AdviceHey, Bonita!

I’m Moving, but I Can’t Seem to Move On

Hey, Bonita,

I am 23 and gay and have been single for almost a couple years now. I went through a super rough breakup after thinking I’d found the love of my life. I needed time off from dating afterward because the breakup was ugly, and we blocked each other on everything from Bitmoji to Venmo. Since then, I’ve been living for myself. I busted ass, graduated from UGA with honors and somehow in this economy managed to land a dream job. The job is in a city within a half-day drive, the same city where my ex lived (long-ish distance relationship). No big deal, right? But as I was online apartment-hunting in advance this morning, I fell in love with this one cozy place. Perfect price range, accommodations, everything. I looked up the street view on Google Maps, and the church across the street looked familiar from past trips. Long story short, this dream apartment is a quarter mile or 5 minute walk from where my ex lives (or did last I talked to him, in spring 2019).

I was told that he’s got another boyfriend now. I really hope he lives happily ever after. I also genuinely don’t want him to see or hear about me and what I’m up to ever again, or at least for years. I built so much self-control training myself not to think about him or look him up, because for a while he was that one ex everybody has who you think you’ll never get over. I harbor no resentment or malice toward him, but I needed to erase as many traces of him from my life and memory as possible. If it were someplace across town or a couple miles away, I wouldn’t be writing this. 

My ex is one of a few hundred thousand people in that town, and I know that avoiding living arrangements because he might at some point be within line of sight is nonsensical and melodramatic. But I’ve never seen a situation quite like this before, unless you count Hallmark movies. Any insights? How close to an ex is too close, or should I just force myself not to care?

Overthinking in Oconee

Hey, Overthinking,

I think it’s fine to require physical distance between yourself and a particularly triggering ex, but not at the cost of your own prosperity. Your star is clearly rising right now, and the universe dropped your dream place in your lap. Your ex’s possible proximity to this place shouldn’t be a factor. You don’t even know if he still lives in the area, but I totally understand your concern. I still dread driving by the house where a disastrous old fling and I boned for the first time, but it’s just a house. I groan, roll my eyes, and continue about my day, because what’s done is done, and I can’t change the past.

You haven’t dated since this guy, and it’s been two years. I know you had grad school to focus on, but it seems to me that you might still have some processing to do to be at peace with this breakup and the effect it had on you. I’ve been in your exact same position before—still am, to a degree. I still can’t get past the idea that I was vulnerable with someone and showed them the truth of me, and they looked at that and said, “Ew, no thanks.” Well, that’s not what was said to me at all, but that’s how it felt, so that’s how my mind has interpreted that rejection, and it still impedes my ability to make that same offer to others. I think you might be experiencing something similar. My therapist and I waste a lot of time on this topic, but this is the hard work that’s gonna get me closer to my best self.

There is such a thing as “too close” to an ex, but this isn’t it. I’d be worried if you wanted to start socializing at his favorite bar or join his bowling league. I say lock down this dream rental while you still can. It’s over, it’s done. You’ve moved on beautifully with your life. Continue to do so.
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