Dear Anna, My four month long relationship with my now-ex came to an abrupt end a week ago when she expressed concern for how our future might unfold. We’re both recent college grads — I’ll be starting my job this fall and she’s actively seeking employment. While she’s looking for jobs in the same city I’ll be working in, we’ll both be commuting from home until we can afford our own places, already live 80 miles apart, and thus wouldn’t be able to have the kind of time together that she would like in a relationship at this point. While this summer could work, she feared we’d be playing with a ticking time bomb until, at the latest, my job would start. She more or less summed me up as the right person at the wrong time.
The break-up was emotional but cordial, and she’s been pressing to continue seeing each other to “hang out.” I can’t tell if she’s well-meaning and honestly looking for a friendship, or trying to keep me close in case things work in our favor so that we can pick up where we left off. She’s already told me that she’ll want to kiss me if we’re together.
The truth on my end is, I want her back. I know the distance would be a challenge, but it wouldn’t be permanent. I love her, want her to change her point of view, suck it up and power through until our relationship is easier and time together more plentiful. Should I keep a distance and just let her miss me to hope she’ll return? Should I hang out with her to be a physical reminder of what she’s missing? Or do I need to lay this to rest, move on and cut her out until I’m over her? — Home & Heartbroken on a Friday Night
Anna says: You should move on, Home and Heartbroken. And you should resist attempting to be friends with her until there’s been sufficient time and distance on both your ends. The fact that she’s admitted she will try to break her own boundaries by kissing you is further evidence that you should stay away. It’s unfair to you, and it’s also mildly manipulative. A straight girl I hooked up with a few months ago said something similar, that she didn’t want me, but that we could still probably make out occasionally. At first, I considered the offer. Who doesn’t like making out? But after more thought, I realized it was stupid to settle for something that would ultimately leave me frustrated and unsatisfied.
It’s such a lesbian habit, one that I’m completely guilty of as well, to try and be friends with our exes right away. We tend to want everything to be instantly normalized, to be “OK” without putting in the space and the rawness that we need to go through in order to cultivate healing. The only okay thing about a break up is to not be okay for a while. So take that time, allow yourself to heal. You already have 80 miles between you, which is a running head start that most of us don’t have when we’re dealing with a break up.
There’s never a satisfying reason when someone breaks your heart. The “right girl, wrong time” shtick practically sounds like an invitation to try to change her mind. But you shouldn’t interpret it that way, or any way for that matter, other than this: she made a choice not to be with you. I know it’s difficult to hear, but you have to respect your ex’s decision, if not the motive behind it, and respect yourself enough to let her go. It’s easy to fantasize about the future “what-ifs,” especially since people do so often change, but living your life on a potential change will only distract you from living your life now. And now is what really matters.
Speaking of now, it’s been just over a year since I started this column, as an AfterEllen.com reader and Twitter friend pointed out. I wanted to take a few minutes to thank y’all for being such an awesome community, for trusting me with your conundrums, and for letting me do something I love. You make me really gay, and for that, I am grateful.
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a professional tweeter/blogger for Mother Jones and a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.