She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions, about anything at all.
I just had a long-distance relationship abruptly end. I have had relationships end abruptly before and sometimes painfully, but this recent one was different. Usually, there are several conversations that happen towards the end of a relationship and I’ve always been able to see it coming. However, this one ended with an email — not even a phone call.
We met through friends, live about two hours away from each other, and were together for six months. Even though we had a bit of distance between us, we spent a lot of time together, almost every weekend. We knew that it would be challenging, but I figured the distance wasn’t too far and we had so much in common. Or, I thought we had so much in common. Now, I think maybe I didn’t know him at all, given how quickly and completely he’s disappeared from my life.
I was feeling stressed before the relationship ended, missing him, and the coming and going was hard on both of us.
Yet, I feel naive for believing things he said to me, and that I didn’t get answers. We’ve had two brief phone calls after the breakup email and he was not that open to talking about things. I know that every relationship ending can leave some loose ends, but this feels surreal — like what we had never existed. I’m having a really hard time making sense of it and just letting go. I don’t know how to get closure here. Any advice?
Closure can be an elusive thing, because we often feel the need to have someone else give it to us, or at least participate in the process. Unfortunately, even when living in the same city, we don’t always get it. The good news is that you don’t need him to give it to you.
Grieving the end of a relationship is like grieving any loss: You may have to go through the less-fun stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression) to get to acceptance.
Because the truth is, you may never know why things ended. Maybe it was the distance, maybe you didn’t know him as well as you thought you did, maybe he met someone else, maybe it doesn’t matter. I know that it feels like it matters, but I promise you it does not.
Try this. Do something for yourself today — take a long walk outside, even if the weather is crappy. Let yourself really take in everything you see around you.
When you’re done walking, go home and write down a list of what you want from a future relationship, your career, and life. I know this sounds corny, but shifting the focus to you — what you want, what you desire — alleviates the maddening concern about what he is/was thinking.
All of the other trite breakup advice helps, too. Distract yourself, exercise, go out with your girlfriends, imagine what you can accomplish now that you’re not spending half of your time wishing you were in another city.
You will get there, to acceptance, with a little time. And that acceptance will give you the closure you’re looking for.
If you have a question for me about friendships, affairs, love, hate, Babar the elephant, Maltipoos, or anything at all, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo