I've never actually explained this to anyone in its entirety before, so bear with me, because it's probably way too long. I really like this site and I feel like I can trust people to not be judgmental of me.
A year and a half ago I broke up with my boyfriend, albeit not in the best way (suggesting a break at first but it was half-assed, over text messages, etc etc, I admit this was wrong but still feel a lot of guilt over it), because we'd been dating for three years and I felt like all our passion had gone and we were just going through the motions, and I really didn't want to lead him on in that way. I felt okay about it for awhile, got a new boyfriend, moved on, and so did he. He became an entirely different person - I knew him as one of those slightly nerdy, shy, cute computer geeks who wears band t-shirts and jeans all the time, now he wears Burberry boxers and goes out clubbing till 6 am three times a week and wakes up next to girls he doesn't remember from the night before. By all accounts and purposes he really enjoys this kind of life - he's almost 22 now (I'm 20), and never got to really enjoy much of a "single life", as I was his first serious girlfriend and vice versa.
Around this time I started having some trouble with my current boyfriend, which is kind of still ongoing although it was worst this past spring: he's not around a lot because of school (he's attempting to transfer into a film production major and spends 12 hour days on sets), the online magazine he writes for, work, etc etc. We were barely speaking and didn't see each other for as long as ten days at a time. We decided the relationship needed to be put on hold because he could barely see me.
My ex and I were on good terms in spring and, because my boyfriend was MIA and my friends still had end-of-year exams when I'd already finished, we hung out together a couple of times a month. We ended up sleeping together twice - once because we were a bit tipsy, but completely sober the second time. I was feeling incredibly lonely and missed my boyfriend as well as my ex. I don't know what my ex was feeling - I think he did it because he was definitely still attracted to me, but not in love with me. Because he was so kind to me while I was dealing with this crap to my boyfriend, and because he seemed so much more fun and enthusiastic and social than when we were dating, I felt the old feelings for him stir up again.
In June, my ex invited me to a party he held for a mutual friend of ours we'd met while we were dating who lives in England and visits about once a year. Long story short, drunken mis-hearings abounded at this party, my ex somehow got the idea that I had cheated on him with our mutual friend the last time he'd visited, screamed at both of us in front of 40-odd friends, and had his friends forcibly eject me from the party - ie, they pushed me down his front steps and out the door at past midnight with no way to get home. Only one of my friends left the party with me - everyone else believed that I'd cheated on him and thought I was a total bitch (even though I've since cleared things up with my friends, most of my relationships with them are beyond repair at this point, as I've always been the "bad guy" for breaking up with "such a sweetheart" in the first place). I finally had to call my dad to pick me up and pretended nothing was wrong, then went home and threw up from crying and nervousness.
I was so mad at him for destroying the new hope I had for him, for humiliating me, and for hurting me by believing some lies god-knows-who spouted to him, that I slapped him, the only time I've done that in my life. I was completely shocked at myself, but I was incredibly hurt and upset. We met up over coffee to attempt to talk things out, and I apologized for slapping him, because I was and still am very sorry for doing it. The only thing he apologized for was "things turning out that way." I still think he feels completely justified in treating me that way, and only mildly regrets it as opposed to all this crushing guilt I feel pretty much every day.
I eventually made up with my boyfriend. We had a lot of discussions and he agreed to re-prioritize and not let other things get in the way of our relationship. I didn't tell him about what had happened with my ex (except the party situation), and my feelings for my ex faded and almost completely gone.
I say "almost completely" because, every time I think I finally feel okay with the past, I have to see him again. He's friends with literally all of my friends, and we often get invited to the same parties. I went clubbing last night for my best friend's birthday, and of course he was there. A bunch of us crashed at my friend's house, including him and a gorgeous blond Russian girl he'd been flirting with and cuddling all night, and I was pretty much forced to watch this all night until 5 AM, when I finally gave up and asked my friend if I could just sleep in her guest bedroom. I couldn't stand watching it anymore.
It also doesn't help that at roughly half of the parties I go to where my ex is also invited, he gets incredibly drunk and tells me he still wants me and wants to get back together, then forgets he said anything the next day. I don't drink nearly as much as he does, so of course I have to remember everything he tells me and how it feels to keep hearing this.
Realistically, I know my current boyfriend is much better for me than he ever was - we're more mature and less naive, we discuss things that are bothering us, we have more in common, and we actually have healthy arguments (as opposed to never fighting and holding it all in while my ex and I were together, and the screaming that came after). But I can't stop feeling...I dunno, like I miss my ex boyfriend.
So yeah, I guess that's it. I'm sorry this was so long, but for the better part of a year I've been agonizing so much over all of this. My feelings are this jumbled mix of guilt, jealously, loneliness, longing, anxiety, you name it. Last night at my friend's place I kept trying to sleep and the nerves were making me feel like I had to throw up. Every time I have to see him or interact with him in any way I barely sleep, spend hours getting anxious over what to say and how to act, blah blah. I don't know if I'm justified in feeling this way or if I'm a total bitch who brought it upon herself.
Again, I'm sorry this was crazy-long. This is the first time I've ever got this out in its entirety. Thanks for reading, though.
Thanks for your kind words about the site. We do aim to be helpful, non-judgemental and honest. I'm sorry you had to wait for an answer-- it's been a busy time around here!
The situation with your ex-boyfriend sounds very complicated and unhappy for you. I don't think he's treated you well at all but I can also understand how you can miss him. While you're not responsible for his bad treatment of you, I also see you keep meeting up with him, planned or unplanned, and how unhappy that makes you. It's like, you can't help it if he shows up at the same party you're are but you *do* have the choice to leave the situation or ignore things as best you can: your watching him make out with the other woman at the party sound a bit like self-inflicted pain to me. I know it's not easy to leave but sticking around so long just made things harder for you.
While I respect what you said about your current boyfriend being "much better for you than [your ex] ever was," I'm also wondering if he's still not the "best" match for you, at least right now. We still can care for exes and love them for who they are but if we're in a monogamous relationship with someone new, we should really be into them, not the ex. That's just not fair to you or your current partner. When we're not so interested after all and/or find we have feelings that won't go away, I think it becomes time to reevaluate the situation. I think it could be really good to be single for awhile and figure out what YOU want in life and love rather than seeing it as the either/or situation you're in right now.
I see your current relationship is better in a lot of ways but I'm also not seeing you being really into him, at least not like your ex. Have you ever discussed your feelings for your ex with him?
A few more questions:
- If you were to imagine an ideal relationship, what would it look like?
- Would you consider taking some time and space for yourself?
- Have you talked about your past/current relationship with your ex to anyone? I can see it being hard when you share the same group of friends but having a heart-to-heart with someone who really cares for you and who has a bit of an outsider's take on the situation could give you some invaluable insight. Likewise, if you don't have a trusted friend or family member to discuss this with, I'd consider seeing a professional counselor at your university. It's one thing for breakups to be painful but another for them to continue being so painful and drawn out a year and a half later. I want you to be happy-- you DESERVE to be happy-- and I think taking some time for yourself to reflect upon what YOU want and who you are, what you're getting from not being over your ex, whether you really want to be in your current relationship right now, and how you can find some long-term happiness in your relationships and life overall.
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