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How To Escape Emotional Purgatory


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Dear SBM,

I am fairly recent college graduate that is living in NYC. When I first moved here, I got into a relationship with a young Harlem man who I essentially got in a “situationship” with. According to him, he was giving me all of the benefits of a boyfriend, yet was reluctant to actually say to admit that he was my boyfriend. Go figure another emotionally unavailable man. Fast forward a year and a half later, and we are just close friends at this point. But while he has moved on and is dating multiple women, I can’t seem to get any of my swagger back in the dating world. I used to be the girl with the little black book and the full starting 5 and a bench waiting to get put into the game. But lately I’ve lost all interest in finding a compatible man. Every guy that I seem to met is not up to my standards and does not interest me in any way. I just feel so lonely and out of place when I used to feel quite the opposite.  Is this a normal feeling for people who have been in long relationships? Am I just yearning for my ex? Does it normally take a while to get back in the saddle of dating?

Thanks for the help in advance.

Lonely in NYC

Hey L.I.N.Y.C. (Can I call you Linyc?),

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Thank you for reaching out to the team. Reading your email, I see a lot of myself and my previous situations within you. You moved to a new city, started dating a new guy, ended up in a grey area, and almost two years later, you’re alone and you aren’t desirous of making new connections. Your case is something I call “emotional purgatory.” You don’t feel good or bad about dating or meeting someone you, you feel indifferent.

“Is this a normal feeling for people who have been in long relationships?”

Yes, especially after a long term relationship has ended. I’ve written before about the best ways for men to get over a breakup, and one of my solutions was for men to go out and bed a bunch of women (safely). In all seriousness that was a quick-fix solution, and one that men use all too often. We will deal with Ms. Right Now and Ms. Convenient For The Moment, and use physical pleasure to attempt to heal our emotional scars. Women may do this too; but more often than not, women are introspective. That is what I suggest you should do. Really analyze your situation, look inside yourself, and determine what is the root cause for your emotional purgatory.

“Am I just yearning for my ex”

This could be a possibility, but only you know that for sure. You say you and dude have remained close friends, and you are privy to his dating habits. He must also know that you aren’t seeing people, so that must be a hurt to your ego and feelings. I still get astonished from time to time when exes can become super close friends again. I have my own take on whether or not exes should reconcile, but you have to evaluate your friendship with your ex. Sometimes it’s easier to heal when the source of your pain isn’t close to you anymore. Sometimes you need to get away. The same way it’s not recommended for alcoholics to frequent bars, it could be detrimental to be friends with your ex, especially if you have unresolved issues. People don’t realize how much “situationships” can affect the person on the “uncommitted and hating it” end of the relationship. It sucks to know that the person you thought you were committed to, thought otherwise. There’s a great chance I could be wrong, and your friendship isn’t the cause. Whatever the reason for your emotional purgatory, you have to find it and learn how you can overcome.

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“Does it normally take a while to get back in the saddle of dating?”

Honestly, it depends on the person. I know people who can break up with someone on Monday and be in a new relationship next Monday. I also know people who go years between relationships, but have a lot of fun along the way. You don’t have to be on either end of the spectrum, but you don’t have to force it either. Don’t be fearful of rejection or getting hurt again. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid that forever. Dating starts out as trial and error, and hopefully ends with you finding “the one.” You might not be ready now, and that’s perfectly fine. When you are, you will know it, and you will know what to do. In the meantime, you have a  wonderful life to live. Life isn’t always fair, but when you wake up another day breathing with your life in tact, that’s another day to give thanks. Make sure you don’t let relationship stagnation get in the way of the rest of your life. Lean on friends and family for support, and look within for answers too. Emotional Purgatory isn’t cool, but once you know the issue, you should be able to start dating again!

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SBM fam, chime in with your two cents on the issue!


  1. Leaves two Canadian pennies on the counter…

    I’ve been there, as linyc and the ex. One is truly as single as their options, when your option is just one Then you naturally find in a pseudorelationship it’s nice, it’s convenient but it’s unstable, because any day they can opt out and not be in the wrong. Despite knowing better, when the alternative is people beneath ur expectations or no one at all, that ex becomes awfully tempting, it’s like fast food.

    As Linyc I had to convince myself there was better out there, not to stick with the safe one. It takes willpower, as humans we crave love and desire (and s3x). But if you fill up on fast food, when that 4 course meals comes along you won’t even be able to enjoy it

  2. Linyc. IMO, the reason you don't want to date is because you are not over you EX – despite the fact that he seems to be over you.

    Also, If I had to go out on a limb & guess. I would say that the reason you haven't gotten over your EX is because you haven't really processed your feelings from the "situationship" y'all were in. I see this in a few things you say.

    For example, you say that he was giving you all the benefits of being your BF without actually admitting it. However, you and I both know that one of the benefits of having a BF is the feeling you get when your BF is proud/eager to call you his (you feel special, like he wants only you).

    Another example – from your over all story it seems like you spent a year and a half wanting to be in a relationship with a guy who didn't want to be in a relationship with you. However, you don't seem disappointed, angry, misused, hurt, sad etc.

    IMO if you had processed your feelings about the relationship you would be acknowledging that 1) he didn't give you everything a BF should and 2) that you have some really bad feelings about that fact. Moreover, you would be assigning some *blame* to him. I mean, why is it OK for him to take what he needs for a year without giving you what you need in return? In reality, it's NOT OK. But for some reason, it's OK with you.

    In fact, according to you, someone can treat you like that for a year (& be emotionally unavailable) and *still* remain your "close friend". —–>SMH

    In the end, I think you need to get in touch & own what the relationship really was, and the way it really made you feel. Once you do that, ask yourself why YOU (the person ultimately charged with taking care of you) let yourself feel that way for so long. Once you do that, make the decision to take care of yourself better in the future. Whether that means remaining old dude's BFF or kicking him to the curb & truly getting back in the saddle. Also, I have a blog about "SHAM-ships"/ situationships that may help. Good luck.
    My recent post Are You OK With Your BF Frequenting Strip Clubs?

  3. Streetz, this response is so big brother-like!

    *walks to center stage*

    "Sommmmmme…times in our livesssss….we allllll have painnnnnn…we.all.haaaave soooor.r.rooooow. BUT! If we are wissssse…we knoooooow that theressss..aaaaAlways tomooooooOrrow. LEAN ON ME!"


    1. *sways back and forth with arms locked with Cynic and SBM fam*

      *breaks out to perform soul clap*

      *stevie wonder head nods vigorously*

  4. I don't understand how you remain "close friends" at this point. I think you need to take a step back and focus on moving forward and dating new people. What I learned is to not put all my eggs in one basket until me and a guy both agree about the status of our relationship.

    It's so interesting to read these relationship blogs and see that these pseudo-relationships and the resulting disappointment is so common. Back when I was in my early 20's I thought it was just me experiencing this.

  5. Lonely in NYC, you have not mentioned being more than good friends now with your ex, but I hope that you have not fallen into the trap of becoming friends with benefits with your ex. There is a good write up on this site about this issue. It is a losing situation for women. Typically the guy moves on with his life and starts dating other people while the women stays emotionally and physically connected to her ex and she cannot successfully move forward. Girl, you need to read, "How to Find A Good Man: 50 Things to Always Remember About Relationships, Dating, and Intimacy".


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