Real Talk About Relationships and Married Life

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Dear Atiya:

I need some advice on a recent relationship break-up of four years. I feel I have been hurt badly by my now ex partner. The relationship was going nowhere fast and the upshot is we both decided to call it a day. What really hurt me though is the way she went about ending the relationship. She basically instructed a solicitor to take legal action against me by way of writing to me ordering me to get out of the property by a certain date and if my ex partner was to contact the solicitor to say I had not gone, then they would take further action and take me to court. As you can imagine, that knocked me sideways x100! How could she have done something so hurtful? She said she did it to cover herself. Every time I speak about it to her, she says, “It’s done now; we can’t change it; we have to move on.”

I am Catholic by religion. I want to forgive her for it as she does want us to remain friends and I too want us to remain friends. If I could understand why she did it in the first place, it might be a bit easier to deal with. I am full of mixed emotions at the moment towards her. Sometimes I feel I hate her for what she did. But if I don’t think about it, then it doesn’t affect me really. However, it tends to rear its ugly head from time to time and that at the moment is preventing me from ‘moving on’. So my question to you, I guess is how can I put it all behind me, forgive my ex partner and pursue a lasting friendship?

– Hurt and Confused, United Kingdom

Dear Hurt and Confused:

First let me say that ending a four relationship is difficult no doubt about it; and it is understandable that you feel the way you do under the circumstances, particularly since the two of you agreed to call it quits. If there was a mutual decision to split up and the situation was devoid of any violence or fear of violence, then with the same level of calm and maturity that you and your ex-partner used to end the relationship, could have been employed to discuss who would move out and when. Based on what you stated in your letter, there was no need to involve a solicitor unless there are other factors that you did not mention.

Communication is critical in any type of relationship. While the two of you ended the intimate connection, it is possible to remain friends. However, there are unresolved issues which exist between the two of you that would impede the development of any real and authentic friendship. So, although the two of you perhaps may want to have a long-lasting friendship, this would not be truly possible until you are able to work through the issues that have been swept aside.

It is not enough to say, “It’s done now; we can’t change it; we have to move on.” To do so is not being very “friendly.” Friends care about one another. They trust each other and want the best for the other. They do not do things to intentionally hurt you and when they do hurt you, they do everything in their power to mend the situation and make sure that you are okay.

Based on what you shared, if your ex-partner wants to continue a friendship, then she must be willing to sit down and work through the issue that is keeping you from moving on. It is true, you may not be able to change what has already happened, but you can change how you respond to situations. Now, it is possible to move on even if she decides not to discuss the matter with you. However, I am not so sure the moving on would include the two of you being friends. You can forgive a person if it is in your heart to do so; but forgiving a person does not mean that they have to continue to be a part of your life.

There are trust and communication issues here. It is very difficult to build a relationship, whether it is romantic love or friendship, in the absence of trust and the ability to communicate about basic things.

My advice to you would be to invite her to sit down and talk through the solicitor matter with you and discuss why she felt she needed to take such drastic measures. It is fine if you do not agree, but it is important to be open and honest with one another so that you can put closure to the matter. If she refuses or continues to “stonewall” you, then perhaps you may want to plan to move on with your life without her in it, as she is not a true friend.

– Atiya

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