Dear Mary: I called it off but my ex has moved on so fast
I have just broken up with my boyfriend of six years. We began dating when we were 17, and he was my first boyfriend. We got on really well at the start and it really did feel like love, but over the last two or three years things changed. I began to notice things about him that made me start doubting our relationship. I couldn't go on nights out without being made to feel bad about where I was or who I was with. He was jealous of me being with my friends and questioned why I didn't just want to be with him.
I like doing my own thing and I'm happy being by myself with my own hobbies and interests, but he didn't really have anything and just wanted to be with me all the time.
On top of this, he didn't like me hanging around or even talking to other boys in college, even classmates.
I held myself back from talking to people and making friends. Despite my doubts I still had a huge amount of love for him so I turned a blind eye to this. Things took a big change over the past year when I noticed him losing patience and getting irritated with me for no reason.
When we fought, he would call me stupid and other hateful things - it was verbal abuse and there were some minor incidents of physical abuse also. I started not enjoying being around him.
After six years, I called it quits and left him. It was a huge decision, one I had thought of making a lot over the past two years.
He didn't take it well, he was almost inconsolable and threatened suicide.
We had been broken up for only three weeks when I found out he had moved on with another girl, had taken her home and was going places with her. I know I've made the correct decision but it still breaks my heart. It seems too soon and it has hurt me a lot.
I have met and kissed a boy since the breakup, but that's it. I wouldn't be able to move on in any other way just yet. It's really confusing me how he has been able to move on so quickly. I feel incredibly sad thinking of him with others and I'm very lonely.
I also feel like I'm going to struggle in the dating scene because of my lack of experience having been in a long-term relationship from a young age.
Mary replies: Let me reassure you that you did exactly the right thing by breaking up with your ex and while it should have been done sooner it is to your credit that you kept on giving him chances until it was too much to take.
This man was very controlling and my email inbox regularly features letters from women who have been, and in many cases still are, controlled by the man in their life but very much to their detriment. There is no happy ever after with these bullies, they just get worse. They slowly work their way into a woman's affections, and the woman thinks it is wonderful that he's so caring and wanting to know what she is doing every moment they are apart.
However, as you've experienced, it gradually shifts into the woman feeling stifled and unable to be her own person and often it moves on to physical abuse which you were also beginning to witness.
Of course it was hard for you to hear he is already with another woman, but he simply moved on to find another victim and is now beginning the whole process once more. You are lucky that you finally stood up to him.
Don't worry about your lack of experience in the dating scene. As soon as you are ready you will find somebody new. Just try to keep it light at the beginning and enjoy dating per se as opposed to being dominated.
In a little while you will enjoy it all again and look on the past six years as a life lesson hopefully well learned.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.
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