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Auntie SparkNotes: My Girlfriend Dumped Me, But I Think She’s Confused

Hi Auntie,

It’s been about three weeks since I got the devastating news from my girlfriend that she would like to break up with me. Now this is rather sudden, because we have been happy and in love, and fully enjoying our time together during our freshmen year of college. She made it sound like our relationship had gotten too serious too fast (I offered to tone it down for her). She wanted to get into casual relationships because she was curious. A big reason for her was that she wanted casual sex, as sex with me would be too emotional for her. This made little sense to me, and she wouldn’t know, as we hadn’t actually done such a thing yet. This is why I think she is confused about this whole thing. I believe the breakup was incited by a guy who was interested in her, who she is now sleeping with, but not dating.

I was willing to let her fool around with other guys while she was with me, and I know she still has all her feelings for me. So what can I do? Say?

Two things, Sparkler. First, you can gingerly peel your eyes open and let yourself really see the writing on the wall. (In this case, it says SHE DUMPED YOU in letters ten feet high.)

And then you can get yourself a bag of mini peanut butter cups, a few packs of ultra-soft Kleenex, and one of those blankets with armholes in it, and spend the next couple of days in your bed in your dorm room, binge-watching the new season of Black Mirror and thinking dark thoughts and ugly crying, because you just took a big owie punch to the feelings and there’s no getting around feeling sad about it.

I’m sorry. I know this sucks, and I wish I had better news for you. But the lesson here, painful and crummy as it is, is an important one that’s best learned as thoroughly and early as possible: You cannot argue with another person’s heart. Her reasons for your breakup may seem ridiculous, flimsy, contrary, or irrational, but they’re also just window dressing. Whatever comes after the words “I’m breaking up with you,” that sentence is the main event and contains all the information you need to move forward. She doesn’t want to be with you—which makes her the last person on earth you want to pursue a relationship with.

With that said, it may help you to realize that your ex-girlfriend’s cited reasons for ending the relationship are not just irrelevant, but also not necessarily the whole story—not because she’s confused, but because she’s consciously trying not to hurt you. You’re right: “I want to have casual sex with other guys because it would be too emotional for me to have sex with you” is a sentence that doesn’t make a lot of sense… but it sounds a lot better than, for instance, “The idea of having sex with you makes me want to discreetly vomit into my handbag.” To be clear, I’m not saying the latter is in any way what your ex-girlfriend was thinking (and in fact, I’m 99.999999% sure it was not.) I’m just saying that people tend to reach for the nonsensical breakup explanation when their real reasons would make for an uncomfortable, hurtful, awkward revelation that accomplishes nothing but to make their dumpee feel bad. This girl didn’t just want to have casual sex with other guys; she wanted to end your relationship. And if she wasn’t explicit about the reasons why, I must tell you, darling, that there is nothing to be gained by begging or arguing until you force the truth out of her. Not only will it make you feel more pathetic than you’ve ever felt in your life (and trust me, it will, I HAVE BEEN THERE), but whatever answer you get will be something you immediately wish like hell you didn’t know. (Yep. Been there, too.)

Which is why the thing to do now is accept that it’s over, walk away in a dignified manner, and wait until you’re someplace private and soundproof to start ugly crying. It’s a breakup; it’s going to be awful for awhile. That’s the bad news. The good news is that after the bad, it starts to get better. And in the not too distant future, there will come a time when you’re ready to get back out and date again—and when you are, a world full of great, fulfilling relationships with people who genuinely want you will be waiting.

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