After a break-up: My ex boyfriend still reads the blog

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

“I still read the blog sometimes,” my ex told me, then added in a quieter voice “you’ve been so kind.” I’m taken aback. I can’t quite work out what to say except ‘of course’, and then ‘you should probably stop reading soon.’ In that moment I think the greatest kindness I can do is warn him not to read tomorrow. I have no idea if this is appropriate, and later I’ll wonder if that was actually the worst thing I could do – like telling someone not to open a box, torturing their curiosity and making it inevitable that they’ll crack and look inside. This stuff is hard after a break-up. I have no idea what’s right. I have no idea what to say or where my words are or why my mouth is glue and sawdust. I still love him.

I don’t say that, of course. But I do say ‘you smell good’, because he started it.

He smells like hugs and comfort and fun. He smells like the first months of lockdown, when we told each other we were so relieved that at least we were locked down together. He smells like playful nights of fucking and cosy mornings in bed.

He smells like nine years of love.

When he tells me I’ve been kind, I’m shocked. I haven’t been kind, just truthful. When I tell you I miss him, I mean it. When I tell you I wish we’d had the chance to DP a sex machine, I mean that too. When I tell you I have break-up nightmares, you know they’re real as well. When I gently ask people in the comments not to be mean about him, it’s because I cannot bear for him to stumble across something that might make him feel sad and small. Not here. Not in my house.

But I know what he means. He means I haven’t told the whole truth: spewed all the pain along with the poignant sappiness.

I don’t think I want to.

After a break-up, especially with someone significant, there’s often this long period of remembering and analysing that you have to go through before you reach the other side. Asking why you or they did this or that, or what the fuck it meant when X or Y happened. There are moments of realisation – flashes of ‘Oh fuck! That was bad!’ – or big fat questions about why the acres of fun times weren’t enough to pull you though.

I do a lot of that, of course, but I do it in private. What good would it do, right here, to tell you all the things which flash through my mind when I fail to distract myself? How would it help to pour frustration out on this blog, where I know (I know now) he still reads it? How useful would it be to spit spite when it might hurt him?

I’ve thought about that – you’ve been so kind – every day since that awkward meeting.

After a break-up: what are all these emotions

The truth is that I didn’t make an active choice to be kind until he told me I had been. What I do here on the blog is a combination of loyalty and self-preservation. While I definitely carry all the sadness and frustration that comes after a break-up, as well as far darker, more pressing anxieties about the situation I find myself in now, I don’t want him to hurt, especially not about what’s written here. Over the last few months I have been bitchy, angry, bitter and frightened, but mostly I’m just really sad.

Our split wasn’t the end of a long, slow death – not for me, at any rate. There were significant difficulties, but most of our time together was joyful and fun, and until about a month before we broke up I’d have sworn it was forever. Even in our toughest times, I’d have told you – fiercely – that I loved him and we could work this out.

So I could be nasty here now, but at what cost? At the cost of pretending that my past self was foolish and naïve? Or rewriting history to make past-me seem prescient and cool but making present-me look like a total bellend? At the cost of making him hurt because we’re over now and it’s time to stick the boot in?


Whoever he is now and no matter what he does, I still don’t want him to hurt. Whoever I am now shouldn’t trash my past self either: she was who she was. She gambled, and lost, but fuck it she did her best.

We didn’t break up because I stopped loving him. He’s hurting just like I am. I could choose to hurt him more, or I could try to be kind. That ‘try’ is important, because after a break-up there’s still sadness and anger and pain and fear and regret, and I am human after all. But while humans make mistakes, we also make choices. Here on the blog, where I can edit and revise and consider instead of just spilling things out when they bubble up in my brain, I’m strong enough to exercise a choice, so I choose kindness.

I’m sad enough that our love burned down, I’m not going to piss in the ashes.

Besides, he really does smell lovely.


  • Elphaba says:

    It is just so nice to have this here when I’m going through something similar <3. It's also comforting to see someone else's experience of working through difficulties and achieving meaningful growth.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you Elphaba, and sorry to hear you’re going through something similar. Echoing my comment to Mark – I hope you have good people who can support you. xxx

  • Mark says:

    I’ve been wondering the past month if it’d help if my Ex could read my thoughts, turbulent and jumbled as they are. I’ve decided (and been told many times) that it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. If I could read hers I’d probably be hurting a whole lot more. It must be strange to know that you ex can and does read these blogs. Keep up the good work!

    • Girl on the net says:

      Yeah it honestly must suck for him. He doesn’t really have an online presence so I can’t torture myself by repeatedly checking in on how he’s doing, although obviously if I could I would. I am 75% sure that he stopped reading shortly after we had this discussion, but who knows? It must be fucking shit for him, especially because I can’t exactly *not* write about stuff. Not just because people would think it weird if he just suddenly dropped off the blog completely, but also because these posts tend to do well for clicks and traffic and right now I am in dire need of those clicks and traffic. And also it’s hard to have new ideas when he fills every corner of my head.

      I’m sorry you’re struggling with how to communicate with your ex too – I remember your previous comment and I’ve thought about you a lot. I do hope you’re doing OK and you have good people around you to support you. xx

      • Mark says:

        I really understand that feeling now. I still have my ex added on a bunch of games (World of Warcraft life) and every now and then it’s like a little jab in the ribs seeing her name pop up to say she’s doing something. I hadn’t realised over the past years but I have a lot of memories that are locationally based that really involve her, I was driving from work today on a different road and I thought “Oh we went here last spring”, it’s a numb and abstract kind of pain that you can’t fully process because schoolkids are crossing the road too :v
        I appreciate the thoughts! I’m getting counselling now which is also interesting and hopefully productive! Hope you’re well too, hang in there!

  • I get this. I’m similar with what I write about my ex on my blog. It’s probably why I haven’t written awfully much about them at all.

    And the smell thing? Yeah. I really get that.
    It’s so powerful.

    Take care and keep up the kindness to you as well as the ex ❤️

  • oxyfromsg says:

    Wein the comments would never say bad things about him because we really dont know what happend and even if we did, he made you happy and for that we should be thankful to him.

  • Zebra Rose says:

    When I had a LTT breakup a while back (because of compatibility issues, someone I loved and still love dearly) one of the hardest parts was integrating the knowledge that no-one was at fault, no-one did anything wrong, there was no blame or ‘if only’; we did our best, life got in the way and it massively sucked that the relationship was over. Part of me wished I could point to something and say “There! That’s it! That’s what did to break it” as though doing so would perform some kind of anaesthetic effect on how much it *fucking hurt*. Of course it wouldn’t have, but pain makes its own logic.

    I think you’re being brave as fuck, your best graceful, compassionate self. From my own experience I know that one’s finest artistry can be born from anguish; your writing would seem to bear that out.

    Hugs xxxxx

  • fuzzy says:

    Blessed be.

    In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

    “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me. ”
    ― Mary Chase, Harvey

  • Regular reader says:

    I went through a difficult break-up some years ago. And I had some around me that were angry at my ex for how it ended, and some that felt I’d been treated badly. I wanted to be nice, to not piss on the ashes either. I didn’t shy away from the negative side, but I always softened it. Always saw it from their side where I could, and always talked about the positives and the difficulty they were going through with it.

    I felt I owed it to myself. To the relationship that it had been, because it hadn’t been a waste. It hadn’t been meaningless. It had been important, and it had been worthwhile. The past me that was in the relationship tried hard to make it work, and that wasn’t in vain. Sure, I got hurt – that doesn’t mean the other person went out of their way to do that. Very few people do.

    Now, years on, I’m more able to look back and mainly see the positives and think of the time somewhat fondly. Pain can still be dredged up, because that’s how pain works. But my relationships have been good things for me, not bad things. I owe it to myself to remember that.

    You’re not me. This might not work for you – too many people think the way they did it is the right way for everyone else. But I do think it helped me, and if you connect with any of it, I hope it’s useful. x

  • Phillip says:

    He will ALWAYS read your postings. He will be in your life until it’s over. Even if he moves off this mortal coil before you. Incorporate him and remember the good times. The bad times do fade. I don’t think it is possible to rinse the memories out of you. I remember all of the girls and women and mostly fondly and without reservation. There WAS one who was angry at many things and she seriously tried to get me with a carving knife. I had some of the best times with her!

    • Phillip says:

      Please don’t take any of this as an imperative. The hair on the back of the hand holding the scriber is standing up and I mean nothing but to commiserate and tell you how I was affected by love. Anything I could have changed in the past would have changed the future. The good the bad could have been avoided leaving a dull and mature life in some ‘Corporate Hell Hole’ while the wife did what she wanted. I might have stroked out early leaving a large inheritance and equally large insurance payout. I would also have left an vacuum devoid of the memories of the good times never had.

  • Rose says:

    This breaks my heart. I know my ex still sometimes reads my writing, watches clips, googles my name. He knows I do the same for him. I wish you love and freedom in your writing. Don’t be afraid to speak truth because you know he will see it. This is your space. I know that is not so easy. I hope you find peace in the balance. Thank you so much for your honesty.

  • I had missed the trifle post so this was complete news to me when I read this a few days ago. I’m very sorry for you. I sat on it for a few days because something was gnawing at me, unsure what it was. And then I realized that it’s the “things were fine until they weren’t” thing. To make a surely imperfect connection but that’s where my mind went, I knew someone who was fine until they realized he had cancer and only had a few months to live. There is a similar thing going on with such a breakup. If you know things are fine, and then one day you realize you’ve past the point of no return, what do we do with that? What does it say about our ability to recognize love or at least the state that it’s in? I don’t know that there is an answer but it made me think about it nonetheless.

    Take care.

    • Girl on the net says:

      “What does it say about our ability to recognize love or at least the state that it’s in?”

      Ah, yeah. Tricky one. So I don’t want to go into lots of details about why we split up, but I think this question is a good one to ask and something that it’s worth people asking of their own love when they have worries. Namely: what does my love look like? What does their love look like? How are we showing love to each other/caring for each other? If people introspect on this I think it can make us better lovers/partners, but then I *would* say that because I’m very introspecty and I enjoy the nerdy detail of trying to work out exactly *why* and *how* I love someone, and what the best ways might be to show that.

      But to the more specific point, I don’t think that I failed to recognise love, and I definitely didn’t stop loving this guy. I still love him very much, and if there had been anything in my power I could do to make things work, I would have done it. I just couldn’t find what that was, and eventually realised that’s because it wasn’t in my power to do. You can’t fix something on your own, no matter how hard you try, and often just trying to do that on your own causes far more harm than good.

      • I didn’t mean to imply that you did anything wrong, quite the contrary. My apologies for unclearly using the impersonal “you” there. And I appreciate your nerdy introspection. :)

        • Girl on the net says:

          Oh no it’s OK, I didn’t take it as you implying I did something wrong – I think the question’s a good one and worth pondering. And accepting that humans are fallible when it comes to recognising/showing/acting on love is definitely not an insult. I am definitely not immune to these mistakes, and I think it’s always worth thinking about how/why things ended so we can learn and grow and all that jazz. Thank you for commenting <3

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