Zero Benefits

Dear Dr. Darcy,

I feel like I can't get over one of my exes, even if we didn't have a conventional relationship. We started out as friends and eventually ended up dating (standard lesbian procedure, I guess.) Anyway, my ex was in the middle of having an affair with a married woman, while simultaneously seeing other people as well, and so she declared we would be "Friends With Benefits." It's true, I guess I knew what I was getting into, but I guess I always hoped that maybe her feelings would change and we'd become more.

The entire year that we dated was very hurtful, as she compared me to the other women consistently and repeatedly said she didn't have any romantic feelings for me. Every time I tried to break things off with her, we would go about a month without talking, then she would come back and apologize, etc. Then we'd end up sleeping together and then breaking things off over and over again. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and blocked her on my phone, FB, everything, because I told her that I needed to be away from her so that I wouldn't like her anymore.

A few months have passed, I've stuck to my guns and have still had no contact with her, but I find myself just completely uninterested in anyone that I try to date. I've been on plenty of dates after her, hooked up with other people, but I always end up missing her and feeling sad that we weren't even able to salvage a friendship from the whole ordeal, even if she did also hurt my feelings by seeing so many other women.

What should I do?

Signed, No longer friends with zero benefits

ANSWER

Do you realize that waiting until there’s zero benefit to a relationship before you get out is like waiting until your stock is worthless before trying to sell it? Why do people do this?  They do it when they feel that they can’t do any better.  They decide that at least in the shitty relationship they aren’t alone.  It’s a recipe, as you’ve seen, for reinforcing low self-esteem.

Listen, Zero Benefits, every time you break up with this woman, you’re given an opportunity to get it right; to stay away.  And every time you allow yourself to get sucked back into the relationship, you fail the test and you consciously and willingly sign up for more of the same.  People don’t change so easily.  It either takes enormous time for someone to change or a sudden pattern interruption, like a trauma or hurling oneself into therapy.  No ex girlfriend is ‘changing’ inside of a month or two without having undergone drastic measures. Stop deluding yourself into thinking that things will be different.  For the purpose of this discussion, rest assured, she’s not changing in the timeframe that you need her to change.  All we need to do is worry about you. So listen clearly:

You consistently revert back to thoughts of this woman because your self-esteem is in the shitter.  At some level, you believe that she’s all you deserve.  What you consciously tell yourself may be different ~ you may say things like If she doesn’t change I’m never getting back with her but at your emotional core, which is to say unconsciously, you don’t mean it.  Your emotional core is like water and it seeks it’s own level.  You will be attracted to people and situations that reflect where you are in your own emotional evolution.  Every person in your life is a reflection of where you are on your journey.  So what do you do?

Stop relying on your feelings to guide you in life.  Following your feelings got you into this mess.  Feelings are not a reliable life compass.  You can feel one way and choose to act in contradiction to how you’re feeling.  Allow yourself to miss her.  Mourn her.  In fact, mourn all your feelings because I can promise you that the reaction you’re having to this breakup has little to do with her and a lot to do with your unresolved baggage.  Be sad.   And be without her.  If you work on yourself during this time, you might be lucky enough to make new mistakes in future relationships instead of repeating the ones you didn’t learn this time around.

Writer’s stats: Female, Lesbian.