Dear English Gentleman,
Hello, I could really use some advice/perspective on my situation. My boyfriend of six months broke up with me the day before Valentine’s Day. His reason was that I am disrespectful and he doesn’t feel I love him because I make him feel like “[redacted]”. I am disrespectful because I wanted to see him more than he wanted to see me and this upset me so he said I was disrespecting his need for time and space by getting mad at him when he wouldn’t want to see me. I only saw him two or three times a week, I wasn’t around all the time like he made it seem. He also claims I didn’t love him and made him feel horrible all the time because I have trouble expressing my feelings to others. I truly believed my actions showed how much I cared for him, I did everything for him. But just because I had trouble verbalizing my true feelings (something I have struggled with my entire life and can’t even properly do with my own family) means I didn’t love him. I did tell him I loved him on multiple occasions however, but I guess that wasn’t enough. I don’t know why he couldn’t see it because I really did love him. He said I made him feel like “[redacted]” because I cried a few times around him when I tried to express my feelings to him and to him that meant I was unhappy with him because I was “always crying around him”. Crying is a way of expressing myself, not how I feel about him. He took things way to personally and as personal attacks, except when I did good things, then they were never enough to make him feel loved.
So after breaking up with me we still see each other in class. He ignores me in class but makes the effort to say Hi and Bye to everyone sitting around me and next to me. It is obvious he is blatantly ignoring me. Even on my birthday he did not say a word. I have not spoken to him since the breakup but it ended in a civilized manner. I cried, but I didn’t get violent or say mean things or anything of the sort. I was just very sad. In class he even asked my friend who sits next to me if he wanted to hang out after class. The two of them barely know each other and my ex knows that the guy is my friend. I don’t understand why he is treating me this way. He broke up with me. I should be the one who is upset and being a jerk to him. Instead he is ignoring me and trying to steal my friend away from me to isolate me. How should I deal with this? At the moment I just continue to ignore him and not speak to him but it seems to only make him try harder. Is he trying to get a response from me? Does he want my attention? He broke up with me though.
I rather get the feeling from your letter that both you and your (ex)boyfriend are rather young and inexperienced with relationships. The reason I say this is because you mention you two broke up for “lack of respect” (according to him) and following the breakup you seem to be involved in a kind of game where you try to get a rise or reaction from the other person by ignoring each other (so how could that possibly work, exactly?).
Playing games, trying to get a reaction from the other person, strategising about what to do in order to provoke the other person into acting a certain way, well, that seems like control to me, not love.
I’m afraid that irrespective of how much you may be upset and hurt about your boyfriend breaking up with you, and for however immature or unfair or untrue the reasons he gave you for doing so, the point of the situation is that basically your ex-boyfriend does not want a relationship with you. No amount of trying to be mean to him or ignoring him or upsetting him is going to change that. And if it does, it would only be a temporary effect because he’d just be reacting to your next chess game move, not because he loves you and actually wants to be with you.
I also get the feeling, that if you are in a place right now where you feel you want to hurt him for breaking up with you (no matter how silly and wrong his reasons may or may not have been), that you don’t love him either. Because, as I said…love does not seek to control, it seeks to strengthen, to communicate, to commit, to protect, to support, to mature, and to grow, respectfully, and from both sides (yours and his). From what you tell me it doesn’t sound like your relationship had these things. So why do you want this relationship back?
What I would suggest is instead of reviewing the moves of a game, use the experience you gained from this relationship to grow as a more mature person. Stop worrying about what he is thinking or why he did things or how he should behave. Your responsibility is to go through life becoming a better person with each day. Whether he does that too or not in his life, ultimately, should to you be quite irrelevant. And then, one day, when you have the maturity to truly love someone completely, without games, without worries about whether you should or should not show your feelings or how you will be perceived for having expressed them, only then, you will find and recognize the person who will love you back in the same way: respectfully, without games, and without insults. And when you do, you will look back at a relationship like this past one and wonder why you wasted so much time worrying about your ex-boyfriend at all.
He’s out there, I promise. But before you find him, reader, you have to find yourself. Best of luck in such an intriguing and fascinating journey!
The English Gentleman.