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Dear Chump Lady, I don’t know why I still want him

Hi Chump Lady,

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.

Thank you,


Dear Kayla,

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.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This. Thank you Tracy. I’m having my teenage daughter read this today. Valuable advice I wish I was given at 17.

  • “I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 9 months due to him cheating on me.”

    Having standards is a great thing. That doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt though, as you know. It does mean you won’t get burned as badly as others who would have spackled over this betrayal.

    Tracy – you are the bomb.

  • ((((Kayla)))
    Big big hugs to you!
    You came to the right place to lay down your heartache. Just because you are so young doesn’t mean that you won’t go through the grieving process of losing someone you loved and cared for with all of your heart. You have to go through all of the stages, but you are going to be ok, you are going to survive.
    I hope that you are able to also talk with someone very close to you, perhaps your Mom, perhaps a best friend. Ask about counselling at the guidance department at your school.
    Good for you for getting your feelings out.
    YOU are a very strong, mature, and Mighty, person, Kayla.
    Your cheater does not share your values. It is a good thing that you learned this early in your relationship.
    Cut off all contact with him.
    Hold your head up high. Your integrity is intact. Soon your emotions will catch up
    ❤️ To you. I would be proud to call you my kin.

  • Hey Kayla, your are good stuff!

    YOU broke up with him! Because you don’t tolerate dishonesty in your relationships. Spackling got a lot of us here at Chump Nation in trouble, including some of the more mature chumps.

    Listen to Chump Lady about the rest of your feelings and you will be fine! It is hard to lose references and friends, but better to be alone (in your case, for a very short while) than in bad company. Your ex is selfish.

    Continue being mighty, hugs

    • Kayla,
      I’m glad to see you asking for help. You’re a brave, smart young woman. I remember being completely devastated right after I found out my bf was cheating. I was a mess and it’s all I thought about. One day during that time, I was getting a massage and I explained to the masseur why I was tense. She told me to “feel my feelings” and go through the grief process. That it’s the only way to overcome it. It didn’t make sense to me at the moment but now I completely understand what she meant. It sucks to be in pain but you have to identify and process it to get to the other side. Now, with time, I look back and wonder why I cried and let it affect me so much. Why I was obsessing over a lying cheater instead of staying in the moment of what I was doing. Time will give you that perspective.

  • “But hold on to your standard. You expect honesty, respect, and mutuality in your relationships.”

    Never, ever, soften your boundary on a deal breaker. I did when my ex-wife was just my girlfriend. She had been cheating for a couple of months with a guy who was about to graduate college and move away. She admitted she cheated, but lied about the severity. She said “he went in for a kiss and I didn’t stop him in time”.

    I wanted to break up with her. She wanted us to be allowed to date other people. This was her plan all along since she would have more time with the guy who was leaving in a couple of months. Then after he was gone, we could go back to being exclusive. I didn’t find this out until years later.

    I stuck to my boundaries until she broke down crying saying she couldn’t bear to lose me. I gave in under the condition that she totally cut the other guy out of her life. Zero contact. She swore she would, but you can probably guess where the story is going.

    She had secret meetups with him that I only learned about years later, after we were married. She went off to the movies with him only 4 months after our wedding day. Then it snowballed from there. I don’t know if there was ever an affair with this guy (there was with others), but he would always pop up every so often throughout the marriage. Of course he was “just a friend” and she “couldn’t be rude” whenever he contacted her. She had zero concern about my feelings regarding contact with this guy because I was “making a big deal out of nothing”.

    My point is, the quote about holding onto your standards is the exact advice I would like to be able to go back and give myself. I didn’t do it and it became one of my biggest regrets in life. I know it hurts like hell right now, but the alternative of not enforcing your boundaries becomes a pill that gets much more bitter with age and much more difficult to swallow.

  • Kayla… I was given this idea once and it really worked for me… when I’m feeling misty and “missing him”… I think of bad ass women who were chumped and mighty and I visualize “what would they do”… think Rihanna… think Sandra Bullock… listen to righteous music (Katy Perry’s I’m a Tiger)… lift yourself up to that standard… aspire to mightiness… it is an invaluable lifeskill to have from relationships to your future career to how you live your life. He taught you a great lesson about YOUR VALUES… thank him with no contact and move on. You’ve got this.

    • Lizzo has some awesome break-up anthems. “Good as Hell” and “Jerome” are good places to start.

    • Katy Perry’s Wide Awake, the anthem she wrote after her divorce and all the drama Russell whats his name caused her, is a song that perfectly describes how I felt after DDay #2 and the months of healing after. I listen to it whenever I need a reminder of how strong I am.

  • “…this relationship did not make you feel safe.”

    I will be using this. The best phrase yet. Thank you, Chump Lady ????

    • Me too, Paige… I’ve been reading here for years, and that phrase is going to the top of my list of saved CL quotes. It works for ALL relationships, not just romantic ones.

  • I love love Madea and thank you for including that link to her wonderful speech about people in our lives.

    My stbx did not like Madea. Thought it was funny that I absolutely love Madea. Now I know why. He just cannot take the truth bombs Madea dishes out.

    I went to see the latest movie right after my stbx moved out. It hit so close to home. Madea Family Funeral

    • I love Madea, too! Her tree speech hits home every time and I turn to it every time I need a reminder.

  • The feeling that we can’t get someone out of our heads does have some science in it. A woman’s brain chemically responds in ways that cause us to bond when we experience intimacy. It’s similar to drug dependence, and we crave the chemicals when the bond breaks. Knowing this can help us deal with the feelings — and put healthier bonds in place to help us wean off of the chemical supply from the one person.

    Also, we’re more susceptible to feeling overwhelmed by these feelings if we’ve been abandoned, or neglected, or abused by others, especially parents. This includes having to take care of your caregivers, like having to hold a household together for a dysfunctional alcohol/drug dependent parent. So, if any of this fits you, know that you aren’t alone and it feels like it’s harder than average for you because it actually is.

    My thought to add is, seek out things that comfort and nurture you. Maybe it’s laying down with a pet. Maybe it’s re-reading a book you love a lot. Maybe it’s being held by a dear friend while you rest. Maybe it’s doing some kind of art.

    Whatever it is, do it as often as you can to flood your brain with good chemistry that doesn’t come from that guy. Re-bond to things you CAN count on. It’s not a 100% instant solution – nothing is, for grief – but it will help more than you know. ????

    • So much this.

      Kayla, you know that you did the right thing by dumping him. You are worth SO much more than he is. You have standards, integrity–and the best part is that you know it! He pretended he was exclusive when he was two-timing you. That’s what people with terrible characters do. He had a choice: be true or cheat. He chose to cheat.

      But yes, you do feel miserable and sad. It’s not merely all in your head. There’s chemistry going on, too. You can go ahead and google the science of love and attraction. Obviously you have hormones related to sex drive. But dating someone isn’t just about sex and desire. You also have chemicals that help support and drive your desire to just cuddle, nurture, and be nurtured.

      Breaking up means going through chemical withdrawal, too. Knowing this can help you deal with it.

      If it’s been over a month and you’re still hurting really badly, the most adult thing you can do is engage in self-care and go talk with your physician about feeling depressed. Should that generate some visits with a therapist, spend some time reflecting on this relationship and figuring out if there were any red flags that you let pass. Sometimes there aren’t, but other times there are little things that bug you but you don’t say anything because you’re very much in the moment with how attracted you are to the person and can spackle over what seem to be minor things.

      Good luck and keep us posted!

        • Yes, Amiisfree, your stellar comment really resonates. I absolutely love the sharing of collective wisdom that goes on here in this safe space.

    • Yes, I have read about that too, Amiisfree & kb (& others)

      Here is a link to a short, easy-to-read article on the subject of bonding that I found very interesting:

      Gives more good reasons not to ‘sleep around’ and also helps explains why people with multiple bed-partners are often so chaotic.

      This article is written by a women who sells natural products, but that is NOT my intention in sharing this link. I have no connection to this lovely lady, but I do know the information is totally legitimate, as I have read about this other times in the past.

      Love to all as we ForgeOn! cheater-free!

  • Kayla, you rock! And rocking doesn’t always feel good…especially this kind.

    You are WAY WAY WAY ahead of where I was at 17 and cheated on (way back in 1981!) How glad I am you did the right thing and you are here.

    I have found that often doing the right thing feels lonely and unpopular. BUT it just means your tribe is smaller (and more cool and exclusive!)

    Congratulations for being badass and showing that guy the door.

    You may also be charmed to know that the 1981 cheater came looking for me in 1989….WTF?!!!
    And I got to tell him to get lost again!! Not a single cell in my body cares about him.

    FEELINGS AREN’T FOREVER. This is time for you to heal…grab your self-care first aid kit, or get trusted friends and adults to help you.


  • I would just add that just because depression can be inherited like heart disease doesn’t mean it’s inevitable that a person would develop it or that a person would be stuck with it because it’s fixed in their genes. It’s really not fixed.

    I think that early adulthood is about getting to know yourself and working out the conditions that make you happy, like hobbies or what to do for work or what type of friendships. Then find a partner who needs similar conditions and has the same values and you have a good chance of a successful partnership. This became clear to me only after having a partner who I was incompatible with and all the attendant misery.

  • I needed this post today. I’m coming up on my 1st year divorce and 14 months past DDay. It was very surprising and very fast. I know from reading other posts I am lucky it was fast.

    So…..the OW threw my EXH out at the end of June. He slept in a tent or his car for a month. I think he only got an apartment because I told him our 15 year old son wasn’t coming for his 3 week visitation until he had walls.

    He was an absolute SOB while he was with her. Now he’s being nice. Not reaching out per say, just expressing concern for me as my moms health has significantly deteriorated and my brother passed away unexpectedly at 48.

    There is a piece of me that wants to talk to him. It’s comfortable – we were together almost 40 years. He was my best friend. That said, he let me support him, kept our credit cards to the max, everything had to be the way he wanted it, etc. Somehow I started to forget it. How is this possible?

    Mentally I will NEVER take him back. If I’m honest emotionally I would like to. Things are just so hard – have been for the last year, and five months ago my mom (end stage COPD) started going into the hospital (ICU) a lot – 5 times, plus 2 for a broken hip. My son is also challenging….ADHD, PSTD and Attachment Disorder (adopted at 2 1/2). I work a good / challenging job. Oh, I had 13 cats….and it increased with my moms animals overnight 7 cats 1 dog. I’ve rehoused what I can, most are old. Almost all had health issues I had to deal with (can’t have an animal I don’t take care of).

    I’m struggling with really moving on. I’ve gone grey rock. Why does he have so much power still in my heart? A year ago I read CLs book a good 40 times, just over and over. I’m re reading it now, what else can I do?


    • Silver big {{HUGS}}. Wow you have a lot on your plate, you must be emotionally exhausted. Time to really reinforce the gray rock, write out a list of all his crappy behaviors and cheating and re-read when tempted to talk to him, to remember the good times, or just the feeling of emotional support. (this naturally happens but just trust that he has not changed where it counts) It helps you feel mighty when it gets emotionally hard.

      Now it is time to take a few things off your plate. If you can’t at least take some much needed ME time scheduled and treated like a priority. I get it, when my EX left my mother and I both had cancer, I was helping her when I was diagnosed. I had two high school age kids and 3 dogs that were not handling the stress in the house well. (One is very sickly). I also had to learn how to work full time as I was a stay at home mother, and still get everything done. I can not tell you how much I respect women who do it all while the kids are young. I still have trouble with balance. It is so important that your healing and quiet time. I am finding more and more that Chumps are over achievers for others. Nobody can take care of everyone but themselves like a chump. Often there is room to let go of things but we can not see it, we need to take too much on. It is a hard habit to break. I still call myself lazy (thank you EX) when the house is not perfect, the dogs need attention and I have not seen my parents in a while and I am just sitting down on a Saturday watching a hallmark movie…. but I need the down time.

      Believe it or not, a year is not that far out, you are in the beginning of this. I am 4 years divorced and I still struggle with being content with my life. I no longer really miss EX but stress over responsibility and loneliness. It gets better each year.

      • Silver Anniversary and The Best Me,
        I empathize with and greatly admire you! Thank you for setting a great example of how to graciously handle life like a BOSS!

    • ((((Silver Anniversary)))
      I feel so bad , I follow your posts. You have been through so much.
      I am so sorry for all of your heartache and hurts.
      But, your cheater will only drag you down. He is nothing like you.
      You are so Mighty, really you are.
      Please please come here, where other Chumps know and understand the deep pain in your heart.
      Your son is so fortunate to have a strong, kick ass, Mother, always looking out for him.
      I wish I could hug you in person, spend time with you and lift you up where you belong.
      Please know that CN cares.
      Never never allow him back. Stay strong!

    • Oh, Silver. Would having him back in your life make it easier? Really? Or would he just be one more thing on your plate to worry about? It sounds like your plate is plenty full without him.

      I know it is one step at a time. Write down a list of the hurtful, horrible things he did, and post them on your bathroom mirror. Make a copy for your fridge, and your closet door. When you feel weak, read the list out loud to yourself. Remind yourself that you are FAR better off without him.

      Because you are.

      • I will make my list tonight. This is really good advice, basically brain storming all the crappie things he did in our marriage.

        Everyone’s replies help so much. I don’t know what I would do without this blog. I found it a couple of weeks past DDay and it has saved me from going over the deep end more times than I can count.

        CL and CL nation I thank you!

    • Many hugs to you ((SilverAnniversary)).
      I feel the same way and we were only together for 9 months. But time is no measure when it comes to emotions. I know how you feel (at least I think I do). Emotionally I would love to be back with him and go back to “normal” but mentally, I can’t do that to myself. You need to know your worth and really step back and think about how shit this guy really treated you. One thing I slowly forgot was that I mean more to me than anyone else. I put him before me, I wanted to see him strive, I wanted to mold him into the man I pictured and hoped him to be someday in my head. That was my biggest mistake and my biggest regret. Sometimes you NEED to be selfish; and that is OKAY! I hope you find the help, strength, and encouragement to do so. You are better than him obviously.
      Love yourself.

  • Great advice for girls and boys of all ages.

    I’m closing in on the day to leave my cheating wife, and I STILL am back and forth on the subject, Some days.

    One’s physical brain has structures which support our memories and view of Reality, and those conflicted cells take time to rewrite and fix.

    Stick with it, and aid yourself with music from Before him, new music you now like in your post-him world, meet new people, start a small new hobby, add an element of self-care to your regular routine, etc. New life, new brain pathways!

    • EyesOpened, this is great advice. Kayla is young and most of her life is Before Him. Older chumps may have to work a little harder to disentangle themselves from the US mindset with all those years of shared experiences, but it was imperative for my (ongoing) recovery to reclaim myself. It’s all tied up with learning to navigate a new life, and sometimes I feel like a toddler, wobbling my way toward healthy relationships. (I’m a stroke survivor, so your comment about new neural pathways really hits applies in my case). Good luck to us all in our journeys.

  • It hurts, but it’s better to learn how to do this now than years down the road with innocent children in tow. I was married at 19 and was so naive. You’re ahead of the game knowing your worth and setting that boundary. Good job, girl.
    And watch Madea’s speech. I saw it years ago, and it really helped me. It’s full of common sense relationship wisdom, that one.
    Best wishes.

  • I listened to that Cheryl Crow song a lot – first cut is the deepest – it’s about trying again but that first heartbreak – well, it’s informs your next one – the lyrics: The first cut is the deepest, baby, I know
    The first cut is the deepest
    But when it comes to being lucky, he’s cursed
    When it comes to lovin’ me, he’s worse…

    Here’s the thing. I never dated in high school. You’d think that would have kept me safe from heartbreak. But it really just delayed the maturation process. So my first breakup was at 22 from a guy who cheated on me and I never had a clue. So I was kind of navigating that disaster with the maturity of a 13 year old. And while it hurts bad, that experience is a step further In Your maturation process. In other words, this is gonna hurt but will make you smarter. Someday real soon you’ll get bored and restless for having stewed in that miasma of sadness. And you’ll say yes to an invite from your friends or your mom or your obnoxious brother and you will start looking up. Sending you some of my own hard earned strength, my little sister. And remember, nothing tastes as good as being free feels. xo

    • Trudy and Velvet Hammer, I too was cheated on in 1981, but I was a 22yo newlywed, and he cheated on me with men, which really screwed with my head. You’re right, they always circle back, as he told my family (at my mother’s funeral 25 years later) that I was “the love of his life.” Sure hope his new wife wasn’t within earshot to hear that comment.

      Kayla, be prepared for him to circle back, and stand your ground.

  • Kayla, I know right now it hurts like crazy…..but down the road a bit it won’t hurt at all. In fact when you hit your late 30’s early 40’s you will look back on relationships that did not pan out and breathe a big sigh of relief and say thank God I did not end up with….fill in the blank. There may be some relationships you ended because you were flat out not interested and you may look back with a bit of regret. Just the way it goes. I had a major relationship in my 20’s (5 years) and we got engaged late 20’s. This guy was drop dead movie star gorgeous and a hell of an athlete. I was envied for a time. He was also a compulsive gambler, liar and couldn’t keep a job. I made a ton of excuses for him. I also, for some reason, kept pushing back the wedding date. Long story short he ended up cheating on me and dumping me for someone he met while on a job out of the country. Got fired from the job and the girl moved to the states to be with him. I was gutted, just devastated, couldn’t eat or sleep. It’s like you can’t even breathe. I remember telling myself, ok you have two weeks to get this out of your system and then you are moving on as by this time the girl was pregnant and there was no way I would ever even think about taking him back. Within two weeks I was pretty much over him, I did still beat myself up for wasting so much time. Within a year I was extremely thankful we were no longer together. I’ve looked him up, (as we all look up old friends, boyfriends, teachers, etc) total loser mug shots and all. He dumped the girl and baby and not sure what hovel he is currently living in as his family has disowned him as well. The only time he comes to mind is when I am under stress for some reason or another then he appears in my dreams and I cringe.

  • Dearest Kayla. You are me when I was in high school. Let me set this up. A group of girls were at the movies and I kept feeling someone staring at me. I turned around and there he was. Two years older than me and beautiful. He really was. I’ve looked back at my high school annual and he really was that good looking. I was so amazed that he wanted to date me. We dated for a couple of weeks and then just as I was literally losing my mind over him he dropped me for one of my best friends. She never knew that I loved him. I drove by his house for two years without ever telling a soul. When I would see his car in town my heart would beat almost out of my chest. I had no interest in any other boy. I could not tell my group of friends how heartbroken I was because they had no idea and they were so supportive of that new relationship he had. They dated all the way through high school and into college. One day he dropped her without any explanation. Years later he started dating another high school friend who had moved away and did not know all the broken hearts he had left behind. In the meantime I had started dating another boy who was as in love with me as I had been in with the first one. I broke his heart. I could not love him back the same way. Hearts get broken and we have to learn from them but I will never say that you are not in misery because I was. You will get over it but it will take a while. In the meantime realize that this is something you don’t have to do to another person. Take care of your heart and anybody else’s.

  • You are very smart for breaking up with him. If you didn’t, he would continue to cheat and would likely break up with you eventually in order to please either this OW or some other OW because he has proven that he really isn’t as devoted to you as he pretended to be. You don’t need that. Now you know. It hurts to find that out but at least you are maintaining your own sense of self worth by breaking up with this boy before he further victimizes you through cheating and eventually dumping you (after blaming you for his own bad actions). It still hurts to know you didn’t have the love you thought you had and to deal with the humiliation of being betrayed, but you have done a good job of limiting the humiliation. Rock on. It’s hard to believe right now, but eventually all of this will be a blip from the past. You just have to get through the blip and you’ll be fine and stronger for it.

  • If only I had chump lady at 17. I would have been less likely to allow the narcissistic sociopath to stay in my world. We were 17 when we met. Stayed married to him until I was 56. Yes that is almost a lifetime. You have a chance to choose better and know your worth. I needed to work on that at your age after being with my narc mother right up until I met the narc abuser. Hindsight is so 20/20! Rock on young lady you will do better because now you know.

  • I think that one of our core problems is that we have to learn to deal with our own expectations. We think that things should be easier than they are. We think people should be better than they are. We think the first person we fall in love with should be the only person. We don’t understand how we can be in love with the concept of love, or how we can possibly fall in love with a mirage. How did I fall for fake? Why would someone want to be a fake? If you want to be an authentic person, to live an authentic life, it is NOT easy. It takes effort. To fully empathize with sorrow and grief, you need to understand what those things FEEL like. It is not about intelligence, or even luck. You experience life by living it and learning who you are along the way. Everyone has problems, everyone has a different learning curve. As Madea says in the clip, people who are trying to grow want to be better, and are making the effort to do so. If you find you are giving your love to someone who expects it, does not value it, and refuses to make an effort to be worthy of your love, you are not obligated to forgive them, or clean up the messes they make. We are all responsible for our own mess. Take special care of your heart. Share it with people who consider you worth the effort, and who make the effort needed to love themselves. Time will teach you how to avoid the people who don’t make an effort. Time will help you grow strong and repair the negative impact of dealing with those who think life should be easy for them. When you gain this perspective you will realize that you were fortunate to learn about this person’s shortcoming after such a brief time, with no legal entanglement, or children in the mix. Let the bad go, cultivate the good. Learn from all experiences.

  • Kayla,

    I am sorry that you are suffering. I can relate. After my abusive, adulterous husband left me when we were in our late forties, I started dating a guy I thought that had been my friend for 30 years. (We met in college ROTC when I was 21 and he was 17.) I felt like the luckiest woman in the world, as a ‘down and out’ old mother of young kids, after years with abusive guys in unhealthy relationships, I had finally gotten together with my friend, who I thought was the noblest, most honest, most humble, kind, smart, responsible man on the planet. (Obviously, I put him on a pedestal and worshiped him. He would publicly allude to this adoring attitude and behavior on my part in what I know realize was disrespectful to me.) After we started our intimate relationship, my (last) boyfriend was sometimes affectionate or seemed to want me but often lied to, invalidated, criticized, and tried to control me in strange, inappropriate ways. Around the time he discarded me the last time, after having spent two and a half years together as a couple, 30 years after I met him, I learned that he tried to hide our intimate relationship from the ‘virtual public’ and was embarrassed to be seen with me. Very painful, considering that I would have thrown myself on a grenade for him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Even after he discarded me the last time for his young work subordinate, now second wife, not knowing that he had dumped me for her, I did the Pick Me Dance, apologizing for whatever wrong I had unknowingly done him (including probably crying on his shoulder too much). Doing so probably made him made respect and like me even less, if that is even possible. I wish that I had done what you did, as hard as that is. The relationship would have ended with me retaining at least a tiny shred of self-esteem. At 17, you are light years ahead of many people, even me, who is over 50! You apparently appreciate others and YOU! Appreciating and valuing YOU are huge!

    At 8, I was sexually assaulted by a mentally ill guy who had walked into my back yard. Fortunately, I was not raped. I did not tell anyone, even my parents until several years after the incident. I regret not reporting the incident soon after it happened as I might have protected innocent people from assault by this guy. At 17, one summer, I guy that I dated (did not get intimate, fortunately) sexually assaulted me. Fortunately, I was not raped. I never reported the assault as I thought that nobody would believe me. (He was in the military, and naive, innocent me went up to his room in the barracks to look at his photo album.) HE ended up dumping ME! I told a teacher who had been raped what happened to me. She discouraged me from reporting the incident to authorities. I wish that I had not followed her advice. In my fifties, I am finally starting to find my ‘voice,’ generally refusing to tolerate abuse, and I am getting a huge amount of flak from ex-husband, my parents, my kids, and others. I plan to stand my ground this time, acknowledge abuse, and not subject myself to it whenever the benefits of refusing to tolerate it outweigh the benefits of tolerating it. (Unfortunately, as an unemployed old mother of young kids, I don’t have much power these days, so sometimes tolerating abuse is more ‘beneficial’ than refusing to tolerate it.)

    And yeah, two years since my last boyfriend discarded me, I still miss him (or the fantasy of him and what our relationship might have been if he had loved me or at least respected me) every day, I grieve the loss of a lover and what I thought was my best friend, even though I know some ‘uncomfortable truths’ about him–that, although he has some good traits, he is not all around Mr. Nice Guy, at least to me and some of his exes; he is a cowardly, opportunistic liar who will be kind to the people who he values but not to those he does not value, those he considers ‘not good enough,’ no matter how kind and forgiving they are to him. He is great at Image Management. I really want to have a decent loving long-term partner someday before I die, but I don’t think that I ever will. Not having a real date, a secure, ‘healthy’ family-sustaining job, and healthy kids (one of my kids has special needs) for multiple years weighs heavily on me and makes me miss my last boyfriend more than I probably would otherwise. If I could go back to my teen years, I would tell myself to do everything I could to develop skills and acquire knowledge, be kind to others, insist upon treatment in kind, and NOT ‘count on’ finding a decent life partner. My family and I would have been WAY better off, even if I had never found a decent life partner, which I most likely never will. But you, Kayla, are young and assertive, so I think that your life story will be very different–much better!

    I think that developing and maintaining friendships with warm, noble people, nurturing people, animals, and plants, and striving to fulfill a purpose of your choice can help alleviate the pain of the loss you describe. I wish you good health and much happiness!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. I really needed that today. I am currently trying to overcome this relationship and find strength within myself rather than to lean on him. I thought I could keep him as a friend and by my side because I was scared to let go. After reading this, it really woke me up and made me see the bright side of things. It made me see that I need to do this for MYSELF. He is a spoiled, narcissistic, insecure boy and I am much greater than that. I tried to mold him and help him to become the man I wanted him to be, but that was not my place and will never be for any man EVER. Your comment deeply touched me and I will probably re-read over and over again. God bless you.

      • Don’t even consider being “friends” with somebody that would treat you like this. And please don’t jump into another relationship right away to make yourself feel better. As others have said, “Don’t self-medicate with other people”. You’re learning one of life’s hard lessons.


      • Kayla,
        You are introspective and insightful. You set a good example of how to respond to unethical behavior. If more people responded the way you did, I bet fewer people who are prone to routinely behaving unethically (e.g., lying) would behave badly as they would realize that bad behavior would not be tolerated.

  • Hi kayla,
    This was me at your age. Dumped my cheater after I found out he was back with his ex (cause she was willing to have sex and I was not). They split up a second time after she cheats on him with another guy. They move on and so do it. Ré ré enters my orbit via his sister with whom I had kept in touch, according to him older and wiser.. This was before I learned that people don’t change!
    He had a questionable female friend but I didn’t think too much of it but later I hid and I raised it but they both claimed it was platonic and without more I left it. Eventually she too disappeared
    We got married. And he continued to be the same shitty cheat he had been. Marriage did not mahke him take commitment seriously. We had kids. Kids did not make him take commitment more seriously. In fact he ultimately admitted that he wanted to spend all his money on himself and live free.
    Listen to me. Do not go back to that person ever. Feel your feelings but do not go back. He has shown you who he is. Believe him.

  • When someone hurts you with no sign of remorse or not even a hint that he knows his actions caused you pain, it’s time to cut him out of your life. Tracey gave you the guidelines for going No Contact. When my ex-husband hurt me, I went NC after the divorce was final. He lost the privilege to know anything about my life.

    It hurts like a muther! I remember the hurt after my first boyfriend. The important part is what you learned about you and another person. Learn the lessons and apply them to other parts of your life. You got this!!!

  • Great response to a letter. Great link. Accolades to the 17 year old who has the where-with-all to write about something many of us lived over and over again with the same or different people without a thought to ask for help like this or to reflect.

  • Oh, one more thing. Kayla, that dude is going to come back to you when his shiny object fades. Stay mighty and don’t fall for him, or it. Be polite but saying no is the right response. If you go through this website you will see how many people tried to stick it out with a cheater. Keep your boundaries and your standards. Don’t let him fool you into thinking he’s back. This is a great time for you to learn what is acceptable and not acceptable in a relationship you want to be in with someone.

  • Hi Kayla. I was your age once and I too cried over some guy whose name and face I barely remember. Ten years later, I put a man at the center of my universe who was not worthy of my devotion. Today I am a 50 year old bad-ass single woman and I’ve never been happier. Too bad it took it took me half a century to understand that I am in control of my own self-worth and happiness. Like CL said, don’t give that power to someone else. Put yourself at the center of your world, not some guy. It’s important to be a good person, just be good to yourself first. If you meet a great guy, that’s wonderful, but don’t make your happiness dependent on it.

    Delete this guy Kayla. You can do it!

  • “Yeah, I got boy problems, that’s the human in me
    Bling bling, then I solve ’em, that’s the goddess in me”

    Getting your heart broken hurts. And you will need time to heal. The hold he has on you isn’t just his hold. It’s centuries of a patriarchy making women feel like they only have worth it they are loved by a man. It’s cultural conditioning that romantic love is the only sort of love. Neither of these things are true. And they usually don’t matter when your heart hurts.

    Take this time to decide how you want and expect to be treated. Find friends who will support you and lift you up. If you can’t find them around you, go online and look for them.

    You are mighty. You a goddess. You deserve to love yourself and expect no one to ever treat you than anything less than that.

  • Hi Kayla, my daughter also broke up with her bf at 17 and was devastated and plunged into severe depression. We ended up with counselling, and a psychiatrist and psychologist needing to help her. It was a scary time for her and I both. But if you have a supportive family, do talk to them and lean on them. Think about seeing a doctor for your depression if you need to. Reconnect with your friends and start going places with them. Rediscover how cool your girlfriends are!
    The advice I gave my own daughter was that she should never 100% rely on another person to make her happy. That’s far too much responsibility for any person, cheater or not. She had been focused on this boy 100% and had forgotten about who she was and what made her the person she’d been. I’m so happy to say that with assistance, my girl made it through her depression and is now living her best life at age 21, having spent 16 months so far helping others in a service mission overseas. Helping others is what makes her fulfilled. She’s had another relationship since the bad break up, but this time she was so much more careful to not base her whole life and happiness in this one boy (even though he was lovely) as she took responsibility for her own happiness and health.
    I wish you all the best Kayla, and I hope you have lots of support to help you through this tough time.

    • Justine,
      Thank you for your thoughtful words and encouragement. Sounds like your daughter and I shared a lot in common with our breakup. Im happy to hear that she overcame it and good for her for finding the strength in herself. I applaud and recognize her for becoming such a strong, independent woman. Thank you for sharing with me. I don’t feel as alone anymore. I know I will make it out of this. I just need to find it within myself.

  • Kayla,

    I admire your maturity and am curious how you found this website. In my opinion, Tracy’s book should be required reading for teenagers and young adults.

    • Thank you! I actually found this website from the comment section of a YouTube video about how to deal with getting cheated on.

  • Hi Kayla,

    When I was your age, I had a long-term boyfriend. He would cheat and we would break up (because I had boundaries) and it would all be over, for a while. I would give him the silent treatment then a couple of weeks or months later, we would get back together after he apologised and promised to never do it again. This happened over and over until eventually he broke up with me and it took me YEARS to get over him.

    The next guy and I got together so I could make the first boyfriend jealous. Just like the last boyfriend, we broke up and got back together several times, not for cheating but for lack of respect. I loved him and refused to ‘give up on us’ so we eventually got married and 26 years later are now getting divorced because, surprise surprise, he is a cheater with a serious lack of respect for me.

    In both cases, I invested so much into these relationships and believed that we were meant to be together forever. I thought we were ‘being drawn back together’ for a reason, that it was all fate and destiny. Well, from not learning from my mistakes the first time and marrying someone who was clearly wrong for me, I have wasted 26 years of my life that could’ve been spent with someone who truly loved me.

    You need to learn to walk away NOW. This is your chance to learn the lesson that I didn’t. Invest in yourself first and the relationship second and know that you deserve to be respected and loved. Don’t go back!

  • Hello. I’m Kayla’s mom. I wanted to say THANK YOU to Tracy, your words and inspiration are amazing, and THANK YOU to this wonderful ‘tribe’ of supporters. Your responses, feedback and stories have had such an immeasurable, positive effect on Kayla that she feels so loved and supported, beyond words can ever express. This post has lifted her spirits for the first time in WEEKS…and I can’t thank you enough for that. (Btw, Kayla has started therapy and is being treated for depression. We’re very blessed to be surrounded by a supportive family, school and caring doctors. I know Mama’s Girl will come out of this soon, and YOU all were the catalyst to that turn-around.) Sending many hugs and blessings to all of you.

    • love to you and Kayla. it is so great for Kayla to learn the painful experience of creating. hopefully she will learn how to identify this character type and quickly move on. those on this blog learned the hard way after many years investment in the relationship and children. integrity is highly valuable asset in life’s successful journey to peace of mind. hugs

  • Love the advice of not giving him the power to “break” you. Keep repeating it until you believe it. One of my proudest moments is after full discovery my cheater condescendingly grabbed my hands and said “…and now I have destroyed you.” I stood up and said “I’ll be fine, you’re the one who’s fucked”. Still one of my proudest moments.

  • Kayla, you are me many, many years ago. My boyfriend in high school, who I loved so much, broke up with me because “he was bored with me”. The truth is he was seeing someone else. When I finally moved on (got a new boyfriend), guess who came back around? And stupid me took him back. And you know what happened? He cheated again, and again and again. I became very depressed and anxious. It took me ten years to finally break it off with him and leave for good. I wasted 10 years. Dont give this guy another thought. He has shown you who he really is….listen. make the decision to love and value yourself. You deserve so much better.

  • Kayla,

    You have gotten some great advice. As Chump Lady pointed out, this is a life skill. It is very painful to have someone you care for so much disappoint you so terribly.

    Back in the late 70’s, my little sister was 17 and she went through a painful breakup with her first boyfriend. I played a new song for her that had just come out and told her to really listen to the words. To this day, we still talk about that song. It was her comfort whenever she felt sad or weak. She has also played the song for her two daughters when they went through their first breakups as teenagers.

    Below are the lyrics to “Fool If You Think It’s Over” by Chris Rhea. If you want to listen to the song itself, it’s on YouTube. Chris Rhea wrote the song for his little sister who had just gone through her first breakup. You’ve experienced the “pains of seventeens”. It happened to me, too, when I was your age. I also went on to experience other breakups and then a marriage and divorce. It can make you very mighty, especially when you know what your boundaries are when you are only seventeen and you are brave enough to face the heartache of a breakup because you won’t tolerate a cheater and liar.

    Congratulations – you are already mighty! Cry when you feel like it and then pat yourself on the back for doing what was right for you.


    A dying flame, you’re free again
    Who could love and do that to you
    All dressed in black, he won’t be coming back
    Save your tears, you’ve got years and years
    The pains of seventeen’s
    Unreal they’re only dreams
    Save your crying for the day

    Fool if you think it’s over
    ‘Cos you said goodbye
    Fool if you think it’s over
    I’ll tell you why
    New born eyes always cry with pain
    At the first look at the morning sun
    You’re a fool if you think it’s over
    It’s just begun

    Miss teenage dream, such a tragic scene
    he knocked your crown and ran away
    First wound of pride and how you cried and cried
    But save your tears you’ve got years and years

    Fool if you think it’s over
    ‘Cos you said goodbye
    Fool if you think it’s over
    I’ll tell you why
    New born eyes always cry with pain
    At the first look at the morning sun
    You’re a fool if you think it’s over
    It’s just begun

    I’ll buy your first good wine
    We’ll have a real good time
    Save your crying for the day
    That may not come but anyone
    Who had to pay would laugh at you and say

    Fool if you think it’s over
    ‘Cos you said goodbye
    Fool if you think it’s over
    I’ll tell you why

  • It’s awesome that the ChumpLady/ChumpNation message is getting more widespread and to a younger audience.

    You don’t have to tolerate a lying asshole, TwuWuv does NOT cure all ills, people deserve BETTER than a CHEATER.

    Fuck you, Esther Perel and your evil ilk.

  • Kayla…good for you to investigate, and break up with him. My advice to you going forward:
    –No contact. No “friends”.
    –Don’t try to get over him in a vacuum. Build up your “you bank” (skills, confidence, education, experiences). You’re **17**. Get good grades your last year in high school. Focus on getting into the best college that you can. Participate in sports/exercise. Perhaps get a part time job and save some cash for college. Spending all day every day with a boyfriend when you are in school, is really not good for your future.
    –Talk with your parents about all of this. (And/or a therapist, trusted adult.)
    –Do not take any prescription drugs for “depression/anxiety”. They are very addictive, and have very bad side effects. You need to focus on school, college, exercise, family, friends. You are not chemically “depressed”, you are situationally sad and stressed.
    –This guy is a jerk. What you will learn, is that *you* have to cut jerks (completely) off. They will be more than happy to string you along for as long as you will give them the time of day (kibbles). I wasted, and suffered through, precious decades learning this…passing up good guys…pining over jerks…then late twenties the good guys are taken. Don’t be me!

    • –It’s great that you found this website and CL’s book this soon. A book that I really wish that I had read much earlier, and would have saved me a decade of turmoil with a narcopath is “When Your Lover Is a Liar: Healing the Wounds of Deception and Betrayal” by Susan Forward, PhD. It was truly epiphanal!, and should be preventative required reading for all (normal folk)!

  • My first boyfriend pulled a nice bait and switch on me when I was 17. I doubt that he cheated. What he did was cut me down around the 9 month mark and drop me. He came running back in hardass mode when I started dating. He brought the guy, took us out of town, and had me choose between them and for some reason was surprised I didn’t choose him. I found the whole experience utterly devastating (but, yay, I avoided the bigger trainwreck), but I was utterly alone with it. No friends, no family, no counselling. It took decades to get dividends in the form of understanding that I was strong and did the right thing.

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