My three-year relationship is over. She said she loved me but wasn’t “in love” with me. I’m so confused and hurt. She says she still wants to be in each other’s lives, but 1) is that just a line people say? 2) What do I do? 3) How can someone suddenly stop being “in love” with a person? What is it about that little word “in” that makes all the difference? 4) How do I stop having feelings for her? 5) How can I be “in her life” without hurting myself?—Fresh Off The Dump Truck
But time is also incredibly reliable. You will move forward because there is literally no other choice. Time moves whether we want it to or not. Trust in that, and know that each second passing means your pain is diminishing a tiny little bit. You might not feel it, but take comfort in the fact that it’s happening and is as true as your heart is beating in your chest.
Space means physical and emotional distance from your ex. This is the absolute hardest part for most people because you’ve built your life around this one person for the last three years and now all of those habits and comforts and routines are worthless. You have to go at it alone. You have to build new habits and rely on other people to make you feel loved.
Remember that you were a whole person before you met her and you are still a whole person now. Our lives are long, but our attention spans are short. You are stronger than you know and more independent than you remember.
The fastest way to cut the cord is to cease all communication. If that’s too hard, give yourself a deadline. Thirty days, say, or 90. If you slip up, get back on that wagon. Nothing is permanent, least of all your grief.
Self-reflection means to gaze deeply at yourself, your life goals, your moral compass. It can take the form of long walks or meditation or journaling or self-help books or therapy. It means looking at the great arc of your time on earth and realizing that this one relationship was just a tiny blip on your life’s radar. It means asking yourself big questions and taking calculated risks, and tapping into parts of yourself you may have neglected while in a relationship. We all have things and people that cobweb over when we are in the thrall of romance. Rekindle friendships, restart self-care regimens, rework creative endeavors you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t yet.
The phrase “in love” versus simply “love” is semantically meaningless. I encourage you not to ponder it too deeply. Some people use the “in” to justify behaviors or decisions, but the truth is far more complicated than can be summed up in a preposition.
When you feel ready to broach a tentative trust with her again, go slow and create boundaries. You might need to agree not to discuss new dating partners or to limit the amount of time or physical affection between the two of you. If anything feels icky or stabby, back off. It’s a process, though, and one you’ll probably want to change and adapt as time goes on.
Also, know that you don’t have to be in her life at all if you don’t want to. I know the lesbian hex of “forever friends” is strong, but if your heart’s like NOPE, then screw it.
Good luck, Fresh. It’s going to be fine. Do you.