Tips for Coping With Breakups and Life Transitions
Dear April Masini,
" <p style="text-align: justify;">I have been in a relationship on and off for almost 4 years. We are currently off because I broke up with him and moved across the country to live in San Francisco with the intention of "finding myself." That was months ago and now that I am away from him and my friends and family, I miss him and want to be with him again. Except now it's impossible because I've moved. He came here to visit a few weeks ago and I swear I fell back in love with him all over again. I feel like our relationship might work out now. He says he wants to marry me but is waiting for me to grow up and find myself. What do I do? I feel like all I want is him. This was not supposed to happen. Do you have any advice on whether or not I should continue to push for this relationship or just break up for good?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Signed,<br /><br /> Help Me Find Myself</p> "
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Help Me Find Myself,
Moving is a big transition and is one of life’s biggest stressors. In case you’re wondering, the others are marriage, divorce, and having children. So, it's no surprise that with that a big move created stress in your life, and you’re looking for support in your old comfort zones – your family, friends, and your ex-boyfriend. You haven’t had a chance to build a new life in your new home in your new city so when you feel stressed and blue the first place you look to is your old supports – across the country.
The problem is that you’re looking to your ex-boyfriend for comfort because you don’t have a support network in your new home. Even though your ex-boyfriend is across the country, he’s not a hook up or a short-term boyfriend. You spent four years with him, so he is almost like family, and when he comforts you, it feels safe -- especially all the way across the country. It’s easy to forget the reasons that you broke up with him in the first place because you’re getting your immediate needs met when he calls or visits you – and your immediate needs are, not feeling lonely.
You have such an immediate need for comfort in a new city that you may also overlook the reasons that you broke up with him. You didn’t break up with him because he cheated on you or because you met someone else. You didn’t find fault with him. You simply said you needed to “find yourself.” No wonder he was waiting around and wanting to stay in touch with you, and when he sensed your stress, he flew out to be with you to get you back. It’s pretty clear to him that you’re confused, and after four years together, he’d like to end your confusion – and his – by getting back together.
Reasons for the Break Up:
The real question that you need to answer is, ‘Why did you move across the country?’ I don’t believe it when people say they need to “find themselves.” There’s nothing to find about yourself in one neighborhood that you can’t find in your own neighborhood. You don’t need to move across the country to figure out what’s bothering you. There are other ways to catch a break if you’re stressed out. For example, vacations are great breaks from the everyday stress of life, and they help you gain perspective -- but picking up and moving across the country? I never buy anyone saying that moving across the country, to “find themselves,” works. Career changes or moving for jobs make sense. Ending relationships that aren’t working works. What was it you were trying to find in yourself? Frequent flyer miles?
You’re the person who can answer that question best of all but here are some guesses on my part:
1. Possibly, you were trying to end your relationship with your boyfriend without having a painful break up. Leaving town – leaving the state – was an easy way to avoid problems that you were having and avoid a conflict. It’s also an easy way to keep him hanging on and therefore not having to shut the door on him completely. If you really wanted to marry him, you would have during the four years you were together. Or you would have jumped at his recent marriage proposal. I don’t hear you saying that you want to marry your boyfriend, even after he’s proposed. I hear you saying that all you want is him, but in the next sentence, you say this was not supposed to happen. Huh? Yes it was, and you know it! If you date someone for four years, you will get a marriage proposal if everything is going normally. Now that you got one, you’re saying this isn’t supposed to happen? What planet are you from?
2. You really don’t know what you want, and moving across the country didn’t help. It just complicated the problem. Now you still don’t know what you want, and you’ve got really high long distance phone bills to boot! The problems you had on one coast are still with you on the other coast. And if you move to Europe, guess what? I bet you’ll have the exact same problems there, too.
So, here’s what you should do:
Take a break from your boyfriend. A real break. No phone calls. No instant messages. No e-mails. No visits. Understand that he is going to date other people – and so are you. Only you are not going to rush headfirst into a “distraction relationship” or a “rebound relationship.” You’re just going to keep it light.
Focus on making a life where you are now. Get a job. Go out on the weekends and evenings. Make an effort to get to know your neighbors and make new friends.
Get a life. Volunteer and do some charity work. Take up a sport if you don’t already have one you like. Exercise. Keep up your grooming and give yourself a lift with a new hairstyle, some new make up and a new look in your clothes. Take a class. Read a book. Become someone you’d be interested in having as a friend.
And most importantly, figure out what you want in your life. This is the real work that you’ve avoided up until now. Get a copy of Think & Date Like A Man, my new book, and read up on how not making a decision is a decision. If you don’t do this work, you’re not just avoiding it – you’re wasting time, and making a decision to not do the work. Read up on how knowing what you want is the key to finding the man you want, and being in the relationship that you want. If you take care of yourself, the rest will fall into place. But that means confronting yourself head on, and not running away anymore.