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Grieving An 11-Year Relationship. Not A Death.


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2 weeks ago my girlfriend, soul mate, etc. told me she hadn't been happy for a while. I was oblivious and very happy, and have been happy for almost the entire 11 years. To my complete shock, we ended up breaking up and she said she was sure we would work it out. However, I just found out she is in a relationship with someone already, and has been since a week after we broke up. :( My emotions feel unbearable, and most days I can't eat or get out of bed. I feel worthless and that the 11 years meant nothing to her. I have been dating her since we were 18. I have a son who was 6 months old when we met and knows no other mother figure but her, but she hasn't kept in contact with him, either, or asked about him since.

I'm so very devastated. I have attempted suicide but now really want to be stable and heal. I would like to hear other stories of these types of horrible situations, and find hope to survive it.

Thanks in advance.

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Hi, I am sorry for your need to be here, but glad you are looking for some help. When my fiance suddenly broke up with me, I got a lot of help from loveshack.org (don't confuse with .com, totally different!). There was someone there that posted a list of things that helped me. It was by Don Ho:


Don’t show any signs of being sad or depressed in front of them. This doesn’t mean going up to them and saying “my life’s fabulous now I’m sooo glad we’re finished”. It just means you should put on an appearance that everything is fine and dandy. This is an especially important rule if your ex found you to be clingy. No one wants to feel like they’re responsible for someone else's happiness, so show them that they’re not. You don’t need them to be happy.


As above under ‘stop questioning them’. If they happen to bring up any relationship type talk, it’s ok to engage if you think you can both do it in a calm collected manner. If not or if it drags on without going anywhere, it’s best to just to divert and go back to normal, friendly chit chat or make your excuses and exit the conversation (in a polite way). If they’re constantly on the phone to you crying over what’s gone on but show no sign whatsoever in wanting to reconcile, they’re just stringing you along and you can’t let them.


Arguing closes off lines of communication which is not what you want to do when you’re trying to open them up or keep them open. The more you fight, the more you criticise, the more they defend themselves, the more they back off the less they think of you and the more they think they’ve made the right decision to leave you. Stop arguing, keep your emotions in check!


It’s not unknown for dumpers to react in a cold or hostile way to the dumpee after a break up even when the dumpee hasn’t done anything to deserve it, especially when they have a new person!! The natural thing to do is react angrily to this and demand to know why you’re being treated unfairly. I don’t know why the dumper feels this need to be cruel but I do know that when you react to it, you just make matters worse. Quite often you don’t get an answer for their behavior and the more you push the more hostile and distant they get. If they tell you that you can’t pick up the rest of your stuff from their place because they’re too busy, just tell them “that’s fine, we can sort that out another time”. You’re easy going, you’re cool, you’re calm and that should hopefully force your ex to stop fighting and start acting rationally.


Fake indifference about the breakup. It’s not what you wanted but it was their decision so that’s ok with you. Obviously it’s not ok, but acting like you care too much is unlikely to work. Especially if they’ve told you there’s no chance they’ll change their mind and want you back. They’ve broken up with you and they’re totally unfazed by the whole thing. You on the other hand are heartbroken, confused, hurt and angry. You cry, you get upset and you give off the impression that you’re desperate and you need them. You push and you push and you push and they back further and further away. When you act indifferent to the break up you stop becoming needy and instead come across as a mature rational person who although didn’t want the break up is willing to accept it and refuses to dwell.


When they’ve dumped you and you’re saying “I love you” you’re trying to claw them back into a relationship they don’t want to be in. You’re saying to them I need you, I want you, please give me what I’m looking for. As far as they’re concerned it’s all done and dusted and you’re just grasping at straws. You can’t force someone to feel what they don’t feel. They don’t love you anymore, that’s fine. You’re backing off. There’s no pressure and you’re not gonna tell them you love them because although you’d like to have them you don’t need them.


Don’t ask them what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, what they thinking about the break up, if they’ve noticed how much you’ve changed. This can be very intimidating to people and it puts them on the defensive. Also if you keep asking them and they keep having to explain what they feel they’ve already explained, they’re gonna start getting annoyed with you and want less and less to do with you. Take off the pressure and watch them feel more at ease.


Don’t blame them for the break up, don’t complain about what they did wrong in the relationship. It’s fine to talk to let off steam to others about this (just don’t do it too often otherwise your friends will dump you) but if you want to reconcile with your ex, don’t criticize. Judging them and chipping away at them is not gonna keep the lines of communication open. If you wanna discuss the ins and outs of what you both did wrong in the relationship, chances are you’ll have that talk if you get back together. Now is not the time.


People don’t like to be told what to think and feel. It’s a form of control and who likes to be controlled? Nobody. They already know how they feel, they’ve made their decision and the more you try to persuade them otherwise, the more they’ll dig in their heels. Don’t try to convince them that you’re so wonderful, the perfect BF or GF and why they should love you and feel a certain way. You’re just pushing and it will push them away. Also, when you try to persuade them to feel differently you’re insulting them because they think you’re questioning their judgement and decision. That’s not going to help your cause.


If you keep letting them know that you’re there if they ever change their mind, you’re nothing but a pushover and a sap. Every time you give off that impression you’re saying I can’t get anyone else, I have low self esteem, I’ll be your plan B, I’m willing to accept whatever breadcrumb you throw in my direction. Not very attractive to a potential mate. This attitude doesn’t give of confidence or sex appeal. You’re absolutely no challenge to them anymore. They don’t even have to try. Boring! Best to tell them or give them the impression that you’re out having fun, seeing people of the opposite sex and moving on.


If you’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut in your life, now’s the time to get out of it. One of the reasons your ex may have left you is boredom. Everyone has things they’ve been putting off doing or have always wanted to do but have never had the time. Now’s the time to take action. Now your partner has gone you probably have that extra bit of spare time to try some new things and show your ex that you’re not as boring and predictable as they thought you were. It could be anything at all. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to drive, or learn a language or visit some far flung city or take cooking lessons. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something you want to do. Your new found confidence that you’ve gained from your new skill/new experience will be alluring and you’ll find yourself having more to talk about which will make you more interesting too.


Tantalise them, reassure them and worry them. Tantalise means your new found confidence, your looks, your conversational skills or whatever it was that your ex was attracted to in the beginning. Tantalising them means alluring them back to you but in an indirect sort of way. You don’t want them to know that all this effort is for them! Reassuring means making sure they realise you’re not gonna be needy, you’re not gonna be possessive, you wont be jealous and you’re not desperate to win them back. Worry means worrying them that they might lose you. Don’t tell them they might lose you, just go out and date and don’t let them know that nobody else compares to them. If you do that they’ll know you’re effectively just waiting in the wings. Reverse the roles and hopefully when they know someone else is cozying up to you they’ll start to wonder what they’ve thrown away.

All of that may not apply in your case, but I found some of it helpful.

It is very hard when your lost love moves on rather quickly, it makes you feel displaced and like you meant nothing. Nothing may stop those feelings, but the reality is you probably meant a great deal at one point, but for some unknown reason, she chose to move on. Sometimes they don't tell us why they wanted to break up or what was wrong, and right up to that date, they may act like everything's going to continue and everything is hunky dory. That's what is so hard! They had a clue, we didn't. We weren't privy to the same information they were. The fact that she has someone and you don't makes it feel harder too. But in truth, it's not good to move directly from one person to another, it's best to give yourself some time to heal and learn from the relationship. After all, you don't want to find yourself in this position again.

I'm going to recommend a book "Buyers, Renters, and Freeloaders" by Dr Harley. It helps you know where you are in terms of dating as well as helping you spot if others are ready for a LTR or not. That's oversimplified, it's an interesting read with a lot of valuable information for single people. (I got my copy on Amazon for $1 plus shipping.)

Please keep coming back here for a while, it's helpful to get your feelings out and be heard, and there are others who have gone through this, you aren't alone.

I'm also very sorry that your son has lost what was a mommy figure to him. That is really tough, it's one thing to experience pain yourself, it's another to watch our kids experience it. I wouldn't introduce him to women you date until you are certain they are the one, so as not to further confuse him. Right now it'd be good to take time to focus on things you and your son can do together. Keeping busy helped me. Scheduling something to look forward to helps too.

Whatever you do, you do NOT want to consider suicide as an option. What would your son do without you? You may have others that could tend to his physical needs, but NO ONE can be his daddy but you. That sends a message to him that he doesn't matter to you, so please don't consider it. If you ever feel like you can't handle it, call a help line, best friend, see your doctor, but do NOT do anything rash, okay? Promise me!!

When a person is young, it is so hard to keep perspective. When you've lived a while, you develop more perspective and you tell yourself, "I made it through that, long ago, so I'll make it through this too." Right now you are developing that perspective that will aid you in life with other things that might come your way. The way you are feeling right now is temporary, no matter how strong it feels, that's why you don't want to do something irrevocable. Give yourself TIME to heal, time to eventually move on and build that life for yourself and your son that you want. Right now you may be feeling that she is the only one for you, but please give yourself time...you may just find the best is yet to come. This woman broke your heart and let you and your son down. Wouldn't you rather have someone in your life that would never consider doing such a thing to you? Someone you can count on through thick and thin? There's something to be said for that.

I also want to say, your feelings are very valid. An 11 year relationship is a huge loss. Everything you are feeling is normal...just be cautionary with the actions/response. It's common to lose sleep, cry, feel angry, feel cheated, deceived, etc. It'll all lessen with time.


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Kay: Thank you very much for your response. The #1 tip was the most helpful for me. I'm hoping she would have told me sooner that she was unhappy if she didn't feel so responsible for my happiness, but I'm not sure how she felt.

A few of the other tips were helpful, too, though some seemed more for the potential of getting back together. I definitely don't see this happening.

You're right, the hardest part is feeling blindsided and then immediately replaced. I would've loved some warning. She thinks it's very easy to remain close friends and tried to contact me daily to "check in" and then go back to her new person. She even got upset because SHE wanted us to talk, despite how hard it was for me and what I needed. I've since cut off all communication, except my son knows how to contact her if he wants to (he hasn't).

I will check out that book. I really didn't know how much I revolved my life around taking care of someone else until it stopped. I'm sure it will teach me a lot about myself.

This forum is helping me so far. I'm happy someone responded.

I don't plan to date anyone anytime soon. Right now it's unimaginable, actually. So my son won't have that to deal with for quite a while. Spending time with him and keeping busy has been helping these past two days. The feeling once I return home is terrible, but getting easier.

I have seen a therapist since my suicide attempt, and I'm aware that it was a horrible and selfish act. I was not thinking. I do promise you. Thank you for caring!

Thank you also for validating how I'm feeling. I knew it's not supposed to be as easy as my ex makes it seem, but it's hard not to feel a little crazy when the other person seems fine.

You've made me feel a bit better. I will definitely stick around.

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Thanks Marty, for inserting that link!

I have ran the gamut...having had four marriages and two broken engagements. One husband passed away, and he was the one I was happiest with...the rest either initiated break up or treated me so badly I had no option but to break it off. I suppose that's why I'm not interested in dating anymore. I got a dog and I'm happy! But I'm still learning, and even though I'm not dating I find relationships very interesting, as people are, and there seems to be no end to the amount of information one can learn, so I've been immersing myself in doing just that. One really valuable source to me has been marriagebuilders.com as they have a VAST supply of information, much of it free, much of it in books, and a lot on forums, as well as a radio show. It has been life altering for me as it's helped me learn what I've done wrong in the selection process and in going into relationships too quickly...and the consequences that go with that. In my one happy marriage, I can see I lucked out. :)

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. Somewhere in the jacket it probably references his other books, all valuable, depending on your stage in life with relationships.

I'm glad you're taking some time for you and your son, and to heal. One thing I've learned is if something is not working, you have to fix it or you'll get the same results the next time. That's why we need to heal and learn before being ready to try again...we have to learn what to look for, what are those red flags, what is someone really telling you when they say and do certain things. Sometimes they ARE trying to tell us something and we're not getting it because they are not good communicators or afraid to tell us how they really feel...or don't know how they really feel...and it's up to us to see the clues and pick up on them. I see that now. I'm very tenacious and put in great effort...sometimes that merely prolongs the eventual outcome. I've learned that sometimes when you give great effort, the other person values you less for it, seeing you as weak or needy, and they treat you with less regard or respect. My George wasn't that way though, we couldn't do enough for each other, because we loved each other completely and understood each other. But I'm learning to put myself first, that's kind of opposite of what I'd always thought/done before.

Good luck to you. I do know how hard the nights can be...being alone, that's when you think, that's when it hurts the most. Maybe try some good music if it's hard to sleep. I even got sleeping pills from my doctor, only had to use them a couple of times so I could function without being totally sleep-deprived, it was helpful. Keep taking care of yourself, walking, working out, eating right, etc. It helps you feel better and hastens your recovery.

What have you planned for this weekend to look forward to?

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I'm sorry you've had so much experience with heartache. You gained a lot of wisdom and I'm happy you share it with others.

My mother died when I was two, and my father felt he also lucked out with that marriage, and didn't date anyone else until I was in my 20's. The downside may be that I've never had women in my life growing up.

I've learned that sometimes when you give great effort, the other person values you less for it, seeing you as weak or needy, and they treat you with less regard or respect. My George wasn't that way though, we couldn't do enough for each other, because we loved each other completely and understood each other. But I'm learning to put myself first, that's kind of opposite of what I'd always thought/done before.

This really hit home for me. I had always tried to treat my ex like a queen and I could never do enough for her. I planned my days around her schedule, as she worked nights. I often stayed up talking to her at work when things were slow. Often until 4AM, and then get my son up for school at 7. It was very worth it to me getting some extra time to talk to her, but I always wished she would make similar effort. Or, at the very least, show more appreciation for mine.

Unfortunately, I don't have anything planned this weekend aside from going to the bank today, and taking my son to swimming tomorrow. The physical symptoms of this loss are making it impossible for me to go out and do things. I have constant shortness of breath, a heavy chest feeling, and am unable to eat without wanting to vomit. I can count on one hand the things I have eaten in the past 10 days at least. I hope this gets easier soon. Thank you again. It's very helpful having you here.

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The shortness of breath scares me (my husband died of a heart attack...we hadn't known he had heart problems and he looked the picture of health). Please at least call your doctor's office and talk to them about it, see if they think they need to see you. It could be anxiety, which can mimic heart, but it can be very uncomfortable at best. Anything you can do to destress or make yourself more comfortable...like I said, take a walk, get a massage, listen to soft music (no rock or rap right now), watch a comedy, if you can tolerate it. Try to keep busy, clean the garage, anything to help keep your mind off of things. I thoroughly cleaned my house in the months ensuing Jim's breakup! At least I had a clean house to show for it, too bad it doesn't last1

Keep in mind, it doesn't mean you shouldn't treat your gal well...I'm just saying, I've observed that from some I've dated (or been married to). If it's the right person and it's very much two way and without a doubt the other person is in love with you and holds your best interests at heart, then demonstrate your love completely, knowing it'll be reciprocated. But if you start noticing things seem pretty one sided and the other person just doesn't put forth the effort that you do, then it is as I am talking about. You can pull back, not be so quick to say I love you or do what they want, etc. and they will actually show more effort because they'll respect you more. Personally, I don't like game playing and would likely decide I don't want that relationship, but that's just me. I like openness, honesty, and complete and utter love between the two people...I'm more all or nothing. :) The trick is in not giving your all to someone who doesn't do likewise.

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I'm sorry your husband's death was so unexpected. Unfortunately, shortness of my breath is usually my main symptom if I am worried or upset. I wish I could make it go away. I will bring it up to my doctor just in case. I haven't had energy to clean or take walks because of barely being able to eat. I just don't know if I'm doing more damage by assuming my appetite will come back in time.

I was always a little worried about my ex's selfish tendencies. My father was the first to bring up the concern when we started dating. It's remained an issue right up to the end for me. I know she still loved me, but we expressed our love very differently. I hope I learn from this (and from you) never to repeat the same mistakes. It's a hard way to learn, for sure.

I love your signature, by the way. It reminds me of how my father feels about my mother. :)

ETA: Have you ever spoken to a spiritual leader about these situations? Or would you recommend it for a religious person? Thank you for everything.

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Yes, I've talked with my pastor. I have some wonderful siblings, we're close, always have been, so we talk to each other about things, it helps.

My mom has Dementia, so I have my hands full dealing with her right now, I'm kind of glad I don't have a relationship right now, I have enough on my plate.

It will get better for you, I think the first couple of months are the roughest, not that you'll be over her in that period of time, but little by little your head will clear and your heart will heal...it does take time, and I'm sure it's different for everyone.

Try to get some nutrition in you, even if you aren't hungry. When I went through this, I made some energy drinks with frozen strawberries, yogurt, spinach leaves, protein powder, orange juice, you can even add a bit of granola, blend it in a blender, at least it has all of the food groups. The last thing you need is to get sick right now.

I hope your weekend goes well with your son.

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Thank you, Kay! I am considering speaking to my Rabbi. I have been going to more services since the breakup. It seems like a good place to start.

I'm really sorry about your mom. That's a lot to deal with. You have to be one of the strongest people I have "met". You are inspiring!

I was having a pretty good weekend. I ate most of my regular meals and was feeling much better physically. Today I'm feeling worse. It is self inflicted, as I let my mind mull over things that aren't going to help me heal. I guess it will happen from time to time. At the very least, I've learned that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope you had a good weekend, too. Thank you, again!

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Even the mulling over has a purpose...we have to go through the pain to get to the other side. Unfortunately, there is no way to circumvent it...believe me, if there was, I'd have found it. :)

Of course, you don't want to pour over old love letters and look at pictures. I removed every reminder of Jim and put it in an out of the way place so I wouldn't have to look at it. One of the first things I did was pack up all of his stuff and drop it off at his place the next morning (I saw his roommate, not him). It's been two years and two months and we're friends today, but I still haven't had him come to my house, I don't want to make it harder on myself and am not sure I could handle it, even though I miss him...maybe ESPECIALLY because I miss him. We do talk on the phone every couple of days though. I will always care about him but I needed to get over him and close my heart to him. Some people find it better to take a break from their ex for a year or so, some find it easier to completely close the door and never see/speak to them again. You will know, inside of you, what is the best step for you. Consider what is best for YOU, not her. YOU are the one you are left with so YOU are the one you need to consider...plus you have your son to consider.

I felt some anger/betrayal, and I think for the most part I've worked through that (it's a process...beware anyone tell you it's instant or easy, it takes time to fully forgive) but that doesn't mean I should open myself up to go through it again.

Good luck to you! I'm glad you ate this weekend. I don't think it's uncommon at all to have ups and downs. In my grief over losing my late husband, I found the process much like three steps forward, two steps backwards, knowing that ultimately I was moving in a progressive fashion, even if I was going backwards that day. :)

Hang in there, it'll get better, I promise you!

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