The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:
I’m a teenager and a female college student. I cannot get over my ex-boyfriend, who is older than me.
He approached me, saying that he liked me, but after we started dating I found that he was self-centered and temperamental. He would often indulge in morahara (moral harassment or emotional abuse) and would always justify himself even if he were at fault.
He would often snap at me, calling me “fatso” or “ugly,” and when we were in a fight, he would say things like, “I can’t brag about you in front of my friends,” so I’d be the one who apologized. I was his pet, so to speak. And just recently, he said that he couldn’t like me any more than he did at that point, and then just dumped me.
I was really upset and discussed it with the people around me, but they all said the same thing: “What do you even like about that jerk?” I know that, but the happy memories and the good things he said run through my mind, and I can’t bring myself to dislike him.
I still get phone calls from him when he’s drunk, and it makes me hopeful again. I wanted to start seeing someone who would take good care of me, so I went out to eat with other boys. I’m beginning to think about one guy in particular, but I still can’t get over my ex.
J, Saitama Prefecture
Dear Ms. J:
Your ex-boyfriend is literally a “jerk.” He hangs on to his pride by disparaging others and he’s a coward. Your letter is full of his wicked deeds. It’s a wonder you could put up with all this.
But you still can’t let go of him. The reason is pretty simple: The more people criticize him, the more you think, “I’m the only one who understands the good in him,” and try to defend him. The sweet words and fun times alone keep coming back to cover your wounds.
The man you are starting to think about is a rather good person and your friends agree that he might be OK, right? But somehow, that is not enough for you. You need to think hard about the contradiction within yourself. Otherwise, you’ll keep repeating what you’re going through right now.
I’ll give you a hint. You have to be the first one to cherish yourself — this is a given — but that jerk uprooted your ability to think this way. He uplifted you and then he abused you, making you forget that you’re a person of value. This is the real horror of morahara. If you had continued your relationship, it would have torn up your body and mind, leaving you with irreparable damage. You were saved at the eleventh hour.
Hazuki Saisho, writer