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Do I get in contact?


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Back at the end of September, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend of seven years, D. He and I had an open relationship, and I had started dating one of my best friends, M, earlier that summer. I gradually realized over a couple of months that my needs were no longer being met in my relationship with D -- I felt very much like we were very good roommates who got along well and slept in the same bed, but that was about it -- and I realized that I was falling hard for M. At first I was afraid to leave D for M, but then I came to the conclusion that even if a relationship with M had been impossible, I would still not want to continue things with D.

So I broke things off with D, and it didn't go particularly well. He'd grown very comfortable in our relationship, and was stunned that I wasn't equally comfortable. It was not as bad a break-up as it could have been, but D made it pretty clear that he didn't want to have much to do with me.

It's been very odd, because we live in the same neighborhood and have so many mutual friends, but I have not had any contact with D since October, and actually have only seen him in public once since then. Now I find myself in a position where I will more than likely be moving out of town in the next couple of months, and I feel torn as to whether to make some kind of attempt to talk to D.

Since he hasn't made any effort to communicate with me, I want to respect his boundaries and not force something he doesn't want. Yet I really dislike the feeling of unfinished business -- this man was my partner for seven years, and even if things were rocky toward the end, I honestly don't regret our relationship. On the other hand, I know that I am also still working through some ambiguity and anger about the way he handled my mental health issues last year and the way things went toward the end, so I'm not sure if contact is a good idea.

Basically, what it comes down to is that I feel an urge to see him and maybe try to put some things to rest, but when I imagine trying to get together for coffee with him or something like that, I have NO idea what we'd say to each other. I've considered sending him an email saying, "I'm leaving town soon, and I don't know if you want to see me before I go, but I wanted to give you the option," yet again, I'm not sure if that's appropriate or necessary. I don't want to rub salt in his wounds or hurt him.

I think part of the reason this all confuses me is that I had assumed when we broke up that since we had so many mutual friends, we would avoid each other and things would be awkward for a few months, but then we would get used to moving in the same circles again. Instead, he seems to have withdrawn completely, so there's no good way to sort of ease into seeing each other.

Should I leave well enough alone, and assume that if he wants to see me before I leave, he'll get in touch? Or should I reach out in a no-pressure kind of way, and see what happens?

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From my point of view, you need some sort of closure to this former relationship. I believe that if you move away without informing him, that you will eventually regrett it.

I think that you should reach out to him in a non threating maner, perhaps through e-mail, like you suggested. Don't pin him down to anything, and give him a couple of options such as just replying to your e-mail, calling you, or meeting you for coffee somewhere. If he fails to respond, then you can live in peace knowing that at least you tried.

I hope everything works out.


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This is a tough situation to judge. It sounds like your former partner is very hurt, and has pushed you away as a means of coping with the pain of that breakup. October is not so long ago and it could feel very fresh for him still. If he gets into a tail spin over you, he could feel wounded for years. That's not your fault or responsibility, but is is something you should be sensitive towards.

If you do contact him, I suggest it be in the most passive way possible, so that there is no chance that you will force him into a situation where he feels he has to respond. A traditional card or letter sent by mail might be better than email, as there is less pressure to respond to a card than an email. You might even say "you don't have to respond" in the card. Say to him that you are open to hearing from him if that is what he wants to do. You might communicate any pain you feel over knowing he may be in pain. Leave the ball in his court, and if he wants to communicate with you, he will. If you don't hear from him, then leave it alone.

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