I chose my career over my girlfriend and I am sorry now
Tell me about it: I check her social media every day. She recently started dating again
I feel that there is hope for us to reunite, but how do I communicate this to her?
Question: One year ago myself and my girlfriend decided to end our relationship of three years. At the time of our split, she wanted to start saving to buy a house together, she also made it clear that she wanted to start a family. These are things that I also want. But at that very specific time I was offered an opportunity to work abroad in a high-paid position in a very exciting firm. I proposed to her that this would be a great boost for our finances. Alas, she did not agree. I spent six miserable months in my new position, most of the time I spent thinking about her and, eventually, I returned to my previous position in Ireland. I have emailed her and phoned her several times and she has not replied. I check her social media every day and I see that she has just recently started dating again. I feel that there is hope for us to reunite. But how do I communicate this to her?
Answer: You made a decision a year ago and I’m guessing you did not make this lightly. Your girlfriend also made a decision at that time and she seems to have followed that decision and is not looking to re-engage with you. Your relationship was three years old at the time of the crisis and this is a long enough time for both of you to make informed judgements on your future. You chose to go abroad and try out the new highly-paid position and chose at that time to do this without your partner.
If we are torn and constantly questioning ourselves, we cannot benefit from our choices as we are always asking 'what if'
Perhaps you knew in some subliminal way that she would not come with you and by your pushing the move, you forced a decision on the future of the relationship. The difficulty seems that while your body travelled abroad, your mind and heart stayed at home and the subsequent division created misery for you.
Now that you are home again, you are still divided and are trying to live a life that is in your past. Your ex-girlfriend is dating again and you are checking up on her on social media; this has the same effect as when you were away – you are not fully accepting the life you are living and if this continues you will become excellent at regret and rumination.
When we make a decision, the need is to put our whole selves behind that decision and not keep looking to all the other options that we have closed off. If we are torn and constantly questioning ourselves, we cannot benefit from our choices as we are always asking “what if” and this can lead to anxiety and regret. It is always sad when a relationship ends and it is normal to go through a grief period, but the task is to heal and recover and then move on with your life.
You had double the difficulty in that you were not just dealing with the grief of losing your relationship but you were also transitioning to a new country and life that can bring with it its own period of distress. Of course, our response to all this distress is to take action and perhaps you returned to your former life too quickly in the hope that you could slot right back.
All decisions have consequences and yours is now to build a new life and exciting career from where you are in your position right now. You had ambition a year ago and this needs to be resurrected in order to make you feel confident, attractive and hopeful again.
You have suffered enough, let go of the grief and loss and be determined to be happy in the life you have now
You say that you want to have a house and family at some stage and if that is true then you could invest in dating so that this is a possibility down the road for you. Your ex-girlfriend knows that you have been trying to contact her and it can be assumed that she knows the conditions she set down as part of her relationship with you. It seems clear that she no longer wants this future with you and therefore there is no current possibility of this relationship developing.
Your future is yours to make and it seems that your confidence and self-esteem need boosting. Push yourself in your career and make opportunities happen for you; go on dating websites and spend time with women who are interested in similar things to you; imbed yourself in your community and stretch your connections. If you do these things, you will attract lots of attention and become desirable as a partner. Doubt, regret and indecision all pull our focus inwards and the outcome is gloom and sadness.
You have suffered enough, let go of the grief and loss and be determined to be happy in the life you have now.
Start by deleting your ex’s social media page (she knows where to find you if she changes her mind) and busy yourself with your career and social life.
- Trish Murphy is a psychotherapist. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into.