Carolyn Hax: ‘Overcome with guilt’ after breaking up with boyfriend



Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend of 2½ years and I broke up in March; it was the first big heartbreak for both of us. I am pushing 30 and felt uneasy about moving in, getting engaged and taking the next step. We also fought a lot. My friends told me that he was emotionally abusive, and generally I think people felt we were incompatible. I tend to agree, but at times I am still overcome with guilt at ending the relationship. It took hours, involved lots of tears and left me feeling drained.

Needless to say, we ended on a bad note. My boyfriend blamed me for the relationship ending, said it was the biggest mistake of my life and said he thought I’d be alone forever. I have reached out to him only once since March, to try to apologize for how negative the breakup was and to make amends. He said he wasn’t interested in talking. I also noticed that all of his friends unfollowed me. This has really bothered me.

Do most relationships end negatively? Am I foolish for thinking we could have ended on good terms? Should I just accept that some exes will hate you and move on?

There is so much advice for people getting dumped but very little for the dumper. Do I even deserve sympathy for breaking someone else’s heart, or am I now just the coldhearted b—- who will “be alone forever” and broke my ex’s heart?

Breaker-Upper: The only thing you did “wrong” was not love him as much as he thought you should. So he damns you to eternal loneliness? What a prince.

You’re the lucky b—- who got out of this relationship whole, I’d say.

That is, unless you’re omitting the juicy stuff. You didn’t cheat on him, did you? Or steal his nest egg, spread rumors about him, turn him against his family and friends, sabotage his career, feed his addictions or (ahem) gaslight him into thinking he was too broken to ever find anyone else to love him again? I could see any one of those contributing to a bad breakup and an angry ex. (Although that still wouldn’t justify his, “You’ll be alone forever,” which gives him away as a troll with its nastiness and myopia both.)

In fact, feeling reasonably confident someone would handle a breakup badly is reason alone to break up — or not date them to begin with.

When you break up with someone you’re dating just because you’re no longer interested, that is … let’s call it kindness-neutral. It’s not about being nice or mean so much as being transparent about your feelings.

It’s also generous to him: You were willing to say the hard things and be the bad guy to free both of you to build lives that suit you better. Breaking up really, really hurts, but when you don’t want to be with someone anymore, it’s a necessary hurt that helps you live life better and more fully. Like replacing a hip.

If your ex were in good emotional health, then he wouldn’t want you to stay if your heart wasn’t in it; he’d want you to have a good life (maybe just far enough away for him not to have to see it). And, okay, if you were indeed reckless with his feelings, then he might want karma to find you — but nothing too devastating, of course.

But he is not in good emotional health, which the fighting and the messy breakup and your friends have all been trying to tell you. Believe them, please. And hug those friends hard.