¡hola papi!

‘My Boyfriend Dumped Me Out of the Blue’

Illustration: Pedro Nekoi

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack.

¡Hola, Papi!

My boyfriend of almost two years broke up with me out of the blue. We’d been having an off week, but even he admits it was on a whim.

I’m not sure what to do now. I miss him terribly, and I’m also incredibly angry with him. How could he do this to me? When I try to be emotionally mature, I tell myself he didn’t do anything to me. He did something for him. He doesn’t owe me his time or care or affection. 

But now I feel hopelessly lonely. I live alone, and he was my main source of daily human contact. I bounce wildly between blaming and hating him, and blaming and hating myself. How can I make peace with this new era of my life?

Newly Single

Hey there, NS!

I’m sorry to hear that. It sure sounds like you’re going through it. I’m also going through a breakup period of sorts, so I’m right there with you, though I’m certain everyone processes these things in their own way. I have to say, strange as it might sound, I haven’t found it to be a wholly unenjoyable situation.

As I make my rounds through the stages of grief, I’ve felt a slew of emotions, some of which have combined to become entirely new ones. Anger, sadness, hope, embarrassment, self-righteousness, nostalgia, clarity, all overlapping and mixing together. Does it feel good, necessarily? No. Well, sometimes. My mood changes quickly and intensely. It’s all a bit nauseating. But I can’t deny the fullness of feeling, the ecstasy of ardor.

Maybe this aspect of the whole shebang is only interesting for people who have decided to monetize such things.

In any case, one of the saving graces of this difficult window of time is that you get to feel what you feel and not have to justify it. I know it’s tempting to get into the weeds of who “deserves” what, what is “owed” to whom, to figure out if someone wounded you, or if you were the one who did something wrong, or if perhaps no one is at fault at all. But in the immediate aftermath of a breakup, it’s fine to put such calculations on pause.

You ask how to make peace with this new era of life. I’m not sure you have to. Whether you like it or not, time will dull the ache and put you at a remove from the acuity of the pain you’re presently feeling. To make peace with this era is to make peace with a knife sticking out of your chest shortly after it’s been plunged into you. The situation isn’t permanent.

I say “whether you like it or not” because, in the upside-down logic of people who are hurt, it can feel necessary or preferable to cling to the robust feelings that have welled up in response to injury. There can be an urge to hold on to the anger, the righteousness, the not altogether unsatisfying feeling of being a wounded party who needs to be tended to, because to not feel them would be to have moved on. And if the relationship meant anything, if it ever felt special at all, that can be hard to do.

It’s a petulant thing, maybe. But, in my opinion, it has its merits. Life is governed by what often feels like a cold and distant order. Time marches on. Memories fade. People come in and out of our daily thoughts until, without notice, they never show up there again. We collect our dings and dents, but we get over things. To stamp our feet, to refuse to comply, to yell “It’s not fair!” These are human responses to what can feel like an inhuman process. There’s room for that. It’s noble, in a sense.

But we can’t stay there, unless we’re ready to be bitter for a long, long time. This is all to say that what you’re in right now isn’t really an era. It’s a situation, brought about by an abrupt and unpleasant change. However, with such change comes an opportunity for profound growth.

It’s not fun going through a breakup, but maybe your ex being the only person you really socialized with was an issue even when you were still together. Once you’ve tended to yourself and feel ready to stand up again, now would be a great time to resolve to seeking out platonic relationships. I would go looking for those people in communities based on interests you already have.

For me, it’s been helpful to remember that this is something that happens to many people. It is a well-trodden path. People can and do come out the other side of it all the time.

Meanwhile, though, make sure you’ve gone “no contact” with your ex, and make sure you stick to that. Nothing productive will come out of any conversations at this moment. Be gentle and patient with yourself, NS. Try to do things you enjoy, and reach out to whomever you can. You’ll be all right.

Con mucho amor,

Originally published on June 13, 2023.

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack. Purchase J.P. Brammer’s book Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessonshere.

‘My Boyfriend Dumped Me Out of the Blue’