This special edition is part of our Guest Prudie series, where we ask smart, thoughtful people to step in as Prudie for the day and give you advice.
Today’s columnist is Drew Afualo, whose known for her popular TikTok account (in which she critiques sexist videos spreading on the app) and her podcast, The Comment Section with Drew Afualo.
We asked Afualo to weigh in on secret Reddit histories, delayed proposals, and classic heartbreak:
I ended things with my partner recently—we’d been together for a little over a year. I kept noticing toxic behavior over and over again, which were: a lack of trust, trying to catch me in lies that didn’t exist, keeping a close eye on my location constantly, asking where I was/who I was with every time we were apart, and making unsolicited and sometimes hurtful comments about my appearance. I would bring those things up occasionally, but the sense he didn’t trust me was always there. I love this person, and the decision to end things was challenging because we do have a very strong bond. In the time we took apart, which was only two days, we both realized we didn’t want to give up on things. We reconciled, and I promised to work on my own part of the dynamic (fear of being hurt, better communication, etc.).
I came to find that in those two days, he had posted bashing commentary on Reddit about me in relation to our sex life, and a whole slew of things that were very disparaging and shocking to read. I understand it’s important to have an outlet, and he was hurt, but the things he said about me made me feel extremely violated and feel entirely uncalled for, as the conversations around the break up were measured, amicable, and mutually understood. I feel that I’ve been tricked and I can’t help but feel very confused and hopeless about the situation and that I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into.
—Bashing Through the Snow
I say this with all the love in the world, but LEAVE HIM IMMEDIATELY! RUN! This person has made it very clear who he is and it is toxic, violating, and abusive. It doesn’t matter how upset someone feels over a breakup, they have no right to disrespect you in private, let alone in public. This person does not love you, he loves that he has you. He feels entitled to you. And the minute you exercised some agency, he jumped at the chance to bash you on the internet to other miserable, disgusting incels to make himself feel better. This is a violation of your privacy, and also humiliating—something that someone who truly loves you would never make you feel or experience. Ask yourself: Why do I think love needs to hurt in order for it to be real? Because it doesn’t. You deserve better than that. You are brave, strong, and confident. I am certain you can leave on your own and pursue the life and relationships you’ve always wanted.
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My boyfriend (30M) and I (27F) have been together for three years. We bought a house in late 2021 with the intention that we would get married and start a family. We fought frequently after moving in due to a variety of issues and started couples counseling to address them. We stopped the sessions after 10 months because we realized they were triggering the fights. The last few months have been great with us getting along and utilizing the tools we learned in counseling.
Now, he has decided to quit his job to start his own business. He has enough money to cover our shared expenses and his business for a couple of years. When he asked if I had any concerns, I asked if it would delay a potential wedding and family. He said he wasn’t factoring those into his decision. I asked if he still wanted to get married and he said not considering proposing until there were no fights for months and months. I feel like that’s an unrealistic expectation and an excuse to delay our future. I love him and want to be with him but I wonder if I’m just wasting time waiting for something that will never happen. I dread the idea of breaking up and losing our home that I love dearly. I would miss his family who’s been so welcoming. However, I’m ready to be married and have a baby!
—Should I Stay or Should I go?
Dear Should I,
First off, I want to commend you for putting so much effort into your relationship. It takes a lot of courage to admit you need outside help in your interpersonal relationships (let alone your romantic one), and it takes more courage to step away if you feel like your effort it isn’t helping. I can see clearly what the answer is to your question, and I feel like you do, too. If you have to ask someone else whether they think you’re wasting your time, you are. I’m a firm believer that when people tell you who they are and what it is they want, especially about huge life goals like marriage and children, you need to believe them the first time they say it.
However, people and plans can change. While getting married and having kids may have been his goal at the time, it’s possible that may have shifted now. I think that sometimes we cling to people and relationships, even when we know we aren’t aligned anymore, because we fear the unknown and the lack of a constant. And while worrying about what may happen if you walk away is a very valid fear to have, I would challenge you to consider what could happen if you don’t walk away. How much more of the life you’re destined to have, and deserve to have with someone who is aligned with you, are you willing to miss out on? You deserve happiness and the things you want just as much as he does, so release this relationship and prioritize you. You owe it to yourself.
I went through my first breakup six months ago. My boyfriend of two years broke up with me the week before I graduated college. I’d been thinking about breaking up too but had not made a firm decision. He tried to get back together and I said no because I felt like the relationship had gone downhill and wouldn’t improve. I recently learned he’s been in a new relationship for a few months. We live in the same city so I think a part of me hoped that we’d reconcile and it’s been crushing to know he’s moved on. I feel like I shouldn’t feel this way because I chose not to get back together and was not very happy toward the end of our relationship. We haven’t been in touch and I’ve moved on with my life in many ways but I still feel so heartbroken. What can I do to fully let go?
I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this right now, but I’m glad you stuck to your guns in terms of what it is you want. When you spend that much time with someone in an intimate setting, you are bound to have some trouble letting go. It sounds like you had made your mind up about breaking up initially, you just couldn’t commit to the decision. That tells me that you knew it was the right decision, you were just afraid to make the first move.
Holding empathy for someone you loved is never a bad thing, it was just time for it to come to a close. Something you subconsciously knew because you refused his offer to get back together. Trust your instincts, the gut feeling you had about how the relationship had soured is your body warning your brain. You made the right choices, and you were brave to do so. Heartbreak is a natural part of life, and it manifests in many different ways. Let yourself feel all of your emotions.
Healing is not linear; so, unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach. Clearly, you care about this person, so allow them to move on in the way you both deserve. Encourage their happiness, and the universe will return it to you tenfold. In the meantime, surround yourself with people who love you, spend time doing activities that bring you joy, and come back to yourself. Remember that you were a whole person with hopes, dreams, love, and ambitions before them, and you’ll still be one after. Sending you lots of love and healing!
My husband and I are both cis gay men around 30 who have been together for more than 10 years. We’ve picked up some mannerisms and quirks from each other … and also clothes and a barber. Neither of us knows how to effectively respond when someone mistakes us for brothers.