This is Kayla. I’m a 17-year-old high school senior.
I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 9 months due to him cheating on me. He was my best friend: we hung out every single day, all day. He was my first love and my first long-term boyfriend.
I saw that he sent his ex his address on his phone and he tried to tell me it was because she was dropping something off to him. He tried to manipulate me and lie to my face for a week before finally admitting it to me.
I have never felt so broken and so alone in my life. I’ve developed extreme depression and anxiety over all of this. I feel like the right thing to do would be to completely delete him from my life, but it has been extremely mentally and physically hard for me to do so.
I don’t know why I still want him and think about him every second of the day. Please help me with any type of advice or motivation. Anything. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m struggling.
Breaking up is a life skill. As life skills go, it’s sucky. But anything worth doing, is worth doing well. So if you’re going to have a sucktacular life experience, learn from it and improve your skillset. The good news is that you’re 17. You’ve got a lot of time to perfect your rejection game.
There will be many times in your life where you’re going to have assert your worth and bolster yourself in the face of rejection. Other times you’re going to do the rejecting, which is a different kind of hard. But Kayla, if you’re going to be a person of standards, rejection is inevitable.
Think about the alternative for a moment — accepting everyone and everything all the time. Being a big jello blob of nobody. Of course accommodating jello can be rejected too, but jello just molds itself into some other shape. There’s no core there.
Wouldn’t you rather be a solid person, who knows her worth and who tests that knowledge in the larger world?
(I see you nodding yes. Yes, Tracy, I am a young badass woman who doesn’t tolerate crap. I know my worth! I am mighty! I am the generation that is going to take on creepy harassers and climate change and representational government!)
Knowing your worth means life is going to kick you in the teeth sometimes, kid. Lots of forces will conspire to make you feel worthless. They’re going to tell you that jello is pleasing. That you need a boyfriend to be whole. That you look washed out without lipstick. That your thighs are fat and your ideas are stupid.
Fuck those forces and know your worth.
Having one boyfriend in perpetuity from age 17, while it happens, isn’t likely or ideal. Which means you’re going to have to test out some people — and only a tiny minority of them will be forever people. Most people are season people (to take a concept from Madea — and you really should watch her tree root speech. It’s gospel.)
If I follow your story, your boyfriend cheated, and he admitted that part, not just the address sharing (for returning his casserole dish or whatever the pretext was). I’m a bit foggy on the chronology from your letter. But the important takeaway here is that this relationship did not make you feel safe.
You acted on that unease. You didn’t become jello. You felt compelled to check out his stories, look at his phone, recognize his lies for lies.
If he represented himself as having a standard — exclusivity — and he didn’t abide by that shared value, you’re right to dump him. The argument isn’t about whether that standard is reasonable (he’s in high school, people play the field, etc.), it’s about the bait and switch. That hurts like a mofo. To invest in someone, to be intimate, and to be devalued? That’s always going to hurt like hell.
But hold on to your standard. You expect honesty, respect, and mutuality in your relationships. And if the other person cannot live up to that, you’ve got to part ways, however much that hurts.
I have never felt so broken and so alone in my life.
Don’t give him that power. He’s one guy. He didn’t measure up. Buh-bye. I know it hurts, but he does NOT have the power to “break” you unless you give him that power. Stop giving him that much centrality.
I’ve developed extreme depression and anxiety over all of this.
If you can’t function, see a doctor about depression and anxiety and get that checked out. It could be situational (breaking up with a fuckwit), or it could be an illness (people inherit depression like they inherit heart disease).
I feel like the right thing to do would be to completely delete him from my life, but it has been extremely mentally and physically hard for me to do so.
You can’t stay friends with people you don’t respect or feel emotionally safe with. He can’t be in your orbit. Meh comes with time and distance. So practice no contact. No social media with him. No friends reporting on him. Just boundaries and going cold turkey.
Fortunately, he’s not the only creature on the planet. People who are not pleasing jello blobs have lives — and you’re a woman with a life. He might’ve absorbed the last 9 months of your life, but you had a life before him and you’ll have a life after him. Go fill it up with people who DO meet your standards, who get you, and bring out your best self. Go discover what makes YOU happy that’s not a boyfriend.
If you’re like me at 17, that might be aspirational right now. (I moved at 16. High school was a nightmare.) I had to take it on faith that college would be better. You’ll get to reinvent yourself many, many times. There will be other boyfriends, other life rejections, but Kayla — many, many triumphs too.
Take this one on the chin. He wasn’t worthy of you.
His loss. Not yours. HIS.