Adapted from a recent online discussion.
E-mail from ex-girlfriend opens can of worms
Still heartbroken: I don't know how to respond to an e-mail I just got. It was from a girl I dated three years ago for about four months. I was crazy about her and tried hard to make the relationship work, but she was always distant, and I sensed she was not that into me. However, every time I asked, she said everything was fine.
She eventually broke up with me over the phone, but did not go into detail about why. In the e-mail she just sent me, she reveals that she was dating another guy the entire time.
She is very apologetic, but it's clear she's looking to clear her own conscience. She wants me to write back to acknowledge her apology and ask any questions I might have for her.
Am I allowed to tell her I've never been the same since?
I don't trust women very much, and anyone I do invest in, it's only halfheartedly. I consider these things her fault and would like to tell her that, but I'm afraid that's opening a can of worms I don't want to look into.
Carolyn: Is there a can of worms you do want to look into?
But you need to get rid of these old slimy things, so do it anyway.
Just not as a reply to her e-mail. Reopen the issue in your mind only, to examine this central narrative of your life.
I see more holes than story. You were "crazy about her." And, you dated for four months, and she was "always distant." Huh?
What you're describing is a crush — heavy on attraction, light on facts and just short enough that you never got to see how ordinary she was, let alone what she was really up to.
She was also never "great," because "great" shares her full self with you, because she loves your full self. "Great" is good to you because she trusts you to be good to her.
I don't say this to minimize your pain, because being dumped without explanation, and then having to go back three years later to connect a bunch of old dots, is torture.
But a lot of your torture in between these points was self-inflicted. You know she wasn't great. And, just as she apparently did what she wanted, please recognize that you did what you wanted, too. You saw in her what you wanted to see, for example.
After the breakup, you also wanted her to make you whole again — giving you powerful incentive to hang on to your anguish. To get over her is to admit you'll never get to end the story the way you want.
Oddly enough, the happy ending you're still waiting for puts her in charge of you. The ending where you control your life goes like this: "I can't believe I've given her this much power over me — and also judged all women harshly based on one woman's actions."
That ending is yours, today, if you choose.
Ironic: "Anyone I do invest in, it's only halfheartedly." So you're doing to other women the same thing that this woman did to you?
Carolyn: Touche. People who don't deal with their own pain do tend to shift it to others.