I found my way to a really thought-provoking and sensible website this afternoon – Captain Awkward it’s called. It’s an advice column which focuses on abusive and dysfunctional relationships. Captain Awkward herself is smart and thoughtful and humane and the people who comment have been there done that and have the wounds and wisdom to prove it. It’s full of good advice about boundary setting and personal safety and self-care. And about recognising abusive or dysfunctional behaviour.
I arrived there via John Scalzi. He’d linked to a doozy of an article written by someone whose girlfriend had the temerity to leave him and to want to stay left instead of allowing him to pressure her into returning. It’s full of creepy, entitled whining masquerading as self-aware and mature analysis of the difficulties of being cut off when a relationship ends. Scalzi then linked to Captain Awkward’s takedown of the assumptions and logic of the original article. It’s good stuff. A sample:
Here is what the heck happened:
You guys broke up.
She didn’t communicate for a year, but eventually gave in when you contacted her. Unfortunately you wanted to hash out the end of the relationship; she didn’t. She was into a new dude and didn’t want to talk about old emotional business.
So she decided it wasn’t really for her. She tried a slow fade. After all, you guys weren’t really close anymore.
Then she TOLD you what was up. “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.“
You kept contacting her against her explicitly stated wishes. Emails seeking “healing” are still unwanted emails.
She got angry and enforced the boundary.
You happened to turn up at her work on a date and she didn’t like it.
What additional “closure” could she have given? What kind of explanation would satisfy? Breakups are painful, and we don’t always understand the reasons for them, but after a four-month romantic attachment ends I don’t think the person is responsible for all of your feelings literally YEARS later. And I don’t think there is any peace or solution possible here, short of “keep being my friend even when you don’t want to.”