“I am struggling to rebuild my self-worth after my ex fiancé left me for a woman who seems to be a younger, smarter, prettier, and better version of myself.”
I was with my ex-fiancé for 7 years. We met in college through classes and clubs but were only casual friends until I happened to get a job at the company he worked at when I turned 24. We caught up over coffee, grabbed brunch that weekend, and started dating pretty quickly. Within 6 months, we’d met each other’s families, said “I love you”, and moved in together. I know that seems fast but we had known each other for quite a while, shared similar social circles, and everything felt right. He is the only romantic partner I’ve ever truly loved. I was completely, head-over-heels in love with him. Even now, after all this, I still feel that way about him. He is charming, goofy, kind, quick-witted, interesting, ambitious, and gorgeous.
We got engaged 2 years ago but were not in a rush to get married. I was ecstatic that he proposed but I already felt so deeply committed to our relationship that I wasn’t concerned about getting married, and he said he felt the same. I even told him I didn’t need an engagement ring because I’m not big on jewelry and didn’t want him to spend so much money on something I didn’t feel I needed. About a year ago, we began to seriously contemplate trying for a baby. We had lived together happily for 6 years, we had done all the travelling and partying we wanted to in our twenties, and we were excited to start our family. We decided we would start trying for a baby in another 6 months because he had just started a big project at work which would require a temporarily increased workload and a decent amount of international travelling. I felt so happy and excited.
Over the next 6 months, he was much busier than normal but I didn’t think anything was wrong. I did my best to alleviate any extra stress he had (though I was experiencing some extra pressure at work too) by taking over all the housework and errands, helping him organize and pack for trips, and just being understanding when he would work very late or need to leave for a week or two. We didn’t spend as much time together during that period and I missed him a lot but I thought we were still happy. His project went well and we still had a great time together at home, laughing and having fun as always.
When the 6 months were over, our schedules reverted back to normal. I felt relieved until I started to notice him becoming more distant despite that fact that we finally had more time together. He started going on his phone more frequently when we were together and seemed to be more protective of his phone. I’m not generally a jealous person and I trusted him completely so I didn’t think much of it. Then one day, after another month had passed, I brought up the topic of trying for a baby as we’d discussed. I could immediately tell something was wrong. He was quiet for a while and then he unleashed a flood.
He said he was unhappy with our relationship and had been for some time. He said that he cared about me deeply but that the “spark” in our relationship had died and that he tried to convince himself he could live without that spark but had ultimately decided that he couldn’t. He said I had done nothing wrong and in fact was “the perfect partner” but that didn’t change the fact that he couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that I wasn’t “the one” for him. He said that he didn’t want to hurt me but that he couldn’t condemn himself to a lifetime of “settling” for someone that wasn’t his “dream girl” even though he didn’t know if his dream girl existed. He said he was sorry but he couldn’t live a lie anymore.
I don’t think I said a single word as he was telling me all this because I just felt so utterly shocked and blindsided. I just stood there, staring and listening, and crying silently. When he finished, all I could utter was something like, “Ok…I’m sorry…I didn’t know…do you still love me?” He paused for a while and then said that he loved me but wasn’t in love with me anymore. We proceeded to spend the whole night discussing his feelings and our relationship, until we were both so exhausted we couldn’t cry anymore and the sun was coming up. He said he was sorry again, and it was probably best if he stayed at a friend’s place, so he packed up some stuff and left.
That was about 5 months ago. We never really talked in person again. His brother and his best friend came over that weekend to get the rest of his stuff and I just left while they were packing because I couldn’t stand to be there. Luckily, our landlord had another tenant lined up and allowed us to break the lease so I moved out shortly after. The whole process seems like a blur now. I felt so shocked and numb and traumatized and tired that I didn’t even cry much. I couldn’t really process what was happening as I went through the motions of moving out and explaining the situation to my family. When I finally moved into my new place and sat alone with my boxes, I completely broke down. I could not stop crying and dry heaving. I ended up using 5 vacation days to take off a week of work, which really irked my manager. I could not get out of bed. I barely ate, living off this old tub of peanut butter. I looked through all our old pictures and tried to figure out where it all went wrong.
Then for 4 months, I tried my best to move on.. I deleted all my social media apps so I wouldn’t have to see him. I dove into work. I ramped up my hobbies. I exercised to keep my mind occupied. I met with friends and family and pretended everything was ok. I started going to my therapist again, which helped a bit. I finally thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then a month ago, I ran into a mutual friend from college. She said it was really sad to see we weren’t together anymore, and surprising to see he’d moved on so fast. I told her I wasn’t keeping up with him anymore but that I was doing ok. When I got home, even though I knew it was a terrible idea, I re-downloaded Instagram and went to his profile. His latest picture was him at his cousin’s wedding with his arm around a gorgeous girl. All the old pictures of him and I were gone from his profile.
Again, I knew it was a terrible, self-destructive idea. But I went to the girl’s profile and googled her. She is literally a younger, smarter, prettier, and better version of myself. We both studied at the same university but she completed a prestigious program which I was rejected from. We both have green eyes and brown hair but she is far prettier and legitimately looks like a model. We are both thin and fit but she has an amazing hourglass figure and looks far more stylish than me and has tens of thousands of followers even though she’s not an “influencer” or whatnot. In fact, we both work at the same company (I’m pretty sure my ex met her through work) but she landed a job in a prestigious division right out of undergrad and likely makes more money than me. She is an improved version of me, 7 years younger. And the love of my life is dating her.
For the past month, I’ve been spiraling. I can’t stop stalking my ex-fiancé and this girl. I look at her Instagram every day and torture myself with her gorgeous pictures. She’s posted a dozen pictures with my ex over the past few months and he looks so happy, healthy, and fit. They’ve gone on trips together, he’s brought her to his hometown, and he’s even posted a picture of them with a mushy caption which he never did when we were together. I have no evidence and I don’t think my ex would do this but I now suspect he was at least interested in her while we were still together (she started at the company about a year ago). I’m so paranoid of running into them.
I can recognize that my behavior is obsessive and masochistic and I’ve deleted Instagram and told myself I’m not going to do this anymore only to wake up the next day and re-download the app and do it again. My therapist has been trying to help but I just cannot move past this. I’m stuck in this mental loop of self-loathing and self-pity, this crazy mix of extreme sadness and latent anger. I feel so incredibly low. Worthless, used up, discarded, and suddenly, so incredibly old. I know that comparison is the thief of joy. I know that I am objectively still young enough to move on. I know that social media is a highlight reel and their relationship may not be perfect. I know that this girl has done nothing wrong to me. I know that my ex deserves to find his dream girl. But none of this knowledge helps soften the fact that I thought that by this time this year, I would be pregnant with the love of my life and instead, I’m alone and he’s found someone better.
These past few months have been an absolute rollercoaster but finally I have blocked my ex-fiancé and his girlfriend on Instagram. I resolved to break out of that self-destructive loop—to stop torturing myself with their “perfect” pictures and reclaim a modicum of self-respect. It was an incredible relief to not be constantly following the impulse to view their new pictures and give myself some time to heal instead of picking at that scab every single day.
I decided to reconnect with my family and friends and stop pretending that I was handling the breakup flawlessly. They were incredibly compassionate—though also shocked that I had been hiding my dark feelings so well—and it was like I’d instantly rebuilt my support network. I didn’t realize how emotionally isolated I had become until I was able to be honest and open with people in my life. I did continue to avoid talking to friends who were mutual friends with my ex because I didn’t want to put anyone in an awkward position, but I was able to reconnect with a few of my other friends and I took the initiative to finally make some fun plans. Getting out of the house to enjoy brunches, hikes, and shows with my friends over the past few months has been incredibly beneficial for my mental health—just being in new environments and focusing on people other than my ex was therapeutic, even for someone who tends towards introversion like myself.
But there was one problem i was still working in the same company where my ex-fiancé and his girlfriend works. I didn’t think to change my company since the job market in my field is not great at the moment, but I began actively searching for other positions. I brushed up my resume, filled out a couple applications, and even surprisingly secured an interview. Then out of the blue, someone above me in my division quit to join a competitor. The senior managers were quite eager to fill his role quickly so they decided to go with an internal hire. And after 5 or 6 rounds of interviews (god, I absolutely dread interviews), I got the job! I’m so grateful for this promotion—not only is the salary substantially better, but the hours are actually more consistent as well. It’s crazy, I feel like the momentum of my life has shifted so quickly. And I finally have an office! It’s tiny but I really enjoy it. The only downside was this promotion also meant I would have to continue working in the same building (albeit a very large building) as my ex.
And as I left work before Christmas, the moment I’d been dreading came—I ran into my ex as I was leaving the office. We exchanged a few pleasantries and he complimented my new haircut. I thanked him, wished him well, and said I had to hurry to catch the next train. I wish I could say I felt cool and collected but I was so nervous to see him again for the first time in like 6 months that I was almost shaking. On the commute home, I calmed down and actually thought, hey, that wasn’t so bad! He looked good but I didn’t feel a rush of sadness or desire or anything. I mostly just felt awkward, like we’d become strangers again. I didn’t feel that familiar impulse to stalk his Instagram and actually felt happy to see he was doing ok since I’d cared for him for so many years. I felt like at last, I was really moving forward.
The next day, I woke up to a dozen messages from my ex-fiancé. They started at around 2am and were slightly incoherent in parts so I’m guessing he was a bit drunk when he sent them. They were all long walls of text, which surprised me because he’s not typically big on verbalizing his emotions. He wrote that he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about me since we ran into each other outside the office, that he was sad that we weren’t friends anymore because I still felt like his best friend, and that he regretted how everything went down. He said he questioned if he’d “made a huge mistake in a moment of weakness” and “f**ked his whole life up” and that he “couldn’t help but regret it all” when he saw me. He apparently noticed that I’d blocked him on Instagram (which I found funny given how intensely I had been stalking his Instagram) and said that made him really sad. I gathered from his messages that he’d likely broken up with the woman I’d seen on his Instagram because he said that he felt like he had been “searching for some ideal woman who doesn’t exist” and that he wanted to “reignite our spark” after failing to find that same “spark” with other people.
I’m not going to lie; it was shocking to read his texts and I was trembling and struggling to process a lot of it at first. Part of me wanted impulsively to give him another chance, but after taking a day to mull over his words, I ended up feeling like he was less sorry that he’d lost our relationship and more sorry that the “greener pastures” he sought weren’t quite as green as he’d imagined. I tried to respond kindly but firmly, saying that I really treasured and appreciated our relationship but that I felt like I could no longer trust him to the same degree I once did, and that I felt like it would be confusing and painful for us to become friends in the near future. I told him how hurt I felt when he blindsided me after promising that nothing was wrong, and how I struggled for a long time to figure out what was missing in our relationship but ultimately felt that as long as he thought the “missing” part was so crucial that he wanted to leave after all those years together, then we probably aren’t meant to be together. I wished him the best. He didn’t respond to my messages.
I was a bit shaken by the whole thing, but I proceeded to enjoy my holiday break with my family and even elected to go to my friend’s New Year’s Eve party which I was considering skipping. Well, I’m super glad I didn’t skip the party because I ended up meeting a wonderful man there! He’s funny, intelligent, cute, interesting, compassionate, and is eager to settle down and have kids after also somewhat-recently exiting a long-term relationship. We’ve gone on 3 dates so far, and at the risk of sounding too enthusiastic, they’ve been the best dates of my life.