I am 26 years old and have struggled a lot over the past few months with a breakup that I myself caused.
Last year I started a long distance relationship with a girl. I loved her, but felt I was constantly struggling with my emotions and honesty due to my insecurity. It made me needy, desperate and still looking for some kind of validation from her, and we had some breaks because of this.
We officially became a couple after chatting online for about four months, but we broke up this summer, because of my growing problems.
This led me to use dating apps to try and come up with a one night stand to clear my mind. I felt she was the love of my life and I was ready to settle in with her.
I keep telling myself she has suffered a lot because of my decisions and doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore, but I feel very unhappy. I do not know what to do. All I want is for her to forgive me and give me one last chance to prove I am able to be a better man and a boyfriend.
I’m sorry you felt so miserable it’s horrible to feel like you messed up, but if you can look past what happened for a moment, why it happened, it will help you to learn more about yourself, so you won’t repeat your mistakes.
This girl has made it clear that she doesn’t want “anything more to do with you” anymore, so you have to respect that. The fact that you want her to forgive you is beyond your control. Taking responsibility for your actions can be difficult, but essential in becoming a better person. You realize your insecurities and your need for validation, and that’s a positive.
I consulted psychotherapist Tamara Sears (psychotherapy.org.uk), who wondered, “If you constantly go to someone else’s house? [here, your ex] for validation, how much validation would be enough? Is there an end point or is it a bottomless pit? This is quite a request from someone.
What was your youth like? As you grew up, what made you feel safe and validated and, indeed, did you ever understand this? Sears asked, âInsecurity and anxiety,â Sears explained, âis a very useful alert to something you need to be aware of. Were there issues in the relationship that triggered these insecurities? “
I know this relationship looked perfect in hindsight, but in reality it wasn’t giving you what you needed. It’s interesting that you broke up after feeling more engaged. It can still be a sign of fear of loss: you want the relationship, but the fear that it will go wrong is enough to make you end it – or sabotage it for the other person to end it.
âI wondered,â Sears said, âwhat it would mean for you to prove that you are a ‘better man’. Would it change the guilt? Guilt and shame are helpful. You cannot ignore them; they are there to remind us what not to do.
The problem with guilt and shame is when they don’t teach us but hold us back. You need to talk about yours, as you started to do here, with someone you trust (a friend, a counselor) so that you can begin to forgive yourself and bring that back into your life. And move on. Forgiveness from others is not as powerful as we forgive ourselves.
In your next relationship, Sears recommended that you be more honest with your partner. There is no shame in saying that you need to be reassured or that you are shown a little TLC. Maybe not on a first date, but know what you need and ask for it – as long as it’s reasonable and don’t expect your partner to fill the “bottomless pit” that Sears spoke, is healthy and in itself validating.
Sears asked why you would want to be with someone you don’t trust? This is a useful question to ask yourself, maybe this sounds familiar to you, which is not the same as being good for you. A period of soul-searching may be appropriate. The time spent looking at yourself will pay off and help you discover who you are. Once you know this, a partner becomes a bonus, not a necessity.
Each week, Annalisa Barbieri discusses a family problem sent by a reader. If you would like some advice from Annalisa on a family matter, please send your issue to [email protected] Annalisa regrets not being able to enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.
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Conversations With Annalisa Barbieri, a new podcast series, is available here