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love lost

I was recently “dumped” by my girlfriend. We had been dating for the past year. Her reasons were that basically I had stopped being as romantic as she wanted, was not doing enough little things for her (she constantly did little things for me), she thought she was doing all the work in the relationship. She is not very good at verbally communicating and for months made me feel like the relationship was fine.

The problem I am having now is that I feel incredibly guilty, angry and dissapointed with myself for letting such a beautiful and wonderful woman slip out of my life. I am getting really depressed, moody, and unproductive. I know these things take time to heal, but I can’t seem to get this out of my head. How am I supposed to stop caring about this person even though it is clear she wants nothing to do with me? She won’t talk or take messages from me (it’s been a month and a half). How am I supposed to handle seeing her again (with someone else possibly)? This is eating me up!

—Coulda, Shoulda

The Gay Perspective: This letter really surprises me, because I thought straight men healed quicker.

Well, as the saying goes, time heals all wounds and wounds all heals. Both sides of the equation refer to you. In time, you will move on, and maybe you will remember not to coast on the relationship next time. A girlfriend is not the same as your mother; the love is not unconditional.

Still, don’t beat yourself up too terribly. It is likely that this relationship was doomed anyway. This beautiful and wonderful madonna of a woman apparently did very little to communicate that things were lacking, and seems surprisingly unwilling to allow you to make things up to her now, despite your current ardor. I am thinking her affections had been drifting for some time. Learn from experience and choose someone less passive-aggressive next time.

The Straight Skinny: It seems to me that if you had really adored this woman as much as you now believe you did, you would have done all the little things that would have made her happy. You would have wanted to make her coffee in the morning, wanted to draw her a bath, wanted to call her parents, wanted to take her out to dinner, what have you.

If you didn’t do those things, perhaps you did not in fact worship her; perhaps what you’re feeling now is either the Unspecified Regret Over Lost Opportnities in General, or the Shallow Self-Scrutiny Which Avoids Any Real Insight.

The Practical Cogitator: Water under the bridge, pal. If she wants nothing to do with you, then there is nothing you can do that will bring her back.

Beating yourself up is not going to be helpful for you either, so try to refrain from playing the horribly destructive game of “What if…?” What if I had done something different? What if I had paid more attention?

These questions will not change anything at all, and may prevent you from moving on, which is clearly what she has done. Let me just say that there are other fish in the sea, and this one sounds like a carp. When you meet your next angelfish, treat her like one.

The Toad Cure: You should actively seek out an opportunity to run into her, preferably at a bar or a restaurant or a concert—a public place where she may be in the company of another man. You’re killing yourself by imagining how awful it will be to see her, and it may indeed be painful, but there is nothing reality can serve up that is as excruciating as the tortures of the imagination. Go find her, get it over with. As my English professor used to say, “Eat a live toad first thing every morning, and the rest of the day will seem great.”

As for the rest, my fellow experts are right on: Time is the only cure. And a little self-reflection, leading to corrective action, is a good way to pass that time.

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