My ex emailed me to get coffee. They cheated on me two years ago, which broke my heart. We broke up when they told me and we haven't spoken since. I sort of hate them. It's been hard to forgive and move forward, but I am in an exclusive relationship now.
Things are going well, and I was finally feeling like I was making real progress, but I still think about my ex a lot. Part of me wants to go just to hear them out and get closure. Part of me is curious if they want me back. The other part of me wants to delete the email and ignore them forever out of spite. I can't figure out which part to listen to. What do you think?
Dear Contemplating Coffee,
Unfortunately, I think many of us have been in this position, and it never doesn’t suck. That’s not eloquent, but it is the truth.
First, I think you need to decide how important the relationship you are currently in is to you. If you decide to see this ex, you need to be ready for how that may affect it. Love and past relationships are so complicated. Your new significant other may be very understanding, or they may not be. You have stated that letting go has been hard for you. Drudging up those old feelings (even if it does bring you some sort of closure) can be traumatizing for both you and your current relationship. You need to be honest and open with this new person before and throughout any contact with the ex.
Next, I want to tell you: DON’T SEE THEM.
I think closure is just as mythological as the Loch Ness Monster. Sometimes we tell ourselves that all we need is closure to move on, when in reality, we want answers or reconnection. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something you have to be honest with yourself about.
From your question, I gather you want answers. That’s fair. You haven’t spoken in years, and I’m sure you cut off all communication after you found out about their betrayal. Also fair. But what answers are you looking for? It’s probably the obvious: why did they cheat, with who, how many times, etc. Those answers are only going to torture you unnecessarily. More important, they aren’t going to provide closure; they are going to pull up old feelings of anger and pain that you have been working very hard to move past.
What I’m more worried about is the part of you that wants to know if they want you back. If that is the case, where does that leave you (and your current relationship)? Is your goal to rekindle this romance or to let go of it completely? I want to provide you with insight to both, but I think that you already know the answer. You said yourself it has been hard to forgive, and you cannot be in a relationship without forgiveness or trust.
I think it is time to let go, and I think you know that in your heart already, which is why you are wavering. A return email letting them know you appreciate the gesture but wish them the best may be in order. It's also fine to not respond. There is so much pressure to respond to all of our emails these days, but maybe you just let it be. Don't worry about appearing rude or dramatic. This is your heart we are talking about.
I know this is hard. I know you are confused. But two years is a long time, and I would hate for a coffee date to rewind any of your progress. You are the most important person in this situation. Hold your heart above all others. Take a deep breath and remind yourself: you don’t need to get closure from them to move forward. You can give that to yourself.
Have a question for Stef? Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. FYI, we will strip gender identifiers and names from all questions. If you haven't already, get to know Stef.