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Auntie SparkNotes: I Want to Move On From My Toxic Ex

Hi Auntie,

So I’m a senior in high school and while I know love is fleeting, it definitely doesn’t hurt any less when things end in a way you don’t expect. I had a huge crush on a guy for months, and he finally asked me out. I always thought things were good between us because we spent a lot of time together: we’d watch movies, have dinner, and get a lot of studying done because we have a similar workload. I made sure to give us both some “personal time”, because I know my life is more than just dating someone, and I really enjoyed having some time with other friends that was just about us and didn’t always involve a significant other.

We had some issues about a month ago when the discussion of prom came up. He wanted us to go with a group of his friends (which was fine) but wanted to carpool with Person A (who was an ex of mine I dated for over a year) and his new girlfriend, who doesn’t really like me much. I expressed to him I was uncomfortable with the idea of having to spend all of my senior prom with them, and offered to just drive myself separately, but I could meet them for photos at prom. He got really angry with me, and blamed me for not being able to get over my past relationship.

I was really hurt, but I didn’t know what to do so I told him I would think about things but I didn’t see my opinion changing anytime soon. Flash forward to a week later, and he breaks up with me over DM on Instagram. I didn’t know what to do, so I’ve just been avoiding him as much as I can during school, which is hard because half of my classes are with him. Every time I see him I just get angry about the fact that he felt he could treat me the way he did and expect me to just go along with what he wanted. In that last week of our relationship, he was incredibly passive-aggressive to me and tried valiantly to get me to just agree to suck it up and go with this guy and his girlfriend, and I did try to compromise, but things just didn’t end up working out.

I ended up asking a friend from another school to prom, and I am so incredibly excited to share the experience with her, but just thinking about this guy makes me so full of anger and teenage angst. Is there anything I can do to just get over this toxic relationship?

To just get over it? Like, all at once and immediately, with none of the messy emotional reckoning that usually accompanies the end of a relationship?

Alas, sweet pea: nope. (That is, unless they’ve invent a working version of the memory-erasing technology from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And even then, let’s not forget that the procedure had some pretty awful side effects, including becoming romantically entangled with—shudder—Elijah Wood, which hardly seems worth the risk.)

Instead, the answer to your question is the totally unsatisfying truth that getting over this breakup will take time and distance, which is what it takes to get over any breakup, but especially one where you’ve been treated in an incomprehensibly crappy way that makes absolutely no sense. Your letter makes it pretty clear that you were a conscientious, considerate, accommodating girlfriend to this guy—which just makes it that much crazier that when the time came, he insisted on carpooling to prom with the only two people on earth with whom you had a thorny, uncomfortable relationship, and turned passive-aggressive and insulting when you suggested a totally reasonable compromise.

Honestly, what an asshat.

And if that makes you angry, well, geez, of course it does. Heck, it makes me angry! And not in a melodramatic, teenage-angsty, overreacting sort of way, but in the way that we all get pissed off about life’s small, dumb injustices. This breakup may not be a big deal in the scheme of things (and I can virtually guarantee that it won’t be a big deal to you, once you get past its immediate aftermath and don’t have to see the guy every day). But in the meantime, it’s no surprise that you find it infuriating to think about.

The good news is, you are quickly approaching the end of the school year, and with it the end of a schedule that forces you into crazy-making proximity to Mister Incomprehensible Asshat several times per day. And once summer break gives you some literal, physical distance from the guy, the mental and emotional distance that allows you to get over him will come naturally, if gradually. Moving on won’t happen all at once, and that’s the bad news. But if it can’t happen all at once, having it happen over the course of three lovely months that you can spend pretty much any way you want (including in the arms of a cute summer fling) isn’t a bad alternative.

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