Here is my Q: I just got out of a year-long relationship, which I broke off because the timing wasn’t right and we’ll be in separate cities for a little while. I suppose I was also worried

Dear LATP,

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Here is my Q: I just got out of a year-long relationship, which I broke off because the timing wasn’t right and we’ll be in separate cities for a little while. I suppose I was also worried that there might be something not quite ‘there’ – but I think that might be something I always feel.

How are you ever meant to be totally certain?? Pretty soon after that, I met up with another ex, my first love, who I dated for a long while, and we told each other that we loved each other.

I live in different cities to both boys, but chat with each of them daily (neither of them know I talk to the other one). I feel like I love both of them, but am afraid to go any further, because as soon as I have committed to one, the other will hate me.

I get pretty low pretty often, and I’m really letting the thought of these two boys preoccupy my thoughts. I miss them both, and I also feel really guilty. I don’t want to spend my time pining over stupid men but I can’t stop!

What’s a girl to do?

Hello Fren. Have a seat.

Let’s talk about “exes.” It is the humble opinion of this column’s author that exes are out of control. Exes are, henceforth, cancelled. Solved your problem.

You’re very welcome. OMG no, I love you. OMGGG no, you’re pretty!!! Shut up!

I feel that after you break up with someone, you should be given an option to press a button that will bisect the space-time continuum into two parallel and inverse realities in which you and your ex can live out the rest of your respective lives in a universe without the other. You wouldn’t Eternal Sunshine them, you just wouldn’t ever have to interact with them again. Ever. You’d still get the benefit of all the shitty feelings and the important lessons. You'd remember it, so you could learn. But it’d be like you broke up and then they just *poof* disappeared or... died? Not in a tragic, painful, death-y way. Just, “Bye!” in an actual forever sense, in a no overlapping friends sense, in a no running into them at Whole Foods in your hot yoga clothes sense, in a no retroactively reconstructing history, missing them, contacting them, texting every day and getting pulled back into their vortex sense?

What I am trying to say is, didn’t you break up with both of these people? Didn’t that feel like exactly the right thing to do when you broke up??? 

What happen, hunnie?!  

You’ve gotten yourself trapped in a fake Edward vs. Jacob scenario and personally, I’m not having it.

Regarding ex #1 aka “Jacob”: if it wasn’t right, it wasn’t right. You are true and correct to see that no relationship is exactly perfectly perfect-- there will always be “something” about the connection that doesn’t fit. But if the relationship already ran its course, it’s probably best to leave well enough alone. Love worth having and keeping doesn’t feel so “take or leave."

Regarding ex #2 aka “Edward”: You left a big, fleshy, gaping hole in the middle of the “first love” part of this story, namely, why you broke up in the first place? Doesn’t that matter? Doesn’t anybody care about anything anymore?

It’s like in Queer Eye Episode 1 when Tom “You Can’t Fix Ugly” S. Grant invites Abby, his ex-wife back to his previously tragic one room home to drink regular, non-hillbilly, margaritas while sitting together in his spankin' new, not-exactly-easy-chairs-but-not-exactly-difficult-chairs and everyone’s all like, “OMG *tear* they are flirting! Cuuuuuuute!” But like, WHY DID THEY BREAK UP IN THE FIRST PLACE? They had a MARRIAGE and then they ENDED IT because it was CLEARLY BAD. I don’t want to speak badly about another woman but I did not trust that Abby one bit. I think she was only there for the free margarita and a taste of sweet-faced Antoni’s remedial guacamole. Messy ass Abby.

I digress, but my point of view is: the chemistry between two people might change due to extenuating circumstances, but incompatibility, more often than not, stays incompatible basically forever.

Sure, some people reconnect with an old flame later down the line and make it happen for real and for good, but it doesn’t sound like you are doing that.

It sounds like you’ve relocated to a new city, and that you are perhaps lonely, and that you are retreating into a fantasy (two fantasies) in order to regain your footing and find a sense of security. I say this partially because you are fixating on the past, and partially because you are fixating on people that are out of your reach, and thus, safe, and not a threat.

I say this mostly because in your letter, you describe 0 attributes for either boy beyond “ex” and “far.” 

If you were all three in the same city, and neither was your ex, I’d be like “OMG congrats! U are poly!” But that is not what’s happening.

This thing you describe about there always being “something” off in your relationships--have you considered that it might be you?

It sounds like your problem is less Edward vs Jacob, and more that you have a fear of intimacy that’s coupled with a big fantasy life.

You were more than comfortable letting Edward and Jacob go while they were around, but as soon as there were no longer any real-life stakes (sorry, Edward), suddenly it’s L-O-V-E.

Each of them loved you once, and that is very nice. But your lovability is not a finite resource. You will be loved again.

The best way to ensure that you have a steady supply of love is to give it to yourself.

I empathize with you, and I, Pussy Writer, have pined one or two pines myself, back in my pining days. It makes you feel insane, but you can totally stop.

Here’s what you have to do: put your phone down, STOP TEXTING YOUR EXES, and learn to live in the moment.

Be where you are. Is it scary? Um, yes literally everything is scary, but that’s how you know it’s working.

Work on your fear of intimacy by forcing yourself to try new things with new people. Make new friends. Go on dates. Say one thing that makes you feel emotionally vulnerable on every first date. Get in the habit of telling the truth. Learn some new things with somebody new for awhile.

When it comes to your question about how to be “totally certain” with regards to love, I’ve got nothing for you. There’s no way to know 100%. Sorry. It’s terrible but it’s also wonderful. This is the mystery that brought us all kinds of art and poems and beautiful things; it will continue to overwhelm and delight you, and it will continue to affirm and challenge your self- image for your whole life. So don’t run away. Get to know yourself, figure out what you like and what you don’t; figure out what feels good and what doesn’t.  

Go boldly forward, not backward.

xoxo

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