October 30, 2014

Ask Me Anything: On Surprise Break Ups. {Weekly Advice Column}


*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal opinion, view or experience of the authors, and can not reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here. 

Dear Elephants,

Welcome to this week’s Ask me Anything, elephant journal’s weekly advice column, where no question is out of bounds!

To submit questions for next week email me at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook.

I look forward to hearing from you.

~ Erica


Dear Erica,

I recently met this guy and we hit it off really well.

We dated for about three months, did all the fun things, had lots of friends in common (which was surprising because neither of us are from where we live now), and everything seemed to be going great.

Meanwhile, stuff at my job is bad, and I know I am obsessing over it. I’ve been trying to figure out how to leave and move on, and find a job I like but haven’t been able to do that so I’m very frustrated. My boss expects me to work 12 hours a day for no extra pay and I literally feel like she is killing me.

One of my co-workers is friends with this guy I’ve been seeing and I’m wondering if this is where the problem is coming from. You see, my “boyfriend” (I guess I can’t call him that anymore) just suddenly broke up with me! It was completely out of the blue and I am devastated.

I don’t know if I was talking about work too much and it irritated him, or if I was working too much and he felt like I wasn’t making time for him or if someone (my co-worker) said something to him about me. His explanation was just that he wasn’t “ready for a relationship.” But that doesn’t make sense. We were spending every weekend together.

My question is, how do I get resolution here and move on? Between work and this guy I am so depressed. I wish I could just run away. I really thought he was the one.



Dear Dumped,

One of the illusions we seem to have created for ourselves in this modern day is that we can find a “resolution” to every problem, and that we need “resolution” to move on.

We can’t and we don’t.

You may never know why this guy broke up with you, and that’s okay.  Whatever his reasons were, he wants to move on, and he was good enough to tell you that instead of stringing you along.

Your hurt feelings can pass without you ever knowing what has happened here—the key is to allow yourself to feel them and then let them go. Instead of getting all caught up in why he left, accept that he has and know that his leaving is making space for the right person to come into your life.

I think your sadness is clearly compounded by your work situation, and that if you turn your focus to proactively trying to improve things there, the nagging questions about your ex will dissipate more quickly.


Dear Erica,

This may sound like a stupid problem, but I think my roommate is a hoarder.

When we moved in together a couple of years ago she was normal, maybe a little messy, but so was I. Now I can hardly even walk through the apartment.

There are dishes piled up in the sink (I wash my own but I’m not going to wash hers too), there are piles of stuff everywhere; newspapers, books, magazines, shoe boxes—just random things. Every now and then I’ve waited until she was out of the apartment and just thrown a bunch of stuff away, and she hasn’t gotten mad, but then it builds back up again in a couple of days. I don’t even know where it’s coming from.

I feel like I can’t have anyone over anymore—there is no place for them to sit down anyway—and like I don’t want to even leave my room because it’s so disgusting everywhere else. I’m constantly afraid we’re going to get infested with mice or ants because there is food left out all the time and once that starts there’s no stopping it.

I can’t afford to move out, the rent is extremely low, but I seriously can’t live like this. How can I make my roommate change her ways?

Stressed Out Roommate


Dear Roommate,

I don’t know if your roommate fits the clinical definition of a hoarder, but I sure wouldn’t want to live with her!

Your first move should be to sit down in a non-stressful or angry moment and have a talk. I’d recommend neutral territory like a coffee shop—or anyplace you can find a chair.

You say, “I like having you as my roommate, and maybe you’re not aware of this, but things around our place have gotten out of control. We need to do a big clean up together, and then we need to keep things clean—together.”

Suggest writing out a list of what needs to be done and who should do what, both for the big initial push and for maintenance.

Explain that if she can’t manage to help you maintain your residence in a reasonable way, you will have to move on despite the low rent, as you consider what is happening a health hazard. (Which it is.)

Set a mutually agreed upon date for the major clean up to be complete and give her at least three months after that to see if she can change her ways. If the stuff starts creeping in again, it’s likely you have a hoarder on your hands, and even if you don’t, it will be clear that you two are not suited to live with one another.




Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Author: Erica Leibrandt

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Clement/Flickr

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Erica Leibrandt  |  Contribution: 69,905