A young woman who thought she had everything mapped out perfectly is suddenly on her own – and the jealousy is unbearable. Mariella Frostrup says it’s hard but it’s time to look to the future
The dilemma A year ago, my partner of 12 years (fiancé of five) told me he wanted to end our relationship. We had bought a house in my dream town and just sent out wedding invitations. I found myself, aged 26, living with my parents – the beautiful future I had planned stripped away. I discovered he was seeing a woman from work. It became obvious he left me for her. I’ve had counselling and continued working, even tried dating, but I’m desperately unhappy. My future is insecure, all my peers are getting married and starting families, and I feel I will never find love again or have the family I wanted by my 30s. I’ve cut contact with lots of friends as I’m so humiliated and jealous their lives are on track. I have often thought of suicide. Meanwhile, she has replaced me in all aspects of his life: staying in the house where I stripped wallpaper until my hands bled, having dinners in the little romantic local pub. I live in fear of her getting pregnant, or them getting engaged. I think if I hear that news it will kill me. We did everything together from when we were 14 years old and life feels empty without him. I’ve thought of moving abroad to escape, but I know the pain would follow me.
Mariella replies Hold that thought. Whether you travel halfway across the world or stay put in your childhood bedroom, the pain you describe will remain your companion until you radically alter your approach. For reasons you don’t elaborate on, and maybe don’t fully understand, you have invested everything in this relationship at a point in time when there’s so much else that could and should be fulfilling and thrilling you. It’s little wonder that you are struggling to get to grips with your own destiny while you remain buried under an avalanche of paralysing self-pity. Paying so much attention to the detail of your ex’s life definitely isn’t helping. He’s in a relationship with somebody else, and while it’s a devastating blow to your confidence and you are allowed to mourn, it’s even more important that you develop the wherewithal to negotiate this setback. As you observe, everyone else is getting on with their lives – and that isn’t a personal affront, just a statement of fact.
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