Breaking-Up Badly: How to Train-wreck 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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596 Responses to Breaking-Up Badly: How to Train-wreck a Breakup

  1. Riks says:

    Hi JP,

    I have to say your efforts are incredible and a real shining light for people like me, I have been engrossed reading many of the struggles you are helping..

    I am in my early 30’s and in week 2 of having been told its over, we had been together for 5 years, and have a 2 year old boy. Things were not great for some time and she actually has talked about ending it on a few occasions, to which I have fought so hard to save it, but this time i know its over but even though I knew that perhaps it was coming it has really knocked me for six.

    Being a man its so hard to know what to do from here I feel so worthless and it makes question everything, I keep breaking down and every day my anxiety is so overwhelming, every hour is turmoil, I am loosing weight from not eating and sleeping very little.

    I cannot have the no contact option, with my son, I want to see him as much as I can and have him 3 nights a week, but when I pick him up it kills me……this was my home my family, my future.

    I love her so much and I know I am in complete denial, the thoughts going through my head are crazy and I am so scared of her being with some one else, constantly go round and round in my head with these thoughts. She also seems fine and I’m a mess, how can this be?!

    My self esteem is shattered I think with her pushing me away for so long I am at rock bottom, she used to tell me she didnt care and that I had no drive, even though I run a business and also a full time job.

    Everyone I speak to just says give it time I get that but its so hard being in my head right now.

    What is your thoughts on intervention like anti depressants to help me through, I had said to myself I wouldnt but now feel so desperate for for help I am honestly full of fear for everything.

    Thanks again . Rik

    • Jon Patrick says:

      Hey, Rik! It is a sincere pleasure to virtually meet you. I know you are in an unenviable state-of-mind. I sincerely hope that some of the comments and responses here have helped provide some perspective. What’s most important in this early stage of grief is that we get you out of the “fight or flight” response. Your system has taken a tough hit, and you need peace and self-soothing more than ever. Your primary goal should be treating yourself extremely well, while not punishing or second-guessing yourself for whatever anxiety might try and push you towards. Work to make all decisions from Rational Mind. That said, don’t try to fight off the waves of emotions, pain, etc. Just don’t CLING to any of it. Let all of that stuff pass over and through you. Hold on to none of the feelings, emotions, and thoughts. Moreover, don’t fall for them as factual. Thoughts/Feelings/Emotions do NOT equal facts.

      I want to focus on your following statement: “Being a man its so hard to know what to do from here I feel so worthless and it makes question everything, I keep breaking down and every day my anxiety is so overwhelming, every hour is turmoil, I am loosing weight from not eating and sleeping very little.”

      (1) You don’t need to do anything right now! Just take care of YOU. Place yourself in what I call self-preservation mode. Keep your focus and thoughts on what YOU need right now to thrive. Sleep, nutrition, and exercise.

      (2) You are nowhere near “worthless.” No one validates Rik, but Rik. None of her actions determine anything about you. No one holds that sort of power over you.

      (3) You feel like you’re “breaking down” because you’re letting anxiety take the wheel. Take back your power, brother! At ANY given moment, you and you alone determine how this script plays out. If you were external of yourself – say a younger version of Rik – what would you tell “you??” Now, heed those words, because that is the self-talk that matters. Not the catastrophizing you are doing to yourself right now.

      All I can do from my end is advise you through words and advice that admittedly will feel largely futile. That’s also normal at this early juncture. For this reason, I strongly advise seeing a professional therapist ASAP. Better yet, take yourself to the ER if you don’t have a primary care doc you can contact right away. I think you’d benefit greatly from some medication and talk therapy to get you through the worst of this. Even some sleep medication. I also know that this feels like the end of the world for you. TRUST ME when I say this is nothing more than the anxiety screwing with your head and emotions. The fact is, you are young! You are healthy! And, I can say with 100% confidence that you have better things ahead of you. That said, none of this feels like reality because you are drowning in your own anxiety, self-doubt, self-loathing, and depression. But, those things are what you feel – not who you are. I’ve been exactly where you are. Even if you do not yet believe, it not only passes, it gets better than it was before.

      These life changes happen because whether or not you believe or accept it, life places us where we are SUPPOSED to be. We aren’t wise enough to know what’s best for us. Again, focus on your own well-being right now. And, make the call for help or get to an ER to see the on-call Psychiatrist. The most important first step is getting over this initial emotional hill. Okay?? -JP

      • Riks says:

        Hi Jp,

        Thank you again for taking your time out to help…..

        I have some therapy booked in a couple of weeks time, which I am looking forward too; the doc has given me something to sleep, it knocks me out but i still wake up in the night with my mind running a million miles a second…

        I think your point “No one validates Rik, but Rik”…is the point here, I never have. I am good at what I do (photography) have plenty of close friends and and good looking (so i’m told)…..but I have never had peace of mind.

        I have always had lo self esteem without a few drinks in me and this has led me to cling onto 3 previous relationships which have fizzled out with me clinging on for dear life!!…..and each time I find myself here. I realise now this is something in me to address and before letting anyone in again…

        That said this week I am still consumed by thoughts of her, idolizing every aspect of her; my mind is still trying to solve the problem….that voice in your head tells you to send something, try this, call her, text her. I really do believe that she was the one and my love for her is unconditional, this is what I have been struggling with as stepping outside of it she clearly wasn’t returning anyway near that, part of me says wake up, the other is simply addicted to her.

        I find myself thinking so many thoughts about her and other guys I know from reading your previous this is natural but it drives me crazy!

        I am trying to take some of the power back and get my rational mind in gear, I think this episode has been brewing for a while and this rejection has ultimately opened the flood gates, I have accepted I am not strong enough to fight these thoughts today but tomorr is a new day right?….

        All through this period I have been thinking constantly on writing a letter to her, to get my true feelings and emotions down, not just for her but also for me, almost closure. So I put it all down, everthing, and placed it on her door yesterday…..I have not heard a single thing from her, even after bearing my soul…………………… it is dawning on me now.

        Rock bottom is dark place and the journey will be tough but through the support and words from all I am going to fight.

        Thanks Again, a true Gentleman you are.

        • Jon Patrick says:

          Great to hear from you again, Rik! I can discern great clarity of mind within you. I’m stoked! Remember that the panicky and nostalgic feelings you’re having are 100% anxiety. Just continue to let them flow over and through you, while trying not to mentally “grab on” to any of it. Also remember that the only way over this is through it. You need to feel everything you are experiencing. I think we can both agree that this is a necessary part of your life journey. Never should be become dependent upon another for our personal validation. Some solo time will do you good – even if it’s involuntary. It’s doubtful that you would have taken the initiative to focus on this by your own means 😉 You will come out on the other side in a much better state of mind, while only allowing the best people within your personal property lines.

          Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed…. – Joshua 1:9

          It has been said when we are at the end of our rope, we can do one of three things: let go, tie a knot and hang on, or splice the rope and begin again. Whenever we feel there’s nowhere to go but down and nobody to turn to, that’s when we can start all over again. If we can learn to look beyond the end of something, we’ll always see an exciting, fresh beginning. At the end of every storm is calm. At the end of every argument is silence. At the end of one relationship there is another. Although life is composed of many endings, there are just as many new beginnings.

          Nights may have many endings, but they will also have just as many beginnings. Just as the sun will set, so the moon will rise and the stars will appear. Just as the day’s activities will end, so the evening’s activities will begin. And when those activities are over, there will be new experiences the next day. You can be unafraid of endings because you know they are only the first half of beginnings. – JP

          • Riks says:

            Thanks JP

            Top advice as usual,

            I think I am in week 8/9 now and I have regained some focus, I have the odd trigger here and there but on a whole each day is passing fine, I definatly agree that I tied the knot in the rope, and am starting to climb. I have real moments of awakeness now that I am in the driving seat again and have learned so much.

            Time on my own is very much needed now to regain full focus so much so that I have had to let 2 girls down gently after flings were backed up by ‘I like you’ after a couple of days on their side, the old me would have jumped on that to feel secure. This time I have let them down gently, safe in the knowledge that when I am ready I will be prepared to let the right person in. quite a learning curve but a needed one.

            Those initial 4 weeks were unbelievably bad, looking back now it was a blur of emotion, i’d like to thank you again for the guidance and even though this is not over I am humbled and happy I reached out, I cannot stress this enough to others reading this and other plights.

            Thank you again.


  2. Kat says:

    Sorry, I told myself I would write a quick thing and get some advice, but I just couldn’t stop writing. The last couple paragraphs are the most relevant.

    I am 24 years old and I have been dating a great guy with so many amazing qualities for just over a year and a half (started Valentine’s Day, 2014). For the first year, it seemed like things were perfect. We have a ton in common and I could feel his love when he looked at me. 5 months into the relationship we talked about marriage and after dating 6 months, he asked my dad for permission and was given it.

    It seemed like everything was going well, but there were some things I still was concerned about (he can be inconsiderate, likes to party a lot, isn’t very motivated, lower libido than me) and I will admit, my parents (and his parents even) and best friends had concerns about him as well. I asked him to delay asking me to marry him because of those “red flags” and because I watched my parent’s marriage fall apart and the idea scared me.

    After a happy year, we started fighting over little things and some big things (he flaked out on my graduation ceremony, wouldn’t text or call for 2-3 days). I would normally start it, and he is an avoider and more inclined to passive aggressiveness. I am a graduate student about to defend my thesis next month and I am under a TON of stress, which I don’t always handle well. I tend to get anxious, irritable, and emotional, but I am also very logical, so what he considered arguing, I saw as just a difficult discussion.

    During the summer, I began Accutane, which SERIOUSLY messed with my emotions (though I didn’t realize how much until later). In August, I was finally ready to commit to marriage (he had also been carrying my engagement ring everywhere since March), but one day, when my emotions were particularly off, we fought and I ended up breaking up with him in anger (something VERY unlike me). It hurt him really badly and even though I realized my mistake a couple hours later, the damage was done (I called my doctor and she immediately took me off the Accutane). ***He was planning to propose to me in two weeks!*** We spent a few days apart, thinking about whether we wanted/could be happy together, and decided to give it another go.

    About 2 weeks later we fought again and he left and came back looking serious. He told me (kindly) he loved me, but couldn’t deal with the fighting. He knows I am under stress, but he says there will always stress and if we can’t be happy now, he doesn’t think we will be. He thinks that he can’t make me happy and that it would be better to end things. He is by far the most important thing to me in this world. I love him SO much. I told him how I felt and that I wanted to keep working, but his decision was made. I realize it took a lot of courage to tell me and stick his ground.

    It has been a week and I just feel devastated. I have lost my older brother in a fire and my little sister from a terminal illness while in college, but this was even worse. I am losing my dreams.

    I know I can be happy again eventually, but the burning, itching, pressing pain in my chest won’t go away. I have been crying hours a day and, even though I am not religious, I even tried prayer. Anything to make this intense pain and hurt go away.

    He has been the number one priority in my life for over a year and he is my best friend. I can’t imagine life without him. I spoke with him again yesterday for the first time and told him (calmly) that I wanted to try again and I think we could make it work. We talked for an hour and it was the first time I felt okay for days. It just seems so wrong to break up. Like a deep, gut feeling. Or is that just grief?

    He told me he would think about it, but he was feeling pretty much the same way as before. I was okay with this. It’s been just over a day and I haven’t heard from him yet. I am feeling anxious and can’t help feeling hopeful even though I know it isn’t likely we will get back together, no matter how right it seems to me. I texted him earlier to see if we could just casually meet so he wouldn’t just remember the bad times, but he responded that he thought it wouldn’t be constructive to his forming a decision (rightly so). I haven’t heard back, but the all-consuming grief is returning and I have to go to school to finish my thesis and I just feel swallowed whole!

    I know eventually it gets better. I still have confidence in myself, but I regret SO MUCH that happened in our relationship this past month. Even with the red flags and concerns, I feel responsible for losing the most important thing in my life. And I just don’t know how to move forward.

    • Jon Patrick says:

      Hey there, Kat. I am sorry to learn of your breakup. My first reaction is related to how good your intuition is. Trust it ALWAYS. Personally, my intuition has never been wrong. Not once. But, I’ve ignored it thousands of times … always to my own demise. Whenever you experience things that we call “red flags,” heed them with great consideration. I like that you not only notice them, but you can eloquently describe and address them. Consider the following:

      “It seemed like everything was going well, but there were some things I still was concerned about (he can be inconsiderate, likes to party a lot, isn’t very motivated, lower libido than me) and I will admit, my parents (and his parents even) and best friends had concerns about him as well. I asked him to delay asking me to marry him because of those “red flags” and because I watched my parent’s marriage fall apart and the idea scared me.

      After a happy year, we started fighting over little things and some big things (he flaked out on my graduation ceremony, wouldn’t text or call for 2-3 days). I would normally start it, and he is an avoider and more inclined to passive aggressiveness. I am a graduate student about to defend my thesis next month and I am under a TON of stress, which I don’t always handle well. I tend to get anxious, irritable, and emotional, but I am also very logical, so what he considered arguing, I saw as just a difficult discussion.”

      From my limited view, there is no right or wrong, good or bad here. You are two considerably different people in opposing personal life spaces. We cannot change other people who aren’t motivated to change for themselves. Nor should we want to. If someone is not who you need them to be in your life at the beginning, we have to either accept them or walk. I can discern that you are working fervently at making this work. But, should you? Sometimes the correct answer is letting go. Not that he’s not worth the effort – but, what is your happiness worth? There are MANY right people for each of us out there. He is hardly the last good thing that will come along at your young age, Kat. Trust in that. I know you love him, and he obviously has many qualities. But, are you a match long-term??

      I realize that you’ve experienced some huge losses in life, and you want him to be your foundation. But, we are who we are, and what we want and what we need aren’t always the same. It’s tough to accept this possibility. And, I’m happy to hear that you tried prayer. Even if you don’t believe, turning to God will never hurt! Know that everything you’re feeling is perfectly normal. Yes, it’s the grief and sorrow from losing something you love that you’re feeling.

      I have no idea where things currently stand with him, as some time has passed. I apologize for this. But until you realize it yourself, you need to at least consider the breakup is not your fault. Sometimes something within us takes over when we aren’t stepping-up to do what’s right for ourselves. And, it’s not Accutane 😉 It just might be that brilliant intuition thing you should heed.

      “I still have confidence in myself, but I regret SO MUCH that happened in our relationship this past month. Even with the red flags and concerns, I feel responsible for losing the most important thing in my life. And I just don’t know how to move forward.”

      Go with that confidence!!! You have done NOTHING wrong. Believe in yourself and in each calculated move you’ve made in the recent past. And, for the love of …. cut yourself some slack for having an emotional moment or two along the way!! Stop discounting yourself so much, and assign more weight to the “red flags and concerns” that need attention paid to them. Right? When you’ve done everything you possibly could to make something work, and it doesn’t, why blame yourself? -JP

      • Modern Mom says:

        You gave her such a powerful answer. And I agree completely. He looks like the best thing that ever happened to you now that he’s no longer available. It happens; we crave what we cannot/shouldn’t have.

        Kat, the pain is excruciating, but it gets better with time. I look back at the relationships I once grieved for, and I cannot understand what had gotten into me.

  3. larven says:

    Finally, after scowering through dozens upon dozens of these types of articles for the past two weeks I finally found one not directed at women, and a funny one at that!

    I am going through an awful breakup right now haha, as the rest of your commentators are, and as you can see I am self-aware at that!

    The breakup may have been initiated with me but it was she who made the decision. After four years and three previous breakups on my part, she had given up. I would not be her perfect boyfriend. I could never get over a feeling that our relationship wasn’t right, and even if we had grown together and I now see her as my perfect match, I could never get over my anxiety about us. And after a post-MDMA euphoria told me that I would be better off alone I knew I at least had to open up about my anxiety once again.

    Cue a summer of back and forths and relationship purgatory. During the major part of the summer I still felt that retrieval of my old self that had inspired me to push towards breaking up, while I had still had her company. To some degree I could eat the cake while still having it. But as the summer dragged on I lost sight of my dreams and ambitions and whatever pulled me away so strongly, and I was left with indecisiveness and that’s when she pushed for us to follow through on the breakup. And as my now ex-mentor nicely pointed out to me, she had seemingly gotten tired of me and wanted out. He even told me she had been flirting with other guys during the summer, and that she was probably preparing to leave me. Ouch. I had always just seen it as her happy party self seeming flirty, and she insisted, quite convincingly so, that so was the case. I honestly don’t know what’s true but she had been preparing for the breakup. I hadn’t. Not really. Only longed for a brighter tomorrow as I tend to do (not right now though haha). So we broke up, without me really being convinced it was the right thing. Yeah yeah, it probably was, but I can’t really feel that right now.

    Because now I don’t quite know whether I’m at stage 1 or 2 in your description, but I know I’m going between anxiety, jealousy and sorrow. My self-confidence is in tatters. Have I been overestimating myself and my abilities for these past four years? Is my now accellerated neuroticism going to turn my life into hell? Why must I be so verbal and sharp while simulateneously so weak and dumb? Doesn’t matter. What matters is that my life is officially shit now, and she’s seemingly come out the “winner” and I am eagerly awaiting and jealously thinking of her future hook-ups! Seeing as we live in the same town with only so many clubs, I’ll probably catch her on the dance floor with some random guy and cue me quickly walking away while attempting to break down outside of the club.

    Yeah… I haven’t really accepted this whole break up. Only when I’m on the clonazepam I happened to find do I feel it was the right choice. Perhaps I should trust that guy, he seems to think that I’m actually better off now and he’s strangely optimistic. That guy is not here now, only a jealous little twat who wants his lover/best friend/madonna/caregiver/perfect girl back. The frustration and lack of control is killing me. She’s made it clear that she loves me and that there is nothing I can do or say to get her back in the current situation. Yeah she said “in the current situation”. *sigh*

    I know this breakup has brought forth lots of other pain and anxiety and I want to get rid of all that by taking her back and taking things back to how things were. But it seems as if that is impossible and my power is gone. That “wonderful” ex-mentor thought the ambivalence I had felt before was nothing other than me being upset about losing my power over her. But he was a tad early on that one, that came later, coupled with the sorrow of losing my best friend, support system and second half, which puts it into a more nuanced perspective where I don’t seem quite as mean.

    But yeah, I haven’t treated her too well by holding on to her without feeling it was quite right. And however much I miss her and fucking hurt and cry and wallow right now, I have to know that things will be different if I am to take her back. And I do not really trust myself right now.

    So here I am now, nothing but a shell of who I once was, whoever that was, and I don’t even want things to get better because that means we get over each other. Yeah I miss her so fucking fucking much. Ok, thanks for letting me ramble on your blog and thanks for the post.

    • Jon Patrick says:

      Hello, Martin! After carefully reviewing your current scenario, I will offer my humble opinion. I truly believe you are mourning the loss of having someone there for you on a consistent basis. My reasoning for this is based on many things that you’ve shared. But, I’m sure of it. I also fully understand it from being in your exact predicament – more than once. The last relationship I had was with a girl named Katie. We really liked one another, but I had major reservations about her because of her drinking and going out on the regular. I knew that her lifestyle wasn’t a fit with my own. But, I kept dating her for awhile, until I finally ended things. She was not surprised that I did, based on my shared frustrations about her.

      That said, I missed her presence a lot after she was gone. My anxious thoughts worked to convince me that she was the perfect girl for me, along with a litany of additional bullshit. I kept wanting to get back in touch with her, and even restart things – all the while knowing it was not a good idea. This dichotomy in my mind went on for a good three months. I felt lonely without her. I missed the incredibly fun – but, alcohol fueled – times with her. And, I no longer had anything to look forward to. It sucked. But, when I allowed my RATIONAL mind to do the thinking, I knew she was bad news. I decided that I would focus on a helpful personal mantra that went as follows: “What I want, and what I need are not the same.” So, I began to focus my thinking on what I needed. She was the opposite of what I needed.

      I’m not in any way stating that your ex is a “bad” person at all. But, on many occasions when you were of clear mind, you knew it wasn’t a fit for you. When things end, we often let ego get in the way. It’s exceptionally common after a breakup to suddenly feel worthless, insecure, and filled with loss. No matter how ill-fitted our relationship had been for us. Just because you were together, does not mean you should have remained that way.

      I am incredibly sorry to learn of your pain. But, the way over it, is through it. There are no shortcuts. Just stay in the present moment. Get distracted with HEALTHY diversions, immerse yourself in productive things, and work on your own happiness for awhile. I would also avoid the bar/club scene. There’s nothing good to be found there for you. Maybe you might run into her, maybe you wouldn’t. It simply does not matter what she might be up to. Maybe nothing at all! It’s a sound idea for you to take a hiatus from the status quo, while working toward your own happiness and peace-of-mind for awhile. Perhaps in time the two of you will have some perspective and a bit of distance to make a more informed decision on the future. Right?

      That’s just my two-cents. But, it’s definitely how I would handle things. Focus on that which you have control: You. -JP

      • larven says:

        Dear John, thank you so much for this response. It means the world to me and more, and I will be coming back to it more times in the future. And yes, I do think you are right about that dichotomy even if I won’t really admit the “bad side” right now as it tarnishes both my idealized image of her and me, and us. But I know our relationship isn’t all black and white, and that there was so much beauty and pleasure there. I loved her. Despite the anxiety and sense we weren’t a perfect fit for me, and yeah I did not like writing that past thing one bit. But it does not mean I didn’t like her. I truly did. I just could not make it work for me. So yes, I am going to let time and distance have it’s effect on me. This breakup was a lot different than the previous ones, where I simply coldly walked on. This time it hurt bad. Perhaps because she was the one who ultimately made sure we went through with it, and perhaps also because I have matured (I am turning 24, and I know that boys between 19 and 23 are notoriously egoistic).

        We’ll see on what side of things I roll out of it. I already know the breakup has been good for my perspective on the relationship. Simply going on as we did would not have worked. It is very painful and I miss it all, but I aim to “sit still in the boat” as we say in Sweden, and not do anything premature. It is a lot for me to process. Four whole years.

        But I try not to let the guilt swallow me, and I try to look forward. I don’t regret the past four years, but I am starting to feel older and I feel it is time I start making “active choices” as she put it, towards my goals. I’m starting to get better routines, but there are a few pieces missing. But at least I am not wallowing in despair, and I’m keeping myself rather busy. The loss of that mentor figure hurts as well, but however brilliant a man he is, our relationship was toxic for me in many ways and now I am free to strive forward without an idea of him as my virtual superego. I looked up to him too much. I still know he’s brilliant, but it’s time I suck my own dick instead haha. Before taking off he implied that I wanted people weaker than me around me, but that’s wrong. He said I’d tricked Belinda for four years that I was self confident and competent, and that i might as well find another sucker to fool. But this tells me that he did not know how we were behind closed doors. Despite my anxiety I was more of myself, and in many ways I could be more honest with her, than with anyone else in my life, and she saw how insecure and afraid I could be. How boyish I am. He only saw the “cooler” me with her in social situations.

        And I am not going to become as narcissistic as I was when I was 19 but I will allow myself to be a little self-indulgent, because I have carefully beat myself down for the past years. At 19 I had my own little “waking up” moment; an intellectual and philosophical revolution of my own, and largely thanks to talks with my “mentor” I changed. (I promise I’m going somewhere with this, but I understand if it bores you, I’m just enjoying the whole writing thing). I became self-conscious I guess. I had been an active socialist/syndicalist/anarchist/whatever, and in the wake of this “wake up”, as my relationship with B started (as I will call her now), I started maturing intellectually, becoming more pragmatic and capable. And I started distancing myself from who I had been, and I became more realistic I guess in my view of the world but also in my idea of myself. It almost became reactionary in a sense I guess, and as I in some ways restrained myself from feeding aspects of my ego, I now also want to be able to “slå mig för bröstet” which means allowing myself to be proud of something, or boast a little, in Swedish. Because despite a bit of stagnation I do know I have intellectual abilities that could get me places, and that people perceive me as intelligent. And this may sound even more arrogant, but I also have very good looks, and I know I can get pleasure out of that without becoming as shallow as I was when I was 19.

        In the end, I know this won’t be the death of me, however much I miss her and our life, and however empty my current life most often feels. I’m going to take this opportunity to better myself, to keep going to the gym (I may have a pretty face, but I’ve always been a scrawny kid) and work hard. Both to prove to myself that I can do it and to keep myself busy. I don’t want to show my old mentor anything, I’m done chasing his validation (I know how weird this relationship seems, but he truly is quite a genius, and I have no doubt he will be world famous. But he’s just not my friend anymore). This is for me.

        And now it hurts and I miss her again. It hurts losing her. A lot. And words don’t really do much there, “sticking it out” just rings empty in comparison to her love, wisdom and compassion. If my head is like in the film Inside Out, then they’re really giving me a beating haha. But yes, I’ll ride out the storm so I can make a well-informed decision. Thanks again for your response. Sincerely, M.

        • Jon Patrick says:

          Great to hear from you again, Martin! I am desperately trying to stay abreast of getting back to people. But, I’m struggling due to writing deadlines and my medical day job. Nevertheless, here we are! I totally get what you’re experiencing. It doesn’t matter whose fault things are, or if you’re even right for one another. When something meaningful ends,it hurts like hell. All the heart and emotions initially know is LOSS. HURT. PAIN. SADNESS. I’ve dated a couple of – honestly – pretty horrible women. I’m ashamed to say it. But, even in the wake of their absence – when I finally took flight – I missed them terribly. Keep in mind that a breakup has the same chemical composition and effects in the brain as drug withdrawal. Heroine is terrible shit – but, it can kill you to quit. Same goes for a partner. The brain and body don’t immediately process the nuances. They respond to the immediate separation and withdrawal. And, that’s what you’re feeling. It’s no fun. But, treat it just as it is: A withdrawal from “something” you’re used to. Don’t assign it anything more than that as you try to gain some distance. Calling her “B” is an excellent sign of keeping her object oriented. Give her no feelings or emotions beyond something you were quite used to having around. Now it’s time to move away from the something.

          I love that you’re using your clearly sharp mind in your favor. That will take you far, my man. Stay in Rational Mind, and out of Emotional Mind. Make all decisions from Rational Mind. Keep writing as well. That is serving you well. Articulating our feelings – particularly during times of duress – is cathartic and healing. Just free-hand journal stuff. Don’t worry about form or format. It’s healing. And, be okay with being your own mentor. You certainly seem to have sound mind, and great intellect within you. Be confident that this will be more than enough to carry you forward and far beyond this scenario. If it didn’t all hurt so bad, you wouldn’t be human. You’d be devoid of emotions and downright scary. You’d be a damned sociopath at best! But, you’re not. And, that’s a wonderful thing. I always say, “The way THRU the pain, IS the pain.” You’re right on track, my friend. There’s a reason each of us experiences the people, places and events we do. Our grand design is not haphazard. And, there’s a Higher Power with your best interests in mind. -JP

  4. Bb says:

    This article was great. I have a long journey ahead of me, since it’s been like 14 hours since he broke up with me.Self loathing, saddistic stage for me, yay. You know, I’ve never been in a proper relationship until now- almost two years. As every noobie, I had always imagined us lasting forever. Lately we fought a lot, but I alway thought it was just another storm followed by a rainbow. He obviously felt it differently. Said he didnt love me anymore and that he couldnt take it. What kills me is the fact that he did it the same day we came back from our vacation (btw, it was awesome). It was literally like a thousand needles stabbing my torso. I cried, I begged, I was incredibly pathetic, but then again- did he really had to use the classical “it’s me, not you” and “I wanna stay friends”. I dont wanna be friends with you, I want to fuck you and cuddle you, idiot. As an anxious person I’m pretty much dying inside. On the other hand, I could use some weight loss and Goatwhore really does take my mind of things.
    Wish me luck, cheers… love you for this article

    • Bb says:

      P.S. I’m still in love with him and cannot possibly comprehend how can anyone go from “I love you” to “I dont wanna see you again”. I guess I kinda saw it coming, but didnt have the guts to admit it. Suddenly he started to put his coworkers before me, drinking a lot, being cold and distanced. This one day on our vacation he got remotely drunk and kept texting his female coworker, which made me upset because romanting holiday should be for two, exclusively… I started kind of snooping and asking what was that about. He said it was nothing, that he definitely insnt the cheating type (and I do believe in that) however, when I asked him if he still loved me, there was a loooooong silence, then he admitted that he’s tired of how things work out lately. We promised to work on us that night. Thinking about it now, he probably just didnt want to ruin our holiday. Also I dont really believe what he said, I think he simply grown tired of me which pains me the most. I’m hurting so hard, can’t see clearly because I AM in love. It took me 20 goddamn years to even start dating and cant see myself being happy again because I’m probably just not the type everyone goes for. I’m kind of glad he took pitty on me and started dating me, which made me think it would actually last because it obviously takes guts to be with me…I’ve been through mupltiple crush phases with no happyending and I’m so affraid that I’ll be going through this again. I just want my boyfriend back, that much im hurting….
      Sorry for telling all this now, but I realized I need your pro help and that you wouldnt be able to provide from such a short comment like the first one…
      Thank you, you’re awesome, please help

      • Bb says:

        Turns out that he is dating his coworker i mentioned… He just replaced me, just like that. I dont want to sound like a hypocrite, but not only is she kind of plumpish and not pretty, shes not even a nice person. Before all that happened i tried to be nice and friendly to her, even though i Felt threatened by her, and she was just so unapproachable… I dont understand the appeal he sees in her…
        Now when school is coming im afraid. Im so afraid. My best friend is going abroad, my ex boyfriend probably laughs at me behind my back for all i know and im too shy to make new friends at school because when we were dating i didnt feel the need to aporoach them, which was a huge mistake…i Felt better, but now i feel cheated…

        • Jon Patrick says:

          Reading this latest piece of news should solidify everything for you. Someone so callous as to simply “replace” you with a coworker – no matter her appearance – is not someone worth your time, love, and dedication. I can tell you with certainty that all shitty feelings, thoughts, and emotions you now experience are completely external of your ex. Look, you’re putting this dude on a pedestal of which he’s nowhere near worthy. At best, he’s shady. Toast a friend, because you dodged a bullet and got out of a bad relationship. This will sink-in for you with time. IN THE INTERIM, it’s high-time that you focused on YOU. I’m guessing that your current feelings of insecurity are deeply rooted. Once we value ourselves, we create and hold non-negotiable personal boundaries. These boundaries act as impenetrable fences that keep-out the riff-raff. Life suddenly becomes less dramatic, tumultuous and considerably more peaceful when we adhere to boundaries.

          On the flip-side, when we’re feeling low and insecure, we let nearly any straggler into our lives. Why? Because we befriend and date those who reflect how we feel at any given moment. So, in the absence of feeling good about anything right now, you still have much control! For example, YOU control how this further plays-out with him, future friends at school, and how you feel in the next minute. You alone. So, take the steps necessary to re-write this script, with you as the successful protagonist in the center of it all. You will achieve peace. And, you WILL reach a point where you no longer care what he or anyone else thinks about you. Neither his opinion, nor anyone else’s has ANY bearing on who you are. Read that sentence again, because it’s rooted in an absolute truth.

          None of this is about him or anyone else. From this point forward, it’s about you. Re-write your future from this moment forward. Except this time, you are the one in control. And, add some kick-ass boundaries while you’re at it. -JP

      • Jon Patrick says:

        I want to add a few nuggets – with the hope of allaying some of your anxiety. Exactly how much was he drinking? I only ask because my last relationship was with a drinker. A heavy drinker. She tried to hide it … which was impossible. Hell, I’ve always liked to imbibe now and again. But, when my girlfriend would literally pass out from drinking while on dates, that’s no bueno. So, if he’s a heavy drinker, that was never going to work in your favor. Ever.

        I am concerned about all the negative self-chatter you’re experiencing. This is also a common side affect to any breakup. But, you’ve got to slow those thoughts down. It’s okay to have them – perfectly okay. Just do not cling to them. Think of your negative thoughts as waves passing over you. Let them approach, crest, and flow over and through you. Grasp and cling to none of it. When we are anxious, and generating anxious thoughts, those thoughts are hell-bent on peppering our psyche in a toxic barrage. These thoughts do NOT equal facts!! Got it? They’re simply anxious thoughts maligned against our own best interests. Anxiety can be a good thing – in small doses. Once it reaches a pinnacle as yours has, it’s a shitstorm of negative mojo. It’s also not accurate. Try, try, try to harness the power of your mind for good. Flip the script on the negative energy. I know what I’m asking is a tall order. It simply takes practice.

        You stated that, “It took me 20 goddamn years to even start dating and cant see myself being happy again because I’m probably just not the type everyone goes for. I’m kind of glad he took pity on me and started dating me, which made me think it would actually last because it obviously takes guts to be with me … I’ve been through multiple crush phases with no happy-ending and I’m so afraid that I’ll be going through this again.” It sounds like much of your anxiety and fear is rooted in “settling” into something simply out of fear of being alone. Trust me – there are far worse things than being alone. Being with the wrong person is merely one of them. – JP

    • Jon Patrick says:

      If I didn’t know any better, I’d say we were related! 😉 Forgive the ridiculous delay. As my grandmother used to say, “I’m up to my eyeballs in alligators.” Your description of your anxiety and pain made me laugh aloud. It’s so visceral and, honestly, you’ve got a great way with words. KEEP LEVERAGING THAT HUMOR!! It’s what will get you through this. How are you feeling at the moment?? -JP

      • Bb says:

        OH my, as expected, you did shine a light of reason on my problems. I realize that my thinking can be self destructive at times and the voice of reason you provided was just the thing i needed, thank you so much.
        The thing about him drinking…i was used to him being an occasional party heavy drinker, but it was always just fun. I started being cautious just a little while ago, no more than two months. It literally Felt as he was trying to drown Something inside of him and at that point i knew something was wrong. Every friendy meetup in a pub ended up in me crying because i knew Something was terribly wrong with him and me, and him kicking dirty rags in my face.
        Anyway, thanks again for your view and suggestions, you are completely right and im gonna try to stick to them! I feel better already, but mostly because there is and activity or a group of people that keeps me from being alone, so yea- i have to learn how to be alone and happy
        I dont know how to thank you, because you are literally the only person who manager to help me with just words. So awesome, you are the best!!!! Cheers

  5. CJ says:


    I loved this article. I’m in misery lane 150% and definitely in that self deprecating making an ass of myself by dressing up for when he drops my shit off and acting like im busy and in a hurry but then later that day after I feel better about things.. somehow im calling him and playing 21 reasons to get back with me. All of which ended in no’s and his answer is the same. It’s really hard and I’m eating like 1 snack a day.. not even a meal.. like almonds or carrots that Im forcing down but are definitely not working. My hands shake and I’m fine, then im not, then im fine, then I’m on the verge of tears. After 2 years, and working through him cheating in the first one, he broke up with me over the phone despite having been loving and sweet and sooo into me 4 days prior. We argued over something for like 3 days because we fundamentally didnt agree and eve though e called just to chat. he ended up just ending things. nothing i did worked. he said when i express myself i get emotional and escalate. so then when i spoke to him that night i was calm and somber he was bothered cuz i was nonchalant. then when i was trying to stay calm he said i was indifferent and I said I am because im not sure what to say or do now im listening to your feedback but then you dont like my attempt to address it. and then finally he just said it. I admits I was the best girlfriend ever to him and that I was wonderful and that there wasn’t anything he could want for, but he wants to break up with me? Even when he was the one who cheated before and I took him back and I worked with him? He was so mean in the way he did it and so cold it was causing me to wonder if he had ever actually loved me at all.

    How do I get through this? In my rational mind im insulted by him rejecting me and I knwo I was wondering if i wanted to stay with him but not so much that I was ready to. I know that I could do better but the love we had together was like love on fire, like no other and it was amazing (this is likely relative but I hadn’t had anything close before that). We looked and acted like the couple EVERYONE wants to be. I know that alot of that was me. I wanted to do things and have fun, I’m the great traveller, I was better than him at a lot of things and because i wanted a partner I showed him and improved him. I know I can have a better person but will the love ever be as great as ours was?

    My heart hurts physically and i get up in the middle of the night and since i have his PWs and stuff and we linked locations I can see who he’s in contact with and where he is. I had to tell myself to stop but the urge is SO strong. Im not sure how I feel, I feel like i can do better and he was horrible esp considering the way he broke up with me but then also its like there is this subconscious driver that when im alone or around him or w/e reaches up from the depths of w/e and just drives mean while in my head im going.. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!? I feel crazy and Idk what to do. He is dropping off 2 more things he forgot to bring at my job today and then he said he’d reconsider but i think he’s just goin to say no again and he asked to talk Wednesday.. but like you’re dropping things off on Tuesday.. so like why wait until Wedd to talk??

    • Jon Patrick says:

      Hey, CJ!! Well, damn – I’m sorry to see that you’re feeling dejected right now. First off, every crazy-ass sentiment you’re feeling is 100% the norm. It’s the emotional scab that forms as you begin to recover. Don’t keep picking at it. Remember, people are most attracted to CONFIDENCE. It’s ridiculous, I know – but, if you act like you don’t give a sh!t, he’ll wonder why you don’t give a sh!t. I’m guessing that you are both young. Young love is pretty cynical and cyclical, with plenty of ups and downs, and a lot of games/manipulations. It’s just the way it goes. Been there myself, regrettably. A LOT of this is about ego. You know this. You also know you’re too young, with too much potential ahead of you to settle. Right?? I know that you know this. Look, I’m not dissin’ him at all. He could be a great guy. But, at this point in your lives, you’re not great together. You’re oil and water together. There’s no need to blame anyone here. Life is about timing. Right now, the timing sucks. So, why not work on your happiness and well-being apart?

      The thing about relationships is that you don’t really want those polar opposites, where “love is on fire,” only to be reciprocated with repulsions and strife on the flip-side. Instead, you want a consistent and stable flow, without the drastic highs and lows. What you’ve had thus far is exhausting and tumultuous. It will also put you both through the ringer over time. Things that last are built to last – with sound foundations. The most healthy relationships are formed by two complete individuals who are great apart. And, when they’re together, they accentuate facets of each other. They never tear down – they build-up and add something to the other as separate entities. What I’m describing is rare, I know. But, it’s what is required of relationships built to last. I’d say that about half of us marry the right person. Maybe less, if you consider the statistics nationwide.

      At the moment, you’re in a no-win situation. No matter what you do, it’s not going to be right by him … for various reasons. None of which matter right now. What does matter, is that you remove all your attention off of him and on to you. It’s about distress tolerance and self-preservation right now. You’re deep in the bog. And, you must take care of CJ. I totally get that you’re hurting badly right now. Perhaps you should focus on two things:

      (1) You have been questioning him as a good boyfriend candidate to begin with. Maybe this is your ticket to freedom? Flip the scrip and look at this from a different angle. Take the ego out of it, and look at it through a different lens: The lens of your inner voice. The voice telling you that you’re better than this relationship.

      (2) Who are you without him? No one?! C’mon – we both know you were and remain a complete entity without him. You seem like a kick-ass chick, full of wanderlust and aspirations. None of which include him. Do you want an anchor; or do you want to raise your mainsail and ride the wind into the beautiful unknown and all that unfolds?? That was rhetorical. You already know the answer. Don’t fear the unknown, CJ. That’s what keeps so many of us “stuck.” Harness it. Channel all your sadness, anxiety, and fears into the present moment. Decide you want better, and act accordingly. This is your moment. This is your LIFE. Are you going to spend another minute of the most precious time you have dwelling on bullshit and being a victim? I don’t think so. -JP

  6. ravneet says:

    Hii jp!!

    Just wanted to share my situation.I am a software engineer and was doing great with my boyfriend of 6 years(going to be 6 in OCT). But one day i received a call from him and he said that he cannot take it anymore and he wants a breakup .I was shocked and i had suddenly gone blank.I literally cannot see anything may be it was a panic attack.I wept over phone and he then said that he ditched me and he can never look into my eyes again he is ashamed of his act.I did not have the courage to ask him who she was and why he did that.I even donot want to know about her and what were the conditions.I simply had no idea of the situation and the things that were going in his mind. We actually had a long distance relationship and i used to go to meet him every month after a journey of 5hours and even taking leaves from my office.We had plans to marry and i was about to shift with him and i was looking for a job in his city.But suddenly this happened.Now i just cannot gather myself up.Worst thing is that i even left my job for him because we are about to move in together.Now this anxiety is sinking me down .On the other hand he also told me that he always loved me .He was not fake.I tried him calling for 9 or 10 times ans sent him 3 messages with anger .But then i realized what is the benefit of calling a person who does not want me in his life? Right now i have made no contact with him .It has been 20 days and i blocked him from everywhere?
    But now the question is who is he to decide what is best for me?Who is he to decide when we should break up and when we should patch up? I have so many questions in my mind like why he ditched me.I have never done that.I supported him whenever he wanted.I was always there? Then why?? I need answers!! but i just cannot get them.He do not even wanted to see me anymore..I want to make peace with myself.I know he loved me and he was always there for me.But why suddenly?? i always think that he will come back but somewhere deep down i am broken completely.. i know he will move on in future but about me , ?? how should i manage myself.I always feel anxiety , feel butterflies in stomach every single minute.I cannot eat properly,Lost weight.
    I desperatly want to end this suffering .please advice me And ignoring me means that he does not want to be with me anymore?? how can i stop thinking about him

    • ravneet says:

      One thing more.. i am happy to forgive him for what he has done only if he realizes his mistake.I loved him and loved him unconditionally and in love you cannot hold grudges or let another one down .I even told him him but he is not ready. Our relationship was very intact,he was very understanding.I do not know where i was wrong and what went wrong on my side.We used to communicate very well..i just know one thing he is a very good guy and i love him..Should i meet him once? when should i communicate with him or not?? OR just let it go!!!!!! help me please

    • Jon Patrick says:

      Hi, Ravneet! You’ve certainly experienced a cruel method of breaking-up with someone. It’s also a section in our upcoming book (under “Types of Breakups“), because the way a breakup is delivered can affect the severity and even duration of pain. There is simply no reason to add extra insult to the injury of a breakup with cowardice or selfishness towards the the sufferer. I also believe this stuff always comes back karmically. What we put out into the world – both, good and bad – comes back to us in one way or another. We live in a closed system, and we are held accountable for our actions.

      In this instance, you need to move forward as if you’ll never have any further information. He handles this extremely callously, and with only his own agenda and feelings in mind. You partially answered your own question quite effectively when you wrote, “But then i realized what is the benefit of calling a person who does not want me in his life?” Precisely. He’s not worth another though from you. However, I know it’s hardly that easy to move forward. But, you made many sacrifices for a guy worth none of them. In fact, you didn’t actually know him at all. I doubt you ever would have fallen in love with someone like this. And, because of the physical distance between you, he was able to hide his true intentions and backstory from you. Even if you saw some red-flags here and there, you may have ignored them and extended him far too many courtesies. That’s just an assumption. The bottom line is, he’s not the guy you fell for. He’s merely an IDEA of the guy you fell for. In reality, he was never that person. And, he knows it because he has apologized to you, while admitting that he felt ashamed of his actions and treating you so poorly. Is that really a man worthy of your love and anguish? No.

      Nor will you ever fully understand his actions or the reasons behind them. You have all the information you need to move forward and recover from this. He handled things quite poorly, and hurt you horribly. That’s not how we act towards those we supposedly love, right? You would likely never have treated him in the same manner. I like to remind people that forgiveness is what we do for ourselves, not the other person. So, you need to forgive him as best you can for YOU. “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it kills the other person.” Resentment is incredibly toxic to ourselves, and holding on to them can harm us physically. Please don’t let him hurt you any further by holding onto any of this. Just the same, why do you assume you did something wrong, or that you were the impetus for his actions? Especially since he never said anything contrary. It sounds like things were great up until him telling you what he was doing. Had you been doing anything interpreted by him as bad or wrong, I’m certain he would have been happy to use this against you as his excuse to move on with someone else, etc. Right? I have not read anything of him citing instances where you did something to “push” him away somehow. So, it’s best that you stop blaming yourself as if you somehow made him “ditch” you.

      Finally, as for meeting him again, I cannot answer that for you. You say he’s a “good guy” and that you still love him. Does that, or will it change the outcome? Unlikely. Prior to making your decision as to whether or not to meet/talk with him again, it’s best to chain the possible outcomes of both not continuing to communicate with him, and doing so. Take out some paper, create two columns. At the top of one column write “Pros” and on the other “Cons.” Then list all the pros and cons of interacting with him again. While doing so, include how you it will make you feel, and all the possible outcomes of doing so. Again, only you know what’s best for you in the long run. I can say that if it were me, I typically go incommunicado. I also advise many people to do the same. If someone has hurt you so badly, you might be giving them additional opportunities to do the same. Just be careful. -JP

      • ravneet says:


        Thanks jp.. thanks a lot..!! I really really appreciate your openness and use of measured words to explain me the things that no one ever did before.
        Now I am trying to move forward with my life.Although i find it difficult in the morning to wake up with the same pain in the heart.But somewhere i know that i could never forgive him for the things he has done to me.I wonder is this the nature of every human being that when he has everything in his hand ,love ,money, family etc why he keeps on looking outside in search of something else? I really donot understand this.. what is it that satisfies a human soul ? what else would i need if i have love in my life.??
        I know i will never get my answers from him.I have blocked him from everywhere.And after a month of grief and gloom, i realized that i will never take him back even at some point of life he tries to communicate with me and only my heart knows after how much courage and struggle, i am able to think of this decision.But I still have so many things with me that belongs to him or which are somewhere linked to him,I feel nausea-tic when i look at those things may be i should dump all those things in the gutter.:-)
        The most important thing that i have learnt from this is that you have no control on others life ,You can just love them,You can hate them ,You can leave them, You can care for them, But you simply cannot make them love you back,if they donot want to.I know i have to move forward with hope of a bright future.because i am sick of this depression , i am sick of his thoughts,.And you were Damn right when you said that i may have ignored some of the red flags.Now i remember all the red flags that were screaming but i simply ignored them because i was blinded by my faith and love for him.Sometimes i feel like slapping him for what he has done(lol) may be then i will feel better.. I just wanted to forget everything now everything related to him .. There is One thing that bothers me is that if he always wanted to separate or if he always had a plan like that then why was he bahaving normal for so long? and why he had waited for so long to do this ?May be he was not in love with me ever?AHHH…these questions are so frustrating to me.And find myself thinking about these in the middle of the night and the thought that he will be having sound sleep without me somewhere ,hurts a lot..but i will move forward..

        In the end i just want to thank you sir for your precious time and thoughts.!! I will always remember those ..u are wonderfull!

        • Jon Patrick says:

          Hi, Ravneet! I’m impressed with the level of clarity you’ve achieved as of late. You are sending yourself some solid messages – particularly with regard to blocking him from your life, and knowing you won’t get anything you need from him. I am especially glad to see that you refuse to revert and allow him back into the picture. I truly hope you’ve maintained this steadfast position.

          As for having some of his possessions, I trust that you have properly “disposed” of them thus far. He doesn’t deserve so much as a courtesy call to retrieve them. Just discard immediately (if you have not already done so). Please don’t berate yourself for missing red-flags. WE ALL DO! As long as you use this as a learning lesson, than it’s not a loss wasted. We often ignore red-flags simply because we don’t want to believe the object of our time and affection is as detrimental to us as we might think. Indeed, we become “blinded by faith and love” as you’ve stated. It happens. It’s also healthy to feel some anger now. It’s all part of the process.

          You asked about something that’s lingering in your mind: “There is One thing that bothers me is that if he always wanted to separate or if he always had a plan like that then why was he bahaving normal for so long? and why he had waited for so long to do this? May be he was not in love with me ever?
          (1) The reasons – or, lack thereof – don’t matter one bit. Cut all mental ties that fixate upon him. He’s not worth a smidgen of your mental and emotional real estate. We are all held accountable for our behaviors at some point.
          (2) Some people are so insecure with themselves and fear being alone so much that they keep someone on-the-hook while they search for something else. This says plenty about them, and nothing about the people they use along the way.

          Walk away with peace in your heart and mind. You deserve far more. Close the door on all of this forever. He’s not worth another thought. Again, none of his selfish antics reflect upon you. He admitted to that long ago. Remember? 😉 -JP

  7. Bobbi says:

    I’d like to say that I absolutely loved your article! I was in stitches the whole time I was reading it. So well written and reflects break ups to a T. Thank you so much for making me laugh and brightening up my day. I will read it every time I feel down. :)

  8. roger says:

    I hope you could shed some light and help on this situation. . At the start of 2014 I started dating a girl. We went out for about 3 months until she admitted that she was not over her ex and needed to be by herself and get through some of the emotional baggage she has. I supported this decision and said I would stay by her as a friend. Over the next few months we would see each other now and then to catch up, it was hard for me because I had strong feelings for her and wanted more but understood that people have always abandoned her. We continued catching up now and then until last October. Then we didn’t speak for months. Earlier this year in January, she said she wanted to catch up which I agreed to. The relationship blossomed as she felt she was happy with me and really sure about herself that she was ready for another relationship. As the relationship progressed I learnt from her that her ex boyfriend was a narcissist and treated her very badly. She was emotionally abused while she lived with him in Australia for a year and half, and was also physically abused, he used to choke her. In the last few months I noticed that she was getting more distant with me, however, I ignored this and thought she was just doing her own thing in life. However, three weeks ago she said that she needed to step back away from us and concentrate on herself. She said she was seeing a councilor which I was very happy about. I said I would go through this journey together with her, however, she said she needed to do this by herself, she needed to learn to trust herself and her decisions. The reason for her distance with me in the last few months was that she would get panic attacks and anxiety when seeing me. She said she is terrified of commitment and to give herself to me. She said she has not been herself for the past 2 years since breaking up her ex, she said she used to be such a loving person but hasn’t been herself and needs to work hard to find herself again. I ended it by saying that I love her and respect her decision. I told her that whatever happens I just want her to be happy. I asked if there would be another chance for us in the future and she said that what will be, will be, but to not put my life on hold while she sorts herself out. recently she txt me yesterday because I had given her a birthday gift and she asked if we could catch up soon. I told her that, she knows how I feel about her and I just cant “catch up”, however, I would always be there for her if she needed me. She said she understood and respected my decision. My question is have I ruined this for any potential future with us? She took a step back so she can heal, and I need to do the same thing. The other question was I have stood by this girl, and understand that she has gone through some terrible experiences, once she finds herself and works through her issues with her councilor would she try and possibly come back into my life? I love this girl, but like ive said, whatever happens, whether it be with me, or someone else, I just want her to be happy and work through her panic and anxiety.

    • Jon Patrick says:

      Hi, Roger. I’m hoping to provide you some guidance and semblance of relief here. So here goes …
      The first thing that jumped out – and, I mean immediately, and jumped out hard – is that she was hardcore rebounding when you met her. You were immediately in a no-win scenario. I think most of us have been there. When we let our guard down, or do not maintain strict boundaries, we can allow a heartsick drifter in. No bueno, brother. I cannot think of a single situation where trying to save someone, or be their support system, work out favorably. It typically results in getting shit on instead. Personally, I treat women fresh out of a long-term relationship exactly as I would if I stumble upon a hurt, stray animal: I back away cautiously, never taking my eyes off of them until I’m safely around a corner. Otherwise, you get proverbially bitten. That explains at least the first phase of your relationship with her.

      You hung in there like a warrior awaiting her emotional availability, until the day she said she was ready (January). Except that she wasn’t. This poor woman is damaged goods, my friend. To no fault of her own. She needs help – years of it. And, you simply cannot expect yourself to go on this journey with her. It’s unfortunate, but not the horse you want to hitch your wagon to. I have now compared her to both a bad horse AND a wounded feral animal. I don’t mean to – I just love analogies. And, animals. Anyhow, victims of any type of abuse require intense therapy. They only end-up in those situations because they start from a place of low self-esteem to begin with. Now some abusive a-hole in Australia has greatly exacerbated her lack of self-love. Poor woman. You cannot fix her, Roger. YOU CAN’T. And, you shouldn’t want to. You should want someone on equal footing, whom brings an equal amount of HEALTHY partnership to the union.

      My concern for you, brother, is that you’re asking if maybe YOU have done something to potentially mess things up in the future with her. She may never be ready for a sound relationship based on mutual love, trust, and respect, etc. I’m not her therapist, and can only imagine what she is dealing with. But, she has to get the help she needs on her own. Part of her recovery is first recognizing that she needs it, and then pursuing the therapy required until she is whole again. There is no way to know what all of that will entail, or how long it will take. You did the absolute right thing by taking a big step back and letting her work on what she needs to address, while preserving your own mental and emotional well-being. Stay the course, Roger!!

      You also asked, “Once she finds herself, and works through her issues with her councilor would she try and possibly come back into my life?” I honestly believed that she answered that question best when she told you not to put your life on-hold while she sorted herself out. I could not say it better. Whether or not she reappears in your life seeking friendship or more, you need to be a pillar, Roger. Meaning, you need to be so rock solid and content without her, that no matter what state-of-mind she might be in (and, I’m hoping it’s a much better one!), that it does not sway you in any way. She’s right – you need to move forward with your life and not expend another moment hoping. Hope is dope, brother. Why not take care of Roger for awhile?? It’s fine to care for and want the best for her. But, you cannot save her. And, you cannot risk unhappiness or hurt while weathering a storm you shouldn’t even be in. Ya know?? You deserve happiness, peace of mind, and a great relationship just as she does. She does not seem anywhere near ready. I mean it when I say that she may never be. It all depends on the work she is willing to put in for herself.

      Remember: When someone is drowning, you throw them a life preserver. You don’t swim to them, and let them drag you under. -JP

  9. RF says:

    Hello JP, just hoping you can help. My girlfriend of 6 years broke up with me 4 months ago. About two months after we broke up she starting a guy 13 years younger than her. When I found out I sent her a slew of horrible texts, because I was hurt that she quickly started dating again, and not only dating but was in an actually relationship with this kid. She gave him my number and he called threatening me to leave her alone. I filed a complaint against him due to threat against my life. My ex and I never had any violent outburst toward each other no matter how angry we got, just the usually rude texts hear and there. Anyway as per advice of police I decided not communicate with her anymore to not make matters worse.

    5 days later she calls at 5am saying she wants to talk, we meet up and speak. She is all teary eyed telling me how much she loves me and never stopped loving me. Her and the younger guy are not talking anymore. However this guys proceeds to send me texts and sends of pictures of he and my ex having sex. He began sending her messages and telling her she is a whore that gave him STDs, he even had his ex-girlfriend get involved calling my ex an old girl that gave her man STDs. My ex eventually went to police to make a report.

    2 days later the police called me telling me that my ex dropped charges and that the two of them came in together and she dropped the charges against saying it was mistake. Now the two them are back together. I am so pissed that my ex brought me into this farce. And all I got of this was her apologizing saying she was confused?( BTW she is 41) Any advice or thoughts would help………

    • Jon Patrick says:

      Hey, RF! Your story was shocking. And, in no part due to your behavior. This woman’s lack of bearing in life has sucked you into a vortex of massive bullshit. She’s suffering some sort of life crisis that none of us need to analyze on account of it’s pointlessness. By bringing an immature guy into the mix, she crossed a point of no return. My best and ONLY advice to you is to … RUN. I realize you spent 6 years with this woman, but what she has done to you – not once, but twice in short order – is unacceptable. I’m not saying harbor ill-well or resentment towards her. She needs some help and guidance. But, not from you. Your best move is to cut and flee. Block all incoming comms, and realize this could have escalated far worse, far more quickly. I am thankful it did not.

      I know you are feeling a myriad of crappy emotions right now. But, give yourself some huge props for handling this masterfully. So, you sent some angry texts. I’m sure the cops understood your state of mind at the time. You didn’t get hurt, arrested, or back together (that I’m aware). You can walk away from this trainwreck intact.

      We all get confused at one time or another. It’s how we handle such life-points that matter. She could have come to you openly. She owed you that after 6 years. Instead, she chose to stray and drag you down with her. Do you ever think you can trust someone so callous with your heart and well-being? I couldn’t. I’m all about second chances. But, it seems she quickly blew that one too. If you walk now, you can’t get burned by her again. If you allow her back in, you’ll always wonder. Are you a betting man? -JP

  10. DC says:

    What a respite this site has been, from the articles by JP and Tom, to everyone sharing their experiences. Keep em coming!

    As for myself I’m 41, never married, clean and sober 4.5 years now so I’ve done quite a bit of work on myself, or so I though, and will continue to do so through a plan of recovery. Which is one of the reason I’m beating the hell of myself now. I’ve been taught to let go, life is all about acceptance, my Higher Power has a plan for me if I just get out of my way, etc. So I’m really pissed at myself and my behavior these past few weeks! Some background on the woman I fell for. She’s 36, married young, had a child, divorced after 7 years, married again, now separated for about 2 years and going through a divorce.

    My story-Randomly one evening I’m on the way home from a concert with a few buddies and sit down on the train next to an attractive lady. I start chatting her up and find out she was at the same concert, alone. I don’t care about that, I find it admirable, though I did sense an insecurity in her. I asked her for coffee sometime. She said sure, gave me her number, and I hopped off the train. I texted her right away saying I loved her eyes and glasses and she responded saying wow, thank you. While we were chatting on the train she said she was moving for 2 months so I’m like damn, but whatever, 2 months is no big deal.

    The following AM I text her “Crazy question, but are you interested in going to see such and such next Saturday?” It’s the same performer we saw the night before in a city 2.5 hours away. Her response is “awesome idea!” So i’m thinking holy crap, I found someone as crazy and impulsive as me! Anyways we text/talk Sunday, a lot, text/talk Monday, a lot, and agree to meet for a walk and coffee Monday evening. On my way to her place she calls me to say meet me at the gas station in 10 minutes. Her reason being her friend, who’m owns the house she lives in, doesn’t want a stranger coming by. Red flag #1. Anyways when she pulls up and hops out of her truck it’s pure magnetism. We embrace, I kiss her on the cheek and away we go. Immediately we’re holding hands, this woman is absolutely enthralled with me, as I with her. Not what I’m used to on both accounts. She says no guy has ever treated her this way, holding her hand so quickly, affection, etc. I’m thinking that’s strange, though she’s lived and spent almost all her time in a kinda hick town whereas I work in a metropolis, lived downtown, but I now commute in.

    We simply have a blast together. I find her funny, tones of personality, we simply hit it off so well. On the way back to her vehicle her son calls and she tells him a fib, that she’s out with her second husband. Red flag #2. I question her and she says she feels horrible, but she’s protecting her son, because he really like the last guy she dated. I say understandable, and from a few people I’ve talked to this is common. Anyways we get back to the gas station parking lot where her truck is and have far too much fun, far too much. She says she just feels so comfortable with me and that that she doesn’t usually do this-and no there was no intercourse-but geez it was crazy.

    Anyways the next couple days are constant texting/chatting on the phone. I ask her even though she’s going away for 4 months are you looking for a relationship-yes 4 months now, she initially told me 2 on the train. When I questioned that she just said she wasn’t really thinking on the train, and really doesn’t know how long she’ll be gone, maximum 4 months. Says she’s going because her previous husband had a mental breakdown and ran them into a bunch of debt, and that she can work crazy hours out there and make good money to bring home, pay off some debt and get a down payment for a house which will improve her living situation with her son. Her response is yes, she’d like a monogamous relationship so here we are! Boyfriend/girlfriend after meeting 2-3 days previous and one 4 hour date. Crazy shit!

    Wednesday I decide to surprise her at the ball park she told me she’s playing at. She seems happy I showed up and tells me no bf has ever came to watch her play ball. I was worried it would look like I was stalking her but she seemed genuinely happy I came to watch her. While walking away from the park though she didn’t introduce me to her friend we were walking with. When I questioned her she said her friend had been trying to set her up with her brother, and didn’t want to hurt her/his feelings. Another red flag!

    Anyways we go out Friday night and have a wonderful time. Some serious conversation about honesty, fears, etc. She’s quite insecure, or at least playing that card, so I’m talking to her about my program and what I’ve done to alleviate some of the stuff I deal with. Pretty damn ironic as it turns out. I’m also telling her how wonderful and beautiful I think she is. Saturday night is our big show, and what a night we both have. Likely one of the most joyous evenings I’ve had in my life. We’re both shining, it’s simply indescribable. She spends the night, which was wonderful, cept she snores like a monster!

    Anyways it’s still constant texting/chatting though she has warned me she can be a bitch. She often talks of how she’s been through hell with her ex’s mental illness, and she also has this incredible fear of her first husband. She assures me he didn’t beat her but just neglected her. Guess I’m thinking I’m the guy for this woman, emotionally stable-have to laugh at that now, financially stable, ok looking, honest, genuine, know how to treat a lady, etc.

    We’re now talking about her going away, but trying not to. I assure her it’s no big deal, that I can fly out to see her often. She’s not up to the idea, says she’ll be too busy working. Red flag # I lost track! Anyways Wednesday rolls along and the texting is starting to dwindle. Instead of relying on my Higher Power and my program I immediately start thinking there’s something wrong, and I try to manage the situation. She’s out with a friend and says she’ll call me later but doesn’t. I’m lying in bed freiking out with panic attacks. Serenity prayers aren’t working like they have in the past, or I’m not letting them. She wants to dump me, I’ve been to needy, she’s been lying all along, she’s cheating on me, etc. I then do something really stupid and send her an anonymous text. If she responds I’ll know she’s ok, but that she’s ignoring me. Next AM I text her asking her if she wants to tell me something and her response is no, that she was out helping her step daughter who was in some emotional pain. So now I feel like shit obviously, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking it would have only taken 10 seconds to flip me a text! Which is what I would have done.

    Anyways we have another wonderful night out at dinner and a play Thursday evening, which sadly enough, was the last time I saw her. I’d have never thought. :-( She was busy that weekend and I was hoping she’d accompany me to a friends BBQ Sunday but she was sick, and not up for it, and I guess I kinda pressured her hoping she’d feel better and go.Sunday night she didn’t respond to any texts or call so I, like a complete idiot, send her another anonymous text. No response Monday so I text her asking her how she’s doing and she calls me and now I know for sure something is wrong. She questions me about the texts, saying I gave my friends her number which I immediately deny, she says she’s still sick and that she’ll call me later, which she doesn’t, so I send her a text later that evening apologizing for my self centered behavior, saying I haven’t been understanding or sensitive to her situation. She was also in the process of selling a house with her second husband! So much shit going on in her life. Anyways she didn’t respond so by Monday AM I know I’m done, I send her a text saying we need to talk and that it’s obvious she’s not emotionally available.
    We chat and sure enough she wants to end it, saying she didn’t plan on meeting someone before she went away. I’m heart broken, but keeping my cool, simply say from where I’m sitting it looks like you just wanted a fling before you went away. She kinda moans and says don’t say that, but I remind her I explicitly asked if you wanted a relationship even though you’re going to be way….but there was obviously no point arguing here. I don’t recall much of the conversation, though the anonymous texts and my lie was just eating me up so I told her I had to come clean about something, and and I told her. I told her from the start I had trouble trusting her because of some of the red flags I pointed out, and her response was that simply “I understand.” Anyways I texted her a few hours later saying I’d have never thought Thursday would be the last time I saw her but that I wanted to thank her for the special time we did share together, and that maybe when she came back we’d both be in a better position to begin something. No response. I then texted her a couple days later stating how much the anonymous texts had upset me, and how I’d talked about honesty so much. She responded saying please don’t worry about it but thanks for the text. I replied a while later saying what a great gal I though she was. She then responded saying what a great guy I was and how much she’d learnt these past few weeks because of me. I then responded the next AM stating that if I’d been better at putting what I’d learned the past 5 years into practice I wouldn’t have behaved the way I did. I left it by saying she’s under no obligation but that if she’d like to keep in touch please do. No response. A couple days later I send her a funny pic of a mishap at my place saying in case you need a laugh, she responded by saying lol and that was it. I sent her a humorous reply, and that’s been it. Nothing for 2 days. And thanks to your site and advice I’m following the no contact rule. I am tempted to to call her before she goes away, this coming Sunday, and simply wish her all the best. Though I think it’s rather obvious I’ve left the ball in her court.

    Some of the things I’m dealing with-how the hell did I give away my heart so easily? This situation has really caused me to evaluate how low is my self esteem that the first woman to come along in a long time that I really like, that I’m attracted to, and of huge importance, that really liked me and was attracted to me, turned my life completely upside down. I’ve dated here and there since getting sober but nothing has really worked out, and I’ve been fine with that. I really thought, as much as I love women, that their importance to me and being in a relationship was starting to dwindle, which is a good thing. Yet this experience says otherwise!! Any insight would be greatly appreciated! Did I just screw up with the woman of my dreams? Is there something down the road possible with her when she comes back? Or did I just escape with a minor heartache that I’ll laugh about in a month or so compared to what this woman was really about?

    • Jon Patrick says:

      Based on your incredible insight and accurate self-reflection, I feel like I can be candid with you, Dan. This entire scenario should have been avoided. And, it could have. But, you omitted all personal boundaries. I actually just wrote on the subject of “boundaries” last week and posted it HERE You may want to give it a read.

      I loved reading your story because you were able to meticulously denote each instance where this manipulative and cunning woman behaved in a manner that raised ‘red flags’ to you. Yet, in every instance, you blew right past them, ignoring your own sound intuition, and diving headlong into her chaotic lair. “Did I just escape with a minor heartache that I’ll laugh about in a month or so compared to what this woman was really about?” We both know that you know the answer. This tale is laden in cliches. A primary one is, “The brighter the flame, the quicker the burn.” This faux “relationship” was built on sand not bedrock. It was also built on insecurities from both parties. But, hers were intertwined with a plethora of other unhealthy characteristics. She lived a dualistic existence. It’s a long list of errant things at play here. I feel like you simply dropped all boundaries, and opened your heart and life to whatever wayward stray would walk in and play havoc. We always receive that which reflects how we feel about ourselves. If we’re not feeling stable, we’ll attract unstable. And, vice versa. The reason this brief union was allowed to flourish, is solely because you allowed it. When we don’t respect ourselves first – no one else will. Then we are open to sociopaths of every assortment.

      You said it best, Dan: “If I’d been better at putting what I’d learned the past 5 years into practice I wouldn’t have behaved the way I did.” Damn straight. You never would have let her into your life. Instead, you would have recognized her as not a good fit for your emotional well-being. And, rightfully so. But, lesson learned!! DO NOT BERATE YOURSELF. Let go, Let God. We ALL make mistakes. We all let down our guard. And, we all falter. As long as we take something away from it, while not repeating it into a pattern, then it’s all for good. You should not want this woman back in your life. She even acknowledges the error of her ways via her texts. You are trying to reel her back in for more pain and dysfunction. The “No Contact” rule exists to protect us from further harm. It’s shutting the cage on a rabid coon that has just mauled your arm. Do you want to leave the door open for more mauling?! Of course not. Close her off, repair the emotional wounds by getting your head back into the Program, and bolster those boundaries, Brother!

      Tap into your friend and family pool ASAP. As you know, Dan, fellowship keeps us grounded in the current moment. We learn to live today. Our planning and scheming and dreaming about tomorrow becomes less time consuming. The idea of living one day at a time makes sense to us. The Program teaches that life is not about to happen, it is happening, and each moment is important. When we concentrate only on the future, we cannot be happy with today. We think if we could only get to tomorrow, things will be better. Tomorrow never comes, so we were always trapped in a hopeless situation. If, however, we live one day at a time, and grow moment by moment, we lower our worries and anxieties. ALL recovery is about today and living life in the present. Since you no longer have to manage the universe, you have only yourself to worry about today. You can let your Higher Power take care of tomorrow. -JP

      The future you shall know when it has come; before then, forget it. – Aeschylus

      • DC says:

        Thanks so much JP for responding and your candid insight. I had read your boundries article yesterday and again today! I also anxiously await your book. :-)
        So many ironies here, one of which is my long winded, play by play post, for such a short rendezvous! I will say I am feeling better, have an amazing support system, and will get through this! I’m actually tempted to forward the link to this post to my “ex friend!”
        I’m still unsure of what my thought pattern here was, or if I even had one. :-) First off, her going away, I’m certain, lead to plenty of anxiousness and my rushing things. Guess I was also thinking she’s just a gal with problems, like everyone else, who was simply trying to improve her life. Yes something seemed off, but I’m still struggling with “intuition” vs having fears not based with reality. An overly suspicious mind isn’t good either. Am I insane, still hanging onto the belief, that her explanations were plausible?
        I believe you are very correct with the “dualistic existence” comment. It seemed she was trying to be something she wasn’t, yet I’d often remind her how much I loved that she’d often wear rainboots, etc, and was a country girl at heart, and that I wanted her to just be herself. If as you say, she was lying, manipulative and cunning, I just don’t understand the motivation on her part.
        I know now how badly I ruminate, how trying to firgure shit out doesn’t do me any good, and most importantly, how I feel about myself and the world I live in is the single most important contributor to my peace and serenity. As bad as I’ve felt throughout this experience, I’m now aware that if I’m happy with Dan, no matter what happens in my life, I can handle it with my Higher Power.
        Thanks again JP, all the best!

        • Jon Patrick says:

          You have great insight, Dan – just keep listening to it. No matter what else went down with her, the fact remains that you both blazed into this headlong, rather than pacing things in order to naturally vet the relationship as it moved forward. And, if everything went down as you described, she was being secretive about things. I am a huge proponent of heeding red-flags immediately, rather than convincing ourselves that, “There must be a plausible explanation.” We must treat ourselves as the valuable asset that we are – rather than giving ourselves up and away to just anyone because it feels good in the moment. Keep a sharp sentry at the gates of your heart, my friend. -JP

          • Dan says:

            Thanks for the response JP. At times I’m still reeling at what occurred here unfortunately. I’ll have to locate that “sharp sentry” for the next one. :-) Most certainly one of the better lines I’ve come across.

  11. Steven T says:

    This is by far the most truthful and realistic breakup post I’ve ever seen, kudos!

    • matt says:

      Thanks for this JP. My ex broke sent me an email on Boxing Day to say we needed time apart. Of course at the time the sense of injustice seemed completely overwhelming. We had spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with her family and she had seemed distant and angry, even going as far to flip out over a misconstrued comment and continuely attacking my personality ; I don’t talk enough, I’m not funny, I never want to do anything etc. This was all said aside to her sister, but unfortunately was easily overheard by me. Then the fateful email arrived…

      We had a ‘clear the air talks’ in January where again all her grievances were outlined, however she stated she hadn’t made up mind indefinately and asked us to ‘reasses’ the situation in two months. This was the straw that broke the camels back for me. I had gone from coping to experiencing a nervous breakdown. I suppose I couldn’t get my head around how someone I loved and respected could completely emasculate me. I felt I had no control and so made the difficult decision in walking away and then proceeded to behave almost identically to what you’ve written in your blog ( although I went through a very distructive phase of plying myself with cocaine and Valium to help ease the overwhelming anxiety, which inevitably added another three months my acute condition).

      I also made the mistake of getting in contact, trying to persuade her that it could work and asking for answers as the why she behaved in the way she did. Of course it all fell on deaf ears. She didn’t want to know! Infact the only thing she did say was that we both needed to heal and rebuild and I needed to get over it.

      The fact remains I will never have the answers I want and she will probably never know the pain I experienced while going through this breakup. I’m still angry and at times beside myself (even after six bloody months)! I want to forgive but at the moment I can’t. This is obviously holding me back, but I suppose I’m still experiencing grief. Therapy has helped, but I’m still some way off in getting back to normality.

      After reading this I do sound like the victim. I made mistakes in our relationship, I know I did, but for it all to end it such a calculating manner has left its mark and made me question who I actually am.

      To this day I still have pangs of anxiety and find myself swearing under my breath. To do this day I still miss her, however I also know some day that this will end and I will have moved on – I just hope it’s sooner rather then later. If anyone is reading this, don’t hold onto the anger for too long. It won’t make you feel any better in the long run. Learning to forgive is difficult and I for one am not quite there yet. Hopefully one day I will be.

      Thank you JP.

      • Jon Patrick says:

        Hi, Matthew! I am incredibly sorry to learn of your pain and angst. Sadly, based on the amount of comments and emails we’ve been receiving as of late, this must be the “season of emotional abusers.” They come in both genders. And, anyone with their guard down can succumb to their twisted berating. Whenever a significant other is making comments that lead you to describe as, “Continually attacking my personality ; I don’t talk enough, I’m not funny, I never want to do anything etc.,” then you are likely dating an unhappy, abusive type. You also mentioned, “I couldn’t get my head around how someone I loved and respected could completely emasculate me.” That emasculation component is a primary tactic used by female abusers to dominate and reign control over their victims. Please cut yourself some major slack, because in the midst of the cloudy sphere of abuse, it’s oftentimes difficult to see the situation for what it is: Emotional Abuse.

        Honestly, the absolute best result is that you are away from her. These things always end badly. The ONLY solution is complete termination of all ties. It is not at all uncommon for male emotional abuse victims – who are otherwise completely gentle and respectful – to be “pushed” too far, and then physically react to their abuser with violence. Then it’s the male who gets into trouble, while no one will believe your side. Such a scenario gives emotional abusers even more satisfaction. It’s a sick, sick cycle. Please trust that you are in the best situation by being OUT of this. You can read similar comments here from other victims.

        Matt, it is your anxiety that is driving you back to her and wanting to make contact. To quell this, you have to rob the anxiety of its power by NOT responding. It’s called Opposite Action. In time, the anxiety will lose its power, and your rational mind will take the lead. Just remember that anything that leans your behavior in the direction of this woman will result in more pain and suffering. DO THE OPPOSITE. You cannot think your way into right actions.
        You have to act your way into right thinking. -JP

  12. Patricia says:

    I think this essay is the most helpful thing I have read about breakups even though it’s written from the male perspective. My anxiety has been through the roof even though I finally stopped all contact and am at least faking that I’m OK. I’m embarrassed by how hard I’m taking my breakup because the relationship was failing for a very long time. I actually don’t even know how we lasted as long as we did (11 years). But towards the very end, when the writing was on the wall, he started a new relationship and that is the part of this that is messing with my emotions so badly. Thank you so much for this writing. I feel like I found it at the perfect time and it is truly a gift.

    • JP says:

      I am sorry to hear of your anxiety and hurt, Patricia. I am quite surprised that you would feel “embarrassed” for taking the split so hard when the relationship lasted 11 years! That’s an extensive relationship, and no matter how bad it was failing, it’s still a vacancy of someone you were extensively used to having around. So many of us think that if the relationship was “bad” or toxic, etc. that we should not miss the person. I wish it worked that way. Everything you are feeling is perfectly within the realm of “normal.”

      As for him seemingly moving on with someone else, try not to read into it whatsoever. It could be a distraction, or how he is dealing with the breakup, etc. There is simply no way to know what is driving his behaviors. NO matter what he does, it is absolutely no reflection of your worth. Got it??

      Let us know if there is any guidance with which you need assistance. -JP

      • Patricia says:

        You have no idea how comforting the words “within the realm of normal” are to me. I just feel so unstable right now and it’s such a frightening feeling. I’m going through the motions of my life, work and home duties etc but my days are filled with regret, anxiety and sadness right now. I so appreciate you telling me that this his new relationship is not a reflection on me because that is the biggest part of this mess that is eating at me. Six months ago he tried to buy me an engagement ring for the fourth or fifth time to which I said “We are not ready for that until I feel like you can listen to my needs and issues without yelling at me or insulting me or storming out.” He was so difficult to communicate with and most of my friends and family thought he was a huge jerk but I was always hopeful that he would come around because I understood why he was the way he was. Towards the end I stopped allowing him to speak to me in his usual nasty way and I literally avoided being around him in order to preserve my self respect but that is his reason for moving into a new relationship. He says I completely brought his new relationship on myself by blowing him off! I guess I kind of did. I do know that I am a very attractive woman with a lot of great qualities and I have no trouble attracting men but I just don’t “feel” like I am, if that makes sense. I think it was the numerous years of holding on to hope in a hopeless situation and remaining loyal to an emotionally immature and manipulative man that has finally hit me over the head and the pain is simply overwhelming. I fantasized for so long that he would “get it” and realize how hurtful his words and behaviors were and look me in the eye and tell me how misguided he was and how he is ready to do things better and I would have been SO happy to be his wife! LOL. I must be crazy. I’m sorry for my rambling and thank you so much for your kind response JP

        • Patricia says:

          Also part of my embarrassment has been the manic number of angry and incredulous texts and emails I sent to him after I found out who he was with and how soon he got with her(possibly even before our official breakup). I was out of control and I so regret that I was so pathetic. Now I have him blocked on social media and my cell for my own sanity. I am trying so hard to preserve reclaim my dignity and stop torturing myself.

        • JP says:

          From what you describe, Patricia, it seems you have dodged a Stinger Missile in “losing” this guy. I know that doesn’t really help yet – but, it will gradually sink in with time. Just re-read what you wrote. Then ask yourself why/how this was an acceptable relationship or person to allow creating havoc in your life. On some level you were quite aware of his problems and the inherent dysfunction of the relationship. But, you did not heed your intuition which is where so many of us get into trouble.

          At first pass, he sounds like an emotionally abusive person – but, I will not make such a diagnoses here. His actions lead me to believe such, however. It is classical emotional abuse when someone blames their partner for their own sociopathic behavior. It’s his way of shirking any responsibility, while assigning all the blame on to you. It must be very liberating to live in his psyche. Good grief …

          Keep in mind that your own family and friends have your best interests in mind. It’s one thing to ignore your own sound judgment. But, you ignored outside counsel as well. That’s a red-flag to yourself that you were in a bad place. I only reiterate these things so that you come to realize this relationship for what it was: One not worth your time and emotional investment.

          He blamed you for “blowing him off.” Interesting. You SHOULD have blown him off. And, I’m fairly certain he knew that you should have left. Manipulators are masters at pushing boundaries until their victims have had enough. Oftentimes, after crossing such boundaries, they will do all they can to lure their victim back into their sphere of influence, only to abuse them further. No amount of wishful thinking is going to fix him or this situation, Patricia. Take some joy in your victory of FINALLY breaking the bonds that have held you there for so long. I’m so glad things did not get worse before you got out. People like this often never get the help they need. They simply find another “victim” to manipulate and emotionally abuse. To think he is suddenly going to have an epiphany and realize he was so wrong is not going to happen. Not with you, and likely not with anyone else either.

          Now go out with your friends and have a celebratory dinner, and toast to your new found freedom! -JP

          • Patricia says:

            Holy CRAP! You are so empathic JP it is uncanny. You are certainly right that I was in a very bad place when I began this relationship and I ignored so many red flags and the rollercoaster ride it turned into didn’t do much to help my state of mind. Someone close to me recently told me that he “preyed” on me which really resonated in my mind. You mention emotional abuse which I have recently come to realize is exactly what was going on throughout the entire relationship. I bent over backwards (until the latter months) to try to be on his good side and not make waves, all the while making excuses to myself and everyone else and usually being nothing but understanding of some horrible behaviors until I just felt that it was wrecking my soul. This man only ever apologized if I forced the issue but there would always be a “but”, which usually was “but you made me angry” or something similar. On some level I actually knew that withdrawing from him the way I did and standing up for myself would cause him to leave the relationship and I think I just didn’t have the courage to end things myself.

            Sociopath is another word a close friend used to describe him. I feel so foolish and naive and like I have some type of PTSD over it all, like I’m a “survivor” of something so damaging and I need to find a way to make sense of it all. I know that sounds overly dramatic but it sure feels that crazy in my head and body. I believe that some of the reason for my intense anxiety is that NOW I seriously need to think about myself and why it is that I attract and accept this type of person in my life. That is a huge and frightening endeavor but while I’m sorting that out I’m going to take your advice and have a toast (or a xanax) to my freedom. Free at last! God bless you JP.

          • JP says:

            Patricia, please trust me that the whirlwind of confusion you feel right now is also right on cue. Emotional abuse is often considered worse than physical in that the wounds often heal, but the damage done to the emotional and mental states of the victim take years to heal. Make not mistake – both are horrible. But, you definitely need outside help to heal from this. And, give yourself a LOT of time to emotionally recover. A year or more is not at all unrealistic.

            Do me a favor and Google, “help for victims of emotional abuse.” I don’t know in what geography you reside. Where I’m located there is a phenomenal program called, S.A.V.E. (Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments). Don’t let the name fool you – domestic violence INCLUDES emotional abuse. I know there are a few free programs with hotline numbers for you to access. PLEASE do so. Tell them your story. Even though you are currently away from his influence, these people commonly reel their victims back in. Whatever you do, avoid all contact. You will love yourself even more later for doing so. Just know that only pain and suffering will befall you if you go back in that direction. – JP

  13. daniel says:

    Hi, JP. I’ve noticed how amazing you’ve been at replying to your commenters. God I hope you keep doing it for people like us. From your advice I can tell you know what we’re going through from your own perspective. I hope one day to help people if I can. But I am one who needs some kind of extra help that doesn’t seem to exist. I’ll make the explanation short. I am 2 and a half months out of being dumped after a 3 year relationship. I’m in my late 20s. I decided that now would be the best time to realize my goal of learning spanish in another country, and took off about 3 weeks ago. I’ve had no contact with her for more than a month. I am a wreck. I do alright later in the day, but I wake up at night after terrible dreams about her sleeping with my friends and acting indifferent toward my feelings, and, of course, I feel like it really happened. The dreams bring on panic attacks and the first half of my day turns to shite. This all probably sounds pretty normal. What I’m having the most trouble with is how much of a ghost she is. I don’t think talking to her would be the right thing to do, the thought of talking to her gives me a small panic attack. But the weirdness of the fact that she’s just out there, doing whatever she’s doing, possibly acting like a totally different person, possibly sleeping with my friends, and not thinking about me at all, is making me feel f’ing crazy. I don’t feel normal. I can’t talk to my friends, I feel like they’ve slept with her. I don’t want to know what’s going on, yet I feel so turned upside down by not knowing what my partner of 3 years is doing. My sense of existence itself feels like it’s gone. I’m doing my best to work on myself, see any thoughts I have of her as a way to reflect on how I feel about myself, try to realize I need to have a better understanding of myself etc… but this doesn’t feel like it’ll go away. It doesn’t feel like normal break up pains. Please feel free to tell me all of this and more is normal and that the visions of her with other people and being a completely different and indifferent person will fade. I try to do meditations, I go to school, I watch movies. These things don’t always help. Any extra advice would be truly appreciated. Thank you.

    • daniel says:

      p.s. I have no access to counseling as I plan on living and going to school in this part of the world at least until I feel like I’m over this enough to go back home. So the isolation is good and bad in the way that I have something huge to work on, but that I have no access to counseling, and no close friends around. But going back home feels wrong anyway. Thanks again for helping all of us.

    • JP says:

      Hey, Daniel! First off, keep in mind that, “Rescued people, rescue people.” So, there’s a great chance that you will, in fact, be helping others in your own way – starting with your post. We all intimately understand your pain. The “no contact” rule is an excellent one. Being far away is even better. It provides an unfamiliar setting to stave off the whole post breakup nostalgia nightmare. That doesn’t mean we can escape our anxiety and pain, however. That crap follows us wherever we go. You’ve only dodged some of the other stuff by immersing yourself in a different location with an impressive life goal. This is actually a healthy exercise in “distress tolerance” and “productivity goals.” Clearly, however, your anxious thoughts are ruling your days. Not surprisingly. You’re correct – “It all sounds pretty normal.” It’s actually exceptionally normal. Right down to the dreams/nightmares. I had those regularly myself, as do so many others. They are extremely vivid and upsetting. But, THEY ARE NOT REAL. Just like your thoughts are not real. Especially the ones about her hooking-up with your friends.

      Regarding her being a “ghost,” that’s how many people handle breakups. They go completely incommunicado. It hurts too. We want to know we are missed … at the least. And, you are. No one goes three years without being missed, unless they were abusive. After a breakup, one of the most common concerns is being “forgotten.” It was definitely my own biggest fear as well. You’re not. Just because someone isn’t reaching out to you, doesn’t mean you’ve been replaced, forgotten, or loathed in some way. Think of how many people and things you’ve actually “replaced.” You really don’t. That’s not how life works, brother. So, take some solace there. What is she doing?? We don’t know. But, I’m pretty damn sure it’s none of what your anxious thoughts are driving you to think. If she’s a HEALTHY female, she will be allowing herself to process the past three years while taking serious time to heal from the loss. Even when we are the ones to end a relationship, it’s still a huge loss. Women are different than men in many wonderful ways. A primary one is that they typically don’t go whore around following a breakup, unless they’ve been dumped in a callous way and are seeking retribution or distraction. This doesn’t sound like your scenario at all. I’m not sure why you are concerned that she is sleeping with your friends. I’m guessing that anxiety is fueling those feelings.

      No matter how she is handling the breakup, all that matters is how YOU are handling things. You are doing so many things right. You truly are. Give yourself incredible man-cred for this. I’m serious. Daniel, I KNOW you don’t feel normal. You feel like you’re in complete disarray, hopeless, and maybe even like things will never be good again. This is all “stinkin’ thinkin'” … again, fueled by errant thoughts. These are temporary feelings that will pass. Let it all flow over you like waves. You cannot short-circuit the pain. But, the pain means you are RECOVERING. You don’t break an arm without letting it heal. You don’t break a heart without mending either. Most of us would rather have a broken arm.

      Though it’s phenomenal you are off and about pursuing such a cool endeavor, it’s not good that your support structure is far from you. Do you have access to any family or friends?? You need a breakup buddy. You need someone whom you can access regularly and talk with about your irrational fears and thoughts. I am hoping there is someone there – nearby. Even a new friend. It’s so tough to sort this crap out in your own head, without a soundboard. If nothing else, read the comments below. There are a LOT of similar stories. Additionally, write to us any time. Just know in your heart that this IS normal. ALL of it. You feel completely disoriented and in intense pain. Again, the pain is part of recovery. If you somehow recovered from it sans the pain, you’d be a Cyborg.

      I am genuinely proud of you for all the formidable techniques you are utilizing. If you are meditating, then you probably understand the dire importance of remaining in the moment at all times. Don’t allow yourself to look back on the past and become nostalgic, nor to the future and become even more anxious. But, live in the current moment – always. For that is where living is. It’s the only place life is. In the between times, try to keep yourself immersed in healthy distractions. Force yourself to eat, get up early, so you can get to sleep at night, and exercise regularly. ACCEPT this entire scenario as part of your path. You are precisely where you’re supposed to be. You are stronger than this breakup, Daniel. You are. So, you manage the breakup – not vice versa.

      She IS thinking about you. That’s how breakups work – especially after three years. In what context, I don’t know. Again, it doesn’t matter. For the time being, all that matters is your recovery. Life has a funny way of moving our lives around to the places we need to be. We don’t always agree with it, but it will makes sense later. This I know. Right now, you are supposed to be where you are. Be kind to yourself. And, counter the anxious thoughts regarding what she might be doing with others with RATIONAL thoughts that your feelings about her are most certainly not accurate. Write any time if you need a boost. You have everything you need within you to overcome how crazy this all feels. – JP

      • daniel says:

        Man. Thank you, JP. You are doing so much for people by commenting, and doing so so damn thoughtfully. I don’t think there’s much more someone could say. If I were somewhere close I’d pay you to be my counselor, licensed or not. I haven’t heard or read concentrated advice like this anywhere else, and it’s nice to be given credit, although it’s hard to do for myself through all of this. I’d like to take you up on your offer to write to you for a boost sometime. I also want to invite anyone who’s reading this to feel free to get in touch with me if you want someone to talk to who’s going through the same thing. The more the merrier, maybe.
        JP, my paranoia about her with friends is down a bit, and I’ve moved on to a new phase. It mostly involves wondering how I can give up hope. I don’t want to overstep and post or ask too much, so I’ll ask this last question and hope you have the time to answer it and be done for a while. If she and I loved each other when we broke up, but knew we weren’t in the right places to be with together at the time, and the last thing she said was ‘I love you and miss you fiercely and I hold hope for us but we’ve got to give it a year at least’, how am I supposed to move forward? I know that even if it does work out somehow in the future, it will be through a mix of self improvement, and somehow still feeling like it was the right thing to get back together after time apart. Logically I know that I can’t hold on to this blurry time line, and hope like that seems like it will impede any new and true self awareness. So the logic is there, but my subconscious won’t let go. And I love her dearly. I’m almost positive you’re not going to tell me that I should let her know somehow that I’m making huge changes that were some that I couldn’t yet make thus partially causing the end of the relationship. But since I’m pretty sure you’re going to tell me to stay the course and the only real way to self improve is by getting over it, I’m asking just in case you have some wisdom that says I should tell her. I want it to work, she said the same, but we both know that it won’t unless we make some serious personal adjustments in ourselves and things line up pretty nicely. Holding out hope for someone I can’t talk to is unreasonable, but your advice for my other phase was so helpful, felt like I needed to ask. And are there any online breakup programs you’ve heard of or that you’d recommend? There’s one out there about positive psychology by a woman named Amelie Chance that I wondered if you’d heard of. Thank you, immensely, for what you do, and for reading such longwinded messages. It probably burns you out sometimes, but you’re doing something important and direly needed. Any relief we can get is a step in the right direction, and I got some when I read your last reply. Thank you, hope to hear from you soon. – Daniel

        • JP says:

          It’s a sincere pleasure to hear from you again, Daniel – thank you! Your gracious feedback is exceptionally appreciated. Knowing that I am helping sustains and keeps me engaged with this project. And, please don’t think twice about writing again with additional questions – that’s why we’re here, my man.

          The “giving-up hope” component is a tough hurdle. Actually, the definition of forgiveness is “giving-up the hope of a different past.” So, you can start with forgiving her and yourself for any part of the breakup. Forgiveness is often erroneously thought of as something for the other person. Conversely, it’s more for ourselves in that it frees us from remorse, regret, anger, etc. Secondly, you’ve really got nothing for which to inflict blame upon yourself, which is incredibly freeing! To have someone love you “fiercely” at the time of your split and after is a colossal boost to the psyche. You might notice my previous comments below regarding life’s timing – how EVERYTHING in life comes down to timing. It does not matter how right we can be for someone, and vice versa, if the timing is off. It’s one of life’s bizarre “fuck-you’s.” It was only a year ago that I met one of the greatest, most compatible, sexy women in recent memory. But, she was recently out of a divorce. She tried to date me, but we both knew she wasn’t ready as she continued to try to “force” things.

          This is where the beautiful gift of “acceptance” comes into play. Give yourself a hefty dose right now. Not only acceptance of the situation as it lays, but acceptance of life’s plans for YOU. We are not in control on this crazy ride, Daniel. The sooner you accept the inevitable, and try to appreciate that you have many wonderful things coming your way – which may or may not include reuniting with her one day – the sooner you will obtain the inner peace that you need and deserve. Make sense? And, you’re correct – telling her that you’re making all the necessary changes you agreed upon is something we typically do when we still aren’t there. It’s a sort of self-promoting sales/marketing pitch to shorten the recovery process and get back what we want, despite not being ready or fully refined just yet.

          When you can reach out to her with NO AGENDA, then you’ll be ready to make contact. Chances are, at the moment, you want to reach out with the hope of a certain outcome. That will only get you right back to where you both were. When you’ve become the man you want to be, it will come across in your interactions and demeanor at the right time. Prior to that, you’re just doing a “pre-sale” to pique her interest in the potentiality of the “future you.” Again, you certainly have not been forgotten – nor will you be. But, neither of you have had the time to make or implement the agreed upon changes.

          That said, if you can draft a hand-written note with no reply address and NO expectations of a reply to let her know you’re thinking of her, while also working on yourself, then okay. But, only if doing so is not to solicit a reply OR if it keeps you engaged and focusing on her rather than on you. Personally, I don’t think you’re quite there yet. But, I am not privy to all the information, so I must defer to you.

          Regarding Amelie Chance or others, unfortunately I do not have any specific suggestions as I try not to read too much out there at the risk of it subconsciously permeating into my own work. But, I looked her up. Rather than try to vet her or anyone, I always defer back to CBT/DBT skills during a breakup. It is also what Dr. McDonagh and I are using in the new book – because CBT is arguably the best stuff out there – even better than meds. It has the clinical success outcomes to back it up, and is proven to be more effective long-term than medication.

          Consider reviewing “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” or “CBT” online. There is a ton of great information on the subject out there, so read all that you can. But, focus on the actual skills components. You can begin to immerse yourself with this guide from the VA here:

          I cannot say enough about the effectiveness of CBT. It’s best if you can practice the skills while under the direction of a therapist. You can still greatly benefit, however, in the absence of such. Do a Google search under something like, “CBT self-help therapy” to get started.

          I hope this boost helps ya, Daniel – while providing a bit of beneficial homework. Keep focused, and keep us posted! -JP

          • daniel says:

            I don’t want to gush, but damn, what an excellent writer you are, and with such intuition. You’re right. It would still be with an agenda that I sent anything now. It’s incredibly hard to push my emotional mind out, sometimes, trying to frantically think of any way to get a hold on my situation, but I’ll continue to trudge through, despite the constant ‘fuck you’s’ that life wakes me up with every morning. The somewhat romanticized idea of being a man with more self esteem, to be at a place in which I can meet again with her in a year and not feel like my life will depend on the outcome of our relationship, seems far away. Almost impossible to believe could happen. But I might as well keep trying. Thank you again. If there’s any way I can help you with testimony or some kind of narrative about the current and firsthand madness that is trying to get through this, as someone who was already diagnosed with depression and anxiety, please let me know immediately. I’ll be back here to either ask for more advice or to update about progress in a while. -Daniel

          • JP says:

            Hey, Daniel! I am just stoked that you are starting to feel some clarity about things. That’s a solid start. I’ve been reading a great book this week called, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. Consider giving it a read. Though it is based in Eastern Philosophy – about which I am not as well versed as I’d like to be – it is laced with incredible nuggets of wisdom. The writing aims to appeal to everyone, while illustrating that there is a fundamental opportunity for happiness right within our reach, yet we usually miss it – ironically, while we are caught up in attempt to escape pain and suffering. As I’ve been reading it, it struck me that you’d directly benefit from much of it’s insight and thought provoking content. Just something to add to your CBT training! 😉

            Keep on your A-game, brother. There will be days and moments harder/easier than others. Despite the perceived setbacks, you ARE healing. Just keep working on you and becoming a better man each and every moment. And, seriously consider picking-up the book. It will resonate with you immediately. -JP

          • daniel says:

            thanks for the book recommendation. It’s pretty difficult to get anything shipped to the country in which I’m living, so I’m going to try to figure out how to download e-books. My situation is getting better at a trudging pace, but I could use a boost, if you have the time. It’s hard to remember the idea of having to be over her before I’m strong enough to entertain the idea of being in it with her again. A problem that won’t leave me alone is the idea that if there’s absolutely no contact, i might be damning our chances. Like you said, I have no control over this ride, so thinking it through, I could say that whatever happens, i need to be a fulller self before anything could happen with us. It’s just really fucking hard. I still have flashes of her, what she might be doing, who she might be with, whether she’s changed her haircut, popping into mind at inopportune times. I’ve tried to use basic cbt exercises, but without a coach it feels difficult. I guess if I could ask for something from you (once again), I would ask for some confirmation that, of course, no doubt, no contact is the smartest thing i could do. You’re help is invaluable. Hopefully I’ll be writing again in a couple months only to thank you again and let people here know that one can overcome the panicky hellish confusion world destroyer that is a break up. Thank you.

          • Jon Patrick says:

            Hey, Daniel! I am glad to hear you are healing – albeit slowly. It takes what it takes. Hopefully, you were able to access an eBook platform. It’s your anxiety that’s fueling the desire to make contact with her. That said, you are in a unique scenario in that you’re so far away. This is a blessing actually, because you have no shared memories where you are. But, anxiety follows us everywhere.

            If you can reach out (assuming you have not already) without being negatively impacted by any type of reply that she might provide – OR – if you are not negatively impacted by a potential lack of reply – then do so. Personally, I still don’t think you are there yet. And, the danger in making contact from within n vulnerable space, is that you can be further tanked by the outcome. Just as you cannot toss a pebble into a still pond without ripples, you cannot send an email/letter/text to her without a result. Even a lack of response is an outcome that can have a profound effect. Again, if you can do this without the outcome affecting you negatively, then by all means do so. My “no contact” advisory was simply a tactic of self-preservation for you.

            Your anxiety is contriving all sorts of hurtful plots in your mind. These are nothing more than thoughts that do not equal reality. And, they hurt. But, right now you are hurting yourself with false constructs that are no way based in facts. If you make contact and don’t receive the exact response/tone/inflection/etc. that you were hoping for, you MIGHT feel pain rooted in reality. So, you have to determine what is preferred. -JP

          • daniel says:

            Hey, JP. Hope all’s going smoothly. ‘Going Ghost’ was a great new addition. So, things have gotten easier, not so many stabs in the stomach at every thought of her. I’m dating a cute girl who lives in this country, which has helped although it’s new and odd feeling. We’ll see how it goes. The reason I write today is because my ex broke no contact with an email saying ‘I miss you, been missing you, and just wanted to say hi. Probably not ready to talk, but wanted to know I’m here and love you.’ As much as I’ve been dying for this email, I’ve chosen not to respond. If I did, I’d say something about nurturing any hope she still has and talking again in a few months, but I feel like doing this would slightly open up the wounds. I don’t have any real power over the future, so even if there is hope, it seems logical that asking her to keep hope would be fruitless… right? Is this not the time to let her know how much better things are on my end without a strong agenda and without worry that she’ll respond with the fact that she’s already totally done? Just a weak guy looking for confirmation again. I truly appreciate it, and will keep holding off unless I get some unexpected advice here. Continuing to try to trust myself and you as the mountaintop guru. THank you

          • Jon Patrick says:

            Hi, Daniel! I’m way behind on emails as of late. I’m also quite behind on website posts. Thank you for your patience. It’s tough to work 60 hours per week at a day job, work on the book with publishers, and keep on top of emails. Now, I’m just making excuses. 😉

            I’m happy to hear that you are seeing someone. Just be up front and open with her about your “state-of-readiness.” You don’t want to pay the pain forward. It’s bad for the universe. And, I’m not at all surprised that your ex reached-out. That’s the upside to “going ghost.” If an ex is going to figure out if they miss us or not, it ain’t gonna happen while we’re inundating them with calls, emails, and texts. So, give yourself credit for handling your urges like a boss.

            As for responding to her latest salvo, I’m no “mountaintop guru” or oracle – but, thank you! If she mentioned that she’s “not ready to talk,” that’s your cue. Enjoy that fact you’re on her mind and that she loves you. Remember when I told you that you aren’t that forgettable?! You’re also not weak. Lost love can render the burliest of men temporarily stunted. If I were in your position, I would hold-off responding. I don’t say this as if entering into some strategic manipulation to solicit more from her. I say this out of respect to what she wrote, in addition to the likelihood of you getting majorly derailed while things are stable. Make sense?

            Doing nothing once in awhile is just good therapy. It allows our minds to rest, recover, and reflect on our lives. Doing nothing provides the space to appreciate that quiet spaces enhance our self-perception. Take this time where you are to grow and become a more insightful man. But, afford the new girl the same respect you want and deserve. We always get what we give in this life.

            Continue Mission, Daniel! -JP

    • daniel says:

      It’s nerves that are keeping me from remembering the bigger picture. Thanks for putting up with the repetition I’ve been puking on your site. This shit is unsafe territory. I can’t talk to her if I’m still not okay with the idea that she may have dated someone else. Even if she said she wanted to make things right, I’m still focussed enough on her that I’m soliciting advice about it. I guess that’s the sign I need to take that it’s not time to talk. It’s just fucking hard not to want to figure it out and try to make it work. The connection feels real enough to be pretty close to sabotage the progress I’ve made for a chance to go back to a reality that is no longer. Sorry for the broken records. It’s just the hardest time I’ve ever had and I’m trying to get any advice I can. Keep fighting the good fight. All was appreciated. And, put the book out soon, please.

      • Jon Patrick says:

        Hey! It’s not repetitive – it takes a lot of healing time and advice to navigate these bitter waters. Indeed, it sounds like you should avoid responding just yet. As for her potentially seeing someone else, it’s a mind-fuck. Don’t fill-in a lack of information with bad data. It’s nothing more than anxiety and stinkin’ thinkin’. And, healthy distractions only, commpadre! -JP

        • daniel says:

          JP, I’ve made it through. I want to help in any way I can. I have a friend who knows a lot about the web, so I thought I’d talk to her about how to try to reach out to people going through break ups, but wanted to ask if there’s any help I can be to you, since you were the most powerful source of help during my break up time.

          • Jon Patrick says:

            Hey, Daniel! GREAT news, Brother. I’ve been buried on getting the two books completed, so I’m more than behind here in the “Comments” section. In response to your inquiry, I just had my developer create an online forum to create a sense of community for those suffering both anxiety and/or breakups. If you feel like delving into this with ideas, marketing, etc. I could use the help. Tom and I are so buried with day jobs and cranking-out book content that keeping up with this website is proving a challenge. Let me know your thoughts:

            I’m incredibly stoked to have been some semblance of help to you. – JP

  14. Kelly says:

    Hi JP,
    While I was reading this article, I found myself nodding at certain pieces, realizing that they were exactly how I feel.

    5 days ago, my boyfriend of two years and I broke up. I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming, because I kind of did. But I wasn’t prepared.

    We met 2 years ago, at a bar. I had gotten out of a 5 year relationship 6 months earlier, and the connection I felt with this new man was magnetic. It was like something I had never felt. We were immediately attracted to one another, and we hit it off right away.
    He told me he was just finishing a divorce (turns out, he was separated, not yet divorced. Probably should have been a red flag that he lied about this). His high school sweetheart and wife that he had been with for 13 years, had been cheating on him for the last year and a half of their marriage, and he had ended things.
    Starting the next weekend, we commuted the 60 minutes back and forth to visit each other, and we loved being together. Our chemistry was amazing, we laughed all the time, and we just felt connected.
    About 6 months in, I found out he lied about having dinner with his then still wife, and I was devastated. I broke up with him, but two weeks later we fell back together. I found out during our reconciliation, that 2 months after we had started dating, he had been on a trip and had sex with another woman several times. Now, it was not necessarily this fact that made me so upset, but it was the fact that I CAUGHT him in this lie, just like I had caught him lying about the dinner with his wife. Both times, he tried to explain that he was trying to just protect my feelings, and both times, I foolishly accepted it. Sort of. I never really got over either of these incidents, and I was CONSTANTLY trying to catch him cheating on me for the remainder of our relationship. Not healthy.

    After about a year and 4 months of spending so much time together and exclusively dating, he still hadn’t said “I Love you”. I was so fed up. I told him I’d had enough and I didn’t want to do it anymore. If he couldn’t say I love you, when I felt it so strongly, I didn’t want to be with him. He begged me to give him more time, and ended up telling me those words about a week later. But it felt bittersweet. I felt like I had coerced him into saying that. He had long told me that he was still gun-shy from his marriage, but that he was trying to let his walls down.

    A few months ago, we began to discuss moving in together. I felt so excited about the idea of us settling down together and starting our life, living under one roof. But I couldn’t help but notice that he was often quiet when the topic was brought up. He would say “I’m excited too, but I’m just really nervous, and I’m having some hesitation”.

    I wear my heart on my sleeve and I would often profess my deep love for him. After all, our sex life was amazing, our senses of humor were great together, and we just felt right. But often, he would just say “thank you”, or “me too”, and it would leave me laying awake at night wondering if we were on different pages.

    This started to feel more and more like the case, and I would often become clingy and needy, feeling like I wasn’t getting the emotional response from him that I needed.

    Then, last week, I sent him an email detailing how I was feeling, and bringing up a situation that I felt that he was being untruthful about, involving another woman.
    His response was that we needed to talk, and as I was out of town for work, we didn’t have the option of talking in person. I called him, and he said that he could tell how much I was being tortured, and how much I was feeling hurt by his lack of ability to express his emotion. He said he was feeling just as torn, and also laying awake at night, wondering if he really thought we should move in together, and be together for the long haul.
    He said he loved me deeply, but had been waiting for a degree of certainty about our relationship to “click” and it just hadn’t happened. He said I had been putting so much pressure on him to move our relationship forward, that it was making him feel trapped in a way. He didn’t want to keep hurting me.

    I understood, and honestly I agreed. I felt like we had been on different pages, and I had been trying to push a square peg into a round hole. He said he didn’t know if he was still “broken” from his marriage, or if it was our relationship he was hesitant about, but it didn’t feel right to string me along while he figured it out. He hoped that I wouldn’t close the door on us forever, but I told him that I was not going to wait around for him, by any means.
    He started to cry and said, that was his biggest fear, that he would realize that he wanted to be with me and it would be too late, and I would be with someone else. He said what an amazing, beautiful, smart woman I am, and I would find someone soon.

    I’ve had a hard time getting angry about this whole situation. Yes, I am annoyed that it took this long to figure things out for him, but I’m not angry. I want to be, trust me! I feel like this would be much easier.
    I have been going to therapy, and that is helping, but I am still paralyzed by fear. I feel like, however irrational it may be, I will never feel the same way about anyone else again, and that I am destined to be alone.
    My anxiety is coming in waves, and I’m learning to breathe through them. Hoping that this intense pain I’m feeling doesn’t last too much longer, as I’m not sure how long I can bear it.

    I guess I just need to know that this will get easier, and that I really WILL find someone with whom I have the physical connection, the sense of humor, the emotional connection, and who will be excited about making a life with me?


    • JP says:

      Hello, Kelly! I am sorry you are feeling so much angst at the moment. As you can see from the comments, you have some kindred souls – in similar situations too. Your case is yet another one based on life’s timing. This guy was nowhere near ready to enter a relationship with you. Especially since you were ready for a real one. And, rightfully so! I cannot stress the issue of “timing” enough when it comes to relationships. It’s so important that in the book I include “Timing” as one of the many boundaries to which we must hold steadfastly. This will prevent us from entering into a dire situation that will likely implode later. And, “YES” – the fact he lied about being divorced is another reason to flee the scene. Always heed your intuition – it’s your single best protection mechanism. Add a few lies/cheating/spending time with the ex/etc. and you’ve got a recipe for imminent disaster. Each time you suppressed what inherently knew to be true: This guy wasn’t a good risk of your heart and time. The more he mentally and physically retreated, the more you clung in desperation. This is solely anxiety at play. The irrational, anxious thoughts were telling you that you absolutely had to have him. They’re still telling you that! But, thoughts and feelings DON’T equal facts. Your anxiety is dead wrong. He’s something from which to move away – not toward. The only reason he was finally open and honest with you is because you confronted him about his evasive behaviors. This was a sage move on your part. You deserved to know. That said, you should have removed yourself from this relationship at many points prior.

      From what you’ve shared, the seemingly only point at which he was totally honest with both you and himself was regarding your statement, “I understood, and honestly I agreed. I felt like we had been on different pages, and I had been trying to push a square peg into a round hole. He said he didn’t know if he was still “broken” from his marriage, or if it was our relationship he was hesitant about, but it didn’t feel right to string me along while he figured it out.” No matter how much potential he has as a mate, at the very least the timing is way off.

      It’s okay not to be angry about it! You followed your heart, you enjoyed each other immensely for a period, and you can part ways amicably with fond feelings toward one another. Great!! All in all, that’s actually a great breakup … as breakups go. No one to blame, no regrets, and no need to harbor ill will from either side. What’s missing?? Here’s a hint: “I feel like, however irrational it may be, I will never feel the same way about anyone else again, and that I am destined to be alone. My anxiety is coming in waves, and I’m learning to breathe through them. Hoping that this intense pain I’m feeling doesn’t last too much longer, as I’m not sure how long I can bear it.” The missing ingredient here is a heavy dose of rationality and self-confidence, Kelly. You’re right – such a thought is intensely irrational. Again, it’s the anxiety fueling these completely irrational thoughts and feelings, which then propel feelings of insecurity. It would not have mattered how insanely hot, intelligent, witty, and wonderful you are/were – the timing and situation was not right. No reflection on you whatsoever. You were present, honest, forthright, loving, patient, kind, understanding, and the list goes on and on. But, you’re no miracle worker! Got it??

      Let go of this with complete peace of mind. Acceptance is one of the most difficult things to learn because it means we must give up the desire to control our lives and the related outcomes. But acceptance need not take away our strength – on the contrary, we will have an inner strength we never thought possible. Better things are coming. That’s as genuine and real of a notion as anything can be. It’s time you embraced it for yourself. 😉 -JP

  15. Jessica says:


    I feel as though i am bouncing between all these phases at once lately. I have gone through and still sometimes revisit the “eat chocolate and drink wine in the bathtub” phase. I am no stranger to and often camp out in the “death-by-analysis” phase because break up or not I’m an anxious person and over analyzing things is my MO.I also have taken great comfort in the listening to entire tool albums at a time and again drinking wine in the tub.Shit, maybe i just like wine? Anyway, I have been on this breakup roller-coaster since February, or really if I’m being honest with myself I’ve been on the roller-coaster for the last six years beginning with the first time my ex and I met. I will spare you the boring “Omg we were perfect together” bullshit and the “he was the one” blabla because I’d like to believe that my “one” wouldn’t treat me the way he has decided to treat me.
    Long story short, we dated for two years, were inseparable, I found out he was doing hard drugs behind my back and broke up with him. With continuous support and unwavering positive regard, i convinced him to move away to a rehab and go through the steps necessary to survive his then heavy addiction. Fast forward two and a half years, I was in a relationship with a guy who was the complete opposite of the type of guy I’m typically attracted to. He was a nice, agreeable, and we had fun together. At the time I thought we were perfect because I am the wild fly by the seat of my pants kind of chick, and he was the over logical kind of guy so I felt it kept me in check. Then, as if by some sort of witchcraft, my ex popped out of no where with an “id really like to talk to you about something” email. I didn’t respond right away, but instead mind f***ed myself for a week or so admitting to myself after a few rounds of whiskey that I missed him and that my current boyfriend and I didn’t have any of the fire chemistry that had existed between my ex and I. I received a call from a random number from the state my ex moved to, and the voice mail seemed like someones pocket had dialed me. I realize now that that’s what he wanted me to think. He then called me back on some “oops, didn’t mean to call you” trickery. Then he catapulted into this whole speel about how “he hasn’t stopped thinking about me and how if he got one more chance he would treat me the way I deserved to be treated.That I am the one for him and no one else will measure up. How he owes me his life and he couldn’t possibly move on to be with someone else because his heart belongs with me.” Blablablablabal. Of course I fell for it being as how that was all i wanted to hear from him in the entire time I’ve known him. I hadn’t realized what a sucker i was for a romantic second chance like in the movies until this, so i fell for it. I broke it off with the current boyfriend. I took the appropriate grieving time because I didn’t think it was healthy to rush into things. I told my ex that he had to earn my trust back and that actions speak louder that words. He flew me out to the state he lives in and we had an amazing weekend. Staying up till 5am talking, saying everything that was on our minds, really getting on the same page (or so i thought). I returned home and he said he would work on his resume, get a job with his brother, and move back here to be with me. Not even a month later he started acting weird, calling me less, saying mean things. So not one for bullshit, I called him out on it and he said and I quote “I’ve been thinking I can do better than you, and I don’t know if you’re worth all the work I’d have to put in to make up for everything I’ve done”. I of course was devastated hearing that because I had done nothing but be supportive, give him my all, and not hold the past against him. I never said things that would make him think he’d be paying for his mistakes for the rest of his life, or anything. I was always honest and supportive. So I then I told him I didn’t deserve to be treated like this and that I wouldn’t stand for it. He said “good, don’t” and we ended the conversation there. Rough. I had dumped the recent boyfriend, found a new place, completely changed everything because I thought we had something. And he decided “nah, I’m good” without even a smidgen of feeling or remorse. I had a feeling he met someone else, someone he could bypass the whole “i used to be addicted to drugs and screwed everyone over I’ve ever known” shit and have an easy depth less relationship that goes with the beach atmosphere of his neighborhood. It’s been two months and I feel things have gotten a little better, but I haven’t gotten any closure. I don’t understand how someone can go from “you’re the one, lets be together”, to not giving a shit and never speaking to me again. I called him a few times during the initial “DEFCON 5” phase and asked for an explanation. He didn’t even answer or respond. Then I called a week ago, because I wanted to hear his voice to gauge weather he was using again because at least then it would explain his sudden and heartless shift. And a woman answered. She was like “hello?….(laughing)…” and then he got on the phone saying (hello…(and more laughing)”. I was devastated. I threw the phone and haven’t called back since. I suppose the purpose of this long winded comment is hoping that someone out there who isn’t looking at this through anxious eyes can help me gain insight. I know that when I’m not hurting about this I am an all around solid person. But right now I feel like a crazy person.We obviously didn’t have anything If he could just change his mind like that without so much an an explanation. Please give me some of your hilarious and sarcastic advice because that’s what I need to move on.I think? Who knows…

    • JP says:

      Hi, Jessica! I have carefully read through your scenario. Want to know something really helpful?? This has absolutely nothing to do with any other guy – especially your ex. Nothing. This is 100% about you. For whatever reason, you are seeking/attracted to emotional instability and chaos in a relationship. Think of this ex as a means of inflicting pain upon yourself – as if you need to punish yourself for something which you do not deserve punishment. I’m certain that deep down you know how bad this past relationship is for you. I don’t need to dissect the nuances and perform a forensic relational analysis, because it was just so bad. There were a litany of deal-breakers that would send any rational and emotionally healthy woman running. You are simply not in a good place with “You” right now. It pains me to write that – as I know you want and long for more. It is sad to see so many of us pine for things that are incredibly detrimental to our well-being. Would you repeatedly place your palm on a burning stove top? Because that is tantamount to making contact with your ex. It will only bring pain and negativity into your life.

      It is pointless to try to assess his mental state, actions, or day-to-day behaviors. The drug usage alone is a big enough red-flag to bail. Add to that his extremely poor treatment of you, and it’s self-sabotaging to make contact. When you had a seemingly great guy in your life, you were bored and not attracted to him. This is grossly concerning. But, it further illustrates the issue of intentionally pursuing that which will harm you. Therein lies where to focus, Jessica. This is going to take some soul-searching and, likely, some professional help. I recommend seeing an outside professional who can help you through this before you repeat the pattern. This is generally a pattern that is repeated many times, with many different bad partner choices. Our goal is to stop it here and now with this guy. Make sense?

      I know I am not using sarcasm and humor to bide you over. But, that’s because these comments are usually much too serious for me to trivialize with funny replies. You can feel sorry for this guy – and, any other woman who somehow gets ensnared into his life and treatment protocol – but, from a distance. It does not matter to you if he is using again; if he is around other women; or what his state of mind might be on any given day. What matters is that you extract yourself from this relationship, and make no further contact. That will be your best laid plan. -JP

  16. Stephany says:

    JP, thanks so much for this post. I am still in the waves and throes of phase I. I am 40 and just broke off a 10 month roller coaster relationship with a guy who is 44 with a 10 year old daughter whom I never met. Our relationship was very intense from the beginning with sky highs and rock bottom lows. When we met last year he had just come out of a 4 month love story with a girl who apparently walked out on him – no explanation and no closure. He had apparently put all his hopes in this relationship (she was “the one”). Before that he was married 13 years with a woman (the mother of their child) he repeatedly cheated on. He is an adopted child and has obvious abandonment issues which we discussed at length. When we met he was obviously still not recovered from his 4 month love story so worst possible timing for this encounter I guess. I had just lost my cat of 18 years and was grieving and was coming out of a 2 year dry spell after a failed relationship with a man I deeply loved . We work in the same company and each time we bumped into each other in the building he would stare and I would stare back. This had been going on for weeks so one day when we were alone in the elevator (sorry cheesy I know ) I finally summoned up the courage to introduce myself . An hour later we were texting like crazy and 2 days later he came over to my place and we hit it off immediately. Our relationship lit up like a fire. We shared the same tastes, interests, the same dark places too, the same emotions, we opened up to each other immediately (too quickly I think) and our relationship skyrocketed . We texted and messaged all day . There were a few red flags that I picked up early on and a gut feeling that this was not going to work long term but I decided to ignore them and to give this relationship all I had . I am not a very social person, have very few friends, enjoy solitude and nature. I was very involved and committed and also very attracted to him . We both hung on to each other like there was no tomorrow and the relationship turned into something addictive that neither of us wanted to break off although we both saw it was going nowhere. We always met at his place (he would occasionally come over to my house) he never took me out or introduced me to his friends, we never made plans, he kept walking in and out of my life as he pleased, he would show up at 10pm or ask me to come over late at night, and then he would text 150 times a day, we shared a lot and were very close in a way but he basically controlled the situation . He would leave and I would have no idea when I would see him again. I tried breaking off the relationship several times but either me or him came back eventually. We had several conversations , I told him how I felt . He told me I meant the world to him, that I had no idea how much he cared for me, that he wanted to change and reach out to me like I had reached out to him. But in reality most of the time I was alone in an emotional desert with just his text messages to hang on to. Whenever I pulled out or walked away he reached back out to pull me back in and vice versa. This relationship was like a fire , all consuming. I ended up sabotaging the relationship by googling his ex and noticed that he was periodically following her and liking her photos on FB (yes, I am 40 :)) This girl has haunted me from day 1 and I haven’t been able to get her out of my head (and neither has he evidently). Last week we had yet another heart to heart discussion face to face (all the previous break ups were via angry texts and emails from my side mostly) and he finally came out and told me flat out that he wasn’t ready for a full time relationship, that the wounds from the 4 month love story were too deep etc . I told him I understood but couldn’t accept what he was giving me , that I didn’t see a future for us, that I wanted more from the relationship, that I couldn’t be friends and that we should stop for good, no contact, no emails, nothing. We hugged and said goodbye in the best possible way (no anger, no bitterness, just a lot of crying and emotions on both sides). I asked him specifically not to make contact with me but we kind of kept following each other on twitter for another couple of days and then he sent me a message via twitter 2 days later so I ended up shutting down my account. It’s been a week now . I know deep down that he was no good for me, that this relationship was no good for me, he drinks, he is unstable , and unable to committ emotionally, he is still very ambivalent about his ex although he always assured me that they haven’t been in contact (his poems are still at her place), he is ambivalent about me (he told me in January that he loved me and wanted to change and wanted us to work because he couldn’t see himself with anyone else, that I was very special to him and that he never thought he would meet someone like me). He touched me with words but very little action or follow up or proof prove that he actually wanted to be with me and build something in the long run. I never told him that I loved him because I don’t think what I feel is love. I believe what I have been feeling is addiction/infatuation /obsession . I am having a hard time discerning what I am feeling right now. I know my ego has been hurt, I am in withdrawal and feeling physical pain from this break up. I miss him to the point where I have nausea. I miss receiving his million texts and talking to him on a daily basis. I miss sharing all the stuff we used to see/hear/feel with each other . Everyday I am on the verge of sending him a link to something I read, or a book or a text and need to battle hard to resist these urges. I have the feeling that this should be easy and yet the pain, anxiety and sadness I feel are excruciating. I have little to no support system so am basically going through this alone. I’d appreciate your insight on identifying what is happening and how I should deal with it. Thanks.

    • JP says:

      Hey there, Stephany! It is always great to hear from the better scented gender 😉 I carefully reviewed your post. My very first impression of your story was how tumultuous the relationship was. And, how you both entered the union with a lot of emotional leftovers. It’s never good to remain in any relationship with such dramatic swings. Also, he cheated in his marriage. Myself, I would never, ever, ever enter into a relationship with someone who cheated in a marriage. I am adamant about my intolerance for cheaters of any type. And, I’m also adopted and struggled with abandonment issues. This does not give one the green light to cheat of treat others poorly. We aren’t responsible for what happens to us. We ARE responsible regarding how we handle it. What I’m getting at is that your only regret here – from my vantage in reading your story – was entering the relationship to begin with. Not that he isn’t an otherwise decent guy – but, he certainly does not sound like dating/relationship material. Right??

      All that said, it sounds like this was a relationship or opportunity of convenience for you both. I am sorry about your cat, by the way. I’m glad you got 18 years with a pet, however! Anyhow, seeing one another at work made resistance all the more futile for you in your lonely state. I’ll be the first to admit that I have let in some pretty horrible women while feeling down or lonely. We’ve all been there, so don’t beat yourself up over this. It’s a valuable lesson. You KNOW that you deserve far more. You are also quite insightful and intelligent. And, you knew full well what a shitshow this relationship was from the beginning: “There were a few red flags that I picked up early on and a gut feeling that this was not going to work long term but I decided to ignore them and to give this relationship all I had . I am not a very social person, have very few friends, enjoy solitude and nature. I was very involved and committed and also very attracted to him . We both hung on to each other like there was no tomorrow and the relationship turned into something addictive that neither of us wanted to break off although we both saw it was going nowhere.

      We always met at his place (he would occasionally come over to my house) he never took me out or introduced me to his friends, we never made plans, he kept walking in and out of my life as he pleased, he would show up at 10pm or ask me to come over late at night, and then he would text 150 times a day, we shared a lot and were very close in a way but he basically controlled the situation . He would leave and I would have no idea when I would see him again.” This isn’t an acceptable relationship, Girl – ever. You know this. You’ve admitted this many times in your post. It would be therapeutic for you to re-read your own words each day. Even a few times each day.

      We all have a sharply intuitive voice of reason within us that tries to protect us. We get into trouble when we ignore this protection mechanism. This guy treated you like a commodity. Rather than missing him, you should be pissed-off that this was ever acceptable to you. In actuality, none of your internal questions should be directed toward this selfish, cheating trainwreck. They should all be directed toward YOU. And, you can summarize it all into the one inquiry: “Why did allow someone like this into my life??” Stephany, there are far worse things than being alone. This relationship was worse than being alone. Again, lesson learned. Now you can protect yourself with vigor and be far more vigilant in your screening process.

      What you are now feeling is 100% anxiety – plain and simple. Just because he was toxic for you does not mean you don’t miss him. As I tell so many others, trying to quit heroine is hard too. Doesn’t mean it’s food for ya. Here is my advice to you right now:

      (1) Cut ALL ties. For good. If you still work with him, do whatever you’re able to do to avoid him. Go cold-turkey on this guy. Never make contact with him again. There is NOTHING you ever need from him in terms of closure or anything else.
      (2) Assign a “Breakup Buddy.” It can be a friend or family member. Make this person keep you honest. If you feel like contacting this guy, contact your BB instead. Be honest with them. Always.
      (3) Keep busy!! Physical exercise, eating well, no booze, no drugs, and plenty of sleep (if you’re able).
      (4) Read the posts below, and the advice from others. It helps.
      (5) Make yourself an absolute priority. Change jobs if you have to. But, stay the hell away from this guy. Trust me. There is nothing redeeming from him. He is emotional chaos.
      (6) Stay in the present moment at all times. Don’t allow yourself to get nostalgic about the past – it wasn’t good! And, do not allow yourself to look to the future.
      (7) Seek professional help if you need to! And, contact us here any time.

      I hope this helps in some way. I have full confidence in you because of things you’ve already written and shared. You are astute and intuitive. You definitely have the skills to overcome this soundly and effectively. Again, you’re only regret is letting him into your emotional space in the first place. But, we’ve all done the same. Celebrate that his is now gone! -JP

      • Stephany says:

        JP, thanks so much for taking the time to reply, the reassurance and thoughtful words of wisdom. I so need that right now. I am not yet at the celebration phase but your analysis has given me additional confidence that I did the right thing by (finallly) walking away from this relationship. Thanks again for the sound advice. Stephany

        • JP says:

          Glad to be of emotional support, Stephany! And, steadfastly in your corner. NEVER question your exodus from this perilous relationship. It was toxic for you, and not worth a moment of regret. Let it be one that prevents you from getting into another that is anything but healthy. And, listen to your intuition next time 😉 -JP

          • Stephany says:

            Where I typically failed and stumbled / crawled back is during phase II – death by analysis. Your advice has helped me acknowledge and reject those irrational yearnings, feelings ,what ifs and as a consequence avoid the inevitable slips and relapses . Thanks so much . Stephany

          • Stephany says:

            JP, I’m back and hoping you can help me out of what appears to be a total mudslide ….it’s been 2 weeks since the breakup and although I’m far from healed I felt I was advancing in the process . This afternoon my cell rings and I pick up and it’s my ex and he’s telling me his mother just died of a brain aneurism today. He is driving and on his way to meet his family . He tells me he knows that we agreed not to contact each other but felt I should know. I was dumbstruck, like totally speechless for a minute and then started crying and repeating oh no oh no as if my own mother had died. Then I calmed down and he explained what had happened. I told him how sorry I was and that I wished I could have been there for him. I told him to keep in touch and keep me posted and that I was there for him if he needed to talk . He told me he would keep me updated. I followed up with a text message later this evening to let him know I was thinking of him and his family . Now I feel confused and like this was probably not the best move. Being a compassionate person there is no way I could have reacted otherwise though . I have no idea where this puts me. I have the feeling I am back to square one – ie where I was 2 weeks ago. In the middle of a landslide. At the same time, there was no way I could ignore this or him given the circumstances. What should I do in terms of next steps? I don’t want to seem insensitive but I don’t want to go back . Any advice? Should I wait for him to update me? Should I follow up in a couple of days? What should I do? I don’t want to be his life jacket. I’m not even sure why he called me in the first place. Your insights would be much appreciated. Thanks JP!

          • JP says:

            Hey, Stephany! Well, since you’re asking … I will be honest. I want you to first reflect back upon what you KNOW: “I know deep down that he was no good for me, that this relationship was no good for me, he drinks, he is unstable , and unable to commit emotionally, he is still very ambivalent about his ex.” Recall that he is “unstable” and left you feeling pretty crappy most times. I’m not at all surprised he reached-out. If not due to the unfortunate and sad loss of his mom, it would likely have been for something else.

            Due to the gravity of this situation, I don’t blame you for speaking with him. That said, you MUST implement some boundaries to protect yourself. In your own best interest, it would have been best to stop at, “I told him how sorry I was and that I wished I could have been there for him.” That’s it. There is nothing further to say, do, or receive from him. You don’t need to “keep in touch” or be there “if he needs to talk.” This is nothing but a loophole to reel you back into the chaotic fray. It’s the antithesis of what you need. As compassionate as you are – as am I – you have to also be compassionate toward YOU. Sadly, his mother is gone. There is nothing else for you to do beyond extend your condolences. I too, am sorry for his loss. But, this is not a reason to restart communications. “Now I feel confused and like this was probably not the best move.” Precisely. It’s a setback – nothing more. No problem – just get yourself back on track. This is not “starting over” for you unless you continue to keep the line open. It is in the best interest of you both to cut all ties, despite the untimely nature of the loss. You’ve said what you need to say to him and his family. They know you care. We all know you care. Now show some care for your own well-being. -JP

          • Stephany says:

            Thanks JP. I have not heard from him since we talked on Sunday and still debating whether or not to follow up in a few days. At the same time I have the feeling he kind of wished he hadn’t reached out and this was a spur of the moment thing. Although it feels counter intuitive and not at all the type of behavior I would usually demonstrate with a close friend I agree with all of your points and will, once again, try and battle the urge to ‘be there for him’ in spite of these unfortunate circumstances and keep reminding myself the reasons why I walked away in the first place. Regardless, this is a tough situation for me, especially just 2 weeks after the breakup and it feels ‘wrong’ to cut him off after his loss although deep down I know this is the ‘right’ thing to do for me. Thanks for being there for *me* :) Stephany

          • Stephany says:

            OK so I relapsed. He updated me yesterday and we exchanged a few words , mostly regarding the logistics of his mother’s funeral . He told me he was exhausted. I asked him if he was sleeping ok. He said not really. I told him I didn’t want to overwhelm him with more questions and conversation and that I was here if he needed and left it at that. It just felt too wrong and out of character for me and also very stressful to have to shut him out and stay silent so I checked in on him again tonight and will send him another short text on Saturday before his mother’s funeral. So … in spite of all your advice I have now officially reopened the lines of communication as you specifically warned me against… To be honest, my motivations are nill, and I am not expecting anything in return. I am also doing this for my own peace of mind. I am a kind person and am unable to renounce this kindness for the moment although I know I am potentially setting myself up for another round of chaos. I am doing this out of empathy (and guilt perhaps?) and as a friend, because I would expect a friend (him?) to do the same for me had I been the one to reach out. I am wondering If I should momentarily take a step back / some height and look through the relationship issues and just provide support as a friend without asking or expecting anything in return. I know I am not behaving in my best interest. But it has calmed me a bit to send him that short note tonight (just saying that I hope he is getting some rest and wishing him goodnight). There has been no discussion about the relationship so far . He basically pulled me back in by calling me and giving the news first hand on Sunday. The anxiety I was feeling by not following up was just overwhelming. I admit I feel completely lost . You’ve provided so much great guidance already which I should have followed, but it’s so hard and this event has just precipitated me back on the emotional rollercoaster. I am torn between the almost pathological need to be that exemplarily good person, a good friend, the need to protect myself against further emotional damage, the desire to pull away completely and the guilt related to cutting him off. You’ve been so helpful and I know what I should be doing and yet my heart is split in 2. How do I turn this around and rid myself of this guilt , this guy and move on without feeling like I am being a hard slab of stone? Please help JP.

          • JP says:

            Stephany, your best course of action is to DO NOTHING. Your anxiety will counter you one way or the other – if you do respond, or if you don’t. The single best way to handle anxiety is to always counter it by doing the opposite and not giving in. The DO NOTHING strategy will always prevent you from doing things you will later regret. I know you are hurting and confused … AND, anxious. I wish you nothing but peace and happiness no matter how you choose to handle things going forward. Be careful with your heart – it’s your greatest asset. -JP

          • Stephany says:

            I haven’t heard back in 2 days since we spoke after his mother’s funeral. He is now back at work and hasn’t followed up (no thanks, no ‘I’m back’, nothing). And neither have I. My heart is broken and I am a mess (again) and back to “#1 cut off all ties” ie where I was 3 weeks ago when I so bravely walked away. I am basically back at the foot of the hill with the hill looking 10 times higher this time… You’re right, I am hurt, confused and anxious. I feel used. Even more now. Even though I said I had no expectations, it’s obvious I did by keeping the communication going even though I wasn’t the one who initiated. Still, I couldn’t ‘do nothing’. I followed my heart and did the ‘right ‘ thing and provided him a shoulder to cry on right after his mother died – since he reached out . I guess I had to take one last hit in the gut to realize we aren’t and can never be friends. I also want to echo what everyone on the site says about your feedback . It is amazing that you take the time to respond to all of us indvidually and so thoughtfully and with incredible insight and depth . Wish me luck JP I think I got this now: DO NOTHING. Thanks again for all your advice.

          • Stephany says:

            Hi JP,
            Sorry for reopening the thread but I am at a point where I am hitting the wall again and in need of your words of wisdom support and reassurance. Quick refresher: 1-year relationship with emotionally unavailable and damaged guy, broke up on April 13th, no contact from either side henceforth. Ex’s mother dies end of April , ex calls me, we start talking again, he goes out of town to visit with his family and make arrangements for the funeral etc, I support him (remotely)through the week and the funeral , he goes silent for a couple of days , I go silent, he returns from his mother’s funeral early May and starts making contact with me again, albeit sporadically for a couple of days. I respond , albeit sporadically thereby reopening the lines of communication  Needless to say the situation is confusing, messy, so I try and keep it clean . He is clearly in need of support and “someone ” to talk to and me being the person that I am, it is easy for him to reach out to me knowing that I will be there, unfailingly. So on May 7th I end things again, gently, unemotionally, basically telling him that although the timing is terrible with the loss of his mom, we had in fact broken up for a reason, and that in spite of the circumstances and the undeniable hurt and pain he is going through, I cannot be there to prop him up nor should I suffer so he can suffer less. Again, no contact from either side from there on. Then 2 weeks later – May 27th – he calls my cell. I don’t pick up because I’m in the other room and I don’t hear the phone (I can’t say what I would have done had I seen the phone go off) . I get a heartwrenching 3 minute voicemail . I am aware that he was calling for an ego stroke and was obviously expecting me to pick up and surprised that I didn’t . The message says: I’m not looking for anything, I just wanted to know how you are, I wasn’t hoping to see you but I wanted to talk to you, I would like to hear from you, I hope you’re ok , call me , or don’t call me etc etc … Knowing him, it sounded like he had been drinking. I don’t call back . Then overcome with guilt I send him a text the following evening saying that I am thinking of him but again reminding him that we broke up for a reason and therefore there can be NO further contact and to take care of himself . He responds to take care too. It is now July 7th and there has been no contact since except the 2 times I bumped into him in the office and felt like my heart was going to explode. It’s so hard for me to get past this and get this guy out of my head and yet the answer to the question: do you want to be in any kind of relationship with this guy ? NO. Do you want this guy in your life? NO. I am currently in therapy for this but I don’t remember having been as broken up as this after a break up. I know there isn’t much to say but to give it time and work on my self esteem and boundary issues . I don’t feel the urge to contact him anymore the way I used to, but the thought of him keeps hovering over me. There isn’t a day where I don’t think about him. I wonder if he is back with his ex, I wonder what he’s doing, if he’s ok, if he’s met someone new, I wonder, and wonder and wonder about HIM instead of taking care of MYSELF, focusing on ME, MY life and where I’M headed. I’m standing in the middle of a pool of my own disillusionment, feeling frustrated and angry at myself because I can’t find any traction to unstick myself from him. His image keeps hovering and I wish it would go away . I do everything to avoid him at work, I take the stairs, I get my lunch before of after meal hours, I avoid all the places he could be to minimize the chances of us bumping into each other but we work in the same company and every time I switch my laptop on he’s “there”. There is no way I am going to jeopardize my career by changing jobs , which is by the way one of the things in my life that is working well. I guess I just need to know that this will get better. Thanks in advance for any words of support you can spare :)

          • Jon Patrick says:

            Hiya, Stephany! Please make no apologies for reaching-out to us again. Never. Glad to be of help in every instance. Your scenario has honestly been one of the easiest to advise upon, in that it was blatantly bad for you, and the best recourse was to get out and remain out-of-contact. Unfortunately, you have let yourself be repeatedly drawn back into the fray. As you can now discern, this has greatly lengthened your overall recovery, unfortunately. I am sad to see this is the case for you, as you don’t deserve the anguish. Re-read your first posts to us. It will remind how just how bad things became. Unacceptably bad, in fact. He has sort of become an instrument of self-harm for you at this point. What I mean is that each time you reestablish contact, you are permitting harm to yourself. Time and again this plays out the same – and, will continue to unfold identically if you don’t stop.

            The upside is that ALL the power for your reclamation lies within only one person: YOU. You can choose to keep putting your hand on the scalding hot stove, or you can walk away from it altogether. None of this situation is about him anymore. It’s about what YOU have let become acceptable within your life. Remember: We allow those into our lives who reflect that which we feel about ourselves at any given time. I would like to see you follow your own sage counsel that you give to him. Namely, “I cannot be there to prop him up nor should I suffer so he can suffer less.” Eureka! Logically you know this, but you are not following through emotionally. Therein lies the loop. Your freedom lies in not allowing him to set the “hook” in you again with his inconsistent and self-serving contact.

            You stated that it’s guilt that drives you to responding to him again. What you should feel guilty about is not taking care of you. Are you not worth more care and consideration than this?? YES! Though it was rhetorical, I answered for you. You need to align what you know to how you act about what you know. You know full well you cannot be in a relationship with him. Yet, you are choosing to repeat a self-sabotaging pattern. So, focus on what is driving you to this, and why. This is where therapy works wonders. I absolutely love your statement that, “I’m standing in the middle of a pool of my own disillusionment.” You’re a sharp woman, Stephany. That’s why I know you’re running purely on emotion right now. You need to engage Rational mind, rather than Emotional mind. Practice additional opposite actions, such as blocking his ability to contact you, and NOT responding. You already know what responding looks like, and where that gets you – right? So, why not try the complete opposite? You have more than enough will, resolve, and power to do what is needed. It’s all within you. Let Rational mind guide your decisions, and detach the emotions. Whatever the emotions (anxiety, guilt, nostalgia, etc.) are driving you to do – do the opposite. -JP

  17. Corbin says:

    What’s up JP.
    Reading this blog, has really inspired me to turn some things around in my life, I can’t express how grateful I am for surfing across this website, but lets cut to the point to why I ended up here. 6 Years ago, I met this girl, and she was like, everything I ever wanted in a girl, I think back and I hurt, because I really thought she was going to be the girl I end up marrying, but after 2 years of dating her, she started cheating on me, several times, being the sucker I am, I kept forgiving her, giving her chances because I really loved her, I really did truly love this girl, and I couldn’t imagine my life without her, until I had it, after 4 years of dating, I had it. I ended things with her, moved away, ready to start a new life, ready to move on. and that all happened really sudden, I broke up with her and left town. so I started off clean, started changing my life and lifestyle, and then I met my current girlfriend, but things have been rocky between us, very rocky, we’ve been dating for almost two years now, and just after 8 months of dating she broke up with me, claiming she’s got personal issued to deal with and work with, no explanation, no reason, just ended things, leaving me of course, in the dark, going mad with anxiety attacks, going over every possible reason why she would leave me, started to think there was something wrong with me, sleepless nights, non stop crying, no eating, no training, just going backwards, I just started getting better, then she wanted to try again, and so I got back together with her ( still together) but for the past 5/6 months things have been so distant between us, we barely make time for each other, we barely go away together, we make plans without each other, we’re just living past each other, and I take that on me, because I haven’t been completely honest with her, I have been seeing other girls, girls from my past, I hooked up with one of them, and we are still talking, I started talking to my ex again, which I dated for 4 years, (one mentioned earlier) I saw her a few days ago, we spent some time together, nothing happened, but certain feelings, slightly came back, maybe I just miss a fixed healthy relationship, not to mention this other girl I am busy falling in love with, I’ve known her for over 7 years, and chemistry has always been there, and I am pretty sure, I am starting to fall in love with her. so I am in a very bad space right now, turning into that person I despised… its not fair towards my girlfriend, but then she’s also not doing any effort in this relationship, I cant even remember the last time she told me she loved me, I stopped saying it, because I am not sure how I feel anymore, I care about her, a lot. I HURT. when I think of things between us coming to an end, I hurt thinking of her with someone else, I know somehow, she does not feel the same anymore, and I have no idea how to take things from here, I know I can’t keep up doing this, because I care about all of these girls, more than I should, and I just don’t know where to start cleaning up my mess… I know I am doing wrong, and guess it would have helped if she could communicate with me, and also put in effort to make things work between us, its like she is waiting for me, to end things. to say the words, but I cant seem to do it. Because I am completely, utterly, messed up. and screwed. I have been ripped apart by all of these woman, and know I am the one, on the other side, doing the same to them. I don’t even deserve to be loved by one of them, but maybe I am just trying to figure out who I belong with, because I am done with girls messing with my feelings and heart, I need and want to settle. just so hard. anyways, thanks JP for taking some time out to read this, feel free to tell me to man up and face my shit. I guess I just need a wake up call. This page has really made me realise that I what I am doing to them is cruel, and I need to change some things.. thank you once again. so much.

    • JP says:

      Hey, Corbin! I had to read your post a few times to let it sink in and accurately follow the synopsis. My first impression is that you are the quintessential example of why we must first process ANY breakup prior to moving on to another relationship. If not, things can become quite convoluted (as you can discern). There are many songs out there about your type of situation. Not only are they fairly commonplace, but they take an emotional toll. It seems at this point, you are absolutely inundated in mismatched emotions, whilst trying to determine which way is up! I know it doesn’t help you at the moment – but, Tom and I have an entire section in the book dedicated to your particular experience because of the magnitude of importance and the prevalence of men (myself included) who have jumped “from the frying pan to the fire.”

      Fast forward to your current situation. From my limited visibility, it appears you may be afraid of dropping all the “extracurricular” affairs because of (1) what you’ve been through in the past; and (2) your current significant other has not been too present in the union. That said, this will end badly if you do not approach your current relationship differently. Meaning be 100% open, candid and honest with the girl for whom you care. The one that gives you that pit in you gut at the thought of losing her. If that is the one you’re with, then start with her. If not, we both know you need to cut bait in the fairness of all involved. If you’re like me and most of us, you like the idea of a “safety net” by dating/seeing multiple women. However, eventually feelings become invested and people get hurt. I’m not sure you know who you most wish to be with long-term. The only way to make to see this clearly is to take a few steps back for a bit, and see no one. Get away from it all. Take a short trip. Be alone. If you cannot get away, go on a long hike – like at least 3 hours long. Clear your head as best you can and see where things settle for you.

      Look, I get that you don’t want to give-up anything that might lead to heartache. Even if it’s not what you want long-term. But, pain avoidance should not be your guiding principle. Doing the right thing for everyone should be your primary navigator. Your optimistic expectations won’t guarantee that people will deliver exactly what you want. Distance yourself from disappointment by remembering that the actions of others are beyond your control. The good news is that you can always change your response. Satisfaction ultimately comes from within us. This reality escapes almost all of us for a time. Some self-reflection would do you good right now because – despite being hurt by these women previously – love is not an “eye for an eye” concept. Otherwise, we’d all be blind. You already know in your heart what you need to do. But, you’ve got to let go of the fear of getting hurt again yourself and remove the safety net of multiple women. You’re a confident guy. You can stand on your own just fine. Do right by these women and by you.

      Keep in mind that we often think that forgetting the past is essential for growth and peace of mind. It’s a tempting idea: We can start over again, we think, fresh and new. But if we lose that old pain, we’ll also lose all that we learned. We may repeat our mistakes, or make even worse ones next time. Dwelling on the past is equally dangerous. What I’m getting at is that all of your recent experiences – good and bad/right or wrong – with all involved don’t need to be for not. The least silver-lining here is what you have learned about love, relationships, and yourself. Go forward with this new-found knowledge and use if for good to better yourself and the interactions/relationships with these and future women.

      You may very well come away from this with no one. And, that’s okay! Ultimately, feeling confident in treating others fairly and with respect rivals coming away with a “trophy” or two. Ya know? In summary, take some time to sort-out your deepest feelings. Then share them with those who should know. Sure, it’s risky giving-up some control. But, control is an illusion anyway. So you may as well take responsibility for your own actions and their effect on others. Because the perimeter of your sole responsibility starts and ends with you right now. Take the relevant and necessary actions you know you need to, before the option of doing the right thing is taken away altogether by someone else.

      Let us know if you need any further counsel, or if you want to run anything buy us. It’s all you, Corbin. You’ve got this, brother. -JP

      • Corbin says:

        Thank you so much for the wise response, I have taken your advice very seriously, and have decided to make the choice to ending things with my girlfriend, and cut contact with those woman, I figured I cant be happy with someone, if I cant be happy with myself and alone first. I have to make some personal changes in my life, to be the best I can be should I find love again, I guess i am at the stage where I feel worn off and I don’t think anyone would be interested in me again, or that I will find love again, but I try not to overthink it, as I know I will meet someone special when the time is right, I don’t know what I would have done if i didn’t cross this page, I really hope though I don’t regret loosing my girlfriend, because she really was something amazing. But seems like she’s moved on with her life already, by putting it out there, all I see all over the place is how she is having the time of her life with her friends, posting about how happy she is, and how everything is working out in her life, that hurts a lot more than I thought it would have, because seems like she was never really bothered with me after all… I try not to act on those actions from her, because she does deserve being happy, and the last thing I want to do is take it away from her, I am happy for her, so I deactivated my Facebook, and instagram, closed all my accounts that could possibly link me to her, just in order to heal more quickly in getting over her, because I feel like she was miserable dating me, and now that I am gone she’s gone from 0 – 10 In no time. I have also decided to not look back to any of my past relationships and compare them with my present. because look how that turned out.. The girl I am falling in love with, if it was meant, it would have happened already, I am not saying I am not magically not in love with her anymore, I am saying, I have decided to accept the fact that nothing good has come of it, and probably wont, this is me starting from scratch to work on myself, my worth, my lifestyle. I appreciate what this site has done for me, and it feels good coming to terms with myself and making this change for myself no matter how hard it is, I need to start living for me and not someone else, I learnt that the hard way.. I hope to stay strong through the process and not give in and start contacting anyone, I need to know, and figure out for myself, who i am and who I want to spend my future with. So JP, THANK YOU SO MUCH, I appreciate it bro.

        • JP says:

          Always a pleasure to hear from ya, Corbin! Your update was great news. You are doing what needs to be done. I’m proud of ya, man!! I’m exceptionally proud of you for “going ghost” on social media. That’s one of the most important steps to take, and the one most people don’t do and later regret. Just so you know, it’s highly unlikely she is out there suddenly having a blast and conquering happiness. That’s the grand illusion of social media that people employ. It’s likely the opposite. It’s also the oldest ploy on social media ever. She misses you, just as you miss her. Your thoughts are just anxious mind-fucks toying with you. You aren’t that forgettable, my friend. And, you’re being a man by considering her happiness as well as taking care of your own emotional and mental health.

          You are certainly going to want to reach out to her and others. But, stay the course!! The longer you focus on yourself and honing your traits, the better off you will be, and the more you will have to offer the next someone. You are young and have plenty of time to find some great candidates later. Exceelent work, Corbin. I mean it. -JP

  18. The Simple One says:

    This is a note to the author of this. I just wanted to say that this website probably saved my career and probably my life. Long story short – in August last year (2014) I broke up with my ex after a on-off relationship of 5 years. I was at an all time low, bordering on depression and constant anxiety attacks, and sleepless nights. I then stumbled on this website when searching for a solution and it summed up exactly how I felt at the time, and reassured me that things would get better. I didn’t believe it, I felt like my case was different/worse/more extreme. Rest assured, it did get better after a month or two. Fast forward 6 months and I am happier, healthier and have as good a life as I did before.

    I cannot thank the writer enough. If it wasn’t for this site, I don’t know where I would be. So a huge, huge thank you for the original article, and the fact you still take the time to respond to comments.

    To anyone going through this terrible situation now: Trust me, it WILL get better. You will not think it will, but it will. Eventually you will relax and start sleeping again. Eventually the things that used to make you happy, will make you happy again. Your life will slowly but surely get back to normal. Do not do anything crazy or extreme – you just need to rough it out, and push through it. Time will heal.

    I am not some kind of teenager who is an emotional wreck. I am a grown man in my mid twenties who has a relatively successful career, earns a respectable wage and has friends/family like anyone else. It can happen to anyone, it happened to me, and trust me – you will get through it.

    • JP says:

      I want to sincerely ‘thank you’ for this comment and feedback. The timing was exceptionally appropriate on a personal level. It is also what propels Tom and I got continue with our purpose and my life’s work. I am exceptionally thankful for this. Additionally, your sage words relating to your own experience will help countless others. We are ecstatic that you are feeling great again. At the front-end of a breakup, ever feeling good – or, even normal again – seems remote and damn near impossible. It never is. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! – JP

  19. Lorri says:

    This article will probably be a life-saver for me! My partner and I ended a 6.5 year relationship 2 days ago. Of course, I am driving myself crazy with the anxiety of being alone and being without her. It was a LDR and we lived 2 hours away from each other. But we had every other weekend together at my house and the other weekends were spent at her house, even though she had to work. She also drove up during the week during her 2 days off, so we saw each other often and spent a lot of wonderful days together. During this 6.5 years, she tried valiantly to find employment near my home, but employment was difficult to find and nobody could could come close to her salary. I own a large home and have a federal job that I cannot leave at this time. To move to her, I have to sell my home and the market is very poor. A federal job means that I have more mobility, but again, this is a tight economy and nothing has opened up for me in her area. To make a long story short, she is tired of driving up here during the week; she has to get up at 2 am to make a 2 hour trip to work just to work a 12 hour day. I don’t blame her; I wouldn’t want to do it either. She is 46 and I am 49 and the travel has become difficult. She also says she feels defeated in our situation; that nothing will change. Because of this added stress, I must admit that our feelings for each other have waned due to all the obstacles. We took a 2 week “break” with the promise of it “not being a breakup”, with NO contact at all. The caveat was if we absolutely couldn’t stand it, we could cry “uncle” and the break would end. We started on a Friday evening and by Sunday, she had texted and called me, calling “uncle.” We were both an emotional wreck and admitted that we loved each other too much to give up. However, we are 2 weeks out and things are still the same. So, we decided to end it. We are trying to be mature about this and not hurt one another more than necessary; after all, we do still love each other. But we both realize that we aren’t moving forward in this relationship; we are stagnant. But over the past 6.5 years, I have been able to fully love someone, have their best interests at heart and give myself completely. I have no regrets of “would have, could have, should have.” I know that I loved her totally and without reservation. So I don’t have the guilt of having screwed up and wanting to go back and fix it. We treated each other admirably, fairly and with complete honesty. I am a better person for having love(d) her. And I believe she feels the same way. So in short, I am 2 days into a breakup of 2 people who still care deeply about each other, but can’t be together. I am a nervous wreck, have difficulty eating and I feel as if I could jump out of my skin. I have waves of anxiety, fear and dread wash over me like an ocean wave drowning me. I try to tell myself that I am “supposed” to feel this way; that this was a good relationship that ended without malice or hatred. But I feel like I am losing my mind at times. I feel so alone and lonely. I feel that the future holds nothing but loneliness; having nobody that I care for to do enjoyable things with, take trips/vacations with or just hold me when I am scared. Sorry for the long email, but if you or anyone has any advice for me, I will surely take it. I need some peace.

    • JP says:

      Hi, Lorri! Well, damn – I certainly disliked reading about your current pain and angst. Though, we can all relate to every intricate detail. I am sorry for your temporary state. First and foremost, cut yourself some slack – it has only been a few days versus 6.5 years!! The way over the pain is THRU the pain. There are no shortcuts in this game – despite how badly I always want to offer them. That said, there are a million things we can do to either lessen or worsen the pain. Right now, you’re in self-preservation mode – plain and simple. Your sole focus is taking care of yourself. You’ve got to eat, sleep, get exercise, and distract for awhile. Trust me – I know what I’m asking. The seemingly impossible. It’s not. I assure you.

      Your relationship intersected and weaved throughout most every facet of your life. So, the separation is impacting most every aspect. But, you really have no regrets here – which is half the battle. Most oftentimes, a breakup is rife with regrets and remorse on both sides. However, in reading your story, it comes across as an un-winnable situation. You both put forth valiant efforts. More so than most would be able to uphold. So, that leaves the chest-splitting loss and incredible destabilizing internal chaos you feel now. You’ve got to let it play out. In the interim, I am an adamant proponent of seeking professional counseling. There is no reason to ever navigate this stuff alone. For example, following my worst split, I not only jumped into an Intensive Outpatient counseling program (comprised of 3 hours of group therapy 3 days per week), but I was prescribed sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs. I desperately needed them. I’m not an advocate for pharma – but, there are some instances where it’s mandatory. So, consider soliciting outside help.

      I also spent almost every waking moment – outside of work – with friends. I crashed on couches for weeks, or had people stay with me. Look, you’ve got to treat this just as you would any considerable love lost, by treating yourself exceptionally well. This is one of the Top 5 greatest stressors in life. This does not assume you will never see or speak with her again. But, I always emphasize that this is the way to approach a breakup. So many of us set ourselves up for longer term angst by clinging to the hope for an alternate ending. I truly believe that if the two of you are meant to be, you will find yourselves back together. And, sometimes some time, distance and perspective is what is needed. But, again, I always say it’s best to plan for a “forever breakup.” Anything less can always be considered later.

      I’m a hopeless romantic, myself. Well, not really – but, I always do all I can to make things work in extreme circumstances – like an LDR. But, reality always sets itself in rather quickly. I’m in California where the housing market is insane, and you could sell your home for a mountain of cash and a few souls. It doesn’t sound like this is at all the case where you reside. Somehow, I don’t think this is the last of you and your ex. You’ve had a powerful, loving, healthy relationship. But, you’ve also got some formidable obstacles. No doubt. Those obstacles would break just about anyone. Nevertheless, I’m going to make a statement I’ve never before made on this site or elsewhere about your situation. I am currently in cancer remission. It came out of nowhere, and I live an exceptionally healthy lifestyle. The months of brutal chemo and illness changed my perspective on everything. I immediately cut all negative influences from my life – whether they be people, situations, jobs, social media, etc. Everything. It sounds cliche, but I quickly realized the absolute frailty of life. We live an incredibly precarious existence with only the illusion of some slight control over our fate on this Earth, and no promises. Additionally, I believe that love conquers all. Nothing material matters. It all goes back in the box in the end.

      A few weeks ago, I was honored to officiate the wedding between two close friends. It was a beautiful day. For whatever reason, I opted to read the popular Scripture found in 1st Corinthians (chapter 13). Never before had I assigned any feeling, significance, or emotion to the words until I read them to the bride and groom that day. The text immediately resonated with me: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

      Perhaps you can rent out the house and get that transfer? 😉 Please write us ANY time and as often as you need. -JP

    • Lorri says:

      JP, your kind and understanding words have moved me to tears. I am a clinical social worker who does therapy and I must say that you are incredibly insightful and wise. I SO needed to hear these words from you! I am not arrogant enough to think that I can “counsel” myself and get through this. I did seek my family physician out and was prescribed meds for my depression and excessive rumination. I am also seeking counseling and look forward to doing this for myself. I am so sorry to hear about your battle with cancer. But, from what I gave gleaned about your “no nonsense” approach to life and your love of humanity, you are a warrior and your strength will see you through your battle. Stay strong wise one, you will prevail. I am living day to day in this breakup and you are so right, we only get one shot through this life and it is not a dress rehearsal. This is the real thing and we have to experience the performance of a lifetime and that means taking our small joys and our great loves to the extreme. I am glad that I have loved a great love and perhaps our story is over; just being re-written. But in the meantime, I will live my life as this is the end of a beautiful relationship and consider myself lucky. And I do agree with you; unless you share children, NO contact is best. It’s the advice I give my own clients.

      • JP says:

        Hi, Lorri! Your comments mean a ton – especially since I had no idea of your professional credentials. So, thank you! I am happy to learn that you are getting all the help you need. You also understand the importance of living in the moment. It cannot be overstated. And, any contact right now can reset the recovery clock back to “zero.” This is hardly the end of happiness and romance for you – despite the dire nature of your current feelings. Manage the thoughts; don’t let the thoughts manage you. And, they are JUST thoughts. They don’t equal facts or reality. Try not to cling on to any of them. Let them surround, topple about you, and move through you without hanging on to any of it.

        And, remember that our minds mold who we become. Our thoughts not only contribute to our success and happiness, they are powerful enough to determine the posture of our lives. And, since we have the power to think the thoughts we choose, our lives will unfold much as we expect. The seeds we plant in our minds indicate the directions we’ll explore in our continued development. So, dream extravagant, improbable dreams if you wish to find a new direction, and the steps necessary to it. We imagine first, and then we conceive the execution of a plan. Our minds prepare us for success. They can also prepare us for failure if we let our thoughts become negative. Believe in YOU.

        You’ve got this 😉 And, write us any time – either via this “Comments” section or email. -JP

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. 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!

  35. 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

  36. 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

  37. 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.

  38. 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

  39. 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

  40. 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!

  41. 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

  42. 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

  43. 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

  44. 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

  45. 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

  46. 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

  47. 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

  48. 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

  49. 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

  50. 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

  51. 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

  52. 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

  53. 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.

  54. 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

  55. 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

  56. 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

  57. Luis R. says:

    what an excellent read!

  58. 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.


  59. 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

  60. 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

  61. 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

  62. 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

  63. 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

  64. 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.”

  65. 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.

  66. 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

  67. 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.”

  68. 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

  69. 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

  70. 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

  71. 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

  72. JP says:

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

  73. 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

  74. 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

  75. 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

  76. 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

  77. 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

  78. 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

  79. 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

  80. 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

  81. 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

  82. 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.

  83. 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

  84. 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

  85. 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

  86. 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.

  87. 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*

  88. 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

  89. 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

  90. 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

  91. 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

  92. 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

  93. 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

  94. 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

  95. 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

  96. 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

  97. 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

  98. 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

  99. 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 b