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Am I Selfish?
June 8, 2009 1:33 PM   Subscribe

I have just broken up with my girlfriend, because I can't change. Can you help?

This is a complicated topic, which I've tried to keep concise. Thanks in advance for reading!

I've just got back from the airport after one of the worst days of my life. My girlfriend has broken up with me.

Let me give you the (brief) background. We have been going out for three years. It has mostly been a long-distance relationship (me in England, her in Germany), but we have always managed to speak for an average of an hour every day on the phone, and visit each other at least every month.

The long-distance thing has been a strain at times, both on our finances and our time. We are both students (I'm 21, she is 20) and every period of free time (e.g. summer, easter and christmas holidays) has been divided between her place and mine. This has been at the expense of other things like holidays with friends, and time with our families.

The first time I can remember her talking about us having problems was about a year ago – she said that we would likely break up if I didn't start changing my priorities. Last year was my first year of university, and I was mostly concerned with making new friends, and going out and partying. I made time for our phone conversations, but sometimes I guess I did see the calls as a little more of a task than a pleasure – when my friends were doing something, I wanted to hang out with them, and shift the calls until later. When she came to visit though, we had a lot of fun, and enjoyed each other's company. This year, I think I've improved in this regard – partying has moved down my list of priorities, and she has in turn become more relaxed/flexible about our phone calls.

Over the last 6 months, however, things between us have been getting worse. Probably the main reason for this is what I affectionately call my “forgetfulness”. When asked to do something, especially by her, I mostly forget to do it entirely, or do it in the wrong way. For example, when she asked me to get a card for her dad's birthday, I said I would get it later, but then completely forgot about it. Or, on a recent trip, she asked me to bring some stuff from our hotel room. I brought too many bags as I wasn't sure which ones to get. This doesn't sound like much, but when this is happening literally 95% of the time, it obviously got to wearing her down, and making her think I didn't care about her.

I also am quite a passive person, something I think I got from my parents, who also avoid confrontation. When in an uncomfortable situation, I am not very likely to stand up for myself. She, on the other hand, is a strong personality – she stands up for herself, is outgoing, and loves to organise things, but she actually has little self-discipline. My passivity came across in our relationship when she would need my help, either to make her do something (e.g. study for her exams) or to help her with something (e.g. organise a holiday for us). I did not feel comfortable giving advice or telling her to do something, as I thought that she would be far better at organising than I am, and far more perceptive when it came to people. Now, I have got slowly, slowly better at standing up for myself. But the other problems are still there.

She has given me two deadlines in the past two months, saying that she wanted to see a definite change in me if we were to stay together. Both deadlines came, and went, and I hadn't changed. What did I do to change? I wrote what I wanted to change down on a list (Be confident, Take care of her, and be someone to look up to) and looked at it every other day. Then I tried to remember to be/do those things.

She arrived here, in England, about 10 days ago. On the first few days we had big arguments, mainly about me forgetting to do things, or, one time choosing to go out with my friends as I forgot that we'd discussed it and agreed to stay in together that night. We talked about it and agreed that when the end of her stay came (today) we would break up, as I'd shown her that I hadn't changed.

After that talk, we had very few (if any) arguments. We had a fun week, doing everything a couple should do, and trying to forget that I hadn't changed. This was not too difficult, as we have always got on well, apart from the arguments, and we fit well together.

Today, before she left (tearful and heartbreaking – we spent the last few hours just hugging), she gave me a few pieces of advice. 1. Don't follow other people – make up your own mind, and don't assume that they know better than you. 2. Try to look at arguments/situations from the perspective of a third person. That way you can more easily see it objectively. 3. Take responsibility for things – she said the reason that we were breaking up is because I had not changed, despite the fact that changing was entirely in my power.

This last one puzzled me, as I have obviously never wanted to be passive, or shirk responsibility, or not take care of her – it wasn't as if this was a concious choice not to change. I asked her about it. She said that my main problem was that deep down I was selfish.

She said that my forgetfulness came from not really caring or paying attention to what people were saying, because I had no real interest in it. i.e. when she told me to get the bags from the hotel, I didn't listen too closely. If she asked me to pack the car and I did it wrong, it was because I hadn't watched her packing it before – I didn't have a real interest in how she liked to have her car packed. (These are fairly trivial examples, but I hope they illustrate my point.) I hadn't changed because I had no real interest in doing so.

I would love to get back together with her (and from what she said, she would take me back), but I realise that my perspective may be a little skewed now having just experienced the break up. Objectively, it may give us a chance to see if the relationship is what we both want in the long-term, or whether we were just accepting it because this is what we've known over the last 3 years. Also, if I go back to her and I haven't changed, it will just hurt her all over again.

So this is where you, dear reader, come in. What I am hoping to do is change myself. I recognise that I have been selfish (not just with her, but also in dealings with my family as well) and I do not want to be like that any more. I want to be more analytical, more confident, and less selfish. Can you help me by giving your perception of the situation? Am I selfish/immature? If so, how can I work on myself to make me less selfish?

I realise this is a long post. If you've got this far, I'm so glad you stuck with me. I really appreciate it. Feel free to ask for any clarification you want, and bookmark this page as I will be updating the post as things progress!

Thanks in advance for your help.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (54 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
You're in your second year of university. Unless you're a midlife learner, this means you are in your late teens or early twenties, yes?

So it makes sense for you to be focusing on your studies and your friends, and not so much on your girlfriend who lives hundreds of miles away.

Also, your girlfriend sounds inappropriately demanding to me. I agree that the thing about saying you'd buy a card and forgetting was a shitty thing to do, but the rest of your examples sound like her being ridiculous. You didn't pack the car "correctly"? THIS IS NUTS.

And "be someone to look up to"? Because packing the car wrong, or bringing too many bags from your hotel room, somehow make you less worthy as a person?

I think you dodged a bullet there. As for the "how to do a better job of delivering on my promises and commitments," the only answer is for you to do it. Lists work well--not lists like "be a better person," but lists like "buy birthday card" or "bring blue bag from hotel room."
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:45 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


She gave me a few pieces of advice. 1. Don't follow other people – make up your own mind, and don't assume that they know better than you.

I agree with this. I get the sense from your question that you're still grasping at what you "should" do and how you "should" be.

Also, I have a followup question. Since you're anonymous, let's call it rhetorical.

How long did you wait after coming back from the airport before coming to AskMe for everyone else's opinion?
posted by rokusan at 1:50 PM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I feel like selfish is a term used when you purposefully do the things you have been doing, but you have been doing them absent-mindedly, or without recognizing that your actions will have consequences.

Perhaps you will mature into recognizing when your behavior might be hurtful to other people, or perhaps one day you will have such a sharp and noticable consequence for your behavior that you will be more mindful.

Or maybe you and she were not meant for each other, and somewhere out there is a lady who will see your forgetfulness and think playfully, "Oh, crazy anonymous! Always forgetting something! I swear I have to tattoo the grocery list on him! Ha, Ha!" instead of your ex-girlfriends frustrated, "Forgot what I said again?! Don't you care about me at all?"
posted by agentwills at 1:52 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


It has mostly been a long-distance relationship (me in England, her in Germany)
(I'm 21, she is 20)
Last year was my first year of university


Sorry for being trite, but if this was a Cosmo quiz, you'd be ticking off all the "imminent break-up" boxes. It really doesn't have much to do with your personality or hers other than neither of you being perfect.

If so, how can I work on myself to make me less selfish?

Sure. Everytime someone asks you to do something, ask yourself this same question. Try to become a doormat in the process.
posted by GuyZero at 1:56 PM on June 8, 2009


Change for yourself, not for someone else. This isn't to say that you can't enlist another's help in identifying or making change, but you change things about yourself which make you unhappy, which hinder your ability to love and be loved. That's not selfish; that's the necessary self-orientation of a human being. Changing what someone else says you need to change never results in satisfaction.

This: She said that my forgetfulness came from not really caring or paying attention to what people were saying, because I had no real interest in it. i.e. when she told me to get the bags from the hotel, I didn't listen too closely. If she asked me to pack the car and I did it wrong, it was because I hadn't watched her packing it before – I didn't have a real interest in how she liked to have her car packed. (These are fairly trivial examples, but I hope they illustrate my point.) I hadn't changed because I had no real interest in doing so. is, as you say, a trivial but illuminating example. However, in my opinion, it does not illuminate that she's right, or that you're selfish, but that both of you are heartbreakingly young. Yes, we notice and adapt our habits (how we fold socks, for instance) to our partner's preferences, sometimes. Sometimes we don't. Neither instance is proof of sensitivity nor of selfishness. Both are examples of the endless chain of compromises that love, and relationships, are.

That said, there is nothing wrong with trying to tone down or improve what you are calling "your forgetfulness". Again in my opinion, I think you are right to identify an inability to remember your promises, or follow through with things you know are important to your partner, as a potential stumbling block in your future relationships. People don't like to nag their partners, especially over trivial shit. People don't like to be unable to count on their partners, even for trivial shit. It's a quick and easy way to make someone seem seriously unimportant in your life if you can't even remember to pick up the tonic water for them at the store when it was the last thing you talked about before you left to go to the store.

I don't know what you can do to fix that, but I would suggest you work on it, in all your interpersonal relationships. Just practice. Consciously offer to do a small favor for a friend and follow through. Pay attention to something apparently meaningless that a friend says ("Gosh, I really like that beer you can only buy at that inconvenient shop all the way across town.") and do a small favor related to it (bring it with you next time you get together to watch movies, casually ask if this is the beer they mentioned). Just practice being mindful of what other people want or need. Practice doing things that are solely for another person's comfort or benefit. I'm sure I've said this before around here, but that's part of growing up: paying attention to how what you say and what you do affects everyone around you and considering that effect before you say or do something or before you blow off doing something you said that you would do.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:56 PM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Stop being so hard on yourself. A person who can't bring themselves to study without outside intervention is in no position to scold you for not packing the car correctly. Bringing the wrong bag down from the hotel room isn't much, and I'm sure you didn't mess things up literally 95% of the time. With that kind of success rate, you'd be dead or in the hospital by now. I suspect you were being nagged, and bought into it.

I just reread your question. The word "change" has obviously been drilled into your head. Imagine briefly if you had said to her, "I need you to change by requiring less change." How do you think that would have gone over?

If you think you have a problem following through on your commitments, there are lots of ways to improve on that: only commit to what you can handle, take notes if what you are agreeing to is detailed, set up reminders to help you get things done on time.

A healthy life involves self-improvement. Identify those things that are important to you and pursue them. If you disappoint yourself, by all means: change for the better. Don't just change because someone demands it of you.
posted by jon_kill at 1:57 PM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Probably the main reason for this is what I affectionately call my “forgetfulness”

I can't really help with the whole girlfriend situation and all of the larger issues involved, but this problem is very solvable. If you have trouble remembering things, use memory aids and strategies to help you remember things better. At the bare minimum, keep a calendar or to-do list where you keep track of important events/dates/tasks. Use whatever format and media you want as long as you can stick with something that works.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:58 PM on June 8, 2009


My current boyfriend has had lapses like that - and we're long-distance as well. One example: He's forgotten to take some photos for me that I asked for several times, mentioning how much they'd mean to me, then took them on a whim (and not quite for me) when someone else brought them up. That hurt, because it felt like my request wasn't at all important. Little things like that don't quite mean to happen, and they've been rather rare. We've dealt with them very simply yet effectively: "Hey, remember that thing you said you did, but didn't..? That bothered me. Can we avoid that in the future?" Talking about it before it boils over on the inside is healthy, even if it feels like a silly thing to bring up at first. Being passive doesn't have to mean being silent until things blow up. (I used to think that worked better. Eesh.)

Long-distance sucks, because you're always choosing. Girlfriend, friends, party, phone call, etc. Sounds like this relationship was the rubber band that finally snapped (some of her demands really do seem like crappy things to argue about), but in the future, be honest about your feelings and act upon them. If a relationship feels like a chore or a task instead of something fun, address the issue directly - agree on some sort of temporary "break" while you adjust to new surroundings, or be available less frequently but arrange for some sort of "date night" at least once a week, that she can look forward to, etc. The thing about relationships is that they need maintenance. You can't just let go once you're in one and assume the oceans will remain forever calm. You can't let the other person drive all the time. Not even most of the time. You have to invest time and effort to remind the other person that you still care. If that time and effort was usually in the form of phone calls, and if you dodged said phone calls sometimes, well... it's an awful thing to feel from the other side, especially if you're already down about something else.

Let the emotional aftermath of this breakup simmer down, until you're able to think about it without B-b-b-but I miss her... coming to your lips each time :) Concentrate on school and immediate friendships. Become happy with who you are, grow confidence and self-worth. Become a man of your word, too. And then if you both want to give this a second try, you'll do better. Just don't jump back into this in a matter of weeks, thinking that reading advice on mefi did just the trick.

Make lists / keep calendars
Pay attention to people
Think seriously about promises
If you're not sure about something, ask before it's too late
posted by Bakuun at 2:03 PM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Uh, to clarify, in this: Pay attention to something apparently meaningless that a friend says ("Gosh, I really like that beer you can only buy at that inconvenient shop all the way across town.") and do a small favor related to it (bring it with you next time you get together to watch movies, casually ask if this is the beer they mentioned) I include the "casually mention if this is the beer they mentioned" as a means of "testing" whether you successfully paid attention, not as a means of "testing" whether your effort was appreciated. The purpose of paying attention to other people's wants and needs is not to make sure they notice you being thoughtful, but to practice being thoughtful. Sorry if that did not come through in what I wrote.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:04 PM on June 8, 2009


Repeat after me:

THERE. ARE. MILLIONS. OF. OTHER. FISH. IN THE OCEAN. You're too young to be worrying too much about this.
posted by spicynuts at 2:05 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm going to mostly pick on your problems with "forgetfulness"...

I have some very good friends who are incredibly flaky. We joke about it. If we schedule to do something at 8pm, I understand that to mean that, at earliest, they will show up at 8:30. If they promise me to give me X, or talk about Y, or... or anything, I understand this to mean that there isn't a chance in heck of it happening unless I remind them several times. I love these friends, and they're great people, and they have many amazing, wonderful qualities. I am better for their friendship.

...All the same, though, there is no way I could be closer than friends with someone like that. It's just the way that my personality is. I don't do well with flakiness -- I can handle making allowances once every couple of weeks for a friend, but I couldn't handle making the same allowances every day for a life partner. It'd drive me batty. It wouldn't work. Similarly, these flaky friends probably could never handle being with someone as punctual as me. Just like they can put up with my frustration with tardiness and what-not once in a while, it would drive them mad to put up with my anxiety over timeliness and promises and plans every single day. It just wouldn't work.

Now, I have a loving significant other who shares my love for punctuality, and my friends have their own loving partners who both tolerate and love the lifestyle that goes along with flakiness. We're all very happy with our respective partners -- we have all managed to find people who fit with our personalities just right.

I'm saying all this because it sounds like you are just someone who is more like my friends than me. And that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you, or that you have to make huge changes to your personality in order to accommodate the people like me. You are who you are. It sounds like your girlfriend is more like me, and this means that the two of you have personalities that are destined to clash. But she is who she is.

The fact that she does not like certain aspects of your personality does not mean that you have a personality that requires changing. The fact that you and she, as a team, don't really work that well together doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you. And so, the question shouldn't be, "What can I do to change who I am so that this person will like me?" It should, instead, be "Can this person and I manage to work together so that we're both happy?" And it may very well be, given your two personalities and what you've told us about your past relationship, that that can't happen.

It may very well be that you are not a good partner for this girl, but that in no way means you are not a good partner for someone else or not a good person in general.

With that said, if you still want to change aspects of yourself, for your own sake, rather than hers... You need to get more realistic goals. "Be someone to look up to" is such a vague goal. What does that even mean? How will you know when you've accomplished it? How are you sure that people aren't already looking up to you? You don't. So focus on setting goals that have a clear means of being completed. What are some specific types of actions you wish you did more? Clean your apartment more often? Exercise more regularly? Watch less TV and read more good literature? ...I have no clue what you think it takes to "be someone to look up to" or any of your other goals, but you need to figure it out in a more detailed, exact way.
posted by Ms. Saint at 2:05 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


A big part of the problem here is that there's no frame of reference. You're 21, she's 20 and this is your first full-blown, long term relationship. Part of moving forward in life includes having different relationship experiences with different people. It's only after you have those experiences that you can look back on the current one and realize its flaws and greatness. The problem? You don't have a time machine nor a crystal ball.

You certainly appear to care about each other but caring about each other doesn't necessarily equate to being compatible. It sounds as if the type of relationship she needs is one that involves a certain level of conformity to her particular needs, whereas you need one that is a bit more fluid. There's nothing wrong with that; they're merely different ways of viewing the universe.

Be very, very careful not to revert back to this relationship due to fear of being alone, nostalgia, and/or comfort factors. It'll be somewhat frightening to move on in the world without her (and it'll hurt like hell), but most likely that step is what both of you need to do. Enjoy your life at 21 with your friends, hobbies, spontaneity. That isn't selfish, that's simply youth. You are going through a really exciting part of your life, when you get to be somewhat carefree and learn about your likes and dislikes. Don't forego that by locking yourself into a relationship that overrides those components of your personality. That will lead to resentment.

Plus - and unfortunately - heartbreak is part of The Experience. Most people experience it at least once in their lives and although it sounds cliche, working through it teaches you much about yourself and how you view relationships.

So first off, I'd say, don't try to change for her (because that's what it sounds like you're doing). Enjoy being young and single and if you do find personality components you want to work on, do so, but only for yourself. Secondly, go meet other friends and eventually go out on dates with other people. What one person finds annoying about you the next person may find charming, so I'd caution you against jettisoning your personality traits at this stage. Thirdly, bear in mind that she has flaws, too. Simply because she says you have certain faults doesn't mean that's really the case. She doesn't have a whole lotta worldly experience either, e.g., her frame of reference is also quite limited.

Good luck.
posted by December at 2:05 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Long distance relationships are really, really hard. Life is too short. It seems like your relationship was already circling the drain, and your girlfriend decided that your trivial missteps were the cause of her dissatisfaction. You know, rather than the not seeing her partner regularly through the bulk of the relationship.

I wouldn't take it personally. Try again with someone else; this time make it someone you get to see every day. If it ends with the same complaints, that may be the time to actually work on yourself.
posted by almostmanda at 2:10 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know you are hurting and I'm sorry for that. However, it seems like a break is exactly what's in order. You seem scattered and in "who am I?" mode which means you are not primed for a heavy relationship and all the responsibilities that that entails just yet. If you've been dating your gf since you were 18 and she was 17, this is a normal ebb in such a relationship. Your girlfriend has keen insight for such a young person, I believe she is right that you "forget" things because they are not a priority to you or because that is your subconcious way of rebelling against what you deem an "authority" figure or someone trying to make you be something you don't know if you're supposed to be just yet. The silver lining is that you're young and have time on your side. Chill out, take a break, get your thoughts together (this may mean less partying for a spell and really pondering your future), and if you decide to re-enter the relationship, you will do so with a refreshed perspective.

Calm down, get your life organized, then think about a relationship. Good luck.
posted by GeniPalm at 2:11 PM on June 8, 2009


Call her up and tell her this:

"Hey, what's up? Yeah, I've been thinking about you said about me and I gotta tell ya, you're full of shit. I'm trying to change who am I, based on your demands and you're calling me selfish?! Listen if you really love me, you'll accept me for who I am and stop demanding that I change. Sure, I'm not perfect, I've forgotten things and I really am sorry about forgetting to get a card for your Dad's birthday and some of the other stuff, sure. But look if you want a specific bag from the goddamn hotel room, just tell me which one you want and I'll bring it ok? Otherwise I'm going to bring a lot of them, because I really do want to make you happy. And the phone calls? You gotta be flexible, we're in freaking different countries and I'm in university, I got shit going on, stuff pops up.

It's been three years, we're both in our early 20s and we're trying to do this long distance and frankly your demands are getting to be too much. You're all over me, pointing out my flaws and whatever I do or try never seems to be enough for you. I know I'm not perfect, but I don't need or want someone who supposedly loves me to be constantly pointing out my flaws, it doesn't make me feel good and damnit, I should be feeling good if I'm in a relationship."

"So. Take are, thanks for the memories and if you ever decide you can accept me for who I am, gimmee a call."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:25 PM on June 8, 2009 [11 favorites]


Words can really hurt, can't they? I know if someone I loved gave me a very pointed list of all the ways I've let them down, and all the things I need to do to be worthy of their time, I'd think, "It would be better if you'd punched me in the gut, because at least that hurt would heal faster."

If that made sense to you, then really think about it. She really hurt you. Several times. With a list of things to change and a possible carrot dangling way off in the distance. The woman you love was able to hurt you this way.

Is she worth that much hurt? Do you really think you deserve it? (Hint: You don't.)

Since you were 18 when this relationship started, and she was 17, I assume this is your first true relationship. Given that, this must seem catastrophic. But as time passes, you'll learn that you should not ask others to change who they are, and they should not ask you to change either. It's wonderful to compromise, it's wonderful to do something different just because the other person wants you to. But when a long list of demands for change are presented, it's time to look elsewhere.
posted by Houstonian at 2:27 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think you are going to be better for it, in the long run. A good partnership doesn't rest on one of the partners "changing" - you either complement each other well and make each other stronger, or it doesn't work. Any "change" (and I would argue people "change" very little, what matters more is our perception of experience) that happens will happen as a result of you wanting it to do so, not because you are being brow-beaten by your partner.

You have a great, great opportunity right now - enjoy being in university. You sound like you enjoy your friends and life. As you mourn your relationship think about all the exciting and wonderful things you'll be doing with your life, not about changing for a past relationship.
posted by RajahKing at 2:28 PM on June 8, 2009


after reading your post i had the impression that apart from being hurt by this breakup, the long term thing that you need to take from it is to look at your passivity in relation to responsibility.

a key moment for me was when you said "she says i'm passive, i think i got it from my parents", you need to take full responsibility for your passivity and understand it through yourself, no others.

good luck, i know hard times are ahead but of course you will carry on and thats something
posted by frequently at 2:29 PM on June 8, 2009


I think I am a good deal like you, or maybe I just see myself in you. You can handle your stuff, but the world on the whole isn't really that critical. You can get things done (you're not so flaky you couldn't stick through with school), but they'll happen when you get to them. You'd prefer to do the fun things, so the tasks and duties often get put aside, and you might forget about them.

The problem is that you make promises to people, either on important matters or trivial, and nothing happens. You are not being selfish, you just don't keep track of things. But others might see this as you not valuing their requests and your promises enough to keep up with things.

As Bakuun said:
Make lists, keep calendars, or find some way to organize, prioritize and keep track of the important things and the promises you make. And If you're not sure about something, ask before it's too late.

If you're like me, it's not that you don't pay attention to people, it's that you can get distracted enough to forget things, even your own appointments and goals. And people are a lot less annoyed if you confess early that you forgot something than trying to avoid the ugly truths. Avoiding things doesn't make them go away, they just get bigger out of your sight. It takes work to overcome that fear of confrontation, but it's worth it. Maybe it'll help you get your former girlfriend back, or maybe you'll realize she wasn't a great match for you.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:29 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You don't sound that flakey to me, you sound pretty normal. It's not really your job to make her study, etc. She sounds like she has unrealistic expectations for the kind of partner she wants. It's not surprising that you couldn't live up to those expectations- they seem extensive and kind of unreasonable. I believe you that she's nice and impressive and all, but just as a data point: I would never expect my boyfriend to pack the car the same way I would, for instance- that just sounds control freaky. (And this is coming from a person who is totally a control freak).

I think you two may just be too young, and live too far apart, and she is too bossy for this to work out. It's okay, very few people marry their university sweetheart and even if they do, it's often after a breakup & hiatus. I'd say let it go, and stay friends, and if it's meant to be you'll get back together later. Actually I was kind of controlling in my early 20s too, and I've mellowed out a lot since then, so if you two are meant to be she'll probably be a much better partner by then. Girl needs to chill, right?

Also, next time around:
"I promise to take care of her" is so vague I don't know how you'd ever know you'd done it.
Next time you try a self-improvement task, be more specific:
"I will prioritize a date night with her one night a week."
"I will mail her two funny letters every month."
"I will show up on her porch at midnight with a slice of cake to eat under a tree by moonlight."
"I will surprise her with a hand-drawn comic strip for no reason at all."
"I will call her when I take the car out, to see if she needs me to take her grocery shopping."
"I will go over to her place an hour early and tidy up on a week I know she is busy."

Those kinds of objectives you can easily meet and exceed. "Take care of her" or "be less selfish" or "change" are too vague for success. Good luck and don't be too hard on yourself- most relationships end, and that's just normal.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:30 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read your post and kept lookiing for "the thing she needed you to change." Perhaps you're a heroin addict. Perhaps you're a kleptomaniac. Perhaps you're sleeping with her sister. Perhaps you like kicking puppies?

But then I read: I wrote what I wanted to change down on a list (Be confident, Take care of her, and be someone to look up to)

That, coupled with the fact that you are 21, convinces me that both of you are way too perfectionistic. Many people in their 40s and 50s have the same list.

She said that my forgetfulness came from not really caring or paying attention to what people were saying, because I had no real interest in it. i.e. when she told me to get the bags from the hotel, I didn't listen too closely.

No idea if this applies to you, but the forgetfulness - and the ensuing accusation - sounds exactly like my husband and I. Turns out he has ADHD. I used to take his forgetfulness personally, now I know better. Your girlfriend sounds extremely insecure. I can sympathize with her, because at 20 years old, this would have taken me ages to figure out. Whether or not you have ADHD is irrelevant; in order to make this work, what you two need is loads of patience. She's apparently decided she's run out of it, and nothing you do can make her have more patience. She has to decide your eccentricities and faults are worth it. My husband's forgetfulness can be frustrating, but I wouldn't have him any other way, because he wouldn't be him. Since she would only have you some other way, she doesn't really love you, and you're better off apart. Sorry.
posted by desjardins at 2:34 PM on June 8, 2009


At your age, a long distance relationship like this is nearly impossible to maintain, so don't feel like a failure. Also, people at your age are self-centered. It's perfectly normal.

It sounds like she wanted out of the relationship but wanted to feel blameless and she put it all onto you.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:42 PM on June 8, 2009


You don't want to be with someone who gives you lists of demands that must be met. That's horrifying.
They should, as trite as it sounds, accept you. Of course you (and I) should always strive to improve and better ourselves, to be listeners and respectful of others desires and dreams. Walk the line and all that. But if you are, for example, a passive soul, then that is you.

I'm sorry about the breakup, but as my dad told me many years ago after a broken engagement less than two weeks before: 'Someday you'll look back and thank God this happened." It wasn't all that terribly long until I was back in the dating game, meeting wildly 'normal' chicks.

Stay friendly until that just naturally peters out, but don't stay with a mate who makes rules for you to abide by "or else".
posted by dawson at 2:43 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: passiveness coming from parents, and taking responsibility for it.

It came from somewhere, and it sucks, but it's yours to deal with. Maybe your parents didn't set a great example, but you're young and you can change.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:44 PM on June 8, 2009


On the 'am I selfish?' question - this is something many couples struggle with. It's hard to understand eachother's expectations when it comes to defining 'selfish' - these behaviours can be so ingrained it's difficult to know how to articulate them. Women tend to be socialised from an early age to pay attention to the moods and needs of others. Men tend not to get that early conditioning, unless they've been a young caregiver (early death or illness of a parent e.g.) This is why many heterosexual women complain of having to 'mother' their partners. Maybe this is what she means by 'taking care' of her, but you don't register it on the same level because, subconciously, you expect someone else to take responsibility. You gotta learn sometime though. It involves a lot of talk and observation and patience from you both.

Or you might just be a scatter brain - what do internet strangers know?

However, whatever is going on is made n times worse by your circumstances. It's really hard to be in synch with your SO generally, but at your age, and at that distance, it's almost impossible! Perhaps you both need a break and this was how it came about. Take the time to see how you really feel without her, and to understand why you loved her. Learn and move on.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:49 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You sound like a nice, sincere, 21 year old. You should be learning to take care of yourself, not someone else (who sounds like she's pretty darn good of taking care of herself, btw). It sounds to me like the relationship had reached it's end, and she was looking for a reason to break up with you. Please don't internalize that "list." Be yourself and find someone who appreciates you for who you are (in the local area!).
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:05 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read something many, many years ago about one of the differences between men and women. Men want their partner to never change, and they do; while women want to change everything about their partner, and they don't. Forget for a moment the sexist nature of the phrase, the takeaway is about change.

If you want to change, you will. If it is a priority for you, you'll change. If there are other things more important to you than your relationship, like refraining from change because you like it better the way it is, then it is time to move on. It is more fair to her, and eventually to you as well. If you can't give your girlfriend the partner she craves without making changes you are uncomfortable with, spare her. If you make small changes now, will she expect bigger changes in the future?

You're young, with many years, and many relationships left ahead of you. Keep your focus ahead of you, set some long-term goals and priorities, and if they include your girlfriend then make the effort to help her with acceptance.
posted by netbros at 3:06 PM on June 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


In my opinion there's some overthinking going on. Relationships are emotional, not rational, so don't think for one minute that if you make every change desired that a blissful relationship will follow. My sense is she's frustrated, and she doesn't exactly know why, so she picks those things that she can label.
My advice. Forget about her and focus on you, what is it that YOU want to be? Do that, not for her, for YOU. You have to be comfortable with yourself first, before others will be comfortable with you.
Honestly, like many of the others above, I say let this one go until there's more mutual support going on.
posted by forforf at 3:07 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me make a complete wild guess at the problem. Likely I am completely wrong, but see what you think.

You are incredibly self-centred. You don't really notice this, but you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about yourself and how others see you and what you should do. When you think about your (now ex) girlfriend, you are thinking "what will she think of ME" rather than "what might she like to do herself?".

When you are chatting to people, you are mainly thinking out what you might say next rather than about what the person is saying.

When you meet someone you know, you find it difficult to remember what they said last time you met, so you don't end up talking about them, but about what you have been up to instead.

You don't make much effort to organise social events or to keep in touch with people, so most of your friends are people who are willing to put in the effort to do this themselves.

Therefore, you give the impression of someone who doesn't really care much about other people, who doesn't make the effort to stay connected, who doesn't really listen to what people say most of the time.

Get more interested in what other people think about things and your problem is half way to being solved.

For the forgetfulness, which is a different thing, there are two solutions:

1. Stop saying "of course I'll do this!" when it's not true. Learn to predict whether you will in fact do something, and don't say you will do it when in fact you will not.

2. Find a mechanism to remind you - diary? online calendar? reminder program on your phone? and when you agree to do something, put it in the system. Spend some time making sure that the system works for you and helps you to remember to do things.
posted by emilyw at 3:25 PM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


She really hurt you. Several times. With a list of things to change and a possible carrot dangling way off in the distance.

That.

I'm a woman who has been treated this way by other women. I'm also ashamed to say that I once treated a boyfriend similarly. It's one of the things I'm least proud of in my life.
So I'll say:

This girl is making me really angry. The way I see it, she is no less selfish than you supposedly are. Rather than maturely facing her desire to break up with you, she has convinced herself and you that this is your fault. Now she doesn't have to feel guilty - because she gave you lots of chances, right?

Bullshit.

A truly unselfish person would not have mercilessly sacrificed your self-regard for her own sense of righteousness and peace of mind.

There is probably nothing you could have done to make this relationship work in the long term. Please don't believe this narrative she has created about you. It's simply not a trustworthy assessment, because she created it with an aim to justify breaking up with you. I don't believe she did it purposefully, just to be evil. But unfortunately, people seem to end up doing ugly things to avoid the guilt of breaking up with someone. Break-ups happen. They have to happen. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with breaking up with someone. But the way people go about them - that's often where the worst damage is done.

Without knowing you, I can't say whether or not you are a selfish person - and lordy, who would I be to judge! But what I can say is that you do NOT deserve to be treated this way. If you can, get indignant and get angry. Surround yourself with people who like you the way you are. Finally, don't talk to her for a good long time. She's too skilled at manipulating you.

I'm very sorry, and good luck.
posted by kitcat at 3:27 PM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


She gave me a few pieces of advice. 1. Don't follow other people – make up your own mind, and don't assume that they know better than you.

Do you see irony there? I applaud anyone who wants to improve himself, but do it for yourself, not to please her or anyone else.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:47 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I can't even believe I'm gonna say this, but ok.

You are my ex-boyfriend, and I am your ex-girlfriend. The similarities are pretty striking (and humbling) in a lot of ways. You've described your absent-mindedness, passivity, and forgetfulness. She's struggling with the way you do things in comparison to how she does them (or would like them to be done) and nagging as a result. Like you guys, I broke up with my boyfriend after realizing I was so frustrated with the way he was, that he wouldn't change, and that I had no right to ask him to change. He offered to change, and asked me how to change- but it was just a fundamental difference in personality and I didn't want to change his personality. I cared about him, I just didn't want to be in a relationship with him and live with him!

My ex was very, very unhappy that I broke up with him. I was enabling him to cruise along in life, covering for him when he messed up, trying to be supportive of his endeavors. But I didn't have someone to rely on when I really needed them and that felt pretty bad. I eventually stopped asking him for help and tried to do everything myself and that wasn't a very healthy response either.

So I think your breakup is a good thing based on what you've described. I hope this will give you both a chance to grow and realize who you want in life the way it has me. I really hated who I'd become at the end of that relationship, but the past couple of years have let me reflect and rethink my bad behavior and how I would have handled things with him differently. In the end I decided that I just need to be with someone a little more like me. (And that I need to have a hell of a lot more patience with little differences!) I don't know much about how things have turned out for my ex- I hear through friends that he's had some serious setbacks, but I hope he meets someone a little more like him who will "get" him on some intuitive level I just couldn't reach.

And I hope you meet someone who will love you for exactly who you are. Don't change unless you want to.
posted by Mouse Army at 4:00 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


My ex was very, very unhappy that I broke up with him. I was enabling him to cruise along in life, covering for him when he messed up, trying to be supportive of his endeavors. But I didn't have someone to rely on when I really needed them and that felt pretty bad. I eventually stopped asking him for help and tried to do everything myself and that wasn't a very healthy response either.


Wow, Mouse Army - you just blew my mind! This is exactly how it was with my ex-husband - thanks so much for the food for thought!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:26 PM on June 8, 2009


I was enabling him to cruise along in life, covering for him when he messed up, trying to be supportive of his endeavors. But I didn't have someone to rely on when I really needed them and that felt pretty bad. I eventually stopped asking him for help and tried to do everything myself and that wasn't a very healthy response either.

Kind of like my relationship with my current boyfriend, before we broke up for a year to grow as healthy individual people. That break did us an incredible amount of good - it was enough time to distance ourselves from the drama and each realize, "Man, I had some serious problems too..."

We're fantastic now. And I'd say the main reason we work so much better this time around is, we placed a lot more weight on the things that really matter. We wouldn't have been able to see what those things are though, without taking a step back.
posted by Bakuun at 4:37 PM on June 8, 2009


Does anyone else see herein the classic J-type v. P-type Meyers-Briggian conflict.

You're the classic P-type; she's the classic J-type.

That your relationship lasted a year is probably because of the distance, and I'd wager a thumb that, were you both near each other, the relationship wouldn't have lasted 3 months.

Is this she? (J-type)

Make decisions easily
Pay attention to time
Finish projects
Work first and play later
See the need for rules
Make a plan and stick to it
Find comfort in schedules


Is this you? (P-type)

Don't like making decisions
Not concerned about/less aware of time
Start projects
Play first, work later
Keep options open
Question the need for many rules
Keep plans flexible
Be spontaneous


I'm always surprised when I see two of these people as friends; when I see them as partners, I feel like a relationship "Grim Reaper" and keep my mouth shut.

These two types of people cannot sustain a relationship. It will always fail or be such an extreme compromise that any victories are Pyhrric ones.

1. Learn who you are first, be it through Meyers-Briggs or communication classes or self-help books or a lifetime of life experience that will result in this conclusion: "this is who I am, take it or leave it". They all essentially same the same thing in different ways (i.e. this is who you are, this is how you communicate who you are to others, this is who other people are, this is how they communicate to you, etc.).

2. Use those tools to add people to and filter people from your life. Otherwise, people will filter you, like she did.

In short, know thyself and to thine own self be true.
posted by foooooogasm at 4:47 PM on June 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


1. You're too young for a steady girlfriend.
2. Long distance relationships suck.
3. You can't change anyone (this one is for her).
4. People can only change themselves.
5. People don't change (by and large).

Your story hit home, hit the nail on the head, whatever. But I'm more than twice your age and my girlfriend lives about 10 miles away. But otherwise I could have written most of that screed.
posted by friarjohn at 4:52 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I think you should listen to kitcat & Mouse Army, above.

At 21 it's hard for you both not to be self-absorbed, no matter how much you think you've committed to this relationship. There's a reason for the old cliche about men marrying women hoping that they stay the same & women marrying men hoping they'll change - both are often disappointed. You're young - use the time apart to gauge how much you really miss her & how much the behavior she dislikes is really a part of who you are, versus perhaps an innate passive agressive response to what your subconsious must feel like is her attempt to control you --> http://www.bearblain.com/Control%20Life.jpg

See some other folks - don't hole up.
posted by Pressed Rat at 4:57 PM on June 8, 2009


um, there: Control
posted by Pressed Rat at 5:08 PM on June 8, 2009


Your priorities are elsewhere, and probably precisely where they should be - enjoying life at the university.

Yours is not the first, and will not be the last, long-distance relationship to end in the middle of college. The chances of the survival or your relationship, in my experience, were between 1% and 5%.

Who was more selfish between the two of you? I'm not sure it matters. We aren't getting the whole story here, but that doesn't matter. What does matter is how you move on from this. Chalk it up as a great learning experience, and try to truly understand things from her point of view so that you can figure out whether you need to change yourself in future relationships.

I was enabling him to cruise along in life, covering for him when he messed up, trying to be supportive of his endeavors. But I didn't have someone to rely on when I really needed them and that felt pretty bad.


This.

I used to be the emotional slacker. Forgetfulness, passivity, all that stuff; in a nutshell, unreliable. No more. Reliability and the ability to manage expectations are key to not just relationships, but to life.

Was she wrong and you right? Not the issue. Can you move on and become better -- a better man, a better lover, a better person -- because of this? That is the question. Are you selfish? Only time will tell.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:13 PM on June 8, 2009


You will find someone who wants you for who you are, not someone who is out to mold you to their ideal and threaten the relationship if you don't accede to their timetable. You've dodged a bullet, she sounds like a martinet. Well done.
posted by mattoxic at 5:17 PM on June 8, 2009


Today, before she left (tearful and heartbreaking – we spent the last few hours just hugging), she gave me a few pieces of advice. 1. Don't follow other people – make up your own mind, and don't assume that they know better than you. 2. Try to look at arguments/situations from the perspective of a third person. That way you can more easily see it objectively. 3. Take responsibility for things – she said the reason that we were breaking up is because I had not changed, despite the fact that changing was entirely in my power.

I hope you told her to get fucked. She said this to you after she made demands on how you were to behave?
posted by mattoxic at 5:20 PM on June 8, 2009


I dunno. Sounds like she was just looking for a reason to break up with you, and she's trumped-up this whole forgetfulness angle as an excuse.

I mean...
She has given me two deadlines in the past two months, saying that she wanted to see a definite change in me if we were to stay together.
Nobody in their right mind would every expect this to work. More likely, that's about the time she decided to break up with you, except she didn't have the guts to do it then and made this bullshit ultimatum instead.
We talked about it and agreed that when the end of her stay came (today) we would break up, as I'd shown her that I hadn't changed. After that talk, we had very few (if any) arguments.
Well, yeah of course, because she was worried about hurting your feelings and you gave her an easy out by accepting her view of the world.
Today, before she left (tearful and heartbreaking – we spent the last few hours just hugging), she gave me a few pieces of advice.
Wow. Some advice? Now she's convinced herself that breaking up will actually be good for you and she's got some helpful pointers for the next poor sucker that you wind up with? Gee, what a nice person to be breaking up with you.

You want to know how you can start acting more like a man? You should feel fucking insulted. That's a start.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:34 PM on June 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


No, I do not think you're selfish; easily distracted and somewhat absentminded perhaps, but not selfish. On the contrary, I think your girlfriend sounds a bit OCD and demanding. Except for forgetting the birthday card, the laundry lists of things she gave you to change about yourself is really ridiculous, imho. She needs to lighten up a bit and stop being so persnickety (pack the friggin' car herself, for example, if she has to have it done a certain way) and you need to grow a pair. And start writing things down if you're forgetful.

Move on.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:45 PM on June 8, 2009


I don't know what to say about your relationship or break up, but assuming she's not exaggerating, I know exactly what kind of forgetfulness and 'selfishness' that she's talking about. It's not selfish, it's more like not noticing details and not realizing that sometimes it's the details that matter, and if you saw that a certain detail mattered, you wouldn't forget about it as much.

So make a point to yourself to be a better person, a better boyfriend (in the future, whether it's her or some other girl), a better friend (right now), a better son. A lot of the suggestions people wrote are good - take note of things you hear people say they like and get it for them, or mention it later, or something, so they know you've paid attention. Email or text yourself reminders if you need to - my inbox is seriously just messages to myself that say "ask Friend A how her trip was on monday" and "this website might have good ideas for birthday present for Friend B - check it in 2 months" and "send so-and-so a happy graduation card" and "make CD of pictures for friend C and mail it to them instead of just emailing them, because it feels better to get real mail." Without these reminders I get caught up in other stuff and forget (you would not have forgotten the birthday card for her dad if you did this!). After a while you automatically start doing all these little things on your own, and it's all these little things that make people feel appreciated.

Now, you don't sound like a bad person at all, your intentions are good, but you just don't seem to have this attention to detail. And that's OK, some people do, some don't. I think this is one of the very few ways a person can actually change, so you might change, or you might not. The thing is, she wants someone who does notice all the little things, and that might never be you, or it might be you when it's too late for you two. This does not mean that she does not like/love you for you, she just knows what she wants in a partner and it's those things, which I can totally understand. But there are people who don't care that much about these things, or with whom it will be a constant running joke about your forgetfulness. Either way though, I think it's a good skill to have, to remember little things and to like and want to do them.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 5:45 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


3. Take responsibility for things – she said the reason that we were breaking up is because I had not changed, despite the fact that changing was entirely in my power.
This last one puzzled me, as I have obviously never wanted to be passive, or shirk responsibility, or not take care of her – it wasn't as if this was a concious choice not to change. I asked her about it. She said that my main problem was that deep down I was selfish.


I hate this attitude. It stems from the notion that we all have the ability to change any of our behaviors or personality traits if we just want to really really badly, and thus if you don't change, it means you don't want it enough, or you're secretly selfish or lazy or weak, or any of a thousand other explanations people come up with to deny the unpleasant truth that many things about ourselves are beyond our capacity to alter through mere willpower. That doesn't mean you're not getting anything out of your current behavior patterns, but you've said you want to change and you don't want to lose your girlfriend, and you know what? I believe you. I think if you knew how to change, you would have changed already.

What you lack is not motivation, but knowledge or ability. Maybe you can change, but you need to bring in reinforcements: self-help books, therapy, meds, whatever. Maybe you can't change because the tools necessary for it haven't been invented yet (What did bipolar people do before lithium came along? They stayed bipolar. What about bipolar people who really, really didn't want to be bipolar? They probably fucking stayed bipolar). I want to be clear that I'm not trying to pathologize your problems - it's totally your call how far you want to take this, based on how important changing is to you and how disruptive your problems are. And you know what? It's also totally fine to say, "I've done all I can reasonably do, this is as far as I go, I accept myself the way that I am and I want to find someone who accepts me, too."

This question affects me so strongly because you remind me of myself before I was diagnosed with ADD. I had been beating myself up for years for being a flaky, disorganized, scatterbrained, self-centered mess. Now it's clear to me that it didn't matter how much I tried or berated myself or excavated my psyche for some subconscious opposition to self-improvement - without outside assistance, I simply lacked the capacity to change very much. Instead of despair, realizing my limits brought me a lot of peace (if you're not going to change much anyway, you might as well not hate yourself for it.).
posted by granted at 6:00 PM on June 8, 2009


She gave me a few pieces of advice. 1. Don't follow other people – make up your own mind, and don't assume that they know better than you.

This is true, but it applies to everyone in your life, including her.

I agree with an above poster that this sounds like classic Myers Briggs Perceiving vs Judging personality types, but I don't agree with them that it's a total deal-breaker. It's something that you both would have had to relax on. She would have to become more relaxed and how to learn how to go with the flow and not insist that it's done "right" the first time. You would have to pay more attention to little details that are hard for you to pay attention to right now because they're not so important for your sense of calm. There's a middle ground. It's not fair of her to decide that her side of this battle is the "right" side and that you just need to change and everything will be perfect. Neither would it be fair of you to do that.

I'm sorry about your break-up.
posted by heatherann at 6:00 PM on June 8, 2009


I haven't read most of the comments. Until you said England/Germany, I thought you were going to be my recent ex. And I don't think he needs to change, I just think we needed to break up. Just... try being yourself for a while, instead of who she wants you to be. Then decide if that's working for you. Better to ask friends if you're unnaturally forgetful, etc, than us. Hope you feel better.
posted by ecsh at 6:12 PM on June 8, 2009


My ex was very, very unhappy that I broke up with him. I was enabling him to cruise along in life, covering for him when he messed up, trying to be supportive of his endeavors. But I didn't have someone to rely on when I really needed them and that felt pretty bad. I eventually stopped asking him for help and tried to do everything myself and that wasn't a very healthy response either.

This describes my ex perfectly and like I told him when we broke up "If I want to be someone's mother I'll have a baby. You, my friend, are old enough to take care of your own problems".

He also pulled the "I'm not very good at listening" and "I hate fighting, my parents never fight and I learned it from them" cards when what he meant was "I don't feel like doing that and I'm hoping you'll just do it for me to avoid a scene. Everyone else does.". God, I'm getting annoyed just thinking about him.

OP- I think you're being let off lightly here, I doubt the examples you've given us are the whole story. You sound very flaky and in your question you are justifying repeatedly screwing up and making your girlfriends day a bit harder or her life a bit more annoying when she is supposed to be relaxing and having fun. You are mooching off her, not financially but emotionally- you take support and help and emotional energy but when do you reciprocate? If you're going to do shit like that "95% of the time" then you damn better have something to offer to make up for it. Or find someone who enjoys being bossy because no one else is going to enjoy organizing your life for you.
posted by fshgrl at 8:56 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really think you're being too hard on yourself. If you're going to be in a long-term relationship with someone, it needs to be with someone who doesn't want to change who you are. It's okay for someone to ask you to change a few details, but those details shouldn't be onerous. You weren't asking her to change to be more like you, were you?

(FWIW, the answers that mention Myers-Briggs types are fascinating. As I was reading this, I thought you sounded like my spouse of 20 years and she sounds like me. Those MJ types describe us perfectly. The difference, I guess, is that I think he's worth it, he's told me he thinks I'm worth it, and we've both learned how to let unimportant things slide. I think you need to find someone else who knows how to let things slide.)
posted by zinfandel at 9:37 PM on June 8, 2009


Assuming this only happens with unimportant stuff, which is unlikely.
posted by fshgrl at 10:16 PM on June 8, 2009


It sounds as though you consistently broke promises. I'll get that card - nope. We'll spend this night together - nope.

You said you did this often. That's not being forgetful; that's treating your girlfriend as if she's unimportant. I'm surprised she put up with it for as long as she did, especially considering that you noted that you singled her out for this pattern of broken promises.

Consider how you'd feel if someone constantly broke promises to you. Do you want to be unreliable? Do you want to be a flake? If not, start taking your promises seriously. Only commit when you plan to deliver.

Like fshgrl, I think you're getting let off lightly - in part because many people feel you were too young to be in a serious relationship. You're not too young to start acting like someone who can honor their promises.
posted by 26.2 at 12:01 AM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


but she actually has little self-discipline. My passivity came across in our relationship when she would need my help, either to make her do something (e.g. study for her exams)

This kind of sounds like she was trying to shift responsibility onto you for something that was her responsibility. Was she making any effort to improve her self discipline, or was she just expecting you to push her to do everything? You know, since she wanted you to change so much about yourself and all.
posted by narrativium at 1:25 AM on June 9, 2009


It sounds like she wanted some moral support or some kind of active involvement in helping her achieve a goal and the OP couldn't be bothered to offer it. Meanwhile he's quite happy to let her organize his entire vacation even down to what goes in which bag.
posted by fshgrl at 1:50 PM on June 9, 2009


Also, I have a followup question. Since you're anonymous, let's call it rhetorical.

How long did you wait after coming back from the airport before coming to AskMe for everyone else's opinion?


Cutting the poster some slack, I'd say that a breakup is often one of those times when you least want to examine your feelings alone. Ask Metafilter may not be as great as the couch, conversation, and touch of a good friend, but sometimes it's what you've got handy. Of all the things to worry that you're not making your mind up about on your own, how to respond to a breakup isn't one of the top ones I'd worry about.
posted by namespan at 11:57 PM on June 9, 2009


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