When The Past Just Won't Stay There

We’re excited to kick off a new series here on the Sooth blog. Case Closed is our new feature to share stories about community members' adventures with advice on and off the app. We’ll roll it out in phases over the course of the week, kicking off each episode with a little more color than you'd normally see in the situations community members need advice on. Next we’ll share the advice they received both in person and on Sooth. Finally, we’ll wrap up each Case Closed by revealing what the person ended up doing and what happened. Get ready to weigh in, and let us know if you’d like to submit your own adventures.

THE SITUATION

I have an ex that really hurt me years ago. Soon after we broke up, he began dating an old friend of mine that I introduced him to. It's ancient history at this point--they're still together and I'm very happy for them now. I've moved on and have a partner of my own that I love very much. My problem is my friend still feels a lot of guilt for what she "did to me" and occasionally reaches out with invitations to their house or dinner parties, all of which I've managed to deflect with legitimate excuses. As a kind of peacekeeping gesture, to let her know it was nothing personal, I re-added her on the internet (I had unfriended when I learned of the relationship years ago). I thought this would be a good way to clear the air and my friend wrote to tell me how happy she was that I had done it. But after a few months, I regret it and would like to unfollow. Even though I'm happy in my new relationship, I find myself feeling sad when I see them together and the perfect life they seem to have. If for example, the posts contain pictures of my ex's family who I was once very close to, I start to feel lonely. Part of me wishes I were evolved enough to feel happy for them and eventually resume a real friendship with both her and my ex, since I obviously miss parts of it. But another part of me knows I have my own life and a new relationship now. I shouldn't be thinking about theirs at all. I'm wondering what the best way to broach this is without hurting my friend's feelings. 

THE ADVICE

My sister

I actually didn't feel comfortable sharing with anyone how my old friend's online presence makes me feel. It seems too trivial and I know people's reaction to internet-based complaints is usually to laugh it off "everyone 'lies' on Instagram," "their life isn't as perfect as they make it seem," etc. I did show my sister one of the invitations to a party at their house, and she helped me come up with a good excuse. She says I should just keep making excuses until they get the hint and stop inviting me. 

My new boyfriend

Has noticed I get uncomfortable whenever this friend reaches out. It offends him that I invest any emotional energy in something connected to a past relationship.

Soother # 1

I'm not sure whether your question is about disintegrating an old friendship/moving on after a breakup or a simple one about social media etiquette. If the latter, you're under no obligation to "friend" or "follow" anyone you don't care to, and there is no shame in exercising your right to unfriend at any time--it can be quite liberating! If she notices you've unfriended, don't be passive aggressive. Just be honest and say you wish them the best, but you wanted to create this boundary in your own life. She should be understanding of that. If you are still feeling jealous of or saddened by a former boyfriend's new relationship after "years" of time, I think you should consider counseling. It's not normal to feel so uneasy about an ex when you yourself said you have a new partner that you love. 

Soother #2:

This situation is much deeper than whether to be “friends" on social media. Clearly you’re still hurt by your past relationship and she is a mere trigger/vessel for  that pain. Have you considered reaching out to your ex and clearing the air? Maybe it would help to hear his side of the story now that you’re in a new relationship. Things that don’t have closure (that we can’t make sense of) loom larger in our minds than things we can neatly tuck away. You might consider confronting the source of the pain rather than scapegoating the girl. It sounds like you have some unresolved feelings for him/ about your relationship that are going to disrupt your current relationship even more if you don’t address them head on. 

 

What would you do in this situation? Come back this week to find out what she decided to do.