“Help! My heart is broken (again)—how do I move on?”

Dear Sarah,

I am not the type of girl who gets attached to anyone easily—some people have even described me as cold or bitchy, but really, I’m just guarded. My feelings are actually very strong and overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like my emotions are 10 times more powerful than any “normal” person, so I’m careful about who I get involved with.

But there’s this one boy.

We started dating our first year of college and it was love at first sight. We spent every day together, entranced in a puppy dog kind of love (that would gross me out if I saw it between anyone else). We had the same humor and interests. He was thoughtful and kind and passionate. Everything was perfect. He was perfect.

I bet you can already see where this is going….

We became totally caught up in each other. I lost sight of my family, my friends, school, my career goals. I had a part-time job scooping ice cream and thought that was enough. After eight months, he asked me to move in. We’d spend our nights talking about what our future would be like together. It all sounded so beautiful and was everything I had ever dreamed that love would be. And the best part was that he felt it to. Or so I thought.

Seven months later and two days before my birthday, he sent me a text while I was at work saying that it wasn’t working out between us and that he needed space to figure things out. I didn’t see it coming; sure we’d been bickering here and there, and I’d become a bit more of a housewife than a girlfriend…but I was blindsided. My heart was completely broken. I felt like I was drowning. I begged him to stay, but he had already made up his mind.

After months of being a heartbroken zombie and living at my mother’s house, I decided to take a cross-country road trip to clear my mind, find myself, and fill my head with new places and possibilities. I was on the road for months and when I returned I was ready to start my own life again with a fresh and cleared mentality. I was “me” again.

About three months ago, I saw him at a party. He was very kind and asked how I was doing. We struck up a conversation and before I knew it, we were back to the very beginning. All the old feelings of love arose even though I tried to force them away. He said he’d missed me and thought about me often, but he wasn’t looking for anything serious. We hooked up off and on, and I played it like I was cool with being “friends with benefits,” because he was so important to me.

Eventually, when I had the nerve to say that I either wanted to be strictly friends or an exclusive couple, he completely shut me out claiming he didn’t want a relationship AND we wouldn’t work as “just friends.” That was two weeks ago and we haven’t spoken since. I’ve tried telling myself it’s for the best, but that feeling of heartbreak has slowly crept back into my chest. I can’t run away this time. How do you get over loving someone? I can clearly see he’s not right for me, but I can’t help how much I feel for him. How do I make it stop and get him out of my head?

—Heavy Hearted in California

Dear Heavy Hearted,

I have complete faith that you will be able to get over this guy and move on. You did it once and you can do it again. To get there, you don’t have to go on an epic journey anywhere but in your mind. That strong, free, independent “me” you reconnected with? Get a little notebook or use your phone and start making notes and describing her even if she’s a bit of a blur. Keep making notes as you go about your day-to-day, anytime you glimpse that “you” who is confident and brimming with self-love. When your mojo starts coming back, which it will, look outside of yourself to discover something new every day—even in the surroundings and among the people who seem familiar to you. Make your life one of curiosity and adventure.

And stay away from the ex —don’t call, text, email, or check his social media. While you describe him as thoughtful and funny, etc., what stands out to me is that he broke up with you by TEXT and after knowing you were devastated didn’t see that there might be an emotional risk for you in hooking up. He doesn’t want to be friends, nor in a relationship? So, what does that leave aside from him using you for his own sexual gratification? You are worth so much more than that! And deep down you know it.

One day, when you find yourself falling for someone else, try to maintain an open and outward looking attitude and keep moving forward together instead into a relationship black hole. Romantic love is just one part of a rich life. As the poet Rilke wrote:

“A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”

Let us know how you are doing,

Love, Sarah

Have an issue that could use a mom’s-eye-view? Our advice column features a real live mother of three who is ready to discuss any of your burning questions judgment—and baggage—free. Email [email protected] with the subject line “Dear Mom.” Please include your first name or nickname and where you are from. Questions may be edited for clarity and length.

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