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April 2, 2007 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
Hi, I am 20 yrs old, female, and have just broken up with my first love.
We dated for just over a year and have been best friends for 5. We are both engineering students, and our school life is very demanding. We started to see less and less of each other because of school.
As things were getting complicated, he found out that he got a 16 month job placement out of town.
He says he loves me, but being 20 yrs old, he is not ready for that big of a commitment. What bothers me is that 4 months ago, we were so madly in love that we both were willing to go through it, but something has changed with him. We broke up, the bigger reason being because he is moving away in 2 months.
I feel like he's been manipulating me, and I've been falling for it.
We've been broken up for a week and a half. Last weekend we both went to a friend's party. This was the first time that we were out together broken up.
He ended up flirting with a friend that was there, and they started to get physical in front of me. I was heartbroken to see him act like that after a week of being broken up. After all we have been through. To put me through something like that.
I've been so depressed lately, because I can't get away from him. We all have the same friends. I feel like I'm being excluded. They all live happily ever after, and I stay at home crying. I lost him, along with part of my friends.
I love him so much. But I don't want to push him away. What can I do to get him back? How can I go out with my friends again?
You are having a very rough time.
Your ex hasn't treated you properly at all! Pawing that other woman right under your nose was most cruel and insensitive.
You said that you want him back and don't want to push him away. The reality is he's already gone. So nothing you do or don't do will push him farther away than he already is! From the sound of it, you can't do anything to get him back, I'm afraid. He has already made up his mind.
I think you should be focusing your energy on yourself. You say you're depressed and I'm not surprised. Depression is anger turned back on the self. You should be feeling angry at him, but you don't appear to be. He has disrespected you and downright abused you.
It's one thing to end a relationship. It's quite another to flaunt his interest in another woman so soon after your break up. Focus your energy on understanding why you don't allow yourself to become aware of the anger that I know you feel. Think back to your childhood. What happened to you when you tried to express your anger. Were you punished? Mocked? Or are you modeling after a parent who stifled his/her anger?
Your salvation, both short and long term, depends on resolving your inability to feel your anger. You should know buried anger not only causes depression, it ultimately destroys your relationships. For one thing, the healthy use of anger includes setting limits and asserting yourself.
If you don't assert yourself, if you brush yourself under the rug, why wouldn't your partner follow suit. I have to wonder if this man mistreated you because he knows that you are a person who permits herself to be mistreated. He dissed you because, I'm afraid that he knows that you will permit it.
At this point, if you spoke up and told him your thoughts and feelings about his behavior at the party, you might actually spark in him a feeling of respect for you. Certainly being the miserable, crying, victim won't arouse feelings of respect.
If anything, such behavior would make him feel more guilty and, consequently, angry. Telling him what you think about his behavior, will be a healthy use of your anger. It will lift your depression and boost your self-esteem.
If he walked on you because he had lost respect for you, then your standing tall could, possibly, renew his interest. Whether it does or doesn't, asserting yourself is the way to save yourself in the short and long term.
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