On The People We Choose To Have In Our Lives [Dear DBN]

Life is about connection and contact and involvement so our obsessions with who we do and do not talk to make sense, but sometimes it’s important to step back and get a reality check.  This week, how who we do and do not talk to makes a difference in our lives.

“He can’t handle me having contact with other guys— even on Facebook. I’m ONLY into him… like head over heels, otherwise I would say fuck it and head out. He has apologized profusely. He has a lot of issues involving exes cheating and an abusive dad beating the thought that’s he’s a POS into his head, emotionally and physically. He is an amazing person, the most altruistic person I have met. He treats me better than anyone ever has. How do I approach this?”

How someone treats you does not run on a comparison scale.  Just because someone isn’t beating you doesn’t mean they’re treating you well.  Justifying a person’s actions by saying they’re kinder than everyone else’s doesn’t make them kind, it makes them tolerable based on the level of pain you’re used to.  He has exhibited behavior that puts him in the position of needing to apologize profusely.  If someone drives you to hospital after hitting you with their car, they still hit you with their car.  React to the rundown, not the apology. 

I like to be able to offer constructive solutions, but I think your sweetie may need to talk to a professional about why he feels like he has the right and the need to control who you talk to.  Talk to him when this isn’t a problem.  Talk to him on a really pretty Saturday morning about what your perfect relationship looks like, that he’s happy to see you happy, having fun with your friends both male and female, that he’s supportive and trusting and respectful.  That caring about you means that he cares if all your relationships are healthy, not just the one you have with him. 

Look sugarbear, life is a lot longer when you’re spending it with someone who tries to control you.  Possessive and controlling behavior are often the types of behavior that spiral in spite of good intentions.  I advise you to be cautious.  In this great big world, it’s better to have a good life than a good love. 

“I read your most recent post about mending your heartbreak, and I need some advice. You wrote about quitting any social media associated with ‘him’. How did you do it? I feel like I’m addicted and I have weeks where I can feel like a warrior about being strong and not checking his twitter/instagram/fb. Then I fall off the wagon and I feel sad and pathetic and horrible. It’s like I’m addicted to the feeling and I can’t stop.”

They say love releases the same chemicals in your brain as cocaine.  If love is the high, then the breakup is the hangover, and lord help us all.  We swing from, “I’m never drinking again!” to “if someone would just fill this tomato juice with vodka” like a clock pendulum, never realizing that neither of those are solutions.  The problem isn’t the hangover, it’s not checking his Facebook pictures or who he’s tweeting – the problem is why you got so drunk, or in the case of heartbreak, what you’re feeling that makes you want to cruise his Facebook. 

Before you go to your ex’s Facebook, think about all the outcomes.  One, he hasn’t posted any pictures.  You have learned nothing.  It’s a fruitless adventure that sends you down a deeper internet rabbit hole of trying to garner information from Tweets about the Red Sox.  Two, he has posted several photos of him with a girl whose parents misspelled her name on purpose.  She’s beautiful. And because you’re human, you immediately hate her and need to justify this hate by finding any terrible thing you can about her.  She’s from Iowa? Ugh, gross, who’s from Iowa? F-ing nice people?  Jeez.  Three, and the most unlikely, he’s posting song lyrics that sound like they’re about you. This is relationship trolling, attention-seeking, destructive behavior for all parties.  And no matter what you find on his page, you won’t find what you’re looking for: self-assurance, happiness, your friend back, your heart repaired.  You do not find those things curated digitally by someone else – you find those things in your self, out there in the real world… they’re just a lot harder to find than spite and pride and hate. 

Forgive yourself for checking.  Forgive yourself for wondering. Heartbreak isn’t a competition that someone handles better than someone else. It’s shitty and sad and lonely and no one get to tell you how you should feel.  But you do need to figure out how it is you actually feel and act accordingly.  If you feel like his life is so much better without you, make yours better without him. Learn something new, book a trip, build something.  If you’re lonely, call your friends. Write letters to people who made a difference to you.  Find the feeling and find a way to repair it, not a way to stew in it.  

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