scorecardMy ex left me, then became abusive. How can I move on when my best friend still talks to her?
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My ex left me, then became abusive. How can I move on when my best friend still talks to her?

Julia Naftulin   

My ex left me, then became abusive. How can I move on when my best friend still talks to her?
LifeScience4 min read
  • Your relationship ended in a hurtful and abusive way, so it's a normal reaction to want an apology.
  • Consider why you want an apology that might never come.
  • It's fair to tell your friend how their stance made you feel, but you're in charge of your feelings of worth.
  • Have a question for Julia? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously. You can read more Doing It Right here.

My ex and I were together for five years. She became close with my friends, and moved into my apartment.

This year we started to have a falling out, but booked a vacation with all of our friends. Once we were there, we fought and stopped loving each other. My girlfriend was on her phone a lot and avoided being affectionate with me.

The night we got back from vacation, she broke up with me in the apartment.

I asked her to move out many times since it was hard for me to live with my ex, but she kept delaying her move. Two months went by, and she finally admitted to me that she'd started sleeping with other people, so I decided it was time for me to start dating again and move on.

One night I invited a date over to hook up. My ex had been sleeping on the couch, but for some reason opened my bedroom door on my date and me. She freaked out, got violent, hit me, pushed me, and broke many things in the apartment. I had to defend myself and push her away, but I never hit back. I got dressed and got out of there. She moved out that weekend.

It's now been seven months and my best friend has rekindled her friendship with my ex. I'm struggling with this, especially because I feel my ex owes me an apology. How can I be OK with my friends wanting to be friends with her again? How can I be OK knowing I may never get an apology?

- Boston

Dear Boston,

I'm so sorry your relationship ended in such a hurtful and physically abusive way. You don't deserve that.

In order to comes to terms with what transpired, you have to ask yourself two questions: Why you're fixated on your friend's choice, and why you feel you need an apology from your ex.

"Not to say it's not a valid reaction, but understanding really where that's coming from," could help you shift your perspective on the situation, Kelly Scott, a therapist at Tribeca Therapy in New York City, told me.

It's possible you're desperate for both an apology and your friend's loyalty because you want to feel validated in your emotions over what happened. That makes total sense.

Read more: My ex moved out with no notice, then he started verbally abusing me. How can I leave him behind and move on for good?

It can feel good to have another person tell us we were right and they were wrong. But that external validation can't fix underlying issues that could carry over into future relationships, according to Scott.

"I think that when we oversimplify our understanding of why things went badly, it really rules out the opportunity for us to look at the ways we contributed to the situation. Because there's two people in every relationship," she told me.

That's not to say your ex's violent behavior is excusable, because it isn't. But reflecting on the reasons you had that initial falling out and later, a tense living situation, could help you gain clarity on how you can better communicate with a partner, or even a friend, in the future.

To do this, Scott suggested coming from a place of curiosity rather than judgment. Instead of thinking it's your fault or your ex's fault for the way certain situations panned out, think about why you each acted in the ways you did.

When you're in the right mindset, it's also fair to tell your best friend how the situation has been making you feel. According to Scott, you should frame the conversation as, "This is what my experience has been. It's hurtful to me in these ways."

Read more: I keep hooking up with my ex, even though he cheated on me. How do I stop?

This way your friend can't invalidate how her relationship with your ex makes you feel. Having this talk doesn't mean you'll see eye-to-eye afterwards, but it may help you gain closure on your friend's intent. If she becomes defensive over your honesty, it could mean it's time to reevaluate that friendship.

At the day end of the day, we're all worthy of love and support. But until you're able to validate your own worth, standing up for your needs and reflecting on the values you want to uphold moving forward, you'll continue waiting for others to make you feel good.

With a bit of inner work, that's a gift you can give yourself.

As Insider's resident sex and relationships reporter, Julia Naftulin is here to answer all of your questions about dating, love, and doing it - no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.

Have a question? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.