Hey y’all! Hope you’re about to have a spectacular Christmas. Or, I hope you had a swell Hanukkah.
Anyway I realized that I should check my email more often, because an intrepid young reader sent me a message with a really good question in it! Names have been changed to protect everyone involved.
I read two of your posts, Survivng the Friendzone and Nice Guy Syndrom, and was wondering if you had any advice for going from Dating to just being friends. You see, I was dating this girl for almost a year, a big milestone in my eyes, and a few days ago she broke up with me, 11 days before that 1 year anniversary. She brought up some very valid points, and after a day to mull things over I was okay with it. Thing is though, im still having a few problems it seems. The problems made themselves apperant when we went to the mall to hang, as friends, and I notices a love mark on her neck. Nothing too big, just a single one, nothing near what I’d given her on multiple occasions, yet it still brought up a good bit of jealousy mixed with depression. When we talked about it, she said its what I should expect now that we were ‘just friends’. Not in a mean way though, and it was a very valid and logical point. Yet…even after that I was still jealous of this unnamed man I didnt know. Any advice on how to deal with this would be much appreciated, even if it is just that I need to get over it and accept that she’s not mine anymore.
Treble Hoof (Jeffrey ********)”
A: First I’d like to say sorry about the breakup, but well done on handling it like a mature adult. Validating reasoning for your former ladyfriend ending your relationship is actually a pretty big step. Don’t forget, though, that it doesn’t count as validation unless you can actually for serious feel and mean what you’re thinking or saying about it. And really, this part will take some time. After you’ve for-sure come to terms with what she said, you can use those reasons to try to be a better boyfriend to the next lady who comes along.
Now, to the meat of your issue: she very obviously still means a lot to you, but she’s also apparently doing some sexytime-related things with another human being, and this can be really weird. It can feel a
little lot like she’s already found your replacement. This isn’t always the case, though, because women are actually also prone to rebound flings with people, too. I’m gonna guess that she is also hurting and that’s the way she’s dealing with it. Granted, there are other possibilities that are a lot more hurtful to think about, like “What if she was cheating on me with this dude?”
Well, the good news is the cheating part is no longer your problem and you don’t need to address it with her, because your relationship is over. The sucky part is that this could impact your friendship. If you want to remain actually friends with her, and not nice guy “maybe we can get back together” friends, then you have to actively decide to let that possibility of her having cheated on you go. I would caution against asking her outright about it, because if we’re all wrong and she wasn’t cheating, that’s going to make things awful and your friendship will definitely be weird.
The only way to deal with jealousy is to admit that you’re jealous, and that it bums you out. There’s not some magic method to getting rid of it, but if this is something that seems very difficult for you, I would encourage you find a therapist or trained professional (or trusted parent/guardian) to chat with about how you’re feeling. Since you mentioned some depression, perhaps the professional would be a better idea. What is super important with the jealousy and sadness is that you don’t try to squish them down. Give yourself room, preferably by not seeing her if you can, and let yourself feel sad about the end of your relationship and the possibility that she will be with other people.
One thing that might work well is asking her to give you a bit of time to do this. It’s a pretty rough thing to do, but if you make it clear that you do want to be her friend but need time to take her out of the “girlfriend” part of your brain, I have a feeling she will be understanding. And if she isn’t, maybe you should reconsider being friends with her in the first place.
I hope this was at least marginally helpful! And hey everybody, I can always be reached for more personalized advice at firstname.lastname@example.org