Dear Thelma: I still miss my ex and want her back

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Dear Thelma,

It has been six months since my ex broke up with me.

Ever since we broke up, we still hung out as friends, as she said that we could still be friends and she sees me as a brother, since we were together for almost six years. I agreed to continue being friends with her because I still wanted her back. I don't want to lose her as a friend which would diminish all my chances of getting back together.

However, it breaks me and causes me anxiety, when she tells me how guys at her workplace are going after her. I just have to put up with it. I have always been a person who overthinks too much and that only made it worse.

The reason for our breakup was because she didn't love me anymore. She said that being in a relationship was stressful and she wanted to be free from it.

I knew we had to have a quiet period, so I finally made one of the hardest decisions of my life to tell her that we should have a quiet period. That was the last time I saw her, and I offered a prayer for her before I left. It has been over a month and I am still rethinking my decision.

Coming from a broken family – my parents are divorced – I have always believed that communication is important and love is something we build together.

Unfortunately, she also comes from a broken family. Because of that, she never wanted to get married nor have kids because she thinks it will lead to suffering, especially bringing a child into this world. Still, we got together six years ago, and I tried to be the best that I could, so that I could give her the life that she deserved.

It has been really hard for me to move on. I still think a lot about her. They say time will heal, alongside friends and self-development activities. So I quit my job and will be taking a break – I've lined up some things to do that would help fill my time. I'll learn a new skill too before I go back into the workforce.

Is there anything else I can do? I am naive when it comes to love and I really do believe that love is two persons coming together and figuring life out. I still want to be with her but there's nothing I can do right now except to improve myself and pray that she would start to have a change of heart.

I guess, even though I already know these things, I just want another person's perspective of things.


I'm so sorry your relationship ended. It must hurt a lot. You sound like a very kind and loving person. You've asked for perspective, so here's mine.

Your letter suggests two questions. First, what happens when we switch from romance to friendship? Second, how do we move on from a breakup?

The answer to both lies in the nature of successful partnerships.

Successful relationships depend on personal attraction but also on shared values and goals.

If one person wants to do gig work, and be a childless digital nomad, they will not be a good match for someone who is invested in the traditional marriage, kids, career and home-buying.

Therefore, two perfectly lovely people are not necessarily a match.

This concept is relatively new. Until recently, marriage was typically an arrangement between families. Couples were matched on family wealth, business goals, and tribe or religious affiliations.

Once people were matched, it was difficult to withdraw from the deal. Only serious issues were acceptable for breaking up: Infidelity, violence, addiction and so on.

Although modern relationships are different, we still have that legacy feeling from our grandparents time. If two perfectly lovely people aren't a match, we feel it's somehow not right. We think it should be possible to make a deal, a compromise.

This is not typically true. When personal needs don't match when dating, you can't force change. Better to break up and find a closer match.

But that feeling that we may have done something wrong is why so many of us try to move from a civilised breakup into friendship. We're trying to affirm that we're both good people.

The problem is that the heart is slow to catch up with the brain.

A romantic relationship is intimate, a special emotional closeness. It is quite different from friendship.

If we try to shift from one to the other too quickly, it doesn't work. The head knows that it's our friend but the heart yearns for the lover that was.

The only way forward is to take a break. Once the heart realises the relationship is over, we can try and be friends.

How do we move on? First, it is sad when two people aren't a match. So accept the sadness. Don't wallow, but know it's OK and be gentle with yourself.

Two, you'll be thinking of all the good times. That's natural but be sensible and write down and remember all the things that didn't work.

Third, lean in with friends. Do all the things you enjoy. Distraction works! If you can, go and exercise. Getting good and sweaty will help you fight the blues.

Travel and study are also excellent options. New experiences will renew you and widen your horizons.

Once the daily pain lessens, actively imagine your future. You picked a lovely woman but it wasn't a match. So, what will you look for next time? How will it be?

Pushing your mind's focus to the future will spur you into healing. As you force-feed your optimism, you'll soon start to feel it. And that is when you can truly move on.

About you, your ex has stated clearly that she doesn't see a romantic future with you. That's sad but very clear. Respect her decision.

You have already taken steps to healing but it's slow because you delayed the moving on process by sticking about and hoping she'd change. If you have another disappointment, don't do this next time.

For now, avoid seeing her for a while. See friends, learn, exercise, travel maybe and distract. You will heal.

Also, should you bump into your ex, put in some boundaries. Talking to a recent ex about your new love life is inappropriate. I think you're probably both young, but she needs to have a bit of common sense.

She may see you as a brother but you're not. You are her recent ex. If she wants to talk about her new romances, she can do that with her girlfriends.

I hope my perspective helps. As I said, this letter shows your thoughtfulness and kindness. You will heal and I hope your next girlfriend will be a better match.

Good luck and know I'm thinking of you.

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Relationships , compatibility , breakup


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