Name: Westley in SF
Question: Six years ago, I dated and eventually got engaged to the love of my life. Five and a half years ago, the engagement ended with her mailing the ring back, and we haven’t spoken since. I’ve tried, I’ve emailed, called, texted, written, pleaded, begged, but she won’t see me and won’t talk to me, although she does email and respond to me.
The post isn’t about her though. I’m just giving you some background. The point is that I’ve never had any closure and honestly haven’t been able to emotionally move on.
That’s not to say I haven’t tried, I have. I date often and since the breakup, I have honestly been crushing it. Women seem are really attracted to the slightly older, heartbroken bachelor, especially girls in their 20s (I call it being Hank Moody). I have dated casually and I’ve dated seriously. I am a great boyfriend, I know what to do, but all too often it feels like I am going through the motions. The spark isn’t there, I’m doing things, like sending flowers or leaving notes to find, because I know they are what women want, not because I’m impassioned about them. I even lived with one girlfriend, in an attempt at settling down, but that didn’t work.
Since then I’ve had a different opinion of dating… I meet a lot of amazing women — gorgeous, smart, successful, funny, fun, etc — and I enjoy their company, but I find that I don’t actually want to date any of these women. I don’t want to go through the end of a failed relationship with them, I’d rather be friends with them. Instead I date girls, sorry how this sounds, that are beneath me in education, career, socio-economic status, and the such. They’re good girls too, but I only date the ones I am comfortable excising completely from my life.
I guess I wanted to know if this is normal, being unable to move on and being resigned to a life of permanent bachelorhood. Should I be honest with one of these amazing women that I’m an emotional cripple? Or should I keep silent as I keep dating, hoping that I might eventually find someone who can help me move on? Or am I a particularly pathetic case of a broken heart?
Your ability to attach and detach seems to have been seriously affected by your broken engagement. I don’t know if it’s closure that you’re looking for, because we can give that to ourselves if we choose to. Something about how she ended things has taken a huge chunk from your ego and self-esteem. The only way to get it back is to rebuild it yourself, I’m afraid.
That’s the basis of most people’s need for closure. We don’t really want answers or to know why things ended. The why doesn’t really matter. What we want is to believe that the other person cared enough to acknowledge our hurt and pain. I’d guess that in the majority of cases, those of us who have sought closure at some point weren’t even given the truth. We were told what we wanted to hear because the other person wanted to unburden themselves in some way. Either they no longer wished to deal with us, no longer wanted to fear repercussions or just wanted to get rid of their own guilty conscience. Extending the olive branch, so to speak, is for their benefit. Not ours. It’s disingenuous. I honestly believe that, only in the rarest of cases, do we get the truth. And you know what? I would almost guarantee we wouldn’t want it anyway. That’s why the idea of closure is a myth. It doesn’t really exist.
Is what you’re experiencing “normal?” No. But it is common and even typical, especially when someone was excised the way it seems you were. It sounds like it was sudden and rather cold. To be frank, if I’m following the timeline correctly, this whole thing sounds impulsive and rushed. That makes me wonder if maybe there aren’t deeper issues going on here. Like maybe you get attached too quickly, thereby making it harder to detach? To get engaged and then un-engaged in six months implies that the relationship itself wasn’t all that strong to begin with. As an aside, I find engagements that happen after a year or less to be questionable, but that’s me.
Mailing someone’s engagement ring back to them and refusing to see them sounds odd. Usually, the woman keeps the ring or has the decency to return it in person. If she’s not willing to face you and give that ring back, it makes me think she feels a tremendous amount of guilt about something. Now you’re trying to unravel the mystery of what really happened. That would explain your need for closure. There’s a piece to the puzzle that’s missing and you can’t move on without it.
I think you want to know whether she ever cared for you at all. The problem with asking a question like this is that you don’t want the truth here. Nor are you likely to get it. She’ll hide behind plausible deniability. She’ll never admit the truth. Ergo, your pursuit of closure might be pointless. I think you need to accept that. Doing so might allow you to start healing enough to find something substantive and healthy.
Like I said, beyond what I’ve shared I don’t think I’m qualified to address your concern too deeply. This sounds like something you need to work through with a professional, if only to give you a second pair of eyes to help you uncover that last puzzle piece. You probably have it already. You just need someone to help you find it.