Twelve months ago, my ex-boyfriend told me he was in love with another woman.
During the last 2,5 years, we had had an open relationship and started meeting other people as we wanted to give each other the freedom to explore our sexuality.
The relationship was in a flow; we were both happy having each other and getting to know new interesting people.
When he started dating a friend from university, I wasn’t concerned he could fall in love with her. And even if they’d develop feelings for each other, I was 100% sure our relationship was more substantial than everything else.
After they had sex the first time, he started acting differently. During the day, he seemed absent and depressed. I blamed the lockdown and the pandemic for his melancholy, but I soon realized that something was wrong with our relationship.
One evening, I asked him if he thought a lot about the other woman. He confirmed my assumption and said:
“I’m sorry, but I think about her the whole time. I guess I’m in love with her.”
I was devastated. Not only because he was in love with another woman, but I felt the way he looked at me, the way he spoke to me, had changed tremendously.
Still, until we ended our relationship three months later, he kept assuring me that he didn’t want to break up with me.
I knew that he still loved me, but I soon realized that we wouldn’t make it out of this crisis.
When one partner falls in love with another person, however, it isn’t the end! In this article, I’d like to give you some pieces of advice to get back the power over your own love life.
No matter the outcome, you can get out of this challenging situation with dignity and self-determination!
1. Take your time and space to think about what you want
When we feel like we could lose someone, we often tend to cling to the relationship because we are afraid it could slip away if we do not try hard enough.
The opposite is the case.
Don’t cling to your boyfriend in this situation. Shift the focus to yourself and ask yourself what you want and feel:
Do I still feel his genuine commitment? If no, don’t sacrifice your time and energy to someone who doesn’t love you the way you deserve it.
Are there enough feelings on my side to work things out?
Can I genuinely consider polyamory if he suggests a polyamorous relationship?
What do I need from him to feel comfortable in this relationship again?
After he had told me he loved another woman, I decided to travel back to Germany to my parent’s house to calm down and sort things out. In the beginning, it was hard for me to leave him alone, as I was terrified to lose him, but I knew it was for the best.
When I came back, I felt stronger and more confident. I was in a better place to sort things out with him.
Take the time and space you need to find back to what you genuinely want and think about possible ways, outcomes, and alternatives you could consider.
But do not agree with something you don’t feel comfortable with. It’s still your relationship and your life! Don’t let your partner define your happiness. Remember that you are the most important person in your life, and you deserve a loving and functioning relationship.
2. Stick to your boundaries!
Last year I learned a lot about setting boundaries. It was pretty hard for me as I was used to ignoring my gut feeling.
I didn’t take my feelings seriously, as my inner boundaries seemed stupid to me. So I didn’t want him to stop seeing the other woman as I was convinced he’d soon realize the great value of our relationship. I had a bad feeling about it, but there was no rational explanation against their connection as we were in an open relationship. So he kept meeting her.
My self-worth started dropping, and I felt small and powerless. He crossed so many boundaries without even knowing it because, obviously, he wasn’t able to act empathically. But I cannot blame him for that.
I failed to draw the line.
And that doesn’t mean that it’s my fault he hurt me so much during the last months of our relationship. It means that I didn’t stand up for myself and my feelings. I prioritized our relationship even though it became toxic for me.
After a while, I finally decided to tell him that I couldn’t take it any longer. Even though it was hard to break up, I felt some relief as I finally managed to stand up for myself.
Always trust your gut feeling no matter how stupid it seems to you!
Communicate your boundaries to your partner. Be as clear and precise about them as possible.
If your partner does not understand or respect your boundaries, it’s time to leave!
Don’t be shy to talk about your feelings and boundaries. Only in this way can you get the relationship you deserve.
When you look back at the moments in your life when you stood up for yourself, you’ll be grateful and proud. Stick by your boundaries! You deserve someone who can respect and value them.
3. Do not compare yourself with the other woman!
Subconsciously I blamed myself for what had happened during the last months of our relationship. My mind was full of thoughts like:
Maybe the other woman is more attractive than me? Did I let myself go during the relationship?
Is she more intelligent than me? Should I start reading more books?
Do I look old? She is a couple of years younger than me…
I had so many self-doubts that I didn’t even consider that it had nothing to do with me. Later I realized that my ex-boyfriend was having a hard time back then. He didn’t know what to do with his life, then the pandemic hit the world, and he had the urge to experience something new and exciting.
That is no excuse for his behavior, and I still think he acted incredibly selfish but still had nothing to do with who I was.
The other person wasn’t better, prettier, or more intelligent than me.
The fact that someone falls in love can have a thousand reasons. But it likely has nothing to do with you.
Here’s what to do:
Do not stalk the other woman on social media platforms. It won’t help you!
Write down all your positive traits and achievements.
Ask a friend to take beautiful pictures of yourself.
Be considerate of your own needs and fill your day with activities you genuinely enjoy.
Spend a lot of time with friends who give you the best feeling!
Write down positive affirmations and mantras.
It may take a while to get your self-worth back, but you can train your brain with positive thoughts and affirmations. Fall in love with yourself and be consistent in loving yourself! You are as lovable as everyone else on this planet!
Our relationship didn’t last. Now, twelve months after the break-up, I’m still hurting, but the feeling of loss and sadness isn’t all-consuming anymore.
At the moment, I’m trying to accept grief as a part of my life instead of pushing it away. Nick Cave wrote the following words on love and grief, and I’d like to share them with you:
“It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable.”
If we let great love into our lives, we may face great sadness as well. But that’s what’s makes us human.
I’m grateful for how things worked out. I started writing again. I did a dating break to find peace within myself. I know I deserve a happy and loving relationship.
And most importantly, I’m enough.