01/20/2012 03:34 pm ET Updated Mar 21, 2012

Single Ape Advice: Break-Up Mash-Up

For the past five years, Steven has been shoveling advice at The following is a weekly selection for the readers of The Huffington Post. Feel free to give opinion or send in your own questions.


My boyfriend broke up with me on New Years Eve. We were together for a year and even though we had some rough patches I hardly saw this coming. Just the week prior, I spent Christmas day with him and his family, and a few days before we were talking and laughing. Our mutual friends are all shocked and have even said that the last time they saw us (a few weeks before the break up) we looked happy and in love.

Although I've been through breakups before, I'm devastated and can't see how I will get over him. I thought this guy was different, and someone I could see committing to in the future. He was terribly cold to me over the phone (yes he broke up with me via phone) saying that he didn't want any contact from me nor did he want to be friends with me. He gave me a lot of excuses but he basically said he was unhappy with his life, unhappy with me, and wanted to focus on himself.

I had no idea he felt so strongly, and I'm terribly confused and hurt. I don't know how to get over him or how to not have hope for us getting back together. I'm just so torn up about how things are now, and how he's moving on. How do I get past this?


Having her move out while I was at work seemed like an awesome idea at the time, but rolling home late at night to an empty house was a shock. On the table in the living room she'd left a photo booth picture of the two of us smiling on some boozy evening when forever seemed like more than "until today." I tried to be sad but was too exhausted from the past week's drama to muster a tear, even catching myself faking it for a minute or two before the absurdity of that action caught hold. Compounding the emotional emptiness was the fact that with her stuff gone, the visual representation of our relationship was overwhelming. The bedroom and living room were completely empty -- except for a dirty couch and table she didn't want -- and everything I owned was packed floor to ceiling in "my room" as if I was the 13-year-old son whose junk was better tucked away. Sitting alone in a house that now possesed the echo-y acoustical footprint of an available rental unit, I did what any respectable-yet-spent dumpee would have done given the same situation: I tore the photo booth picture to shreds.

I honestly can't remember how the next few weeks and months played out except for the fact that I had visitors. In fact, that summer I had visitors almost every weekend, culminating with the friend who visited in October and proceeded to have a nervous breakdown on my couch after his car was stolen on his birthday. It turned out the car was never stolen, he actually just forgot where he parked it because the fog of life was just that thick for him. When he finally went home for Thanksgiving, his dad surprised him with a field trip to the local mental institution where he lived for the next few months. Luckily, I wasn't that bad off. Actually, not even close. After she left I realized rather quickly that I didn't need her and was actually much better off. I'm not sure if this was reality or a deeply ingrained human survival mechanism, but in the end, does it really matter? All that I cared about was the fact that time had healed most wounds while friends, fun, and freedom took care of the rest.

Life has a funny way of balancing itself out like that. Given a healthy dose of perspective I saw what she had seen -- that we didn't really have much of a future together. Unfortunately, my faith in the world finding its level is unwavering so I knew what was eventually coming from her -- the try-and-get-back-together. It happened at an anniversary party at the restaurant I worked at. I had new friends, new crushes, new stories and a new life. Her friend confronted me in the hallway on my way to get another case of wine from the backroom and stated her case of why I should consider reconciliation. I wish I was the type who felt satisfaction from such change of events, but it just made me sad. "All that pain and drama for something you regret? What a waste."

I'm writing this because I don't know what else to say about your question that I haven't said a hundred times. All I can offer you is the promise that time and distance combined with friends and movement will eventually work its magic on you too. Not only because it can, but because it has to. Right now that seems like an impossibility, but with every day it'll get a little easier and maybe at some point you'll be listening to his friend begging your uninterested ears for his second chance. Remember, life really does always find its level. The trick is to offering flexibility, understanding, and acceptance until it does.

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