My boyfriend finished with me 4 months ago and I have been devastated ever since. We got on really well. It was like the perfect relationship and everyone told me how much he loved me. Even he said that I was the one and that one day he could see us getting married. When he said he wanted to end it, it just seemed really out of the blue. I feel extremely hurt and let down. His friends had become my friends too and now I find myself all on my own. I have hit a really low point of my life and whatever I try I can't seem to pick myself up. I haven't been sleeping well since, and my appetite has halved. What do you suggest I do? Jane
I'm sorry to hear you're so upset. It is often painful when a relationship finishes but it is possible to recover. Here are some ideas which could help you.
You say this was like the perfect relationship but if that were true, it wouldn't have ended, would it? People can and do say anything. Although your boyfriend may have talked of marriage, he did not have the necessary commitment. Nor did he have the courage to talk about the problem he saw between you. He didn't consider your feelings. He gave you no chance to sort things out. Surely in a good relationship both parties work through things rather than presenting one-sided decisions? Aren't you angry at his high-handed attitude? I would be!
Often when people split up, the person who's been left thinks it must be because they've done something wrong or that there's something wrong with them. This isn't true. You are only 50% of the relationship and so at least 50% of the blame must be his. Rather than being angry with yourself, why not realise that you are not responsible for his actions? He is the one who chose to behave in this way.
It's also common for people to believe that about this person, they will always be alone. This isn't true. There are thousands of men out there looking for good, committed relationships. You are still the same lovable, friendly person with all the skills and good points you have always had. You know that you are faithful and loving, qualities which many men want in their partners. Since you have attracted at least one guy, you know you can attract others.
It also helps to realise that though this guy loved you so you are lovable, the love he offered wasn't good. He did not respect you enough to talk things through with you. Sure, he had his good points, and some of the time you got on well. Next time, though, don't you want a partner who is open and honest and has the courage to share emotional decisions with you? One who doesn't make empty promises to hook you in and lead you up the garden path?
Few people end up with their first boyfriend, do they? The only relationship that is going to work is the last one. All the others, including this one, are just rehearsals. Next time round you can allow the guy to earn your trust. If he does what he says when he says he's going to do it, you will know he's reliable at least in some things. If bit by bit he lets you into his life completely and he is able to raise emotional problems, you'll know he isn't hiding things from you. If he both offers and accepts help, you'll know he respects you and your coping skills.
You're allowed to check potential partners out. You have to kiss an awful lot of frogs before you find your prince, and the more practise you get in dating, the more you can practise being yourself with a guy. Please remember that any date is not the answer to your prayers. It's just a couple of hours out of your life. Either you both have a good time and want to see each other again, or you don't and you say goodbye with no hard feelings.
So how can you get out of the despair you've been feeling? Firstly, by using your anger constructively. That doesn't mean being aggressive. It just means that you're going to let yourself take things one stage at a time in future. You can stop thinking there's something wrong with you and start realising you're not responsible for other people behaving badly. You can build up your self-esteem so that you feel good about yourself whether or not there's a guy in your life. You can do this by signing up for an assertiveness or confidence course and by working through self-help books on confidence and relationship skills. Some useful ones are Are you the one for me? by Barbara de Angelis, The Positive Woman by Gael Lindenfield and my own Make Love Work For You.
So how are you going to cope with the next few weeks? You might try giving yourself a little of the TLC you deserve. Why not curl up with a favourite book or video until you've grown a new layer of emotional skin? In the meantime you can work out how you can build a new, more rewarding social life for yourself. You can get in touch with old friends or start talking to new people at work, art galleries or in bus queues. It doesn't help to put all your eggs in the relationship basket. You can also invest more of yourself in building up interests, perhaps your career, and in doing nice things for yourself. You will get over this in time and you will find a good relationship so long as you don't give yourself up to stay with someone who doesn't treat you right. Just take one day at a time and make it the best it can be. Good luck!Back to Ask Anne