I'm Heartbroken, but Not Over My Ex-Boyfriend

A beautiful woman is feeling a strong connection with a man at a cocktail party.One of our beautiful friends, Jessa, has recently gone through a break up after a six year relationship with her ex boyfriend. She now finds herself utterly heartbroken, but not over him.

Here's her story:

Dear Jane,

My name is Jessa and I have quite the complicated situation going on.

It's really tearing me apart and I'm not sure what the next step is.

I recently broke it off with someone I had been in a relationship with for almost 6 years. I actually feel good about the situation - it was a long time coming and even though he was a great guy I knew we were not right for each other.

My issue is - I am heartbroken, but not over him.

I never cheated on him, but I did emotionally fall for someone else. For the past two years I have had a serious crush and it happened to be on one of his old college buddies. I met this person, X, through my boyfriend. I started having feelings for him almost immediately, and tried to reign it in, coach myself out of it.

But the feelings only grew.

Then I moved across the country with my boyfriend and, while I still had feelings for this person, I didn't have any expectations because we no longer lived in the same area and I was obviously in a relationship, but I still thought about him a lot. Then, he moved back to the east coast and made plans with my boyfriends good friend, (also his friend) to come visit together.

When he came to visit, I told myself he would not seem interested, that I should not expect anything. However that was not the case. We had a strong connection and I can't really explain it. We had a lot in common and I just felt this gut feeling around him.

This was again proved true when we (my boyfriend and I) visited him a few months later where he lived. We all went out, but X and I were the ones talking. He would ask me questions about my life, play my favorite music whenever I was around and I just wanted to be around him.

After this trip I was devastated because of how real my feelings were for him. I was with my boyfriend and told myself this cannot EVER happen. I can't even believe this while I write, that I was visiting him with the boyfriend and feeling all of these things. Just makes me realize it was such a ridiculous situation.

To try to make this slightly shorter than the very long post it already is… about a year later (after I thought about X every day and certainly began to have expectations/hopes that we would have a chance to get to know each other...) - my boyfriend and I mutually broke it off.

It had gotten bad, not only because of my secret feelings for someone else, but because we did not work on a very fundamental level.

We didn't accept each other, adore each other, we both lost the interest to even try to make it work. We probably stayed together years longer than we should have just because we were both bad communicators and also understanding people at the same time.

It was a recipe for limbo.

So after this rather intense break up, I have to admit I had hope that maybe X would come around. It was very black and white in my head and I thought - if he really has feelings for me, he will come around. But then I see online, 4 weeks after my break up, that X had started dating someone. And it was obvious it wasn't a brand new relationship.

I was absolutely heart broken.

A few weeks ago (now four months after the break up, and I hadn't reached out or talked to X at all in about a year), I texted him about a concert, hoping to open the lines for communication. He texted back and asked about the concert.. I said it was awesome or whatever.. but then that was it.

I have been looking at this text as my "answer".

That if he were interested, he would have at least continued the conversation. So this is very painful to come to terms with. Although I do also realize I did not reach out to him for over a year, I was always in a relationship and completely unavailable, and after we visited him and my feelings became so real, I still stayed with my boyfriend for another year.

And we don't live in the same city.

So I guess I do feel like I expected too much. I really go back and forth between these two ideas. The "if he's into you he will call" vs "no, no, its much more complicated than that and you were never an option, you were off limits".

So now all I have to work with is - he is dating someone and he is most likely no longer interested.

What do you think? Should I text one last time, sharing my real feelings, making it obvious that I don't want him to become a stranger? That I would love to stay in touch?

This would be to see if he reciprocates, and if he does not, I can move on. Or I can just move on now, as he is now in a relationship with someone, but then I would always wonder.

So - do you think it's possible he still has feelings for me?

Is he not reaching out because I am the ex girlfriend of his college friend? I realize that does not make me much of an option. But they are not very close and I tell myself, this kind of screwed up situation happens all the time. People get together all the time that "aren't supposed to". And if he really wanted to be with me, it wouldn't matter.

I'm just lost and in a lot of pain because I had real feelings for him, felt a connection and had hopes and expectations for the future. Even though it wasn't right and even though I do feel guilt about it.

I know I can't expect him to just whip around and be in my life with all of this complexity. Honestly a lot of people would be like "you've got to be kidding me" if we started dating.

So I guess it is not really in the cards for us?

I've obviously overanalyzed this to the maximum and am really ready to make a decision so I can quiet my head and move on for good. Either text him being honest about my feelings and get my answer, or move on now.

I feel like an outsiders perspective or opinion would be hugely helpful. Please let me know if you have any thoughts. And apologies for the longest question ever.

- Jessa

My Response:

So many unanswered questions, Jessa, and so many opportunities to over analyze and second guess yourself as to what might be and what could be.

And then you have the reality of what is.

You have no way of knowing for sure what he’s thinking and where he’s at unless you come right out and tell him where you’re at and what you’d like to know from him.

The bigger question is, are you ready for that? Are you OK putting that out there not knowing that his response may not be what you're hoping for?

You’re absolutely right that it comes down to two clear options: “Either text him being honest about my feelings and get my answer, or move on now.”

It’s the dilemma almost every single one of us has come face to face with at one time or another.

And yet, if you listen to your gut instincts, you most likely do know.

Because someone who's really  interested will certainly be looking for signs of an opening like the one you provided by initiating contact with him, and however small and insignificant it might have seemed, it would have been something for him to notice if he was ready and looking for some indication.

But I also know that even if we’re 99% sure that we know the answer, it’s that tiny chance that we missed something, that he might be just waiting for one more thing from us, that can make wrecks out of even the most confident of us!

So, Jessa, I say to you what I finally learned to say to myself first and now to anyone else who is at that crossroads between becoming more vulnerable in their need to “just know”, and knowing enough to move on – you have to do what you need to do for you.

Can you handle the feeling of “rejection” from him if you get that kind of response? Can you not take it personally (because it never is!)? Or will that have more of a detrimental effect on you than this no man’s land you’re feeling stuck in now?

Above all else, this is about you, not him.

You have to do what brings you back to the centered place within yourself where you have a sense of peace and calm about what is, where you can move forward without regrets, without looking back and wondering "if only" or "what if?".

Do what you need to do to really live! To get on with your life!

To create a life that you’re happy with, that brings you joy and peace and calm and confidence in you. Get what you need to get from him if he’s willing to give it to you, but don’t base your sense of worth on what his response is, regardless of what it is.

You don’t need someone to validate you to tell you what you already know. Regardless of where you've been or what you've gone through – or the guilt you carry for all the past regrets you can come up with to shame yourself with – let it be enough.

There is no right or wrong answer. There is no right or wrong decision. There is only what is, and what that looks like is already there right this moment in his situation, in his status, in the page he’s on, in where he’s at. Saying or doing something to move in his direction only fills in the blank for you, or makes it more real by having it revealed in a way that you can understand right there in front of you.

But it won’t change what is already there or what isn't.

For me personally, I know that feeling of angst all too well, of being in limbo over someone who there was never any question of what his feelings weren't except in my own mind.

That’s where your power lies, within yourself.

But to get there, you have to do what you need to do to bring you to that place. And so, if you can’t move on without that missing piece from him, find out for yourself.

Don't do it for him. Don't do it for what could be. Do it for how it allows you to finally be free!



It’s quite a dilemma for many of us to risk putting ourselves out there versus the benefit of finally knowing for sure. What do you think Jessa should do in this situation? Share your thoughts with her in the comments!

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