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My boyfriend broke up with me with no explanation. How do I get closure?

by Cait Robinson

Have a question? Email Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

I'm a bisexual man. In my very first same-sex relationship — the first time I actually fell in love — I got dumped and severely hurt. This guy chased me for almost a year. I kept running into him and finally gave in. He told me I was the hottest guy he'd ever been with, and that he never felt this way towards anyone. I felt the same way. It seemed that we were going to have some disagreements, given that he was older and more experienced in gay relationships. 

After he told me he loved me, and just when I started to feel really strongly for him, he pulled back. He decided to end it without even telling me. It's the worst manner you could use to break up with someone. He ignored me completely. He dealt with me with complete disrespect and no acknowledgement of my existence.

I'm very well aware that I shouldn't care about him after the way he treated me. I feel offended and I want to have a talk with him, because I need to know what he was thinking and why he did this to me. Currently I'm in another relationship (with a girl), but I can't seem to forget about him. I keep running into him and he doesn't seem to give a shit. I feel like I need closure. I need to stop thinking about it, but how can I do that when I feel like there's unfinished business between us? Should I contact him again and confront him? 

— Closure

Dear Closure,

In a breakup, you are absolutely entitled to seek closure. Call him if you think you need to, but have appropriately low expectations. Most snake venom doesn't produce antivenom. The person who behaved so callously to you will almost definitely not have the capacity to make you feel any better.

The old "I cared so deeply that I had to break up with you and never speak to you again" trope is, unfortunately, a thing. That certainly doesn't excuse it — it's one of the worst ways anyone can possibly treat another human being. But it does happen. If your ex was too emotionally stunted and/or self-involved to give you a decent explanation at the time, odds of him having evolved enough to do it now are essentially zero. Maybe you'll track him down and he'll give you all the closure you need, but steel yourself for loose ends staying loose. And if they do? Then you'll have to move on by yourself.

When you see him around, shift your reaction from "hurt" to "pity." His actions suggest that he's the wounded one here, the one so damaged that he couldn't treat someone he claimed to care about with a hint of consideration. You're better off without someone like that in your life. Cry it out, make a voodoo doll, burn that picture of you two at Six Flags, and move on.

"Moving on" doesn't necessarily mean "new relationship," though. If you're still in the eye of a breakup tornado, it can be tricky to bring someone else in. It's not fair to your current girlfriend that she's dating a guy who is hung up on someone else. Unless you're able to be totally present in your new relationship, put it on pause until you feel stable enough to give it the energy it requires. Otherwise, you run the risk of doing to your girlfriend what your ex-boyfriend did to you. 

Miss Information,

I met my "boyfriend" this past July and we instantly clicked. I fell in love with him fast. In September, I asked him about getting serious — dating exclusively. He shot this idea down.

My intention then was to break things off with him, but I'd never had anyone treat me so well before, so I decided to stick around and be in something more casual with him. Our relationship just got better from there. We told each other deep secrets and I learned why he wasn't looking to get serious. He's been in a some kind of relationship ever since he was seventeen (he's now thirty and his last serious relationship ended last winter). 

A few days ago, he told me that he loved me. I was taken back. I didn't expect him to feel this way about me. I obviously love him, but I'm confused about what to do. I want to be his girlfriend badly but he still is saying that doesn't want to commit, yet he loves me. How should I proceed?

— The Future Mrs. Just Kidding Not Really

Dear The Future Mrs.,

Are you "Closure's" girlfriend, by chance? Closure, TFM, here's a $20 Chili's gift card — go buy some margaritas and hash this out. Make sure you call a cab to get home, because it's going to be a long night for you both. 

Put bluntly, your boyfriend is thirty. On some level, he knows what he's doing. He knows that you'll hear his sob story about being hurt and jump to cradle him in your arms, because you're a woman, and we're all trained from birth to spoon-feed wounded men like so many baby birds. He knows that you're into him (you already asked to be exclusive, and he shot it down), and he knows how to keep you happy (by "treating you well," whatever that means). He can reel you in with an "I love you," and he doesn't have to make any promises to you, because that's a rule he made up that you agreed to follow. (Well played, sir.) He knows he has the upper hand. Why should he change?

I'm not saying he doesn't love you, or that his confusion isn't genuine. I am saying that his reality shouldn't trump yours. You need to step up if you're not getting what you want. He's an adult who needs to make adult commitments, and you're an adult who needs to believe she can steer her own relationships.

You don't outright say it, but I assume you're younger than he is. It sounds like there's a pretty big power disparity here, and, unless you take steps to rectify that, you'll continue to be a minor character in your own relationship. So stand up for yourself. Decide what you want, and ask for that. If he keeps hedging or stalling or making up excuses, move on. Having been hurt before is no excuse for hurting other people, and if he really can't bring himself to give you what you need, then perhaps he isn't ready for a relationship at all.

He's old enough to know a good thing when he has it, and to know it takes effort to keep a good thing. You should have the confidence to know that plenty of men will "treat you well," especially in a way that counts — by honoring your say in your own relationship.