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May 23

Is it Meant To Be?

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:50 am

Mixed feelings on July 6, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

This is part of the letter that you printed from Jolene:

“If I am supposed to move on and am not, then does that mean that this love that I have falled into is meant to be?”

I was wondering what you thought of that concept: specifically, if one party of a breakup (the boy) is exremely upset, and think it’s a big mistake, and the other party (me, the girl) has mixed feelings, does this mean that it’s meant to be, and my breaking up with him was a mistake? I am seeing someone else now (it’s been a year and a half, if you can believe it) whom I love. All goes well until my ex-boyfriend calls, or writes, and then I get really thrown for a loop. I start having difficulty enjoying my new relationship, and feel guilty about being happy when he is still so unhappy and lost. I wish more than anything that he wasn’t so sad. I broke up with him because of the things he didn’t do, even though I told him those things were important to me. Things like living in the same city, his visiting me more often, being more enthusiastic about going out and doing things. I really believe that those things would change if I went back to him now, but I am already seeing someone else, and the fact of the matter is, why oh why did it have to take my breaking up with him for him to be so overcome with love, commitment, a newfound desire for children, etc.? I love him, but broke up with him because of what he did (or didn’t do, more accurately). Anyhow, all of this is to ask you your opinion, and sage counsel on when or how you can know when things are “meant to be.”

— Kyrsten

Dear Kyrsten,

Ever since Shaun Cassidy failed to write me back, I have learned to shy away from invocation of absolute concepts such as “meant to be.” I’m serious: it places undue, warping pressure on actual, subjective — and ever-changing — circumstances and situations.

Bottom line: post-breakup Mixed Feelings do not mean Meant to Be. Mixed feelings are part of breakups, no matter what.

See, my hunch is that things would be a lot different if your ex were happy. (Well, not THAT happy; then you’d be sad for different reasons.) You said it yourself: you feel guilty. Such is the plaintive wail of the dump-er. You make the bed, you sleep in it … alone, you miss your bedfella — you find out he misses you, too — and you wonder if you did the right thing. Of course you do. And of COURSE he’s all lovey and commitmenty and daddy-y now; I’m not saying he’s insincere, but it’s easier for him when it’s just a feeling, not an actual future. I would also like to try to get through my analysis without using the cliche “the grass is always greener….” but I am afraid that that is not … meant to be.

Now. It has been a year and a half, and you do have a spiffy new boyfriend. This is the time for you to deal not in the realm to To Be, but in the realm of To Do. Think: would you really be willing to leave your current boyfriend for your old one? Could you honestly go through with this? Assume, for the sake of argument, that things will not be fundamentally different the second time around. — or, more to the point, that he won’t be fundamentally different. I don’t mean this cynically; I mean it practically, and actually sort of Zen-ly. I mean that if you go back to him, it should be because you love him, his core, AS IS – -not because “he’s changed.” Think of it this way: the only real way in which People Change is that they change the way they deal with the things they want to change about other people. When Repeat Relationshipswork — which they often do — that is why.

But no matter what, quit feeling guilty. You are not meant to beat yourself up.

Breakup Girl


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