I recently found out from a mutual friend that my ex, whom I dated for about two years, got engaged. I'd be lying if I said I didn't care, but the problem is I don't understand why I am so upset. Here's the scoop in the short version.
When my ex and I met, we instantly fell in love and he often talked about us getting married. We had a great relationship for the most part. At times he was controlling and after about a year, he cheated on me a few times and I caught him in a few lies. I ended it with him right after, which was the hardest thing to do. About 4 months later, we tried to work things out but the trust was gone and the relationship couldn't be saved. We've been broken up for almost 3 years, and my question is . . . why am I still so upset to hear he got engaged? -- Hung-up Heidi
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Dear Hung-up Heidi --
Getting over a serious relationship is never easy, and it can painful when a ex appears to have fallen in love with someone else, no matter the experience of the relationship. You broke up with this man for many very, very good reasons: he wasn't treating you with love or respect; he was lying; and you didn't want a future with someone who betrayed you and who controlled you, so I implore you to focus on the facts of the past instead of any fantasy of his present life or future. You did the best thing, the hard thing and the right thing, Heidi. There is no other version of this story, and I suspect some of your pain comes from that truth.
I'm concerned you might be imagining that your ex is treating his fiance differently than the way he treated you, Hung-up Heidi. Most men with serious controlling behaviors don't change, or they don't change without dedicated effort and counseling. In fact, his actions could have been the beginning stages of an abusive relationship. We can't say who he is now or what he's like, but you know -- and still know -- that a decent relationship with him was impossible for you. Marriage and love do not guarantee fidelity, integrity or commitment; character does.
As time passes, some people find themselves romanticizing past relationships. They highlight the good memories and downplay the bad ones; in this way, they forget the cost and actual details of their experience. This can be a way to distance one's self from the pain; it can also be a way to manage other difficult feelings, like anger or fear. Connect with the truth of that relationship again, Hung-up Heidi. Please remember yourself and trust yourself. The decision you made was the right one. I want there to be comfort in that for you, more comfort than whatever temporary upset you might be feeling now.