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Dear Breakup Girl,
I broke up with my fiance, whom I had been with for seven years, via letter
last November. (Via letter because doing it face-to-face or by phone would have
resulted in one of our world-famous knockdown dragout screaming battles...
anyway, that's not the issue.) After the breakup we sent letters back &
forth for several months, each of which was progressively more hostile. He was
mad at me and I had this sort of righteous indignation thing going on.
Well, a couple of weeks ago he calls on the phone, pissed as all hell. We
talked for an hour, you know, we screamed, we cried, we came to some sort of an
understanding. He asked if he could see me in person just to officially end
things face to face. So I drove down the next day (for one and a half years
I've lived an hour away to attend grad school), and we did lunch together.
Again, very sad -- I gave him back the ring, we cried some more, and we both
realized that once we could hear each others' voices we couldn't stay
So the end result is we seem to be having the most amicable breakup ever. He
said he really wants to be friends. I had my doubts but said OK. So now he
calls maybe twice a week and we talk for an hour or so. I have made it
perfectly clear to him that I'm not just sitting here waiting for him to clean
up his act so that we can get back together, and he has acknowledged that. But
it is nevertheless clear to me that he is trying to prove himself to me by
doing all the things he should have done a long time ago and telling me about
it and about his long-term plans.
I am sad that he is getting his life together for me, his ex, rather than
for himself. I am very unhappy because in breaking up with him I have hurt
someone I still care about (though no longer am in love with). This was so much
easier when I was righteously indignant with him! And worst of all, I don't see
how the friend thing can ever work. After seven years in a very touchy-feely
relationship, it's hard for both of us not to automatically hold hands or
cuddle or whatever when we're in the same room, and of course that stuff is no
longer appropriate. And every time we talk on the phone, when we're hanging up
he says "Love you." I feel like a jerk not saying it back, and at the
end of last night's conversation, I did say it back.
Do you have any advice for being friends with an ex after a relationship
which did not end because one or the other was an a**h***? Or should I just
tell him that it's not working for me and is making me uncomfortable?
Okay, you're sort of like the guy on the other end in
the letter from Lilygirl (above) -- and you kind of also need to apply to
yourself a version of my advice to Chris: cuddling, saying "Love
you," and listening while (only) one of you works stuff out is not under
"friendship" in the Breakup Girl Dictionary. You're doing this
because you love(d) this guy and want to be nice ... but frankly, I'm not clear
what either of you is getting out of this. You're trying to prove what a great
ex you are, he's trying to prove what a great boyfriend he'd be -- and you're
both getting a cuddling fix for the week. For the time being, Susan, this is an
excellent opportunity to be "friendly," not "friends" (see
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