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ASK ALICE: We all want perfect love from a perfect partner
Recently I broke up with my boyfriend because I thought he was cheating. I have no proof of anything, I just had a gut feeling and I went with it and dumped him. Now all I'm doing is crying and hating myself and feeling sick and wishing I could take it back. He's not seeing anyone that I know of and maybe I was terribly wrong. He won't even talk to me anymore. What have I done? I miss him so much.
I'm so so sorry to hear of the pain you're in. Breakups suck, whether they are our idea or not. So you had a strong intuition and acted on it. It didn't feel good dumping your man, but neither does living with someone you suspect is cheating on you.
Let's break this down. Normally, I'm all about trusting our guts. Gut feelings steer us where we need to go, I believe, sometimes whether we like the direction or not. It usually works out for the best when we have a gut feeling and go with it. Maybe it's how our higher power or higher selves communicate with us? Who knows for sure? But Alice has observed in her own Wonderland one giant, fat exception to the trust-your-gut-rule: decision making when in love.
Ah, love. What a magnificent, cloudy beast you are. Love is convoluted and exciting and scary and usually accompanied by expectations and fears and baggage and doubt. Sometimes mistrust tags along for the ride. I don't know if we should trust our guts when in love, beyond major stuff like whether or not a person is good for us, or fundamentally bad for us. Our feelers usually peg that one right. Trust your gut in that situation, kids. But "is he cheating?" or "does he love me?" or "is he the right one?" can all be easily clouded by desire and fog over the real gut feeling underneath.
We love blindly. We attach all sorts of qualities to love relationships that have nothing to do with love. We all want perfect love from a perfect partner which, really, sounds awfully unrealistic and yet most of us expect it.
Where do you fit in with this, MI? Let me say first that if your ex-boyfriend was an untrustworthy person, who lied, cheated, stole, etc. from you and/or others, then yes, red flags should pop up for you in trusting him. But was he that kind of guy? Is there any real reason besides fear to believe he was cheating on you? And you: do you have trouble with trust? Is he the only guy you mistrusted, or is he one of many? You see, Alice is looking for a pattern, either in you or him. Trusting someone who obviously shouldn't be trusted is a no-brainer, but difficulty trusting anyone is another matter. Lately, Alice has been reading up on codependency, a topic for another column, but an interesting condition many of us fall into, where we get so far from trusting ourselves that we can't possibly trust anyone else. Perhaps this is what's happening for you, MI. You loved him so much that you put yourself aside and tried to control him via not trusting him and now it's over and you're lost.
Let's be blunt. You dumped him, he wants nothing to do with you and it's over. But the good news is: you have you. And the best way to trust other people is to start with yourself. Examine this. Find out if this is an issue for you. If so, find out why and examine further. Codependents have Cod-A or Al-Anon meetings available, Alice fancies self-help books. Either way, trust you to make sound decisions for yourself. If this guy was a great one, but you truly had a strong gut feeling that he wasn't and you got free, then thank your lucky stars, because maybe you saved yourself some heartache down the road. If fear or desire isn't clouding us, then our guts usually do lead us the right way.
Good Luck, MI. It'll all work out, trust me.