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Ms Opinionated: The Guy Who Just Dumped Me Is Propositioning Porn Stars On Twitter

image of Megan Carpentier

Welcome to the latest installment of Ms. Opinionated, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't.

Dear Ms. Opinionated.

I will preface this by saying that I know I'm not totally being smart about this, but I still need some advice. Two weeks ago, my boyfriend of six months dumped me—totally unexpectedly, in the midst of a couple weeks of me going through a bunch of other really hard stuff (family argument, tight money situation), because he said it was too much to ask of him to deal with anyone else's problems right now. Up until that moment, I thought we were really in love, had a really great relationship and that I could totally count on him, so I was thoroughly devastated.

A day later, he re-activated his account on a dating site he used to be on (I was peeking, I know that's not great) with a new, gag-worthy introduction. He de-friended all our mutual friends on Facebook and unfollowed all my friends that he'd become friends with on Twitter—and even stopped following [porn star] James Deen because he knows I like him. I know was picking the scabs and that's not healthy, but just bear with me.

So today, I checked his Twitter account and realized that literally all he is doing with it is Tweeting come-ons at porn stars and trying to get other (mostly political) celebrities to reply to his musings. And I'm just like, "Oh, gross." I just feel like the person I knew and was in love with totally disappeared and now there's just this gross guy who tries to hit on porn stars on Twitter. And worse, I feel like even more of an idiot, as though that was possible, that this was the man I was so in love with. How do I stop beating myself up about this?

Well, first off, you're already in a good spot that you recognize that looking up your ex's online dating profile and monitoring his comings and goings on social media aren't healthy for you or good things to do. (Full disclosure: I've done it, and I know a lot of people have, so don't beat yourself up that you're alone in this.) It can seem really harmless, but it is, as you say, a kind of emotional-scab-picking that will exacerbate your own scars and lengthen your healing time. But it's also a rather understandable way of trying to fill the hole that someone's absence leaves in your life with scraps of their (at least) online existence in the short-term. Essentially, being deprived of the heroin of emotional intimacy with your now-ex, you're filling your cravings with the (illicitly-obtained) methadone of his social media presence.

(Big caveat here, not that you are doing this but for the record: there is totally a statute of limitations for this being understandable or harmless, and it expires either the moment the person finds out and asks you to stop, or blocks you to keep you from seeing. Once you go way out of your way to keep up with someone's social media presence that they're actively trying to keep you from seeing, that's really crossing boundaries. And if it's been more than just "a couple weeks" and/or you are really orienting your time and effort around keeping up with your ex's social media behavior—especially if you know it's unhealthy—you need to block them, unfriend them and/or get some software to block yourself from doing it if you really can't just stop. Whatever you need to do to force yourself to stop, do it and start immediately. And if you would think it was really, really creepy or scary to find out that an ex was doing it to you, then you definitely need to listen to yourself and stop doing it to someone else.)

The problem is, as you sort of realize, that continuing to keep up with this person's online presence is exacerbating your own sense of loss and keeping you fixated on him rather than your own grieving process. I know how hard it can be to let a dead relationship go, and I definitely know how difficult it can be when the end comes out of the blue and when you are facing other problems in your life. But since you know it's unhealthy and feel that it's a little embarrassing to be doing what you're doing, it's time to re-start living up to your own standards for yourself, stop what you are doing and focus on healing.

As to the latter part of your question, I agree that it's really hard to see someone you cared about, and especially cared about recently, head into an emotional or sexual territory you can't or don't respect. Reading your recent ex's brand-new online dating profile hurts in general, but then it's a cringe-fest when you see the terrible photos by which he chooses to represent himself or notice his lack of spelling, grammar or punctuation skills. It's only downhill from there when he lists Nickelback as one of his favorite artists and the last book he read as "LOL when was high skool?" It's awful enough to know that he's "dating" again, embarrassing to know that you're torturing yourself by looking, and downright humiliating to discover that you dated someone who thinks it's funny that he doesn't read. (I have no experience in this, clearly.)

In this case, though I already side-eye how many ham-handed come-ons celebrities get on social media sites (never read the comments on a Zachary Quinto selfie on Instagram), I shudder at the thought of what women in porn and other self-identified sex workers must get in their mentions on Twitter (both "complimentary" and otherwise). So, on the one hand, I guess there is at least some meager reassurance to be taken from the fact that your friends and family are unlikely to see some celebrity put him on Twitter blast because it's too clichéd to even mock? But on the other hand... yeah, yikes, it's hard to feel good to see you ex in such a state of self-delusion that he is Tweeting earnest come-ons at women in pornography (which makes the ritualistic unfollowing of James Deen even funnier, if you think about it) and trying to start Twitter fights with political pundits.

There are only two remotely good things to take away from this particular type of behavior. One is that, even though he was the one who ended the relationship—and who ended it in a terribly self-centered way—it's evident that there are certainly some aspects of what he once had that he misses. Clearly he is lonely, and clearly he is looking for some sort of engagement in the world and, failing to find in the meat space, he is reaching out to women he views as somehow accessible, after a certain (sexist, in my opinion) fashion, and public figures with whom he thinks he can engage in intellectual intercourse (in 140-character bites, which is the intellectual equivalent of premature ejaculation).

Second: Bullet dodged. The kind of guy who, after six months, looks at two weeks of problems totally unrelated to your relationship (which don't sound like super long-term stuff, from what you say) and then bails while blaming you for his inability to be supportive is not good long-term dating material. The type of guy who waits 24 whole hours before re-posting an online dating profile is the type of person who viewed you not as an individual person with whom he was engaging in a relationship, but as the vessel filling the girlfriend-sized hole in his life that he need only advertise to immediately replace. The type of person who, failing to fill that hole in his life immediately with a new girlfriend, takes to making unsolicited public come-ones on Twitter to absolute strangers—let alone ones that he has clearly sought out because he believes then to be more sexually available than average to whomever because of the work they do—is the type of person who was probably going to let his mask slip and embarrass you no matter what.

It's really easy to blame yourself for not seeing this side of him in six months, especially because I suspect this wasn't the first time that he tried to blame you for his issues-with-a-capital-I. But take a moment to realize that he was probably deliberately keeping this side (or these sides) of himself from you. Six months is probably about the average time that anyone who presents only a version of him or herself to potential partners can keep up the charade (though I think some people do it for years and years, like chronic cheaters), and if the break-up and subsequent behavior caught you that much by surprise, he probably wasn't being a particularly open person or sharing much of himself with you, which is really the only way to enable any good relationship to progress. That, though, is on him -- you can't and aren't expected to view every significant other of six months with suspicion and demand that they tell you what they are keeping from you.

The thing is... opening yourself up to someone, and especially to a romantic relationship with someone, makes you vulnerable to being hurt, and some people are going to hurt you. Some times they will do it wholly unintentionally, some times with malice, and some times just because they are do caught up in themselves that they don't notice or care. It sucks, I know, but for many of us, the trade-offs of love and friendship are worth the risks and occasional losses. You bet on a bad hand in this dude and you lost, but the way to stop beating yourself up is to understand having cared for him—or for anyone—doesn't make you stupid. Caring for people is a net positive, even when it doesn't work out as planned.

But now it's time to let yourself grieve for the end of your relationship and then allow yourself to heal, rather than winding yourself up about what he did or did not do, or what he is or is not doing. He wanted out of your life—so let him be out of your life, for your own sake.


Read all the Ms. Opinionated columns here! 

 

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Photo credit: Kate Black, kateblack.com


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Comments

1 comment has been made. Post a comment.

Brava, I say, Brava!

Let's be totally honest. I was reading a CNN.com article that referenced a post made here, and once I got here I found myself surfing around and reading. Now I find myself responding because I was touched by the real life and useful advice given.

The web is chock full of advice columns that fail to deal in a space of reality, telling the sometimes difficult truths, and I love that you were able to do that in such a succinct and understanding manner.

To the original letter writer, I second the opinion of Ms. Opinionated, you dodged one heck of a bullet here. It's quite simple to put up the front and pretend to be someone over the short term, and in the PUA culture we're living in today, fed by the internet and social media, it seems to be more and more common, particularly through some of the so-called "dating" sites.

You need to take the time to mourn the loss of something you considered important, and you need to take the time to remember who you are, and why you're fantastic, before engaging in another relationship. To do those things, you need to cut the cord that attaches you to an unhealthy relationship, and any man who would leave the first time things got a little rough is not part of a healthy relationship.

You deserve better, so heal, and then do it again. The heart breaks, and it rebounds, and it comes back stronger, but we only can find love, and truly experience life, when we put ourselves out there and risk our heart getting broken again. So, chalk this up as a learning experience, and know next time that you have a better understanding of what you're looking for, and not looking for.