Letters to a young man 25

Hello my friend.

I have been thinking over your situation. For starters, I am sorry to hear about your breakup. I’m sure there was emotional investment and this kind of thing is never easy to deal with and I can understand your ire at the situation.

Firstly, I recommend that you try not communicating with her, especially in your current state. I can see that no good will come of it. This is of course easy for me to say, as I’m removed from the situation. However, judging from my life experience I can say that you’d be better off staying away from confronting her in any way. As you said yourself, it’s over.

Also, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. I would say that every man has dealt with such a thing, and I’m no exception. Sometimes we see what we want to see in people, and overlook obvious clues that something isn’t quite right. Again, I know this from personal experience.

The hardest lesson in all of this, perhaps, is that you’ll have to accept those feelings. You’ll have to accept that maybe you were wronged, and maybe you were duped. I have a good personal friend who’s dealing with just this same type of thing right now, in fact. I’ve asked him these questions, and I’ll ask you,

So what if it’s true that she duped you? What would that mean to you? What would that tell you about yourself?

My point in asking these questions is to get you to reflect on them fully. The point I hope you will arrive at is that everyone, even the smartest, boldest, strongest men, has been duped and wronged. It shouldn’t take anything away from who you are. Whether or not it does, is ultimately up to you. This is where your power lies. It’s something that no one can take away from you, nor give to you.

Believe me, I know it is easy to say and harder to put into practice. But this is only so because men try to force something out, rather than let something remain within.

It hurts, and it will hurt. I think you can make great strides forward if you embrace it, feel it fully, and them move forward. I know that’s maybe not comforting, and it would be nice if I could offer a panacea, but I think we both know that’s not possible, nor in the long run even desirable.

Going forward, you may start to look back on the relationship and see things you didn’t see before. There’s no need to beat yourself up over them, though that is commonly what men do, but you can certainly learn from them. Consider that at the very least, as you go forward you will have your eyes opened and will likely see things differently in the future.

Finally, regarding your concern that you may see her again when school resumes. My guess is that by the end of Summer you’ll feel much less anxiety about running into her. Over time, you’ll probably see her flaws more and that will make it easier to deal with knowledge of her being with other guys. For now, you might try to put it out of your mind. An alternative might be to think about it fully so that you embrace the rage/bitterness/pain of those feelings so that you can put them down and not be affected by it any more.

I hope this finds you well, and that it in some way has been helpful.

Farewell for now.

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

My book on stoicism.