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Hi Alex, I’d like to pick your brains, if I may?
I was with my partner for 20 years, we split up 2 years ago. I haven’t dated or been with another guy since. Not because I want to meet another guy like my ex and haven’t found one yet, but I really don’t think I can trust someone after being betrayed. Is 2 years too soon after such a long relationship? He was my one and only partner – ever, we met in college when I was 19.
I’m sorry about your breakup. I don’t know what happened, but ‘betrayed’ is a strong word, so I’m guessing it was rough.
I know good men who supported their partners through hard times — drug addictions, HIV diagnoses — only to be abandoned when they needed support in return. There are many ways to betray someone.
Honestly, there’s no easy way to answer your question. Many people will tell you two years is plenty of time. They’ll tell you all the classic phrases: Put yourself out there! There are plenty of fish in the sea! You never know when lightning will strike! And on and on.
Those who’ve been badly wounded may say the healing process is much slower than that — that two years is a reasonable amount of time or even perhaps not enough. No matter who you ask, you’re getting insight from their own subjective experience, which doesn’t reflect yours. And the truth is, there’s no correct answer, no standard timetable, because everyone is different.
There’s no minimum or maximum amount of healing time that’s “correct” or “proper.” Culturally, we tend to shame people who recover too quickly, but I think that’s bullshit. If you’re able to snap back in a few weeks, that’s great! If you’re still struggling two years from now, no one can say, “It’s time to move on,” although I would suggest speaking to our therapist more in-depth at that point. (Yes, you should currently be seeing a therapist. Everyone going through a breakup should.)
I’ve never been in a twenty-year relationship, so I can’t imagine what you’re going through. No one is tapping their foot waiting for you to feel ready again. You’re allowed as much time as you need. On the other hand, don’t let this person ruin your life. You’re not bound by him or to the heartache he caused. You had something, it was good for a while, and now it’s over. We get hurt because we get love. One doesn’t come without the other.
Don’t give someone else the power to make you miserable. Breakups are the most miserable thing in life, but they are also the inevitable endings of relationships, and even then, love is still worth it. The next date is worth it. The next feeling of connection and closeness is worth it. What else do we live for?
There have been ample interviews among the dying to know that, when people are faced with their own ends, they regret not spending more time with those they love. They regret the what-ifs, the maybes, the missed chances. So seize every chance you get to be close to someone. Yes, in time, closeness can hurt you. But that is the stuff of life. We are social creatures. Life is meant to be shared.
You don’t have to jump back into official, labeled relationships. You can start with casual playmates, fuck buddies, and friends-with-benefits. There’s no pressure to name something right away as a “relationship,” in fact I think it’s smart to start in the shallow end of the intimacy pool and work your way up. Enjoy some casual sex and have fun.
You never know when lightning will strike.