Dear Thomas,
I'm like about a million people out there who is going through heartache, over my boyfriend for 2 ½ years. I lived with him for a year, and he asked my dad for my hand in marriage. Three months later, he had changed. He asked me to move out, but I truly thought we could work on things and get over this. I was overseas working, and when I got home I checked his e-mail and found that he had gotten together with some girl that he works with, this girl even knows me. I was shocked, we broke up, and I moved out.

I have tried everything in my power to get over this heartache. I have read books, exercised, and gone to a counselor. But I still think about him constantly. He still has some of my things and my dog. I crave to hear from him or see him, but I have read so many books that say Do Not Call Him. Is there a cure for this? I thought we were the perfect couple.  I wish I had the old guy back.
Dear Anna,
I always try to remember that the Greeks portrayed Eros, or romantic love, as an adolescent boy with large, beautiful wings. He (love) is irresistibly attractive but also flitting, flying where and when he wishes. His waywardness and unpredictability make humans go crazy.

I don't think trying to distract yourself from your strong feelings is an effective way to deal with them. Somehow you have to embrace them and go through them to the very end. For a while, an important part of your life was attached to this man. Now that resource is no longer available. Yet your emotions linger. Do you think you could find it in yourself to acknowledge the strength and importance of your emotions and the role of this man in your life, and at the same time understand that he is living his own life and has made a choice in a direction away from you? Then, can you find some concrete way to express this paradoxical situation--a letter, a final gift, or less directly, a very open conversation with a friend or a diary entry for yourself?

Usually in your situation there is an element of masochism--I've been betrayed, I have lost what I need, what's wrong with me? This doesn't come through strongly in your letter, and so you may not be as lost in this betrayal as many people would be. In any case, after you do what I suggest above, you might find ways to reconnect with your own life outside the former relationship. You could bring new fervor to your interests and to ways you take care of or express yourself. You could invest new energy in your work life or your family. You could even find ways to channel your capacity for love in forms of service, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter. These positive ways of giving new vitality to your life can offset any feelings of victimhood that have come from this deep betrayal.

Yet, even when you all of this, don't expect your disappointment and loss to completely vanish. These emotions, painful though they are, can give you maturity and complexity for the next relationship that comes along--and there almost certainly will be another.

Finally, one lesson you may take from this experience is a difficult one: When your love is substantial and solid, you have to be both attached and willing to let the other person freely make life decisions that go against your will and desire. Most of us would like to possess and even rule over our partners and lovers, but that isn't real love.
Love is always complex and paradoxical: a mixture of deep attachment and a willingness to let life flow, in oneself and in the other. This is a maturity of love you arrive at through painful initiations of the kind you are experiencing now.
Therefore, in this pain lies a spark of hope. I trust you will see it and nurture it.

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