Teen Talk

Cut ties with ex-boyfriend, including wearing his workout T-shirt

Kelly Richardson
Kelly Richardson Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

DEAR KELLY: I want to get over my ex-boyfriend because I think he’s moved on, but I can’t. I sit in my room, look at old texts from him telling me how much he loves me, listen to songs that remind me of him, sit in his workout T-shirt he gave me, look at pictures of us from all the fun times together. He seems so happy. I look at my Instagram and see where people put things like #goals on our pictures, and I don’t understand what happened. Everything was so perfect, then it just wasn’t.

How did we go from being amazing to being nothing? His answer was just, “I don’t feel the same.” I know that happens but please explain what I did wrong or why it happens. What’s wrong with me that he can move on and I can’t? When I ask him to talk about it and explain it, he said he already has and he’s tired of it all. I feel so broken and lost and I don’t like feeling this way. Please help me.


DEAR DF: Sometimes we torture ourselves and we don’t even know we are doing it.

Sitting in your room with sweet music on reminiscing about old times and reading sappy text messages is self-torture. You’re causing your own pain by looking at what was vs. accepting what is. I can offer suggestions, but you have to be the one to stop doing this to yourself if you want to move forward and stop feeling this way. You ultimately have the choice to either spend days, hours, weeks or months trying to put the pieces together to understand what went wrong or you can leave the pieces on the floor and move on. Time does heal our wounds, but how much time depends on you.

Step 1: Box the old stuff up. As hard as it may seem, the stuff that serves as a daily reminder of old times needs to be put in a box and put away. The T-shirt, the pictures and anything he gave you that you hold on for memory’s sake needs to be put in storage. To grab the new, we have to let go of the old. Don’t stalk his social media or using his friends as a way to get to him. Letting go of him means letting go of watching his life through your phone.

Step 2: Delete the old texts. He longer feels the same so reading those old feelings just plays with your emotions. Text messages for your generation are like love letters to my generations and those before us. We would hold on to love letters so we could reread them and still feel that same feeling we had when we first read them. But after the breakup, you realize that holding on to those letters didn’t do any good emotionally, so we would either throw them away or put them in an old shoe box and tuck them somewhere in out garage so we didn’t see them anymore. When it’s in text message, it is part of something you use every day, so deleting the string of texts is the only way to let go of those messages. It might be hard but once you hit delete, you will feel relieved and no longer tempted to continue to look at how he used to feel or what was. Clearing your space of these triggers can clear your heart as well.

Step 3: Accept that he has moved on. You still have questions you want answered but it sounds like he’s given you answers and you haven’t listened. Fixating on understanding why it happened can become consuming and painful. Stop chasing him for answers. Chalk this up to “People change and it wasn’t as perfect as I want to remember it.”

Step 4: Get out and start reconnecting with friends. As cliché as it seems, fresh air does make us feel better. Ride your bike, walk your dog, take a yoga class, go see a movie. Do something that gets you out of your room and out of that T-shirt and pajama bottoms. Stop dwelling and start living again.

Step 5: Change your mind-set. Tell yourself that you’re OK. Every day. Don’t beat yourself up and tell yourself you are broken. Remind yourself that you don’t need a guy by your side to happy, and you are the most important person in your life. Write down all the things that make you wonderful – your strengths, your talents. Surround yourself with people who do the same. Focus on what is positive in your life and instead of focusing on what happened, focus on what’s next for you. A breakup can be a difficult life experience but with the right thinking you can be a better, stronger and wiser person after it’s all over. You are stronger than you know and you can handle this.