The Hook Up: Break-ups and shake-ups

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I just ended a seven-year relationship with my bff/partner. Next month we had a trip booked for our anniversary. The day we broke up was also the day she became someone else’s partner. She told me she wanted us to be friends. She said everything will remain the same, that I am still important and dear to her, and that we should go ahead with the anniversary trip.

I have no idea how this is going to work out, how it can remain the same when she got herself another partner. I told her it is really hard for me to be able to carry on seeing her, and worst of all is that we have a lot of mutual friends. I still love her and definitely want her back but I know there’s no turning back. I have been thinking a lot that the best solution for me to move on is to cut ties with her, but each time I think about it, I just curl up and cry. Should I be… Selfless Or Selfish?

Dear SOS, It’s not selfish to want and need some distance after a breakup. Indeed, it’s damn critical self-care to do so. Please take all the time and space you need in order to feel OK again. And please please please do not go on your anniversary trip with her! If your tickets are nonrefundable, consider taking a friend with you, or even going alone. Your ex might complain if she paid for part of it, but she owes you AT LEAST this much courtesy.

And not to, you know, assume I know how your ex is feeling or anything, but I’d venture a guess that this whole process is going a lot more smoothly for her because she jumped immediately into another relationship. It’s easy to say, “Let’s be pals! Nothing will change!” when you’re not the one reeling from the horrible stew and suck of getting your heart ripped out. (If it makes you feel a teensy bit better, she will feel it eventually. Very few of us, sociopaths excepting, can walk away from a seven-year relationship completely unscathed and without any repercussions. You can stave off the pain for a little while, but emotions are like water: You can dam it up all you want, but it’s gotta go somewhere. And it will.)

So. Yes. Sever those ties, SOS. It’ll hurt worse for the first little bit to not have her in your life, but then, slowly and surely, it won’t smart as much. You probably won’t even notice for a while, because the healing will be so infinitesimal. Then one day, you’ll wake up and not think of her at all. One day, you’ll go whole days without wondering what she’s doing. One day, you’ll look in the mirror and say, “I haven’t cried in days.” You’ll smile without reason. You’ll build a monument to your former life with your former love and salute it from the distant shores of your current, beautiful present.

“I want to feel what I feel,” as the incredible writer Toni Morrison once said, “Even if it’s not happiness.” She was talking about not doing drugs, but I think it applies just as easily to love, which can be a far more potent opiate.

If you need more encouraging words and tips for overcoming heartache, you can find them here and here.

p.s. Really—don’t go on that trip.

A few weeks ago I made plans with a friend to go to her place and catch up over dinner and wine. Two of her roommates ended up joining us for drinks. As we downed four bottles of wine, Roomie A spent a lot of time talking about her boyfriend. At some point, I realized Roomie A and I were holding hands under the table, I’m not really sure how that happened but it escalated, we would continue talking normally to the other two girls, while feeling each other up under the table. When we ran out of wine, we all decided to call it a night and go to bed, and Roomie A and I slept together.

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When we said goodbye the next morning, she kissed me and said we should keep in touch, but I was very aware of her boyfriend at that point, so I did not ask for her number, a decision I both support and regret. I have always been completely against cheating, but our chemistry was so great and the sex was so fabulous that I wonder if I should try to contact her. She did mention it was her first time with a woman, she’s 33 and I’m 29, so it’s not like we are horny teens, although we acted like ones. I really like her but at the same time don’t want to be that girl trying to turn a one night stand into something else. I’m torn between the voice of reason and my hormones. Should I make any further attempt to contact her? It’s been two weeks and I can’t get her of my head so, what to do?—Karma’s Little B*tch

Dear Karma, You can contact her if you like, but you should know (and I think you do know) that the situation’s not gonna shake out like you want it to. At best, you’ll have an affair until you get caught or one of you gets bored or paranoid or starts feeling guilty. At worst, you’ll get your heart broken and be at least partly responsible for messing up someone else’s relationship on purpose. Either of those sound more fun than option three, which is accepting you had a fun night with a fun girl and leaving it well alone?

But Anna, I hear you protesting in your mind, maybe this 99-percent-straight girl with literally one night of lady-lovin’ experience will leave her boyfriend, shack up with a girl she barely knows, and then we’ll live happily ever after, constructing dream catchers and raising chickens somewhere in New Mexico!

Not to be a lezzkill, my dear sweet Karma, but I think we both know the likelihood of that last scenario coming true. If you’re not sure about the odds, please read this and this and this and this and this (which is just a sliver of former Hook Up columns that have dealt with our relentless and fruitless pursuit of straight and straightish women).

I’d rather you not end up as one of those hopelessly-in-the-muck girls down the road, Karma. Instead, I want you to accept the night for the temporary and joyous collision that it was. Be happy, be thrilled that you connected with someone so quickly and intimately. That’s great and it’s rare—relish it, and then let it go.

You do that by staying relentlessly grounded in the reality of the present. You’re no longer a “horny teenager,” as you say—you’re an adult-ass lady who has been around the block enough times to know that too many left turns will lead you back to square one (or, to put it in more karmic terms, what goes around comes around).

Life is already chock-full of pain and obstacles as it is. We don’t need to go driving ourselves over anymore cliffs, if we can help it. Choose another road this time, Karma. Preferably one less straight.

Anna is a freelance writer in Oakland. Get overly personal emails and haiku from her here: tinyletter.com/annapulley. Or Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at [email protected]