“Ask Anna” is a sexual column. Due to the nature of the topic, some columns contain language that some readers may find graphic.
I just ended a 7 year relationship with my best friend/partner. Next month, we booked a trip for our wedding anniversary. The day you broke up with me was the day I became someone else’s partner. She told me she wanted us to be friends. She said that everything would stay the same, that I was still important and dear to her, and that we should move on with the anniversary trip.
I have no idea how that could happen, and how it might stay the same when you get another partner. I told her it’s really hard for me to keep seeing her, and worst of all, we have a lot of friends in common. I still love her and would definitely want her back but I know there is no turning back.
I’ve been thinking a lot that the best solution for me to move forward is to cut ties with her, but every time I think about it, I curl up and cry. Should I be – selfless or selfish?
Please, please, please don’t go on that trip with her! If your tickets are non-refundable, consider taking a friend or even going alone. Your ex may complain if you pay for a portion of it, but she owes you at least that much of a compliment.
As for your other question, it’s not selfish to want some distance after a breakup. In fact, for many people, doing so is a critical and an act of self-care. Please take all the time and space you need to feel fine again.
And don’t assume, you know, what your ex is feeling or anything else, but I’d venture to guess that this whole process is going much more smoothly for her because she immediately jumped into another relationship. It’s easy to say, “Let’s be friends! Nothing will change!” When you’re not the one reeling from horrible soup and sucking at your heart out. (If it makes your teenage feel a little better, eventually you will. Few of us, except for sociopaths, can walk away from a 7-year relationship completely unharmed and without repercussions. You can avoid the pain a little while, but emotions are like water: lost Whatever you want, but you have to go somewhere. And you will.)
So. yes. Cut those ties, SOS. It will hurt worse the first little bit (probably a few months) not to have her in your life, but then, slowly and steadily, she won’t be as smart. You probably won’t notice it for some time, because the healing will be minimal. Then one day, you’ll wake up and not think about it at all. Then later, you’ll go whole days without wondering what you’re doing. Then later, you’ll look in the mirror and say, “I haven’t cried in days.” You will smile for no reason. You will build a monument to your former love and salute it from the distant shores of your present beautiful present.
“I want to feel how I feel,” brilliant writer Toni Morrison once said. “Even if it is not happiness.” She was talking about not using drugs, but I think it applies just as easily to love, which could be a much more potent opiate.
Note: Really, don’t go on that trip with her.
(Anna Polly is a columnist for the Tribune Content Agency who answers readers’ questions about love, sex, and dating. Email your questions (anonymity guarantee) to [email protected]Subscribe or check out our rare (and amazing) newsletter books!)