong with you!!
    The woman that you have selected to attach to has major issues around intimacy and is usually angry at men in general due to her previous relationships with bastard men.
    Unfortunately as a gentle sensitive man…you will wear that anger.
    My advice is to flee the scene while you can, you are in dire peril if you stay.

    Thank you again for your post
    Honest and illuminating.

    Cheers Barry

    • JP says:

      Barry, I am going to contact you directly via email on this one. I have some information for you that will greatly help. And, CONGRATS from getting away from this emotionally abusive troll. Trust me, she’s a miserable human being, whom gets her only slivers of validation from treating people like dirt. You’d be shocked how many of these types are out there. Celebrate your break from her. Copiously. ;-) -JP

    • Kyle C says:

      i can relate to this 100 percent! when someone starts to treat you like that, you get used to it, and when you get signs of affection and love they seem so much more than all the shit that person has put you through. ive found that its so easy to think about the first few months of your relationship, and to harp on the “honeymoon” period, yet so hard to truly think about how awful of a person they turned out to my case i stayed in the relationship in hope that she would change, but time and time again I WAS IN THE WRONG, and i had to talk to a therapist about my problems, and i was the reason she treated me this way, i held on to the girl i knew for the first few months of getting to know her, and totally look passed the monster that she truly was. My only problem is that i feel emotionally screwed right now because this girl was my first serious relationship, so i dont know what a good relationship should feel like, and the last thing i wanna do is ruin good things that come to me in the future. i would love to email you about your experiences and hear from someone who sounds so similar to the situation i went thorugh. Best of luck!

  22. Tony says:

    I love this site, it has really helped put many things in perspective, however, I’m still in so much pain and anxiety over my ex. This is what happened, we dated about 7-8 months and knew each other a year through a mutal friend. At the time that we did make it official, she was and still is going through a custody battle over her son, she has custody right now. I know being a full time student, mother, girlfriend must have been overwhelming and as she stated emotionally draining, she became this different person and started to become distant. By the way, we have been in school together taking classes, and I helped her as much as I could because I knew how much stress she was under. Around late March she said that she wanted to put our relationship on “hold” because she felt bad that she couldn’t give 100% to our relationship because of all the drama going on and her son is very needy. I understood and told her that I didn’t mind that she didn’t have a lot of time for us but I was right by her side through the custody battle and I know her son comes first. Here I am in limbo for 4 months not knowing where we were going or where I stood, I was getting mixed signals from her, I did so much for her and her son, I even got him an Elmo mascot to go to his party, nothing I wouldn’t do to see him and her happy. Take her flowers to school, just little gifts here and there to try to cheer her up through this stressful. It was very hard to be there in class with her because my feelings were still so strong with her, well at the end of our summer school session she basically tells me we are not on “hold” anymore that she just wants to be friends. I was crushed, all that waiting and waiting and hoping and that’s all it amounts to being just friends. I tried being her friend for the month of August and half of Sept but I just can’t it hurts way too much, I took the semester off too because I had two classes with her and just couldn’t take it. I had no energy or focus and just seeing her was killing me. She brought so much anxiety out those months and up to this day because we were on “hold” I felt that she was stringing me along, so this past Sat I texted her and told her I can’t communicate with her anymore cuz it hurts way too much and took her off my FB. It’s been very hard and so tempting to text her but I know it will take me back to square one all over again. She even texted me like 2 days later asking if I had dropped the class and about some class related stuff, then she continued the text with I respect your decision and I care about you and want you happy….ect. I didn’t text her back but thinking I took you off my FB why would you text me? Doesn’t make sense. I just don’t understand how some women would turn away a nice guy, a guy that loves her and her son unconditionally and would do anything to make them happy, one of the last things I told her in the text was how much they meant to me. I mean very few guys out there would accept her drama and child and try to make them happy. I just don’t get it.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Tony. It’s a sincere pleasure to provide some assistance. I am sorry to hear of your loss. That said, despite how it feels at the moment, I don’t think you lost anything of value here. I state that because the ROI on this “relationship” was abhorrently low. Like nil. ALWAYS listen to your gut. You felt she was “stringing you along.” From what I’m reading, I believe the same. It’s a hard thing to take – especially knowing how much you gave. Sadly, there are actually people out there like this. People who will take all that you give; give little to nothing in return; then walk away without a semblance of remorse. Those are the type of people we need to avoid at all costs. They’ll suck the life out of you. All of your kick-ass intentions and good works were wasted on her. Though, not wasted on her son. She will realize this one day and, hopefully, you’ll be LONG gone. I’m not saying she didn’t care about you. It just appears that she couldn’t get far enough past herself to care enough to matter. My guess is that she moves through more than a few people in this manner. Try to keep in mind this is no reflection on you! You were amazing towards her, and she hardly deserved it. Had you tried the opposite – and, found that she was more attracted to being mistreated, or treated the way she treated you – then you’d have another problem on your hands. That would be another version of her you from which you’d still want to flee. I hope that makes sense. Essentially, what I’m trying to convey, is that the only wise move with this woman, was the one you eventually made: Walk away.

      Most men have dated a woman like this at one time or another. I certainly have. And, I stuck along far too long. At some point, something within us takes over, grows our balls back, and forces us to walk. Look, you don’t owe her a single explanation as to why you don’t want/need this anymore. Just flee the scene. You mentioned the following notable sentiment I’d also like to address: “Doesn’t make sense. I just don’t understand how some women would turn away a nice guy, a guy that loves her and her son unconditionally and would do anything to make them happy, one of the last things I told her in the text was how much they meant to me. I mean very few guys out there would accept her drama and child and try to make them happy. I just don’t get it.” You’re right! It doesn’t make sense, and it never will. Because she’s bat-shit crazy. Not your circus, not your monkeys. Be glad you didn’t get her pregnant or otherwise end-up stuck with her for a lifetime. And, you nailed it, Tony – very few guys would ever sign-up for her drama and baggage.Rather than question all the things about her that didn’t make sense (of which there were many); focus on why that relationship plagued in problems was at all attractive to you. Once you start feeling good about yourself again, you will simultaneously be glad you got away from her unscathed. Trust me on this. -JP

  23. Dave says:

    Thanks JP. Your article has made me feel better that I’m not the only man going through this. You really describe every emotion so accurately that I can relate to. Reading your article has helped with the severe anxiety a little.

    So currently I am now in Phase 1. What is a little different is that I technically broke up with my ex-girlfriend 7 months ago in February. She however did not move out until about 2 months ago. I am assuming she was having trouble ending it and didn’t leave. While we still lived together it wasn’t to much different than when we were dating at the end other than not hanging out all weekend as we had previously. We still watched TV together, slept in the same bed, talked about our day as we always had and even went to dinner and movies a few times. We didn’t have much sex but by the end of the relationship that wasn’t happening much anyway. Around April she told me she finally signed a lease to move out and asked me again if I wanted to work it out or if she should sign it. Although it hurt extremely I had convinced myself that the relationship would never work and I needed to go through the hurt and finally end it and I told her to sign the lease. A few days later she confessed to me that she signed a lease for an apartment IN MY BUILDING! I immediately told her that was a bad idea for both of us if we were going through a break up. She later now confesses she did so because she wanted to be close so we could get back together. However, even with her new apartment she still remained in my apartment for two more months. While she still lived in my apartment while we were “broken up” she made attempts to try to mend the relationship however I was not interested and wanted her to move out already.

    She finally moved out in July. She however would still stop over my apartment almost daily to eat dinner and talk and she would text almost daily. We however were not physical with each other besides hugs. She still have some of her things like clothes and luggage in my apartment. I was mentally fine throughout this time for the most part and mostly hung out with friends but was not ready to start seeing dating other girls.

    Last Sunday she asked to come and had lunch in my apartment and then left. That night I was walking in front of our building and ran into her with a guy with his arms around her waist. I immediately began overwhelmed with anxiety and went to a bar with my friends.

    Start Phase 1. I haven’t quite slept longer than 3 or 4 hours per night and just lay there with anxiety thinking about her and this new guy. I also am filled with anxiety all day and it is hard to think about anything else but her. I unfortunately have continued texting her and as she lives in my building I do run into her. She has basically told me she tried to mend us but gave up and now has moved on, is happy and found a guy she wants to start seeing. She also told me this guy lives IN MY BUILDING!!

    I have been forcing myself to go to the gym and eat although I have definitely lost some weight. It is affecting me at work as it is hard to concentrate on anything else. I was considering going to see a therapist and possibly be put on medication as sometimes it just feels unbareable. I know deep down that it was the right thing to break up but it still just hurts thinking about moving on without her and her moving on without me. After reading your article it seems I am doing everything wrong. I have demanded she move out of our building but she refuses. I am considering moving and have listed my apartment for sale. I have joined some dating sites to try to finda date but it just feel forced. In my unique situation what would you recommend? Thanks again. I am so happy I found this article and don’t feel so alone anymore.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Dave! Thank you for writing to us. Your story is one to which so many can relate (including me). Rest assured, this is more a bruised ego than anything else. If you had met someone you genuinely liked first – things would feel completely different in this instance. And, her pursuit of this guy sounds more like an “in your face!” ploy than anything else. Especially since he’s in your building. You almost have to laugh at her tactics. Almost. She pursued you with more fervor than most anyone I’ve heard about thus far. And, you didn’t want her back. Which is an absolutely clear sign that you were over her. If you reflect back, you weren’t wanting her in any capacity – sexually or relationally – beyond perhaps friendship. You were handling the breakup in a very healthy manner. You were processing things adequately, spending time with friends, and not jumping into anything else. Whereas she was pursuing you full bore until she opted to try and “replace” you. I feel sorry for the other guy. He’s her rebound from you.

      Everything you’re feeling right now is based in ANXIETY. It has a twisted way of distorting emotions inaccurately. I know you already know this. But, the anxious mind is a powerful one. You stated, “I know deep down that it was the right thing to break up but it still just hurts thinking about moving on without her and her moving on without me.” PRECISELY. This is 100% about feeling left behind. EXCEPT THAT YOU WEREN’T. You alone made the choice – and, a right one – to end things amicably. And, you were moving along just fine until you ran into her rebound. Keep challenging the anxious thoughts. And, remember that THOUGHTS DO NOT = FACTS. Additionally, keep yourself planted in the moment. This is imperative.

      The past has flown away. The coming month and year do not exist; ours only is the present’s tiny point.” – Shabistari

      We always want to look back and to look ahead. But what we most need to do is be present in this moment, with ourselves, with our loved ones and friends, and with our experience right here and right now. One way we become more present in the moment is to practice gratitude. We can always name a few things we feel grateful for – small and big things, funny and serious things. Looking through the lens of gratitude brings us into the immediate moment.

      I know you feel like shit right now. But, it’s the anxiety – plain and simple. Continue to challenge it. You don’t need to do what she’s doing to try and cope with things (i.e., online dating, demanding that she moves, etc.). We cannot control others. And, it’s unfair of us to try. I’m not even sure YOU should be moving. Certainly not if you’re otherwise happy where you are. We shouldn’t make such big decisions while under the influence of anxiety. Give this decision some time. In the interim, stick with the healthy behaviors. Gratitude, exercise, therapy, and friends!! Let her do whatever she does with whomever. She’s simply trying to handle the loss in her own way, the best she can. – JP

      • Dave says:

        Hi JP,

        So since my last e-mail things has gone for the worse and it’s partially that I didn’t use your advice from this article or your response to me.

        So I continued to feel like shit and continued to reach out to my ex. I ended up giving her rides when she asked and meeting her for lunch to talk. I would try to run into her at our lobby and at the gym. At that time I never really told her that I wanted to get back to together but just that I was feeling like shit and we talked. This wasn’t good for me as her talking consisted on telling me how she has all these guys throwing themselves at her feet and I how I am doing nothing to chase her or win her back and she wasn’t going to stop seeing guys. One night she was showing me pictures of a festival she went to and flipped to one which was a bracelet she had made for someone with “latin lover” on it. I asked her who it was for and she said it was for some friend she met at the festival. This then began to eat me alive that she already had a “lover.” On one walk she told me the bracelet was for some guy she had been seeing and told me some details about him. Again she went on about all the guys throwing themselves at her feet, how she loved being single and how all the guys she’s seeing can’t believe I let her go for how great she is. She did say that she wasn’t having sex with anyone (which I never even asked her about). Throughout this whole time she repeatedly told me how I was such a bad boyfriend during our relationship also.

        I began to drink a lot do to try to sleep and kind of lost it. I eventually told her I wanted her back and that I would do what was needed to do so. I took her out on a nice dinner date and we hung out for a good majority of that weekend although we get in a screaming match one night and she punched me in the face. She told me she would stop seeing other guys while we worked things out. She then began saying that she wasn’t sure about us and that wasn’t sexually attracted to me anymore, although she found me objectively attractive. We however continued to hang out and talk.

        I began to see a therapist to try to talk things out. Last night she came over to talk. She said that if we were to get back together she had a confession. She told me she had slept with two guys during our break up about two months ago. Of course my anxiety shot sky high with also anger. What I was most angry about was that when we were talking and even before that, when she would just stop by daily, she would say how she wasn’t hooking up with anyone. This was a blatant lie which I think she said to try to have me chase her. She in fact did admit this that she came over to see me during those times so I would chase her, although now she says it was because she had a hard time letting go of me and needed to see me. I basically feel like she was playing me. Not allowing me to move on or forward by being around but still seeing and banging other guys.

        So after told me that she had been with these guys I admitted to her that I had slept with two girls as well. I basically only slept with these girls because I saw her with a guy and to try to feel better. It didn’t work. After I tell her this she says she needs to think about things and then later she texts that can’t be with me because she can’t get over me being with other women. Followed by the next morning her saying she may be able to get over it, but it may take some time. Followed by her saying that it’s over and we need to separate.

        So today I am filled with both anger and anxiety. Anger that I feel like she was playing me and anxiety about thinking about her having sex with the other men while she was still around me. Luckily I will be moving out of the building in which we both live in a week or so. I’m going to continue therapy to try to work through this. She actually told me she wanted to wait to tell me about these guys until I was in therapy. Bitch. She’s continuing to text me although she said it’s over. I also wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up stopping by my place before i move out.

        So I am kind of back in Phase I again. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated to try to get through this shit storm Thanks.

        • JP says:

          Hi, Dave – forgive the delay! I’ve been quite sick the past few days. I am saddened to hear the news. It’s a weird coincidence that Barry’s comment came right after yours. Did you happen to read it? It would help you, I think. Every time you serve yourself up to her, is an ripe opportunity for her to knock you down in some way. I think you see this now. Would you keep holding your hand against a hot stove? Of course not. So, why keep letting a woman eviscerate you? Which is far worse! You keep giving her the chance to show you something different within her consistent arsenal of hurt. She won’t. The status quo will prevail. And, that’s not okay. You’re playing right into her game. Don’t. Not anymore. It’s time you controlled the board and became the shot-caller. Let her manipulative behavior serve as your impetus to take control of your situation and not let her drive the train any longer. And, I’ve got to add that ANY woman that punches you needs a one way ticket to incarceration. Or, at the very least, out your door and out of your life forever. That should’ve been the last straw for you. This is an unhealthy person. Moreover, she’s toxic as hell for you. No one should have such a lack of impulse control. That’s physical abuse, my friend.

          So many men – myself included – ignore our own intuition and silence the rational voice within. You’re doing this when you ignore your statement, “I basically feel like she was playing me. Not allowing me to move on or forward by being around but still seeing and banging other guys.” Pay attention to that feeling because it’s real. And, sleeping with other chicks isn’t going to help you right now either. But, you know this. You must first get past this break. But, take solace in knowing that moving on far away from her is your single best option. She’s toying with you like a yo-yo. The evidence of such is abundant: “After I tell her this she says she needs to think about things and then later she texts that can’t be with me because she can’t get over me being with other women. Followed by the next morning her saying she may be able to get over it, but it may take some time. Followed by her saying that it’s over and we need to separate.” Proverbially kick this one to the curb, Dave. And, don’t look back. And, certainly don’t respond when she attempts to reengage you in her game. Get yourself a female breakup-buddy if you’re able. Just don’t respond to her anymore! Only then will you feel better and in control of the situation. Because you can’t control her moves. You can only control your end. Each time you respond in any manner, you lose and it’s back to the starting line. AVOID ALL CONTACT. I know it’s tough and she feels like an addiction. That’s how our brains work with this sort of thing. Each time you reach out, your reinforce the pattern in your brain. You “feed” that part of you that you should be starving.

          Keep up the therapy. That’s remarkable, and I’m glad you’re getting the outside perspective. I certainly don’t want to advise you any differently than your therapist. But, my guess is that he/she is telling you similar things. Stay the course, my man! Reach out anytime. -JP

  24. Tim says:

    JP, thanks for this. I’ve been split since March with my ex but had a relapse in June consisting primarily of sex, about five times a day, for two weeks and then cutting all ties at the end of June. I’ve been pretty good with it; no contact other than a passing nod one time (we work in the same building). And then this morning happened. I can’t even pinpoint what or why, there’s just an oppressive feeling and a desire to reach out to her, knowing full well that even if I “win” in this attempt, I lose completely. So, internet search, your article, pressure valve released. I was in phase III for most of early August but holy crap, the old feelings came on like a landslide this morning. It’s like losing myself completely. Not suicidal or anything like that but not caring about anything inside or around me. Hopeless, I guess.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to post this. Even if it just bought me 20 minutes this morning, I’ve bookmarked it and know I’ll come back when I need to get my mind straight. By the way, I’m another one of those people who has never commented on anything like this, although I’ve read countless articles with similar aim. Well done, sir.

    • JP says:

      Hey, Tim! Thanks for writing in. Your current feelings are actually quite “normal.” Sometimes we get hit with a regressive landslide as you’ve experienced. It most likely has much to do with your reuniting with your ex in June. But, don’t beat yourself up for it! I’m certainly familiar with the exact same setback. Most of us are. The good news is that you haven’t lost all your healing progress. It won’t take you as long to recover this time as in the original round. That’s assuming you don’t hook-up with her again, of course ;-) Not an easy task when she works in your building. I’d probably change jobs!

      I certainly don’t like reading that you feel “hopeless” at the moment. We’ve got to get your plugged back in to what helped you the first time around. You’ve done well by not reaching out. It’s called “Opposite action of love.” It’s a real technique by Marsha Linehan, if you feel like doing a Google search. Your feelings of anxiety and hopelessness will invariably drive you to the desire to reach out. When this is actually more detrimental. The brain handles this scenario precisely the same as a drug addiction and withdrawal. That’s why the feelings are so intense. The best thing you can do are solid Distress Tolerance skills. Stay extremely busy; active; eating well; sleeping enough; and spending a great amount of time with friends and close ones. Additionally, try to keep those thoughts securely affixed in the moment!!

      I thank God for my handicaps for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.” – Helen Keller

      All of us have unique talents and gifts. No obstacle, be it physical, mental, or emotional, has the power to destroy our innate creative energies. In order to tap our inner resources, we must first be willing to explore our interests and abilities. Then we need to make persistent efforts to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge which will help us achieve our highest potentials.

      No looking to the past OR future. This takes some practice, I know. But, you’re the owner of the your mind – not the other way around. Rule the thoughts, and you will obtain peace. In the interim, reach out to us at any time for additional help. Hang tough, Tim. -JP

  25. Richard says:

    Great article! It felt like you were in my own head. My story is somewhat a strange one. I just finished a very long-term relationship (8 years). When we met, she was 20 and I 27. I lied about my age and said I was 24. She found out and was fine about it. She would actually have been a lot more sexually experienced than me and this was my first proper adult relationship. Due to a couple of insecurities, I had never really gotten close to girls through school and even into my early 20’s. I went out on dates and I was always attractive to girls, but I would never let it get fully intimate for a long time.

    I have always been quite a private person and slow to open up. She was more of an extravert and we were friends for a while before starting a relationship. We moved in together 2 years in and lived together for 6 years. I worked and she was studying while also working. I loved her and her family/friends. Although I had my own friends, much of my social life would have been through her. Our relationship was not perfect but we had fun and it was easy. We did not spend that much time together in the last 2 years and when she began working nights, we spent even less time together. We got ‘comfortable’ never seeing each other and not being intimate, yet we still had fun and I was a kind of ‘lazy content’. We became almost like friends as opposed to lovers.

    A month ago we decided to split. The catalyst was her opportunity to do a post grad in another city. I know our relationship obviously wasn’t strong enough or we could have made it work. What has caught me by surprise is how hard I have taken it in the month since we decided to split. A lot of insecurities and anxious thoughts have risen to the surface. Now that I am an individual again, I look at my life in the mirror and I’m scared. I think a lot of it has to do with being 35 and the fact that I have little relationship experience prior to this one. Although still young, I have age anxiety and feel that I should have accomplished more than I have by now in every area of my life. Although still driven when in my relationship, this somehow was muted (as I had the relationship box ticked) and now I feel that we held each other back. I look at some of my friends who are getting married, having kids or buying houses together, and I feel like a failure. My mum really like her, so I even feel like a disappointment to her.

    When I think back, we never discussed marriage or future plans and we were never what I would consider ‘a team’ – but she is a missive part of my life. We have had to live together for the last month since the breakup but it’s been ok considering. Bizarrely not much seems different from the later part of our relationship. If anything, we talk more and I am more open. She is ready to move on and some days I am too, but other days I get very anxious and can’t imagine her not being in my life. It’s now crunch time and I move out tomorrow. I now feel anxious about the future, angry about wasted time, but most of all, sadness that I’m losing maybe not the perfect mate, but a soul mate nonetheless.

    Ps I am thinking of going to counseling to talk about the insecurities from childhood that I have never really addressed.

    Thanks again for the article.

    • JP says:

      Hello, Richard! Thank you for writing. Moreover, thank you for the kind feedback. I am quite pleased you were able to find some solace here.

      I want to first respond to these comments: “Now that I am an individual again, I look at my life in the mirror and I’m scared. I think a lot of it has to do with being 35 and the fact that I have little relationship experience prior to this one. Although still young, I have age anxiety and feel that I should have accomplished more than I have by now in every area of my life. Although still driven when in my relationship, this somehow was muted (as I had the relationship box ticked) and now I feel that we held each other back. I look at some of my friends who are getting married, having kids or buying houses together, and I feel like a failure. My mum really like her, so I even feel like a disappointment to her.”

      I have learned that there is incredible truth in the statement, “The quickest way to unhappiness is to compare yourself to others.” Honestly, who cares what everyone else is doing. I’ll tell you a little secret. I’m older than you, and I quit my job and risked EVERYTHING to write a book based on the this essay. And, I mean everything. I’m single, no kids, etc. And, I live in the wealthiest area on the planet. All that matters to me is the legacy of helping others that I leave behind. Most of my friends are either divorced or miserably married. Whereas I’m quite happy and fulfilled. If I compared myself to others, I’d probably feel a great failure. Set your own personal objectives for yourself. You’re doing just fine, Richard. Life isn’t about check-boxes and bucket lists. It’s about living in the present moment, and doing your best. You’re being really harsh on yourself, yeah??

      I fully support the notion of seeing a professional to help sort out some of your feelings. Keep in mind that you can avoid much of your anxiety by keeping your thoughts rooted in the PRESENT. The future is always filled with anxiety. Keep outta there! ;-) And, trust that you have far more than one great girl for you out there. Truth is, you became complacent with her for a reason. I did the same with my ex. Hell, most of all of us do the same! So, ease up on yourself. -JP

  26. The Simpleton says:

    I don’t usually comment on articles – but I have never had a piece of written word resonate me like this. This process is exactly what I am going through at the moment right down to every quote and text message sent. It is quite reassuring to hear that others (especially guys) are going through what I am going through. The anxiety is terrifying at times – and I genuinely thought I wouldn’t get through it – this article helped massively. I would strongly encourage you to write more on the topic online and as regularly as possible. Thank you again.

    My only problem seems to be removing the idea of ‘trying to win her back’ from my head. She has moved on but part of me is convinced it is just a rebound thing, mainly because of the way it ended. We broke up years ago, but remained “friends” but nothing really changed. I feel like I should try and do whatever it takes to win her back but it’s impossible to let that go. Any advice?

    • JP says:

      I am truly honored that it was my essay that prompted you to submit your first comment – Thank you! And, yes – a ton of men experience the same things following a breakup. We just don’t have a panel of peers on to which to soundboard stuff like this. I’m glad you found a venue with State of Anxiety. Tom is writing more blogs each week related specifically to breakup advice. Meanwhile, I am 50,000 words deep into my new book on the same subject, backed with Tom’s clinical expertise.

      “Trying to win her back” is an extremely common goal. I mean, you saw the egregious extremes I went to in my own quest. Funny thing is, I didn’t even truly want or need my ex. It was just the fact that I lost. Also, that I was badly hurt for losing my best friend. After a bit of distance, I realized this was all for the better. Your situation sounds similar AND different. It sounds like you are still in contact; friends even. That’s great. Since you asked my advice, I will dispense what I would do if in your shoes. If you truly believe she is the one, and want to move forward with no regrets, then you’ve got to be perfectly up-front and abundantly clear with her. She has to know. Perhaps you’ve already let her know. Since I don’t know how privy she is to your true feelings, my advice is twofold.

      (1) IF she is, in fact, fully aware of your feelings and intent to be together again, maybe she needs to miss you for awhile to know what your absence feels like. With you being so available and longing to be back with her, she may not miss you enough until you’re gone. Maybe she needs to wonder where you’ve gone. This is a MAYBE. I don’t know her current state of mind. But, in my lengthy experience with these things, if someone truly cares enough, they will let you know. But, you’ll never know if she never misses you. Ya know?

      (2) If she doesn’t know exactly how you feel, the only way you can walk away with your head held high is after you’ve made a valiant attempt to place all the cards on the table. You can make a final grand, heartfelt gesture to convey your feelings. Do this in person!! Be confident, open and vulnerable. If she is unable/unwilling to reciprocate, you may not like it, but you will have peace of mind that you gave it your all.

      Again, this is just how I would approach a similar situation. You need to do what’s most appropriate for you. Either way, you’ve got our vote! Please let us know what you decide and the outcome. – JP

  27. MJ says:

    First, I would like to say thank you so much for writing this article. It really made me see the humor in my actions and I hope to reach that stage of acceptance soon.

    My boyfriend had broken up with me two months ago. We had dated for 7, almost 8 months. He told me he wanted to be alone, beyond just needing space. At first, he mentioned he was very suicidal so of course I did not leave him alone. But after I talked him out of it, it definitely hit me hard that this had actually happened. I continued to keep contacting him even though I know he wanted to be alone. I am just nervous because he is showing schizophrenic symptoms and refuses to tell his mom or seek help on his own (we are both minors). He has been ignoring everyone and will not speak to anyone whatsoever. It has been a month since I have last heard from him.

    I feel very selfish for wanting to be with him when I know it is the wrong thing to do and that I should respect his wishes. My friend who also went through a similar phase my ex is going through told me that her friends never left her side. I suggested to my ex’s friend that we do the same thing and give him some quiet company, just sitting quietly and only talking to him if he speaks up. But he said it would work only if he and another guy friend of theirs came. My friend, who also knows my ex, said that I since I wasn’t his girlfriend he wouldn’t want or need my help. Of course this hurts, but he told me himself that he trusts me more than anyone, and this was after we had broken up. Then again, he also told me that I had been a “distraction” and that he merely liked the idea of being with me.

    I guess what hurts the most is that it seems like every “I love you” was a lie because I was simply a rebound from his last ex and everything else that was wrong with his life. I am just nervous for school to start because any and every little thing could set me off and lead me to start crying, which almost always makes me have a panic attack.

    I know all of this is very selfish, and that I should be more concerned for him than myself considering the state he is in. I now understand what he wanted when he wanted to be alone, although I wish he didn’t have to put me through it. I have struggled with depression, self harm, and anxiety for years and yet nothing has set me off or hurt me more than this. I guess I had, for once in my life, felt valued and loved and important and having that taken away has proven very difficult. Not a day goes by that I don’t cry or break down of any sort.

    I know I am young and most girls my age have gone through this at least once, but for some reason this phase has seemed to linger with me more than most. Perhaps it was because he was the first boy that had even kissed me or paid attention to me. He is still the person I trust the most and I would still consider him to be my best friend, because he has been the only friend who would really listen and care and try to make me feel better. But now all of that is gone and I just feel as though I am drowning. I feel as though all of this is so trivial compared to all the suffering around me in the world. Everyone else here had been in their relationships at least for a year.

    Truthfully, I am feeling quite sheepish. Everyone, especially my parents, are so fed up with me and either view me with pity or just sigh with boredom, as if to say to get over it already. I just feel really stupid when there should be other things I should be worrying about, and also to burden people around me with such a stupid issue. No one wants to be around a sad person, and I have lost many friends because of this, and even the ones that remain only need things from me or talk to me out of obligation. I am a good listener so that is another reason they stick around.They “forget” to invite me to places, even making plans in front of me. Of course I am used to this, but it used to be okay because I know he would be there. I am trying my best but without him, my best friend, it just seems like I am so alone in the world. Even though we decided we would break up before college had we lasted through senior year, I always thought we would be there for each other.

    Sorry for this long rant, but I am looking for any hopeful words or prayers or anything of the like. I am excited for school and to apply to colleges this year, but I just wish he and I were doing it together. I am sorry for wasting everyone’s time.

    • JP says:

      Hi there, Marie. I am glad you found solace here. On first read, I am quite impressed with your maturity and how well-spoken and insightful you are for being a minor. Your intelligence and compassion will be of great use to you in overcoming your current pain. The second thing that struck me is how apologetic and self-critical you are. Let’s put those two to rest right now. Never judge your current state of mind. Rather, accept what you are feeling. Those emotions are natural, so there’s not need to judge your judging. And, you certainly don’t need to apologize to me or anyone else. Okay??

      I am sad to learn that your ex has been so stricken with mental anguish and depression, etc. These are vast, invisible wounds. Robin Williams was illustrative of this just today. Mental health issues are paramount to one’s overall well-being. This is so much for your to take on – especially at this age. You are not responsible for him. Though, I commend you for your steadfast support. More often than not, those who try to help loved ones with mental illness become victims of their occasional – though unintended – abuse. I know how much it hurts to be told you were a “distraction.” I don’t know if that was actually true or not. I do know that you are not his emotional punching-bag. So, you have no obligation to stand by idly while you are taken for granted or cast aside. Don’t let your loyalty lead to unnecessary sadness in his perilous, but callous state. You simply don’t deserve that. You have already done so much. And, if he and/or his friends are telling you that you don’t need to be there for him any longer, than you certainly need to “get away from the hot stove” and stop getting burnt. Whether or not your were a distraction or a rebound, or if he really loved you is unknown. It honestly doesn’t matter. You know you deserve more than what you’re currently receiving. He is in a bad mental space, and might say things just to hurt you. It would fulfill some self-loathing within him. It’s unfortunate for all involved. Care for him from a distance, while you tend to your own wounds right now. Hopefully, he will reach out to someone for help. You’ve got to focus on school and your big next life steps. Don’t fear the anxiety and panic. If anxious thoughts come, let them pass right over your. Do not fight them! Rob them of their debilitation simply by accepting them, holding on to none of them, and letting them pass over and past you. Trust me on this ;-) Accepting the potential panic negates them altogether.

      You wrote, “I have struggled with depression, self harm, and anxiety for years and yet nothing has set me off or hurt me more than this. I guess I had, for once in my life, felt valued and loved and important and having that taken away has proven very difficult. Not a day goes by that I don’t cry or break down of any sort.” Why do you sacrifice your feelings and peace of mind for his, while suffering such similar fates? Are you not worth of serenity and happiness?? Of course you are. I want you to learn something right now: NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE validates you but YOU. Your intrinsic value comes from our Creator and from within you. Your value is absolutely not tied to him in any manner whatsoever. You are allowing him make you feel crappy. But, he certainly has no real influence on your self-worth, That, my dear, is tied only to you. And, it’s high-time you realized your own amazing self-worth! He is definitely not the only one out there who loves and cares for you. You have so much to give and receive in this life. You are merely getting started at this point. Also, keep in mind that your current feelings and thoughts do Not = Facts. Anxiety will lead us astray here, convincing us otherwise with negative mental chatter. Flip the script, Marie. It’s not true. I know that it feels like you’re suffocating in a bog right now. But, it’s not reality. These are feelings driven by negative thoughts. Change the thoughts and the reel playing in your head, and the rest will follow. It’s not easy. It starts with focusing on three positives per day, while removing yourself from the situation that is causing this grief. You must become your biggest proponent and fan. Rise up and take a stand for yourself. You’re so worth it! This isn’t some cliche mantra. This is a clear, outside perspective looking in at what you cannot see right now because you’re in a trench of raw emotion.

      If your loved ones are “fed-up” with what they’re seeing in you, it’s because they genuinely love you and can’t stand seeing you take onus of pain that isn’t yours. How long are you going to pay this penance, Marie?? How long? Haven’t you suffered long enough? The integral piece that’s missing here is the part where you are tired of being down, and take a stand for yourself. Enough is enough. You’ve paid this emotional toll in full, and it’s time to take your life back and enjoy what is rightfully yours. You are entitled to happiness. It is your birth-rite. Yet, you’re choosing a path of martyrdom. Why not be a fan of “you” for awhile? Life is dynamic. Things are always changing and evolving. This includes us and who comes and goes within our lives. Not everyone is meant to stay in our sphere of influence. You are precisely where you need to be. You are excited for your near-term future because you should be! It IS exciting. You’re about to embark on the best years of your life. So, do you and everyone who cares about you a favor: Accept this opportunity and seize every moment in the moment. This is your time. Your single best opportunity to write the rest of your script. And, I’m excited FOR you. I mean that. Make us all proud. -JP

  28. JO says:

    Hey, just wanted to say how much I’ve really appreciated this article. I’ve read it a few times and have shown it to friends that are going through break-ups now (much like myself). I find it hilarious, insightful, and universal. Its the best piece I’ve read regarding the subject.

    I guess I have a question/need reassurance. My boyfriend and I had a “mutual” break-up a month ago. It was more on his end, and I am hopelessly in love. By all accounts I’ve been doing everything right. Cut out (most) of the drinking, found a great new job within two weeks of the break-up (we were working together on a temporary one), exercising, and eating well. I haven’t reached out to contact him at all because I’m stubborn and I deleted 99.5% of the pictures I had/contact info. I know thinking about him all the time is okay, because its still fresh, but I also have these fantasies of us getting back together, when I’m in tip-top shape, making good money, and overall in a better mental state. I try to stop them, but I find them slipping into my daydreams. Is this okay/healthy? I find myself kind of living in them a little, even though its quite clear he doesn’t want to get back together (he sent me a text the other day asking to talk on the phone this weekend and I asked him “what about?” and he said “just to keep in touch, but guess its too soon.” I never responded). I’m terrified I’ll be living in this fantasy and won’t be able to fully get over him. What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen? I don’t want any hope for it to work, so I can put myself in the best state possible.

    Thanks for the article again.

    • JP says:

      Please forgive me, Jo! Your comment slipped by me in the queue – hence my very late response. UGH. I feel badly about this. It happens every once in a while. First, THANK YOU for your feedback, and for writing to us. If it’s not too late to provide some feedback, I would like to do so.

      CONGRATS on your initial handling of the breakup. That is certainly commendable. You did so many things right, and so very quickly. The feelings and thoughts you’re experiencing are absolutely normal – including the fantasies of being back together. On the upside, your psyche is working as it should. Often, however, this is to our own detriment. Not to worry – you won’t remain in the fantasies. They’ll settle over time. Honestly, the best thing you can do, is the culmination of all that you’re doing. I’m not sure if you’ve already discovered this on your own, or if you’ve made contact with him. It’s not too often I see breakup suffers doing so many things right.

      Take solace in the fact that you are of such good character that he has wanted to remain in touch. This should solidify to you that you’ve got nothing to regret. That’s a biggie. And, if he’s sure he does not want to reconcile for whatever reason, then your actions are precisely what they should be – mostly the no contact element. This take so much discipline for most of us. Including me! But, you’re level of self-control is one we should marvel ;-)

      All experience is an arch to build on.” – Henry Brooks Adams

      We can learn something from any experience, even one that is painful. In fact, we often learn more from painful experiences than from pleasant ones. Pain gives us a reason to learn. We can’t change the experiences we have, but we can learn from them. Our life is a gift that comes wrapped in what we experience each moment. When we accept this gift and open it willingly, no matter what the wrapping looks like, we put ourselves in a position to discover unexpected treasures. We live life to the fullest, and we learn who we are as we grow. In that way, all experience is positive in building our new lives.

      Look, the bottom line is that if in your absence he is still sticking with the independence/not reconciling thing, then you shouldn’t look back. Be great and be gone. Any lack of interest on his part bears NO reflection on your self worth. Okay? I’m proud of you for doing so many things so well. Please let me know if you need any assistance. -JP

  29. Jared says:

    Your marks are dead on… I was with a girl for 4 years engaged for one. Long story short I have a son that now calls her mom (real mom is gone) my mistake for letting that happen but it did. She left because I have an issue showing feelings. She was my world and I never let her know. I see now I did wrong, and only want her back. She states she no longer wants anything to do with, and does not want to hear from me again. Its been a week and I have been strong and said nothing. But that doesn’t change I want her back, and that it gives me physical anguish knowing she’s OK just walking away. She’s made it clear there is no chance of working it out and the best thing is to accept it and move on. And that’d my trouble, I can’t except it… I have thought long and hard and came up with a letter in hopes she might realize that I see my mistakes… And here it is, very sorry for how long this is…
    First I want to thank you for showing who I need to be. I’ve learned a lot looking back on our relationship and see now a lot of times I should of done things different. I also know it wasn’t always me, that you too did the same type of tings I did, but when you did them I handled them poorly. I know I need to communicate and stop being so prideful and let my significant other in. I thank you because you made me a better person, and with it I have more to offer in my future relationships. I have quite smoking and cut way back on my drinking, thanks to your push. At first I did it out of spite, but then I realized I needed to take better care of myself and perhaps that’s what upset you the most… I still do love you very much, and the place in my heart where I held you is now empty, and will always remain so. I will find another love, in time, but I can only give her so much of my heart
    because the rest is the hole where I kept you. I try and stay occupied, keep my mind off you but can’t always succeed, and a tear will roll down my cheek and I will get sad, and it gets hard to breath, but then I think of the times you truly did all you could to make me happy and I smile, and wish I had done more for you. I find myself saying your name and makes my heart race every time I do. I always had the intention of marrying you, but pride never let me tell you the true reason. I couldn’t let you know how much I needed you and how I couldn’t wait to see you, how week you made my knees, even after four years. But none of that matters, so now I pray for the hard days to be over and for your happy days to begin. You are my princess, my everything, so I walk away in shame that i let you go, but i try and pick my head up and realise, life simply goes on, and smile….
    And that is it. I haven’t sent it because I believe it makes no difference. But why am having such a hard time accepting this is over? How do I tell myself what I want isn’t what I want? How do I stop hoping there’s a chance? I’ve been thru heartbreak… I have son with no mother, I didn’t think it got harder than that. Yes that instance broke my heart but nothing like this and it eats me up. Am I a bad father for that? Am I a bad person for trying to be what I thought was strong? And realizing now what I did wrong shouldn’t I get another chance? I feel bad even having to post this, I’ve never in my life gone to the internet for something… Just an idea please? And again… Sorry for the length of this.

    • JP says:

      Jared, I am so sorry for your pain. Reading your words and seeing you beat yourself up is hard. I want you to stop berating yourself. I know exactly what you’re feeling. The acceptance piece is a huge pill to swallow. The first thing I want you to work on is recognizing this fact: You did the absolute best you could with the skills and knowledge you had at each step of this relationship. I’m not just saying this – You did. Once this sinks in for you, peace will come. Hindsight is great in the lesson it provides. But, you could not possibly have knew then what you know now. Be okay with that piece of this. She had her part in this too. You are doing what we all do following a painful loss, and idealizing her. I’m sure she was wonderful. But, I want you to recall how human she was, and give as much credit to her shortcomings as you do your own. You communicated your feelings extremely well in this post. So, we both know you’ve got some incredible qualities. Don’t sell yourself short, Jared. Also, we are not our actions, or thoughts, or fears, or anxieties, or faults. We are ALL imperfectly unique. It’s wonderful that you care so much for your son. I know you are hurting badly. And, if it gives you some peace, send the letter to her. All we can doion any endeavor is our best. What you wrote above is some truly rich insight and love. What she does with that is up to her. But, if may give you some closure if you share this with her. But, do it while not expecting a reply. Do this for you, with no anticipated outcome. Then focus only on yourself and your son.

      We have the power to direct our minds to replace the feelings of being upset, depressed, and fearful with the feeling of inner peace.
      – Gerald G. Jampolsky

      And, Remember the Golden Key. That whenever trouble arises, the first thing to do is to turn it over to our Higher Power. We can take all necessary practical steps to solve a problem, but we don’t need to decide what the answer may be. Do this, and you’ll soon be out of your difficulty. This is essentially the formula of the Golden Key as taught by Emmet Fox. It is a manner of living one’s life with the constant knowledge that a Higher Power is always part of it. We should also condition ourselves to believe that our Higher Power has been with us all along and will continue to show us the way. Nothing depends on our being “spiritual” or “saintly” or perfect in behavior. With all our shortcomings, we are and ever will be children of God.

      And, please read this latest post by Tom. Hang tough, Jared. You will come out of this a better man. This I know. -JP

  30. JG says:

    First thank you. You described the majority of my feelings. My wife of 3 years (together for 8) moved out 2 weeks ago. There were other men involved that I confirmed when I saw the text messages. But even with that I still want her. She moved back to her original home.. I tried to show her what it should be. I did tons of work around her home just to be by her. Then she told me she wasn’t going to be home on the weekend because she was going away with friends. Friends that included one of the guys. I was devastated beyond belief. I stopped speaking to her. It’s been two days and thoughts of absolute horror go through my mind. My phone rings and I don’t breath.. I just hope I can get through this as I cant shut off my mind.

    • JP says:

      Hello, JG. Thank you for sharing your story. That’s a big one. Your wife breached your trust and the bonds of the marriage. But, you love her and want what you had. That makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, however, you are living a new reality. One that entails her blatant disrespect of your vows and your feelings. So, no matter how badly you want ‘what was,’ the goal is to accept ‘what is.’ At least for now. I can only hope she makes a complete turnaround and give you both the time and discussion your 8 years warrant. However, we cannot control other people. Wanting to control other people, to make them live as we’d have them live, makes the attainment of serenity impossible. And serenity is your goal!! We are powerless over others, which relieves us of a great burden. Controlling our own behavior is a big enough job. Every responsible action you now take will give you the courage for another. You own fulfillment is the by-product of the accumulation of our own responsible actions at this point.

      That said, at this moment, you are in crisis mode and need to focus on distress tolerance. You are already doing one major thing correctly: No contact. I know full well that we often crave the worst things for us. I am truly sorry for what you are experiencing. It’s time to go into self-preservation mode and do things to care for YOU. Sometimes the single best thing you can do is not think; not imagine; not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best. I know how hard a task that can be. But, this is the time to lean hard on those who love you. Get food in ya – even if it’s smoothies and soup. Eat with friends while talking. It’s easier to get the calories down. Take long walks and try to get whatever exercise you’re able. Again, with others if possible. And, spend the nights with family or friends too. Do whatever you have to do to be kind to yourself in every moment. Keep your head in the absolute present. Don’t look back and get nostalgic; don’t keep burying yourself in the “Why’s;” and, don’t wonder about the future. It’ll present itself when you get there. All that matters is each passing second, and how you do nothing else but focus on your own well-being within each one. The rest will fall into place. Just take care of you now, and make yourself the priority. Not what she might be doing or thinking. Be great and be gone. At least for now. -JP

  31. khar1522 says:

    Thanks jp This article has helped me a lot.

    Some back story

    So i met her 2 years ago when we were both 23/24. She was born and raised in france and came to the states at around 13. We met under some odd circumstances (on a voice program i was on and randomly started talking to her) i found out she was near where i loved and well yeah we kept talking and so on. After a year she had to go to france due to some issues with her family.

    Our plan was that after a few months or at most a year she would come back and it would be fine since we had skype and web cammed almost every day. Six months passed and I lost my job which she understood. SO then it became a fact of me getting another “stable” job so that she can then come back herself and look for a job so as to not get stressed out so much. She loved with her aunt in france and didn’t work while there(still there), so we spent a lot of time talking, watching moves together, shows, anything you could possibly do over the internet.

    About 1 month ago or so i start noticing shes become somewhat distant, now we are still talking every day for an hour or two but it had suddenly changed from all day to 1 hour at most. She didn’t go out or anything but she was busy doing some packing with her aunt so i understood that part, but anytime she did have to spare she would spend talking to friends or just not wanting to talk to me or wanting to hang up. So i figured something was about to happen, which it did. 14 days ago i offered her a break because it really seemed like she needed it, and i want to try and help us anyway i could and respect her. She told me she loved me and wanted to make things work. Four days later she tells me its over. I ask if we can talk to which she says ok, and we end up talking for about 15 minutes. I did not beg at all nor do anything that I know I’m not supposed to. I simply asked if there was anything i could do to fix it and if she could give me a chance in a normal voice. She said no she didn’t feel anything anymore. I said ok and good luck. The whole time she was kind of smiling or looked like she was trying to be cool or mean about it? i don’t know. She said it was taking too long and didn’t think it was going to happen when thing were finally starting to go as planned. We spoke once more about 4 days ago and she spoke of me to a mutual friend. So we spoke again and she was basically arguing about money i owed her (nothing big around 100) Don’t know why that would matter but yea we argued about that for about 10 minutes and then removed eachother from everything, and well here I am. I don’t know what to do if i should try and talk to her or just move on. I have gotten rid of everything that could remind me of her. We had so much in common and we used to make such a great team at everything. The argument helped me feel better and dislike her somewhat but past 2 days i have not been able to stop thinking about her. I could use some help please and thank you in advance.

    P.S sorry if i Wrote like a 12 year old. Bad sentence structure and what not. Was in a rush.

    • JP says:

      As I read through your post, I was hit with a familiar theme: Why can’t we all just break-up like adults?? First, I must commend you on holding it together so well. You did what you should have. It appears that she is handling this in a coy, distant manner. It’s impossible to crawl into her psyche to determine why – so, we won’t even speculate. You will trip yourself into mental purgatory if you try to figure out what she’s doing/thinking. I’m guessing you already know this, but the single best action you can take is: DO NOTHING. The mere mention counters everything your body and heart want to do. But, engage your rational, thinking mind and sequester your emotional mind for as long as you’re able. Doing nothing is doing a lot. It prevents regretful actions; It maintains your dignity; It takes the control of the situation and places it within you; And, it will slowly lessen your anxiety and yearning. Trust that I know how hard this is. You can either do nothing, or regret nearly everything you do going forward.

      Here’s the thing – she didn’t forget about you and the relationship. And, if the relationship has a pulse, she won’t let it die. But, there is nothing you can do to sustain it by yourself. So, take what dignity and control you have in this moment, and GO GHOST. That’s my favorite mantra from one of my esteemed commenters below. It’s a lesson most of us learn the hard way. Instead, we try to fix things. Men are “fixers.” We want to repair what is broken and make things right. Only, we cannot control others. Oftentimes, we need to leave to their own stuff, and preserve ourselves. Do me a favor and read Tom’s latest post about this HERE.

      One final note: If things are ever to work again, they will work despite your best efforts. You’ve already stressed your interest in working things out, and atoned for whatever was needed. At this point, you have no further amends or points to make. Now, obtain some distance to see where things settle. Nothing you can do right now will favorably influence the outcome. Whether this relationship is to work again or terminate, the best thing for you to do is … NOTHING. -JP

      • khar1522 says:

        Thanks for replying JP

        Before i came back to check if you had replied i had basically decided to do what you wrote. I felt I already told her id like to make it work, and if she wants to then she knows how to find me. Besides that I’m done and just going to try and move on. Past few days I was basically torturing myself asking myself if I should try and do anything to try and fix it and possibly make a fool out of myself. I now feel a lot better that I am doing what i decided I should do..Nothing. Seeing you write what I felt I should do just makes it feel all the better and that I’m doing the right thing here. I still have that crap feeling inside but ill manage.
        Thank you so much for responding JP and making me feel 1000 times better about all of this.

        • JP says:

          You nailed it: You already told her everything you needed her to know. She knows how to contact you. Anything you do at this point, will only push her further away, while filling you with additional regret. It will take considerable time for the anxiety to lessen. But, the greatest way to rob it of its power is not to feed the anxiety. And, you do this by?? Exactly … NOTHING. Distract the hell out of yourself until this becomes easier for you. Stay busy and – equally important – please be exceptionally kind to yourself! -JP

          • khar1522 says:

            So here’s an update, She told a mutual friend that she keeps thinking about if shes made the right decision. Now I don’t know what to do.

          • JP says:

            NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Let her figure it out for herself. She won’t have any insight or start missing you if you’re in her space selling yourself on your virtues. Read through the other comments below. Read my breakup essay again if needed. If you chase her, she will run circles away from you. Any chance you have at reconciliation will not be positively swayed by your unwarranted intervention. This is breakup advice you can bank on, my friend. Keep us posted. -JP

          • khar1522 says:

            Alright ill do nothing. I was fine the past two weeks but hearing that brought all that anxiety back. Trying to get it under control again and just relax and go back to doing what i was doing.

          • JP says:

            You were much better the past two weeks because you extracted yourself from the source for awhile. Setbacks are part of the process. Stay the course, brother. -JP

          • khar1522 says:

            So… I don’t know if you would respond again after this much time but. I’m Pretty much over the entire thing. The “going ghost” as you put it has helped a lot. Though 2 days ago she spoke to my friend again. This time she was asking If I ever talk about her, if I do talk about her is it good things or bad things, if its good things what exactly do I say about her. She also asked if i was seeing anyone , and asked several other things. She also told my friend that she is currently in Belgium and then going to London three days later. It would seem shes is trying to escape and or keep herself busy. She had no plans of this while we were together. I feel I’m pretty much over it. But now that I am, I can possibly think about it without any feelings. Not sure if i should try talking to her. My friend seems to want us to get back together.

          • JP says:

            Thanks for the update! It seems that by avoiding contact you are in a much better place. She is dealing with her own stuff, while trying to sort out her own thoughts and feelings. She is obviously still thinking about you. That said, personally, I would continue on your own track and focus on YOUR well-being (and, not reaching out). If she makes contact, that’s one thing. And, you can deal with that if/when it happens.

            Do you want to continue receiving updates from your mutual friend? Is this helping or hindering you? Just some thoughts to consider. You don’t need an intermediary at this point. If she wants to contact you, she knows how. In my opinion, you’re in a good place right now. You know she cares, and is working on her own “stuff.” But, that’s all inconsequential to you. You’re doing your own thing and being your own man.

            All in all, it seems like things are much improved. -JP

          • khar1522 says:

            So she contacted me a few days ago. We spoke for a while on the phone. About an hour. She was a bit flirty and we laughed about old times etc. We spoke about some of our issues and we cleared the air.But she said she would like to date when she comes back to new york(after we broke up she moved with her family in france). She said if we are both single and still interested we can go on a date. All it sounds like is that she wants to have me around as a back up in case she still single. Which I will have no part of. I will be her friend for now because she just found out her mom has a brain tumor. So ill be there for her. But then I’m done.

          • JP says:

            Well, I see it a bit differently I think. It appears she is still quite interested in you. It seems she’s just being realistic about where you both are geographically, and what you’re both experiencing. I don’t see her using you as a “back-up” the way you do at all. – JP

  32. TJ says:

    Thank you for writing this – and most of all addressing how this hits so much on anxiety. You are such a clever funny honest and authentic writer, I believe thats why so many people can relate (that, and the fact we ARE normal and human going through these painful emotions – for a reason) I’m recently out of a relationship, short as it was, it was intense. While he was the one who pursued me and said “I love you” first, I fell hard and comfortable for him and the entire situation. Including getting to know his kids. It likely went fast, but at this age (early 40s), I didn’t feel “waiting” was as paramount and I knew me. Fast forward some amazing months together, I find out he’s cheating on me. One with a woman he’d been sleeping with for TWO years (including during his last relationship – and one of the only 4 women he’s ever loved in his life. He’s 47 – this woman is late FIFTIES! I also find there was another woman he was sleeping with. Who knows if/how many others there were. Needless to say, from the minute I found out about his “dalliances” I knew it had nothing to do with me. That I didn’t do, say, or act wrong in any way. I know I was true to myself. He is just a selfish narcissistic man-child who was created before I even met him.

    I had utter trust and belief in him that he was a good guy. I felt comfortable with him – an equal – never judged. And I told him this often. He knew I trusted him and took advantage of it. This was the first relationship where I felt 100% authentic, confident, happy and able to communicate like adults that included LISTENING! I was devastated when I found out and he “doesn’t know why he did it”. Never did he beg for me to come back as he knows what he did was wrong. But me, being an overly empathetic human being still cared for him. Or rather cared for not being alone and missed the comfort of company and connection – the essence of my being.

    Stupidly we did see each other – one time purely physical on my request thinking I could do that – boy was I wrong. I cut off communication as I knew I was compromising myself as this man was STILL sleeping with these women, thinking it was ok, as they supposedly knew about each other. My value of fidelity and honesty should trump any physical needs I have (yes, women have these too) as I know I connect emotion very intensely with the physical part of being with someone. This re-connection happened twice about a month apart. And I knew that despite my incredibly broken heart and how comfortable (if not even soothing) it was to be with him, my value of one-man/one-woman honesty, fidelity is paramount. I am finally in phase III yet still have some anxiety. I dont want to go into my next relationship questioning trust. That’s not who I am, nor can I live with that as it will increase my anxiety.

    I’m in therapy, moving energy, meditating, and going on dates. The first three are working. The dating – well, it’s keeping me busy and guarded. There is a guy who really likes me, knows my situation, and I’m struggling to drop my anxious feelings (i even cried on one of our dates!!! Who does that!? He’s still calling and being patient). The one this I know I should be doing (despite the fact I shouldn’t “should” myself) is exercising. It’s been a struggle to get out there for some reason. So, I’ve decided to hire an organizer to declutter my apartment and closets. Hopefully letting go of some of this other material stuff, will help me let go of the memories of this selfish man-child.

    Thank you again for writing this article and taking such time and care to make very thoughtful responses. I can only imagine how therapeutic it is for you as it is for others. I know there is someone better out there. And this was another painful lesson that will only make me stronger (until I have a clean closet and get my ass working out!)

    • JP says:

      Hi, TJ! No, thank YOU for writing in to us. Don’t worry you’re amazing feedback didn’t got to my head. Us writer types are an insecure bunch. So, we need regular outside affirmations just to feel normal ;-) I am sorry you fell for a man-child. There are a ton of ‘em out there. This guy seems to be one of the “poster boys,” however. It’s especially sad since he has children. He’s a role model for them, so I would think he would be more cognizant of such. However, I don’t know him – only what you are sharing about him and your relationship. Feeling strongly connected to someone via sex is dangerous when we sleep with the wrong people. But, please don’t judge yourself for the intensity of the connection. That’s why it’s so important to be cautious with whom we share the act. Some – women and men alike – are able to just compartmentalize the act. It’s just sex for them. While others are affected more deeply through the act. That is actually the way in which sex was intended. Your ideal of fidelity is both important and something you need to continue to honor. This guy just isn’t worth your time or admiration. I’m surprised anyone else is okay with his wandering ways. I would think he would be over that crap at his age. Some of us guys never grow-up, however.

      It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. You’re being true to yourself, seeking some great outside help, being honest with those you date, and you’re highly invested in your personal successes. That’s wonderful. The guy you’re now dating seems like the type of guy worthy of your time. Regarding the exercise, it’ll come. It’s that whole inertia thing. Once you get a program started, you’ll stick to it. Just ease into it with activities that you ENJOY. If you start with gym stuff that sucks, you’ll never stick with it. Do some fun walks, hikes, tennis, biking, or whatever will keep you engaged. The anxiety will lessen it’s grip on you. Just keep countering the anxious thoughts and behaviors. Do the opposite of what the anxiety drives you to do. That’s the quickest way to sap it’s power over you.

      And, yes – you are right! Keeping engaged with you and others is quite therapeutic. It keeps me sharp and on top of my own game so that I don’t repeat my own mistakes. I’ve made nearly all of the mistakes that everyone here has written in about. And, helping others is really fulfilling. I wish I got paid for this! Thank you, again. Keep up the great work. -JP

  33. Matt says:

    JP ! First time ever I have commented on a post but felt I had to. What an amazingly brilliantly written post, everything you said made me feel that little bit better and clicked in my mind as I was reading. Can’t wait for the book! …. I have had 2 long term relationships before that I ended but never gone through what I am feeling now, in a way it feels better that I’m not alone with these feelings. I am 2 months out of 2 year relationship with an ex co worker and after breaking through phase 1 & 2 my anxiety attacks are the worst ever. I was the one who ended the relationship due to the 11 year age gap, I just couldn’t see how the relationship would survive and even though we both loved each other I thought it was best. We were at different stages of our lives and now she is off travelling (she quit her job the day we ended) I feel lost. We have been no contact since the day I finished it but last week I weakened and looked at her facebook, seeing her smiley pics with her friends really feels like a punch in the stomach. I reached out sent 3 messages over 3 days but no reply, I never thought that she would not reply to one of my messages. All I can think about is how she is happy now in her life, she has moved on and forgotten about me. I keep thinking what I have lost and the amazing time we had together. I hadn’t had these thoughts in the first 2 months and now I feel like I am going backwards, I have anger towards her. I need to stay strong and your words have encouraged me to do this!

    • JP says:

      Hi, Matt! I am deeply honored that my essay was the one to which you replied. Your feedback is humbling. It’s worth noting again that I wrote this essay to keep my sanity when I thought I was the only man in the world experiencing breakup grief so harshly. Was I ever wrong. It’s amazing how much better we feel just knowing we aren’t alone. As men, we’ve been conditioned to suck it up and bear it solo. This doesn’t work for all of us. And, it’s not the best approach to healing for anyone. I’m happy to hear this resonated for you. I have to strongly commend you on ending something that you knew would not work longer term. It takes a lot of guts to step-up and make such a call. Sometimes a big age gap can work – but, typically only when both parties are at the same life stage (and, past about the age of 35). Otherwise, it’s a trying experiment in life lessons. I’ve been there. I recently dated a woman whom was 15 years my junior. It felt like I was parenting her half the time.

      Take some solace in knowing you are not the only one to convey the hurtful sentiment of your ex moving on happily. Keep in mind that everyone handles breakups differently. And, you certainly don’t spend two years with someone and forget any of it within a few months. My guess is that since you ended things – and, for logical reasons – she is doing what most anyone would do: Not letting the world see her outwardly hurting. It sounds like she dove in to some healthy distractions doing some traveling and spending time with friends, etc. The last thing she’s going to do is post morose and depressed statements and imagery on social media. Nor would you. Instead, she’s doing what most any well-adjusted individual would do: Try to move forward and not dwell on the loss. And, Facebook is notorious for making people feel down and out. It’s not a accurate representation of reality. It’s an online, personal marketing brochure.

      It’s easy to take her actions personally because it feels like a blow to the ego. I wrote about this hurtful sensation. We sometimes want to see our ex in as much pain as we’re feeling at any given time. But, she is handling the breakup the best way she knows how – which means not allowing herself to respond to you right now – which feels like shit. But, it certainly doesn’t mean you’ve been forgotten. Remember, Feelings do NOT equal facts! Thoughts also do not equal facts. Those are anxious thoughts running amok in your psyche. And, you’re not going backwards. You’ve temporarily regressed because you looked at her Facebook. I seriously wish I could knock Facebook off it’s servers forever. That damn site seems to do far more damage than good – particularly to recipients of breakups. I literally forced myself to delete my ex from Facebook. And, as you read in my essay, I let my anxiety make me crazy over it, while I added her back …. two more times. Humiliating. Do me a favor – if the idea of “unfriending” her is too much right now, then “unfollow” her immediately (assuming you’re still connected to her). Then avoid looking at her page again. This is my tactic with all women I now date after we stop dating. I am disciplined enough to not look at their pages, but I definitely “unfollow” them or delete altogether. It’s not a spiteful act in any way. It’s an act of self-preservation. Even if I’m the one ending the relationship. Either way, it does my no good to know what my exes are doing at any given time.

      Additionally, you’re clearly doing a lot of idealizing now as well. This is more common than not, unfortunately. Nostalgia isn’t always a good thing. Anxious memories are horribly inaccurate at portraying realities of the past. Strive to keep your thoughts grounded in the present. Otherwise, given any free range to roam, they’ll work to subvert you and your progress. Practice taking no further actions going forward. If you don’t act, you’ve got nothing to regret. She misses you. You don’t need to remind her that you still exist. Each time you reach out and the action goes unrequited, the worse you’re going to feel. And, thinking that the next time you contact her will be the time she will finally respond, is dangerous thinking. Again, DO NOTHING for now. It’s the only way to let your nerves come back to baseline. If you must write something to her, then write it and send it to yourself or a friend to get it out of your system. There is always time to reach out to her down the road. For now, no action is the best action. Hang tough, brother. This will shift – I promise. -JP

  34. Ruby says:

    First of all thank you from the bottom of my broken heart.
    I’m divorced 7 years and spent the first 4 after the break up hiding and convinced i was a hopeless depressed person and riddled with guilt about everything I said and did in my marriage. After 4 years I got back out and eventually met a nice guy. We dated for a couple of years but some red flags kept coming up for me. Nothing major but, put together, I realised I was getting too deep into a relationship that I had too many doubts about. But he was good to me in the main and kind of saved me from the hopelessness I had been feeling before I met him (what a rubbish reason to stay with someone though!). However, I ended it 3 months ago and have spent most every day with the anxious knot in my stomach and going over and over in my head how I could have/should have done things differently. I’ve suddenly turned this man into a god in my memory. I really believed I was spiralling into depression but I now realise from your article that I am simply suffering from lifelong low self confidence and high anxiety levels. This combination causes me to second guess every decision I make in life, big or small. So you can imagine how deciding to break up with someone would cause the biggest anxiety and most massive doubts. I’m not afraid of the pain, Im afraid of the regret and the guilt, and living forever with the doubt.
    But since reading your article, even as I’m writing this I can almost feel the knot in my stomoach lift (slightly!) and just feel immense sadness rising up in my throat. Believe it or not that’s such a relief.
    I’m nowhere near phase III yet but I can now honestly say that I’m moving forward instead of back for the first time in 3 months. I trust myself again. And even if this is just a temporary lucid moment, it shows it’s possible to feel ok again and that longer term relief is on its way. Bring on the pain I say, that’s how you get moving forward.
    Obviously I’m a woman but your article is so appropriate for anyone going through this and has picked up the anxiety stick to hit ourselves over the head with.
    I LUV YA MAN!!!!

    • JP says:

      Hi, Ruby. I read your post a few times because the sentiments felt like my own. Remember, we pick those whom reflect how we feel about ourselves at any given time. I’ve let some pretty lousy people into my life while in low periods. Looking back, I cannot believe the last bad one I let through “security.” She was the most toxic, miserable young lady anyone had ever met. I’m fairly certain she worshiped Satan (I hope you finally got exorcised, Shannon W.). If you read some of the comments below, it won’t take long at all before realizing the “idealization” thing is extremely common. Almost all of us do it. That said, it’s always about US – not the other person. It stems from a lack of intrinsic self-worth. All we need to validate ourselves is within us. Yet, oftentimes we’re convinced we need an external resources – specifically an ex. This is a mind-f@ck to the nth degree. Happiness always, always comes from within. It cannot come from another person any more than money can fulfill our core being and soul. It’s absolutely impossible. We were made to have everything we need within us, as tied to a Creator, to be complete entities on our own. The challenge is ridding of the negative self-speak and anxiety to be able to tap into our self-worth. It’s there. I promise. You had doubts about your relationship with this guy. But, you silenced your intuition in favor of having a companion. You were not true to yourself. Nearly everyone on this page is guilty of the same at one time or another. I certainly am. Now, however, it’s time to recall those initial concerns, recognize you had them for a reason, stop discounting that they existed, and stop feeding the purely anxious thoughts that counter your innate logic. Being alone is not scary or bad – ever. And, it’s rarely permanent. Being with someone whom isn’t good for us is, in fact, scary and bad. Sometimes life has a funny way of putting us where we NEED to be, when we don’t have the strength or wisdom to do it on our own. The brief lucid moment you had was genuine. And, those moments will become more frequent and last longer. Right now, they’re just buried under all the anxiety. Love ya back ;-) -JP

      As long as you tie your happiness to an external source (e.g., your ex), you will have these feelings of guilt, doubt, and regret. What I’m asking you to do is not easy task! You will probably need to see someone to help guide your thoughts back on track. I recommend it, actually.

  35. Steve G. says:

    This is absotuley the best! Wish I’d found it before Phase III.

    • JP says:

      Well … THANK YOU, Steve! That said, I’d rather see you in Stage III than anything else. I hope the first two stages passed quickly. Great to hear from you, compadre. -JP

  36. Tyler says:

    I really have to thank you for this article…. I’ve read many different ones but this particular article definitely changed my outlook on things… Reading this I was shocked to find how similar it was to my situation.. I realized that I had constantly circled through these phases…. I discovered this article after I had been constantly checking my Ex’s Facebook for signs of life or something that would feed my thirst for knowledge… It was the lowest I had ever gone and made me feel pathetic… It often felt like I had a lead weight sitting on my chest that pushed harder and harder until I could barely breathe… Needing some relief I searched my normal article titles with anxiety thrown in and sure enough I found this article…. I have not felt so much relief since the breakup had occurred and I want you to know how grateful I am that you wrote this.. It has truly inspired me and by the looks of all the other comments…. It has for other people to!

    • JP says:

      Hey, Tyler! I’m really happy to hear that the essay helped you obtain some needed perspective. I had no idea – NONE – when I originally wrote this that so many people were experiencing the same neurosis. And, I mean exactly the same. That’s the funny side of breakup anxiety, is that we all think we’re losing our minds, only to learn that such crazy emotions and antics are actually … normal! It’s all part of the recovery process. Regarding Facebook, sigh … social media has set breakup recovery back 20 years! We all know that the smart thing to do is to simply delete the object of desire. But, that in and of itself creates its own anxieties. So, we end up keeping our ex around online, only to find ourselves virtually stalking them on occasion. This in turn makes us feel completely pathetic and often worse for what we inadvertently find.

      I’m stoked that you found us and know you’re far from alone on this journey. Being able to help others in some small way is very therapeutic for me. Anxiety – whether acute or chronic – is a great equalizer. And, its manifestations are pretty much the same for all of us. So, part of the healing we feel is just knowing we’ve got plenty of company out there. Thank you, Tyler! I truly hope your healing is expeditious. -JP

  37. Confused says:

    Hey JP,
    I want to thank you so much for this article. It’s been a month after ending my almost two year relationship with my high school sweetheart. You have many perspectives in the comments about people who have been the dumpee, but my heart is shattered in a million pieces and I have yet to leave the domain of Phase I despite being the one who intitiated the break up.

    I feel like my heart and bran are constantly battling. I was in a relationship with my high school sweetheart for almost two years. Eveyrthing was great for a long time, he is my first love and we planned our whole future together. Towards the end of our first year together, he started talking to his ex girlfriend. This hurt me and I have tendency not to be that vocal, but I let him know it bothered me. We were so in love that I thought the second I brought it up he would stop it immediately. To my surprise he simply told me that it shouldn’t bother me. This hurt me, it was like he was not respecting my feelings. They were messaging so much, whenever I saw him I would see an unopened message from her which he wouldn’t open. It hurt me and I couldn’t understand why the guy that I loved and had a future with would deliberately do something that hurt me. I noticed he became distant too. Not long after he told me he was going to the movies alone with her. This crushed me. I asked him if he was going and he said yes. If there was anything that I knew hurt him I would never do it, but here he was hurting me. He told me he didn’t have feelings for me and they were just friends. He tried to make me feel better by saying he would bring his friend so him and his ex wouldn’t be alone. That made me feel better and I let it go. And then the day that he was going to hang out with her he told me his friend couldn’t go last minute. This hurt me so much. It sounded like a lie, like he just wanted to be alone with his ex. When he went out with her he didn’t reply to my messages and messaged me the next day acting as if everything was fine. I was hurt and confused why he would choose to go out with her when I voiced to him it hurt me. I tried to let it go, but it ate away at me for months that he hurt me this way. I asked his friend who he was supposed to bring to the movies why he couldn’t go last minute and he said that when he asked my boyfriend when they were going, my boyfriend said he already went. This hurt me. I was upset and would tell him that he basically cheated on me. And he would say that he didn’t, that she was just a friend. I reached my breaking point when a friend of mine told me that his ex girlfriend told her that my boyfriend had been flirting with her. It just proved to me he still had an interest in her and that’s why he disregarded my feelings.

    I called him furious, saying he had feelings for her. He denied them, but when faced with my evidence he admitted he was flirting with his ex but had no feelings for her. He admitted he had been taking me for granted. But at that point I had had enough. He tried to fight for our relationship but I was done and broke up with him. He argued it was a week from our one year anniversary. It hurt tremendously and I was just starting college. Through my anguish, I found new friends and was enjoying myself in college. The pain of the break up diminished and I was happy, surrounded by new people and talking to new guys for once. He contacted me a week after we broke up and asked for me back. I was enjoying college and decided it was perfect timing to start over and declined. He was saddened and told me good luck with college. I was fine, I was happy, but eventually all the new friends I made disappeared, I felt immensely alone. Here I was in a new environment and I didn’t have my boyfriend as a comfort zone to console me over the phone when I felt alone and homesick. I immediately asked him to get back together a few days later and he said yes. But after another few days I realized that I really did want a fresh start in college so I broke it off. He said that it was for good if that was what I wanted. A week later I wanted him back, but believed he deserved better so I should let him be. But I broke and called him and he agreed to come visit me at college to work it out. I felt relieved. But I never felt entirely the same about him. We had a long distance relationship and largely texted. Deep down I felt like it was a mistake getting back together. That I should have endured the pain and let us move on. That our relationship had run its course. We stayed together for another nine months, but we hardly saw eachother. We had hadn’t seen eachother in four months, only texted and I felt like he never wanted to drive to come see me. He would make it seem it like it was the miles on his car that was why he couldn’t make the hour drive. It made me feel unimportant and I felt like we never saw eachother. I wanted a relationship where we could hang out a lot, and spend time together. It felt like we didn’t have a strong physical or mental connection, but we had an abundance of love for eachother and a sea of memories together keeping us holding on to eachother.

    But he had been loyal and caring since our break up over his ex. And I was so upset with myself because why couldn’t I be happy with this guy? He saw a future with me and was sweet and was my high school sweetheart. I was so frustrated with myself and felt antsy to break up. I felt like we didn’t have a connection anymore, that we weren’t seeing eachother, that we weren’t spending time together, that we weren’t being affectionate or intimate at all because we never saw eachohter. I really wanted to just deal with it. Because when you love someone don’t you just deal with it? Shouldn’t you be loyal and stick it out no matter what? But I wasn’t happy.

    . We had made so many promises together for the future, but we were so young. How do I know if I want to be with this person forever? Was I just going to spend all of my college years in a relationship I was unsure that was the one? So I ended it and it hurt badly for both of us. I cried nonstop for weeks and reached out many times. At first it was to say thanks for all our memories, then I asked if we could meet to get closure since our breakup was abrupt and he said no, and eventually I broke and realized I wanted him back. I told him I missed him and to my surprise he missed me too. We talked and I asked if I could win him back and he said he didn’t know because how would he know I wouldn’t break up with him again. I gave him my word and gave him a few days to think. I was extremely hopeful he would say yes, but he told me three days later that it was time to move on. It crushed me and depressed me. And I have been feeling anxiety, been crying, lost weight, and keep thinking of what I should have done or said. I keep reaching out to him which I know is bad, but I just can’t let him go. It scares me that he is over it already and has moved on. Despite all that has happened, I want him back so much. It is a struggle not to plead and beg for him back. I know this is what I wanted, I wanted us to break up because I had had so many doubts, but now I feel like I should have tried harder, should have communicated. He wont take me back and I can’t believe I feel this way. It has been a month and I reached out the other day again asking why he never came to visit me and he had a valid reason why and now I feel like I gave up the best thing that happened to me. I have this urge to fight for him and beg, but I know each time I reach out and he doesn’t want me back, it catapults me back to square one and its like saying good bye all over again. It hurts so bad, I think of him all the time and think it was a bad decision. I feel like no one will love me unconditionally like him, feel so lost that I cant talk to him everday like before and just want him back so badly. But I know even if I got him back that we still wouldn’t be able to see eachother a lot and that Id eventually be unhappy. I am stuck in phase one and am struggling desperately to not beg for him back and lose all of my dignity.

    • JP says:

      Hi, “Confused.” It’s a pleasure to hear from you. I’m sorry to learn of the failed relationship – but, not at all surprised given your ages. It doesn’t make it any easier to be the “dumper” when, in fact, you wanted things to work. Give yourself credit, however, for being sage enough to know when to walk. I too ended my most recent relationship. But, it was still heartbreaking. I had no choice. Some people will allow dysfunction to be the theme of the entire relationship, as long as the other party doesn’t question it. Be proud of yourself for taking the reins for wanting a better union. You did the absolutely spot-on thing in severing the relationship originally AND again most recently. This guy originally had little regard for your feelings while in the relationship. His actions were indicative of some selfishness; but mostly because he is young. It takes us guys a long time to grow-up. ;-) He doesn’t sound like a bad guy at all – you both just have so many more experiences to behold and from which to learn. These early relationships teach us so much. It sounds like overall, you had a great connection, created amazing memories, and still care for one another. But, that doesn’t mean you should remain together.

      Fast forward to more recently and your bouts of loneliness in college. You were right when you said, “The relationship had run its course.” But, you did what most anyone facing such loneliness would do, and you let him back into your life. I can cite a hundred examples below of commenters – including myself – who have done exactly the same. And, an hour drive is absolutely nothing. I commute more than twice that distance each and every day. Your intuition was trying to tell you something, and you silenced it each time. We all do this occasionally, until we learn to trust that tiny voice deep down. It will never steer you wrong. Intuition is probably the greatest proponent we have within us at any given time. Yet, unless we heed what it tells us, it doesn’t matter if we have it as a resource at all. Most of us will override our gut feelings for the sake of fulfilling a competing desire – like companionship, love, short-term happiness, etc. Just because we love someone, and shared a mostly enjoyable portion of our lives together, does not make them a compatible long-term partner. You have so much life ahead of you, with so much to give! I can tell you from experience that it’s perfectly okay – wise, even – to keep yourself available for what greatness lies in store for you. Everything you’re feeling right now – the anxiety, panicky feelings, loneliness, despair, and feeling like you need him back are ALL rooted in anxiety. Every bit of it. That’s how anxiety works during a breakup. Truth is, if you approached this with no emotion at all, and only rational thinking, you would arrive at what you inherently know: “I know even if I got him back that we still wouldn’t be able to see each other a lot and that I’d eventually be unhappy.” EXACTLY. Furthermore, you’re in college!!! This is the prime of your social life. I’m guessing you’ve got at least a few thousand guys comprising a new dating pool – right?? I can also tell you that more than a few of them would make a great partner. It’s just odds and reality. Your ex isn’t over you, or hasn’t forgotten about you. He just came to the same realization that you did – that it’s not the right time, and you’re on different paths now. As you should be at this age. The only difference is that he is finally accepting it, while you’re letting your anxious thoughts rule your days. You’re also doing what we all do at this stage: Idealizing him and the grandeur of the relationship. We both know it wasn’t that good. And, no human can love unconditionally. A dog can love us that way – but, not another person.

      Keep your thoughts based in reality and what you know to be true. Live in the moment at all times. Stop looking to the past. There is nothing there for you but hurt right now. And, don’t look to the future – not even into tomorrow, for there is anxiety. Keep yourself grounded in the exact moment you’re in. Life only ever happens in the now. And, whenever you want to reach out to him again, DO NOTHING. Take no action whatsoever. This will be your saving grace. You two can always revisit a friendship or whatever else down the road. For now, you’re right where you should be. And, making any sort of contact with him will only derail you. I know you already know this. You have all the closure you need. You know in your heart that you should be on your own at school and focusing on your academic life. Let your anxious thoughts and feelings of panic rise up, crest, and pass over you – just like waves. Do not hold on to them nor react in any way. The anxiety and desperate thoughts will dissipate – I promise. But, only if you don’t hold onto them. And, stay busy and active. Okay??

      Everything you’re feeling right now is perfectly normal. It’s part of the process. You’re a very smart girl. It’s obvious. So, stay sharp, focus on your personal goals and activities, and Do Nothing when it comes to him. That’s your ticket through this, darlin. -JP

  38. Luis R. says:

    what an excellent read!

  39. James B. says:

    Hi JP,
    I can’t tell you how HUGE it was for me to read your piece. It made me laugh out loud throughout because it was so spot-on, but you still gave real, quality advice for people you clearly identify with. I was that guy in my local library desperately searching for “conquering break-ups” books, clicking through every love-related song on my iPod (which seems to be 99% of songs nowadays) until I found an angry (probably Eminem) track. The internet searches turned up lousy blogs and chat threads (which I obviously read through in their entirety to try to find that golden nugget of advice that would free my mind and make me feel like I was doing the right thing.) They did nothing for me in these brutal few months, but once I threw the word “anxiety” into the search bar, jackpot.

    I apologize in advance for the length of this reply, but here’s the back story: Three year relationship where we both met in college (summer before senior year). I’d never dated anyone before because I’d never found anyone worth it. (I did love going out single in college, sipping 1.50 High Lifes with my guy friends and flirting with girls, but inside I knew I wanted to find the right one.) We hit it off, and the thing that sold me was how comfortable I was with her. I could talk about anything with her, she was the cutest girl I’d ever seen, and I was in love for the first time ever. We dated all senior year, and she followed me to Baltimore when I got a job teaching at a tough middle school for a couple years. She We didn’t live together (neither of us wanted it that early), but we essentially did because we stayed together every night. As brutal as my school days could be, I knew I got to hang out with her at night and not only did it keep me sane, I couldn’t WAIT to see her. We’d cook dinner together, drink the same beers and vino, and watch the same comedy shows (Office and Parks were the big ones.) I’d always heard about the honeymoon phase, but for 2 years, it never seemed to end. My family loved her, I loved her family, and we loved all the same things in life – in my head, everything was perfect. But, there was always something inside me holding me back from being able to talk about marriage, and where we’d be in a couple years if the topic came up. My heart rate picked up when I’d see a wedding scene in move. Even in church, all I could think about was our relationship and if there’s another girl out there better for me, so all I could pray for was guidance. We almost broke up right after year 2 when I told her I still wouldn’t be ready to live together when we switched states again for my PT program at the end of year 3. I started to feel incredibly anxious about my life no longer being the open book I wanted it to be. I’ve always felt the move-in stage would happen with a girl when I knew I’d drop down a knee soon after. I didn’t have that clarity that I always felt I’d have if I knew I’d met “the one.”

    Whenever I’d get a few beers in me around my friends in that third year, I was always venting about how on the fence I was and how I didn’t know what to do. On one hand, I still loved hanging out with her every night. I was still thrilled for dates. I thought all the signs were in place But, I started to feel weird saying “I love you” when my mind was spiraling out of control, so I started saying it less. In public, even though I didn’t mean to, I was mingling with friends more than her, and she said she felt like most people wouldn’t even know she was my girlfriend if they didn’t know us. On top of that, when I’d go out without her, I missed being single and would revert to the collegiate style – drink (and I was starting to more heavily when out with guy friends) and try to be smooth with random girls. The thing that ate at me most was that I was starting to distrust myself. We had a mini “mutal” break up because we felt “off” but after two days couldn’t bear living apart and we made up. I made a ten-page document with an itinerary (pictures included) of our next five years to show my commitment. Europe, dogs and settle-down location were mixed in. I told myself I’d never let her ago again. Three months later, the feelings recycled. I started to doubt and get more anxious as the big move south (together) approached. At the end of the third year, weeks before Christmas (there’s never a good time, especially when her b-day and valentine’s day were upcoming too), we broke up.

    Three months passed and while I missed her, I told myself to be strong and that I did this for a reason. In March, a day after my birthday (where we talked for fifteen minutes like nothing had changed and it felt spectacular), she took a job teaching in New York City. She said she couldn’t live in the same city as me if we weren’t together. I started to panic that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. I felt the spark was still there. Weeks later, I hear she’s seeing a new guy. That’s when the wheels came off. I tried to win her back. We had a “goodbye” dinner before we parted for new cities, and it made it even worse for me. We still had the chemistry, but now she was telling me that she liked being single, wanted to date, and was really happy with her life right now. On the day before I took off, I obviously left roses, a card with short, heart-felt message, and a photo album with super happy pictures from each of the 36 months we dated. Then the dark phase officially began.

    Flash forward to now. I hadn’t gotten more than five good hours of sleep for two months, I could barely focus in school, and I’d started sweating profusely in our anatomy lab when I’d start to think about (1) how badly I f’ed up my life and of course (2) this new guy turning her in every possible way in the bed I’d slept in every other night for two years. If they weren’t having sex, he was clearly making her laugh and gaze into his eyes with a huge smile on her face. I’m usually one who appreciates life, but I was a new person from April 15 to last week. I was a zombie walking around. I was short (and sometimes borderline rude) with people. It was hard to fake smile and act cheerful. She’d moved right on, made it clear she didn’t want to do long-distance, and is now about to embark on her wild, new joyful adventure filled with NYC’s most handsome, charming, and rich, young 25 year-old bachelors. The torment had been unbearable, thinking about how I had it all right in my hands. She always wanted the future with me and I threw it away. I was downright depressed, worst pain of my life, until I found this blog.

    Thank you again, JP. You made me laugh at the thoughts that weighed me down in misery for months. I now even keep a little journal. Any time a thought pops into my head about her, I dismiss it and consult the list of potential silver linings in this situation or my list of all the reasons and doubts that led me to the break-up (which might have happened again down the road if she took me back.) Also, everyone out there (if you somehow read this novel of a post from me), I’m reading a book called “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On: Trusting God in the Tough Times.” Pick and choose the chapters that apply to these relationship woes, and the author provides some really comforting thoughts. Most of all though, it’s this website that turned my tides. I’m sleeping again (some nights even without sleep aids!) and am starting to feel like my old self again. I’m young, and life is long, unpredictable, and good. There’s a light cracking through the end of this tunnel now, so thank you, my brother. Can’t wait to read the book when it’s done.

    All the best,

    • JP says:

      Well hello, James! Thank you for sharing your story. You benefit so many simply by posting. And, you help …. ME. So, a hearty Thank you for that. When I originally penned this essay, I had no idea that others – particularly men – were feeling the same way. I felt totally isolated and semi-insane! What I’ve learned since, is that breakups and anxiety are the “Great Equalizer,” in that it doesn’t matter one’s status or mental state – a bad breakup can spur all sorts of mental and emotional mayhem, bringing the most stable of us to our knees. Honestly, I had always believed I was the only one whom had trolled the Self-Help aisles of bookstores reading women’s breakup books. They don’t work. As I carefully read through your post – especially the parts where you described what you were thinking at certain times – the overriding thought that kept arising was that of “timing.” How everything – and, I mean EVERYTHING – in life comes down to the right timing. We all live and die by it. Yet, we never give it a second thought when it comes to relationships. For example, I recently met the single greatest young woman I’ve ever met. We hit it off instantly, and have amazing times together. I’m blown away by how “right” she felt for me. But, she is recently out of an 8.5 year relationship/marriage. So, all bets are off. It’ll never work. Not now. Maybe not ever. It doesn’t matter how amazing we are together. It’s a paradox, and nut-punch, of life. But, an inescapable reality. And, the same would be true if she was ready and I wasn’t. Anyway, not wanting to traverse the path of pain, I backed the hell on outta the scenario, while offering my friendship, and …. it is what it is. I used to hate that saying. I think I still do. But, it’s pretty relevant sometimes. And, like you, I leverage my Higher Power most often. I’d be a mess without praying or having a relationship with Christ. That has been my saving grace. Pun intended ;-) And, like your scenario, the breakup that spawned this essay, was about a girl whom also moved to NYC. Except, she didn’t just settle with one guy – she went through many …. THEN she settled on one guy. Fortunately, and as attractive as she is – he looks like Yoda. I’m not exaggerating. But, I hope they’re happy (“In a galaxy far, far away …”). No, I mean it. I wish her only the best. And, that’s the toughest point to which to attain: Wishing our exes well. And, meaning it! It takes time, forgiveness, and loving oneself as well. These are things learned on the journey of healing, however. It all feels impossible in the beginning. Understandably. But, keep in mind that the ratio in NYC is like 3:1 women to men. And, she hasn’t forgotten about you. Not even close. Let her miss you. You sound like a unique and great guy. So, even if she dates, it doesn’t mean it’s equivalent to what she had with you. Additionally, BE OKAY WITH HOW YOU HANDLED THINGS AT THE TIME. We do the best with the skills we have at any given time! If you had her back right now, I’m certain you’d still feel the need to investigate other avenues. Again, life is about timing. And, it’s not like you’ve had much experience as of yet to formulate an accurate base of comparison, or to determine what is truly right for you for the long haul. Right?! What we want, and what we need are often in conflict. Additionally, once we are alone, we often become so anxious with that foreign sensation, that we want to sprint back to what we had. Even if it’s not where we necessarily should be. Change is an ominous undertaking. Whether it be within a relationship, moving, jobs, etc. Change is a huge stressor. It sounds like she was your first real love interest and long-term relationship. As a guy, looking back on my first, second, third, 20th relationships, no matter how great they were, they were all learning experiences for me. They all fulfilled a valuable role in my life. And, I could not know what I want forever without the process. I’m not saying you need 20 relationships. But, I’m certain you need more than one. Most everyone does. So, don’t punish yourself for falling within the norm. And, I was about to write it, but realized you stated it yourself: “I now even keep a little journal. Any time a thought pops into my head about her, I dismiss it and consult the list of potential silver linings in this situation or my list of all the reasons and doubts that led me to the break-up (which might have happened again down the road if she took me back.)” You’re damn right it would’ve happened again if she took you back! I guarantee it. It’s your anxious thoughts that drive you to thinking otherwise. Remember the part of your relationship where you made assurances you were committed for the long-term, only to waiver again three months later?? Well, that happened because you weren’t ready to be where you were! And, that’s OKAY. You are right where you should be, my friend. God-willing, you’ve got a long, young life ahead of you. I’m sure she was wonderful, and you both shared an irreplaceable role within each others lives. Don’t let anxious second-guessing cloud the reality that you’re in the right place. And, you never know what the future holds. That’s the exciting part. But, you know this. Just let the awkward feelings of being alone right now become less threatening. You’re going to be just fine. – JP

      • Lizzy says:

        So much of what you both have said rings true with me. I was the dumped. But it’s about timing and HIM. It was a relatively short (4 months) but very intense relationship where I became very intimately involved in his (and his 12 year old child’s) life. I was happy and thought everything was a-ok. Apparently he didn’t. He didn’t see that future, and was stressed out about it. In the end, he broke up with me and while I’ve tried to be strong I’ve had just one instance of shooting him an email – but mostly just telling him how much he hurt me and how I think his reasoning is crap. I try to deal with most of it internally (people often say I think more like a guy than a girl anyway). I feel like I’m going through all these phases in my head pretty quickly, but yet all at the same time.

        • JP says:

          Hello, Lizzy! I sincerely appreciate the post. I can discern the internal fortitude you possess in dealing with a painful situation – but, there is no reason to traverse this alone. That said, if you’re able to move through this quickly and without getting hung-up or regressing, than I certainly don’t want to interrupt the process! I only wish you a continued speedy recovery, and that you find someone more suitable for you. It sounds like you were blindsided by this, and that’s never kind nor easy. -JP

          • Lizzy says:

            JP. Thanks. It’s been a number of days since this all went down and I am still questioning everything in my head. What if I had done this or said that…. My head says that I did everything right, but my heart so much disagrees. It’s been hard to reconcile these two feelings. Sadly I haven’t been able to get a real answer out of him, and don’t think I ever will. I think crap just got real and he got scared. He says that our relationship was by far the best relationship he’s ever had (he’s 37 and had 3 rather serious ones including a marriage and a child), but he just can’t “see it…” Whatever that means. He believes that he made the right decision, even though it was the hardest decision he’s ever made. But my heart hurts. And even scarier… due to the anxiety, I’m second guessing nearly everything in my life. My thoughts and feelings for the future, what I want, etc. It makes it all very difficult.

    • Liz W says:

      I don’t know you, but just wanted to say I think you did the right thing by being honest with yourself and her as well. It was a brave and risky move. I wish I had done the same and spared myself down the road. Keep your chin up!

      • James B. says:

        Thanks so much, Liz. I can’t express how much I appreciate you saying that, for I’ve been going through a bit of a relapse phase. After venting to JP and receiving his extremely helpful/thoughtful response, I felt the veil had been lifted. But, I guess it’s easy to fall backwards, because recently I had a day where I looked at pictures and let my regret just completely consume me again. I was sleepless that night and in a sour mood the past couple days. I thought the cycle was going to start all over, but you telling me that I did the right thing means a LOT. I also appreciate you telling me it was risky, yet brave, because at the time of the break-up, and even now, I felt it was a big risk. I knew/know how good we were together, but the doubts were killing me. I’m hoping to find my stride again after this little self-created setback, and your response just might be my jumpstart. Thanks again, Liz.

        • JP says:

          Hey, James! Regression is almost always part of the healing process. And, nothing triggers it faster than succumbing to the nostalgia and going on social media, or just looking at old pics on the hard-drive, etc. That’s why it’s imperative to delete everything right away. The urge to go back and start viewing things, reading old emails and letters, etc. is just too strong. I cannot emphasize enough the upside to ridding of all the mementos early on. You can read how many of us have gone on to Facebook, etc. to check things out. The results are NEVER good. Don’t blame yourself for doing what comes natural and viewing pics, etc. It’s a kick in the gut that feels like crap, but it doesn’t mean you start over in your recovery. It’s a setback – nothing more. Again, setbacks are a big part of the healing. Few of us are mechanical enough to avoid the pitfall.

          Also, listen to Liz. She adds a great female perspective that I cannot. I’m really glad she took the time and consideration to lend her feedback. Soldier on, James! You’ve got this. I don’t know any type of healing process – emotional or physical – that does not include stalls, plateaus and setbacks. Consider yourself just like the rest of us, brother ;-) -JP

        • Liz W says:

          Hey James,

          It’s a long and drawn out process unfortunatley. Myself for example is still in the ups and downs phase. I have days, hell even weeks where I feel completetly great and over my ex, dating this guy one week and accomplishing goals…and then this short term shot gun/rebound relationship doesn’t work out and it’s back down the tunnel. Do yourself a favor and don’t date until you feel truly ready, I thouht I did and have been on this self inflicted roller coaster for weeks. You gotta trust your gut and know in your heart what you did was right. Where would you be a year down the line with all those sweltering doubts weighing on your mind? She is out there for you, but you’re not ready for her yet which is why you have to enjoy yourself now, and I’m going to take my own advice. Your intuition is never wrong.


  40. L. Sen says:

    This article is the only one which has remotely touched on the visceral pain I’ve been feeling.
    I recently, like 6 days ago recently, got out of a 4 1/2 year relationship. I was eighteen when it began, and it lasted my entire college career. I asked him for some “space” about a month ago, explaining that taking a break was something that was plaguing me and that I thought it would be good for us. Being so young when it began, I had doubts about my future and his, but never wanted to or dated anyone else during the break. I never imagined that this break would carry any type of permanency. I was alone for a month, and we had little contact, with him graciously giving me the space I asked for. We had a few bickering moments, with me, admittedly uttering the words when angry, “well I guess this is a break up.” Still, I never saw myself ending up with anyone else down the road. I thought of this as a temporary freedom that would result in both of us returning refreshed and re-committed to one another.

    When I reached out to him after exactly a month of “break,” he plainly said, “I can’t do this anymore. You hurt me too badly.” I, realizing my stupidity and the prospect that I may lose him forever, leapt into action by attempting to convince him on the phone for hours, driving to his house the next day with flowers and a pizza that said “I’m sorry,” sending 50 regretful texts the day after that, calling and pleading for two hours the day after that, and finally, driving to his house a few days later to further humiliate myself by stating, “I love you. I’ll wait for you.” He believed my words were solely out of grief, and that since I seemed to only want him when he didn’t want me, that they couldn’t be true. He told me that if I had acted two days earlier, before he decided to give up, things may have been different.

    He told me he’d always be there if I need him, he told me he was so sorry. I asked over and over if there was a chance for him to change his mind, but he could only utter, “I don’t know.”

    I want to prove that I am not the ex in the last phase of the article that comes back only when the other is ready to move on. I truly had a revelation about the possibility of losing a person I loved forever, and wanted to do everything in my power to change it. Living with the guilt that I messed up and was the catalyst to ending such a great partnership over petty “I want to have some space” kills me. But, in almost five years of loyalty, don’t I get one do-over? He explained profusely that his only reasons were that he could not survive being so hurt again, and that he could not believe that I would want to be with him forever. He cried. I cried. After shamefully offering to marry him, I decided to leave with a shred of dignity still intact.

    I can’t picture my life without him, but I don’t know how to prove to someone my intentions and realizations are genuine. I’ve bombarded him with promises of waiting indefinitely, groveling and swearing I’ll never move on. I am so overwhelmed with the guilt that I hurt the person I love so badly. (He told me in the midst of the talks, “Where were you when I was coughing up blood?”) I know that I could not have known that, but I still feel responsible for ruining the best relationship I could ever imagine. Should I continue trying to prove myself and my loyalty to him?

    This article is amazing, thank you so, so much for sharing your relatable story.

    • JP says:

      Hi, “L. Sen!” Thank you for writing in to us. The one thing that resonates for us all it the “relatability” factor. It genuinely helps knowing we are not alone. You are extremely well-spoken, with some incredible insight. Such traits will serve you well. So few relationships, that begin when yours did, go the distance. Those are prime emotional development years. We change so much during that time frame (18 – 22). You were literally growing-up together. So, why is it so bad that you NEEDED a brief respite in order to determine if he was the right one going forward?! Why berate yourself for that need? Why second guess that decision? It was a wise decision. One that makes a lot of sense. You stated, “But, in almost five years of loyalty, don’t I get one do-over?” You don’t need to apologize nor atone for something that was well within your right to request. “He explained profusely that his only reasons were that he could not survive being so hurt again, and that he could not believe that I would want to be with him forever.” My gut reaction to this is that it’s not a valid argument. You may have inadvertently hurt him – sure. But, your reasoning for the space could not have been more appropriate. And, you didn’t spend that time (as far as I know) getting laid, partying, and running a sex chat line. All acceptable distractions after a 5 year relationship that began at 18! ;-) So, I don’t understand his rationale. I know you don’t either. But, here is ALL that matters: (1) You did what you needed to do for you and the relationship by taking a step back. I commend you. It was a wise thing to do based on your intentions. Do not question that move any further. (2) Having obtained the perspective you needed, you returned to the relationship with the dedication and wisdom you needed. You implicitly stated this to him – to the point of offering your entire future. He absconded. There is no guilt necessary. Period. My take? It’s his loss now. And, the “coughing-up blood” piece is well into the melodramatic zone. It borders on comical, actually. No more guilt – okay?? Go radio silent. Let him miss you. If he truly cares enough, he won’t let you go that easy. Your best action is to take no action at all henceforth. I know what I’m asking. Be at peace, and stop regretting and apologizing for being true to both yourself and to him. – JP

  41. AB says:

    I found this article very charming and very helpful even though unfortunately, I had to be the dumper in my situation. I just got out of a 6 month relationship which I thought was going to be the one to break the mold. A couple weeks ago we broke up for the first time. I wasn’t feel like a priority. His friends, his hobbies and everything else came before me. He told me he’d be willing to do what it took to fix things so I gave him another chance. Just a few days ago I get a text that he was hanging out with “some friends” and didn’t even mention the game he was coaching got cancelled. Then he added that “some friends” was him and another girl hanging out “talking about life.” I told him I was hurt and that was innapropriate and like always he said he didn’t understand and I was being irrational. I asked my mom to explain it cause I was frustrated and needed something other than my own words that apparently weren’t making an impact. He said it was a constant struggle to see me cause I lived “too far” and this girl was 3 minutes away and I was 30.. He called me and said he was sorry, also throwing in the question of what I had to apologize for. He kept asking what he could do but I had no answer. I still don’t. I still feel terrible and some dillusion that this could be fixed and that I’m wrong and he loves me. I really don’t know how to classify this stage but I feel clueless. He often said mean things to me but its like saying sorry made it okay. But I’m trying to come to terms that its okay that sorry can’t fix this anymore.

    • JP says:

      Hello! It’s quite rare that we receive comments/emails from those on the opposite end of a breakup – the one who leaves the relationship. So, thank you for writing, and for your feedback. This type of post will prove helpful for many readers. That said, I don’t see what choice you had but to extricate yourself from the “relationship.” That scenario would be hurtful to most anyone. You handled it well by sharing your feelings regarding how his actions made you feel. Unfortunately, he discounted those feelings with his reply and in calling you, “irrational.” Communication is so vital in any relationship. I never fault anyone for expressing their wants, needs, and desires. This is a healthy component to a union. More concerning, is that he said mean things to you. That is obviously unacceptable. TRUST YOUR GUT. ALWAYS. You deserve so much better than this. I hope you can see that. I would spend far less time trying to figure anything out about your time with him. Rather, spend your time being thankful you are no longer putting up with that type of treatment. ;-/ -JP

  42. Ian says:

    I’ve broke up with my fiancée of 5 years just over a month ago, im still finding it very difficult to do anything, especially getting on the bus going through where we both used to go together, I really loved her and for the first year or two it was great, she loved me lots and loved spending time with me, which was great, but after a couple of years we made friends with this other couple, which at first was ok, we used to hang out together the 4 of us, but after some time passed, they started to just invite her, and tell her not to tell me she was seeing them. Which I found out about the secret meetings, which angered her and them, I told her that I didn’t like what was going on, and that I think we shouldn’t be friends with them, she didn’t like that and insisted I let her be friends with them, even if it meant dumping me, which I felt hurt and didn’t know what to do, eventually she did agree to it, oh well so I thought, then not long after her grandma tells her to get a social worker, which I have no idea why, the only problem she had was with her speech, which I did try help with. So she gets this social worker and everything is ok at first, but the day before we broke up she was getting texts from the social worker about me, which she covered up by saying that her social worker just asked if I was ok, but the social worker actually said was “how is he behaving” I was like what the hell, I confronted her about this, she denied it of course, but I had seen with my own eyes that she was lying, this was to be the final straw. She left and blocked me on Facebook, which effected me badly. I found out I had anxiety a few months before, but I don’t think she understood it. I now find it hard to do even simple things, and I also don’t have alot of confidence, I saw this article and thought I’d share my story and see what response I got, I found the article a great read

    • JP says:

      Hey, Ian. Thank you for taking time to share your situation. Please don’t expect to feel better this quickly, brother. You were in a FIVE year relationship. If you have not already done so, please read through the other comments below, as I feel you will obtain some great perspective and advice reading what your peers have been feeling. The first thing you will notice are the great similarities associated with being on the receiving end of a break. There are hundreds of thousands of people sharing your identical pain at this very moment. I know you feel isolated, but you are not. Not even close. The second bit of feedback I want to impart on you is about your ex. Though I don’t know her at all, I – personally – would not have put up with those behaviors for a minute (engaged or not). And, NO social worker should be texting their patients – especially about you. There are many red flags with regard to this past relationship that – without knowing more – it sounds like you’re damn lucky to be out of it. If I were near ya, I would take you to a bar for a celebratory drink! I think you dodged a missile here, Ian. I mean that. I know that won’t lift the pain and anguish you currently feel, but perhaps you can start looking at what you are avoiding long-term with this woman. Keep your focus on the crazy behaviors she was exhibiting, and try to avoid idealizing her and your relationship. What we need and what we want are often in direct conflict.

      Your anxiety will operate to pull you back in; to make you question everything; and to mourn her as if she was the greatest girl you’ve ever known. Counter those thoughts and emotions! Those are simply anxious thoughts, and they are NOT embedded in facts or truth. Be vigilant about continually countering your anxious thoughts. As for her blocking you on Facebook, I know it felt like shit. But, she knew it would hurt you. Don’t react. She did you another favor in that action. With some time and distance, you will begin to see this past relationship for what it truly was – an ill-fitting, unstable, pending mess. Most of us – including myself – have been guilty of keeping someone around who is toxic and detrimental to our well-being. The upside in many of these scenarios, is that the toxic person ends things for us because our anxiety keeps us where we don’t belong. From what you’ve shared here, I’d be spending the next week celebrating that I didn’t marry or have children with this woman. -JP

      • Ian says:

        Thanks jp, I’ve read through the comments and found that I’m not alone, which is a big boost for me, I also fear that no other woman would like me the way I am, I’m not a bad person, well in her eyes I am, but wasn’t my fault as I have anxiety. I fear the next woman I find (if I actually find anyone who will go out with me) won’t like what she sees.

        Thanks for the reply JP

  43. becky says:

    Hey JP, I am now 7 weeks in, taken your advice and gone ghost, I still feel awful in fact this is the first day I actually looked at my phone at the time he used to call. I missed him.
    I am full of anxiety, have thoughts of him plodding along quite happy without me and a host of women to choose from. I am irrational, anxious, sad and lost. My confidence is undermined and I feel like utter crap and that he thought nothing of me at all. I couldn’t possibly date and yet he is, does he feel nothing?
    Am I not supposed to be feeling better by now?

    • Ian says:

      Hi becky I feel the same way about my ex fiancée, I think she is happy without me, I dont feel I can move on from this, its been nearly 5 weeks and nothing feels any better, I wake up lost and alone most mornings since the break up. I also look at my phone in the hope that she has messaged me or phoned me, then I feel as if I have no purpose in life, don’t know what to do with myself. I hope you don’t mind me writing to you, Ian

    • JP says:

      Hi, Becky. We ALL know your current pain and discomfort. I know it intimately. I say this all the time, and I realize it sounds cliche – but, it’s the truest of statements: “The way through the pain IS the pain.” Just let it ride over you. Hold on to nothing. Relax, feel it, and let it move through you. Finally, don’t fear the pain. Rather, accept it as a necessary part of the recovery process. Nothing more. As for what he is feeling or thinking, that’s impossible to ascertain. Some people rebound immediately following a breakup in the attempt to circumnavigate the pain. I can assure you that you are on his mind. But, it doesn’t matter. All that matters at the moment is you, and allowing yourself to move through this while keeping the focus and thoughts off of him. It’s a struggle, for sure. And, please stop discounting yourself as someone so forgettable, replaceable, and less than other women. You know better. When someone who hurt us turns to distractions, that’s all they are – distractions. Spend your mental energy getting through this hump so you don’t even want him back in your life. Even better, imagine yourself wishing him well. It will feel crazy and foreign at first, but it’s the ticket to freedom in that Forgiveness = giving up the hope for a different past. Knowing this definition, FORGIVE him for you, while immersing yourself in your own healing process. There is nothing you need from him. You may even want to put a Rubber-Band on your wrist. Every time your thoughts drift toward your ex, snap the band against your wrist. Don’t get masochistic about it. Just a light snap. This will eventually condition you to stop allowing yourself to dwell on him. I love this tactic, and have used it myself.

      Your self-esteem will return. The anxiety will lessen. I promise. You are not lost – it just feels that way, because you are tying your self-worth to someone. Don’t hitch your wagon to a lame horse, Becky. You will feel better when it’s time. There is no specific timeline for healing. Everyone is different.

      “As much as you don’t want to be going through this right now, don’t miss out on today’s learning experiences. They won’t come again. We will never have another day exactly like today, take advantage of the lessons you’re offered. We don’t like to make mistakes, and we don’t like to be in situations that are fraught with stress, but mistakes and distress seem to go along with being human and alive. Both can be turned into sound learning experiences. We don’t learn if we try to deny or ignore the situation we don’t like or don’t handle well. How much better if we can accept the difficulty.” -JP

      • Becky says:

        JP, your advice is nonpareil and I have read a ton of stuff, you lift my spirit.
        Thank you

      • Gail says:

        Trying to get through a break up at the moment and you are helping me so much. I have bookmarked your page and when I feel anxious and hopeless I read through everything you say. Thank you :) x

        • JP says:

          Hey, Gail! It’s great to hear from you … despite the circumstances. Please let us know if we can help you at any time. Godspeed, my lady … -JP

          • Gail says:

            Thank you so much for getting back to me JP.

            It’s so hard, it’s only been a couple of days since I haven’t heard from my ex… we were together for 6 months. I told them to stop getting in touch with me, even though they wanted to maintain a friendship. It’s such a struggle to battle the feelings of anxiety and wanting to text/email. I haven’t as yet!

            My ex was a cocaine addict and shoplifter and got me involved down this path too. I also found out recently by looking at their mobile phone that they were speaking with their ex about meeting up behind my back, even thought they proclaim it was only to keep a friendship.

            I feel like my life is now non-existent because of the loss of this person, yet they have done nothing but create misery in my life. It’s crazy isn’t it… this thing called love.

            Thanks for listening, Gx

          • Gail says:

            I’m lying awake at 10 to three in the morning. My heart is racing, I’m wondering what she is doing, who she is with. I feel sick. My anxiety has driven me to check her facebook which she has blocked me from seeing, so this has led to more anxious thoughts. Please tell me this gets better JP, please. A very tearful Gail.

          • JP says:

            I am so sorry, Gail. But, I must defer back to the reality of the situation: “My ex was a cocaine addict and shoplifter and got me involved down this path too. I also found out recently by looking at their mobile phone that they were speaking with their ex about meeting up behind my back, even thought they proclaim it was only to keep a friendship.” These are things to run from – not toward. I know you’re hurting. But, sometimes we miss things that aren’t even good for us. I’m not sure why. A period of low self-esteem, loneliness, sex … all contributors to this phenomenon. But, you cannot ignore the toxic reality of the situation. -JP

          • Gail says:

            Thank you JP, you are completely right. I think I just needed to hear it. The next time I will be in touch is when I am in a happy, healthy relationship. Godspeed, Gail x

  44. Rula says:

    This was the best article I’ve read in the six months since my heart was ripped into pieces by a lying narcassist. I was really good with no contact what so ever afterwards. I haven’t heard from him since the day after Christmas 2013, when I told him to take a flying leap because I’m not gonna allow myself to go on every ride in his carnival of lies and pretend it’s fun. No thanks! The only thing bothering me, after all the phases (which are dead on btw), is the fact that I wanna hear from him, only so I can reject him. Some may say that isn’t moving on, but I’d NEVER go back with him again anyway. There was no closure at all with this whole hot mess. When I found out he got back with his ex and decided not to tell me, I told him to go play in traffic, and ended it right then and there. I constantly have anxiety about hearing from him again. Maybe it’s validation I crave after feeling so disposable. I don’t stalk him or anything…only once I checked his FB page, but way after I removed the scalding pitch fork from my bleeding heart. I also face a lot of SA thinking about being with someone new and the whole “job interview” process of that. I’m def feeling ready for someone else though I wanna take baby steps. I haven’t had sex since him the day after Christmas either. My longest sex drought EVERRRR lol. At least the hamster wheel of the relationship playing over in my mind has slowed to a more low impact cardio on the elliptical. Thank you for writing this!!! I’m not alone and that makes me feel a little hopeful that someday I’ll get to wear a beautiful white outfit in front of friends and family that’s not a straight jacket. :) Hope to hear from you!!!

    • JP says:

      Hi, Rula! Thanks for your posting. My first thought is how many narcissists are actually out there. It’s shocking, to be honest. Unfortunately, it’s a negative trait that is often well-hidden until you’re already in the trenches with them. I want to congratulate you – big time – on breaking all contact with the guy many months ago. That was the single best thing you could’ve done. I know you want to hear something for that sweet vindication of ignoring him. But, remember – you’re dealing with a self-centered personality. Even if he is wanting to reach out to you to soothe his ego, he likely will not. Which is actually a great thing! This prevents you from getting pulled back into the cycle. I know it doesn’t feel so, but you still hold your power and dignity because you walked long ago. Ignoring him again, won’t give you extra points – this isn’t a video game. You’re running at 100% right now. Your closure didn’t feel as legitimate because it wasn’t explosive and finite. But, you got it when you walked. And, it was on YOUR terms. There is nothing left back there for you but misery. Going back or hearing from him is like falling into a pit of vipers. Stay on course, young lady. It’s quite common – the norm, actually – to miss and crave the last relationship (no matter how bad/toxic it was) because we’re lonely. But, there are far worse things than being alone! Like being with your ex – or, even hearing from him. So, don’t get hung-up on the lack of companionship or sex. It’s temporary. And, only the best and most safe of partners deserve either from you. Turn off the negative self-chatter, and replace it with some daily positive gratitude’s and activities. We attract those who reflect how we feel about ourselves at any given moment. Filter well, darlin’ ;-) -JP

  45. Woundlybound says:

    Hi JP,
    thanks for the reply, really appreciate it as I know you will be super busy soon with a very successful book as your writing is spot on, and you may not have time to reply to everyone.
    I didn’t explain my story too well but seeing my ex with someone younger & prettier etc was all an illusion in my mind because I was feeling so crap, she obviously wasn’t all those things I described as it only lasted 4 weeks.
    What I’m trying to say is that it is how, ‘we allow’ ourselves to feel and because he quickly moved on it made me feel inadequate when in reality he is the one with the inadequacy having to jump from one woman to another without anything ever meaning anything and just to fill a void.
    The thing to remember is that his actions will continue in the same vain, he isn’t suddenly going to a giving, passionate and a selfless person if he never has before especially the older you are.
    You were spot on though on him living in his own world, you have great insight even from one short email.

    • JP says:

      Hello, Becky! Great to hear from you again. You’ve got some incredible insight into this situation. You’ve clearly stated it within your comments here. You really nailed it with, “The thing to remember is that his actions will continue in the same vain, he isn’t suddenly going to a giving, passionate and a selfless person if he never has before especially the older you are.” PRECISELY. These personalities have an uncanny way of repeating their patterns in relationship after relationship. Rather than changing, there are a surprising amount of people out there willing to participate in letting themselves be treated poorly. You are not one of them, and I’m thankful to see that!

      By the way, thank you for the feedback and compliments. The book is slowly coming along. Such an arduous process. I am absolutely certain that it will help so many of us with all of this muck. Remember, don’t let your mind plant those anxious thoughts about him. He’s irrelevant. It’s all about you now! -JP

      • becky says:

        Hey JP, thanks again for the advice.
        I have just found out that my ex has gone straight onto a dating site, four weeks after we broke up, (maybe sooner).
        We were together over 2 years and he’d booked vacations abroad for us as far up to November.
        We broke up as I told him another guy was in love with me and was showing me that he is never around and that he was not committed and we never spoke about the future.
        He had nothing to say and did not fight for me.
        I had been planning to end the relationship for a while as it was so unfulfilling but I could not face the heartache I felt the first time we broke up, I was putting it off.
        He is a guy that does his thing and wants an appendage not a partner. He was a very selfish guy in all aspects of the relationship, with his time, in the bedroom, did not communicate well and was very thoughtless as in I literally had to tell him what presents to buy me. It ate away at me a lot of the time as I am used to a bit more passion.
        We just can’t help who we fall for.
        Anyway the fact that he did not fight for me and that he has immediately gone on to a dating site has left me swinging from feelings of, ‘what a shallow dick void of feeling’, to feelings of worthlessness and thinking that he thought nothing of me at all.
        He did not even want to discuss it, just walked.
        I swing from good riddance to utter despair and am rock bottom.
        I feel humiliated.
        Would really like to know how to switch my feelings to positive and your insight please because it always spot on.

        • JP says:

          Hey, Becky! Think back to what we recently reviewed. This guy is a lesson with a silver lining in that you are wiser now, and will shun such men in the future. Hopefully, you will find them detestable. All of what your writing says more about him and his shortcomings than anything else. Remember, he was a bad choice. That was where your fault in this lies. You didn’t screen him out. We all let a bad one in now and again. So, don’t berate yourself for this in any way. Rather, know that he wasn’t worth you time and admiration – and, he’s certainly not worth any more of your mental energy. I could spend paragraphs describing the errant things I believe he is doing with his life. But, there’s no good in that. This isn’t about him, and it’s not my place to critique the guy. I also have no idea what has taken place in his past to make this type of hurtful behavior acceptable to him. Again, it doesn’t matter. Your ticket to freedom and peace lie within YOU. I know it feels contradictory, in that you want to hear from him and have him missing you. Trust this: The strongest message you can send going forward is absolute silence. Not just now, but forever. It’s a paradox in that silence can scream apathy from you. Apathy that you don’t need him and no longer care – even if you do. It’s the absolute right message to send. Silently. Practice the behavior and your mind will follow. Okay? Everything you need to obtain closure from this is within you. Practice ‘opposite action of love’ and do not let your anxious thoughts drive your actions. Put a stake in the ground on this, and “Go Ghost.” This is my #1 recommendation to you. Tap into your inner strength. What advice would you give this fragile, hurt version of yourself? Practice this. You deserve more, and he deserves your silence from this point forward. Take the actions and practice the behaviors that illustrate you are a priority, and the positive thoughts will begin to follow. -JP

          We do not have to get caught in the middle of other people’s issues.” – Melody Beattie

          “Learning to respect boundaries, our own and other people’s, eliminates much of the stress that hinders relationships. Our journey on this planet is not about “fixing” or controlling others. We need other people. Our humanity is enhanced by our mutual experiences. But we also need to let others learn from their mistakes and their own experiences, rather than to help them avoid what they need for their growth – especially at the cost of our own emotional well being. Our compassion is triggered when trouble trips them. But their journey must be inviolate. We’ll only prolong their struggle by intervening where we aren’t needed.”

  46. Frankie says:

    Howdy, JP! First I’d like to say that I loved your article and found it totally relatable as a member of the “anxious male.” Here’s my story:
    I had just moved to North Carolina after returning to the States from a four-year stint in the good ol’ US Navy and after an amiable and cheap divorce I was ready to open my life up to whatever the fates had in store for this wayward sailor. I found a job and started spending my free time volunteering at a therapeutic horseback riding center for special needs kids. It was here, during the training a couple months before sessions started, that I met the bane of my existence. I was 23, she was 18 and about to start college, we hit it off instantly and the looks weren’t bad either. Time passed, she went to school, we saw each other every weekend and when we weren’t in person we skyped constantly and the long-distance thing didn’t even seem worth considering. More time passes, her parents were not too fond of me because of the age difference but my absolutely adored her along with the rest of my family.
    We shared things I shared with no one else. Smelled roses and climbed mountains and frolicked in unicorn tears and made love in the tall grasses of Elysium and all that crap. Shared music, her stuff was all over the house, she would paint me beautiful things until my bedroom looked like her art gallery and I would cook her fancy dinners at the house, offer massages, cake, prizes; giving myself totally and completely and things were wonderful.
    Then I caught her cheating. It was the classic story, I had just taken her to see Wicked and we spent the night making the sweetest of loves. She goes back to school and immediately becomes distant. Like a friggin’ light switch. I was in a panic. The skype calls stopped, the texts too, she was no longer telling me what she was doing or who she was with, it was a nightmare. Eventually, after a long and spotty drought, we start talking again because she wants me to help her get a dog and it was like taking a hit straight to the veigns. “False alarm, boys, the ship is safe!” I even brought the damn dog up to meet her. Now, when this all started, she claimed she had taken her facebook down, in reality she had just blocked me and all my friends and family. One of my friends, whom my ex had never met, looked her up and there she was in the arms of one of the guys she had always told me was just a friend. I immediately dropped off all of her shit at her parents, said my salutations and screamed my head off. She wouldn’t call or text me, she got on skype to try to explain herself and tell me how sorry she was and I just couldn’t believe all that time, effort, money, everything was wasted.
    I know I was good to her, better than I had been with anyone and I was getting it all back right up until the end. People say it was because she was young and weak and whatever but dammit, if they had only felt a fraction of the good times maybe they could understand what happened next. I broke. It was bad. I ended up having to go to my doctor and hoping on the Xanax express in order to eat dinner and get just a couple hours of sleep. The clothes piled up like buildings and my bedroom was all but forgotten in favor of the futon.
    Some time passed and I trucked on. Communication with her ceased even though she refused to return my things to me and I told her I was not giving her the damn dog that I had paid for and trained but BOY did she try and get that thing from me, siting all sorts of emotional reasons. Whatever.
    I tried to focus on the bad, like how she would only eat pasta and never wanted to try anything outside of her comfort zone, how she could be so uppity and spoiled sometimes, and of course her lying and cheating but that paled in comparison to those fabled good times. I wanted them back. I sludged on through life for a few months when suddenly I get the email that sent me back a thousands of years until I was bro-ing out with Ugga and trying to spark flint on the cave wall. She missed me and wanted to get back together. I leapt at the chance.
    We hung out a few times, made more of that passionate love, told each other it would be okay, the skype calls resumed and then suddenly, and without warning, she vanished. Poof. No method of communication worked. I was devastated, not as much as the first time, but still pretty hard.
    More time passes. I move and try to build a new life, she’s still on my mind at least once every day but I’m recovering when suddenly LinkedIn asks me if I would like to endorse her Staff Development skills and I have an instant nervous breakdown. Just seeing her face destroyed all of that work of getting over her and left me mortified with life. I had to talk a walk around the block just to calm down. As a knee-jerk reaction to this horror I write her a long and convoluted email, nothing romantic just more of… I can’t describe it, really. There were words and it was long. She wrote me back. We’re talking again and it’s probably one of the worst things I could be doing. The anxiety has me waking up and ridiculous in the morning and I’m losing my ability to function. She’s even told me she knows she will only hurt me again but I want her, want her more than anything. My brain keeps telling me what a fool I am and my heart keeps telling me she’s the only one and there will never be another.
    I don’t want to go back on the pill. I want to live again. I want peace. “I want you to help me Rhonda, help me get her out of my heart,” because I think the only way this ends is if she dies or I find someone new because I think if there was an alternative to my ex I would be able to ground myself in reality a bit more.
    If you made it this far I applaud you and thanks for sticking around. Any advice would help. Thanks.

    • JP says:

      Hey, Frankie! I’m about to kick the shit out of my laptop. I had just completed a very thorough reply to you, and I lost everything. I now have to start over, while trying to encapsulate everything I wrote the first time. Seriously … I want to beat the crap out of this computer, table, chair, wall, and building ……. breeeeaathe ……. okay, I’m over it. Back to you. I read through your posting a couple of times. I know you don’t need to hear this, because you already know what I’m going to say. I know you do. You’re a smart guy. But, here goes anyway. “WTF are you doing?!?!?!” Despite the amazing chemistry, great sex, idealizing and romanticism, and all that other bullshit that doesn’t count because this chick is waaaaaaaay too young – you know she’s not relationship material. She showed you once by going off the rails and callously trampling your heart. She showed you a second time with even more nonchalance. All the while, you suffered like never before, subjecting your very health to the equivalence of a mental and emotional flogging. You’ve got all the data in the world to make an informed decision, with the only realistic option being: Run. But, Frankie – my man. You are turning off your rational thinking, and deferring to your heart and dick. And, she is being more realistic and brazen then ever by explicitly telling you what’s coming for a third time. Not “if” but “when.” You know what repeating the same bad behavior while expecting a different result refers to, right? Yep – “Insanity.” Your hardly insane. You’re obviously quite intelligent. But, there is a vast difference between being intelligent and acting wisely. You are not being wise. Not by a long shot. And, I would be doing you a disservice if I was not honest and throwing out some ‘tough love.’ I’m not trying to be a smart-ass here. I’m trying to help you get out of this with your dignity and with the minimal amount of heartache. If she pulls the trigger, it’s gonna sting bad. If you do it – it’ll hurt – but, it’ll be on your terms. And, that will help you a lot. It’s not about ego – it’s about self-preservation.

      How this third chapter plays out is totally up to you. You actually have control over this. For now. That will shift dramatically soon. And, do you really want to be the lap dog that gets beat twice, while still hopping back into the owner’s lap for a third?? No. You don’t. You know what you need to do. And, finding someone else to transition you out of this is NOT the solution. That’s not how it works. It may feel like it’ll take away some of the pain. But, the single best way to handle this is mastery over your self-esteem and future. I’m not discounting the wonderful times you’ve had with her. And, I’m not discounting the pain you’ve felt over the prior two breaks. But, you know in your head what you’ve got to do to preserve your dignity and walk away with your head held high this time around. Would you respect a girl that kept coming back to you for more abuse? I don’t think you would. I certainly wouldn’t. I’d think she was pathetic. You’re not pathetic, Frankie. Not by a long-shot. You’re enamored by a great piece of ass whom is exciting and uncontrollable. This is someone whom is a good time. Not a relationship. Not for you, and not after all that has transpired. I know you know this. I just wanted to drive it home because we often need to hear this stuff from an outside perspective for it to really gel. Trust that this will be easier for you if you are the one whom walks. You’re flying on pure emotions and irrational mind right now. What would you tell your best friend in this same situation?? I’m sure she is a wonderful young lady. I am not minimizing anything about her except the fact she has proven she is not ready to be in a committed relationship. Nothing more. Knowing this, and knowing it’s not about you or anything you did is your ticket to non-regret freedom!! You know your did your best, and she clearly likes you. This is not about you, nor any shortcomings on your part. This is about her being incapable of giving more to you or anyone. Therein lies your peace of mind in walking away.

      In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on. – Robert Frost

      “Life doesn’t stop for us to lick wounds or add fuel to grievances. Hours pass, we grow older, nature continues. Every event is part of life’s cycle. We can’t run away from anything. We must meet life head-on and adjust to its ebb and flow.” Frankie, at any given moment you have the power to decide how this plays out for you.

  47. jake says:

    Hey JP,

    I’d like to hear your advice. The article was great and I really appreciated it. It showed me a lot, and made me understand more, about myself!

    I broke up with my girlfriend of six months last week. We had been long distance and had plans to see each other over the summer. However, I’m in university and she’s graduating so there was a lot of uncertainty. The last month or so we had been getting very distant. Neither of us could communicate very well and it’s even harder over distance and things started to go sour… We didn’t fight but we many conversations discussing what we each needed and how we could connect. But nothing came of it, we lost touch even further until finally, she gave me an ultimatum: Figure out what I wanted.

    I stressed over that for about a day until I decided to break up with her. She immediately ignored me and that set off a lot of anxiety. I’m currently fluctuating between all three stages but I’m struggling with regret and the constant, “If only I could go back” and “This is how I will get her back…” style thinking. I don’t know how to make these thoughts stop and they are really unnerving. Even as I write them now, it’s difficult to embrace them because I’m afraid they’ll trigger off some internal monologue about her and the break up and the uncertain future.

    Is there anything you can say to this or speak to?

    Thanks again for your article, it really was a relief to read.

    • Frankie says:

      Hey man, I’m not the author but I thought I could relate. What you’re experiencing is something like “buyer’s remorse,” where you regret something as soon as you buy it and that is completely normal in a lot of situations. Long-distance relationships are hard work and both parties have to be totally committed to success in order to pull it off. There was really only two options, tell her it was going to be alright and try to wait it out or do what you do and cut your loses. You’re feeling anxiety because you are now totally out of your comfort zone and in the brave new world, your brain is reacting violently to this because you broke its routine and for the most part people are creatures of habit and don’t like to step out of their personal bubble unless they have a contingency plan. If your Plan B said simply, “refer to Plan A,” then you may be a victim of the 6 P’s which is an old Navy saying that goes Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. You made your choice and you need to own it as fast as you can. If she’s ignoring you there’s not much you can do about it but stay strong, she already got your first fifteen messages, the next fifteen will only make things worse. I know it hurts, dude, I know it sucks, but this is life. I’m going through my own mess as I type this. Just know that you’re not alone and there is another side of the tunnel.

      • JP says:

        Frankie, that was very kind of you to reach out to Jake and share your insight and advice. For those suffering bouts of anxiety and not be destabilized and react to them. Therein lies the mastery of anxiety. Thank you, again. (I will respond to your posting next) -JP

    • JP says:

      Hi, Jake! I’m glad you obtained some relief via the site and essay. My first thought is the arduous task inherent to any long distance relationship. I cannot think of a single person I know whom one of these worked out for in the long-run. Not to say they don’t or cannot! But, they’re preloaded with challenges from the get-go. It sounds like you made a very logical decision with the breakup, but that your anxiety kicked-in, causing you to second-guess everything. That’s what anxiety does, brother. It’s our “boo voice” that is constantly making us questions ourselves, or plant the seeds of doubt in our psyche. The tricky part is working to determine how much of your stress is really related to how much you care/want to be with this girl, and how much is pure, unadulterated anxiety. Getting ignored is a HUGE anxiety trigger. Huge. My summation from what you’ve provided here is that this is completely about being ignored – 100%. You need to just sit with it until it begins to subside. It WILL subside. Remain confident in your decision to part ways. Your anxiety is trying to convince you otherwise. Self-soothe and don’t reach out to her for now. Be confident and be okay with the discomfort. It’s the only way to take the power away from the anxious thoughts. They are just thoughts, and thoughts do NOT equal facts – nor do feelings. -JP

  48. Woundlybound says:

    Hey JP, just left my two-party ‘shitshow’ for the second time with the same guy and I was looking for some enlightenment and came across your article. I laughed my head off reading it through 4x.
    Last time I finished it was due to him having no passion, no forethought, and putting me bottom of his list after his kids (okay), parents, work, cricket and football.
    Although we had chemistry or rather I did as I was as desperate as as a neglected housewife…that’s because I was one.
    Anyway I did ask him back just one time and he refused.
    Four weeks later I see him out with a girl, not woman, who was younger than me, prettier than me, taller than me, funnier than me with deep and enlightening conversation and with a really well paid and interesting job that she loved…I had had a few drinks. I turned on my heels filled with a jealousy that tore my heart in two and promptly dropped the pieces in pit of my stomach.
    I was as miserable as a cubicle office worker for a whole six months, as I envisaged them laying in bed whilst reading Fifty Shades of Grey to each other only stopping to enact each part. As I was walking in the rain I imagined them walking past arm in arm and a ray of light bursting through the clouds just a sliver enough to sparkle on her 4 carat engagement ring as they giggle into each others eyes. Not reality.
    Six months later I get a text from Don Juan himself and to alleviate my pain I throw all the stuff I planned to say to him straight under a bus and meet him immediately.

    Two years later…same shit happens… I get the crumbs off of his table and see him once a week.
    I am four weeks into trying to talk sense into his numb skull, what a waste of breath. He walked off, cut me off and four weeks later I get a base text asking for some item. I need a good shake. Lesson learned…always go forward, not backwards.
    What a mug.

    • JP says:

      Hi there, Becky! Thank you for writing. Moreover, thank you for the feedback. I had no idea that when I wrote this, it would turn into a personal mission and book to help people. Funny how life works sometimes. It only took me a few seconds to realize that 100% of your problem with this guy is that you picked this guy. He sounds like a perpetual kid. A lot of guys are. Hell, we don’t usually grow-up until about 40 …. if ever. ;-) From what little you described, it seems he’s about his own little world – though, I’m glad his kids are a priority. But, going for the young girl, etc. This is an action indicative of men that don’t want to grow-up, etc. But, I don’t know him at all. I know that he makes you feel like shit based on his actions. So, what does that mean? You extract him from your life once and for all. Two rounds with the guy were two too many. No harm, no foul – lesson learned. But, you’re worth far more, Becky. So, aim accordingly when it comes to selecting the next man – okay? Make yourself more of a priority in dating relationships, and get what you give. More often than not, a bad relationship starts with a bad choice in a partner. Screen meticulously! -JP

      No matter what faces us — an unhappy relationship, a serious operation or illness, a feeling of uselessness or helplessness — it is vital to realize that there is a solution. We must not expect that the solution to our problem will bring us immediate peace of mind. Focusing our energies and emotions on the answer, not the problem, will, however, alleviate much of the futility and frustration we feel.” A medical doctor, George S. Stevenson, wrote, “The solution may not give you everything you want. Sometimes, it may give you nothing but a chance to start all over again. But whatever little it gives you is much more than you give yourself by letting your emotions tear you apart.”

  49. Dave says:

    I’m currently going thru a very odd breakup. The reason why I say odd is because due to circumstances we are still living in the same place. So I get to feel pain of seeing my ex while I find a new place. To make the situation worse, I have also built a relationship with my ex’s daughter which will ultimately be a whole different break up as the last thing I want to do is to break a child’s heart. For that reason, and given the fact that we has been together for close to 2 years (anniversary was coming up) I decided to get us couples therapy. I’m not aiming for a reconciliation; however, given the fact that it is my second break up from a long term relationship in 2 years I figured there is something I might be able to learn. I currently am a firm believer that she had a lot to do with the break up; however, that in no way will make me learn and more importantly identify what I did wrong. I’m wondering what JP’s advice is on this type of therapy… Am I just in phase 1 trying to fix something that should not be fixed?

    • JP says:

      Hello, Dave! I must first say that I do not have enough information to comment with much credibility. However, I commend your effort to try to repair things – IF, in fact, there is something worthy of repair, AND this relationship is worth additional effort. Unfortunately, without knowing much, I cannot espouse on either. That said, the tone of your email is such that you care about this relationship, about the woman with whom you have it, and definitely the child involved. If your significant other is as willing as you are to work towards reconciliation and repair, then it sounds like it might be both worthwhile and salvageable. Again, I’m not certain your efforts are being directed in the right place. These are things you must ask yourself – starting with, why you would like to “fix” things. What are your primary motivators, for example. Not considering her child for a moment – is this truly a woman you believe in your heart of hearts you should be with? Spend some time on that question, Dave, and do some real soul searching on what it is you deserve and seek in a healthy relationship. My guess, is that by entering therapy with her you will quickly learn what you need to know. A counselor worth their weight, will help you both to arrive at the answers you seek and need regarding moving forward. In the interim, is there anywhere else you stay to obtain some perspective and allow for a cooling-off period? If so, I would suggest taking the reprieve and getting a little distance to sort this out in your mind. If not, then you’ve got a unique situation, indeed. But, definitely not one that hasn’t been discussed previously below. I’m not sure I’ve provided you anything you didn’t already know. I just don’t feel comfortable dispensing much more with what little I know. That said, I – along with others – could probably give you more personal feedback if at any point you want to share more. If not, that’s perfectly fine. You can’t go wrong seeking the counseling. You’ve got two years together, and a professional, outside adviser can help you both arrive at the best decision for all involved. Please keep us posted. -JP

  50. Lauren says:

    My ex and I broke up a little over a year ago. He dumped me after months of us fighting. I desperately wanted to work on the relationship, and he didn’t. We’ve been on a roller coaster ever since then; going weeks and in some cases a few months without speaking, during which time I thought about him and missed him constantly. I (never him) would always eventually cave, get in touch, and we’d end up doing friends with benefits for awhile until another fight arose, we’d stop speaking again, and the whole cycle would repeat itself. We had been on another friends with benefits kick, and my usual anxiety and fear about “where is this going?” and “does he care about me at all?” finally got the better of me and I ended it. It was my hope that ending it on good terms would also end the cycle and help me move on, but his response to the situation has left me an anxious, miserable train wreck. He commended my decision, calling it “wise and mature”. This of course only reinforces what I’ve known since he dumped me a year ago. That he doesn’t love me, doesn’t care how much pain I’ve been in, and there’s no hope for us. Even knowing all of this from a logical point of view doesn’t help me miss him less, or want to be with him any less. I cannot fathom why I am so desperate to be with a person who doesn’t value me. It’s been a YEAR! Surely there has to be a statute of limitations on experiencing the agony of a broken heart, right?

    • Liz says:

      Hi Lauren,

      I know I’m not JP, but after reading about your story I feel very connected to it because I’m going through a very similar situation, my name is Liz. If you want a break up buddy and someone to empathize with maybe we can help eachother? Either way best of luck through this shit hole of a rough patch girl, stay strong.


      • JP says:

        Liz, I’m glad you reached-out to Lauren. It would, be great if you can keep each other accountable, as you’re experiencing a similar situation. My hope and wish is that both of you will come through this seeing things much more clearly, valuing yourselves as you should, and screening these type of men from entering your lives in the future. These are lessons we often have to learn the hard way – unfortunately. If you truly learn from this, and work to not repeat the mistakes, then the experience has a purpose. Please keep me posted. -JP

    • JP says:

      Hi, Lauren. Welcome to the page, and thank you for sharing your story. As I read your post, I’m with your ex – “Wise and mature” of you to turn away. Don’t you believe in your heart of hearts that you deserve far more than he’s giving you?? The answer is a resounding, “YES.” Why don’t you believe it though? And, why do his short-sighted, selfish actions have any bearing on you as a person, or your intrinsic value? Answer: They don’t. The two aren’t even remotely related. The crux of the problem here is 100% within you and how you’re feeling about yourself right now. For whatever reason, you’ve given him carte blanch to control your value as a person and your worthiness to be loved. You obviously know all of this – as you’ve stated it yourself above. You even added a golden phrase: “Surely there has to be a statute of limitations on experiencing the agony of a broken heart, right?” The reason you’re not yet over him is because you keep going back to the same “dry well” hoping for a drink. You know the definition of “insanity,” right? I’m giving you some tough love here, Lauren because I want to proverbially shake you out of this torturous pattern. Stay in your logical mind. It’s trying to tell you something with regard to this guy and the overall situation. This is an instance of trying to solve an internal problem with an external solution. This guy has no bearing whatsoever on how wonderful you are. None. My advice? As hard as I know it is, cease all contact for good. Sever this, Lauren. It’s an emotional bog for you, and extremely unhealthy. Do the opposite of everything you’re doing. Align your supportive resources in the form of family, friends, and healthy activities and be accountable to them. While you spend your time non contacting or responding to him – no matter how badly you want to – keep in mind that you’re a complete entity every bit worthy of love. You’re choosing to tie your self-worth and validation to this guy. But, not he – nor anyone else – holds that kind of power. You’ve just temporarily chosen to give him this vote. Take back the Locus of Control. It belongs within you, and you only. -JP

  51. Liz W says:

    Hey Jp,
    So this is my take #2, I wrote to you about a year ago this may regarding my breakup with my ex who I was with for less than 9 months, he was the one who never gave me a reason and sucked at communicating. Well about a month ago he called me out of the blue and we started seeing eachother again (I know I will be kicking myself for that 1) He said he regretted never talking to me, and walking away so easily. He seemed better at the communication stuff up until this past thursday, I was out with some friends and asked what he was up to, he said he was watching a movie with some friends and I said if he wanted I could swing by his place after and hang out, he said he had been drinking and couldn’t drive and I said no I meant I could come by him not for him to drive, he was drunk and took it out of context so I got mad and told him that I would talk to him next week and that’s not what I meant but w/e and 15 mins later texted I was sorry for getting mad but I would never try to get him to drive after drinking. I asked him around 6am that friday if we were ok and he waited til 5:00pm to tell me “That was kind of an asshole thing to say but yeah we’re good.” Since then he grew very distant and stopped initiating anything and then this morning he called me up and asked if we could be friends and that it didn’t feel natural and he still cares about me and wanted to hang out..blah blah blah, I was pretty caught off guard because I thought we were fine and yet again he never tried to talk with me about how he was feeling and having doubts, he told me that sometimes he wouldn’t know what mood i was gonna be in wether calm and docile or over angry, which doesnt make sense because when I got mad i wouldn’t lash out and kept quiet, he said something about holding onto anger, which I thought that he should know my guard is up the 2nd time around and that im constantly afraid of getting hurt again…like now. Well he did it, hurt me again and for what? Why even come back into my life when I was doing fine. I’m pretty hurt this time around and not sure what to think/ do, Jp I could really use a friend in you again, you really helped me last time and im sorry to be back here having failed again :/ I should be under the name Liz W, i think it was around early or mid may I wrote you last year. Anything you can tell me would be greatly appreciated, advice, feedback or even a poem

    • Erik says:

      Hi Liz,

      I just saw your post and felt I should comment. My girlfriend broke up with me two weeks ago and she was also the type that wouldn’t communicate. Up until she actually said “I don’t want to be in a relationship,” I was under the impression that everything was fine. Other than being a bit distant lately (she’d never been the touchy feely type to begin with), she never showed any indication that something was wrong. We’d even just returned from a trip to Europe, which was amazing, and I felt it had brought us even closer. We’d had our disagreements, all couples do, but I love her so much those seemed insignificant in comparison to all the good times and we never fought. I was also not given real reasons other than she felt she wasn’t growing as a person (?) and that she didn’t see a future for us. We’d been together for two and a half years and I felt as though our life together was just getting started. The last thing she said to me was “you can call me if you have any questions.” Like I was being fired. I couldn’t believe this was the same person that called me just a few minutes earlier to let me know she was almost at my place. I was about to get dinner ready.

      I’ve been a mess these last couple couple of weeks, but finding this site and reading all the comments has really helped put everything in perspective. I’ve broken all contact and kept as busy as I could. Exercising a lot. Knowing there are others like you out there going through the same hell means a lot. I’m sorry I don’t have any real advice for you, I’m barely just figuring out how to make it from one hour to the next, but just remember to be strong. We all have value despite our exes not seeing it, and in time we will rise up out of this low place, heal, and move on.

      • JP says:

        Thank you for supporting your peers, Erik. It’s so great to see the shared camaraderie. I’ve never understood lack of communication within relationships, as communication is the absolute keystone and foundation for any healthy relationship. When it’s absent, things fall apart 100% of the time. I won’t even enter a relationship again if the woman is not a solid communicator. However, that’s one of hundreds of things I’ve learned the hard way. “You can call me if you have any questions?!” Good grief. Talk about someone disconnected from her emotions. Honestly, Erik, I’m not sure how you lasted as long as you did. I get more love and affection from my foster cat. I gotta say, you’re doing the right things. You’re navigating the breakup just as you should. Breaking contact is pivotal in situations like this. It goes against every emotion at times, but it’s the “opposite action” that needs to be taken for the perspective and healing to begin. I’m guessing she might try reaching out to you again at some point. Be prepared. -JP

    • JP says:

      Hey, Liz! I remember you well. Thank you for writing in again. That said, I’m very sorry to hear that you got sucked in to your exes bullshit. As a guy, it’s pretty obvious to discern what he was up to. His manipulations are really tough to read about. The most twisted part is his ability to turn his own jacked-up behavior on to you – to make YOU feel like the crazy one. Some people (sociopaths) have this skill down to an art. It’s emotional/mental trickery. Eventually, you’ll get really good at recognizing it early, then moving in the opposite direction. Oftentimes, our want of love overrides our other faculties. We turn off our intuition and let blind hope become our guiding principle. Don’t. Keep your rational mind engaged at all times. Everything you needed to know about this guy you learned the first time around. Unfortunately, that lesson dimmed with time, and you fell for his manipulative play to draw you back in for his self-serving purpose. What would you tell your best friend if you saw her going through an identical scenario? Be your own best friend. Cut all ties and never go back. Never. You’ve now got even more data about how ill-fitted this guy is for you. He is not even treating you with common respect. I want you to flip your script. From now on, instead of dwelling on him and his behavior (which is irrelevant) – I want you to keep asking yourself, “Why is a guy like this acceptable me??” Every time your thoughts slip toward missing him or trying to figure out his shallow actions, immediately redirect your mind to that question. Don’t you deserve more? Yes! You’re the last one to believe this. You need to be the first. -JP

      • Liz W says:

        Hey Jp-
        I owe you an update my friend. It’s a good 1 at that. :) I have no lingering feelings or wish to speak/fix anything with Marty anymore. Bizzarre and much more rapid of a recovery than I ever expected but hey I’m definitley not complaining; getting over someone feels pretty great. I’ve been dating a 36 year old (my dad is gonna love that 1 lol ) and have just been dating around and honestly having a really good time with it. I work alot of crazy hours and am pretty pumped to sign up for school this summer and chip away at my Marine Biology/ Zoology double degree pursuit. I learned that Marty straight up lied to me, and was in a relationship with some girl before even breaking up with me. I feel sorry her and hope that maybe he can learn to man up and just tell the truth to people. Maybe that’s why I bounced back so easily? I really hope everyone on here treads lightly and learn to live with passion. It’s what drives us all. I’d love to read your book once you finish it, keep me posted? You’re a huge inspiration and from the bottom of my heart I just wanna say Thank you. I truly wish you the best in everything you do.

        • JP says:

          It’s great to hear from you again, Liz. I love updates – thank you. I hope that you were able to process your parting with Marty prior to the dating you’re enjoying now. Otherwise, those old feelings will make a reappearance at some point down the line. That said, it sounds like your healing was greatly hastened by his selfish actions and “douchbaggery.” That certainly makes things easier to put behind you, and I’m truly happy for ya. As for him learning any lessons in the near future on his own – don’t count on it. Some people never learn. I wish you incredible happiness and peace, Liz. You deserve it. – JP

  52. Awesome article and great replies…
    So I am 32yr old personal trainer in south tx. Having met plenty of women throughout the years and never letting myself become emotianally attached to any…but two. I went through my first 3 year relationship,but that was young love and all about the mind games. #2 lasted 3 years but then I thought i was with the love of my life and my soulmate after college and heading into proffessional big boy life…well, someway somehow I managed to sabotage our relationship and managed to loose my partner And best friend. I can honestly say that I fell into the darkest of holes and anxious times always telling myself she was the one and always having my mom and brothers reminding ne of how great she was and how big a loss she was and how I might never have that chance ever again. She wasted no time in finding her new partner and eventual husband, as I sat there after a longdays of work,on my couch,bottle of wine…cuddled with cairo(my true and most loyal labrador friend) i swore Id never fall for anyone again as long as cairo lived or i atleast turned 35!!!

    Well 4 years later here I am…I moved from austin to brownsville,tx…new career and new begining… Although you might think I am a fool after what I will post…i hope to get your honest opinion on what this can be called.

    Long story short- day before superbowl game, my good friend invited me over to his superbowl party and insisted that I went(odd) after deciding not to go, he seemed a bit let down… Well the following saturday, i got home at night, tured and sleepy i decided to crash out…then i heard a knock at my door and it was another one of my friends who very randomly decided to show up and invite me to a country saloon as he was very excited to go on a blind date he was set up on with a very attractive attorney girl. So what the hell, i got up, had a few beers to wake up and made my way there to meet up with the group. As I stood there and admired everyone dance…but me, this girl who was supposed to be my goid friends date, reached out to me and asked for my name…so i tell her my name and she asks why I didnt go to michaels superbowl party! So i looked around the saloon,looking for mike playing his prank, niwhere to be seen I ask…wtf!?!? How would you know this? So she replies saying that her and I were set up to meet the prior week and that the sb party was meant for us! So then it hits me..”what a freaking small world!!!” Was this fate? Was it destiny for us to find each other someway somehow? Did my friend pretty much drag me out to eventually take what was supposed to be his date? After hitting it off with her, she decided to have her friend give me her # so that i could text her. We soon spoke on the phone and talked about how special it was the way we met and everything clicked. We went out on a first date and we actually kissed when i dropped her off…the next day she was to drive off to angelfire ,nm to her ski home Nd vacation for a week as attorneys and courts were off. We talked on the phone the first few night and we were just going nuts to see each other asap, so this girl hot in her car and drove twentysome hours straight to be with me…that in itself felt soo special as I knew i found the one. We spent the rest of the week in bed ( ;-) ) and getting to know each other more and more. We started moving fast and it got to the point where she admitted to opening up soo fast to me and acting like never before.
    Now…i am 32, never married no kids
    Her= 35, married for 11yrs,divorced no kids proffesional criminal attorney with great education.

    So everything was going amazing and fast for these past 8 weeks. We even drove up to austin and spent 4 days with my whole family. She was an instant hit and I reassured myself I might and should have “the one!” Everytime we were together we got along amazing and just seemed soo right for each other. I respected her busy schedule by not calling her during work hours and she did the same…although she was always the one to cone to my work and workout with me or take me to lunch and what not. I never really got the go to show up to her work. But it never bothered me. So this friday, she shows up to my work and asks if Id like to go to lunch with her and I happily said yes and so we went. We actually spent 3-4 hours at cafeteria and just talked and talked and laughed…finally we drive back to ny work and i sat in her car a few minutes in parking lot to kill some time. We set up a plan to spend the night with each other and workout the following morning before she drove up 3 hours to attend an event at her second law firm…but before that she informed me tha several guy attorneys were getting together for drinks and she had to make apperance as it was the right thing to do as they always sent her clients and made her business. She said she wanted to only be there an hour or so… Even asked if i wanted to attend with her or meet her there and i replied no…that it was fine and that i trusted her and knew she was a good girl and would get drunk and leave me for an attorney guy…but her response totally butt hurt me and it was all downhill from there. She said “of course I wouldnt, but remember that we are not exclusive!” So immediately It hurt me and I took it the wrong way and assumed the worst. I told her she didnt need to remind me of our status and that i wasnt planning on asking her to be my gf yet as I was truly enjoying working at it and getting to know her. So for the sake of not arguing about it, i reched over and gave her a kiss and told her she was a beutiful and great girl and i walked away and into my car…we spine on the phone a bit after and she gave me an altumatem…you want to continue working at it and see where we go or give up bc im not ready to be a gf yet. She explained what exclussiveness was to her and reassured me there was none else. To her it meant making decisions together and always having to inform me of everything she did. So someway somehow things didnt get better and she stayed a bit longer at her drinks and eventually came to my house to drop off my house kets but refused to talk to me about anything and said she was tired and needed sleep as shed be driving 3-4 hours next day. So she left ne in limbo i felt. I tried to call and text the next day to see what was wrong or talk to her about it but she ignored me until finally she replied we will talk in person. I asked how we could make it better and she replied I had to start be respecting her personal space. I thought about it and wondered why i had to respect her space as she was the one whod show up to my work,house and always reminded me hiw lonely she felt without me in her bed and how badly shed miss me during the day…. So yesturday i texted her a few more times and no response and so i call her and she lets ne talk and then finishes by telling me shes done,she cant do this and hangs up on me. I felt angered and betrayed and texted her a few innapropriate things trying to justify me being a bad person and truly giving her a reason to blow me off…she immediately went on to block me on fb and my #. What was this all about? I met this girl in the oddest of ways, felt like I never did with my gfs of years…. Was able to be myself around her 100% and felt at peace once more…was i just infatuated with being with an older, proffesional very independent woman attorney or truly and fastly falling for the girl i was waiting for all my life? I actually had serious thoughts of even working hard at being the guy for her and settling down and taking this thing all the way.

    Or was she telling me everything i wanted to hear just so she can pass the time and have a temp night companion? Or does she have serious issues…( accirding to her, her 10yr marriage ended because her husband after 7years told her he didnt want to have a kid)

    Now im here in my house, didnt even attend to my clients and am feeling either shamed,used or confused….

    • JP says:

      Hello, Sidney. Clearly, I’ve fallen a few comments behind as I work with my co-writer on the book. I am very sorry for this, and for your recent pain. How are you currently faring?? The first piece of your comments I want to respond to is your notion of a “soul mate.” Rest assured there are far more than one right person for any of us. More realistically, you’ve got at least 5,000 soul mates out there. If each of us had only one soul mate, (1) We’d probably never find that person; and (2) The human race would subsequently collapse ….. or, we’d all just marry and breed with whatever came along. I think many of us do that anyway. The second thing I noticed within your post (after reviewing it a few times) was that despite your confusion with how this train wreck of a chick treated you, I believe in your core you knew that this was just an infatuation on both parts. One particular comment that stands out is, “I thought about it and wondered why i had to respect her space as she was the one whod show up to my work,house and always reminded me hiw lonely she felt without me in her bed and how badly shed miss me during the day…” EXACTLY. I don’t know how recent her divorce was, but you were fulfilling an unmet need for her, and you did it well – until you wanted more than she was willing/able to give. Then she started pushing back. This was a no-win situation for you. The timing was all wrong, and she isn’t the right woman for you. At least not now. But, don’t wait around, brother! You had every right to get frustrated and pissed. She was jerkin’ you around. I can’t possibly know what was going on in her head, and I don’t propose to because it doesn’t matter. What matters is this: She wasn’t treating you well. Period. You stuck around to try and figure out why, while trying to right the listing ship. The only thing you might have done better in this scenario was to walk away sooner. But, no one can fault you for sticking around and giving it a solid “go.” She just ain’t worth your efforts. Trust your instinct, Sidney. Your next great girl is still out there. And, there is more than one of ‘em. Try to chalk this one up as a lesson learned, while you keep focused on your future with another. Okay? Make it the “Summer of Sidney.” -JP

  53. JP says:

    Well, we certainly appreciate the readership and support!! Thank you :-)

  54. Isabella says:

    JP, I loved your article and i love your comments. I’m brazilian so english is not my first language, sorry for any mistakes.

    I cannot understand my situation. My boyfriend dumped me because he cant trust me. He say he loves me and wants to be with me but can’t trust me. I was single for four years before him so of course i hooked up with different guys and some of those guys turned out to be my friends later. He hates this, he hates that i have them on facebook, even tho he knows i have and want nothing to do with them. He said we think differently about this so we must break up. I would never delete or stop talking to my friends, ever. Do you think i’m wrong about this? He hates that i get male attention, he thinks i’ll cheat on him with one of his friends, or with someone stronger, muscular, smarter. I never did anything, i always treated him right, i love him so much. He said horrible things to me, it was a scary emotional abuse. Do I deserve this? I’ve always been faithful. I feel like this is so unfair.

    I keep calling him, emailing him and crying all day. My friends cant take this anymore, my mom is fed up. I am absolutely sure he will meet someone soon and this freaks me out, I keep having anxiety attacks and its driving me insane.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Isabella! Great name. Your English is phenomenal – nice work! I certainly cannot speak Portuguese – so I would never fault you. In reply to your posting, it seems you are dealing with (based on your description) a very controlling, manipulative, insecure, and jealous guy. I am basing this only on what I have read here. I agree with your mother and friends – you should not be sad – you should be running the other way with joy that you will not see him again. This is NOT the kind of guy you get heartbroken or sad about. This is an abuser – plain and simple. Run, Isabella. The best advice I can give you is to cut all ties with this guy. There is no future with him. Only more abuse, and more severity of that abuse with time. Please listen to your friends and family. They have your best interests in mind. Do yourself a favor and stop all communication with him. And, if possible, see a counselor/therapist right away as well. It’s important that you learn why you chose a guy like this so that you never repeat the choice in another. YOU DESERVE SO MUCH MORE. -JP

  55. ND says:

    Here I am, back on here again. I still love this article. It’s been a year and a half since the ex and I broke up. And I have to say I feel so much better. I really never thought I was going to emerge from that horrible sadness and awfulness. But I did, just like you said. I’m in a sad place again though.

    I was sort of seeing this new guy. I thought things were going well. I wasn’t completely head over heels but I was starting to really like him little by little. And we were starting to relate on a bunch of things (or so I thought). I wasn’t comparing him to my ex for the most part, which I thought was huge progress. And he kept making an effort to talk to me, so I let him. He was incredibly smart and so sure of himself. And then he kind of just kind of stopped trying. He barely touched me the last few times we hung out except to give me a sideways hug hi and bye. I’m seriously confused and sad. I don’t know the hell I said or did to make him stop trying. I feel so guilty and dumb for hooking up with him because now I feel like all he wanted was to be physical. But I can’t believe that because I know he’s had a girlfriend before so I know he’s capable and I really didn’t think he was that kind of guy.

    I just wanted some sign that I could be liked and someone else besides my ex could want me. I put so much time and effort into feeling good about myself and making myself a better person over this past year and a half. My ex got into a new relationship 6 months after breaking up with me and I’m still alone and no one wants me. Do I have like do not date this dumbo stamped across my forehead?? I don’t know what else I need to do.

    • JP says:

      Welcome back, Nidhi! It’s a great pleasure to hear from you again. Well … I mean, in general. I’m not at all glad to see you within a similar predicament. But, that’s how love works sometimes. I really want to stress the likelihood that his behavior is about you is so very slim. It’s impossible for either of us to know what his state-of-mind was during and immediately after the relationship. But, your mind is automatically drawing “worst case” conclusions that are all about possible shortcomings by you! STOP IT. Thoughts do not equal facts. Feelings do not equal facts. And, you do not need “some sign” that you could be liked enough by anyone. You don’t need that kind of validation, because that is the exact type of validation that needs to come from within each one of us. Why are you giving him the power to determine your self-worth? He holds no authority on your value whatsoever. Maybe he just wanted to get laid and is incapable of anything else. That is just one likely scenario. But, for whatever reason, you are wanting to designate him the official approver of your intrinsic value. I call bullsh!t. You know you’re just as valuable and special as any one of us. You simply chose to hitch your wagon to a bad horse. Bad analogy, I know. But, I love analogies!

      You recently spent a great deal of time on yourself, while making considerable progress. But, did you spend time on what types of guys you would allow into your life? It sounds like things with this one weren’t very serious – that it was more physical. As a guy, it sounds like he got what he wanted and acted like a few million other guys afterward. But, you are wanting to personalize this as some reflection of your worth. Look, I know it feels crappy. But, that’s all it is. A crappy feeling. Do not let his hapless, self-fulfilling actions erode at your self-confidence. Get it?

      “I want somehow to tell the story of how the dispossessed become possessed of their own history without losing sight, without forgetting the meaning or the nature of their journey.” -Sherley Anne Williams

      Past cruelties we experience can remain powerful in our lives — yet to take possession of our history means to free ourselves of the bondage to past events. Nothing can ever change them. If we are to make the future good, we’ll learn what the past can teach us. But our freedom requires us to make choices based on the needs of the present, not the past. You can act at every moment in such a way as to honor the past and enhance the future. -JP

  56. Ben says:

    Wow, this article brightened up my day.
    So when I got to college, I met a girl who would eventually become my first girlfriend (I know, I’ve got tons of swag). We had a great relationship for 3 and a half years. The second half of the 4th year started going sour though, because she was graduating and going off to work, while I ended up staying in school for another year. We got really distant and started fighting a lot. We eventually broke up near the end of the semester (She was more willing to end it then me). That’s where I entered phase I. I think I was in this numb stage for about 4 months. I then started to miss her, and progressed a bit into phase II, but I wasn’t a wreck. Just last week, I found out that she got a new boyfriend, and that just crushed me. It seems like I can’t go a minute without losing it.
    My bed is likewise my enemy, but not because it reminds me of her (I am in a new apartment since the break up), but rather due to the fact that when I’m trying to sleep, all I can do is think about her, and all of the stupid things I did to drive her away.
    Millions of people go through this every day, but what is it about a break up that makes you feel like the only person in the world who feels this way.
    Anyway, the article was a huge morale booster, and I’m going to show it to any friends of mine who are unfortunate enough to fall to the same fate as me.

    • JP says:

      Well, hello Ben. I am grateful for your posting, and stoked to hear the essay assisted you. Your story is eerily reminiscent of the relationship my cousin recently experienced. The parallels are many. As for your current pain, that part actually parallels pretty much everyone of us on the receiving end of a breakup. And, you’re right – the entire experience is VERY isolating. Hopefully, in coming here, you see that you’re in abundant company. Breakups are replicated across the world in great volume each and every day. No one is immune. Does that help?? About as much as getting hit with cancer, while knowing so do millions of others. So … not at all. What does help, however, is utilizing the coping and distress tolerance skills successfully used by our peers. And, you can read about many of these within the “Comments” section here. On a side note, I’m glad you’re in a new apartment. The “ghosts” of your relationship aren’t lingering around your new place. It’s the vivid memories in your mind that you’ve got to shut-off. And, this is most difficult to accomplish when we lay down to sleep. Myself, I cheated through this part. I saw my doctor and was prescribed Ativan and sleeping pills to calm my nerves and facilitate sleep until I was able to implement some thought control. You’re going through one of the top 5 stressors in life, Ben. So, why not seek out counselor, or – at the very least – reach out to your physician and tell them what’s going on?? They’re around to help you, and there’s no shame in reaching out for a lifeline! I’m telling you that there’s no good reason to white knuckle through this when help (i.e., counseling, temporary medication, etc.) is within reach.

      I know this may seem trite at the moment – but, please keep in mind that the doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. Everything has a beginning and an end. When our travels on one path are completed, another path lies ahead. Clearly, it’s not easy to feel a door close. Relationships, friendships, careers, and lives end. Although we may not understand why a door closes, it’s important to remember our Higher Power has everything to do with it. By the same token, we may not understand why certain doors open, revealing opportunities we may have longed for. Again, our Higher Power feels we are ready to pursue that new experience. The doors that open and close today help prepare us for our experiences tonight. The doors that open and close tonight will help us grow toward tomorrow. We are not mice in a maze, randomly pursuing paths for a reward of cheese. We are children of a Higher Power, guided towards our chosen goal through the many doors we open and close along the way. The key to our sanity is learning to trust that our paths have been prepared for us by our Higher Power. -JP

  57. Rachel says:

    Hey, your article was really funny, and well-written.

    I just got out of a 6-month relationship (it’s not even been a week since we broke up) in which my boyfriend was amazing, compassionate, really into me, and I fell in love with him. It was magic, doe eyes, stuck like glue train rides, and a feeling of having “found a home”. He admitted that he was in therapy but didn’t talk about what for till after issues came up between us. After about 3 months into our relationship, I noticed he would shut down and be unable to talk, and one night, it was more extreme. I freaked out at first because I didn’t understand it. I had a panic attack in front of him and cried and expressed my insecurity. I wasn’t mean, just vulnerable and scared – I myself am a very anxious person, have been burned in the past, and don’t deal with break-ups well…
    Then it happened a second time shortly after. Anyway, it caused him to become more distant with me, and for the second half of our relationship, it was him saying he didn’t know what he wanted but would try to see where it would go. I didn’t want to lose him, but after us hashing things out on several different occasions with him still feeling unsure of things (undecided) and me wanting to keep going (definite “yes”), I realized the situation was unfair to both of us. So I initiated a break-up with his input so it was a mutual agreement.

    The problem is, now I feel like a horrible person because I had those panic attacks in the beginning. I feel like I messed everything up. I also realize, in my saner moments, part of being in a relationship is that working through obstacles together is what makes a relationship stronger by developing deeper trust. That is the hard stuff, the “work”, which can be very fulfilling if two people are willing to do it. But it takes two, and he was unwilling or unable to do the work, no matter how much he cared about me, or wanted to, or wished he could.

    I’m pretty raw and heartbroken right now. This f-ing sucks!!! I don’t want to be single the rest of my life. It had been nine years of single-hood since having a relationship that ended in a traumatic break-up (that guy cheated on me in our bed with me walking in to see it), and I was so hoping that I could finally have a good experience with someone. At least we did have a good break-up experience – he didn’t lie to or cheat on me. I just want something to last, a man who can stick it out. I’m just a damn fool for getting involved with someone who is younger and unsure of what he wants. It’s my fault for being unable to read the signs sooner. Anyway, he’s awesome, just not into me, I guess.

    Anyway, thanks for your article. I look forward to reading your book – when will it be written?

    • JP says:

      Hi, Rachel! Thank you for writing. I was first struck by your heavy ownership of things I don’t feel you should be taking on. For example, you mentioned that your anxious behavior “caused him to become more distant with me, and for the second half of our relationship, it was him saying he didn’t know what he wanted but would try to see where it would go.” I personally don’t necessarily agree with this interpretation. Your ex had his own “stuff” going on. To what extent – I don’t know. But, he definitely had his issues. He even admitted to at least some of these. So, don’t be so eager to fall on the gauntlet here. I highly doubt you messed anything up that wasn’t already starting off on a shaky foundation. And, in your heart, I believe you know this. You even stated, “I also realize, in my saner moments, part of being in a relationship is that working through obstacles together is what makes a relationship stronger by developing deeper trust.” You’re right! Relationships are fraught with obstacles. And, if we all bailed at the signs of the first few, there would be no relationships. Anywhere. For whatever reason, he wasn’t willing/able/capable of being fully present in your relationship. Perhaps he is just not wired for one right now. He’s seeking professional help to deal with something. I commend him for recognizing this, and for seeking assistance. But, maybe some of what he’s working through also yields him incapable of giving more than what’s required for a healthy relationship.

      I know it sucks. And, I know it’s gut-wrenching at times. But, keep in mind that “dating” in and of itself is an extended trial period. And, inasmuch, we are to continually evaluate the “state of the relationship” – no matter how new or old – to make the determination if we are to proceed. I feel confident – with what little information you provided – that by initiating the break you did, you were absolutely correct. Trust your instinct. It’s so much worse to stay in the wrong relationship just to avoid being alone. I’ve been alone since my last bad relationship over a year ago – and, it’s SO much better than being one-half of an unhealthy, unsound couple. But, please stop ripping yourself apart for dating the wrong guy for you – even if it’s more than one. That’s what dating is! Whether he wasn’t into you, or just not capable of being into you or anyone, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, however. Because he wasn’t a fit for you. And, you should be okay with that. You will be. In time. You can hardly project into the future and assume that now you’ll die alone! That’s egregious. Just get back out there and put yourself back in the mix. If you’re not meeting enough men, then cast a wider net by attending more events, joining more social groups, and getting outside of your comfort zone to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. I need to take my own advice here. But, life often gets in the way. Work on branching out of your comfort zone to meet more people who share common interests.

      For now, the most important thing you should be doing is thinking nice thoughts. Just thinking nice thoughts sounds very simplistic. But, the power of nice thoughts, the impact just such a simple decision can have on our lives is awesome. Stop yourself from judging – both, yourself and your ex (especially yourself!). Stopping a judgment in its tracks, will reveal how swamped your thinking has been by the self-critiquing side of you (or, what I call our “Boo voice” – in that it boo’s us). Seldom do we cultivate a quiet, peaceful mind. Seemingly out of control, our minds race from one idea, one judgment, and one negative opinion to another one of equal harm to ourselves and others. Perhaps we don’t realize that every thought we harbor has an impact, whether it’s voiced aloud or not. Every time we favor a negative rather than a positive thought, we add to the turmoil around us. The good news is that we can choose between the two at will. Keep this in mind, Rachel, while you begin to praise yourself for the goodness within you.

      As for the book, I took a long hiatus, but I’m back to working toward it. It’s gonna take awhile, and I had a wonderful offer from an agent/producer to assist with the endeavor. But, more than anything, it requires that I put “pen to paper” and just crank-out the words. Thank you for reaching out to me and this online community of peers. -JP

  58. Krissy says:

    Perfect. I was in a 5 year relationship with my first love… broke up for the 5th time or so.. but that time was different from the rest because instead of texting every other hour after breaking up and getting back together in like two weeks, about a month after breaking up (and still texting) I met another great guy. I got completely distracted and ended up dating him for about 6 months (on and off.. but that’s a whole other story). The second guy broke my heart continuously by ending it with me then coming back (basically giving me false hope; just breaking up again after a few weeks because of his problem with commitment)… but when it was REALLY over with him because he ACTUALLY had the willpower to stop crawling back, I started thinking about the first guy more because I wasn’t distracted by the second guy. I basically never really dealt with the breakup with my 5 year relationship because someone else distracted me so quickly. Long story short, after the relationship with the second guy ended, I inevitably started to contact the guy I truly loved (after about a month the second guy dumped me for good), and we of course were flirting and reminiscent with the undeniable chemistry we had always had. I started having idealistic thoughts of us reconciling and starting fresh and that me dating someone else was just a bump in the road and was what I needed to realize that the first guy was my soul-mate and that we would get back together and make everything perfect! Wrong was I. I hung out with the first guy about 3 times which I had to initiate, and eventually lead to a conversation I had with him about me wanting to be with him forever and that I had made a mistake and blah blah blah and at this point…. he had already moved on.. and did not want to be with me anymore. He said he still loved me and would forever, but was just ready to focus on himself and didn’t want me anymore. For me, I was like WHAT?! How could you be over me so quick?! (In my mind, we took a pause on our relationship, so it was like no time had passed. But for him, he had started getting over me about 8 months prior when he knew I was starting to talk to someone else). So in my eyes, our breakup pretty much JUST happened, even though it happened months ago for him.

    Even though I’m the one who seemed to “move on” first, I am actually the one who is still caught up months later because he has had his time to heal while I just avoided it by distracting myself with someone else. Since it was my first love and a relationship that lasted for so long, I understand while I’m still hung up on him even after we have only really hungout a few times in the past 10-12 months or so. The anxiety I experienced these past few months was eating away at me! There were countless times where I was either at work or out with family or friends and started obsessing over thoughts of how my relationship that I spent 5 years dedicating my life to was “wasted” and felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown… then have to excuse myself to the bathroom and TRY to get myself together in about two minutes…. and then feel like I was crazy for even having to do that, because I’ve never known anyone else to get so distraught like I do. But after reading this I feel WAY more comforted knowing that there are other people out there who have really gone through it like I have. I think a lot of people going through a breakup may feel similar to this but are way better at covering it up or convincing themselves they are fine, but for someone like me who wears their heart on their sleeve (and also has anxiety), its hard to just push these intense feelings aside… its something I had to deal with the minute I woke up until the minute I fell asleep. But it does get better over time, and I bookmarked this article to refer to on bad days when I’m losing hope!! So thank you, it was awesome to read and with today being one of those iffy days, it definitely made me feel hopeful again!

    Also, you still single JP? ;-D

    • JP says:

      Hey, Krissy! Love the posting. You’re so right about never dealing with the original breakup. So many people think they can circumvent – or, bypass entirely – the healing process by diving into another relationship. Sigh …. wouldn’t this make live so easy?! It would be epic, actually. And, most of us (me included) have tried this approach, hoping it’ll work. I can say with absolute certainty, that in 100% of the cases, it doesn’t – no matter how hot, wonderful, rich, sexy, awesome the rebound is. It just doesn’t work. Nature won’t allow it. But, kudos for tryin’! Your breakup sounds like most – where one person mentally/emotionally “checks-out” far earlier and unbeknownst to the other. It happened to me, and it’s what spurred this essay. It was as if she stealthily slipped out the relationship door a couple of months before I realized she was gone. I deserved it, however – because I didn’t fully appreciate her until she had taught me what it would be like without her. “Lesson learned,” I thought. I could now fully appreciate her, acknowledge this, and we’d get back together and be fine. Nope. She realized that she could do just fine without me, while I spiraled like a Kamikaze into the deck of an enemy frigate. I imploded into a million fragments of my former self. I did everything I wrote about here. BUT, after some time had passed, I came to realize what you might realize – that I didn’t appreciate her and fully invest in a lifelong commitment for a reason: She wasn’t the right one for me. She knew it before I did, and was strong enough to take action. My point is this: Is he really that special to you? Is he really “the one?!” If so, wouldn’t you have recognized and appreciated this a long time ago? I mean, he was your first relationship – so, you had no basis of comparison. I’m telling you this so you can let yourself off-the-hook. My guess is that you have yet to meet the best guy for you. You “moved on first” for a reason. Oftentimes, we panic and second guess our judgement following a breakup, for fear of being alone. Feeling alone can appear insurmountable, so we sprint back toward the familiar. It may be dysfunctional – but, it was dysfunctionally familiar, dammit! But, if he afforded you the opportunity to be with him again, don’t you think the final outcome would be the same? Just something to ponder. If you read some of the other great posts here, you will soon discover that many of us fall into the same trap. We all remember our first love. I, for one, am glad I didn’t marry mine or it would’ve ended horribly with me wanting to know what else was out there – all while questioning if I did the right thing. But, that’s just me.

      As for your anxiety, your peers and I totally get it! I can’t begin to tell you the crazy-ass sh!t anxiety has driven me to do when left unchecked. I’m glad you were able to glean some perspective from the other posts. I once thought I was crazy too – until I started receiving all these phenomenal notes from writers such as yourself. Turns out, we’ve got a whole anxious coalition out there :-)

      As for me, I hate coping. It’s not living. It’s not being free. It reeks of surviving. But sometimes it’s the best we can do, for a while. Cope if you must, and if it’s still helping. Distress tolerance is the best we can do when facing a hurtful life trial. But maybe today is the day you could set yourself free, as only you can, Krissy.

      And, “yes” I’m single. I’m so much happier this way – for now, anyhow … -JP

  59. RedButterfly says:

    Thanks for this post, it helped a ton! Compared to other articles I’ve been reading online I can actually relate to this one due to my anxiety.
    Here’s my story, it was painful and at the same time ridiculous and even funny.
    I started dating this guy a few months ago. We had met and been friends only for a month before we started dating. The first month was great, we had so much in common, our communication was great and we were very affectionate towards each other. There was just one thing that sort of bothered me… His age, he was 18 (almost 19) and I’m 23. I let him know about it but eventually I guess I got used to it and almost completely forgot he was 4 years and a half younger. It was during the second montg that I changed with him for some reason. I just had a bad feeling about the relationship and started feeling anxious. I never told him but I guess he could tell something was wrong since we started having arguments. I really liked the guy and I had fallen hard for him so I took all this as me being paranoid and insecure so I tried to change it and make things better with his help. Everything was great again. Then it was until the night of New Years that we were watching a movie and I saw him texting a girl I hadn’t seen before. He didn’t have her added on Facebook but they were messaging there, I asked who she was, he said “I don’t know, some stranger who started talking to me”, I asked him to show me but he only showed me a small part of the conversation. She was asking him what he was doing, he said “nothing, just doing homework, you?” – “Just dropping some presents at family’s and friends’ house”… Yeah right, he didn’t know her. I would have let it go if he hadn’t lied to me about her but he was being secretive and got really defensive when I started asking questions. That night we couldn’t even celebrate New Years because we stayed there arguing until 6:00 am! And it was until 5:00 am that he finally decided to show me the conversation… He clearly had deleted some messages. Honestly, I felt like I couldn’t trust him anymore and that bad feeling was there again so I broke up with him because lies are not something I can tolerate. The next day he begged me to take him back and told me the truth. She was some girl who used to be his neighbor when he was little and before he move to where he is right now. He used to have a crush on her when he was 8 years old but that’s about it and the girl was 4 years younger than him according to him. He then gave me his Facebook password so I could check and see there was nothing and that he had blocked her. I was about to log in so I typed his email and the password, he then freaked out and said “Not with my email! It’s with my phone number!” I was like “oops” but guess what?… It worked anyway… He had two Facebook accounts and guess who he had added on this new account? Yep, that’s right, the girl he had been talking to the night before. I went crazy and blocked the girl. At this point it was too much already… Basically he put this girl before me by making this new account and adding her there then keeping me hidden in another account where he only had like 5 friends including me. He had made this new account the night before after I fell asleep, after the argument. He had only added his family and this girl. I asked “how come your family can know about her and not about me? And how am I supposed to feel? I mean you make this new account and hide it from me, your girlfriend, only so you can keep talking to her and your family can see her while you keep me hidden in this account that you barely use and where you only have four people that you barely talk with”. He cried and asked me to give him a chance to prove that he’s trustworthy, he said he wanted to earn my trust back and get back together. I said “we’re not getting back together and proving that will be up to you, at this point I really don’t care because I doubt I’ll trust you again”. He added me on that new account saying he was planning on doing it anyway and the only reason why he made it behind my back was because he was mad at me for “not letting him have female friends.” We set the relationship status on his new account even though we were not back together and hours later I go on his Facebook and see that he had changed the privacy so only me and him could see it… He was hiding me again! I got so mad I told him off but he started crying again and kept begging. During the next two weeks, he started telling me where he was going, who he was with and he had been taking pictures to show me so I could trust him again. I guess my guard went down a little bit so I forgave him, besides the gut feeling wasn’t there anymore but… I started having nightmares about him cheating. I started doubting the relationship again but I didn’t know what to do… So then I decided to snoop since he had given me all his passwords. I know it’s not right and since that incident on New Years I tried avoiding doing this because honestly I don’t want to be in a relationship where I feel like I have to be snooping all the time but in this case I felt like it was necessary. Well, I found pictures of him sent to a girl named Jessica on his email. I asked some of his old friends (old but not really close friends) and they had never heard about her. I was concened because I saw the date and he sent these pictures last year (2013) on March and during that time he told me he had been dating a girl named Ana, I was wondering if he cheated on her. Then I decided to talk to his “old neighbor”, I had to ask her for some girl support even though I didn’t know her and asked her to tell me if what my boyfriend had said was true. She said it wasn’t. They had met each other almost at the same time him and I met. She had approached to him and he told her she could message him on Facebook and she did. She says she added him too but he never accepted her friend request. She says they texted for months but whenever he saw her he wouldn’t talk to her or would just subtly blow her off. Then it was after New Years that he stopped texting her and she started chasing after him asking him why he wasn’t talking to her anymore, he lied to her saying his dad had done something to his phone so she couldn’t text him anymore. The truth was that he had blocked her and I told her. This girl and I were just as disappointed on him. She apologized saying she didn’t know we were dating. I said “I know and it’s fine, we both got played.” My boyfriend’s dad had always been concerned about our relationship and he didn’t seem to like me so I went to talk to him and explain why I was deciding to break up with his son. He said “I really don’t understand your relationship”, I said “I know and I’m sorry, I know he will be going to college soon to a different place and I also want to pursue something different” then he looked all confused and said “you know he’s 16, right?” I was like “…what? He told me he was 19…” then his dad said “I’m sorry for letting you know this way but he just turned 16 last month and he’s in 10th grade” oh my god… I apologized to his dad and told him that I had no idea, he had lied to me! I strted texting one of his old friends who is now a friend of mine too and he said “no way… Now that you mention it, last year there was this weird 26 year old chick bashing on him all the time and saying he was 15″… Tuns out I hadn’t been the only girl in her twenies he had dated… He dated many others and he lied to them as well. Then while talking to the dad, this guy texted me again “I just talked to a few people… Last year the mom found out because she took your boyfriend’s phone and threatened this girl saying she’d call the cops on her for dating a minor”… God, was I scared! But I was talking to his dad and I was showing him the messages, he was just as shocked and disappointed as me. He tried comforting me and telling me I could wait for him so I could finally dump him. His step mom had gone to pick him up from school, he got home and looked at me in confusion, I said “I know everything now. You’re a minor and you cheated on me with that 14 year old girl so… I guess it’s obvious that it’s over and I had to tell your parents because this is not something that can be taken lightly”, his parents and his brothers were there listening while I exposed him and dumped his ass. I said “I’m sorry and I hope that you don’t hate me for doing this but I thought the best thing to do was to talk about it with your parents since you are only 16″. We talked for like 20 minutes, he didn’t even know what to say, he just looked scared and sad at the same time saying that he’d like to talk about it with me some other time because yes, he had so many things to explain, I said “if you want to but I don’t see the point, I mean, I just broke up with you, come on”. Then his dad said they were going to talk to him. He thanked me for talking to him, letting him now about what his son was doing and also thanked me for being so kind the whole time. A few hours later his dad talked to me on Facebook to let me know he wasn’t going to bother me anymore and that he wouldn’t be allowed to text/message anyone but his family and that he would be making sure he’s not doing anything stupid anymore. He thanked me again and I thanked him for being so supportive and understanding. After this, my now ex couldn’t contact me anymore because of his dad’s new rules and I’m glad they stopped him. He had been doing this for years and if you’re wondering, no! I never noticed because he’s really tall and he never looked 15 to me or anyone else! Anyway… I don’t regret my desicion, he’s someone I wouldn’t take back at all, not even for all the money in the world but I have to admit that I miss spending time with him. I know it’s weird because… I mean he’s 16! But he was a good company and I always had so much fun with him. I got used to him, and even though I did the breaking up, I feel a lot of the things that you described on this article.
    Again, thanks for posting it, I really can relate to this and it makes me feel like I’m not alone. :)

    • JP says:

      WOW … what a story!! I can only say that I’m VERY happy that you got out of that situation mostly unscathed. I appreciate that you shared your experience. Keep in mind that we often miss someone with whom we’ve spent much time, despite how wrong that person may have been for us. Just be thankful for his understanding and helpful family, and never look back. -JP

  60. Farah says:

    Thank you..Thank you! This article is the best thing I have read..I have just gotten
    Out of a very bad relationship..we were together almost 3 years..& we had to split up because of religious differences, I am so hurt and I have so much anxiety that I’m not even able to get up from my bed. I don’t feel like eating going out or doing anything. Sometimes I feel suicidal which is crazy that I would let one person become so important to me that life without them seems impossible. This article made me get out of bed and go see a doctor. So thank you! I just don’t know how to move on, I get such bad anxiety attacks that I feel like I cannot breathe an cry for hours, the pain seems to be getting worse. I’m trying to be strong and I’m reading this article again every time I think of the worst outcomes! So thank you! He says he loves me and cannot live without me and I will be the only girl he loves but because of the religious differences his family will never approve. Sometimes I hate myself for falling in love with someone who couldn’t make me the number one priority like I made him. Isn’t love suppose to be to overcome all difficulties and face everything together? I’m in mid 20s i know I’m young but I feel like I will never love again. I cry myself to bed and wake up crying..I don’t know when this pain will stop. Thank you for making me smile today! This is my 1st comment ever to any article I’ve read because it was just that amazing!

    • JP says:

      Awwww, Farah – I’m so, so sorry for what you’re temporarily feeling. I am so glad that the essay moved you to seek some help. How courageous of you!! NONE of what you’re feeling is “crazy.” None of it. It’s anxiety, and in such large doses, it feels insurmountable. ALL of us on this page know your suffering intimately. Three years is a long time, and you’ve got to give yourself adequate time to adjust to the huge changes you now face. It’s not uncommon for a breakup to turn one’s life upside down, while changing nearly every facet of your daily habits. It’s very upsetting to the system – to say the least. It’s more important than ever that you stay in close contact with your counselor. You need help navigating all of this. We all do when faced with the same trial.

      Since I don’t know the nuances of the relationship with your ex beyond religious differences, I cannot comment with much credibility. That said, I’m a fairly religious person myself (Christian). Consequently, though I wouldn’t date an atheist (too many concrete differences between us), I also genuinely respect the religious beliefs of others. And, it’s not my family’s place to approve/disapprove of anyone I date based on such beliefs, etc. My family is very loving, accepting, and non-judgmental. I cannot imagine having it any other way. So, I agree with you that the two of you should be able to work on this one-on-one. Assuming he’s not using the religion category as an excuse – since he must’ve known your individual beliefs three years ago. If he genuinely loves you as he says, then I would think the two of you could’ve found a workable solution. Again, I don’t have all the facts – nor, do I know what religion with which either of you affiliate yourselves. I know that some religions and its followers are much less flexible than others. It’s just the way things are – for better or worse.

      I found a relevant quote from the book, “The Promise of a New Day,” by Karen Casey and Martha Vanceburg that I wanted to share. “Although the act of nurturing another’s spiritual growth has the effect of nurturing one’s own, a major characteristic of genuine love is that the distinction between oneself and the other is always maintained and preserved.” (M. Scott Peck. M.D.) The book reads, “Those we love must be free to love us in return, or leave us. The honest evidence of our love is our commitment to encouraging another’s full development. We are interdependent personalities who need one another’s presence in order to fulfill our destiny. And yet, we are also separate individuals. We must come to terms with our struggles alone. One gift of life available to each of us is security, the sense that accompanies the recognition of our spiritual center. Helping someone else discover their spiritual gifts strengthens our own. Nothing is too difficult when we act in unison as separate entities, relying on the spiritual core that strengthens us to meet any situation.” Just something to think about.

      It sounds like he loves you as much as you do him. I believe real love trumps all. Always. -JPAC

  61. James says:


    Awesome article! Definitely gave me some inspiration to get back out there and break out of my rut. Also, the fact that you are providing people with so much feedback and encouragement is such an uplifting thing to see. Keep up what you are doing!


    • JP says:

      Thank you for the kudos, James! It really helps me to stay on top of all the wonderful writers. It’s actually an honor to assist others in some small way. So, I promise to keep the healing torch burning! And, my personal best to you in getting back on track! -JP

  62. ben says:

    wow, its as if i wrote it myself. it made me cry then made me laugh. absolutely brilliant !

    havent slept for a week, sent about 1,000 crazy texts but only received about 3 back. i swear i was actually going for the engagement ring this afternoon. omg , just found this in time, so thats at least $15k you ve saved me !!!

    i love heavy metal anyway and been listening constantly. 2 great tips i would like to share is positive thinking books. the law of attraction is a great one,
    and download an affirmation app on your phone which flashes positive messages as often as you like. so every 5 minutes when i check my phone to see if she has txt me i see something positive. although i seriously promise to delet her number now !

    thanks again, and thanks to all the people for sharing !


    • JP says:

      Hi, Ben. THANK YOU for the extremely kind feedback. I’m glad I could save you from further detriment. It’s always best to learn from the mistakes of others. Whenever I’m in the throes of low self-esteem, I remind myself how unattractive my lack of self-confidence is to the other person. Confidence is sexy and alluring. And, unfortunately, the inverse is also true. When we feel/act desperate, we cloak ourselves in an ugly veil. We’re all attracted to confidence in others ….. no matter their appearance. It’s kinda crazy, really.

      You added some great gems here! “The Law of Attraction” is the name given to the belief that “like attracts like,” and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results. This belief is based upon the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from “pure energy”, and the belief that like energy attracts like energy. I am a steadfast believer in this premise. Positive begets positive, and vice versa. It’s imperative that while facing a horribly negative event – such as a breakup – the sufferer works to not feed the negative thoughts, while focusing upon whatever small nuggets of positivity can be gleaned. This is the crux behind finding 3 things each day for which we are grateful. This technique shifts the mind’s tenacious hold on negativity and begins to work the frail “positive muscle.” It’s as much about learning to become positive, as it is about diverting energy away from the negative. And, the affirmation app is just clutch. Great idea! I’m going to download one to my own phone.

      Here’s to hoping you deleted her number by now ;-) -JP

  63. Damian says:

    Just wanted to let you guys reading this the forum is organized and spam-free, anyone who wants to tell his/her story in relationships/breakups is welcome.

  64. clancy says:

    Man JP… big thanks
    I wanted to make sure to comment. Not only was the article incredibly moving and I feel a kindred spirit but i wanted to say thanks for responding to all of the comments… truly impressive.

    You also nailed the stages… I’ve been through 2 really bad breaks in my life with girls i truly loved with everything in me. First one was an 8 year relationship that ended 3 years ago and the most recent has me reeling for the last 3 weeks.

    My last relationship is ending simply because she is moving out of state for school unexpectedly and isn’t sure if shes ready for a more committed relationship (shes 25 and im 31) long distance or have me move there for graduate school as well. I found myself laughing at the fact that I have been in contact with her mother trying to win favor (which i have) like it was going to make any difference in the world. I guess i’m teetering between stages 1 and 2… like a neurotic mental patient. So far i’ve been pretty good at giving her space and only called her once to pick up my passport from her place. While i was there though I might have broke and pleaded my case like a hostage at the wrong end of a gun… never worth it… it just hurts worse seeing the confusion and lack of conviction on their face. What’s worse is i got the “i love you more than i’ve ever loved anyone”, “I don’t want to lose you”, “i just need time because im so confused”…. yeah, perfect response for us anxious guys who need closure statements to hit us like a bus before we stop wanting to fight to make it work, right?
    I canceled my facebook 3 times too…. only to come back in tears this week when I noticed that she removed our relationship status and changed her profile picture from one when we were on vacation together…. ha, what a mess i was that day. That and i’m noticing shes out with the same guy (in small groups) 4 times in the last two weeks (thank you for the tag feature facebook). I know shes not doing anything but the testosterone starts pumping… and i want to reach out to her new consoling partner in a less than gentle way (not that i am in a position to be able to do anything having lost so much weight in the last 3 weeks).

    I’ve been to 3 therapists… requested drugs (the prescription kind) to try and allow me to eat and sleep (doesnt help… i managed 2-3 hours last night and im still losing weight that i cannot afford to give up). I canceled my lease on my apartment because everything is a reminder and im going to volunteer in Africa for the next 3 weeks at a medical clinic in the middle of nowhere (seriously im a medical student).

    Ha, one thing you might find funny is i made a “tear jerking” video and posted it on youtube last night. It has 30 views as of now… i think 26 are from me and 4 are from my mom.. Plan was to get it to her on Valentines in 3 weeks while i’m gone… i know i shouldn’t… but ill probably have a weak moment and let it fly. Hell im even contemplating sending it to her mother… haha

    Anyhow brother, thanks again… your video bought me about 30 min of peace this morning. Later tonight ill be a wreck again but we take what we can get right? Oh yeah, let me know if you want to watch a cheesy youtube video.

    • JP says:

      Clancy, you’ve got a gift my man. You had me laughing out loud while reading your post. But, NOT at your pain – rather your insightfulness. You’re clearly self-aware of your anxious state. The article you’re responding to was written when the 25 year old I was dating, also left for school (med school) in NY – while I’m in CA. The similarities are many. Anxiety is the great equalizer, and will make otherwise sane men wreak havoc upon themselves. I swear, you’ll laugh at this someday. I’m guessing the YouTube video went out?? I wouldn’t have even stopped you. It’s so damn creative and original that I’m glad I didn’t think of it, or I would’ve done the same. Like you, I lost a ton of weight, ended up on anti-anxiety and sleep meds, and ran hills until I tore a ligament in my heel resulting in surgery! I was completely derailed, and I never felt more alone. Additionally, I felt like the only man on earth whom was mishandling a breakup to that degree. It wasn’t until I wrote this essay, that I learned how wrong I was – that men and women alike … anxious or not – were handling their own breakup in much the same manner. Suddenly, I had some camaraderie and solace in the realization that I wasn’t completely nuts. You and your ex are both young and at points in life where things change dramatically. You’re obviously sharp, capable, humorous, and driven. You’re destined for greatness, Clancy. You’ve got nothing to regret here. You can walk away with your head held high – wishing for a different outcome – but, all the while knowing you’re going to be great in the end. You both will. And, who knows what the future holds. That’s the part fraught with both anxiety and excitement. Maybe, life will bring you back together – or, more likely, you will end up somewhere and with someone you never anticipated. All I know is that you’re right where you’re supposed to be. So, try to enjoy the journey. And, remember – the hardest thing about practicing goodwill is believing that when we’re happy for other people – even when they’re happier than we are – it will make us the happiest people in the world. Try and practice this technique – it works. And, let us know about Africa! -JP

      • Clancy says:

        Thanks again for the response brother. I was going through my emails this morning and noticed I had emailed myself a link to your article. So, since I was looking for the email to my therapist anyhow I figured I’d pop in to check on things. Thank you for your words of inspiration and confidence. Africa was great and if anyone is going through something like this I would fully recommend a change of scenery… Preferably one with lots of young volunteers from Sweden and Europe…. Mmm blonde hair and blue eyes.
        To be honest before I left I was so anxious I was convinced my world was going to end from some sort of strange lack of “love” oxygen… Omg breathe! Africa slowly helped to release the vice grip on my throat as I watched how small my separation problems were when malnourished children with tuberculosis wheezed and coughed in my face as I tried to feed them a bit of peanut butter. Even then it was a slow process and I still left a lot of tears on Namibian soil each morning… Losing someone you really love is always going to hurt… And rightfully so.
        Landing back in Los Angeles inevitably brought a bit of that back though. Seeing familiar places, reminded of memories, and worse yet I was planning on being busy as hades with classes today and surprise it’s Presidents’ Day! Panic.. Call the therapist before I go drive by her house like a stalker every 15 minutes! At least it’s foggy this morning… It might conceal my actions.

        The thing that helped the most though was meeting lots of people in long distance relationships who were doing really well. It allowed me to slightly harden my heart as I realized this was all just an excuse from a girl who’s fear was stronger than our love… The person we all deserve would fight and not walk away at the first sign of needed effort. I gotta stress though it only makes it slightly easier. Us neurotic guys have a tendency to hope that we can somehow help them overcome that fear and teach them “how to love” as if we had all the answers.

        So, yeah I sent the video to her mother right before I left and sent it to her the minute the plane wheels landed on the tar in Los Angeles yesterday. Now I’m refreshing my browser every 15 minutes to see how many times she watched it… Brace yourself… In 24 hours and nearly 100 refreshes she might have watched it…. Once! Ha, at least it’s out there and when I learn to let it go I know I’ve said my peace and made sure she knew how much I loved her.

        The tough times aren’t over but I know I’ll get through this no matter the outcome. Thanks again JP best of luck in life brother :-)

        • JP says:

          Hey, Clancy! Welcome back. And, thank you for the update – entertaining as expected! I too am a fan of the blonde hair/blue eye combo. Probably because that’s my own color scheme – and, who doesn’t like themselves?! Regarding Africa, you are proof positive of what I’ve preached here: That the single best way to get out of your head during a difficult time is to HELP OTHERS!!! It works. It’s as if God wanted it this way. I cannot over-emphasize the healing power of volunteerism and joining something bigger than ourselves to heal thyself. And, we don’t even need to go as far as Africa to do so. We can start in our own backyard:

          And, you’re right, Clancy – Love transcends most obstacles … like distance and fear. We fight for it. And, we can’t teach another to do the same. They either do it, or they’re not worth our time. Doesn’t change the fact that most of us will have to learn this lesson the hard way, with a lot of sweat equity.

          I love the YouTube idea. Hell, if someone doesn’t appreciate such a grand gesture, save it for the one who will. It’s clutch! And, yes, I know you’ve got some healing to do. But, it happens with each day until one day you awake, and the first thought that crosses your mind isn’t her.

          Every day is a different day. You never know what it will bring. That’s the exciting thing about getting up every morning.” -Alpha English

          No doubt, we all hit spells when we don’t feel the urge to get the day going. And, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally resisting the next twenty-four hours. Generally, there is a simple solution. Maybe we have forgotten to pray and meditate regularly. Perhaps we have become self-absorbed. Being appreciative of others generally changes how we see every aspect of our lives. Recounting with a confidant or in a journal all the blessings and achievements we’ve accumulated over these many years often pushes us out of the doldrums. Expressing daily GRATITUDE for three things continues to make a huge difference for me. Let’s remember that most days surprised us with their outcomes. We never got exactly what we expected. This is one certainty about life that we can always count on. Keep on keepin’ on, Clancy! -JP

  65. Matt says:

    Hey dude , nice post. I’m reading this at 3 in the morning because I can’t get to sleep because of anxiety over my breakup. I’m 18 aNd we were going out for 9 months, and this was my first relationship, and pretty much the first time a girl had taken a real interest in me. She broke up with me just after New Years And it felt like it was out of the blue. The first few days were so bad I couldn’t eat anything and every time I thought about her breaking up with me I vomited. Stage one sucks. I don’t know what I’m feeling now, but it’s still the anxiety causing immense pain, but now it’s just fucking annoying and I want it to go away. I realize time is going to heal me but I just want it gone now. At night it’s the worst because I can’t get to sleep, and because I can’t eat much food my stomach hurts a lot which makes it even harder to sleep. Anyway, after I was feeling a bit better, a few days ago I did the bad move and went on her Facebook account to check her messages and see what she’s been up to. Turns out she just blatantly asks this guy she met a few days ago to start having sex with her. Major stab in the guts there and I was back to the start of stage one. I’ve stopped going onto her Facebook to check her messages because I know it’ll just get me back to square 1. However, reading through those messages also revealed that she didn’t want our relationship to be serious. We’ll thanks for fucking telling me in the first place otherwise I wouldn’t have become so emotionally involved. This was a good thing, as yesterday I spent some quality time with my best friend and I ended up burning her birthday, Christmas card and also a letter of apology after she broke up with me the first time (after 3 months, should have realized it would happen again). Doing that felt really awesome as I saw all those words that were lies burn up and made me feel free’er.
    I know what you mean about music. It’s really helped me take my mind off things (if only for a brief moment). I’m learning to play guitar again and me and my friends are thinking of setting up a fee gigs which I’m super excited about.
    So anyway, using this post as a vent of frustration I want to say thanks for the article :) fucking chicks man, not worth it. I know that I’m 18 and I’ve got plenty more break ups to look forward too (haha) but yeah it’s just a new feeling which totally sucks balls and I’ve got to get used to it. Thanks again man

    • JP says:

      Hey, Matt! As you can discern, I’ve fallen very behind on my online responses. Please forgive me. Sometimes life gets in the way, and things have been more than crazy on my end. That said, I am hoping things have settled a bit for you. I’ve been so upset that I’ve hurled before – it’s the body’s “fight of flight” response. It’s a bitch to be that anxious and upset, and I’m sorry. Young love is rife with disappointments because it’s a learning period. Now, that you’ve got this first real break-up under your belt, you can navigate it as best you can, learn the lesson, and be careful with whom you invest your heart and time going forward. Matt, we ALL have to learn this lesson the hard way. There’s no way around it, unfortunately. There are no shortcuts, and there is not fast-forward … unfortunately. Do the OPPOSITE of what the anxiety drives you to do – i.e., checking-out her Facebook. Social media is the effing worst when it comes to breakups!! Hell, it causes a lot of them. But, you need to stay on track, and divert your thoughts away from the past. Do your best to stay in each moment, and try your damnest to avoid looking back. There’s nothing back there but a lesson you’ve learned. Keep up with the guitar! There’s no better time to take that up and hone your skills than the present. That could be the other silver lining to all of this. Finally, be glad she’s someone else’s nightmare now, and not yours. Girls like that have a way of creating torment and chaos in their paths. One day you’ll be glad you made it out of there alive ;-) -JP

  66. Austin says:

    Hey Jp I broke up with my girlfriend 2 days ago and I’m taking it rough. I can’t stop thinking about her and what we used to be. I know it was a healthy relationship but I’ve completely let her go and it’s hard to do just need some advice on how to cope with it and move forward! Thanks

    • JP says:

      Hey, Austin! As you can determine from the other comments here, you are in abundant company, unfortunately. I’m not sure if you already have – but, if you read through what others have written here, I believe you will obtain a lot of sound feedback and assistance. Obviously, I don’t know the details of your specific breakup, but I’m guessing you will find similar situations here.

      Keep in mind that it is the act of forgiveness (towards ourselves and others) that opens up the only possible way to think creatively about the future at all. (Father Desmond Wilson)

      Today is full of endless possibilities and dreams. In many cases, we are limited only by our fear and lack of hope, in others and ourselves. Each new day we are given a clean slate to start anew. We literally experience a sense of freedom when we practice forgiveness. Forgiving others and ourselves will allow us to step into a new day as free human beings. Not much can hurt us in the present if we have the key to daily forgiveness. It is the gift we give ourselves when we choose not to let the sun rise on yesterday’s script. -JP

  67. JS says:

    Wow! Can I say hilarious!! Thank you, for this helps put things more in retrospect on how I feel and been feeling for the last 2 years. Mind you, getting out of a 11 yr. relationship with first LTR, first love, and father of our child. It has definitely been a battle of self vs. emotional anxiety vs. inner demons with me. I go back and forth through phase I and phase II and back again to Defcon 5. (Being military, also.) I know this was written for the male audience, but you caught this feminine Tomboy’s anxiety ridden attention. I am glad you say it gets easier b/c that shines some light of hope to me actually feeling somewhat sane and normal. I fight daily with sleepless nights, feeling’s of high anxiety, head strain due to anxiety, and super amounts of adrenaline. I am currently, also, celibate due to my situation and get aggravated to release the beast, but I will keep strong and keep to my goal of attaching myself to relive my Co-dependency. It’s been a hard road with processing these awkward feeling’s, but from writing this masterpiece you give us extremely sensitive people hope that there is light at the end of this dark, cold, lonely, anxiety ridden tunnel. For that, thank you.

  68. Mr. SuperAngry says:

    This article , my friend, was G$O$L$D. Not the kind you can find in a jewellery store, but like a fat chunky piece found after vigorously digging the earth for days and months. I myself went through almost every negative emotion you’ve been able to pen down in this article.. but I never had that sardonic sense of humour to accompany my depression. I don’ t think I’ll yet be able to muster up the courage to delete my ex’s phone number cos the rush of anger i get after stalking her is orgasmic compared to the depressive blues i suffer whenever I miss her. Moreover, i don’t know why but this article gave me the strength to move on and enjoy my post break up months by accepting that I am a sore loser rather than dwelling on the fact that I did not deserve to lose.. cos there is no way I am winning something which is already over. So i think instead of being all pensive and heartbroken and forcing myself to suffer an existential crisis; I’ll just choose to accept that I lost this battle and that I’m a loser because I just realised that I’m not the only one who’s so fucked up after the break up. THANK YOU for giving me strength; or rather for making me more stupid cos I’m listening to heavy metal right now *oh how i missed it* and all thanks to you and the stupid “rotten crank” who I occassionally stalk at times. Time to reclaim what i had lost and time to lose what i want to claim : ) Thanks a lot mate. *Bro hug*

  69. James says:

    Great read, it really rings true to how I’m feeling. 2 weeks for me as a dumpee and I feel so anxious, unfriended her on FB when I was drunk. Now I feel like I’m climbing the walls because I can’t see what she is doing! driven past her house a few times like some mad stalker, I keep saying to myself what the fuck are you doing but its like I am on autopilot.
    I think she was in contact with another guy on FB before the split, she totally denies it but I think its only a matter of time before they are an item, so angry she really doesn’t give a shit and is moving on, when I feel like my life is over and I can’t stop imagining her getting boned off that bastard! Argh

    • JP says:

      Greetings, James. I’ve done the EXACT same thing – including having an anxiety attack afterward. But, you did the RIGHT thing. Just ride out the anxiety. It’ll pass. Don’t let it harness you. Wondering what you’re not seeing is far better than SEEING what she’s doing. You’re not a stalker. You’re just letting the anxiety and emotions control your actions. You’ve got to take over your emotions and get back in the driver’s seat (excuse the pun). You’re not on “auto-pilot” – rather, you’re letting your emotions take over and control your decision-making. I know full-well what I’m asking you to do. It feels insurmountable. But, it’s not. Anxiety is a bitch. And, it causes us to think things that aren’t true, and act in ways completely against our norm. Remember: Thoughts do NOT = Facts. And, feelings do NOT = Facts. The reality is typically much different than what anxiety is driving you to think and believe. Get distracted with some healthy actions and tasks. Truth is, you really don’t know what she’s doing, who she’s with, or what she’s thinking. You’re just in the crappy mind-bog portion of a breakup, where every thought is a “worst-case scenario” where she is getting gang-banged in an amateur porn. It’s not happening. But, that won’t stop your mind from playing out some pretty horrific, self-torturous visions on you. The mind is a very powerful tool – but, use it’s power for good, not self-damnation.

      There is an end to grief if we have the courage to accept our personal goodness and our ongoing right to happiness.” (Justin Langley)

      James, making peace with a loss takes time and trust. You have a choice – Decide that you don’t deserve to feel good, that clinging to your pain, guilt, and self-loathing will somehow make up for some of the damage. Or, you can choose to believe that change is possible, not all at once but slowly. One day at a time you will feel better if you take small steps to do the opposite of what the anxiety is pushing you toward. When we take the leap of faith necessary to grieve and let go of the past, we take back our best selves, and the lives we were meant to live. I believe you have the strength and the courage to grieve and overcome this loss. And, honestly – she might not be a loss at all. Recall the saying, “Opportunity often comes disguised as adversity.” -JP

  70. Jon says:

    I’m 2 1/2 months out and yes, i have called her acting all pathetic and crying, showed up to her house with gifts, and have begged her to come back only to be told she’s not in love with me.

    Like every other comment on here, despite all of the self-help books I’ve read (and yes, i have been that dude looking for a f-ing girl’s break up book to console me), this is the only thing i’ve read which made sense. Just had to see myself getting to phase 3….

    Keep up the great work

    • JP says:

      Sometimes in life, things happen too fast. We barely solve one problem when two new problems surface. We’re feeling great in the morning, but we’re submerged in misery by nightfall. Every day we face interruptions, delays, changes, and challenges. We face personality conflicts and disappointments. Often when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we can’t see the lessons in these experiences.

      Hi, Jon. You’re doing much what I have done myself – especially the gifts, etc. One simple concept can get us through the most stressful of times. It’s called gratitude. We learn to say thank you for these problems and feelings. Thank you for the way things are. I don’t like this experience, but thank you anyway. Force gratitude until it becomes habitual. Gratitude helps us stop trying to control outcomes. It is the key that unlocks positive energy in our life. It is the alchemy that turns problems into blessings, and the unexpected into gifts. It seems counter-intuitive at first. But, trust me – it works. I’m honored that you found some relief here. I’m also impressed that you searched for the same books I did! Try to find 3 things at the end of each day for which you are thankful – no matter how bad the day – and, even if they are trite. I do this when I lay down to sleep. The technique does so much for us that we don’t even realize. It also forces the mind to build-up the positive focus, and detract from negative thinking. If you do this everyday, you will soon reap the benefits. Try it! Thank you for writing, brother. -JP

  71. Broken says:

    Thanks JP for the inspiring and comforting words in your article. Well written! Not sure what Phase I am. Probably Phase I and for a long time. Here’s my story. 6 years ago I wound up dating a coworker of mine. We instantly hit it off and he confessed to me several weeks in that he loved me and felt I was his soulmate. That he never felt this way towards anyone before. I was 37. He 29. I asked him if our age difference mattered and he said it did not. Things went fast and furious for three months. He brought up marriage and kids. I was never one to push that on any guy for fear they’d run. I had learned to play cool girl in the relationship. One that is easy going and never applied pressure. I am wondering now if that’s my problem. I’m too nice and too accommodating. Anyways we started dating in June and right before Thanksgiving I noticed he was not affectionate. This from a guy who couldn’t get enough of kissing me. I tend to have a very strong intuition so questioned him on this and he said he didn’t know what was wrong or how he felt. He thought maybe we should breakup. My works came crumbling down. I thought I would marry this guy. I had been in long term relationships before – one as long as 10 years – and never did I feel this way. He was it for me. That night my world came crashing down. We had a work Christmas party coming up and now I’d have to go alone. So we broke up but kind if didn’t. He still called everyday. Week one passed and we had the Christmas party where we went solo. He kept looking at me all night and coming to my table. That night he came over and slept over. He told be he loved me. So I didn’t question things. We fell back into the routine if calling daily and seeing each other several times a week. In January we got a dog together and he asked me to move in. I had kept my place but moved in with him. Things were fine. Until right before his 30th bday when I had my radar up about a coworker who he was friends with. Right after I threw him a huge 30th bday I got the sense he didn’t want to touch me again. I called him out on it and I asked why are you not into me and I got I don’t know. I am thinking how can you not know. So I moved out and we broke up and shortly thereafter he dated out coworker. I was devastated. Couldn’t eat or sleep. Major anxiety. Nauseau. The whole 9. It was hard seeing them together at work. I never moved on. He was it for me I dated but not seriously. Fast forward 5 years. Now the weird part. So a friend of mine worked with a woman who on the side was psychic. She said she was amazing and spot on. At the time I was worried about my job do decided to go for a reading. During that reading she said that I dated someone a long time ago who broke my heart that works with me. That would be one guy. She said our story is not over. He’s coming back. I was like no way. He just moved in with the girlfriend. She said he is leaving her and will come back to me. That we are soulmates. She said I hit a home run in the love category with the tarot cards. She discusses certain events that would transpire. I couldn’t believe this and doubted it. That was in July. Come October her first prediction came true surrounding a business trip. I went back shortly after and she said we would get together soon. She saw us together and him ultimately moving in with me. So March rolls around and I go to a happy hour and he’s there. Huh. He never goes to these. He winds up talking to me all night and gives be his cell. Rumor has it that they broke up. So later in the week he texts me they broke up. All the reasons why the psychic predicted were the very reasons. She was spot on. So a few weeks pass and we are in April. He says he enjoys talking to me. He confesses though he is not ready to jump into a relationship because his ex emotionally abused him. Would I be ok seeing him without a commitment. At first I was shocked. Is he implying friends with benefits. I was like no way. However knowing what I knew from the psychic I decided to take a chance as this would springboard to a relationship. So we see each other. It was more than friends with benefits. We would go to dinner. Movies. Hang at each other’s place. Cuddle after sex. I never pressured because in my head we’d move forward last this. 9 months go by. Every 3 I visit the psychic and things are on track. Well I saw her 3 weeks ago snd she said in my head I am his girlfriend and she sees we are only just beginning snd that things will pick up in 3-6 months with 9 months a couple snd living together. She didn’t see him seeing anyone else. Well it is now Christmas and he pretty much fell if the face of the earth. No texts for 3 weeks. I reached out on Christmas and got a reply but nothing major. Now it’s New Years. I would have liked a Happy New Years text to know he have a crap. Nothing. So I get home that night from a party and my intuition tells me to check his Facebook page. Big mistake. He writes so glad 2013 is over. 2014 will be a great year. Feeling amazing. And she comments with smiley faces. Them two days later she posts a Pinterest pic that says new day new year new life. And she writes remember these lyrics I believe it’s a song we both love. He writes feeling good of course. Radar is up. Jealously sets in. I’m pissed. I am hurt. I feel a crushing weight on my chest. I feel like I am going to puke. I can’t sleep. Thank God for Benadryl which calmed me down and hit me 3 hours sleep. I text the psychic in the am and meet with her that day. Prediction changed. He is with this girl. It won’t last but they are together. I will hear from him in 9 days. He will come back but not for reasons I want which is love. Basically she sees he is an opportunist. She sees us together. Living together. But he is not madly in love with me. Where did this change. How did it go from soulmates to roommates. So of course I am pissed. Hurt. Sick to my stomach. Angry that I was just a good lay. I never would have agreed to the friends with benefits terms had the psychic not said we’d be together as a couple and either living together or married. I felt used. So now I will see when he will text me. She said 9 days. He will want a favor. At that time I guess I will say we need to cool things. I want more and he can’t give it to me. I deserve it. He can give it to this girl but not me! Unless he can commit there is no deal. I feel like my works once again us upside down. Third time being dumped by this guy. Why? Why would God out him back in my life only to screw with me. I feel like al my hopes and dreams are shattered. The only way I get through the day is Benadryl which takes the edge off. I dread hearing from him in 9 days. And we have to eork together on this project. Awkward. A friend told be I deserve more snd maybe I don’t get more is because I don’t feel I an worthy and don’t hold people to high standards. I out their needs first and subdue mine. Maybe if I raised the bar people would start rising to the occasion. I just wish there was something to stop the anxiety. I am doing everything to not look at his Facebook page. Again I wouldn’t have gone down this path had it not been for the spot on predictions. I guess I hanged my hat on the fact that we’d be really together. So now life consists of Benadryl to shut off my head and help me sleep. Sleep is the only place I find piece. Now 6 years later I am broken again.

    • Broken says:

      To follow up on this with subsequent events..I told this to a coworker who is also a friend. She said odd the other night she attended a happy hour for which I could not attend but he did. He showed my friend a pic of this new girl. Like check out this hot chic. She’s mine. Pathetic. So enraged I text him. I say I get that we were not in a 100 percent committed relationship but a decent guy would have told me it was over and was involved with someone else. I said you have hurt me beyond words. His pathetic reply was first of all I have been going crazy these last few weeks. I am not “involved” with anyone yet I have only gone on a few dates. Sorry if you feel double crossed. I texted back that it was completely insensitive of him to publicly flaunt his new conquest around to my friends knowing it would get back to me. He said I will call you tonight to explain. I said don’t bother your explanations will not help me and will only upset me more. Good luck with the new girl but unfortunately it won’t last. You will find fault with her and also break her heart. So tempted to Facebook message her and warn her to run. That he was still seeing me when he took up with her. Just didn’t have the balls or was supposedly too busy (yeah dating her) to let me know. But I refrained. For now anyways. I came to some good realizations this week. I questioned how God would allow me to take this loser back a third time only to once again rip out my heart. And then bam I realized it. I realized what a jerk this guy was. I made myself itemize what I loved about him and my list was pathetic. The list I would have produced within the first three months of dating was not the same list. He was no longer that guy. And was he ever really that guy. I think not. That guy was an enigma. All smoke and mirrors to reel me in and once the newness if his toy wore off he discarded me to the back of the toy box. God couldn’t call me in the phone to tell me what an ass he is. Instead he allowed the guy to do this again so I can realize this and finally move on. And stop idealizing this guy and open my heart for someone new.

      • JP says:

        Unfortunately, sometimes we just aren’t listening to God or our Higher Power. My own wants/needs become paramount. I know this has been the case for me at times. -JP

    • JP says:

      Dear, “Broken” – I carefully read every word of your posting. The overriding premise that I need to bring forth is that you – like so many others – provided your very own solution: “I don’t hold people to high standards. I put their needs first and subdue mine. Maybe if I raised the bar people would start rising to the occasion.” YES!! This will not be an easy exercise for you, and that’s why you need to do it. But, if you could divert all of your mental energy off of your ex, and spend it on you and why this was an acceptable relationship for you, you will find peace and solace. You hold the key to your recovery – to peace, to solace, and to self-confidence. The crux of the problem is not at all about you not being good or worthy enough. Rather, it’s about who you allow into your life – or, whom you allow to remain in your life once you have knowledge to do the opposite. A common theme we ALL experience within these breakup scenarios, is that we (myself included) ignore so many red flags and our own intuition. We need to listen to those little voices in our heads, because in most cases (100% of the cases for me!) they are absolutely dead-on. You are hardly alone in ignoring your own best judgement in the name of love and happiness. So, please don’t berate yourself one minute for that. Instead, realize that you ARE worth a ton, and it’s high-time you acted accordingly. If you read through many of the postings here, you will notice how many of us discounted our own value, wants, and needs only to be exploited by someone else – whether they did so knowingly or not. Listen – we get what we feel we deserve. When we’re feeling lowly, we attract and allow the same. The good news is that you’ve got plenty of time to correct this and land on your feet with someone great – IF you spend some time making yourself more of a priority and tapping into your unique differentiators. Believe that you have valid perspectives on every experience in your life. And, that you have the power to dictate how the rest of your story of life and of love play out. You are not at all broken. You are not what you feel in this moment. You are an entire, complete, and wonderful entity. Redirect your focus and efforts on exercising the muscle that recognizes that. -JP

  72. Meredith Catherine says:

    Hi JP! First off- thank you for this heartfelt, funny, honest, smart and enjoyable to read article. Coping with a breakup with an anxious mind is like fighting a battle inside your brain. Your personalized and caring comments to everyone are truly amazing. This morning I woke up in a state of panic and deep despair. 2 weeks into a breakup with my boyfriend of 2 years I had a delayed onset of phase 1. (I think I had been in denial the past 2 weeks) anyways the past 3 days have been messy and miserable filled with drunk conversations, pleading texts and feelings of physical aches and pains. But your article did an amazing job of snapping me out of my delusional funk. I appreciate your advice on how to cut off all ties in order to move forward properly. See, although I was dumped, my ex cruelly has kept me hanging on for dear life. In his words ‘ not wanting to lose complete contact/stay friends etc’ Ofcourse I went along with this, painfully hoping he would say just kidding lets get back together. It thought hanging onto hope would help me but instead it just tears you up inside and prolongs the obsessing, craving, and romanticizing the other person. As of today I have informed my ex I would like to be given time to grieve and move on alone, without his ‘friendly’ texts. I realized it’s pretty selfish that because he isn’t as anxious/sensitive as I am he can just enjoy the casualty of communicating with me as he pleases. If he wanted to be with me he would have worked things out together, not said goodbye. Anyways thanks for the inspiration and positive reminders to all those people like me who suffer from this sort of mind fucking.If I get the crippling pangs to text him ‘I can’t stop missing you’ I will remind myself that’s just my anxiety talking, and I will be just fine :)

    • JP says:

      Hi, Meredith! This is my second lengthy reply to you because I inadvertently hit the wrong key after the last reply, and lost it all. Thank you for your warm feedback. I am happy to be of some assistance to you in such a dire time of need. EVERYTHING you have been experiencing is par-for-the-course …. unfortunately. One of the toughest things to do is to cut all ties. It feels counter to what the heart wants. But, it’s typically precisely what must be done. At times like these, the head must rival the heart. Rational Mind must rule the day – rather than Emotional Mind. Social media is one of the biggest pitfalls following a breakup. My strongest advice is to divest from all means of contact. Not doing so, only results in additional pain and a longer recovery. It’s rather selfish of him to have kept you around – knowing you had so much hope for an alternate outcome. The bonus of moving away from the source of pain/angst/misery/hurt/diabolical torture is that if the situation is ever going to workout in the long-run, you will never know until you obtain some distance from one another. If after being apart for a time, you are not missed, then you have even more relevant data that this was not where you are supposed to be. Like one of my brilliant commentators wrote on this page – oftentimes, the best thing to do is to “Go ghost.” And, you don’t owe your ex any explanations as to why you are retreating. Just distance yourself. And, you said it 100% correctly: “If he wanted to be with me he would have worked things out together, not said goodbye.” And, you further added a nugget of advice when you stated, “If I get the crippling pangs to text him ‘I can’t stop missing you’ I will remind myself that’s just my anxiety talking, and I will be just fine.” EXACTLY!!! Anxiety has its own agenda, and can drive us to do the antithesis of what we ought to be doing. Counter it with all you’ve got. Life is not always what one wants it to be, but to make the best of it as it is, is the only way of being happy. (Jennie Jerome Churchill) We are generally so certain that we know what’s best for ourselves. And, we are just as often certain that what we think is best will guarantee happiness. Try reflecting on all the times in the past when wishes didn’t come true – FORTUNATELY. Did any one of us expect to be doing today, what we each are doing? We may have expected a particular relationships, children, a particular kind of home, a certain career; but, did we really anticipate all that life has brought? The happiness we experience today probably doesn’t visit us in the way we anticipated a few years back. But it is measured out according to our needs. The choice to be happy with what is, is ours to make – every moment. Try to take life as it is, and trust that it is just right – just what it needs to be. The big picture guarantees you lasting happiness. Today’s experiences will move you a step closer. -JP

  73. ak says:

    it’s been like 8 months…still feel like i’m totally broken, i’m a bit better than i was but…this shit is terrible

    • JP says:

      AK – “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” -C. S. Lewis
      Sometimes, while in pain, we try to turn our will and our life over to the care of God, as we understand God – but, we’re not always successful. We are human. We change our mind. We talk ourselves out of our good resolutions. We forget. We fall back into old, destructive habits of mind and mood. But all we have to do is make a decision. We don’t have to do the actual turning over. We are, in fact, incapable of sustaining this action. But we can, very simply, make the decision. Surprisingly, when we do, turning over our will often gets taken care of for us. We find that we are indeed enjoying what seems to be God’s will for us. The secret lies in making the decision as often as needed. We can decide daily or even hourly. We can, in fact, rely on God every time we need help. This is where I find my solace. -JP

  74. Simonster says:

    What a humorous way to face a break up.!! Am going through one right now and I have to say I feel like crap although I think this article’s sense of humour will really help me get through with less pain. Its not really over but the red light is on and I guess the best thing is to follow your advice early enough. Great article

    • JP says:

      Hey, Simonster! I’ve been bogged down with life as of late, and I’m hoping you are on an upswing. Thank you for your kind words. I know your pain intimately – as do our esteemed peers who’ve also written. I’m hoping you’ve had time to review some of the comments from others suffering similarly. I also hope you’re leaning on your friends and loved ones to make this an easier transition. We are the masters of our own fate. We carry all of the emotional equipment necessary to meet each new challenge. We aren’t on a solitary journey. The only way we can climb our own mountains is by doing it with others. We learn to be alone by learning to love and trust others. We carry our own lifeline connected to the love and caring of our friends. Eyes forward, friend – your future awaits. -JP

  75. Damian says:

    Hi, It seems the forum is down, Do you need any help setting it up?

    • JP says:

      Hey, Damian! I’ve actually been emailing you the past couple of weeks to determine if you want to manage the Forum. I am working with the developer on ending the amount of spam hitting the site. If you’re interested, shoot me an email at and I will send you the username/password and update you on settings, etc. THANK YOU for checking-in! -JP

  76. Lindsey says:

    This article made me laugh for the first time in weeks! Yes I’m a girl but I relate to all of this right now. Me and my ex of 2 years broke up a month ago over a terrible stupid pointless drunk fight. We probably would still be together if it didn’t happen infront of his friends. But anyway. We got in the fight, still stayed the night then I moved out in the morning. Things were said. And things were thrown. Yeah we’re both at fault. The first week after he was considering trying to work us out. Til his mother somehow heard about the fight (she’s very dramatic and loves to involve herself in things she has nothing to do with) so we went nc after that. My stages are all over the place. At first I was relieved. Then I was I’m shock. Then I was depressed. I’m kind of back to relieved right now, but honestly I still have a tiny bit of hope. This guy was my best friend. We lived together. Forgot to mention this fight happened on the one year anniversary of my fathers death. No excuses I know, but I was obviously having a tough week already.

    As of now I moved back home, trying to rebuild friendships and hangout with family. Last time we talked he says this is my chance to straighten myself out and maybe we can work it out eventually. I would of rather him said that were over for good because now I feel like I’m just waiting around. I can’t seem to get him off my mind. Going from being with someone 24/7 to not at all is overwhelming. We weren’t perfect before our fight but we definently weren’t planning on breaking up anytime soon. We both have tempers. So maybe this break up is good? Give us time to cool? My minds all over the place. But thank you for writing this article. I know for a fact my demon is haunting his apartment. From the brand new comforter set I bought, to my hair probably being everywhere. My food still in the fridge. My shampoo still in the shower.

    I hate breakups. But thanks for making me smile

    • JP says:

      Hey, Lindsey! I’m stoked to know I was able to bring a smile to your face. I carefully reviewed your post, and have some feedback. First, I’m concerned about the volatility of your recent relationship. And, if serious domestic disputes are part of your recent past, you will want to analyze that more closely, for sure. It’s much better to just flee the scene and give things the 24-hour rule in such instances. Also keep in mind that what we want isn’t always what we need. Perhaps you two aren’t supposed to be together – despite how it feels right now. It’s tough enough to make a relationship work when ONE person has a temper – let alone both people. That’s a recipe for disaster and imminent arrest(s) down the road – at best. And, I’m very sorry about your dad’s passing last year. I’m certain the anniversary was a trigger for you. It would have been for me as well. But, you’re absolutely right – your relationship was probably far less than perfect before this latest bout, and you definitely need time apart. This will give you both time to obtain some perspective and reflection on what is best for the long haul. Rather than focusing on him and your longing for what is comfortable; focus on what is best for you both going forward. I’ve had 10 shoulder surgeries. After each one, I’m in a sling for at least two months. When I get to the point of being out of the sling, I miss it every time. Did I still need it? NO. But, it became a comfortable aid for me. Once I was able to use those familiar arm muscles again, I was glad to be out of the sling. I still wanted the sling back every time. But, I didn’t NEED it to be able to get by on my own. Maybe this is an odd analogy, but maybe he’s been your sling. Even if you don’t need him – even if he’s as far as being bad for you – you’re used to him. He fills a void for you. Therefore, you miss him. Two years is a long time. Of course you’re going to miss him. I would miss most anyone that I spent two years around. Again, there’s a difference between what is good for you, and what you simply miss because it’s a new gaping hole in your life. You need to make that determination.

      Making peace with our losses takes time and trust, Lindsey. In the past, you may have acted in ways that were heartbreaking to yourself and others. But now you have a new choice; you can walk the road of self-forgiveness and stop punishing yourself for past deeds, or you can decide that you don’t deserve to feel good, that clinging to your pain, guilt, and self-loathing will somehow make up for some of the damage. Believing our wrongs are too great to be righted leaves us in a perpetual state of mourning. It’s a risk, but we can choose to believe that change is possible, not all at once but slowly, one day at a time. Believing that God loves us and wants us to be happy gives us the courage to make amends and face our past head on. When we take the leap of faith necessary to grieve and let go of the past, we take back our best selves, and the lives we were meant to live. Going forward, you both deserve happiness and a healthy relationship. Maybe that’s with each other – maybe not. I’m in no position to make that call. But, what you had isn’t working. I am hoping for the healthiest of outcomes for you both. -JP

      There is an end to grief if we have the courage to accept our personal goodness and our ongoing right to happiness.” – Justin Langley

  77. Parets77 says:

    I came across this website randomly and just wanted to write to say it is fantastic. With dozens and dozens of resources available for women, it is very comforting to know that there are other men out there who are crushed by break up anxiety. Our culture says men have to suffer silently, which is neither helpful nor productive. Again, it is nice to know that other men have the same issues.

    • JP says:

      Hi! I agree – nearly everything written is for women. Honestly, I only wrote a simple essay to somehow deal with the pain and angst of my own breakup. I had nowhere to turn for breakup advice. Not good advice anyway. So, I did what came naturally – I just wrote. Somehow, others found the essay and gleaned hope and commiserated with my pain. Now, I just want to help anyone and everyone who feels the sudden, tumultuous feeling of despair. Anyhow, I am very pleased that you found the article. Thank you for your kind words! And, yes – us guys have plenty of issues too. Some of us just maintain better illusions. -JP

  78. cat says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I am over two months into a break up and each day feel like day one (altho im sure im not doing myself any favours). My relationship was nearly for 6 years and was a volitile one at that, we broke up and got bak together countless times and it was mostly me ending it, yet this time he has done it and I think that only adds to my pain. I have laughed and cried reading ur post and its of great comfort to know there are people feeling the exact cheer pain I am feeling!. For me the grieving is tinged with utter shame and anger at myself for being with someone who treated me so vile! What does that say about me as a person if I will quite willingly allow/make excuses for someones disgusting behaviour. I will defo take comfort in this reality of events article and just hope that at sometime soon im happy to walk into that tunnel, the light is at the end I just have to keep walking x

    • JP says:

      Cat! Hello there. It’s almost funny sometimes how each day following a breakup can feel like the movie, “Groundhog Day.” It’s like the pain is on “repeat” endlessly at first. But, as the emotional dust settles, you realize you can and will survive, and the pain will indeed lessen. Six years is a long time for anyone. I’m wondering how “volatile” things would get. That’s not a good indicator of a healthy relationship, of course. Reading that you were treated in a vile manner is disconcerting at best. I hate reading such things, as I was once in a similar relationship. It took me awhile to get fed-up and call her out for being a satanic bitch, but I eventually did just that. There is NEVER a reason for someone to treat another poorly. It’s inexcusable and I am very happy to hear you have broken free from the tyranny of his abuse. The trick is to REMAIN free. Since he broke things off, my primary concern is that you would have stayed in this abusive situation – whether emotionally or physically – for a lot longer. Now that you’re on the outside looking in, it is my hope that you can begin to see things for what they were: UNACCEPTABLE. But, no matter the reason, you are now free from whatever kept you there. That said, abusive types often cast their victim aside, only to try and reel them back in later. Your goal is to obtain a little more strength, self-love, and hope for a better tomorrow each day. This will – God willing – prevent you from ever giving this coward the opportunity to wield his treatment upon you again. I see that you’re in the UK. I don’t know the resources available and near to you. But, I would start by calling: 0808 2000 247

      This Helpline can give support, help and information over the telephone, wherever you might be in the country. The Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers. All calls are completely confidential. You can then ask them if they offer counseling services, or what they recommend. Okay? I truly hope you make the call. If for nothing else, just to explain what verbal/emotional abuse you have incurred, so you can recognize it for what it is: Abuse. You can then take the necessary steps to distance yourself from your ex, AND make much better dating choices in the future. I’d like to hear back from you, Cat. And, I hope it is with news that you are taking steps to take better care of yourself. -JP

  79. lucy says:

    thanks this article made me smile when i had just been dumped. i got dumped yesterday so still very very emotional. i didnt see it coming at all. it was a long distance thing and we both had a good time when recently together this wkd. we had been together for a year and she liked me a lot more than i liked her at the beggining then i fell completely in love with her. apparntly she doesnt feel the same anymore, i have been a burden and it was really nice not speaking to me for a few days. anyway i cant wait to feel better but at the moment i havent been to work and im hoping so much that she says she regrets it and misses me. I wont reach out to her though. im not going to beg for her to have me back as i can tell whatever i do or say will not change her mind. im hoping that not speaking will give her time to realise that she misses me but if not by that time i hope to be in a much better place so it will be ok either way. I havent been this upset over someone for years. i havent eaten properly in three days. all i had yesterday was a piece of toast in the morning. i am clearly needing some thereapy here as now im going in to all kinds of crap! lol anyway your article made me laugh when i was so low, and im so impressed that you reply to everyone who comments.

    (it even reached out to me a girl, in a relationship with another girl)


    • JP says:

      Hello, Lucy. It’s so nice to hear from you, as I fervently type in an attempt to catch-up to those of you who have reached out. I truly honor each one of ya. That said, I also feel your pain and empathize with you. I know full well the emotional intricacies of your current state. I am really sorry you are feeling so badly. I’m not sure why you stated you were a burden, and the break from you was nice. If these are her words, that’s really hurtful and visceral – along with being a poor choice of phrases to inflict upon someone. I must say that your choice to “go ghost” and not reach out would be the exact one I would’ve taken in the same scenario. I am curious how things are at the moment. Another reason why I’ve got to stay on top of these comments! Ugh – I sincerely apologize. Oh, and you are one of the few “female to female” relationships to reach out – and, I’m honored that you did. Look, you’ve got to make yourself a priority right now. I’m not sure where things are with her at this moment – but, if you are still suffering through it, you need to (1) Eat as best you can; (2) Get enough rest; and (3) Get exercise. The more rigorous the better right now. If you can throw some kettle balls through a concrete wall, all the better ;-) I’m hoping she reached out by now, and at least gave you some helpful words and some peace. Oftentimes, however, this is not the case, and we are left to our own innate skills to cope. I always recommend professional therapy. A good therapist can make a world of difference. I think we all need a personal life coach now and again. Please let me know how things stand. I’m pullin’ for ya! -JP

  80. Courtney says:

    I’m a girl, but seriously this is the only thing I have read lately that made me feel the slightest bit better. Thank you so much. I suddenly feel not so alone & am trying to think of this phase as being temporary. I really appreciate this article. And good luck to everyone else going through the same agony as me! :)

    • JP says:

      Hi, Courtney! Personally, I love when women write in. Your feedback and insight are quite welcomed. Both genders suffer in a breakup. I just happen to have a penis, so I write from a man’s perspective ;-) Thank you for your words, and I hope you have garnered some relief with each passing day. -JP

  81. Scorpio9119 says:

    Breakup’s … no breakups are easy, be it your first, tenth. The fact is humans are bound to relationships, the warmth one feels when the feelings are mutual. The feeling that somebody on this planet somewhere would be thinking about you right at this moment, someone who would love you back, show you that someone is there to take care of you is amazing. And all of sudden, especially when the breakup is not mutual, hits the dumpee hard. All of sudden there is a huge hole to fill, all of sudden life seems not livable.

    My story, hmmm where to begin with, was in a relationship with a girl for 2.5 yrs. We were happy together, loved each other sincerely. Not sure what went wrong or what could I have done otherwise to not see this day. 3 yrs ago today was the day when I told my ex I love her. Took care of her like a baby, and she left me for good.

    I now feel like a zombie. Everyday I wake up, realize that we broke up which kills me to the bottom of my heart, go to work, come back home, eat and sleep. This is happening to me since past 4 months. Can I let her go? I am trying. But now it feels like an impossible task.

    The one thing I have realized after breakup is you can feel all the stages of breakup but you cannot move on unless you can be cool with the fact that you might have feelings for her.

    But this article is amazing. I could relate myself fitting into the mentioned phases several times. And it helps a ton reading the responses of the others. I just hope that everyone who is now going through a breakup see the light at the end of the tunnel soon.

    • JP says:

      Thank you for writing, Rahul. I sincerely apologize for the delay, as I’ve been offline and experiencing some big changes on my end as of late. I know it hasn’t been long since your painful separation, but I am hoping you have experienced some bit of relief and/or improvement. It doesn’t help that the Holidays are upon us – I know. I always hated the feeling of finally falling asleep, only to awake with the realization that the relationship is over. It’s like reliving the pain over and over each day, until it gradually lessens with each morning. If only we could erase sections of the mind, like deleting files on a computer drive. If only. The takeaway for you here is reading what so many others have written. I have avoided a serious relationship for the past year, simply because my last one was so bad. Truth is, I just picked a horrific and miserable person – the entire scenario could’ve been avoided. But, like many guys, I fell for a pretty face, without paying enough attention to the toxic personality that accompanied it. You WILL get over your ex. It’s actually impossible not to, as the healing and recovery will take place with the passing of time. You just need to feel what you feel, hang on to none of it, and keep moving forward – even if your momentum is begrudgingly slow and painful. Just keep looking into the future. Here is a quote from the book, “Listening to Your Inner Voice,” by Douglas Bloch.

      “A truly powerful force in the universe is that of optimism. Optimism lies at the root of our mental and physical health. Feelings of hope can stimulate the body’s immune system and inspire recovery from a critical illness. Optimism expresses itself in the persistence and resilience of living things. A child learning to walk repeatedly falls down and picks himself up until he stands erect. A decade after the eruption of Mount St. Helens destroyed the local ecology, life had reestablished itself on this volcano with amazing abundance and rapidity. And despite its hostile environment, a sole dandelion miraculously pushed itself up through a crack in the concrete. That dandelion was optimistic that it could and would survive. In the long run, the forces of love and life always triumph over those of fear and death. No matter how challenging the obstacles or difficult the tests, there is always cause for optimism.”

      The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.” -Samuel Johnson

  82. Damian says:

    Sorry to insist with the forum thing, but is it working? replies seem to be moderated or something. Thanks ;)

    • JP says:

      Hey, Damian! THANK YOU for checking back in. I must sincerely apologize. The Forum is so new that I did not realize I needed to go in and somehow administer things. I was under the impression it was self-sustainable. I will log-in and take a look. -JP

  83. TS says:


    I have read so many awful blogs full of useless advice written by women full of “if you love her let her go” bullshit. This blog is the amazing truth.

    First of all, I am on a “break” with my girlfriend, after 13 months of bliss…she has moved away to Uni. And I ultimately have not adjusted or prepared for the severity of the change, after leaving her one month to settle in I made the journey to go see her, it was awful. Tense, uncomfortable and not the same, so we are leaving it 13 days before she comes home for a discussion. I am very much in phase one, I cant eat I cant sleep, but my saving grace is I haven’t made the slightest effort for contact, the only contact she has attempted are attempts to make me jealous, no doubt a ploy to make me text her being all “what the fuck bitch why put a video of your hilarious flatmate on facebook!?”….in my mind its her way of trying to provoke a reaction from me so I can give her the attention she craves, I however will not rise.

    The fantastic information I have taken from this entry is to ease off, I perhaps was too intense, but when we meet I am going to be cool, composed and tell her how I feel, I do still love her and I feel we work together and still have much to offer each other. And from reading this now I am confident that if I ease off and take the higher ground there may be a chance of us settling things….if not, I had fun, I learnt, ill move on and ultimately ill survive (even if it doesn’t feel like it now)

    Thank you again

    (Please feel free to reply)

    • JP says:

      Andy! THANK YOU – that’s why I had to write this. To expose the gritty truth about heinous, anxiety-ridden breakups and all their gut-wrenching manifestations. More than anything, I just wanted my fellow sufferers to know they were not alone. That sole fact makes a sizeable difference. I love that you have not been reacting to her antics – especially those via social media like Facebook. Sounds like her attempts to solicit a reaction from you have been unanswered. And, when in the heat of relationship drama, the best thing to do – and, I am a HUGE advocate of this – is to to do NOTHING. You cannot have regrets if you don’t act. I only wish I had taken my own advice more often in the past. This was a lesson I learned through trial and error and after the advice of a counselor. It was the single best advice I ever followed – WHEN I followed it. Here’s the thing – you can always choose to react to something at any time. Even well after the fact. But, choosing NOT to react allows you freedom from regret and sorrow for acting in the heat of the moment. It sounds like you’ve read some of the other responses here, and were able to glean this sage advice from others for yourself. For that, I am greatly pleased. There are a lot of brilliant commenters on this page, and they’ve done a great service to one another – and, to me as well. Andy, you nailed it when you stated, “I am confident that if I ease off and take the higher ground there may be a chance of us settling things.” Excellent insight, my friend! And, in doing so, you can have no regrets in whatever outcome takes place. You can rest assured that you did YOUR best and took the best possible path. Great to hear from you. -JP

    • JP says:

      Hi, Andy! I am curious how things went with your ex. I have to say, your attitude and mindset were very healthy when you last wrote here. The power often shifts back and forth between people in love. It’s a delicate balance. Your plan to ease off and allow things to settle into place is precisely how I would have handled the situation.

      According to the book, “In God’s Care,” by Karen Casey, Whatever we give away returns to us, many-fold. When we show love or understanding, when we are gentle or express genuine concern, usually the same will come right back to us. Perhaps not in kind, maybe not in ways we expected, nevertheless our gifts bear fruit. Many of us have longed for love and security to come from others with a promise of forever; inevitably, we became anxious that, in time, that love or security would disappear. When we view life from such a narrow perspective, no amount of love can bolster our sense of worth. How different the world looks when we unselfishly give out love rather than longingly await the love, attention, or understanding of others. We guarantee receiving the good feelings we crave every time we share those feelings with a fellow traveler. You are in charge of what you receive from others today. You will get back what you willingly give.

      Keep putting the love out there, Andy. But, love yourself also. I hope you got the best results possible from your last meeting. -JP

  84. Andrew says:

    Thanks so much for this article, especially the final paragraph: “Finally, it is important to note that is within this final phase of your recovery that your ex will fortuitously make a reappearance.” This happened to me exactly – I was dumped by a girl six months ago, then after nearly three months of doing the hard work to get over her I was just starting to form a deeper friendship with someone I’d known for a while. My ex saw us together and was consumed by jealousy which led to her asking to have me back. Being so in love with her, and desperate to make things work, it seemed like a no-brainer. Everything seemed to be going well and then *bang*, “sorry, the relationship isn’t working”. That was just over three weeks ago and I’m totally devastated again, just trying to get through the days. This time, at least, I know I will recover and also know that I can never trust her again.

    • JP says:

      Hello, Andrew. I enjoyed learning of your tale of redemptive validation – though, that was not the outcome I wanted to hear. I should’ve added a sub-clause that if/when they DO, in fact, make a return that you should run the other way. As you learned, it was more about her bruised ego than anything else. I’m so very sorry. There are a lot of egocentric, jacked-up people out there. It’s our job to circumnavigate them as best we can. Myself, I attract them like a stark beacon on a starless night. Next time, you won’t fall for her manipulations. In the interim, please do NOT judge yourself for taking her back. I’ve done the same (more than once, I’m afraid). Some life lessons are only learned by living them. Hang tough, friend. -JP

      • Andrew says:

        Thanks so much for you reply. It’s because of people like you, my family, and my friends that I’m ever so gradually getting through this.

        To add insult to injury, the girl I was developing the friendship with had now moved onto someone else – it’s taken considerable bridge-building just to get back to the point where we can see each other even as friends (and I need as many of those as I can get right now).

        It probably wouldn’t have mattered if you had advised me not to go back – so many of my friends told me to be careful because of what had happened before. But I so wanted to have another chance that I didn’t listen. Even now there’s this residual fear that should she come back again I may weaken. Right now I’m in this mode of constantly reaffirming to myself that the relationship was wrong, that it wouldn’t have worked long-term, that she couldn’t give me what I wanted, and that I shouldn’t want to be with someone who can treat me like that. Just writing these things down helps to embed them in my tired old brain.

        • JP says:

          Andrew, I am really happy to hear that things are gelling for you mentally. It sounds like you are doing what I do – consistently remind yourself of what is obvious to others. I do this to the point of taking copious notes that I can reference whenever I’m having a weak moment, or considering allowing someone toxic back into my life. Sometimes, we just need our own reminders. There are many similarities between recovering from a breakup, and recovering from a drug addiction. The chemical processes in the brain are actually very similar. Hence the difficulty in recovering, and the constant withdrawal symptoms. We often would rather have the negative force back in our lives – no matter how bad for us – than to have nothing at all. Therein lies the danger. If we can just get over the hump, and get through the initial “relationship withdrawal” period, salvation is on the other side. I so wish this for you, Andrew. In the interim, keep leaning on those family members and friends. Lean hard and lean often. You can make it up to them later. We’re all her for ya. -JP

    • JP says:

      Hey, Andrew. Thank YOU for writing in. Damn … what an ego that girl has on her, huh?! She just hated the fact you were able to move on and find happiness without her. She lured you back. It happens. I hope you aren’t kicking yourself for it. I’ve been there. Oh, have I ever. Oftentimes, we need a particular lesson more than once before it sticks. Now, you have even more data that this chick isn’t worth your time and emotion. I love good data! It’s impossible to refute. So, just continue to reflect upon what you know – and, cannot ignore – as you move away from this girl forever. But, don’t stop exhibiting the caring characteristics that make you a good bet. When we treat our friends, our families, even people we don’t know well with kindness, we’ll experience kindness in return. Our own actions and attitudes toward others are what we can expect from others as well. Sometimes, we just need a better filter! -JP

  85. JK says:

    As with so many others that responded to this article, I could not agree more with what you have said. Just by reading this, it is like a huge weight off my chest and I am sure many others agree with me. The funny thing is that in the beginning I was the one that actually didn’t want to get into a relationship and she pushed for it and I thought that i should give her a chance, weird how things work sometimes. But nontheless great job thoroughly enjoyed this article.

    • JP says:

      Jay, thank you for taking time to write in. Just as our words have provided you with some relief and solidarity – so, your words will assist others in the same throes of suffering. Perspective is a great thing when we’re feeling despondent. I wish you expeditious healing. -JP

    • JP says:

      Forgive me, Jay, as I am so very behind in replying to my esteemed commenters since last month. I am now playing catch-up. It means the world to me that the article helped you realize how common and “normal” your feeling are. It’s crazy how our first intuition is almost always the right one – yet, we often ignore our gut and blaze a trail toward the wrong thing. I give my intuition a lot more voice these days. I actually go with my gut instinct 100% of the time now. I am definitely sorry that you experienced this setback. Wishing you peace and the love you deserve this season. -JP

  86. Katie says:

    Thank you so much for this article man, hope you’re doing well since your breakup. I’ve (very) recently been dumped after a two year relationship with a guy, and now I’m in a mix of both the first and second stages of grieving. I honestly think it makes it worse that I didn’t see it coming; I felt like things were going sooo well and he out of the blue decides he is no longer happy in our relationship. It sucks to feel like you’ve been given up on by someone who you were so willing to fight for. But anyway, both stages are simply awful for me right now, but the way you described your situation is EXACTLY the same way I currently feel. It’s very comforting to know that although I’m lonely, I’m not actually alone, so thank you for that. Keep writing, you’re absolutely amazing.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Katie. How are you feeling?? I truly hope you are experiencing some relief with each passing day. I would try not to personalize your feelings regarding his stated reasons for the breakup. Oftentimes, no matter how well we think we know someone, we didn’t know them at all. It’s impossible to crawl into someone else’s mind to know the real “what” and “why,” or the labyrinth of their mind. And, if we guess, we’re most certainly wrong. Often, there is no sensible explanation. Your goal is to really try not to get bogged down with the torturous post-breakup analysis. It’s an abyss that will sap every last bit of mental and emotional energy you’ve got left. If you can somehow just work to “accept” it and be okay with never knowing the “why” it will free you to heal and move forward. This has always been my biggest personal hurdle – so, I know what I’m asking. Hopefully, you’re able to accomplish this integral and necessary step. Obtain solace in knowing you were the best you possible in the relationship – so, his reasoning and motives are secondary and irrelevant to how you should feel about yourself. -JP

  87. Dave says:

    mine scratched me, punched my face, yelled at me screaming I hate you, and then left as the saint while I was left in all of her agony. wtf do you do in this case when someone dumps all of their shit on you then fucking leaves?

    Should I inform her new “bf” she is psycho and was cheating with me while she was with “him”

    getting back at her will teach her not to fukin dumb crap on me then disappear to another state. Its like she agreed to meet right before she would leave just so she could do that.

    • JP says:

      Good grief, Dave … I’m very sorry to hear. She sounds like my last girlfriend, to be honest. But, to answer your question, “No” – it’s best to just take the high-road and let karma work it out on her. Vengeance isn’t ours. As for anyone else she may now date, they will learn soon enough. No matter how bad she was/is, let God and the universe deal with her. I wish you quick healing and a peaceful heart, brother. -JP

  88. Ani says:

    Great article. I haven’t laughed so much in the 3 months since we broke up. I recognised myself in all of what you wrote and I’m so glad to realise that it’s not just me. I had actually started to go crazy.

    We were on and off for 5 years, lived together for the last year and although I was the one to end it by kicking him out after finding out he was still meeting up with his ex behind my back I still love him dearly and have been desperately trying to reconcile with him. He says there was nothing going on with his ex and that he did not feel like he was getting what he needed from the relationship due to my lack of enthusiasm for life and general depression. Three months on I am able to acknowledge the truth in what he says. He says we should remain friends and both work on our issues but I have tried and find myself reverting back to stage 1 & 2. I value his friendship but it is causing me great anxiety as I just want to know for certain whether we will ever get back together. Iam not very good at letting go or letting things run their natural course.

    • JP says:

      Hello, Ani. I am very happy to hear that my words resonated with you. If nothing else, this essay provides validation that most of us traverse a painful breakup in much the same way. And, I completely empathize with the feeling of going nuts. You’re like me (and, most of us) in that you want to control the outcome of this. It’s not an easy task to let things play-out as they should. But, I can assure you, if you first work on yourself and what YOU need to feel mentally and emotionally competent and fulfilled, the other things will fall into place. I’ve said many times that we attract that which we feel about ourselves. This is true when we feel great, or if we feel low. You don’t want to be each others crutch. Rather, you want to come to the relationship as healthy, individual entities who compliment one another. It doesn’t sound like either of you are currently in that place – and, that’s okay! We all cycle through periods where it’s best to spend time with ourselves, rather than “date therapy” with someone else. Work on you and what you need for awhile. The rest will fall into place as it should. -JP

  89. Phill says:

    Bloody great article! – thoroughly laughed and laughed, isn’t it crazy on what you would do to get a girl back that in all likelihood would be a life of misery?
    I just recently got let go- we were supposed to be going to Iceland, Sweden and Denmark on Friday but alas now I find myself heading out on the trip alone. I will be going with Intrepidation but it’s either go and be in stage two or sit around my apartment in stage 2- I think it will be hard but a good distraction. My ex broke it off with me because she was not ready or willing to give up her time as my children and I were going to move in with her, the closer to the move in date the more distant she became, hanging out with new friends and myself not getting invited. In reality I should have stopped it all six weeks ago when I asked her about becoming distant but she made me believe it was not true! This time around it’s not as bad, I broke up with her last Oct but that was my own issues, I found myself a therapist and got to the bottom of my anxiety sand realized that I’m trying my very best to be a good father and support two homes, it’s been a great struggle financially but at least my kids have had a stay at home mum for there young years and now they are at full time school I know things will get financially easier. Although my ex had a hard time of my financial situation I feel that I tried and attempted to give my kids a great start to their childhood.
    I’m feeling the pain but this time it’s not about what I’m not worthy of etc etc.
    Sometimes I picture myself as my little boy and think what is it that he needs to make him feel good about himself- it actually works. Hang in there everyone and consider what you all need.
    Thank you for being do dedicated JP and know that it’s a great relief to come to these pages.

    • JP says:

      Phill! Thank you for writing and sharing your insight. And, “yes,” – it’s so ridiculous what I did to try and get her back that I actually had to put it all in writing. And, I wouldn’t have been happy if I got what I wanted. That’s the kicker. So many great people who write me are in dire straits – understandably – and, do not yet realize that what they want isn’t what they need. I am wondering if you’re back from your trip. I am so impressed that you opted to go! KUDOS, brother! Nice work. And, you’re priorities are right in line. It appears you are handling things quite well. Personally, I think we should all see therapists. I’ve mentioned this previously. But, who wouldn’t want a personal life coach to assist us in our decision making and navigating life at times?! Anyone who doesn’t see a therapist is asking SOMEONE these same questions – albeit friends, family, bartenders, hairdressers, or the like. Why not just hire someone with a license to advise? That’s just my take. Anyhow, you’re a testament to men everywhere in the same tough spot. You wrote something that really hit me when you stated, “Sometimes I picture myself as my little boy and think what is it that he needs to make him feel good about himself- it actually works.” How incredibly insightful of you, Phill!! That’s brilliant and loving. I am very happy to be of some small assistance to you. I hope you come back and visit these posts again. And, hopefully, our new Forum will gain some momentum soon as well. -JP

      • Phill says:

        Wow- I wrote back in October a few days before the trip I was to take alone, life has been strange and wonderful since then! The trip was a great distraction although it was bloody heartbreaking every time I checked in for a flight and then had the empty seat next to me. In Iceland(my first destination) I met an Icelandair flight attendant and we really hit it off, we’ve kept in contact and she’s visited me in Vancouver a few times:)- she’s so nice and it’s a good comfort, I know nothing will come of it and right now I’m in no state of mind for a relationship anyway but it’s comforting. I can’t help but laugh how it has worked out. I find myself a lot happier these days and even got a promotion at work. I still miss her but no longer is she constantly on my mind. It’s amazing how somebody can make you feel and act. I know I will never have her back in my life and now I’m comfortable with it, I’m feeling energetic and you’re right, there is strange everywhere these day’s! Time, self worth and optimism are think maybe the keys required for the first few months of a break up. Hang in everyone and JP you’ve found one of your purposes in life, congratulations:)

        • JP says:

          Great to hear from you again, Phill! And, what an uplifting update!! Love it. Your statement about “Time, self-worth and optimism” being the necessary attributes to navigate the first few months following a breakup is a nugget of information. And, you’re right. The self-worth component is particularly relevant. I am really happy for you. I know you still miss her, and that’s perfectly natural. But, you’ve seen that things can and do improve for the better. And, you have no idea what good things are around the corner for you. I wish continued happiness and success for you, brother. It’s just so good to receive this follow-up story, and I know that it will help so many others to see this. THANK YOU for writing! -JP

  90. Tim says:

    p.s – i’m so so sorry about the terrible grammar in my essay there- I seem to have also lost the grasp of the english language/being able to successfully proof read.

  91. Tim says:

    Hi JP

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I’m 7 weeks in since I’ve had completer closure in my relationship. Since June when it she said that she couldn’t see a future in us, it has been the worst phase ever of my 27 years. I have spent so much on self help books, but they have not seemed to do any good accept distract me momentarily and then feel foolish trying to do the ‘stress reduction’ exercise. Having had a series of splits before (although they I was only dating with them), I have felt like I have been utterly doomed. Reading this article assured me that unfortunately I am a man who is generally anxious, and a break up from a loved one kicks me the hardest of all – Well the rejection especially. I hope you don’t mind my essay – but having read your article and other people’s responses, I feel that at least I am not alone here.
    So with the girl that has caused all this grief. I met her last October doing a play (we are both budding actors). We were in separate shows, but had loads of banter in the dressing room and had brilliant chemistry from the start. Only snag, was I then found out she had a boyfriend (Who lived abroad). However later on, she dropped that he was an ex boyfriend now, as she was going to go to see him in a week and finish it. Inside I was dancing (which now I feel terrible about – as the poor bloke had to go what I am going through).
    Anyway to my delight she asked me out for a drink (with the assurance that it would be after she had split up). Fast forward to our first date. It was brilliant, we did sleep together, and then it transpired she had still not left him, plus she had posted all the holiday snaps of her with him. I wish I had seen these extreme warning flags earlier. However, I did put my foot down and tell her she must end it before we went on another date, as I was not happy to be the man she was cheating with. I realise this was one of the only time I had major control, and she responded quite quickly ending her 2 year relationship a few days later (via whatsapp) hmmm.
    We continue dating. By christmas, she says she still isn’t 100% over her ex and still has feeling for him, yet loves what we have and is annoyed at the timing. However she says these feelings will go, and she wants to build on what we have. I just want to add, that I felt I had struck gold, as not only was she stunning (is should i say), we had the same humour, the same interests, the same careers and the sex was really adventurous (probably the most adventurous of a girl i have been with).
    Then it gets to new year, and we are at a party (where another one of her ex’s is)- which is a little uncomfortable, and she starts texting her ex who lives abroad whilst sitting next to me. I blow a fuse later over this, and she realises she has been foolish. Come late Jan, she still is not ready to commit to calling me her boyfriend. She says that she STILL is not quite over her ex – and they are still whatsapping. She knows my feelings on this of course and assures me the chit chat they are having is very dull and that it’s not going anyway (he probably should have heeded the no contact advice there). Eventually in Feb, she prompts me that we should be going out by now – even though I had brought it up loads. So from here we have a great few months, and we do some filming together and then by May we use the love word. Now here’s the bit i have not mentioned. She has a very unusual mother. I never met her family – her dad and mum are separated, her dad living abroad, and her mum lives with my ex. My ex was really frustrated in the lead up to our break up, as she was tired living with her mum who used to emotionally blackmail her and guilt her when she was not staying at home. She also I believe has mental health issues, but she has often ‘been the cause for her break ups’ she says. Her dad and mum split up when my ex was 8, and her mum made her lie in court, so she would not have to live with her dad. It’s all very messed up, but either ways- the day my ex came out with the words ‘where is our relationship going?’, she was the most miserable I had seen her. She was so down, how she was never going to be able to live away from her mum and that she was always going to have that guilt – her mum used to say things like ‘i’ll jump off a bridge if you move away’ and heavy shit like that.
    I initially thought the break up was a cry for help but over the weeks, she said that she felt she had made the right decision to call it off. That she felt when she was with me, it was great, and that i was the only person she knew who she could say anything to. But when she was away, she felt the right decision had been made. I even tried to do three days together where we could patch things up, which she agreed was a good idea, but in the end she felt the same, and wanted to remain friends. I could not be friends with someone i am in love with and said that I had to cut all contact to get over it. This was nearly 8 weeks ago now. I have remained since then without contact (ooh except via facebook as she sponsored me for a bike ride) – then i had to delete her off that, as she kept liking my stuff on the wall posts and i couldn’t bear seeing her profile.
    Since these three weeks, it has been so so hard. I have lingered from phase one and phase two. Places constantly remind me of her, when i go back to my parents, I instantly feel teary – and i think it’s because she came there in the spring to meet them. She also got on with everyone in my family, and they loved her too, so I’m finding it so unbearable as that future i dreamed of, that purpose I had, has been crushed.
    The serenity prayer bit made me laugh out loud- as I have been reciting this to myself like a mad man. Talking of mad men, I have felt like i am insane. It’s all i ever think of at the moment. Honestly – i don’t know what to do. And as theres little acting work coming in at the moment, and im working in a cafe to pay the bills, i feel like i’ve hit the biggest rut ever.
    Last week i thought i was getting over it, but then I had the worst thing yet- several anxiety attacks in the night – and a fever. The anxiety attack was just after a series of repeated dreams that made no sense, and i woke with my brain feeling as if it had been fried, and that nothing was ever going to get better. I went to the doctors a few days (felt slightly foolish as i started to cry) and said I felt i might be depressed/anxious. He recommended I contact a therapist to talk it through with – which I think i will do and to stop taking the st johns wort tablets that i bought. He says there may be underlining things that make me anxious. I have always been a neurotic anxious person. From having to have my shoes put together to worrying about not being liked, or being generally useless. The irony though, is i got my bike nicked the other day and i then smashed my iphone screen. I didn’t seem bothered by this at all, as i realised materialistic things were nothing to the feeling of lost love.
    I’m really sorry how long this waffle is going on, but you all seem like a caring bunch, and i just want to get this off my chest.
    My biggest concern at the moment, is theres a small possibility I may have to work with her again in this comedy group im in. If these companies like the filming pilot we did, then I will have to face her again to do this, and I have no idea what my mind will do. I’m hoping that it won’t be as bad as i think. My main worry, is that i will be sent to square one again like a woeful playing piece in snakes and ladders.
    I’m still waking up thinking ‘why did this happen?’ and ‘I did nothing wrong’. Then i replay the ‘CSI re-enactment’ from every possible phase of our relationship. It’s quite honestly killing me. I cannot imagine meeting anyone as beautiful, intelligent or interesting as her. It’s also killing me, that it’s an outside problem that broke us up – (her mum causing her depression) and then it making a dent on our relationship. She even said a month before the break up, ‘why don’t we put the relationship on hold, until i have my own place, as i’m worried you will start to despise me, as i’m becoming my mother’.
    Another part of me realises that her mum would always have been a problem in the relationship, and would have probably got worse later on. And it also may be a reason she was so flighty to start with when we dated.
    Either ways the worst things to grasp, is the constant replaying in my head, the mornings which seem to be the most depressing for me, returning to my empty spooningless bed and the feeling that I will never have that love ever again.
    I would love to hear anyones thoughts on this, because my brain is exhausted by it all.
    many thanks.
    love and best wishes

    • Damian says:

      Sorry to hear that. I really feel the waking up from bad dreams part, but the good thing is that it eventually goes away. You’ve got to make the conscious effort not to look back, to stop over-thinking.
      In the moment you’re on you will feel like there’s no other girl as good as her, but little by little you will also remember the bad parts of the relationship (it seems hard now) and in a few weeks/months you’ll realize not everything was so good as you thought it was and that there are lots of girls like her.
      Crazy mothers give crazy children most times, maybe they were alike, but you couldn’t realize, yet it doesn’t matter, there are lots of girls and one will be as good and better than her. Just wait and keep trying to meet girls.
      Just be patient, it won’t be easy but as long as you work on yourself, keep looking ahead,try not to think too much about it and have fun, you’ll be fine.
      PD:Yes this place seems like lots of anxious caring people, starting to like it ;)

    • JP says:

      Hey there, Tim. Ahhh … self-help books and stress reduction exercises. Well, in all fairness, they do help if taught correctly. So, I’ve heard. I’m a horrible example of practicing what I preach when it comes to alleviating stress sometimes. But, DISTRESS TOLERANCE is what you need to be practicing about now. I know you’re head is spinning and you just want to get through each hour of each day. Ohhhhh, do I ever know. So, you need to be very kind to yourself and do those things that decrease your immediate pain and stress – no matter how small and/or trivial. Breakups are a bitch for anyone – anxious and unanxious alike. But, they seem particularly troublesome for anxious males for two reasons: (1) We are, by nature, not supposed to be anxious or otherwise emotionally incapacitated; and (2) We are supposed to steamroll through breakups with apparent ease. No such luck for most on either account. Most men just HIDE their ability to ease through a breakup. Truth is, we suffer … a lot. And, anxiety is the great equalizer. It doesn’t care about genders. It’s gender non-specific. So, if you’ve got anxiety, the manifestations are typically very similar for all affected. And, it definitely makes a typical breakup anything but. That all said, you’ve come to the right place. Which reminds me, Tim – my webmaster launched a new anxiety/breakup support forum just today. It’s located HERE. Even I have been shocked by how many male anxiety sufferers are willing to man-up and voice their pain. Hell, it’s not our fault anymore than sickle cell anemia is to blame on the sufferer.

      Regarding your ex, wow …. I just have to say the poor lass has a crazy background with her parents and relationships. So, your hypothesis is most likely spot-on: She more than likely has some mental/emotional issues going on that will certainly fall upon you no matter what you do. I experienced this with a recent ex. Did I ever. One of my first questions of any woman I now date is, “How do you get along with your father??” This is a key indicator in what will happen next. You have been on a wild ride with this one, my friend. And, CONGRATS for taking her off of Facebook. This is a small, but integral key piece of obtaining some distance and healing. You made a statement that resonated with me, Tim. “Talking of mad men, I have felt like i am insane. It’s all i ever think of at the moment. Honestly – i don’t know what to do. And as theres little acting work coming in at the moment, and im working in a cafe to pay the bills, i feel like i’ve hit the biggest rut ever.” Believe it or not, you’re right where you’re supposed to be. This is often how a low plays out. BUT, it WILL shift. Just keep doing the things you need to do in order for those small shifts to take place. It is impossible for you to remain in this present state – I can assure you. As long as you don’t stop moving. As for genuinely feeling “insane,” that’s all part of this phase you’re in. It’s a hum-dinger, I know. But, this too shall pass. Pray, see a counselor, lean on friends and family, and do the small things you enjoy until you actually DO feel some enjoyment again. You will. And, don’t go blaming yourself for anything – nor should you be working to dissect any part of this relationship. Look, she needs help for all that she’s been through. And, I don’t think you want to be her litmus test and emotional outlet. Us creative types are often the most tortured – aren’t we?? ;-) I gotta tell you, it seems you may be dodging some regular bouts of major pain by hitting “eject” now and steering clear of additional emotional involvement with this woman. Wish her the best from a safe vantage, and thank God you have no marriage/kids in the mix from which you must extricate. You are hereby free and clear to make a CLEAN break. As for possibly seeing her at a gig again, you are clearly not ready. I would avoid it at all costs for the duration. Just my advice. Why subject yourself so more emotional tyranny. Finally, as for “never having that love again,” I hope you don’t. You deserve a much safer person to love, and to love you. I truly hope she finds the peace and help she needs to get emotionally healthy. -JP

      • Tim says:

        thanks so much for your kind response JP. It’s really very good of you to take so much of your time to help others. And I really hope you do get a book published about this. You do have a great way with words – especially when you stated ‘I don’t think you want to be her litmus test and emotional outlet’.
        I almost had a crazy moment of getting in touch with her tonight to see if i could meet for coffee. It’s mainly due to the fact i had a dream of her last night (that she had met someone else) and then i felt extremely lonely when i got back to my flat. But tiny bits of logic are telling me, meeting for coffee will do sod all- and make it worse, and make me look weak and feeble.
        Thank you for your advice and help, and i shall check this forum out.
        love and best wishes

        • JP says:

          Tim, your words are immensely appreciated – thank you. Regarding your dreams, they’re par for the course, I’m afraid. Absolutely normal, and I’ve had the exact same ones. They stick with you for at least a day or more, and feel surly and real. I call them “user dreams,” because they’re quite common with drug/alcohol users when they quit using. Well, as you may know, the withdrawal of a person triggers much the same chemical processes in the brain, resulting in similar dreams. They’re more nightmares then dreams, however. Keep in mind that dreams/thoughts/and fears are just THAT. They do not equal facts, and it’s mind trickery. Our minds are very powerful, and they don’t always work in our favor when we need them most. Resist your urge to reach out, brother. Ground yourself in what your rational mind KNOWS you need to be doing in the present moment. Sometimes, you have to tell yourself your not going to call/text within the next hour – then, extend it to the next hour, and so on. I know how tough this can be. Live moment by moment, until you’re able to lift yourself above this crappy fog. It WILL lift. Stay busy and stay distracted with whatever distress tolerance activities help you most. Sometimes, that’s just watching TV with a good friend whom holds your phone for awhile ;-) -JP

  92. Damian says:

    Hi, first of all thanks for the article, it really rings my bell.
    I’ve passed through these phases from march till now.
    I had been with this girl for two years as a couple, after that the relationship started failing and after some time off, we started an open relationship thingy. I then decided I wanted her back as a girlfriend, so I started my “get her back” campaign. It consisted of trying to get her to re-think our relationship, talking about it all day with her, even spying on her, or being aggressive about it. In the midst of this she met one of my friends, we started hanging around together, etc. And after it was clear we wouldn’t get back together and it was a final break-up. They hit it off, and every last chance of getting together banished.

    Phase 1 ended after a few weeks, but Phase 2 was the hardest for me, I thought and over thought every detail, what would happen if I hadn’t invited him to that party, what could I do to make her realize I was better. Also I started questioning EVERY aspect about myself, feeling trash for not being “as good as him”.
    I’m the kind of guy who sleeps too much in these stressful times, so I stayed in bed all day depressed, and dreamt about her all the time. Sometimes awful stuff and some times really vivid dreams where I was back with her, and was suddenly happy until I woke up half offended and half depressed it was a fake.

    I was in a loop of over thinking leading to anxiety, leading to depression, leading to more of all three, what really got me off of it, apart from good friends, time, and self improvement, was purposefully grabbing those thoughts that had no value in my mind, disassembling them, countering them with reason, and finally putting the remains of them in a “mental box”.

    Now I do fine unless someone remembers me something about them ,hearing their names is like receiving a punch, I recover after a few minutes though. My biggest problem right now is that there’s always a chance I might meet any of them at a commons friend gathering, and I have no idea how I would react. Some part of me thinks I will have instant nausea, dismay and ambulance, or something along those lines. While other parts just feels it will be extremely awkward, with a mix of shame of past acts, regrets about not making a clean cut on the relationship before, and envy/jealousy of any good thing happening in their lives (any minuscule thing). Yet another part of me wants to explain all my history to them, what happened to me after what they did to me, it wants to sort of confess and redeem itself after all the mistakes.
    Does anyone else feel like this?

    PD: Awesome page, I found a lot of people in the comments which seem to think the same way as me (anxiety psyco kind of guy :D). I tried reading the answers to this post, but I couldn’t read all of it. It would be awesome to create a forum to discuss these things and have it organized. I would love to give and take advice about these matters, But post comments is a bit messy for that lol.

    • JP says:

      Hey, Damian! Thanks for writing in. Moreover, thank you for suggesting the Forum. Guess what?? GREAT idea! I loved it so much, that my webmaster is creating one as I reply to you. I will be up and ready for action in 1 – 1.5 weeks. So, you’d better participate, because it was YOUR idea ;-) And, a great one at that. This should facilitate a much simpler conversation between anxiety/break-up sufferers … of which we are many. Anyhow, back to the issue at hand – your ex.

      I think one of the craftiest things I’ve read on here was your statement: “I was in a loop of over thinking leading to anxiety, leading to depression, leading to more of all three, what really got me off of it, apart from good friends, time, and self improvement, was purposefully grabbing those thoughts that had no value in my mind, disassembling them, countering them with reason, and finally putting the remains of them in a “mental box”.” ESPECIALLY, the “countering them with reason” piece. Bravo!! This is how ALL anxiety should best be handled – COUNTERED WITH REASON. Most often, reason trumps the anxiety null and void. Anxiety requires constant countering action. Everything from the smallest of thoughts, to the largest of actions. OCD is best mitigated by such countering. Doing the exact opposite of what the anxiety is driving you to do. This goes for handling the constant barrage of torturous, post-breakup thoughts as well. Great advice, Damian. Trust that I know the abysmal feeling of Phase II. But, your suggestion is more tactical fodder to get through it more expeditiously.

      Regarding your thoughts about what you might do if you run into an ex – we all have the same anxiety about this scenario. I recently ran into one of mine VERY unexpectedly at a bar. Fortunately, I didn’t have any drinks in me yet, or I would not have handled it as best I did. I took the high-road, killed her with kindness, and enjoyed my pitcher of beer with friends on the back patio, far away from her. Before I knew it, she had left with her friends, and I felt good knowing I was the best “me” possible. Sure, I felt crazy anxious and unstable inside at the time. But, I faked it until it felt natural. No matter what you do, counter what your anxious mind drives you to do in such a scenario. Use your WISE/RATIONAL mind in the situation – not your EMOTIONAL/IRRATIONAL mind. Does that makes sense? That means you make decisions after thinking about them from a rational viewpoint, rather from immediately responding from a place of raw emotions. And, if you feel like you might say something, or act in a way you might regret – then the best thing to do it to retreat from the environment graciously and with your head held high. There is no shame in avoiding a potentially awkward encounter for either of you by simply leaving the premises. This is your option and right, and it’s often the best course of action.

      I hope this helps. All in all, you seem to be in good spirits, and on top of your recovery. I’m impressed! And, thank you (again) for the insight regarding a Forum. I am happy to accommodate you and our like-minded peers. Godspeed, Damian … -JP

      • Damian says:

        You bet I will.
        Thanks for answering. The advice about putting my rational mind on control and leaving the emotional on the back seems like a good idea. And realizing I can always “have stomach ache” or anything and leave without any embarrassment is a reassuring.
        It will be hard to be in the same birthday table (small house) with him or her sitting there, but I hope to survive, lol.

        • JP says:

          Survive you will! Myself, I would avoid the such a scenario altogether, and people would understand. That’s my advice, but you have to do what’s best for you. And, by the way, you asked and my web master launched it today: ;-)

          • Damian says:

            Already a member, Thanks ;)
            If you need any help just let me know.
            About avoiding, It’s my best friend and this guy is part of the group from his school, so he will go. And I have to put up with it. I already didn’t go to a party in his house for this reason, but this is more important.

          • JP says:

            Thank you, Damian. Your support is greatly appreciated! Regarding seeing her again at one of the events, you know best. Just root yourself in your core belief that you’re a complete and competent entity without her. Ride the high road and tap into the things you know are great about yourself while you are there. Don’t let any invalid insecurities creep up and in – not even for a second. -JP

  93. ak says:

    well, how do i begin? it’s been about 5 months since we officially broke up and about 3 since she basically really kicked me out of her life for pretty much no reason. ( well she gave normal bs reasons) like she actually said it’s not u it’s me lol. The point is i still am in love with her and i think about her daily. I feel like there is something wrong with me, i know i shouldn’t be thinking of her but i can’t help it, i guess when i love someone i really do love them. When we first broke up i did’t leave my room for like a week, i felt like a part of me was missing ( still do). I can’t really even imagine myself in a relationship again, i feel like she broke me. I was taking 2 summer classes and could not concentrate worth shit but still managed to pull A’s out of them. My sex drive is like gone i really feel like i lack the ability to truly find a woman attractive right now. Having her in my life made me so happy and after she left me i realized how crappy my life actually is. Before i met her i was walking the earth just fine though, not too many cares i was content , But now everything is so…blah. The sun does not even shine as brightly anymore nothing has it’s spark you know? I broke down and contacted her over the summer like july, wrote her this lonnnng email, we ended up meeting up for drinks and that lead to sex but after it just went to the same thing us not talking and it hurt and i felt very confused and used like the only thing she cared about with me was sex, not even like she missed me as an actual person. It probably does not help that we work at he same place ( airport) although i don’t see her, work just reminds me of her because that’s where everything started and we took a lot of trips together so there’s a bunch of memories tied in with that. I just hate having to miss her and have this soul crushing void in me

    • JP says:

      Hi, “AK.” Welcome to our humble fray. My sincerest apologies that you are in need – but, we’re glad you found us. I know it’s a cliche – but, maybe it really IS her. What if it really isn’t you?? You realize how likely a possibility this is, yes? It’s at least as likely as any other. And, there is nothing wrong with you for dwelling on her – especially if you love her. Conversely, there would be something wrong with you if she wasn’t on your mind. The key is how much she remains on your mind. You are not completely powerless with regard to having an influence on this to a degree. It’s probably the toughest thing to do – I know what I’m asking here, believe me. Keep in mind that you did not lose a part of you. You are fully intact. Rather, you feel a gaping hole and a loss that was VERY close – but, external to you. It’s a fine line, I know. But, you are an entirely separate entity from her, and it’s dire to keep those lines from crossing – no matter how close you become to another person. We must always resist the temptation to let someone be our beginning and end. Because, in reality, we need to always have the ability to steadfastly stand on our own. Other women and relationships will not seem appealing to you right now. Things are too fresh. This is the healthy part of you responding. You are nowhere near ready to be with someone else, and your emotions are well aware. What you are in desperate need of, is a change in disposition. That’s why the world doesn’t look as pretty to you anymore. You are well inside your own head, and you need to get out of it. Seems odd, but trust me on this. If you can distract yourself with volunteer work ( or – at a minimum – spending copious time with friends and family, you can begin to see from around the dark clouds that seemingly surround you. This woman could have all sorts of conflicting feelings, emotions, and problems that neither you nor anyone else is aware of. We just don’t know. What is clear, however, is that you’ve got to move forward without her. And, you can. It just feels insurmountable at the moment. It’s not. The void will dissipate. That’s how this works. I know you know this. But, not without time and some work from your end. Working in the same industry makes things tough. If you cannot change your employment situation – and, I don’t necessarily recommend such – fill your downtime outside of work chock-full of activities. Be your best at work and elsewhere. Even if you’re faking most to all of it for now. Eventually, you will come through to the other side of this practicing those same “being your best” behaviors, and it will pay off in wonderful ways. Right now, however, STAY IN THE MOMENT. Live minute by minute with purpose, MINDFULLY, and with the open mind that can accept that things will get better. At where you find yourself right now, this is your goal. Mindfulness and remaining in the moment. Try not to project forward. You’re not a psychic, and no one but God knows what is there for you. Lean on family, friends, and your Higher Power. I thought my last breakup was literally going to kill me. I kid you not. I specifically asked my doctor if heartache could kill me. I did not believe her when she told me that I would get through it. I not only got through it, I am a better man in so many ways now. Hang tough – healing is coming. -JP

      • ak says:

        i appreciate you writing back and i am working on it, it’s just weird to think that someone that you were so close with could just drop you like you’re absolutely nothing at all to them, i really considered her like my best friend at one point because of how close and open i felt with her, people can just be terrible

        • JP says:

          I completely empathize and understand what you’re saying about feeling left. That said, remember that many people – especially women, I’ve found – handle separation by severing all ties at once. It’s just another method of splitting-up. It doesn’t mean it’s easy for her by any means. Just a technique to try and cope. If you think of it as her mechanism of coping – rather than implying it says anything about you – then it might help ease your mind a bit. Nevertheless, it feels horrible to be on the receiving end, I know.

  94. Donny says:

    I found this article(essay?) because of obvious reasons however.. And fortunately for me I beileve I have handled the situation as best as possible… Having this year been diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder.. My ex was the one who helped me open up to family and friends and become honestly a better person, she helped me realize I had more potential within myself and I deserved more that what My life had been up to that point. She not only helped me go off my anti anxiety medication but also encouraged me to break out of my comfort zone.. This summer was bungee jumping, racing motorcycles, and travelling Nepal for a month. Also I am now back in university studying to become an engineer. For reasons that still escape my logic she ended the relationship. When she did her last words to me were ‘I still love you and I still want to be with you, but right now I can’t I need to be single and its not fair to string you along’. So the part of your story I can’t relate to is the wanting to breakup before she ended it…(although past relationship I totally understand that…) I was and still am unfortunately in love with her.. I haven’t contacted her and I have no plans too, fortunately I am back in school which helps keep me distracted but often times during the day and almost always out of the blue I will feel like I have been kicked in the stomach.. Almost gasping for air because at that precise moment the feelings of loneliness and worthlessness and hopelessness all hit me at once leaving my hands trembling my breath quickend and my heart and head aching…. I don’t know what is going to happen to us I want to give her space and there is no way in hell I am going to give in to trying to communicate with her… Also I am not waiting for her.. I am moving on or at least trying to everyday…. Anyways I don’t think my story was very well written or even easily comprehended but that wasn’t the point of me writing… After searching through web pages looking for help or answers or a magic cure all this was the first thing I had read that genuinely made me smile for the first time in a while and at the same time for a moment or 2 helped convince me that I will be fine and I will stop hurting…. So thank you… I sincerely appreciate you writing this.. Writing this I know tomorrow (mornings are the worst for my anxiety…any advice…) I will hurt again I will probably feel l like I was kicked in the stomach again but I am also confident after reading this it will hurt a little less…. Enough of my incoherent rambling… Thank you.

    • JP says:

      Donny – Thank you for writing. I also suffer from GAD. It’s something I comprehend fully and manage daily. I know full well the peace of mind that comes with knowing you handled the situation as best you could. That’s hugely satisfying. Especially considering the amount of regret and post-analysis that comes with anxiety. It seems that your ex fulfilled a very specific calling within your life – and, she fulfilled it well. Perhaps, she was not meant to serve beyond that capacity. I don’t have the answers. And, we are not always meant to understand why things happen. What truly matters is how we handle the events external to our control. This is one of those events for you. If you have read some of the comments from others suffering a similar fate, you will notice the common premise that we oftentimes don’t know the “why’s”. We are only left to deal with the aftermath of a chaotic, emotional situation. We do this with the skills we already have, and a whole lot of acceptance. Accepting a situation – no matter how painful – is an often overlooked, integral first step toward healing. You WILL be fine. And, you WILL stop hurting. How soon this occurs has a lot to do with your mindset, and how you currently spend your time. I’ve gotta say, it seems you are spending yours very productively. Nice work, Donny – really. Regarding the swings in your anxiety, and mornings being the worst for you, you need a plan. For me, it has always been the opposite. My nights have been the toughest. To counter your anxious a.m. feelings, have a solid plan for each morning. For me, it has meant being out and about, around people – even strangers – and, as busy as possible. Maybe you can hit the gym each morning?? Schedule breakfast or lunch with friends? Work/study sessions around friends and colleagues in a an open environment like the student union, etc.? My anxiety typically drives me to be alone, where I feel my worst. It drives me into isolation. You should always focus on countering your anxiety. Again, for me, this has meant being around others – especially friends – as much as possible, and remaining as distracted and busy as possible. So, schedule your mornings with as much activity as possible. Try to have a plan by the latest, the night prior. This one act should have a very positive affect on your anxiety and moods. Write again at any time, Donny. I hope this bit of advice helps in some small way. -JP

  95. leg says:

    Man! i’m laughing and holding back tears at the same time. This article is totally me lol although i’m bouncing between stages i’ll hopefully be heading towards the final stage very soon. it’s been months but i still think of her daily and my eyes still water when i go back in memory, probably doesn’t help that we still talk and have sex occasionally but hell i’m working on it

    • JP says:

      This article is totally you AND me, my friend! Meaning – you are not alone in your current trials. You’ve got not choice but to give yourself the time you need to heal. And, healing will come – I promise. And, nostalgia is a monster at times. But, I would be remiss if I did not remind you of the obvious: You are keeping yourself stuck by keeping in contact – especially with the occasional sex. That’s just torture. But, a self-infliction I’ve been guilty of myself. We do it to maintain the connection, however toxic and bad for us. This is where you must remind yourself that there are worse things than being alone. Every time you go back and rekindle things – albeit briefly – you restart the recovery clock. Perhaps it’s time you gave yourself the chance to get over this relationship for good?? -JP

  96. JLT says:


    My ex really was a gymnast, a very good one. I am still in stage(s) 1-2 and can’t get the thought of her (and our bedroom encounters) out of my mind! This is one I don’t know I will every one-up. I made a couple of the early mistakes – expressed jealously once; had two or three meetings/attempts to get her back over dinner (what I now understand was probably groveling). Man this is not fun. Am hoping for that moment of getting over her, but not sure it is going to come anytime soon.

    • JLT says:

      . . . to give some back story. I started dating my ex 2 weeks after a big breakup of a bad relationship that had lasted 2 years. My ex started as a rebound, but she was awesome so it turned into dating. After 3 months she told me she loved me and all of a sudden all of the unprocessed feelings from the earlier breakup flooded in and I withdrew like a champ. She told me I would need to be the one to talk about feelings the next time. A month or two later she asked me to a wedding and I declined stating I was still dealing with my last relationship and was not over my ex (dumb I know, I was drunk when she asked me and I subsequently apologized). That statement cost me. She held on to that hurt for 5 more months as she withdrew from me and eventually broke my heart. Needless to say, in those ensuing 5 months, I was healing from the past and became ready to express the love I had for her. Alas, too little too late. I can’t stop thinking that all I had to do was open up to her, just ONCE during that time and things would have taken a completely different course. I am definitely feeling the self hate and think of myself as an idiot, selfish a**. Doesn’t help that I subsequently learned that my ex lost respect for me and thinks I am a weak shell of a man because when she withdrew she started brushing me off/treating me with some disrespect and I would take it without getting pissed (or take her bait). Didn’t do myself any post breakup favors either. I still want her back because I feel we were great together, but the timing was just off. I loved your column. If you have any other specific advice it’d be great. If not, thanks again for the column.

      • JP says:

        JLT – Thank you for writing, and I empathize with your pain. You probably know this already, but I will help drive it home for you to help get you on the path to healing. You nailed it: She was a rebound and you were NOT ready for another relationship following your two-year bout only weeks prior. It has been said that “The quickest way to get over one, is to get under another.” This is a temporary fix. Most of life comes down to timing. And, you said it yourself – the timing was off. Way off. The ONLY thing you can legitimately assign blame to yourself for, is for not allowing yourself to heal BEFORE getting into another relationship. You cannot skip past such important stages in life. And, the worse thing you can do NOW is to jump into another one. And, if you’re anything like me, you probably want to. Instead, give yourself time to heal from BOTH relationships. If you don’t, this will only compound. And, your sentiment that you won’t “one up” the most recent girl is just crazy talk. First off, it’s not about “one-upping” at all. That’s an ego thing us guys struggle with ;-) Second, there is not ONE right person for any of us. There are many great people out there. I do not subscribe to the premise of a “soul-mate.” You will find an equally wonderful woman, I can assure you. Perhaps, and more likely, one that is even better for you WHEN the time is right. I think you already know these things, but it doesn’t hurt to remind you. To reiterate, the best thing you can do for yourself now, is spend a few months (at minimum) on your own. Only then will the necessary healing and self-reflection take place. One more thing – I am not discrediting your last relationship. I’m sure your feelings for her were real and you care for her a great deal. Again, it comes down to timing, and you were simply not ready. You cannot heal from a relationship with another. It just doesn’t work that way. Try not to perpetuate the cycle so you can obtain the time you need alone. -JP

  97. Gilbert L. says:

    It’s been a while since I been here but felt compelled to see how you (JP) and everyone are doing. Hope all is well and the suffering has subsided. We are difinately not alone. It’s been a few month now but I still get my occasional regrets of what i should have done different and clinginess to the pass memory’s but its gotten much much better. Oh how I wish the road to recovery was as straight as the Morroso Speed Way! I guess the clinging of memories shows its ugly head do to the fear of starting over, lonelyness, or maybe fear of getting back out there. Sometimes i think im the worst at breakups. But anyhow I’m sure I will get over it and get back up like a champ and put some more awesomeness back into the world!! Best of wishes to every here!

    • JP says:

      Hey, Gilbert! It’s a great pleasure to see you doing so much better – truly. I am doing fairly well, thank you for checking-in. Trust me – you are definitely not the worst at handling breakups. I could still mess one up pretty impressively myself ;-) We are all imperfectly human. That’s what makes us individually awesome. I can discern that you are feeling the normal bouts of anxiety that come up now and again following a breakup. Try to counter those feelings by creating new memories, new experiences, and tapping into those things you are good at. Oftentimes, our minds work against us with bad trickery, doubts, fears, anxieties, and insecurities. I call this our “Boo voice.” As in it’s the part of our mind that boo’s us, telling us we can’t do something; that we’re not good enough, or that we’ll never be happy. Oddly, we control this naysayer part of our brain. It shows itself when we don’t fill the voids with more positive, affirming, and empowering subject matter. Trust me, I still get nostalgic over exes. But, it’s always because I need to remind myself of what things were really like at the time. They weren’t good. Regret is just another form of anxiety, Gilbert. It’s your mind’s trickery making you feel like you screwed-up somewhere. You made the best decisions you could at the time. Be secure in that! You did the best with what you had in the situation. That’s all you can ask of yourself. Silence the regrets that creep up with counter thoughts about how competent you were at the time. Anyone can look to the past and analyze it for mistakes – and, find them! If you did this at the end of each day, you’d find lots of things you could have done better that day. But, you don’t do this. Why? Because you know you gave your best effort in the moment with what you had in you. So, don’t start analyzing the past. It’s a surefire way to trip you up and make you feel badly about things you’ve got no right feeling badly for. I think I’ve beaten this to death, and you get my point. Best wishes back to you, my friend. Looking forward to seeing the next chapter play out for ya! -JP

  98. Elena says:

    Thank you so much for this post and amazing humor! Although I am a female, I can relate to 90% of this though salsa music replaced death metal, and no trucks/rings were bought. Much better than reading everywhere: ‘Accept he is not that into you’

  99. Brett says:

    Thank you JP. I take comfort in knowing I am not alone in this. I have at least started to eat and half way fall asleep at this point. I will be getting my children for the first time this weekend since the breakup. I am so afraid it will trigger strong emotions on my parts but I will take the chance to be them. I can’t stop calling her and asking her the same crap over and over. Pathetic right? I know it will get better as you say. I would like to tell everyone on here to hang in there. We are in this together! My thoughts and prayers go out to you all. JP, keep up the great advice.

    • JP says:

      Hey, Brett! Great to hear from you again. And, I’m glad to hear you’re making progress – though, it never comes fast enough. I hope things have been good with the kids. Breakups are so much more difficult with children – obviously. But, they also provide the opportunity to rise above all the bullshit, pain, angst, and chaos to provide the most stability for them as possible. They need you on your “A-game.” Fake it until you believe in yourself, Brett. Rise up and be the best man possible. The man you know you are inherently are! Even if you don’t feel it right now. You are NOT your situation. Nor are you defined by such. This is what is happening to you. It is not you. And, you’re not pathetic by any stretch of the imagination. You’re a caring, compassionate, living being. As such, you will feel emotional at times. Congratulations! You’re wired correctly. FORGIVE yourself for repeatedly reaching out. For pleading. For wanting her back. For letting her know just how badly you want her back. It’s okay!! The only thing worse than ending a relationship, is being the “end-ee!” But, every moment is yet another opportunity to start fresh. It’s only pathetic if you stop trying and let the pain consume you. You’re stronger than that. Plus, you’ve got little ones vying for your love and strength through this ordeal. But, you nailed it – We are all in this together. Have some peace knowing you are in rock solid company. That great men and women alike are fighting the same fight as I type these words to you. We are all kindred souls, Brett. Not just us – but, you’re Higher Power. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of darkness, thou art with me …” -JP

  100. Brett says:

    Thank you for the great article. You couldn’t have explained it any better. I am only in stage 1 and 2 since it’s only been a week after she dumped our 7 year relationship. What’s bad is that we have a 5 year old together. We had 5 children between the both of u whom I all loved. It hurts like hell and I feel like a big crybab at times. Ur article helped some with knowing there is hope ojt there. I wish I didn’t have to talk to her for a long time but since we have a child, I can’t avoid her. Can u please give me some advice on this? I just want the pain to die away.

    • JP says:

      Brett, I know you are hurting. I wish I could will away your pain. But, the pain is a sign you are moving toward better days. There is just no way to circumnavigate it. Personally, I’d rather feel just about anything than heartache. It’s torturous. But, as I always say: “The way through the pain IS the pain.” You can’t start feeling better until you go through this trial. Your situation is tough in that you must continue to see her due to your child. If you read some of the other posts here, you will certainly see that you are not alone. You’ve got to dig deep and be the strongest “you” possible right now. It’s going to entail a lot of “fake it until you make it” kind of work, I know. Lean on God, family, and friends right now – Heavily. There is no shame in crying or getting help. You are not meant to traverse this alone. When I went through my worst breakup – not even long ago – I literally stayed on a friend’s couch for weeks. I didn’t want to be alone. It’s a great time to call upon anyone close to you for help. And, talking to a professional is highly advised. Personally, we can all benefit from having a therapist to advise us and guide our decision-making. Brett, you are top of mind and in my thoughts. We all know you are suffering some incredible pain. Let it move through and over you. Hang on to nothing. It will pass through you with time. Manage the hurt – don’t let the hurt manage you. Tall order, I know. We’re with you here. -JP

  101. James says:

    This is a great great article. Thank you so much for writing it. I honestly thought I was one of the only dudes who handled breakups as poorly I do. But after reading your article and the subsequent comments, I now realize that I am nowhere near alone. Everyone keep the faith and stay strong!

    Anyways, I am a 24 year old male and am entering my final year of law school. I feel like I’m pretty decent-looking, in good shape, and have a lot to offer. Unfortunately I tend to be a very anxious and worrisome person. From April 2012 until about 3 weeks ago I was dating a (now) 27 year old girl who is far and away the most physically attractive girl I have ever been with. We had a really great connection- a meeting of the minds, almost- and saw eye to eye on nearly everything. The problem, however, was that she had been in one extemely abusive relationship and had also been married for a year in her early twenties until she caught her then-husband cheating on her with a man. These two events/relationships caused her to drop out of college, and she had to seek counseling and therapy. A couple years ago she returned to school to get her degree and we met about 8 months later. About three months before her and I began dating, she had ended a relationship with another man who desperately wanted (and probably still wants) to get back together with her.

    Once we started dating it was clear that we had a pretty good connection, and I fell for her pretty fast. However, I began to notice that just the smallest things would give her incredible amounts of anxiety. For instance, I would say something and she would take it completely the wrong way and then freak out on me, and would not want to see me for a day or so. Also, when we started having a few months into our relationship- we wanted to wait to make it special- I began having performance issues (ED). Every time this happened she would flip out, ask if I was gay, say I wasn’t attracted to her, and then say “let’s just be friends.” Of course this didn’t help my performance anxiety, so it quickly turned into a vicious cycle of bad, flaccid sex. Also, she would often say that the sex with her last boyfriend was much better, and that our awful sex made her miss him. Further, she would also say that her last boyfriend knew how to handle her better when she had anxiety-attacks/ meltdowns, and that would also make me feel like shit. Also, during this time she unnecesarily kept in contact with him, and i think she may habe even been leading him on somewhat. It also seemed like she would use him as leveage to cause me anxiety. And though we had good times during these few months, all of fall 2012 went in this up and down cycle, and I was definitely beginning to get depressed.

    When I came back from winter break in January 2013, our sex life really turned around. But even though it was really good, it wasn’t anything insanely spectacular, even though she offer said it was; but then again before her I had only had sex a couple dozen times, so maybe I’m not really sure what spectacular sex is). Also, I felt like during the spring of 2013, our relationship really improved, and I felt like I knew how to handle her freak outs and anxiety attacks better. During this period she frequently told me that she loved me and that someday she wanted to marry me and have cute smart kids together. While this made me really happy, I often felt like our relationship wasn’t right; that she was too up and down; and that I loved/cared for her more than she did for me. I also felt like I did a lot of little things for her which were rarely returned, and this left me feeling somewhat unloved. By mid-June she never wanted to have sex anymore, and just stopped doing things for me altogether. Once i even foud her vibrator out and confrontet her about it, to which she just said “sorry… I thought about you during though.” This definitely hurt a lot, and made me feel very inadequate. Also, she eventually stopped calling me to get together after work; I should note that she did start a new job over the summer that required her to work a lot of hours, but I still know she could have made more time for me.

    About 4 weeks ago, she told me that she thought we were growing apart, and that she realized that she was never in love with me the way that she loved the guy that she married. This hurt because I knew that love between her and that guy wasn’t real. This caused a lot of emotions and severe anxiety. The next day we originally decided to go out on a date together, but she eventually invited a few of her girlfriends to go along too, and during our time out I felt like I was being ignored. Eventually, they kind of ditched me and I couldn’t find them, nor could I contact my gf on her phone. At this time I felt unappreciated and became angry, and just decided to walk home. About 10 minutes later my gf called and asked where I was. I told her I was walking home because I felt like she was ingnoring me and having a bad time. She immediately hung up on me and didn’t call me back, nor would she answer my calls. This caused me even more anxiety, and I felt compelled to walk back to the bars and confront her about it. Once I did I asked why she was ignoring me. She appeared to not even want to discuss it, so I grew angry and began telling her that she was selfish, that she didn’t care about me, that she always had to be center of attention, and that this was exactly why we weren’t working out. She immediately turned around and started walking away from me. I walked beside her and said “fine, don’t fucking talk to me again,” and walked the other way down the street. Of course I immediately regretted saying this, and spent the next two hours looking for her at various bars. Once I found her and attempted to apologize, however, she started screaming at me to get away, caused a huge scene in front of her friends, and basically acted as if I was some sort of monster.
    She yelled “get the fuck away from me,” and when I kept trying to calm her down and just talk she ran into the women’s restroom and hid from me. I thus went home, and didn’t sleep an ounce that evening. When I talked to her the next day on the phone she said that I was being abusive by talking to her the way I did the evening before, and that she could only be friends with me from now on.

    I was completely devestated, and Phase I from your article took hold. I couldn’t sleep unless I took sleeping pills or ZzzQuil, and even then I would only get a couple hours per night that were filled with dreams of her. I also experienced the i relentless thoughts of her (like a CNN Ticker), and could not focus at my job at a law firm. However, she would sometimes call once every few days to tell me that she missed me, and that she wanted to get together to talk sometime. However, whenever I would call her to set up a time to meet up she would either not answer or would say that we could and then blow me off when the time came. Yesterday she said that she would call me after her jog so that we could talk on the phone, as we had yet to have any type of “closure” conversation to figure out why we didn’t work out, and to make sure nothing went unsaid. However, she never did call me back, nor did she respond to me texts. My parents, who had thought she had mental issues and thought I should have broken up with her a while ago (but were always nice to her and said they would support our relationship as long as we were together), said they thought I need to stop letting her walk all over me, and just end it. So I sent her a text (as she wouldn’t answer her phone) saying that she had strung me along for three weeks and had numerous chances to talk to me. I also said that whatever sort of relationship we had was over, and not to contact me anymore. I then blocked her on Facebook, twitter, and even her phone number as well. I just didn’t want this to drag on any longer, and I simply couldn’t go on constantly wondering if she was going to call me, and whether we were going to get back together.

    Right now I feel relieved but also feel guilty for cutting her off from me entirely. But my friends and family unanimously said I did the right thing and that she wasn’t doing me any good. With the fall semester fast approaching, I’m just hoping I will be able to minimize my anxiety to a degree where I can focus on school and meet new poeple, make new friends, and hopefully meet a girl I like more. I know that I am better off without her, that she had some emotional issues that I simply couldn’t deal with and that might only get worse over the years. However, I still miss her a lot, still care about her, and part of me really wishes we were still together. And even though she said some pretty hurtful things throughout the course of our relationship, I feel like there is a really good, caring person in there as well, which only leads me to dwell on the good times and the times that I messed up/fell short in the relationship. Do you have any advice on how I can best move on? I’m just worried that I won’t ever find a girl as beautiful again, nor one that I had such a great connection with. I also feel a lot of guilt and like a bad guy almost. I’ve never felt that way before. I’ve always felt like a caring, genuine guy who is always nice to everyone.

    Thanks so much for reading this, and sorry that it’s kind of messy- I wrote this all on my phone haha.

    • JP says:

      Hi, James! Please forgive the delay in getting back to you. Rest-assured that I take each of these posts very seriously, and read them multiple times in order to provide the most accurate response. In reading yours, the overriding piece that resonates with me is how supportive your friends and family are. And, guess what?? They’re absolutely RIGHT. You did the best possible thing you could have done. Your apprehension is 100% anxiety. Don’t let it mindf*ck you. You handled her flip-flopping and jerking you around like a champion, my friend. And, know this – if she really wanted to communicate with you, or obtain closure, or convey anything of importance – she wouldn’t be playing these games. And, despite cutting her off from the online world, etc. she knows how to reach you if it were really important. You’ve taken a grand step in preserving your own well-being. I only wish we all had such a command of things when shit goes down like that for us. Impressive. Your anxiety will come masked as guilt and sorrow and remorse …. and, a lot of things. Don’t give it any power. Know you did the right thing, and keep the focus on you and your life. The single best thing you can do is get back to school and around other people. The distractions will do you great. Missing her is perfectly natural – even if she was a head-case. I’ve missed more than a few crazy chicks, believe me. I love that your family was so supportive, but they made their stance about her known to you. My family did a similar thing with my most recent ex (the most psychotic woman walking this earth, I can assure you). Everyone hated seeing me put up with her inhumane treatment, but they stood by me until I grew a pair back. When I did, everyone was relieved, and I could finally see with perfect clarity how demonic she was. A classic abuser, essentially. But, enough about me! I’m not saying your ex had problems. That’s simply not for me to state. But, trust in those who love you. Being external to the hot-zone, they can see much more clearly than you what was going on. Everyone wants the best for you, James. Now, YOU need to want the best for you. I’m glad you see her for what she was – someone definitely worthy of love, but not at all a good fit for you, or worthy of anymore of your time. I hope she gets the help she probably needs. It’s always sad to see anyone acting out their hurt on others. Remember: “Only hurt people, hurt people.” Wish her the absolute best, and move forward. Missing her is part of the natural healing process. There is no easy way around it but to focus on what you know: “I know that I am better off without her, that she had some emotional issues that I simply couldn’t deal with and that might only get worse over the years.” Bingo. So, do you want to rip-off the Band-Aid now, or when you’ve got even more time and emotion invested?? Because, I can assure you – with this girl and this scenario, your best course of action is to walk. And, it would only be tougher later. And, the more time you would have spent with her – the wrong girl – the less time you would have for the things that matter. And, the less time and availability you’d have to encounter a truly great girl. And, beautiful women are EVERYWHERE. You need someone to whom you are attracted, and whom treats you the way you deserve to be treated. So, CONGRATULATIONS on your liberation from her. You’ve got all the closure you need. Stop callously throwing your heart and emotions into a black hole, and start psyching-up for a great Fall!! Oh, and as for worrying about never meeting someone so beautiful and to whom you were so connected – that’s just hilarious, James. Stop it. In the back of your mind, you know better, brother. And, time will prove what you already know. Great things are in store … -JP

  102. Rach. says:

    Congratulations on the article and the 1000000 comments you got! :) Guess we really are not alone!
    I am 24 and I went through 4 “breakups” with my ex during the 5 years we were together (actually the breakups only happened during the last year, before everything was great!!) : mostly because of fights, or because I wasn’t a very “stable” person (I had a depression 4 years ago…) because I wasn’t happy with my life – no job, no school – so I complained a lot and he got sick of it, so as an anxious being, getting over the breakups was horrible, and yes I went through phase 1 and 2 and never got actually to phase 3 because we always got back together. And we always get back together because I guess despite everything we really love each other.
    But in September I decided to move to another country to continue studying and things got really strange, we fought even more on the phone (LDR insecurities, specially for me, an anxious person), and so one day in March he just got sick of fighting hung up the phone and just didn’t talk to me for weeks (not the first time this happens!) and then just texted me “enjoy life there,you deserve it, we talk when you get home”.
    I went through phase 1 and 2, and finally, after some hard weeks thought that I couldn’t do this to myself and got to phase 3… and you are right, he wrote me, that we should talk when I get home and that we are perfect for each other.
    When I got home 3 weeks ago we talked. BUT he said he needs to be alone, that he really likes me but he can’t be in a relationship right now, that he needs to figure his life alone (irony of destiny: now that MY life is great, that I finally got into a good place in my life where I feel happy – but still miss him like crazy – he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me). He said he has a cousin that dated a girl for 5 years too and they fought a lot, then split and years later they met again and got married… that gave me hope.
    Strange thing is that somehow even though he said he doesn’t want to be in a relationship, we still spend time together as boyfriend/girlfriend, we go to the movies, have lunch and dinner and I even sleep at his place.
    I am leaving again in September (continue my studies) so I am “okay” with the situation because we are enjoying ourselves while we can, but whenever I go home I start having panic attacks and can’t breathe and cry because I really miss him, and LOVE spending time with him, and when I will leave it will be “over” (at least until I get back again).
    I actually don’t know what to do.
    Any advice?
    Thank you,

    • JP says:

      Hi, Raquel. It’s a pleasure to hear from you. I am sorry that you have such intimate knowledge of an “anxious breakup.” They’re a beast, for sure. The first thing I want you to try is to stop blaming yourself for anything. We are right where we should be – and, YOU have made some incredible strides at a young age. Most people would not have the cajones to leave the country to go study. My anxiety would never have allowed me to do the same while I was in college. It took me a long time to master my anxiety – rather than vice versa. So, I want you to focus on your strengths and all the great things about you. And, I don’t mean that in some trivial manner! You truly have some phenomenal insight, strength, compassion, and drive about you. Harness those things and you can accept any shortcomings (we ALL have them) and rely instead upon those characteristics that will define you. Second, I love that you are making YOU a priority. You are putting your studies first – as you should! You are also studying abroad, which will greatly enhance you as an individual, while making you much more “marketable” as a candidate to hire. So, stay the course!! If you don’t, you will have long regrets. Do the things you would do if he did not exist. It is on him to step-up and show you how much he cares. All you can do is to let him genuinely know how you feel. Be okay with telling him what is in your heart, how much you love him, and how the distance is so hard (but, a necessary part of your education!). The rest is up to him. You feel empowered, healthy, and whole when you are taking care of yourself. As it should be. Do not get into a situation where you need him to make you feel whole. You don’t. You will continue to feel better and better about yourself as you get closer to completing your studies. You need to stay on your path and complete that which you set out to accomplish. If he is truly good for you, he will be there at the end. If not, then there are better things in store for you. Enjoy one another this month, and be completely open and honest with one another. Work to stop the insecurities and arguing. They stem from a lack of open communication. If you establish that open dialogue where both of you put ego aside and want the best for one another, the best outcome will follow. I hope that makes sense. Being true to ourselves and respectful toward one another is the only way to go. If you do this, the right course of action will follow. It just will. And, the bonus is that your panic and anxiety will subside because you will have done all that you can and should do, and the rest is out of your control. So, LET GO. Be confident in your decisions, and let go of your fears and anxious thoughts. Okay?? Do not chase him. Instead, love him, share your feelings, be true to you, and accept what God and life have in store for you. Then you’ve got nothing to be anxious about. I hope this advice is helpful for you ;-) -JP

      • Rach. says:

        I really want to THANK YOU for your advice! It really helped me. I guess an outside opinion is always the best. I will read and re-read your message until it sticks. Thank you very much :)

        • JP says:

          I am happy to be of humble service, Raquel – truly. Tap into your own core. You have all the resources you need within you. Reach out any time. -JP

          • Rach. says:

            Hello. So I need another advice please JP because I have been having quite many anxiety attacks lately. So when I wrote to you in August this story, I actually left out one thing that was quite important and that changed my situation completely. (Please re-read my post maybe). So back in March, as I told you, I was living abroad, and we had another fight with my boyfriend and he ignored me for a long time, in April I asked if I should wait for him, he said no and then he even said that he didn’t want to continue with our relationship, that I should live my life and try to be happy. The thing is, in the meantime, I was REALLY BAD, in a terrible state, as you know how anxious people get, and those 2 months that he didn’t say anything to me were really horrible. I thought it was the end, it was it, because for the first time (it happened 4 times!) he said “I dont want to contunie with this relationship”. And so one day, this cute guy from my residency (who had recently broken up with his long-time girlfriend because of long distance too) started to talk to me, and he was very supportive, very nice, and gave me many advices about my ex and every time I had pannick attacks he came and reassured me, that everything would be fine with my ex and that was just a phase. Not in a flirty way, just in a nice supportive way. I thought it wasn’t, that time I was certain it was over. AND, one thing let to another, and the state in which I was (weak, sad, depressed, lonely) didn’t help, and so we ended up getting involved with this guy. And it started one night and then it became this “sex friends” thing, when at 2 am he came or whenever I was feeling low because of my ex he came and we did it and for a moment I forgot my situation. I was really using him as a distraction. Later when my ex started texting me again, I realized that maybe it wasn’t over, and so I started being mad, how he (my ex) just abandons me for weeks, ignores me and then just texts me and thinks everything will be fine. Well then as I told you, I came back home, and we with my ex spent that month and a half together, things were PERFECT (that’s when I wrote you). I relaxed, we were enjoying ourselves, and happy, and I could see a future for us, a year later whenever I would get back. The thing is, one day, he asked me about “boys” during the time we were apart, and I just talked about the 2 that had hit on me, but that was it. He said “I am glad you know what to do in those situations” (smiling). I thought all summer if I should tell him about the guy from the residency, but figured that NOT telling him would be wiser, because it would just really hurt him, and we weren’t even together so why would it matter. But, one day, 2 days before I had to leave again for the other country for my studies, in a panick attack/I should tell him/I am lying to him/I should confess/I fell bad/I will hurt him, sudden moment, I decided to tell him. I told him “you know how you asked me about boys, well there was one…” and then it just collapsed. He looked at me in shock, eyes filled with tears, “you were with someone?” And as I said yes he just stood up, and started taking his things to leave only saying “you betrayed me, my trust, you should have told me earlier, I would have never spent this time with you” and he just left slaming the door. The next day I went to his work place, and waited outside for 2 hours for him to leave, at night, he got out of work saw me and just screamed “NO!” and slamed the door back to the office. He finally got out after another half an hour, just said “get in the car, I’ll leave you home”, and during the entire car trip he said “You don’t exist for me anymore, I dont care, HOW COULD YOU?” I apologized, apologized, cried my eyes out, said that I was sorry, but that I was depressed and that he didn’t care for me and that tecnically I was single, but that I was soooorryyy. It didn’t matter. I left then for the other country.
            He drunk called me once at 4 am, and then texted me “You really managed to put me down, I am destroyed, I am miserable”. I texted him apologizing, sometimes mad that he quit on me easily, he texted me “yeah, go fuck other guys, how could you, i cannot trust you anymore, how could you, you quit not me!”, then I texted him, and we spent several weeks just fighting over texts, because of course whenever i tried to call him he wouldn’t pick up! Then one day he just said “Of course I love you, but you can be certain that I will STOP loving you. And that’s the last message you get from me”. I begged, I cryied, I got mad, I tried to be mature about it, I screamed, I asked for forgiveness. Nothing works. It has been 2 months since I told him, now he just says “I don’t care, live your life, I want you to be happy, but I just dont care, its over”.
            The thing is I DONT WANT IT TO BE OVER! He is the love of my life!
            I remember in the beginning, when we started dating, 5 years ago, I didn’t want to date him imediatly, I said NO several times, I just didn’t want to, but he insisted, and made me smile, and made me laugh, and tried so hard for 5 MONTHS until I finally agreed, and it lasted since then…
            It just showed me HOW MUCH he wanted me and cared. So right now, I don’t want to quit but I really don’t know what to do! I feel really sorry, because I do feel that I betrayed his trust, I should have waited as I did the other 4 times, but this time it just felt diferent, I really thought we were over, but I feel SO bad! I can’t sleep,I can’t eat, I am always trying to find a solution. I don’t want to just quit, but I am scared that he will find somebody else, a girl that will treat him right, someone who won’t fight with him, and won’t have “problems”, a simple girl, in the meantime, if I decide to give him space. Or that he will simply not care for me anymore after a while, or that he won’t want to get back together.
            I don’t know what he needs, maybe he needs to see that I will figth for him (every other breakup I was the one making him surprises and trying to get him back really, and then one day he just said ok lest get back together, that’s how it happened.), or he just needs space and not see me, or I don’t know. Also I am a little mad because I don’t know if he is not exagerating right now and being childish. I dont know. I don’t want him to forget me and I don’t want to loose him!
            I really don’t know what to do. Also my school year has started, I can’t manage very well to focus, I try to get involved in many porjects and I will start tomorrow to go regularly to a shrink to deal with my anxiety attacks, I am trying to get better alone (in my head and grow up as a person, live and experience, and be HAPPY). But this is all so damn hard. Could you give me any advice please?
            Thank you so much!

          • JP says:

            Hi, Raquel. I am glad you wrote on this site again. This is a safe haven for you to give and receive honest feedback. First and foremost, I believe you can never go wrong being honest. Okay?? You were up front with him, and no one can ever fault you for that. Here’s the deal – the guy is a manipulator whom left you hanging in the first place! You are not supposed to just sit around waiting on him. Honestly, I’m glad you moved on. It may have only been a distraction – and, not necessarily a healthy one – but, I’ve done the same thing in your place myself. We are human, and we seek connections with others. His reaction to your honesty was …. well, pathetic and childish. The fact that he expected you to remain loyal to him, while he did whatever he wanted – all the while ignoring you – well, that’s not caring at all. It’s a mind-fuck ploy he is playing with you, and it’s not cool. He just expected you to be there for him if and whenever he wanted, while not moving on yourself. His behavior is beyond selfish. You call him the “love of your life.” I don’t think so, Raquel. Would the true love of your life really treat you with such abandon?? Wouldn’t he have treated you the way you acted so lovingly toward him? How long are you going to chase this guy? Why isn’t he fighting for you? It seems that is always you fighting for him and the relationship, while he can take or it leave it. For him, it’s more about convenience, when you are around. You asked for my advice, and I apologize for my directness. But, I do not like seeing you – or, anyone – suffer at the hands of a callous person. My advice to you is that you distance yourself emotionally as far from him as possible. It’s actually good that you are geographically far from him. But, I truly think it’s best that you now focus entirely on YOUR life, YOUR present and future, and what YOU deserve from a man and relationship. You have invested far too much into this, while making far too many apologies for things that I do not personally believe you should be apologizing about. This is my advice, and you can choose whatever path you feel is best.

            According to the book, “Body, Mind, & Spirit” (Anonymous) Today is full of endless possibilities and dreams. In many cases, we are limited only by our fear and lack of hope, in others and ourselves. Each new day we are given a clean page to live in our book of life. Consider making TODAY your clean start. What freedom we find when we choose to practice the art of forgiveness. Forgiving others and ourselves will allow us to step into this new day as free human beings. What can really hurt us in the present if we have the key to daily forgiveness? Forgive yourself for the things you THINK you did wrong. And, forgive him for his manipulation and poor treatment of you while you’ve been away. Freedom is a gift we give ourselves every time we choose not to react to a hurtful comment. Holding on to old resentments keeps our creative energy trapped and stifled. Our choices are these: new freedom or old resentment. Choose new freedom. It is the gift we give ourselves when we choose not to let the sun rise on yesterday’s script. Again, I hope that you can move forward, and not look back on any of this with resentment toward yourself. I think you handled things wonderfully – except for the part where you berate yourself for your good intentions and honestly, while pleading for his forgiveness. Release yourself from his judgment, and move forward feeling grounded in your wise-minded decisions to be loving and honest with him. YOU DESERVE MORE.

            It is the act of forgiveness (of yourself and of others) that opens up the only possible way to think creatively about the future at all.” – Father Desmond Wilson

            I hope this helps you. -JP

          • R says:

            Hello. I only noticed today that you answered to my message. I really appreciate your honest answer and the advice you gave me. You are right his behavior is manipulative and mean.
            Things evolved during those last months actually. I have been going to the psychologist and working on my anxiety attacks and it has been working quite well… Also I almost finished my studies and am looking for an internship, i am involved in many projects, so honestly, this year, professionaly is going very well.
            4 months went by since the summer. With my ex things in the end got smoother. I stopped texting him and only did when things were going great and had “news”, and sometimes he answered ” i am happy for you”.
            And, now, during christmas I went back home and we saw each other. In the begining the atmosphere was really heavy, he was still mad at me and I was feeling unconfortable, and with my comment “well this is going to be fun” I managed to make us laugh and lighten the mood.
            We sat in the car for 2 hours and talked. Calmly. He explained to me why he continuously ignored me for weeks and why he acted like he did. He said that for the 5 years we were together he always listen to me and my problems, but that lately I was complaining a lot, and always crying and that he didn’t know how to deal with it anymore and that he felt more like my shrink than my boyfriend. And that is true. I realize that i was crying a lot and complaining a lot, but never imagined how much, to a point that even my boyfriend wouldnt stand me. You know, things havent been easy for me in many ways, my parents have financial porblems, i had depressions, i moved away from my family, and many many other things, so instead of trying to be happy I was constantly complaining.
            My ex even apologized for ignoring me!
            The conversation really went well. I could see the real nice person he is and was for 4 years (only during 1 he was this mean manipulative egoistic person, but again, i was a cry baby, depressed and moody). He then said that he reacted in a wrong way, that he was pissed, and that that was in the heat of the moment, and that he understands that I was feeling lonely and sad and that I needed some comfort and a friend…
            But he said that he couldn’t stop thinking about it. That he needs time to forget. I told him that I love him, and that I want things to work out, he said “i can’t do this right now” but in his eyes i could see how hard it was for him to say that. He then wished me the best and that I was really happy, and that I should do my things and when i would get back we would see… He didnt want to say I love you nor give me hope, because he didnt want to complicate things, so he just said that with a smile and gave me a hug. A week later he even texted me “everything is going to be fine :) “. We got to a nice point, where we talked, we explained things to each other and we wish the best for each other. I think things got out of hand during the laste year and a half! We were always fighting, I was crying and trying to fight for my realtionship,a nd he was way to sick of the fighting and the crying and the porblems that he was just quiting on the relationship. I am glad that we talked and that things are good now. The thing is I dont know what I want anymore. It went from being a love problem to being an existencial one!
            I am back in Paris (yes, I am living here) and am almost done with school as I told you, and am looking for internships. The thing is I miss him A LOT. I miss the nice times we had together and how he took care of me (he really was perfect for 4 years!) and I don’t know what to do with my life! As you said in your first message “do whathever you have to, and if he really loves you he will be there in the end”. The thing is I dont know if i am going back! There are no jobs in my home country, and here i am on the right track! But i really miss him and the nice weather and my life there, but i also need to think about my professional life and my career, but I feel lonely in Paris. We are not talking, I am giving him time to process. He likes things on my facebook page, so that is good. But this whole situation is annoying. I would like him to move here (which will never happen) but I am scared that if I move back I will be ruining my life professionally. But I love him and don’t want this to end. Any advice now?
            I should write a book about my life, so many dramaaaaa! haha Thank you!

          • JP says:

            Hey there, Raquel! Great to hear from you again. I am VERY happy to learn of your professional progress, and that you’ve reaped some major benefits from your counselor. I’ve always said that EVERYONE should have a counselor. Who couldn’t benefit from a life coach now and again?! As for your ex, I am stoked to learn that he was honest and forthright with you. But, be careful not to shoulder all the burden. He certainly had his role in all of this, and he could have handled things in a far less hurtful manner toward you at the time. But, that was the past. I just don’t want to see you taking accountability for more than your share. That said, it’s nice to gain some distance from a breakup and more clearly discern what the problems were from each side. That’s something most of us cannot effectively do when we’re “in the trenches.” I recognize that you’re lonely in Paris, and that you’re missing him. A lot of this longing is nostalgia for the good times of the past. And, much of it is simply because you’re lonely at the moment. Ask yourself what you’d be feeling if loneliness wasn’t part of the equation right now. What might that look like? I really believe that if things are supposed to work out, they will. It’s just that simple. That means you don’t need to give up everything you’ve worked for and return home just yet. Nothing is heavier than regret – trust me. Perhaps, he is supposed to be nothing more than a nice part of your past and a wonderful learning experience. I cannot answer that, as I simply don’t know. What I do know, is that he doesn’t seem to be putting as much out there as you have. Is is really worth risking so much on so much uncertainty? Especially, when he’s not willing to offer much of himself up to you right now. If it were me … and, I want to reiterate IF IT WERE ME – knowing what you’ve shared thus far, I would stay-the-course and complete your mission at hand. Guys will come and go – really. And, if you’re open to such, you may just meet someone far better for you going forward. No one can say right now. Just be very cautious about making emotionally-charged decisions, or decisions from a place of loneliness. This is a great subject to run by a panel of your peers and/or your counselor. And, heed their advice.

            I often wonder why it’s so hard to share real love with a spouse or partner? Why, instead, do we often want to possess them? And from them, we dream of selfless devotion. Yet neither possession nor devotion guarantees the security we long for. Real love is not selfish; it frees both the giver and the receiver. Knowing we’re loved sustains our hearts and diminishes our difficulties. It doesn’t bind us, yet paradoxically it bonds our hearts. These encouragements to grow, to change, to dare to depart if it’s for our own good, are expressions of real love. Real love is never ownership, only stewardship of this moment’s experiences. -JP

  103. Sharon says:

    This was brilliant, thank you! I’m female, and as far the pink-covered books with curvy print are concerned, you’re not missing much apart from the acknowledgement of your right to regret. Which I’m assuming you didn’t miss since you were too busy with the original regret anyway.

    No contact is the worst bit. :/ Wish me luck!

    • JP says:

      Hey, Sharon! Great to hear from the females too :-) Anxiety doesn’t care about gender, and it is usually present in some capacity within every breakup. It amkes those of us who’ve NEVER been neurotic about anything, become temporarily neurotic about everything. I am sorry you are at this crossing point of life. It happens. But, I’m guessing you will traverse it just fine. You’re right – no contact is a shock to the system. But, most oftentimes, it is the single best course of action …. or, non-action. I have stretched-out so many breakups simply by remaining in contact. If it’s meant to work, it will work without the full court press. And, sometimes we get the best light from a burning bridge. Godspeed … -JP

      • Sharon says:

        Thanks, JP. I guess I’m adjusting. But why, why, WHY are you not writing anymore? :(

        • JP says:

          Hi, Sharon! It’s definitely an adjustment. Your responsibility is to do the best you can with what you have where you are. And you don’t do it alone. You have help in learning how best to respond. You have a support group, you have a Higher Power, and you have an inner guide if you will listen for direction. ;-) As for writing – I am extremely flattered – thank you! I have been writing some essays, but cannot publish them to my blog yet, as I am shopping them around to agents. That said – you are right – I’m overdue for a follow-up to this essay. Thank you for the inspiration, Sharon. Hang tough, and write back anytime you need a boost. -JP

  104. feelinggreat says:

    Wow! Thanks for the wonderful and insightful article. After reading a large amoujnt of comments i realize JUST how many people you have helped! Good on you, man. Youre truly an exceptional individual!

    As someone who has suffered extreme guilt afteer a relationship ends, its nice to see hat i am not alone. I use to always hate myself for feeling weak. Id get dpresed, not eat, lose a large amount of weight from starving myself. On top of that, I would beg my ex to come back to me. Thankfully, those days are gone.

    I recently ended a long distance relationship (we had a one night stand while she was in towm for her sisters graduation from college). We hooked up at my grad party. Had a blast, and decided to start dating. I began to realize certain things about her that drove me absolutely nuts. The stress was a bit much to take from a long distance relationship amd I decided to let it go. I immediately regretted my decision and missed her. Whem i sent her a message and expressed interest in being just friends , she threw a bunch of shit i did wrong in my face. This was a devastating blow, but i stood my grounf
    I told her that i have never held anything against her (and she did some messed up shit) and if she couldnt extend me the same courtesy then the our contact should end wih that message. She got it, said she would try to be friends but it would be weird. It was at that moment i realized that it just wasnt worth it and i simply replied with “i understand”.

    Shes gonna be in town visiting her sister for a couple of days later this week. It makes me feel weird, but i know i have a lot to offer the world, just like everyone else who has posted here. Stay strong! You guys are great!

    And i aplogize if there are any errors, im typing this novel on my phone.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Jonathon. It’s a sincere pleasure to make your acquaintance via this site and essay. I am humbled by your feedback – truly. As I’ve mentioned, I simply wrote the essay to help me get through a VERY tough stretch. When I started to see a humorous side to my suffering, I started to document the occurrences. Hence the essay. Helping others also helps me to “stay the course” and try not to repeat past choices and mistakes. Have I repeated them?? Hell yes. I’m human, and a sucker for a pretty face. Women are the finest works of art, and I love art! But, interacting with you and everyone else, really helps to keep me focused on what’s important. I am stoked to see that you fully realize you are FAR from alone. For everyone who has written here, imagine how many have not. We are all in plentiful company. I am also glad to see you are past the worst phases of your breakup. The lack of food intake and dire pleading are common, yet soul-sapping. There are fewer things that break one’s spirit than being in such a down position, while feeling so dependent upon another human to fill a void. It often takes a long time until it clicks in our heads that the void we are often trying to fill can be filled by …. ourselves! Another person is always and enhancement – a compliment to ourselves – never a necessary component. We are a full entity by ourselves. This is too often a hard lesson to learn. You have clearly discerned that this relationship was a “square-peg, round-hole” scenario from which you needed to extricate yourself. Bravo!! Seriously. Most of us spend untold amounts of time in dead-end relationships, thereby making it thrice as difficult to leave. But, let’s get to the fact she is coming to town this week. You sort of glazed over a very big matzo ball there, my friend. Do you have a plan?? Are you going to stick to it?? Ay chihuahua. Depending upon how you are feeling in the moment – and, whether or not she contacts you, etc. – you could get sucked right back in to the situation. My thoughts are with you that you make the best choice possible. I’d love an update at some point, however. And, I hope it involves you continuing to feel on solid ground – no matter what. -JP

      • feelinggreat says:

        She did contact me! Last night I got a message from her apologizing for not calling. I didn’t reply, since I needed some time to think on what I wanted to say. She sent me a message when I was out with my buddy saying, “well I guess you don’t want to be friends.”

        I basically replied saying that I was busy and that door was always open, and she knew that. We finally got into a normal conversation.

        It’s strange knowing she is only a few blocks away (her sister lives very close to me), but I have my battle plan: not hang out with her. I’d doom myself if I did that. I’m one of those people thathas a very hard time letting people down, and if she handed me that shovel I’d willingly dig myself into another hole. So I’m avoiding that completely!

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. So many people on here are dealing with worse things, so it’s awesome you’re taking the time to reply to everyone.

        • JP says:

          Hi, Jonathon! Whatever happens, I hope you took the best course of action for your well-being. You’re doing well in that you fully realize that what you NEED is your priority – rather than giving in to what you want. Way to go, my man. Stay the course … -JP

  105. HeartBreakHurts says:

    Nice article, thanks for writing.

    I’m in a pretty sour spot right now after being dumped by my girlfriend of 1.5 years. Truthfully, I took her for granted and didn’t show her the love or appreciation she deserved, something I normally would show. I think I let a lot of external factors get into my head and influence me, causing me to lose focus on ‘us’

    Now I’m in that pit of despair. It’s been three weeks and I’m still in lots of pain, wishing for that second chance to show her that I am not the person that I’ve been the last few months. I can’t sleep, barely eat, and constantly feel like my heart is beating as if I’m running a marathon. I only wish I could have that second chance.

    Is nice to hear I’m not alone though in how I’m feeling, if nothing else.

    • JP says:

      Eric!! Hey, thank you for writing. So, here you are caught in the cross-hairs of a painful breakup. First of all, I am extremely sorry to hear. Second, we ALL know precisely how you feel – as if we’re right there with you. Finally, you mentioned that you “lost focus on us” and that you “let external factors” influence you. Are you certain of this? I only ask because oftentimes, we subconsciously lose interest in someone for valid reasons. Then if/when they pull the trigger and cut the cord, we feel devastated and want them back. I am not saying this is the case in your breakup. But, it certainly has been in one of mine. If you had that second chance and you got her back, how long would you genuinely be happy? I am merely posing questions for you to consider and playing devil’s advocate here, Eric. I want you to really reflect on if it’s HER you miss, or the idea of her. Being left sucks no matter what. But, she may have felt that you unintentionally left her with a loss of interest or distraction. If so, she should have brought this to your attention – not just left. But, I don’t have all the facts here. My concern is you at this point. And, you may be hurting more from the feeling of abandonment than from anything else. I just don’t want to see you berating yourself for life and whatever you may not have been feeling at the time. If we could all go back and correct moments in life we’d like to have done differently, we’d be perfect. And, if we were all perfect, we’d all be exactly the same. Not so great after all, huh? Stick with being okay with how you chose to handle things at the time – okay? Regret is a killer, and a colossal waste of time and mental energy. And, from what you’ve stated, I don’t see where you should have any regret whatsoever. Show me one person whom isn’t affected and influenced by outside factors, or whom doesn’t lose focus on their relationship. You won’t find one! Stop wishing for a second chance at anything. You need to be okay with how you handled things the first time. Seriously. It IS okay. Practice some self-forgiveness and self-soothing. You desperately need it, brother. Again, I just don’t see what you did wrong. If you got caught screwing her mom’s Labradoodle, I’d get it. But, c’mon. And, if things are feeling at all unbearable, PLEASE SEEK PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING. There is NO shame in doing so. Conversely, it takes strength to do turn to help. All that matters right now is your health – mental, emotional, and physical. Got it?? -JP

      • HeartBreakHurts says:

        Thanks JP.

        Regarding how I felt and that I was rather indifferent in the relationship, after reading one of those Mars and Venus books on breakups, I’m fairly certain that it was my lack of being fully healed in my previous relationship that caused me to behave this way. The book says, in part…

        “If a man experiences a broken heart but is unable to acknowledge his more vulnerable emotions, he may become overly demanding, defensive, or indifferent in subsequent relationships”

        Sounds just like the way I was behaving. Maybe it was other factors and I just wasn’t satisfied, but as I look back at what I had, it is hard to imagine that it wasn’t just due to a lack of healing from my last relationship, and I do suspect I wasn’t healed.

        I think that’s part of why this is so difficult for me… I had a really great thing, and may have blown it for good. Or perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be. Either way, it’s very hard not to beat up on myself for being so demanding and indifferent, as that’s just not who I normally am.

        I appreciate the empathy and words of encouragement. Thanks again for all your insight.

        • JP says:

          I want to reply to what you stated, Eric. If you entered into that relationship before you were healed from the last, and you truly were not ready – then how can you blame yourself for it failing? The only thing you can fairly assign blame to yourself for, is not giving yourself time to heal. I let a relationship fall apart recently in PRECISELY the same manner. When I conducted my postmortem on the thing, I realized that had I given myself time prior to entering the next relationship, I never would have entered one so soon. Life comes down to timing – 100%. Forgive yourself for not allowing adequate healing time. You weren’t whom you normally are in the subsequent relationship because you shouldn’t have been in one yet (from what it appears). It doesn’t matter how great the person if the timing is off for either party. We must first accept where we are in our lives and be perfectly okay with it. -JP

  106. Shaneow says:

    Firstly all I can say is THANK YOU!!
    This article hit home with me so much I was astounded after I read it!
    After a considerably lengthy relationship with ‘the high school sweetheart’ and the constant anxiety and depression that followed I can truly say I’m well on my way to being me again! Even though the dreaded ‘hey..yeah I’m great,everything’s great’ conversation hasn’t happened yet when the ex unexpectedly pops back into your life for the final blow. But like a soldier going to war I’m prepared haha.
    I honestly wished I had come across this earlier and from the previous comments I’ve read it seems like you’re helping a lot of us anxious guys out. Bravo!

    Seriously though man good work on making us see a silver lining on a terrible situation! And I’m keeping this bookmarked for when a fellow friend needs it ‘touch wood’ that they won’t.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Shane! First of all, I am equally astounded and assisted when I hear from my kindred souls – such as yourself – who write in to say that my essay or site resonates with them. I benefit GREATLY from knowing that, I too, am not alone. That my distorted thinking, self-damnation, anxiety, relationship failures, etc., etc. are often (unfortunately) mirrored amongst my contributory writers. So, thank YOU for your support, camaraderie, and for corresponding. Second, I am extremely happy to learn that you are recovering well following your own sizable break-up. To say, “We know how you feel” would obviously be a trite understatement. I wrote this article as a means of trying to stay sane when I thought I was alone with my anxiety-based thoughts and behaviors. And, as a man, you and I both know it’s a lot more difficult to admit we struggle with this stuff. I said, “Screw-it.” I am going to embrace my anxiety and own it for what it is: A chronic, MANAGEABLE condition that is no more my fault than the multitude of afflictions that affect anyone else that doesn’t deserve it. Sure, it would be far easier to explain diabetes, cancer, or a broken femur. But, even anxiety has it’s upside. For example, it has made me a FAR more compassionate and feeling being – and, I love that about myself. One of my exes used to comment that I was the woman in the relationship solely because I felt more than she. I, naturally, let that impact me negatively to a huge degree. Until, I didn’t. I soon realized that I was a rarity among men! That I am very much a man. But, the endangered type that can actually communicate his feelings while also exhibiting empathy and understanding. I think I got off-track here. But, it’s important to me that you and the multitude of great-minded men like us learn to embrace that which sets us apart from our less anxious counterparts. Sure, anxiety has it’s downside for sure. But, that side can also be managed. It isn’t easy, and some moments/days can seem unbearable. But, refer to the portion of my web site where I list all the talented artists who also have anxiety. The flip-side of the “condition” is a very active and creative mind. Kinda cool, huh?! The bonus for me is how cathartic and healing it is for me to help others. Every word that I write – no matter when it was written (including the break-up essay itself) is as true today as it was when I wrote it. The difference is simply that I now use my “anxious powers” FOR me and not AGAINST me. I get just as much from reading your posts as you say you get from reading them. Win/Win. It’s an honor to be your bookmark, my man. -JP

  107. Jeremy C says:

    Hey JP.

    I’m crying as I write this. The anxiety I’ve felt throughout the last week has definitely gone down a lot after reading this article and going through all the comments here. It makes me feel so comforted to know that you and so MANY people are going through the same anxiety, heart-ache and pure misery that I’m going through as well. My heart especially goes out to all the guys out there who’s ex-es have moved on quickly by finding someone/hooking up with someone new because that’s what I’m going through right now.

    I thought my case was a little unusual until coming here and then realizing that everyone goes through the same thing, in one way or another. I’ve been broken up with my ex for almost 5 and a half months now. I’ll be 26 in 2 months and this was my longest relationship until to date (over a year). Towards the latter quarter of our relationship, I realized that I could not be with this girl. I just couldn’t love this girl the way she deserved to be loved . We were either in a strained mode or arguing at least 50% of the time we were together. After having sex, it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to start being annoyed at her for something she did or her being passive-aggressive with me. Our last road-trip together with friends was fraught with drunken arguments and her crying (I remember being so frustrated and irritated with her). We had make-up sex; that was the only time we were intimate with each other and it didn’t involve much communication. Just physical pleasure. We just didn’t see-to-eye on many things and I believe this was because we were in very different stages in life . She was a super-senior in college living with her parents and she had a curfew, whilst I had my Master’s degree and had been living on my own in since I was 18.

    She was a GREAT girlfriend. One of my best ever. She really cared for me physically and I will always cherish her for that. But the timing was not right … I always like to think that had she been closer to where I was in life, it might have been different. But there’s no use in speculating right? And tried as I did in prolonging this relationship, we barely talked in the last 2 weeks of our relationship. She broke-down in front of my house-mate (who happens to be her best-friend) and called me to say we had to talk. And that’s when we decided to break-up. Not going to lie, though I felt immensely sad … deep down inside I felt an overwhelming sense of relief.

    Before we broke up, we removed each other as friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. We promised that we would not talk to each other until we were ready to be friends. I’ve learned the hardway from previous breakups that this was the only way to go.

    The first 2-3 weeks (phase 1) were, of course, ridiculously torturous … she was the first girl I ever cried over. Like you JP, I slept on the couch for weeks because so much of ‘her’ was still in that room.

    Then phase 2 came really quickly. It was still winter, and since I live to ski (winter is my FAVORITE season, no joke) … I had no problems taking her off my mind when I skied. During this time, I’d get an urge to steal a look at her Instagram or Twitter account, and I’d regret it and feel like shit. So I stopped cold turkey and then suddenly, I was in phase 3!

    I started to think less and less of her in Phase 3 and started hanging out with some girls. One was too good of a friend to have a fling with, the other girl was caught up in some drama with the friend trying to set us up (this caused me a lot of anxiety, actually). But ultimately, I was okay. I was starting to talk to girls, and having a good time (with some anxiety related to rejections, of course. But that’s natural).

    I reverted back to Phase 1 a few days ago when I decided to look at her pictures on Instagram and Facebook. I came across them when I was trolling around her friends’ pages (I’m not connected to her you see), and I immediately felt that heart-sinking feeling when I saw her with a new guy. She looked like she was having a good time and totally happy. To make it worse, I started to eavesdrop on my housemate’s conversations with her and I would hear the guy’s name. My anxiety SHOT through the roof and I’ve been taking Ativan to dull the anxiety.

    I started going through the usual Phase 1 things, but at a full force now. Did I make a mistake in breaking up with her? I thought it’d take her awhile to get over me … but how could she be so happy? How could she get a boy so quickly … did what we have mean nothing to her? I start reminiscing about all the times we’ve had and it just makes me incredibly sad that I’ll never have them again. And that makes me even MORE sad and anxious. This is a horrible, HORRIBLE cycle to be in JP.

    You see, with a clear head, I can tell myself that my emotional spiral was nonsensical … it was resultant of me having seen her with a new guy. And then I read your reply to another commentator’s post where you said the reason for the anxiety I’m having now is mainly due to where I am in life, rather than where she is … which is absolutely true. I’m single, with no one … while she has someone.

    The truth is JP, I miss her a lot. I haven’t talked to her in almost 6 months, and it really makes me sad that I can’t. But I know that I have to stick to my guns by cutting off all contact until I’m in a place where I can truly be friends with her without reverting back to Phase 1. But for now, I’ve finally thrown all her stuff in a box to the back of my closet. I’ve unsubscribed from all of her friends’ newsfeed. And I swear to god, I will never try to look at her friends’ pictures of her until I’m ready. I don’t want to see her. I don’t want to talk about her. I don’t want to think about her. I’m done.

    My goal right now is to work on myself. I actually am happy that she has found someone, but the anxiety is killing me … refusing to allow me feel that way. I want to be able to genuinely wish her happiness WITHOUT feeling the anxiety. So for that, I want to focus on me. I’m headed to Australia for a 2 week vacation to see friends and family in less than 2 weeks, so I’m definitely looking forward to that and colder weather! After that vacation, I’ll be hitting the gym to prep for the upcoming ski season. In addition, I’m working on saving up capital for my stock futures trading business that I want to start soon!

    I’ve stopped crying now. Writing this has been very cathartic for me. Thank you so much for reading this JP. Since I’ve read this article, I’m not afraid of crying anymore. I am who I am and this is how I deal with things. You have no idea how much your article has helped me. What has helped me even more are your comments on the replies. I’m going through what these guys are going through now and to see you give us advice, encouragement and hope … this definitely makes me feel better my man. I hope when I write back to you here in a couple of months, I’d have made significant progress since then.

    Until the next time, my friend … best of luck to you!

    • JP says:

      Hi, Jeremy. We ALL feel your pain. Trust in that statement. The first thing that struck me as I read your post is how on-track you are. Meaning, you are doing all the right things to console yourself through a trying time. Tears? Yep – had ‘em. Par for the course. Don’t judge what you’re going through. You are a feeling, compassionate human. To be anything else, would render you a man not worthy of loving, and one that most women would pass by. You can be tough and still have emotions. Shocker for most to hear, I know. I’ve been a bad-ass my entire life – but, I cried at “Forrest Gump.” Turns out, we men DO in fact have a heart and feelings!! Who knew. If your ex seemed to have quickly moved on, as you stated, that says more about her state of mind, and far less about your relationship. She may be running and distracting in the worst way possible. Not a healthy path, and not indicative of your value to her or anyone else. Everyone deals with hurt and loss in their own way. Try NOT to focus on anything external – especially her. Keep your eyes and laser focus on your own path and trajectory toward healing and a healthy recovery. Your beliefs that she has simply moved on are merely thoughts. As I have told others, “Thoughts and feelings do NOT = Facts!!” In our hurt minds, we contort all kinds of information against ourselves and better knowledge. That’s why it’s best to just keep redirecting your attention back to you right now. Make sense? You’ve got youth on your side, brother. This will hardly be the last woman that you meet! You’ve got all sorts of phenomenal encounters in your near future. Keep lookin’ forward so you don’t miss them. You had very sharp insight into your relationship, and you knew full-well she was not the one for you. And, you’re right: Life always comes down to timing. You have been exceptionally wise about letting her go and doing the right thing for both of you. Again, oftentimes, what we want and what we NEED are in direct conflict. It seems you pursued what was best for you both. Kudos, my man! Exactly what you should have done – despite the pain. In my personal opinion, and based on everything you’ve written, you did the right thing in parting ways. I believe that 100%. What you are feeling now is perfectly natural. For all you know, she is rebounding and trying to fill a void. It does not matter. What matters, is that you did the right thing, you parted ways, and you want happiness for you both. Truly. This is a goal of attainment for you – to wish her happiness wherever she is. It sounds crazy, right?? It’s not. It’s the best thing you can do for her AND you. Put that out there – even if it feels fake and foreign for awhile. You will soon feel a shift in your own state-of-mind. This was the toughest thing I had to learn myself. It’s almost excruciating. Hell, it IS excruciating! At first. But, the shift will come. And, better things will come for you too. Plus, 99% of what you are feeling by stealing a peak at her pics and listening to hearsay are simply because she has appeared to move on before you wanted her to. It’s a blow to the ego. If you take your ego out of it, it will be immensely freeing. I promise. What you are feeling is perfectly natural. You want her to miss you and wish for you back. And, I’m sure she DOES miss you. But, she is trying to do right by her too – and, that means she can’t stay in neutral and mourn forever. And, you truly don’t want her to. Just try the wishing her well mantra for awhile. Do it to yourself, and just put the positive vibes for her out there each day, WHILE FOCUSING ON THREE THINGS FOR WHICH YOU ARE THANKFUL EVERY NIGHT AS YOU GO TO BED. Do this!! Three things – no more, no less. Recite new ones each night for what you are thankful each day – no matter how small. It might be a sunrise/sunset, a smile you receive from someone, or a great lunch, etc. THREE THINGS EVERY DAY, while quietly wishing her well. Okay?? You are such a sharp guy, Jeremy. I can discern this from what you’ve written. Everything you are now doing is how I would advise you. You are focusing on yourself and you are practicing “Opposite Action of Love” by making no contact. Tell your friends you do NOT want to hear anything about her right now. And, keep working-out, eating right, and sleeping a full 8 hours. Have a kick-ass vacation in Australia (jealous!), and focus on your business proposal for awhile. You are 100% on-target for what you need to be doing. You reverted by looking at her pics. Big deal. It happens. Everyone on here has done the same. It’s a self-inflicted wound that I’ve done more than once. Setbacks are nearly always part of the process. Stoked to see you doing all the right things again. Truly. Keep us posted, brother! -JP

  108. Chris R says:

    This is truly a great article. I’ve suffered from very severe anxiety for a long time. My girlfriend just broke up with me and this article is helping me a lot. She was truly the best thing that’s ever happened to me, which really makes me wonder if I should look back on the relationship and smile, or look at the breakup and grieve. Anyways, thank you for putting this article out there. It’s clear that your words are helping a lot of people.

    • JP says:

      Hey, Chris! I need to refer you back to your statement that she was “the greatest thing that ever happened” to you. That’s impossible. You don’t know what will happen moment to moment, or who you will meet tomorrow. I can tell you with absolute certainty that EVERY time I have uttered that same statement – which is like every time I go through a break-up – I met someone even better. I finally learned not to even make the claim again. I’m single now, though I date frequently. I know full-well that great things are in store for me because we attract those who reflect how we feel about ourselves. Every girl that I had dated previously, was a woman whom I had chosen from a low point, or while feeling not-so-great about myself. I picked some hot-mess, shit-shows to say the least. Alas, no more. Flip your script, my friend. You were the best thing that ever happened to her as well. You just haven’t been feeling that way. I’m sure she was every bit as great as you say. But, so are you. Start believing it, and look back on the relationship fondly, while striving the keep the focus on feeling and being the best you possible. Your anxiety does NOT define you, brother – it’s what you have, not who you are. You manage the anxiety – not vice versa. Now, read this paragraph again. You deserve a great woman. Period. Thank you for your very kind words. -JP

  109. Nic says:


    One thing I have realised after all the hurt, not only through relationship break-ups but the world in general, sadness, grief, misery… and anything and everything else in existence…is that there is only one incentive that is actually worth a shit. LOVE

    • JP says:

      Good grief, Nic – that was so well stated that I want it on a plaque. Great quote, my friend. Impressed. Thank you for writing. -JP

  110. C.C. says:

    First and foremost, very helpful information that we can all use. Your insight with a comedic twist is easy to follow, validates my own feelings and experiences, and most importantly provides straight-forward, easy-to-follow advice. I read this twice because you not only have great words of wisdom, but I also found myself humbled by your creative, entertaining writing. Looking back at past breakups I can say you hit the nail on the head with your three-phase approach. Thank you for sharing your in sight. I look forward to following your blogs and will be sharing this with friends that could use your advice. Thank you

    • JP says:

      THANK YOU for the kind words, C.C. The feedback keeps me going on my other essay projects – a tough task with my day job. If only I could sell churros on the beach and write all day. I would need some beer of course. It is a beach after all. ;-)

  111. Keith says:

    I don’t believe I’ve ever read an article on the subject of a breakup that has resonated with me so completely. I felt as though you had reached into my head and pulled out almost every neuroses I’ve ever had during and after a failed relationship. At 37 years old, I’ve been a sufferer of anxiety disorder and depression for most of my life. A large part of that life has been spent in various degrees of misery as I’m constantly stuck in my own “mouse wheel” of a feedback loop of regret and self-doubt over virtually ever decision I ever make. I’ve seen numerous therapists and taken a variety of medications for my condition, none of which have seemed to be very successful at helping to improve things.

    As a result, I’ve allowed myself to “coast by” on my young looks (I look generally about ten years younger than I am) and, while I know they won’t last much longer, maybe another three years at best, I’ve let my anxiety and depression, as well as my appearance act as crutches to keep from maturing as much as I should. I’m fully aware of the problems I have in my life and the things I need to change to start being happy but my emotional and mental difficulties continue to plague me to a state of minimal effort to move forward. I live in a single bedroom, I work a part-time job at a cafe, and I’ve just recently returned to art school for another bachelors in graphic design since I basically coasted through my first time around and barely graduated with a generic liberal arts undergrad degree. I’m doing it because I’ve run out of ideas. I have no real passion or drive because for some reason, nothing really interests me enough to get worked up about. Nothing besides a relationship.

    Through a combination of blind luck and immaturity, I’ve consistently dated younger women, most recently a 23 year old, before that, 27. In fact, I haven’t ever seriously dated anyone over 30. Inevitably these relationships always end the same way. These women discover that I have really nothing going for me. That I’m essentially a loser with no drive, ambition, or talent. I don’t deceive them about who I am, but I do make a lot of noise about how much I desire change and want to be happy, but I explain how hard it is with my anxiety. My longest relationship (with 27 year old) lasted for two and a half years because fortunately, she was mature enough to have patience and wait for me to start making changes. When I never followed through on my promises, she’d had enough and left me for a man who had his shit together. I don’t blame her and I’m very happy for her and her current boyfriend.

    Four months ago, I met the 23 year old at a party and the same euphoric bliss that comes over me every time these things begin, began. The same promisses, this time from both of us, about how much we wanted to improve our lives were exchanged. She was just getting out of a four year relationship with a guy who sounded a lot like me, but she was ready to move on, with me and I was absolutely ready to start making some real changes together. Unfortunately, this whole affair lasted about three months until she decided that I really wasn’t interesting anymore. No drive, no ambition, all talk, no action, etc. It took awhile to accept it, albeit with a couple of texts and e-mails, nothing *too* crazy, but I finally did when she went alone on a planned trip to San Francisco we were both supposed to be on. When she got back she wanted to meet up and talk which I took as a possible sign for reconciliation, quickly to find out she was only meeting to close the book on us completely, never to see me again.

    I suppose I’m in the stage now where I’m trying to accept that I really won’t ever see her again. Her only window into a possible meeting was that she would “think about” my suggestion of sleeping together with no strings attached and that she may come into my workplace someday. Other than that, she wasn’t interested in anything from me as she stated very clearly she wanted to be single, that she dated me too soon after her breakup and that I did not have the qualities she looks for in a relationship anyway.

    Maybe it’s the loss of what might have been, the idea that I will never find another woman as beautiful and giving as she was when we first met. She showered me with affection and gave me everything I wanted but demanded I do the same and more. When I failed to follow through with romantic comedy level gestures, she lost interest and moved on. But ultimately, I hold myself responsible for putting my entire self work into a relationship with a 23 year old and I should have known better. I feel that on the outside I ultimately respected her decision and I haven’t done anything crazy, but I want to. I’m rehashing, reliving and regretting everything I ever did or didn’t do to help make this work. The romantic gestures she wanted, not being so scared she would go back to her ex boyfriend considering the connections they still had while we were together. Everything is replaying on a loop. When I read your article, I started to see a connection to the patterns my brain does in these things and, while my experience is much different than yours and you are not anywhere near the pariah I’ve become in my own situation, I do appreciate that someone else out there actually thinks in a similar way about breakups blanketed in anxiety.

    • JP says:

      Keith, I knew I had a half brother out there, but I didn’t know we’d meet this way! ;-) I read your post as if I was looking in the mirror. Uncanny. Without going into a ton of “you’re just like me” detail, trust that we have lived parallel lives. By way of (one) example, the last girl I was dating was 26. She was beautiful and I let myself fall for her despite a 19 year age difference and very little in common (besides great sex and a love for wine). I have made a career out of choosing the absolutely worst women for me. My brother went so far as telling me to do the opposite of whatever I was doing – only then would I stand a chance. I thought he was an a-hole, but he was right. I’ve learned many life lessons very slowly, and by repeating my mistakes a hundred times. This is also the definition of insanity. You have an incredible amount of insight, Keith – which is great. But, you are also highly self-critical – which sucks. Separate any poor choices from who you are. You are NOT your previous actions, choices, decisions, regrets, etc. Those were/are behaviors you’ve exhibited in one form or another. The do not define you. But, you are making them the core being of whom you are and your inherent character. Please don’t. You are not the sum total of your actions – good or bad. You control them, not vice versa. But, if you continue to make bad decisions (i.e., date 23+ year olds, you will mostly likely continue to feel like shit about yourself. At 37, you really have little in common with them, and they serve as a distraction for you. But, it’s really not my place to advise you here – I just want you to feel better through best choices. Take the 23 year old for example. You are faulting yourself for everything going awry. However, I see your only fault being the fact that you pursued a 23 year old. Sure, they typically look flawless. But, at 23, we all have a LOT of maturing to do. We also have very short attention spans. Chances are, you never would have held her interest for long – no matter how awesome you could have been. I can assure you that I’ve been my own pariah for untold years. It’s uncanny how badly. But, it takes what it takes, and I’ve learned along the way. So will you. It seems that you may have hit a nice point of self-awareness – the perfect time to turn your distraction and attention inward and deal with your own anxieties and need to distract. At the very least, choose someone much more stable and “boring” compared to the emotional chaos that comes with dating so much your junior. I honestly don’t think you are really missing your last girlfriend like you think you are. You are missing the distraction she provided. It’s like a drug – a very potent drug. And, like any breakup or drug, you are now suffering withdrawals. But, this will pass if you don’t act on them. Your focus should be opposite action of love, and divert your attention back to you and your own emotional needs. We both know that your ploy to have purely a sexual or FWB relationship with her was a tactic to reel her back in, and get another “hit.” Don’t. This may be what you want, but it’s far from what you need. -JP

  112. Tinyrain says:

    JP…thank you so much for your very very kind words. I’ve come back on this site a million times to reread your responses to mine and everyone else’s posts. They help keep me on this path of feeling better and healing when I’m feeling down and missing my ex-bf.

    I was doing okay for a while; this breakup hasn’t felt as debilitating as it did in the first few months. I’m living my life normally, gained back some of the 15 lbs I lost in the first few months of depression. Although there hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t thought about my ex in these last 10 months and I definitely haven’t stopped crying about it randomly, it really has gotten better. Over the past 10 months, I’ve made some amazing new friends, gotten very involved in the community, started training for a half marathon, gotten serious about my graduate school plans and even tried to start dating again (even though its scary and I feel like no one will ever be as amazing as the ex).

    And then I did some facebook stalking (incredibly stupid I know) even though I’m not friends with him on there anymore and found out that he is probably dating someone new. I shouldn’t be upset. I really shouldn’t. Its been 10 months, he has every right to be with someone else. We don’t even live in the same city anymore so it makes sense that he wants to be with someone in the same city as him and someone going through the same experiences as him while he’s away at school. But it still made me really really sad (and it still does). What does this girl have that I don’t? I know she’s incredibly smart because she’s at the same ivy league graduate school as him. A school that I can only dream of attending. I spent days comparing myself to her, even though I know nothing about her. All I had was a name and a face. She looked like a really really sweet girl from her picture and I should be really happy for him. But I can’t. It’s just not fair. Why does he get to be happy and in a new relationship? And with someone who is probably perfect for him? I was torturing myself. So I decided I had to block everyone to stop myself from asking these ridiculous questions. I blocked him, I blocked all his friends that I used to love, and I blocked the new girlfriend. I know it’s incredibly drastic and crazy. But I felt had to regain some control in my life, otherwise I would continue to feel awful. It still sucks ALOT and I will never understand why we broke up because it came out of nowhere, with no explanation. I still feel so disposable and inadequate. I will never understand how someone can be so loving and wonderful and then just shut off for no reason. I will never be able to trust someone the way I trusted him. A little part of me will always be a bit broken. But I feel like I’ve regained some sanity. And I’m going to keep bettering myself in the hopes that one day soon I’ll meet the guy that won’t ever make me doubt myself or our future together.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Nidhi! It is always a sincere pleasure to hear from you. I am so happy to hear that you find solace here. I’m telling you, obtaining some perspective and know you’re not alone are half the battle. And, I’ve obtained a lot of healing myself from what I receive and read from each of you. It’s quit the symbiotic relationship, fortunately. I stick by my premise that all that you are feeling is perfectly within the norm. As I’ve mentioned on here to others, the healing continuum is not a straight, upward and linear arrow. It looks more like a stock ticker, with dips, dives and rises. The difference, however, is that with all the dips/setbacks, the momentum continues forward and upward over the duration. This is precisely what you are experiencing. That said, you sabotage your own healing progression by not practicing “opposite action.” Meaning, you made some incredible strides to keep yourself busy with healthy activities (all very impressive) – but, then you Facebook stalked. FB is a horrific social medium. I have yet to see it do more good than harm – ESPECIALLY with regard to breakups or breaking-up marriages and relationships. I fully understand the temptation to practice some FB voyeurism. But, before doing so, you’ve got to chain the action out a little. Ask yourself, “What might I see?” and “How would seeing something ‘bad’ make me feel?” These two questions alone should cause for pause. The first thing I do if I’m unable to delete an ex from FB is to “unfollow” her posts. Nothing good can come from knowing what an ex is up to when you’ve been on the receiving end of a hurtful breakup. Moreover, the temptation to look at their page for a quick second is far too tempting. But, you already know all of this ;-) Lesson learned. Your action to block them all was not at all “drastic and crazy.” It was well-founded and precisely what you should have done PRIOR to learning about her. You inflicted a shit-storm of self-pain that was not at all necessary. You are now comparing yourself to someone whom is a complete stranger. Thoughts/Fears/Worries/Anxieties do NOT equal facts. No matter what thoughts you are torturing yourself with, chances are you are dead wrong. This goes with your ideas of his current happiness and state of mind. You simply do not know, and it simply does not matter. This isn’t about you – as much as you think and feel it is. It’s just not. She could be nothing more than a convenience distraction for him. It doesn’t matter. ALL that matters is YOUR state of mind and healing. So, please stop the self-berating line of questions. All irrelevant, I can assure you. If he was that great and the right one for you, then you’d be together. You will see all of this with clarity when you gain some more distance. No more self-sabotaging setbacks, okay?? Move in one direction only: Forward. Love comes to those whom first love themselves, and are available when it presents itself. Keep the focus on your recovery. -JP

  113. counterflank says:

    Al, Sharpie, Andres, Gill, Ali, Stu, TeaKay, Josh, everyone on board…we’ve all apparently hit some sort of distorted field in this voyage through the cosmos, or, turbulence in the realm of this mortal coil. I, myself, am hanging on by a thread of internal fortitude and survival instinct. This last breakup pretty much kicked my nuts through my chin. But it would take quite a bit more than that to collapse and raise the white flag, in which I have no white flags in my possession. You’re here for more reasons than you can currently conceive. At this point, I am beyond the anxiety phase, which is so common and natural after such a significant part of your day-to-day existence has been suddenly removed from your ‘normal’ routine. Recently I’ve been struggling with the sense of worth, purpose, low-points, and such. Even though I am well aware that I am part of my immediate, and extended(family, and, well, humanity) family that looks to me(as I look to them) a position that puts me in a place where I need to maintain focus and fortitude. Regardless…let go of the regret and guilt for just a minute, and focus on what you believe is your most achievable, and immediate objective. Every atom in your blood and body was once forged in the core of an exploding star. And now we are here…as bloody and shitty as it might be. This wasn’t designed to be an easy ride. We all have to just sit down and take a minute to look at ourselves as that ideal extraction unit. You are just that, so be that. It’s time to step up, and think of those around us, and those that we’ve never met before, that might just come calling on you to pull them out of a shitty situation. Part of the ship, part of the crew, as they say. Get through one more lonely, shitty night. I still have a tough time reflecting on those recent and dismal nights and times, but hey, who ever said this ride was going to be easy? I spent much of my time serving in a medic unit…in uniform, ready to do whatever it takes, at any given time to bring one of our brothers or sisters, mothers, fathers, etc. back to safe quarters. After this last breakup from a girl I thought for sure was ‘it’, I teetered on the rim of worthlessness and dejection. I have recently felt that I was of no further use or service. B*&^sh*t I say. Treat your self to a good night’s sleep, a decent meal, and seek out some friends and family..if they’re near. If not, make new ones. When it comes down to it, family and friends are but a smile and a handshake away, what ever part of this rock of iron and nickel you happen to reside upon. At worst, solitude will galvanize the armor and sword that is your essence. Never be ashamed of the tears, tribulations, and emotional-mental shit-storms that pour down upon you. Because it’s not just you underneath that dark cloud at any given time. For God’s sake, think of better times. Find just one reason to push yourself…and others will follow. Given the option, I would choose this uncertain, heart-broken, seemingly-God-forsaken shitty situation over the option of oblivion and never really knowing what you could have really done while you’re here. And tell those other struggling humanoids in your life how you feel about them without delay. Hang tight. J.P., our Captain, we got your six.
    United States

    • Liz W. says:

      Hey again my socal buddy! I happen to be at work and saw the link I posted onto my friends facebook a few weeks back with this article, decided to check in again and I’m glad I did. Almost 8 weeks post break up and 100% over it and free. My body mind and soul has rid itself of the delusions, false hope and low self esteem triggered thoughts/ emotions. I have no words of advice or wisdom since I’m not even sure how it happened myself. But the important thing is that it will and did happen, so if it can happen for someone who lives in their head/emotions as much as I do, everyone here will wake up one day and not realize they’re better; without knowing it. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with it but I live in Chicago and as most sports fans know our Chicago Black Hawks won the Stanley Cup last monday which for me was a huge distraction, even while they were in the playoffs I was too caught up with the excitement and pride watching game after game to be sad and dwell. I’m surrounded by die hard fans with jersey’s plastered to their torsos. It’s been a great and exciting time. What I can take from it is that anyone can get something to be excited about/ motived from and indulged with. I was working out every day and hanging out with friends really trying to distract myself and although it helped it wasn’t a “Quick Fix” like we all search for. But if there’s something you love to do or be involved with/ apart of, by all means do it. Now is the freaking time, and people take some time away from work and travel, work will be there tomorrow to kick your ass for another 8 hour day don’t worry! Another thing that made me realize I was over my ex was having an intense but amazing conversation with a really hot,intellecutal kind guy with crazy sparks and chemistry; Nothing came of it (I kick myself for this) but it totally woke me up. There’s always someone better…hate to say it for all those die hard love fans but there’s alot of people on earth. Your ex is your ex for a reason and they will always be stupid. YES STUPID. That fluttering feeling you get when you like someone or realize you have a connection means that one person who broke your heart didn’t break you, because someone else lit you up. It’s summer, atleast we’re not going through this crap in the dead of winter, depression is much harder to cope with when it’s cold, overcast and there’s snow. Like I said I live in chicago! Perk up everyone, enjoy your summers and life now!

    • JP says:

      It is ALWAYS a pleasure to hear from you, Greg. Your wisdom is valuable – both to myself and others. Thank you for visiting so often. It’s a sincere pleasure to have you. Also, thank you for the email you sent to me personally. Know that you and your brother have been on my mind each day. -JP

  114. OJ says:

    Hey JP, you wrote “How to Avoid Self-Imploding After a Breakup” the same exact day of my Bday. That’s some kind of signal for me. Either way, after two years of getting dumped (and been through this hell called anxiety) recently i saw my ex gf. Just saw her, without talking. Then, somebody (for some unknown reason) told me that she was going to get married. So, everything went down to crumbs once again.

    So, you have any new advice?

    • JP says:

      OJ, it’s a pleasure to hear from you. I am very sorry to hear of your pain. Hearing about your ex’s pending marriage is clearly a trigger for you. It would be for anyone. However, it’s hearsay. And, if it’s true, the “why’s” are irrelevant. All that IS relevant is the “how.”. HQW are you going to move past this and care for yourself and your own happiness? HOW are you going to let yourself heal from the pain of the separation? Somehow – and, I know this part is a bitch – you’ve got to get to the point where nothing she does has an affect upon you – where YOU are your priority until it’s time to let someone else close to you again. Regarding my own heartbreak, someone once told me that I needed to get to the point where I could wish my ex happiness. That statement bewildered me.for I only wished bad things upon her. Remember, forgiveness is for ourselves. It simply means to give up the hope for a different past. Practice forgiveness – good things will follow as you forgive and focus on your own healing. That said, the healing takes time. And, though much time has passed, it takes what it takes. Allow yourself the healing you need, my friend.

      Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

  115. Mat says:

    This was amazing to read, I’ve gone over it a few times just to get it into my head that the end of the world isn’t actually coming because of what’s happened.
    I am not sure which phase I am in as despite feeling like I am smashed to pieces and suffering from a tingly body from hell…I can see myself in all of the phases.
    It has only been a week but I’ve been through this before five years ago and THAT one took me years to get over; I guess it hardened me for such pain but obviously not 100% because I am still hoping of fixing things but have also accepted that it won’t happen. What I thought was a perfect relationship was dropped on the floor last Friday when I found evidence of her up to something with another man, it all exploded and I reacted badly (violent to the house, not to her as I am not like that) and it scared her so much that she didn’t want to continue. That is all fair I suppose as I doubt I could trust her again and the same for her too. All I know is that I am devastated that everything I ever wanted was taken away and since we share mutual friends in a small town that I am now somewhat of an alienated leper to them most of them that I was close to…yes I reacted badly but I never physically hurt her….just smashed some went a bit wild on the furniture, she was the one who went to another man for me to react to in the first place!

    Your words are that good that I’ve saved the page as a favourite to re-read whenever I feel low.

    PS- The heavy metal thing is not working, simply because we both love heavy metal anyway. I tend to commute with the stereo fascia off and in the glove box so only the sound of the engine to keep me going :(

    • JP says:

      Howdy, Matt! THANK YOU for the kind feedback. I can assure you that your world is not going to end … if you haven’t figured that out by now. Man, I can vividly recall the desperation I felt – even recently – after a breakup when I thought the pain would kill me. I was convinced that there was no way I would make it through. And, then – I did. I just kept living and faking it until I walked tall again. You can’t train for breakups. I truly believe that do not get easier past the first one. The first one teaches us the meaning and feelings associated with heartbreak – but, it surely doesn’t callous the heart. And, if it does, then we’ve become someone closed-off and no good to anyone. Please forgive yourself for your reaction to learning of her behavior with another man. You reacted better than I once did many years ago upon learning the same. Plus, the house probably needed a good ass-kicking :-) As for your scaring her away – consider it a good way of ridding of her. I’ve never believed that someone could be trusted again after straying. This is just my humble opinion. But, I stick to it. I do not believe it’s worth trusting someone again if they’ve betrayed you the first time around. If you are married, there may be grounds to work on saving the marriage. But, I’ve known a few cheaters in my day and it seems to be a hard habit to break. Just sayin’. So, even if you didn’t assassinate some furniture, I’d say get the hell away and stay away. Seriously, Matt – do you really want to put your heart into the hands of a woman whom would so callously harm it again? I think not. I am really sorry you are feeling the misery of a bad breakup. Give yourself copious amounts of “Matt time,” will ya? Regarding the heavy metal not working, that’s okay. Just switch to something she’d never listen to for awhile. Listen to NPR or some upbeat Jazz. If you’ve got satellite radio, keep it glued to one of the comedy stations for the time being. That’s your best bet. All while you savor the fact you are free of this selfish woman. She wasn’t the right one for ya. And, you know it. Godspeed, brother. -JP

  116. Al says:

    Is anyone else struggling with no contact? After my post on 1st June my ex and I talked and he said he wasn’t sure what he wanted so we decided to have a break but kept in contact. He wanted to come and see me to “talk again?” in a week or two but his texts and calls weren’t indicating any reconciliation so it was driving me mad wondering what was going to happen – in the end I asked for “no contact” so I could accept what had happened and move on….but 4 days in it’s driving me mad wondering whether I should let him come up to talk, but risk another rejection, or should I check his fb status to guage his mood? It’s soooo hard!!!! Having said that, nc is making me face all my emotions without the feelings brought on my any text messages or calls!!
    I know no-one can really answer for me, but it helps to share – good luck everyone, we CAN DO THIS and get the relationships we deserve

    • JP says:

      Hello, Al. I feel for you – as do your peers here. As I’ve said to others, the best thing you can do is to utilize “Opposite Action” right now. Meaning, do the exact opposite of what your anxiety and pain are driving you to do. Don’t call, don’t reach out in any way. Whenever you engage with him, it is making you feel crappier after-the-fact. Sure, not having contact feels like hell too. But, it’s a temporary hell that will surely pass. Contact will only exacerbate and prolong the situation. Here’s the take-away for you: If her really wants to reconcile, he will let you know. You won’t need to “gauge” his Facebook statuses to make the determination, etc. We go after what we want, and this will be clear to you. I know you know this. Just a friendly reminder ;-) So, you did the absolutely right thing by telling him you no longer wanted contact. You didn’t need to tell him why, as you owe no explanations. What’s important now is that you do what is needed to preserve YOUR well-being. It appears you are doing so, while questioning your actions. I can say with 100% certainty that you need to keep doing what you’re doing, while NOT questioning your actions. -JP

      • Al says:

        THANK YOU JP – perfect timing for such a supportive response as it’s been a bad day today! You are right of course, I don’t want to be with someone who “isn’t sure” and if really changes his mind he can come and find me and do the hard work!
        We all deserve better.

        • JP says:

          You said it. It’s a hindsight thing that you will more fully appreciate later. In essence, we often go after something with even more tenacity when it seems to be going the other direction. It is counter-intuitive not to. However, this only drives what we want further from us. The reality is, if someone is worth our while, they will make at least an equal effort. If not, then we should stop ours as well. And, remember: His lack of effort has NO bearing whatsoever on your worth. When you start to believe this, it will set you free. -JP

  117. Andres says:

    Dude excellent post. A lot of truth in it and know I know that i am not the only one because at times when I felt that heartache and emptiness in my chest, I would wonder why me? I would not do anything, nothing would make me happy, wouldnt eat. I kinda feel bad some days. The weird thing is that I was the one who broke up with her because I was sick of it. She tried to get in touch with me but i didnt want to. 6 months later I missed her a lot and got depressed. We kinda talk now bcause I was her first as she was mine so any advice??

    • JP says:

      Hey, Andres! Great to hear from you, friend. At this point, you must genuinely ask yourself, “What do you want from her?” It appears from what you’ve written that she is still interested in getting back with you. Is that what you truly want, or will it be more of the stuff you became so sick of?? I am guessing that if you got back together, you might soon realize why you ended things in the first place. There is the chance, however, that you took some time to mull it over and realize that you care for her enough to put up with the things that annoy you. I’m just not sure. But, something is also keeping you two in touch with one another. It looks like you need to check-in with yourself and what you really want at this point. Only you can answer your question, I’m afraid. My best to you both! -JP

    • JP says:

      The important thing to really focus upon, Andres, is NOT the “Why me,” but the “How do I allow myself to heal?” You are a feeling, compassionate human being. So, you are feeling exactly what you are supposed to feel right now. And, it takes time to recover. You’ve got to allow yourself that time. You ended things for valid reasons. There were things you could no longer deal with. It made sense to end things. It was not making you happy or keeping you happy. Now you miss her. Is that odd?? Not in the least. We’ve all done this. Well … most of us. Do you want her back to rediscover the things that drove you nuts? Do you honestly think those things that drove you away have changed or vanished? I can pretty much guaran-damn-tee you they have not. You’d be back with her for no more than a week before you’d be eying the door again. She was your first, and you were hers. Does that mean you stay together forever? Hardly. You taught each other a lot, I imagine. Things are still amicable. Sounds like a very nice split. But, you also don’t appear – upon first glance – right for one another. Don’t let nostalgia get the best of you. That said, you can always go back. Just make sure it’s for the right reasons. -JP

  118. Sharma says:

    Thanks for this article man. Thanks for the help.

  119. Gill says:

    Yesterday I cought a glimps of hope but today it seems like the heartache and anxiety twins are back. We broke up recently after 2 years but she still calls it a break even though she has “kind of” moved on or talking to her male coworker. It hurts to feel like she forgot all the good times over night and does not look fazed. It kills to think about if I even cross her mind. She said they kissed so my mind is already racing to think she’s already having the best sex of her life with this guy (most depressing feeling). Feels like rock bottom is very near. I really thought she was the one she was great and loved me unconditionally and then this. The feeling of doubting if I will ever find someone like her since only good times cross my mind is slowly creeping in. Sorry my thoughts are every where. I hope to here from you I would really appreciate some advice.

    • JP says:

      Gill, I apologize as your second post somehow slipped by me. I am truly hoping that you are feeling better as some time has passed. One of the huge mistakes we make while recovering from a breakup is to feel worthless – especially when the other person appears to have “moved on.” Everyone handles hurt and separation differently. It’s impossible to define what is going through her head, and your fears do NOT equal facts. Your thoughts are just that – YOUR thoughts. They are not reality and not a true reflection of the scenario. They are based on your worse fears and hurt right now. Many people handle hurt with shallow distraction, such as alcohol, drugs, or other “relationships” (rebounds). None of this works, or course. But, it doesn’t stop many of us from trying to numb or quickly move on. Your best course of action is to stop trying to decipher her actions, and work toward your own peace of mind. You have everything you need to heal right within you. Trust me on this. Keep your focus within. -JP

  120. Gill says:

    Amazing article!!!!! I couldn’t have said it better sounds exactly like me.
    I just cought a glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel
    After reading this. So there is hope and you just don’t die from the
    Heartache. From someone who is in the first phase now it a minuscule
    Relief but something is better than nothing at least for now. I just wish the phases phased faster.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Gill! Hey, thank you for reading and providing feedback – it means a ton. I am stoked to read that you see the “light at the end.” And, “Nope” – you certainly will NOT die from the heartache. We call completely get the “miniscule relief” phase you are currently in. This will improve, however, each day – with plenty of set-backs and leaps forward. The recovery continuum is never a straight line upward, unfortunately. It would be so much easier if it were like recovering from the common cold. It takes what it takes, my brother. But, you will come out the other side a better, sharper, stronger man. Though, I know full well this is a lesson you would much rather not have had to undergo. Let’s face it, besides death, I cannot think of much pain worse than heartbreak. Also, rest assured that your ex has NOT forgotten you or all the good times. I am often surprised at the uncanny ability of some women to hide all signs of heartache. It hardly means she isn’t feeling it, or is not postponing facing the separation. As for what she is doing with whom, it’s irrelevant and you’ve got to keep your mind in the PRESENT moment. Don’t go there. Fears do NOT equal facts. Who knows what the hell she is doing – if anything. Let’s keep the focus on YOU. The single best thing you can do right now is to self-soothe, take care of YOU, and whenever you find your thoughts going to the past or future, bring them back to the present!!! As difficult as it is to stay in the moment, you’ve got to do so. Additionally, don’t reach out to her. Period. There is nothing good for you with her. Maybe someday – but, certainly not now or anytime soon. Do the opposite of what your anxieties are driving you to do. Don’t make contact. Call someone else. Eat right, sleep, workout, and be the best damn Gill possible. Soon enough, you’re going to be an even better version of yourself. -JP

  121. Sam says:

    Hey JP, Thanks for this man, you have seriously saved me from making myself look like a fool. We broke up 6 weeks ago, and i was planning on trying to win her heart back on our 5 year anniversary which is on july the 11th until i read your article. I am pretty much in the same situation as ‘Mikey Dilzs’, im only 24 and my girlfriend loved me unconditionally! It was almost too much at some points, and the relationship had got a little tired the last couple of months and it just seemed like we were headed in different directions. So i broke it off, she was really upset for 2 weeks while i was fine, and then as soon as i saw that she had moved on i was devastated! Ive never been upset over a girl before, and my sister even said “its good to see the tinman has a heart”. I realised how much she loved me and what i had lost, i put her up on a pedestal and i still probably do. I also pretty much asked her to promise me that we would get back together somewhere down the track, she said that she wouldn’t say yes but she wouldn’t say no either… She told me she will always love me, but jus that she is not in love with me and she lost her bf but she doesnt want to lose her best friend… I guess what is hard for me is that she has moved on so quickly and is being so mature about the whole thing in wanting to be my friend… I know she is definitely enjoying having the upper hand in the relationship for once as it was always me who was that person before… I know i will get it back eventually… And she even said to me with the relationship, if its meant to happen it will happen. The only thing that bothers me now is that, i feel like the relationship has somehow taken a part of me. Like even slightly before i decided to break it off i felt as though i was struggling to really communicate with people… Well at least be engaging and humorous…. Everyone is telling me not to be hard on myself but i guess i feel like ive lost it and wont get it back. I guess it could be my ego that is hurt too, as ive never put myself in the position to get rejected before and i guess now it kind of feels like i have…

    Sorry about the essay man, but any help or advice you could offer would be awesome… It gives me hope that although you wrote all the things i am feeling like self loathing, guilt, despair and real sense loss that you came through it and were able to write a fcking funny article! Thanks Bro!

    • Mikey Dilzs says:

      Thank god Im not the only one. Im telling you dude, be strong it will, the amount of progress I made in 3 days in crazy! When i miss her i think back to the times “I DIDNT WANNA BE THERE” and how much of a hassel i thought it was. If your anything like me brother, you got a big ego and insecure, exactly like myself. I was always peeking on the single side of the fence, looking at my buddies and such. Cut her off for 3 months, no communication. That will give you plenty of time to get over the lonely stage. Then reconsider your decision. If its changed, perfect, more fish in the sea. If you still miss her go out and get her back, NO GIRL gets over a 5 year relationship in 3 months, she may say shes happy but shes missing you 100%. It crazy to i called her the other day and told her “Were gunna be together someday” and she totally agreed. If its meant to be it will happen.

    • Shawna says:

      I wouldn’t worry about who has the “upper hand” if it’s a healthy relationship it shouldn’t be about control or who has more emotional will over the other. If you guys are gonna be together just have it be honest and genuine, don’t treat it like a power struggle.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Sam. I sincerely appreciate your post. Everyone gets a lot of “knowledge nuggets” from reading about the insight of our peers. It’s funny how we idealize people once they’re gone. Well, it’s not actually funny – it’s rather tragic. I can say with absolute certainty that if you were back with her, the reasons you wanted to be out of the relationship would come flooding back very quickly. We fear loneliness and the unknown. But, that’s hardly the reason to stay in something, and it’s definitely not fair to our partner. Essentially, it sounds like you did the absolute right thing for you both. And, she’s right – if you’re meant to be together, you will find your way back into each others romantic lives. Sometimes, a little distance provides just the right amount of perspective to know where you should be for the long run. Regarding “power” and who has the “upper hand,” the power in a healthy relationship always goes back and forth between the two parties, with no one having or holding the authority for any set period. It is a delicate balance that takes place naturally. It’s when the shifts don’t take place – and, one person continually holds the power – that an imbalance occurs and problems ensue. How you’re feeling now is also healthy. If would be abnormal for you not to be hurting at least some, or to not question the decision at times. All part of the process. We ALL get rejected. It has no bearing on our self-worth, though it feels like a direct hit at the time. You will get back on your proverbial feet soon enough. You have suffered an emotional blow, and you need time to recover. So, GIVE YOURSELF THAT TIME, Sam. Take care of yourself, and really appreciate your attributes. They are as real as anything can be. Your goal is to want the best for you both – in whatever form that takes place. Whatever she is doing has no bearing on whom you are, or your self worth. To think you are forgotten, passed over, or put aside is a feeling from a place of low self-esteem. These are just thoughts, and thoughts do NOT equal facts, my friend. So, quit the stinkin’ thinkin’ and focus on some positive daily affirmations about what makes her and others drawn to you in the first place. Finally, you’ve got to trust me on this: I handle breakups and loss probably worse than anyone alive. I wrote this essay – not as a piece of humor – but, as a means of personal survival at a time when I was at my lowest. So, I KNOW you can do it. Just stay out of your head! ;-) -JP

  122. Ali says:

    This article was definitely what I needed, it pretty much is spot on with every emotion that i’ve been feeling. I feel like i’m still in stages 1&2.
    I met me ex boyfriend when I was 22 and he was 25. At 22, I was finally happy with myself as a person, I didn’t jump in and out of relationships like most 22 year old girls because I wanted to make sure that I was ready to love somebody, so I made sure to love myself, and told myself that the right person would find their way to me. Well, he did. At my great grandfathers funeral. (So random, I know) Anyway, he made me want more for myself than a dead end job, and made me want to pursue the things I really wanted out of life, which meant getting into nursing school and taking a huge leap of faith and going back to college. A year into the relationship, we were constantly fighting about this and that, my insecurities had built up inside me, and I was constantly telling myself he was going to leave me, and he did. We got back together after a month of being apart, and everything was way better than it was before for the next 2.5 years.
    My heart and soul for the past 3 and a half years has left me, again, and this time….I told him I can’t beg and plead for him not to do this, like last time. Last time was so much different. Last time, I felt like i’d done everything wrong, like I was the cause of us falling apart. This time, I knew I wasn’t. I tried to blame myself, it’s a natural instinct when someone leaves you to try and figure out what you did wrong to make them leave. I tried so hard and searched my mind for even one thing, but this time I couldn’t come up with anything. This semester I felt like we fought less than we ever have, because i’ve been so busy with school. It’s hard to feel like something is falling apart when you think that everything is just fine. Sure, the past 2 weeks have been kind of shitty, but I just thought he was stressed about something – supporting me financially, working his ass off, etc. We were happy, I thought.
    He wasn’t happy. I stayed with him the night we broke up because I needed to feel ok. I needed his comfort. We didn’t have sex, but it wasn’t about sex. I just wanted him to hold me, so that I could feel safe. He’s the one that I go to for everything, and with nowhere to run, I ran back to the one who was breaking my heart in the first place. Like someone commented before, I kept falling asleep and reliving the nightmare every time I woke up, remembering that even though he was next to me, it was over. I I left at 6am, and cried my little heart out for about 12 hours straight, while he explained to me how he’s just not happy with himself and his life in general. I feel like an idiot for not realizing it, but I was giddy and in love. He watched me pack my stuff and hugged me before I got into my car. I didn’t want to let go, seriously, it’s the worst feeling in the world knowing I would never be pulling back into that driveway, or crawling into bed with him, or eating dinner at that table. The past 3 years of my life have revolved around him and I just can’t seem to get him out of my thoughts. I keep looking forward to Friday, then I realize that i’m not going to see him and it’s like i’ve been punched in the stomach till I can’t breathe.
    I honestly can’t explain this feeling, but it’s definitely the worst thing i’ve ever felt. I can’t lay in bed at night without thoughts of past times consuming me, watch tv without thinking that these were “our” shows – or if he’s watching them as well, I wonder if he’s thinking about me as he sees the emptiness of my side of the bed – or my empty shampoo bottles in his shower, I wonder if at night when he’s laying in bed alone if he’s thinking about how badly he wants me to hold him, because these are the things that run through my head.
    I wonder if i’ll ever feel normal again, or if i’ll ever love someone as much as I love him. I just miss him so much. I miss it all. It’s so hard to know that i’ll never be in that place again, with that person that I would have given anything for. I used to talk to him every night before bed, or if I was with him, say goodnight with a kiss. Now I haven’t talked to him in over 3 weeks and i’ve cried myself to sleep most of those nights.
    I’ve texted him here and there, one of them just to tell him that I had been invited by his cousin to her graduation party, I wanted to tell him not to worry about me going, And told him that I had declined the invitation so that he could enjoy his family without worrying about me being there. I was closer to his rather large family than he was, and it sucks that I don’t get to enjoy those moments with them anymore, but I felt like I should be a bigger person and not go. I’m sort of feeling robbed of everything that I took in initially for him in the first place, like his family, our friends, and even the dog we adopted. I lost half my family, the friends that we shared, and at the same time lost my financial and emotional support during the hardest time of my life; nursing school. It’s been a bad couple of weeks. Now i’m on week 4, and everyone tells me it will get better, but so far everyday I just wake up with that anxiety.

    • JP says:

      Hey there, Ali! So, I drafted this very long response to you while on a flight to Kansas City, only to lose the entire thing when I hit “Send.” Argggh. I will attempt to recreate my composition. First of all, EVERYTHING you are feeling and experiencing is textbook normal. It is all part of the grueling process of healing. Myself, I get very caught-up in the nostalgia piece. I see that you are also struggling with that as well. My way of contending with the memories was/is to create new ones in new places – with new people. This is the time to lean on friends and loved ones. And, STAY BUSY. Distraction and tons of self-soothing are your friends right now. I fully realize what a shock-to-the-system this has all been for you – especially the loss of life structure and loss of extended family. It’s surreal at times. I can assure you that YOU will be missed equally as much. You cannot have a relationship that long end without a lot of emptiness for both parties. That said, your only focus at the moment is to move forward and really, really try to keep your mind out of the past. The past is often associated with depression, while the future can hold a ton of anxiety. The key is to stay firmly planted in the PRESENT moment at all times. Okay? If you feel your mind going backward or forwards, snap it back into your breathing and remaining grounded in the present. Additionally, fill your nights and weekends – I mean chock full those nights and weekends – with tons of healthy distraction. This includes eating well, sleeping on a schedule, working-out, and enjoyable things with friends/family. It will be tough for awhile to extract any enjoyment out of anything. That’s also normal. Gradually, you will glean some goodness out of events. Look for the humor in life. Your state of mind WILL shift – I promise. And, if you do some of these things, the shift will occur sooner. We all know you’re going through a personal crisis at the moment. But, it will lessen. Remember: Stay in the moment. When the sorrow ebbs and flows, let it pass through you without holding on to any of it. What will remain stable is you. Make new friends, go to new places, and experience new things. You were happy and lived a full life prior to this relationship. You were a complete entity then, and you are now. Happiness might seem fleeting at the moment, but you will feel it again. And, if you’re like the majority, you will end-up even happier. That’s how these things work. As I’ve said before – What we want, isn’t always what we need, or is what’s best for us. You are right where you’re supposed to be, Ali. -JP

  123. Matt says:

    This article is classic. As an older (39) single guy I’ve done this often, and recently. Every time I acted like an idiot in phase 1 I promised myself I would never do it again. Well, my girlfriend and I got in a fight, she went distant and needed “space”…or it was a cheap easy way to break up (that is still to be determined)…either way, I apologized for my end of our problems, sent flowers, let her know i care and then…..

    Went blank for a while.

    Nada for about 5 days or so. Just walked off the map. Was it hard? Yes. Did I want to text her over and over and over? Yes. Did I want to call her? Yes? Did I drink a bunch and pass out on sleeping pills (i cant believe how accurate that part of the article was)? Yes. But did I grovel and chase her?

    No. No way. No effing way.

    Then a text from her “I really Miss you”…then some small conversations over text…then she goes blank herself. At this point. Ok, I could get upset, call her a volatile b1tch and tell her ill never call her again. Or I could plead, tell her I loved her and bombard her with texts. What did I do? I acted like it didn’t bother me. I would shoot her a text every day or two w some innocuous joke or pleasntry, and not get upset when she didn’t respond.

    She called…eventually…and I acted (and felt) completely comfortable talking to her (despite the nervousness in her voice). Im not sure where its going to go or end up…but i have taken the high road. She is the one that has been flakey and now, when you examine the behavior of boht of us in retrospect..well, she looks like the one that handled it poorly (because, quite frankly, she did)
    I guess what I wanted to share is that Phase I is absolutely critical not only to your relationship and chance of reconciliation, but more importantly your dignity in the more than likely event there is no reconciliation. Keep a straight face fellas, don’t show your cards, be an oak tree, read a zen book, never beg, never plead. Be kind to them, but not desperate. Regardless of what happens, taking the high road is so much more satisfying. It’s taken me about 20 years of dating to finally execute on it properly..and it was brutal. But in the end I am the good guy and she is standing there looking like the idiot. Take the “Eastern” approach.

    This is the best way to handle it. Trust me…it is. But there are very few people that have the willpower to execute on it properly.

    If you are in the first few days of a break up…GO BLANK. GO GHOST. Its the best thing you will ever do. Agree with the space or the break up and never let them know you are upset. You will thank yourself for it later. Trust. me.

    Great article…very well written and very accurate

    • JP says:

      Great to hear from you, Matt. Ahhhh … If I had a dime for every time I’ve sent a dozen flowers in an attempt to make amends, I’d have quite a few dollars! And, you know what’s sort of funny?? Not once did flowers work. The money I could have saved!! Anyhow, I absolutely love your post. “Go Ghost” is a million dollar term, and I know a lot of people will strongly benefit from what you’ve written. What a kick-ass phrase, my man! And, I cannot over emphasize “taking the high road” that you articulated. Wonderful and sage words! You can never, ever go wrong heeding such advice. And, you are so very right: Very few of us are able to execute on the tactic …. including me, up until recently. I want to sincerely ‘thank you’ for your kind words, Matt. And, THANK YOU for the brilliant words of wisdom! -JP

  124. Mikey Dilzs says:

    Wow, this was great, but Im about to throw you a curve ball. Please respond, I feel like I have demonds in me right now, and thank god I am not the last person dealing with this pain. I wish it on no one. Im the one who ended a 5 year relationship, but feels like Im the miserable bum whose never going to meet anyone like her and live at my mothers until im 65 and die alone. Im 20 now and fairly young, we started dating when we were 15 and she lives around the corner (typical puppy love). I recently ended it because I just didnt want to be there, I wanted to go out having a good time with all my buddies, enjoy my 20’s (after all, I am in my prime). But as soon as I realized she has moved on through stalking her Twitter, Facebook, ect. I broke down, I did end up calling her and speaking with her, and found out this was one break up to many. Its probably because Im a jealous person, none the less, last night I thought she was the one for me, I cried, like a little school girl. Now, she is a great girl, and I do care for her with out a doubt, Ive just been in a relationship for so long, its