Dear Molly: Coping with relationship loss

Molly’s recommendation on coping with the loss of a romantic relationship.  She advises, “honor your feelings, sit with them, painful as they may be, and step by step move ahead and open yourself to the possibility of much better relationships to come.”

Dear Molly,

I am in the middle of a breakup with my ex fiancé. I am having a very difficult time moving on. I really wanted this relationship to work. We got engaged 3 years ago and bought an apartment together. Unfortunately, he failed to tell me his divorce was not finalized and that he only had a Separation Agreement in place. In the meantime, we had put down money on an apartment. The divorce took 1 and a half years and during that time our relationship disintegrated over time. He said I was not fair with decorating or social plans. I tried to make changes to accommodate him but he would not move forward- he said he wanted to leave 2 years ago and then moved out one year ago. We still were dating through August and then he said he was confused and did not want to continue. We are apart now and I suggested that we go for a counseling weekend to try to work the things out. He has not responded to this and has stated he would like to move on – I am still upset and would like to work things out. I am having a very hard time moving forward without obsessing about him changing his mind. I don’t know what to do.

– Maggie


Dear Maggie,

I am so sorry for your loss. I am phrasing it this way as it’s important to understand that a breakup of a close relationship like yours becomes grief and loss. There is grief for the empty feelings you experience now and a sense of great loss for your dreams of a future life together.

It is natural to have a mixture of feelings coming at once, anger and sadness, frustration, rejection, hurt etc. The best way to get through these feelings is to allow yourself to sit with them. If you were grieving the loss of a loved one, would you deny and judge your feelings? It’s the same for you as you fear he is out of your life.

I think this is a case of you have all the information you need. You just don’t like the information.. He didn’t tell you the whole story of his marriage, so trust has been damaged. He has said that he wishes to move on, but you are wondering if he will change his mind.

Can I say you deserve better than crumbs!
I don’t know you, but I bet you deserve the whole cake. Until you shut this door you will not be able to open a new door to life experiences.

I believe no relationship is a waste of our investment in time, energy, and deep feelings. There are things to be learned. The question would strike me as why don’t you believe you deserve a better, more mutually satisfying relationship. I think this presents an opportunity to explore that. There can be so many reasons behind that. Some are from a person’s past messages and experiences and others are culturally imposed.

My advice would be to honor your feelings, sit with them painful as they may be, and step by step move ahead and open yourself to the possibility of much better relationships to come. Work on what blocks you from accepting that you deserve the whole cake, not just crumbs thrown along the way.

I hope this helps in some way.

– Molly

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