Ashera is a Marriage and Family Therapist with an extensive background in sexual health education. You can ask her stuff anonymously and she won’t get weirded out. Seriously, try her. Send your queries through our anonymous contact form here.
I went through a painful breakup a while back. The relationship wasn’t perfect, but I really loved this person, so when it ended I was really hurt by it. It’s been a while and I have been doing okay with everything. After not talking to me for a while (despite me trying), he’s decided to reach out and wants to apologize and to talk. Part of me really wants to hear his apology and to get some closure but I’m really nervous about it. I don’t know if this is a good idea for me. A part of me really just wants to see him, but I know that no matter what, this is going to hurt. Do I go through with it? Should I cut him off completely? I don’t know what to do.
Dear Still Hurt,
Breakups are painful by design, but honestly, nothing seems to suck more than the dredging up of the past. While some breakups are full of rehashings, this didn’t happen here. Homie went radio silent, maybe even ghosted, and then now, now, now he wants to roll back through and apologize or some shit.
Fuck. That. Noise.
I understand the desire for closure, I really do. The issue is that it rarely actually happens. Perhaps someone out there has really had coffee with their ex and had a meaningful heart-to-heart where they both left feeling more whole than they did when they came in. Maybe as they leave, they’re able to give each other a knowing look and as they shut the door to the café, they symbolically close the book on their relationship and are now more fully prepared to move on. Maybe this has really happened somewhere.
Maybe, but I doubt it.
In my personal and professional experiences, such conversations are fraught with misery. The person initiating the apology conversation often isn’t really looking to apologize. They may cognitively rationalize their invitation as this, but at its core, they’re looking to shed their guilt. Apologizing isn’t so much for your benefit as it is for theirs. Conversely, when someone is seeking an “apology conversation” from an ex, they’re usually looking to communicate how very hurt they are, complete with tears and screams. The desire is catharsis but that is hardly ever the outcome.
Searching for closure is like searching for a unicorn. This dude has historically been emotionally unavailable, so why after all this time would he be able to offer support to you now? Seeking this from him would be akin to screaming at roadkill to spring back to life. It’s not gonna happen. As my boy Ferrett Steinmetz says, “You need to leave this need for closure behind.” That aside, it can still be tempting to go. If you feel emotionally prepared for this, then by all means, go and see what happens. You may want to set some safety nets in place for yourself, though, like being able to text a friend to call and get you out of there. Maybe there are certain topics that you need to stray away from. What do you feel like when you become emotionally overwhelmed? When you’re hitting that point, it’s probably time to go. What are you going to do to take care of yourself over the next few hours, days, or weeks after this conversation? If you’re really not ready for this, there’s no shame in blocking his ass.
No matter what you do, make sure that you do it squarely for you. Don’t stuff down your own feelings just to make others feel better.