Dear Queer Abby,
I was in a fairly serious relationship that went south.
Long story short, we had a non-monogamous agreement, but in practice, it led to struggles, hurt feelings, and finally a loosely defined couple month “break.”
That break started four months ago.
I cared very deeply about this person and wanted to keep them in my life, but after a couple of months, I sent an olive-branch email that went unanswered. I’ve realized I’ve been a little preoccupied with thinking about this abrupt and unresolved ending, going back and forth between sad and grumpy.
What’s the healthiest approach at this point? A) move on, forget they ever existed and get rid of everything that reminds me of them, B) keep trying to reach out and establish a friendship? or C) something else?
Sad in Santa Fe
I’m sorry to hear about your recent break/up. My opinion on the matter? I think you need a combination of options A & C.
You need to accept that no response *is* a response. Anything that’s not a “yes” is a “no.” The relationship, for now, is done.
It doesn’t mean this person didn’t care about you; it doesn’t mean they’ve moved on. It only means that they are not engaging with you right now as they once did. They’re no longer showing you that side of themselves.
It could be that their feelings for you were so intense that they can’t even look at them right now because it makes them too sad. It may have something to do with their own inner demons or sense of worth. We may never know.
One thing we do know is that ruminating on it and obsessing over what they may or may not be thinking is not helping the situation.
You can reflect on your own actions and come to a place of taking responsibility for your part in the relationship’s demise, but you can’t solve another person’s silence. ESPECIALLY because you are doing so in an echo chamber, through your own particular filters.
A romantic relationship can bring up old, ancient stories we have about ourselves and what we deserve or get to have. I would wager that any lack of interaction with this person is creating a vacuum that, when left to your own devices, you are filling with your own narratives that are tainted by your very particular, tarnished mirror.
What can you do? I think you should write out your thoughts and feelings completely. Include the things you admire and adore about this person. I want you to write this out as thoroughly as possible in a journal or a word document, then let it sit for a week.
In the meantime, be as generous to yourself and the memory of this person as you can. Try and find some gratitude for what they brought to your life. Meditate on the idea of this person having all the things you would want for yourself. Do you want them, ideally, to find love and support and acceptance and light? Think about that. Imagine them being as happy as you would like to be. Imagine yourself, too, having an abundance of love and support. What would that look like and how can you imagine yourself receiving it? I want you bathed in warm light, dear reader! I want a chihuahua licking your face as you drink a soy latte.
Come back to your letter when you are feeling grounded and calm. Extract anything that is blaming, shaming, or defensive. Use all of your lesbian-processing training and employ “I” statements. Take responsibility for anything you think you did in the relationship that you’re not proud of. Let them know how you feel, how you felt about them, and what you wish for them or for your friendship moving forward. To use some dog terminology, roll over. If this person has been kind and trustworthy, show them your underbelly.
Don’t try to extract interaction from them, just use this as a final statement, then (and this is perhaps the most important part) let go of what happens next.
This approach is about keeping your side of the street clean. No matter what happens, I want you to know that you acted with integrity and were faithful to the most generous, loving, and honest side of yourself as possible.
You are only in charge of 50 percent of what happens in any relationship, so after you lay this letter down, please know that you’ve done your part for them, and more importantly, you’ve done your part for you. You showed up for yourself.
Some things in life are just meant to be temporary, no matter how much you’d like to hold on.
I’m so happy this person brought you some light while they were here, but now it’s time for you to shine that on yourself.
Turn the page.