Arts + Life » Ask Athena

Should I Reach Out and Help My Ex-Boyfriend?



Dear Athena,

My boyfriend recently broke up with me, and it came out of nowhere. He is sort of a loner because his family lives far away. He doesn’t have very many friends, and I know this breakup has been hard for him. I really want to reach out and help him, but I’m not sure if I should. What should I do? I know he needs someone, and I know him so well.


Confused and Heartbroken

Dear C and H,

What should you do? Nothing. Why do you feel the need to reach out? While it sounds nice of you to want to “help” him through this, you can’t — because he broke up with you. The person you break up with just can’t be the person who helps you with the breakup. (Say that five times fast.)

My guess is you want to help him because you’re having trouble letting go. You have an urge to see him; you don’t want it to be over, so you convince yourself he needs you. You might make an excuse to “need” to see him. It’s what I call the “I forgot some CDs at your place” tactic: leaving something at an ex’s house so we have an excuse to see him or her again. And admit it, you’re probably thinking: Maybe it could even be the start of getting back together? It’s like, if he sees me and we get to talking, he’ll realize what he’s lost ... he needs me.

I’m sorry to say so, but he doesn’t need you. For whatever reason, he broke up with you. Let him find a new friend, or a spiritual adviser, or get a library card. He made a choice, and you have to let him make it and start moving on.

No question, being dumped is really hard. The event means a loss of control, and it’s not the jump-out-of-a-plane, run-naked-through-the-quad, shots-of-tequila-and-dancing-on-the-bar kind. No, it’s the “Ouch, where did that come from?” sting. Telling yourself that he needs you is a mental attempt to regain some control, to put a Band-Aid on the hurt.

Tell yourself this instead: The loss is temporary. Forget helping him and help yourself. Regain control by getting comfortable with you again. Because, dear C&H, you deserve it.



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