December 22, 2010 in Features

Hax: Trouble handling first-love breakup

The Washington Post
 

Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend of three years and I recently broke up. I’m young (but an adult) and I keep hearing, “There are other fish in the sea,” but I can’t seem to get over him. He was my first love and I hoped my only love. We had such great chemistry and we balanced each other out.

He has depression and goes through these funks. He refuses to go to the doctor to get help. His depression is the reason we broke up.

I miss him and I want to help him. We talk every couple of weeks, but he does not want to get back together because he needs to focus on himself. I think about him 24/7 and worry about him constantly. What do I need to do to stop thinking and worrying about him? I’m in school, work full time, and have great friends and family. What else do I need? – Heartbroken

Time and perspective, to start. Your breakup is recent, and recent breakups are painful, distracting and confounding almost as a rule, for first loves and all the subsequent ones that matter. It might also help to know that first loves may have cornered the poetry market, but they don’t own significance.

It sounds as if you could also use a more realistic view of what you can and can’t do to “help” someone troubled. Obviously, people have profound effects on each other, and a person like you can captivate, inspire, motivate, entertain, etc., someone like your boyfriend. (To etc., or not to etc., that is the question. …)

But you’ve been with him three years, and his answer to his depression is to refuse to deal with it: Please absorb this education in the limits of how much one person can do for another. And the limits of your “chemistry.” And where this “only love” was really headed.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ carolyn.hax.

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