Miss Information

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

by Cait Robinson

Have a question? Email missinfo@nerve.com. 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.

Commentarium (28 Comments)

Jan 01 12 - 2:44am

Hey Closure... All i can say is been there, felt that.There is nothing that he can or will give you that will make you feel better; he's an asshole and doesn't appreciate that other people have feelings. Don't look for him for answers or explanations. Instead, understand that some people are too immature to face their own emotions, much less express their feelings to someone (like yourself) who totally deserves an explanation as to why they have suddenly transformed from that a normal human guy into an unfeeling robot. Accept there is no closure from the past, except for that which you give yourself, and move on. But be aware. Miss Information is right - you run the risk of moving from one mess to another. Give youself, and her, enough emotional distance from the situation that that neither of you will be emotionally fucked this go round.

Jan 01 12 - 12:47pm

Closure, I, too, just had a very similar experience this past summer, and I thought the heartbreak would literally kill me. The being cut off is more traumatizing than the being broken up with, isn't it? But as tp said above, you have to give yourself closure. What Cait said about thinking about your ex with pity because his behavior is a symptom of deep woundedness is so true. I couldn't move on until I was able to realize that my ex was a broken human being, and that kind of person is not a good partner anyway. With time, I have gotten over it, and even though a part of me will always love my ex and hurt for him, I met someone else a few months ago and am so much happier with my current boyfriend, who IS capable of being here, loving, and supportive. I wish you all the best. It sucks, but things will get better for you.

Jan 02 12 - 1:56am

I had a similar experience too...One minute I was being told I was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with and a few weeks later, I was broken up with with a weak explanation and then completely cut out. And EDS is right, being cut off is more traumatizing than being broken up with. However, I disagree with tp that there is nothing that can be said or give. that will make him feel better. It's true that it's ultimately up to you to fully accept a situation and you don't need him for that to happen. However, I think that some sort of explanation or acknowledgement would actually make the acceptance come faster. The hardest thing is being intimate with someone, sharing yourself, and then have them treat you like you mean nothing. An acknowledgement shows they care on some level, which I think makes acceptance come faster because being cut off makes you question everything about something that was once special to you.

Jan 01 12 - 3:28am
aidocn 1646-1716

"Are you "Closure's" girlfriend, by chance?"

Um, I think you need to re-read Closure's letter. Dumbass. And you're giving advice?

Jan 01 12 - 6:00am

Actually she gives pretty good advice...... and I don't see where the problem with her comment is ? Maybe you should re-read the letters.....

Jan 01 12 - 9:22am

closure's ex is a guy. LW2 is a lady.

Jan 01 12 - 10:20am
Yes but

sure the ex is guy, but the new girlfriend is lady.

Jan 02 12 - 12:00pm
Steve Tyler

Dude looks like a lady.

Jan 07 12 - 6:49pm

@aidocn It's pronounced "Dumass." Leftover from an ill-advised greencard marriage.

Apr 20 12 - 4:32pm

pay attention. She is talking about two partners that are not only emotionally unavailable but are older experts at manipulation, and oblivious of the other's needs.

Jan 01 12 - 5:50am

Dear Future Mrs. J/K,

"I'd never had anyone treat me so well before" is not necessarily a good reason to stay with someone. Sure, it can mean that you're with a great guy, but it can also mean that you dated a big string of losers before Mr. Current Guy. That last possibility can be pretty perception-skewing.

Treating a person well means taking their needs and desires into account. You want a more committed relationship, The Guy does not. Or, he's taking a very slow way of getting there. Either way, he needs to address your feelings about this and take some concrete action regarding them in the very near future.

My advice is to set a deadline (not a deadline for The Guy, an internal deadline that he doesn't know about). Ask yourself how much longer you can be with a man who won't be your boyfriend. A month? Two? Six months? If you are not this man's girlfriend by the end of that time, leave him. I understand someone not wanting to rush into a new relationship. Sometimes, that's a great thing. But The Guy has had six months to heal, be a carefree, single dude, and whatever else he needs to do to feel good about becoming part of a couple again. If a 30-year-old man can't even make a girlfriend-boyfriend commitment in six-months time, he either A) Unable to make that sort of committment anytime in the near future, or B) Unwilling to make that sort of committment with you. Either way, if he won't make that bf-gf comittment soon (even if he still loves you), then there's no way that he'll make a Mr.-Mrs. comittment. So please figure out how much time you're willing to invest in a dating situation that may never be exclusive, and then leave once that time period is up.

Jan 01 12 - 1:28pm

Closure, his reasons are likely selfish, and he feels ashamed of them, and he's not going to tell you the real reason why he wanted to break up with you. If you press him, he will make something up that sounds semi-sane, but it won't be the real reason, and even if you came up with some "solution" to the official reason, that won't fix anything. Just chalk it up that it's him, not you, and you're better off without him.

Jan 01 12 - 1:43pm
been there

Hey Future Mrs. JKNR,

DTMFA. If you're not there yet, keep reading.

I've been where you are, more than once. Know this: a guy who wants you as his girlfriend locks it down in some way - shy, assertive, whatever, he's claiming it within a few months, at the latest. It's not some tedious process, especially if the guy is 30+.

Your guy has been crystal clear about what he wants: the girl, without the girlfriend. He is getting what he needs, you need to get what you need (and it probably won't been from this guy). I won't argue if his actions are consciously manipulative (I think so, but maybe not), but he is the puppetmaster here. I disagree with the deadline idea (all due respect, H) because it adds a layer of compulsion, which won't help here.

Suggestion: meet in a neutral place, sit quietly, and tell him 'this isn't working.' Stay calm, don't stress, just be matter of fact. Say that you really do want to be his gf, but you understand he's not there. Say that you're open to staying in touch and seeing each other casually (removing sex from the equation - not as a weapon, just to self-protect).

In other words, step back, give it some air....all will be revealed. He'll either realize that he's lost his puppet and move on.....or he'll have space to realize that he does want you as gf.....or remain in a state of utter confusion.

You can't control any of these outcomes, but you can cut those puppet strings and you need to do so.

Jan 01 12 - 1:53pm

Consolidated comment for both LWs: Your (former) significant other is a louse. LW1: Eff him. LW2: Ask him to get it together, then eff him what that fails.

Jan 01 12 - 7:20pm

lw 2: I've found this to be a somewhat common situation, and there's really only one way to deal with it. You start dating other people. Tell him you're doing it, and be matter-of-fact - you don't need to apologize, or be dramatic. He can't commit, so you've got to look elsewhere, end of story. Then, see that you DO date a lot - just go out with people; they don't have to be the next love of your life. You should probably stop seeing the Ex, while you're at it, but even if you keep seeing him, the really important thing is that you also see OTHER people. Then, one of two things will happen. Either the Ex will realize he made a huge mistake, and come begging you back, OR, he'll let you walk. If he lets you walk, you'll know it's time to go.

Jan 02 12 - 1:12am

Re: Letter 1, both Miss Info's comments and some of the readers were great...helpful with my somewhat recent break-up in which my ex-gf was pretty nasty. Thanks!

Jan 07 12 - 6:55pm

@Kevin I'm so glad to hear it!

Jan 02 12 - 3:14am

there are 6 billion people in the world. If one person treats you wrong or doesn't give you what you need, you can find others. This goes for both people here. Get some perspective and stand up for yourself. If you got thrown out of his life then accept it. Life a good life to make the guy feel like an idiot for dumping you.
If you want seriousness and he doesn't then move on. The guy has enough balls to live his life on his own terms. Its not like you don't have a choice. Your choices are agree to his terms or get out of his life. You should be grateful he's so clear about it all. Obviously you chose his terms. Move on, he's playing you. If you were that important to him then other women wouldn't matter. Its better than him lying to you and having multiple girlfriends, but I call BS on his prioritizing you in his life.

Jan 02 12 - 5:01am

Miss Future, as wonderful as he may seem for the most part, his creation of ambiguity in the most important part of a relationship (trust me, you're in a relationship) shows a level of immaturity, that at thirty, may or may not get better. Now unless you're willing to be used as a learning tool (provided he's trying to learn) or just a really good pagekeeper, move on. It won't get better. And DON'T fall for the "gimme time" crap. He's thirty. Not some teen who just had his first heartbreak. If he is telling you the truth, he's just some guy who had his heart broke in a relationship that probably lasted a lot longer than it should have. For all you know, his last girlfriend spent the last five years trying to get rid of him and that the relationship was over long before he was willing to accept it. Yet another reason to run like hell.

Get away. Get away now. Because it probably isn't going to get better.

Jan 03 12 - 1:43pm

Dear Closure,

Do you *really* want to hound your ex to find out why he left you? You could end up hearing 'I don't love you and I never did!' like I heard from my one of my exes. Ouch. Just let it go and find someone who actually cares instead. Good luck!

Jan 03 12 - 1:48pm
Uh huh

After all, it couldn't possibly have been a joke.

Jan 03 12 - 5:59pm

Please people - it's taken aback, not taken back.

Jan 04 12 - 5:54am

just gonna add "I am saying that his reality shouldn't trump yours." to the ol' quote collection

Jan 04 12 - 2:24pm

There's no such thing as closure.

Jan 04 12 - 9:52pm

So true. There is only a slowly fading memory of the pain. If you live long enough you get over almost anything.

Jan 06 12 - 12:38pm

love these statements.

Jan 05 12 - 2:53am
closure lol

the ones who run away always come back.

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