Dear Thelma: She broke my heart and I can't move on

Dear Thelma: She broke my heart and I can't move on
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

I'm a 20-year-old guy. I've been told that I tend to overthink stuff.

I have had a crush on a girl who's my age for the past six years. We were close a few years ago until we had an argument one day. Both of us blamed the other.

That was my first heartbreak. She started dating someone else - let's call him "Guy A". I was hurt, but couldn't stop thinking about her.

Two years ago, I found out they had broken up so I texted her and apologised for our argument. After that, we became close again - even closer than before the fight. I can't say we were normal friends, because you don't talk to your normal friend at 2am just to tell each other about your anger, sadness, joy, excitement and so on, something we did almost every night.

Recently, I confessed my feelings for her. She responded by saying that she felt the same way about me, but she was unsure about how I felt.

And so, when an older guy (let's call him "Guy B") approached her and wanted to get to know her seriously, they started going out. It has been a few months now.

Just before I confessed my feelings for her, guy B asked her permission to meet her parents. But she has yet to answer.

Then she revealed to me that she has had feelings for me even when she was dating Guy A.

I was devastated. I blocked her on social media. I couldn't sleep. After a while, I unblocked her because I thought it was childish. Little did I know, she had blocked me on Twitter and Instagram.

That was my second heartbreak. So I decided to move on. It hurt in an indescribable way. Part of me thought she had been playing me all this while. How could she date someone if she had feelings for me? Part of me thought she was naïve, that she was confused about her feelings. But I felt like I should give her a third chance.

All this while, I felt like she only wanted my attention. She told me so many stories of her life. So many that I wasn't able to tell her mine. She once said that I kept too many secrets from her, but the truth is I couldn't tell her because she didn't let me.

So I once told her what I felt and let it spill out. She apologised. But this has left a mark on me. I'd planned to meet her parents once I graduated and even had been saving my monthly allowance.

Now I'm confused. After twice being broken, I want to move on. But still, at times I feel like we didn't communicate enough. Maybe I was wrong for holding back and not telling her my feelings sooner, so she gave up on me.

A friend of mine told me not to punish myself for what happened. That gave me the strength to move on, but I still have my doubts. The fact that she said she still has the same feelings towards me has made me want to fight for her, even though it feels like a losing battle.

Secondly, I'm afraid that I won't be able to fall in love again. I'm afraid that I will one day marry someone for whom I have no feelings. That would be cruel. Or maybe I won't be able to love anyone like I love this girl. I understand time heals all wounds if I decide to move on, but I can't help thinking, "what if?". Why shouldn't I try to rectify what went wrong?

Moving on is really unimaginably hard. But if we still have mutual feelings for each other, why is moving on even an option? What should I do? - Guy Z

Dear Z

I'm sorry to hear about the confusion and hurt you're feeling. It is very unsettling, isn't it?

Rather than rush into telling you how to fix it, I'd like to suggest you tackle this from a different perspective.

The situation you describe so well is very typical of your age group. I'm afraid that's because traditional assumptions about what makes us an adult are not quite right.

While the law says we're adult at 18, this decision was made at a time when we thought that human beings were fully developed at that age. Today we know that's wrong.

From the outside, we look mature. However, if you look at brain development, you'll see that this part of the body doesn't mature until we're 24 to 26 years old.

Basically, your brain isn't fully wired yet. You still need some five years before you have the brain structure needed for proper emotional control, insight, impulse control, judgment, risk assessment, and consequence appreciation.

You're not fully adult yet, please wait before making life-changing decisions

This is why when you fell out, you blocked her impulsively on social media. You were reacting because your brain isn't fully mature yet. And she did the same thing, because she's also in that same situation!

In short, all the things you describe - your crush that is all wrapped up in uncertainty and sometimes anger, her confusion about whether she's in love with you or the other boys, and the both of you talking and then falling out and then making up again - it's all part and parcel of being a young adult.

Given this, I think you need to reassess your position.

You are clearly kind, sensitive and loving. You aren't worried about admitting to mistakes, and when you think you're wrong, you say so and make amends. You are also aware that marriage without mutual love and understanding would be a disaster.

In short, you're a very nice man with solid values. Anyone would be proud to have you as a friend.

However, as you're not fully adult yet, please wait before making life-changing decisions.

Most of us have a first love, a first crush from our youth that is special. However, very few people stay in love.

Marriage is a step that will lock you into a relationship for the next 60 years. Don't rush into this. There is a divorce in Malaysia roughly every 10 minutes; as even the most mutual of separations is hard on the heart, try and avoid being part of that statistic.

Now to answer your question about what you should do. By all means, call the girl you love so much. You've been friends since you were 14 years old, and that is precious.

Stay the good friends you are. Talk to her about her feelings and yours. Be honest, open and kind to each other.

As neither of you is old enough to marry, I suggest that you date. Go to the cinema, have coffee, go for walks, and go to a concert.

Also, don't be in too much of a rush to be exclusive. It's important you both have a lot of friends. If you build a rich social life for yourselves, with lots of experiences, you can enjoy exploring your likes and dislikes.

Then, when you get to an age where you are mature enough to marry, you can make better decisions.

Will you still be in love in a few years' time? Maybe.

Most of us have a first love, a first crush from our youth that is special. However, very few people stay in love. Usually, we change as we mature and the people we love change too. Many people fall in and out of love several times before they finally settle on a life partner.

But who knows what lies in your future? If you're still in love in a few years, then go ahead and make the commitment. But do consider that no matter what happens, it is very likely you will have a lifelong friendship with this girl. And that is also very valuable.

I hope this helps.

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