Q. My ex and I were deeply in love but there was one big issue- cultural and religious differences. So we decided that we would be best friends because we didn’t want to lose each other. He moved into a new apartment and within 3 weeks started dating a new girl- his roommate and started justifying that this is how people move on and they have so much in common.
He would text me saying he missed me and we tried to do lunch but I was so emotional, I felt betrayed and he was so happy and didn’t understand why I wasn’t happy for him. I did No Contact for over a month and reached out to him. He was happy to hear from me but then taken back that I was so normal. And I told him he meant a lot to me as a person and I value the friendship we have and he finally told me he wasn’t over me and still thinks about me all the time.
On New Years, I texted him but I received no response from him. I bumped into him on the street and he told me I looked pretty and that we are friends and we can get lunch. We got lunch and I didn’t bring up anything about us or his girlfriend and tried to keep it light and funny. He said that losing me is still really hard for him and it’s not easy. I told him I felt the same and no matter where we end up or who we end up with I will always be there for him in life.
He had tears in his eyes and couldn’t look at me in the face anymore and was shaking his leg and touching his beard and hair, at the end our hugs were long. Two days later he texted me saying he needs space and he can’t be friends with me right now. I don’t understand what the problem is- he has a girlfriend, I accepted everything that’s happened and he’s being so harsh towards me.
He thought I was the one and told me I was the most meaningful relationship he’s ever had and I helped him grow spiritually and personally when we were together. We never had fights it was exciting and happy everyday for a year. I just want us to be on good terms and now I feel like since he’s stuck living with this girl for a whole year because his girlfriend is his roommate…. Which means he’s never alone and doesn’t have time to heal. When will he realize he’s in a rebound?? How do I get him to realize he needs to heal the proper way? I feel like he’s in some kind of illusion and our run ins or encounters were always so random on the street.
I honestly value this person as a great friend, we were friends before we were together and I just want that back.
A. Thank you for your inquiry! I must first congratulate you on making such a mature decision to go your separate ways based on fundamental differences in your relationship. So many couples don’t see the problems ahead and are then later torn apart usually after children are involved.
Breaking up, especially after an intense relationship, usually requires lots of no contact time, whether you want a friendship later or not. This is because there needs to be time to start visualizing yourselves as independent from one another. It also takes time for the feelings to subside and return to a place of neutrality. I will say it is very rare for people to return to friendship after a love affair without years of separation and no contact. You have to each rebuild your lives without the other and that takes time. He is not being harsh with you by saying he needs no contact, he is saying he has not healed yet and that should be respected by you.
How can you get him to see anything? Well, you can’t. When we head down the path of “I just want him to see” we have entered the land of control. Everyone has his or her own way of dealing with hurt. While some ways may be healthier than others it is important to remember that everyone has that freedom of choice. We have to be careful to not judge what other people do. He is telling you that he needs time and space so give it to him.
It is impossible to go back. That is the double edge sword of entering into a romantic relationship with a friend. You cannot un-ring the bell. The best that can happen from here is that with a lot of time and distance a reestablished friendship may occur that includes your and his new partners.
I must say it really sounds like you are not letting go of this person so that you can do your own healing. Grieving is hard! He has chosen to have a girlfriend as a way of softening his grief and you are trying to force a friendship as a way of softening your grief. It keeps you connected to him rather than you finding complete freedom. The best thing you can do for yourself is to let go all the way and grieve! While I am sure you have done some grief work, you are not finished or you wouldn’t be so focused on him. Grieve until you get neutral.
Take good care,
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW