dear sharideth: How do I move on?

Dear Sharideth,

I need some help…

I was dating a man for 6 months, my first ever relationship, he broke it off with me as he said I needed to date someone closer to my own age who can fulfill my dreams. I get the words but I still don’t really understand why he did it. That was a year ago now. We are still close friends, talk often and support each other through some tough times. My difficulty is that I haven’t let go, I can’t seem to move on, I loved him then and I love him still. He says he still loves me and is adamant I should find someone else. He recently started seeing someone else and it’s just crushed me. I struggle to deal with the reality that there is no possibility with him any more. I have dealt with severe anxiety issues in the past 3 years, I was on medication to get me through a breakdown caused by work. Now I am staring down that barrel again not just because of this friend but also the suicide of another friend, ongoing illnesses and full time university study. I start counseling again on Monday.

After all that mess, what I need to know is… how do I move on? How do I keep a normal friendship with a dear friend despite the pain? Is there hope for someone as insecure as me? I’m close to 30, desperate to be loved by a man and longing to have children…

Thanks for your understanding,

Trying to Figure it Out

dear TTFIO,

the first thing you need to know is that i fully support you getting back into counseling and think that is great for you. well done.

however, this is the part of your email i want to deal with:

After all that mess, what I need to know is… how do I move on? How do I keep a normal friendship with a dear friend despite the pain? Is there hope for someone as insecure as me? I’m close to 30, desperate to be loved by a man and longing to have children...

“how do i keep a normal friendship with a dear friend despite the pain?” the answer to this one is easy, but you’re going to hate it and probably not like me much for saying it.

the answer is, you don’t. you say “despite the pain”, i say maintaining the friendship is the cause of the pain. he shouldn’t be telling you he still loves while he’s dating someone else. he shouldn’t be telling you he loves you at all if he’s made it clear he’s done with the relationship. that is selfish and insensitive on his part and instead of beating yourself up over it and lingering in this state of longing, you should be angry.

you should be angry at him and at yourself for allowing it to drag out so long.

you need to ask yourself why you are trying to maintain the friendship? what’s the point? it is not going to become what you want it to be and it is the single most powerful force holding you back from moving on.

and it is 100% self inflicted.

you have tied yourself to this man willfully. it’s like he’s the earth and you’re his moon. it is impossible to move forward when you have strapped yourself to what is behind you.  you say you are desperate to find the love of a man, but you have blinded yourself to any other options by continuing to invest all your emotions in someone who has already rejected you.

you are going to have to let him go. if he truly cares about you as a friend, he will let you. if he is selfishly hoarding your feelings for himself, he will try to convince you to keep going as you are while making no changes in his own behavior towards you.

you need to distance to heal. he may be really decent, but until you learn to take your focus off of him, you’ll never be able to see what else might be out there for you. your fear of losing what little he’s giving you is keep you blind to the potential for any real fulfillment.

oh so sincerely,

sharideth

any other thoughts for our friend?

p.s. this was heavy. so if you want to laugh, head over to my guest post at Stuff Christians Like. what i wrote is okay, but the comments…oh the comments…are worth your time. there were several people who REALLY hated me. Acuff himself had to weigh in to defend me. it was amazing.

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8 comments on “dear sharideth: How do I move on?

  1. Jennwith2ns says:

    I say, “Hear hear.”

    TTFIO–I’ve been there. What Sharideth is telling you would have made me want to punch her in the face when I WAS there (sorry, Sharideth), but she’s dead-on right. DO NOT try to maintain the friendship. Just don’t. Not only for all the reasons she lists above, but also because–you may think it’s not possible for your situation to get messier or more painful, but it is. Stop it before it does.

    Sharideth–re: your post on SCL–it was HILARIOUS. And I used to be a missionary, so . . . people just need to lighten up. 😉

  2. Jerry says:

    Just read the comment on SCL (favorite blog)…people take things way too seriously! I loved your comments about MUS and I love missionaries! The two seemingly exclusive notions can exist simultaneously. “Write on girl!”

    Jerry in California

  3. turnerbethany says:

    TTFIO, I totally agree with Sharideth.

    Another thing to think about is when you do get married and if you are still friends with this guy, what is your husband going to think? Is this relationship going to hurt him? I know as a wife I don’t want my husband to be friends with his ex(s). They had their chance & lost. He is mine now.

  4. Lafemmeroar says:

    Men who say they love you after breaking up with you, IMO, are cruel. They’re giving hope where there is none. They are the male version of a “cock tease.”

  5. Lynne says:

    Agreed! I had to do that with a friend that I was in love with for four years. After about 10 months of purposefully not contacting him (and he didn’t seem to think me important enough to call or text occasionally in those 10 months, which is very telling of how he felt about me), I felt like I could see him again. And when I did, I had changed so much (in great ways) that all I saw were all of the reasons why he was wrong for me, but still was fun to hang out with. And that’s what he is now, someone I hang out with every few months or so, but not someone I rely on for any kind of deeper friendship.

    The kick in the pants for me was when I was reading a book of adaptations of Greek myths. The story of Echo and Narcissus hit me like a freight train. Because I was Echo, always there, always agreeing, always adoring, and he was my Narcissus. Though instead of being in love with himself, he was always falling in love with other girls (four of whom came out as lesbians after dating him).

    I am a living breathing example that you can come out of it alive and better for it. It may seem like the worst thing you could put yourself through right now, but one day you will feel SO FREE.

  6. KT says:

    I know of too many people that “try to stay friends” and very few have managed to do so in a healthy way. Maybe sometimes, down the road, there can be a decent relationship, but DISTANCE is a must, and healing cannot happen when this person that is (intentionally or not) causing the hurt is right in one’s face/space/life. You must respect yourself enough to know that this is NOT helping you and be able to step away and pour this energy into becoming happy/healthy and knowing your worth so you can, as Sharideth said, be able to see with a clear mind/heart what wonderful things are waiting for you in this world.

  7. Guy From Finland says:

    It almost sounds like he wants to keep TTFIO as an fallback. If he would really see TTFIO as someone worthy of settling down with, he would have done exactly that. But for what ever reason he has gotten her on his leash, and also realized that he has done exactly that. Now he keeps her around in case he turns x-number of years and still doesn’t have a meaningful relationship – which will happen.
    If he would really care for her, he would have left without contact long time ago.
    Find better friends – they are out there. And don’t think you are not worthy of happy relationship. You have had bad experiences, panic attacks and depression. But so have MANY other smart, beautiful and successful people – like you.
    You might think those “symptoms” get you rejected out of that group, but that is what actually gets you in.

    This is just *my* honest opinion.

  8. Soul Walker says:

    I can’t imagine staying friends with an ex. Why would I do that? I mean I can be cordial and polite and all that if we happen to run in the same circles… but friends to rely on? No way.

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