How can love and the certainty that you want to marry someone fade away and leave numbness?
September 28, 2009 4:59 PM   Subscribe

How can love and the certainty that you want to marry someone fade away and leave numbness?

We fell for each other pretty hard. He was 23, I was 28. Very early on, I decided he was the guy I wanted to marry, and he felt the same way. The first year and a half of our relationship was wonderful. Then I started talking about engagement, and he started avoiding conversations about it and making excuses. Many fights ensued. Around the same time, I started noticing that he was often in a bad mood around me, usually didn't seem happy to see me, wanted to spend time with his friends more than he wanted to spend time with me - and these were all major changes in his behavior. I gradually went from being a confident person to being anxious and constantly trying to make him happy. Eventually I accepted that he no longer wanted to marry me. I was heartbroken, and I desperately wanted the return of the guy who adored me. A few months later, I broke up with him.

Shortly after our breakup, something very strange happened: despite my heartache, I woke up one day and felt...really good. It was a relief to be rid of the anxiety and the constant trying to make him happy (and never succeeding). And I started noticing how good it felt when other people smiled at me, seemed happy to see me, and seemed to enjoy my company. And I started noticing how much I enjoyed laughing at the same jokes with my friends, and realized that my ex and I had not shared the same sense of humor, and I realized how nice it was to laugh with friends at the same types of jokes.

It didn't take very long at all before he told me he'd made a mistake and actually did want to get engaged. I was angry and didn't want to hear it. Eventually my anger faded and he convinced me to give him another chance. We've been dating for months now. We've talked about the past. He hadn't had much dating experience before me and had been afraid that if he settled down with me, he'd be missing out on other experiences - hence the jerky behavior. While we were apart, he dated other people and saw that he actually hadn't been missing out on anything. I imagine age might play a role in all this, too (he's 27 now). Ironically enough, I finally got what I wanted - the return of the sweet, adoring guy who treats me like gold and wants to marry me. But I no longer have that sense of absolute certainty that I want to marry him. I can't come up with a good reason why I shouldn't feel excited about marrying him, but I just don't. Worse, I feel like the romantic part of my brain has stopped functioning, or something has gone numb. In a clinical, objective way, it seems to me that we should be married, but the feelings I used to have seem to be mostly gone. I'm unable to say "I love you", and when he's gone, I don't often feel that I miss him.

The only concrete thing I can point to is this realization that we don't share the same sense of humor, and I'd love to share that with my husband. Beyond that, he is objectively everything I want, and the only person I've ever wanted to marry, and yet trying to bring back the desire to marry him feels akin to watering a plant that has already died.

This situation is immensely frustrating and saddening, and it makes me feel like I'm going to lose someone I should be with, but without that feeling of certainty that I want to marry him, I'm not willing to do it. I'm NOT asking whether I should be dating/marrying him. I just don't understand where that feeling of certainty went, and I'd like to hear similar experiences (if there are any) and possible explanations for what's happened to me.

Thanks very much.
posted by whitelily to Human Relations (46 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just as he matured and changed some between then and now, so did you. I'm not saying you're an immature person then or now, it's just that we all go through a constant learning process and as time goes on our tastes and needs change. Maybe where he is now is not what you need now, that's all.
posted by jamaro at 5:10 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


He already breached your trust by screwing you over the first time. I'm not saying you shouldn't or should trust him this time, but it is obvious to me that trust is where your problem lies.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:19 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


He treated you like crap, made it clear he didn't want to be with you, that he didn't care for you, and just generally did everything necessary to kill your love for him. Then you got over it and moved on. You can't just undo that kind of damage, the love doesn't switch back on because he changed his mind. It's possible that you may fall in love with him again but you'd be starting from scratch and given the history it's seriously unlikely.

As for 'someone you should be with', you don't love him. He made sure of that. There's no reason why you should be with him, find someone you do love instead.
posted by shelleycat at 5:20 PM on September 28, 2009 [16 favorites]


Feelings are like that - especially when people jerk you around.

It sounds like as long as things were great, you felt a great sense of security in the relationship and you couldn't imagine anything else, and so, yes, the idea of marrying him was wonderful and the sense of security comforting.

After you broke up, and you begin to move on emotionally, things changed. You never know what´s going to happen after people hurt you - you're not going to be the same person afterward, no matter what.

Now that you are back together, it sounds like you are in a different emotional place, and not as emotionally secure with him as you were before. It's great that he figured out what he finally wanted - but unfortunately, he is still that guy who acted like a jerk. I think it's perfectly reasonable for you to not feel the same sense of certainty - it's the direct result of his uncertainty.

This is the way things work. You may never get those "certainty" feelings back, or it may take awhile, until you can trust your relationship to the same degree as before. Or you may just decide to continue the process of moving on...
posted by Locochona at 5:24 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only concrete thing I can point to is this realization that we don't share the same sense of humor . . .

Stop right here. There's an old saying: "Kissin' don't last. Cookin' do." We're not talking about cooking here, but we are talking about the ability to make you comfortable and at home every day. Sharing a sense of humor is completely necessary for that.

I do feel bad for this guy, who did something terrible without knowing what he lost until too late. But there it is.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:28 PM on September 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


Shelleycat is right.

Move on.

There are dozens of people out there in the world you could spend your life with that will love you back fully, unconditionally, and not treat you like crap. Anyway, what if he starts acting bad again? Then you'll have wasted more time on him.
posted by dragonette1 at 5:33 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


What essentially happened is that, while he was out learning that you were what he wanted after all, you were busy learning that he wasn't what you thought you wanted after all. You should feel that excitement and that natural comfort and if you don't, you might come to regret not being with someone who provides that for you.

On the other hand, no one here can tell you that you'll certainly find a "better match" or someone you're "more compatible" with, just because this person doesn't click on a "single" point. The sense of humor is big, but I doubt it's the only real reason why you no longer feel excited; it's just a red herring in that sense.
posted by disillusioned at 5:36 PM on September 28, 2009


I don't read anywhere in your question that he "treated you like crap" or "screwed you over" as some answers are saying. I think there's a little projecting going on, maybe.

I read that wasn't ready for a commitment when you were, and he didn't know how to handle the feelings of being "forced" to make one or lose you. That's pretty common and natural, and not awful by any stretch: damning the guy for not being ready to leap at the "right" time isn't fair at all. He seems to have grown older and wiser, and that's not something he should be punished for, either. ("How dare you not be smarter sooner!")

I second jamaro's summary: you were both different people then, you're both different people now. I suspect you're doubting yourself more today, since you were "certain" once and it did not work out, so you're unwilling to entertain certainty again. (Welcome to your thirties, hon: you'll do a lot of second and third-guessing in the years to come, and you'll have trouble being 'certain' about anything, because of your past experiences.)

But you know what? Certainty's overrated. If you're happy, keep being with this guy. If you're not, don't. You don't need to book the next 40 years of your life in advance. That's just a recipe for recurring disappointment.

Also, whitelily... that's pretty eponysterical. Or at least eponypoignant.

Days go by.
posted by rokusan at 5:37 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


You've not only learned that you don't need him to be happy, but you also had the chance to imagine what it might be like with someone who's more compatible with you on things that are important.
posted by availablelight at 5:39 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anecdotally, if you want one, I dated a great guy for about 2.5 years. I eventually realized that the certainty of future was gone and that I didn't really miss him when he was away for a couple months. I had more fun without him. I started having dreams where we were getting married and instead of being exciting, they scared the hell out of me.

I ended up turning him loose and it really was the best thing I did. I'm now married to a guy who is my complement and truly the love of my life - I had the certainty with him that I lacked with the other guy.

As for you, the certainty went the way of the relationship (the first time) - you've seen that he was willing to be a crappy jerk and walk away. You started getting over the relationship and accepted that it was doomed. And now, you feel like you 'should' get married to him, but deep down you're still not trusting the relationship to continue.

While it's great that he used the off time to date other people and realize how awesome you are, he left you as an option open when you had written him off as an option. Sometimes, you break it, you buy it. Sometimes, you can't halt or reverse the process of writing off a relationship.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:42 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm going to buck the trend in responses here and say your guy sounds normal (nice, even), and only YOUR judgement matters regarding the quality of his character. After all, he's grown in the past few years--as have you. I'm sure when he thinks about it, he's quite grateful to have this second chance with you.

Regarding "where that feeling of certainty went," I would say that your certainty was the outlier back then, not his hesitance.

Love and marriage are not like the movies.

For most of us, there is no such thing as "love at first sight" or "the one" or "just knowing it was right" or any of the other cliches which mass media teaches the littlest children to expect and act upon.

For most of us, love is a confusing mess of choice, obsession, doubt, compromise, deception, surrender, and everything else.

I think you two can regain the certainty you had. But the next time it should be based on a rational decision that you two want to love each other forever and have confidence that you will make it together, based on your habit of doing so, rather than a chemical gut instinct.

-
posted by General Tonic at 5:46 PM on September 28, 2009 [13 favorites]


I can't come up with a good reason why I shouldn't feel excited about marrying him,

When the chips were down, he wasn't thinking about you or the relationship, he thought only of himself. It's understandable what he did, most of us do that at some point, but that doesn't excuse his behavior. Bottom line, he behavior ended the relationship, severly hurting you in the process and it's understandable that you don't have the same feelings anymore.

Bottom line, he's not the man you thought he was and you now know it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:46 PM on September 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


The sense of humor thing would be a total dealbreaker for me. Totally.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:47 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think a SO is being a crappy jerk if he/she is "often in a bad mood around me, usually didn't seem happy to see me, wanted to spend time with his friends more than he wanted to spend time with me".

Maybe if he'd talked to her about it, they could have gotten to the root of his problem instead of her getting so anxious about whatever's going on in his head.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:49 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lucky you! You got older. With that comes a different set of chemicals in your brain and a different set of experiences. You'll never have that big love again for him or anyone else, but you'll have something nice either with him or someone else. Be thankful every day for that.
posted by eccnineten at 5:54 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


For most of us, there is no such thing as .... "just knowing it was right"

Really? Because I never believed that until it happened to me, but all of the friends who told me "when you meet someone you'll be happy being married to/partnered with, you'll know" and I thought "oh, stupid Hallmark card crap" but I did and I do, and all of the friends who told me that are happily with their spouses or partners of 15+ years, so.

I am a big fan of trusting your intuition. OP, you wanted to marry this guy, but now you don't. Trust your gut.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:56 PM on September 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'll buck the trend too. Welcome to marriage. What you're describing will happen again and again over years if you marry him -- or anyone else.

Maybe the question is, are *you* idealizing marriage?
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:56 PM on September 28, 2009


You'll never have that big love again for him or anyone else

Again, I'm going to differ with my own anecdata: I had my one big schmoopy love in my mid-thirties, after being immune in my teens and twenties. And I have known people who had a second or third big schmoopy love in their thirties and forties.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:57 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


something has gone numb

Something is protecting you. You don't want to risk being rejected by him, again.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:00 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't come up with a good reason why I shouldn't feel excited about marrying him, but I just don't.

That's a good enough reason in itself.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:16 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


You fell out of love with him, there are all sorts of chemical and physical reactions that come with love and you don't have them anymore. Perfectly normal.

Additionally, you are probably conditioned to associate him with pain, anxiety, insecurity.
posted by kathrineg at 6:35 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I know exactly what you mean and I had the exact same feeling of missing the certainty when I realised my SO was thinking of himself rather than "us". I think the only thing that can bring it back is time, time to heal the wounds and have more good experiences together and more trust-building experiences than the heart-breaking experience you went through alone. It may never come back with him. Maybe give yourself a timeline and if you are not interested in an engagement at the end of that period break loose again
posted by saucysault at 6:38 PM on September 28, 2009


Humor is more than just the odd joke or laugh; it's fundamentally about how a person sees the world and their place in it. Not finding a person to be funny, or not feeling as though your own humor is understood, is a massive disconnect in worldview and not something that I would take lightly.

He may be a warm human being and he may be a great kisser with a great job and a lovely handshake, a good cook with a nice car and a welcoming home; but if you don't get each other's jokes I can't imagine things will last too long. You don't have to hate the guy to feel that you shouldn't be together.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:41 PM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Of course these feelings can fade, and thank god. Life would be unbearable otherwise.
posted by granted at 6:56 PM on September 28, 2009


When I was engaged to my husband, we broke up twice. And I really thought I would never recover from the numb/anger/betrayal of trust feelings that resulted from him not talking to me about his issues with our relationship and me. And yet I did, and I went to counseling for my anger issues, and 13 years (married for 10 years), he's absolutely my favorite person.

But that's the key: under all the drama of our breakups, my anger problems, his issues, we made each other laugh, we loved each other enough to work through the hurt. We could still have a life event that throws us for a loop, so nothing is written in stone, but we want to make it work.
posted by Issithe at 7:29 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone for the thoughtful responses.

Re: something eccnineten said:
You'll never have that big love again for him or anyone else, but you'll have something nice either with him or someone else.

I've been afraid of that for awhile, that maybe I'm just no longer capable of feeling in love with him (or with anyone) or no longer capable of feeling certain about marrying someone. Do others agree with this, that as you get older you lose the capacity for these types of feelings? I really hope not.
posted by whitelily at 7:34 PM on September 28, 2009


I don't read anywhere in your question that he "treated you like crap" or "screwed you over" as some answers are saying.

This is where he treated her like crap. Instead of talking to her about his fears and feelings like a mature and commited partner he withdrew from the relationship and made her feel bad:

"...he started avoiding conversations about it and making excuses. Many fights ensued. Around the same time, I started noticing that he was often in a bad mood around me, usually didn't seem happy to see me, wanted to spend time with his friends more than he wanted to spend time with me - and these were all major changes in his behavior. I gradually went from being a confident person to being anxious and constantly trying to make him happy."

That's enough it kill the love for pretty much anyone. Yeah, he didn't do it because he wanted to hurt her and it may even be somewhat understandable (at a really big stretch) but in the end it doesn't matter, she no longer loves him and his acting this way is why.
posted by shelleycat at 7:37 PM on September 28, 2009


Do others agree with this, that as you get older you lose the capacity for these types of feelings? I really hope not.

Hell no, it's total bollocks. I've seen too too many people prove this totally wrong for it to even get a second thought. Don't use this as an excuse, that feeling you had with your man before, you can have that again (maybe with him, much more likely with someone else). I still have it 15 yars after meeting mine. Don't settle.
posted by shelleycat at 7:42 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Less glibly, I think what's bothering you isn't so much the disappearance of your strong feelings in itself, and more that your confidence in your own judgment has been shaken. You were certain that you wanted to marry him, which implies that you were certain you'd love him forever, more than you'd ever love anybody else. And now your love for him has faded, so clearly, you were wrong. I've been there, and my refusal to accept that I had been mistaken about our "potential" kept me clinging on well past our relationship's expiration date. The idea that I could be so mistaken about something so huge, and that felt so right, was terrifying.

Eventually I couldn't avoid the truth anymore and I moved on and am much happier for it. Over time, instead of paralyzing me with self-doubt, accepting that I can be very wrong about things has actually been freeing.

One thing I've learned is that there are really two factors at play here: your initial feelings for your boyfriend themselves, and your interpretation of those feelings. The interpretation is often so instantaneous that we forget the two are separate. The feelings were that you were very drawn to this person, with a fascination that seemed insatiable, and all that other stuff, and there are a lot of reasons you felt that way - good, solid reasons, and more than can be untangled here. The interpretation was that the feelings meant that he was the man you should marry. Again, there are a lot of reasons for this interpretation. But that doesn't mean it was correct. It could have been. But not necessarily.

Learning that your interpretations and your judgment can be wrong, and being willing to continually reassess them given new evidence and experience, actually takes a lot of humility and a lot of self-confidence. As you've seen, your feelings kind of do what they want anyway, and sometimes they're wonderful and helpful and reveal truths to us that we don't want to face. But always taking them 100% seriously leads to insanity and OCD. Attachment to that which is transient leads to suffering, the truth will set you free, and all that stuff.

And anyway, as I mentioned before, it's often a Very Good Thing that we can be wrong about our love for someone lasting forever. Thankfully, we're built with the capability to change and move on. If we weren't we would be majorly fucked and I would still be in love with Erick from seventh grade who did Beavis impressions and had a mushroom haircut and definitely didn't know how to treat a lady.
posted by granted at 8:03 PM on September 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


...he is objectively everything I want, and the only person I've ever wanted to marry, and yet trying to bring back the desire to marry him feels akin to watering a plant that has already died.

Someone can look great on paper but still not be the right person. You can feel very strongly for someone for a while, and can still realize they are not the right person for you. One of my exes probably would have been perfect for me -- except for the fact that he wasn't (and probably still isn't) in a place where he can BE a good partner for anyone. Objectively he is everything I want, but he flaked on sustaining a relationship, and the damage has been done.

Your feelings changed, that's all. He still has all the wonderful qualities that you fell for, but he hurt you, and you no longer trust that he won't do it again because now you know that he's capable of hurting you in that way.

Oh -- and I disagree with the claim that "You'll never have that big love again for him or anyone else". I fell for someone big time when I was 26 -- but then had an even BIGGER love for someone else twelve years later. Big love can always happen.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:29 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Do others agree with this, that as you get older you lose the capacity for these types of feelings?

No. I'm firmly in the camp that "you will just know", more or less instantly, and this doesn't change with age. What changes are your own expectations and defense mechanisms. Forty years can go by in between people with whom you have that instant and powerful "click", but there's always another possibility on the horizon. There's no "the One", but there's definitely only a few and far between... and they're in a different league than a partner who is merely-compatible-and-pleasant.

I believe, strongly, that the at-first-sight-and-certain feeling is not only genuine and real, it's the only feeling that really matters. If you don't have it now, and it sounds very much like you don't, you should not settle.

(And I realize that's not a popular position in a room full of beanplate-overthinkers.)
posted by rokusan at 8:58 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I feel like this is a no-brainer. You successfully describe the mechanisms that created your "numbness" in your original ask, but you fail to identify their relevance to your question. In other words, you already know the answer.

After you broke up: "....And I started noticing how good it felt when other people smiled at me, seemed happy to see me, and seemed to enjoy my company."

After you got back together: "...I feel like the romantic part of my brain has stopped functioning, or something has gone numb."

You feel numb right now because you didn't want to get back together. By your own admission, he had to convince you to give it another shot. It wasn't your idea. Therefore, marriage with this person is probably not what you want. You're "numb because you are trying to force yourself into something that is a bad fit for you.

I predict you'll continue to feel numb until you follow your heart in this matter, whatever that is.

If you can get past the initial betrayal from the BF and feel a rekindling of passion for him, great! But honestly? I think it is super difficult to reconcile with an intimate partner once they break trust with you so completely. Your heart is designed to go numb against people who hurt you for a reason.

Listen. If you find you can not make this relationship work for you, that's no failure. Go out there and find a partner that makes you feel all snappy and special about Life! (And yes, I speak from personal experience on this:))

FWIW, I tend to think that anyone who tells you it is normal to feel "numb" as you get older is probably pretty skilled at compromising their values and selling themselves short. If that was a lifestyle you aspired to, you would not have posed this question. FWIW.
posted by jbenben at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


anyone who tells you it is normal to feel "numb" as you get older is probably pretty skilled at compromising their values and selling themselves short.

Amen.
posted by rokusan at 10:00 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


You'll never have that big love again for him or anyone else, but you'll have something nice either with him or someone else.

Nonsense. My husband's mother just found love again, and she's in her 60's or 70's.

It's like the saying that your first love is special and you'll never recapture it - every love you have is different because every person and situation is different.

Also, count me in with the people who 'just knew'. Within two weeks of getting to know my husband I knew that I wanted to spend my life with him. It sounds cheesy, but it's true.
posted by bookdragoness at 10:06 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just don't understand where that feeling of certainty went

Well, before you were operating on faith. You had this feeling that he was going to be the guy you would marry. Now you have evidence that shows that for a while, he was uncertain whether he wanted to marry you or not. If you had pined away for him during the time you were apart, I bet that it'd be easier to return to that level of certainty. But whether you meant to or not, you came to the realization that maybe being sweet, adoring and marriage-minded are not all it takes to rev up your marriage-meter nowadays.

People change, and people are more likely to go through changes when unexpected stuff happens to them. I think it makes perfect sense that you would be a different person after a breakup than you were before the breakup.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:09 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You'll never have that big love again for him or anyone else, but you'll have something nice either with him or someone else. Be thankful every day for that.

eccnineten has a valid point - don't omit the last part of this comment. I don't think that this is necessarily a Terrible Thing. I happen to be married now to an amazing person, and am thankful every day that we found each other--but about 10 years ago, my heart was broken by the Big Love, and I haven't ever been quite the same. That does NOT mean that I cannot love anymore or do not completely adore my spouse--because I most certainly do--that is much too black and white in an all-shades-of-grey situation. However, it does mean that there is a tiny piece of my "romantic innocence" (for lack of better description) that died and will never return. That is more a comment on me than my spouse. I think it just is. And life goes on and people find other happiness anyway.

whitlily: it sounds as though the magic is just not there for you anymore. You deserve to find someone who will love you and respect you, someone you can rebuild with.

Wishing you the very best.
posted by salmonking at 11:29 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Infatuation is a compulsion. Love is a choice and an active process.

People aren't points... they are trajectories.... entities headed somewhere.

Neither of you will be the same people in 10 years. If you change in compatible directions, you'll stand a better chance of staying together, but in 10 years, you will be 10 years different. (Trust me on this... consider yourself... were you different at 10 than at 20? How? Are you different at 30 than 20? How? Will you be different at 40 than 30? If nothing else, you'll have some wrinkles and you'll be zooming towards menopause in a decade. )

Life is change. Love is change, too. Best to get used to it.
posted by FauxScot at 2:33 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do others agree with this, that as you get older you lose the capacity for these types of feelings?

No, not at all.

I do agree that love grows and matures as the relationship does, and that early-infatuation is not the only version of love. I also agree that there is something to the "gut instinct" and "you just know". In this case, I think you "just know" that this isn't right for you.
posted by heatherann at 5:42 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


This Many fights ensued. Around the same time, I started noticing that he was often in a bad mood around me, usually didn't seem happy to see me, wanted to spend time with his friends more than he wanted to spend time with me - and these were all major changes in his behavior. I gradually went from being a confident person to being anxious and constantly trying to make him happy.

and this
Shortly after our breakup, something very strange happened: despite my heartache, I woke up one day and felt...really good. It was a relief to be rid of the anxiety and the constant trying to make him happy

are pretty important. Think long and hard. It seems quite likely that if you get married, and he doesn't have to try hard to hold on to you, his behavior will revert back.

You felt better without him. The loss of that feeling of certainty is your brain telling you to pay attention.
posted by theora55 at 7:10 AM on September 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I completely, completely disagree with eccnineten.

After I got divorced, I felt like damaged goods. But it only took me about two months to jump right in with my next relationship, which I completely didn't expect. (Please believe me when I say it wasn't a rebound.) Although that year was mostly a rollercoaster ride, it let me work out a lot of stuff about my now-adult self.

And then, again, I encountered someone at a party and felt an instant click. I have never, ever felt like I do right now; nor has my partner (who has also been married and divorced, following his wife's infidelity). Pardon the cheese, here, but there's no way we'd be able to experience the kind of love we have right now if we hadn't loved those people, even if it hurt to see it fade.

On that night we met, the thing that really told me that we were meant to be together was the way he spoke candidly about being in therapy after the divorce. I, in turn, just felt this overwhelming need to tell him that things would work out. Those sound like horrible middle-aged cliches, but they paved the way for us to be the awful schmoopie couple we are today.

Feel free to point back at this post when I come wailing to MeFi down the line, but doing things one day at a time feels pretty awesome. Every day we take time to appreciate each other, warts and all. It's been a year, and we're still giddy.
posted by Madamina at 7:17 AM on September 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


I "re-dated" someone who I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Although I was very young at the time, the second time around, things weren't the same. The first time around I hardly even looked at another woman because there was no comparison...ever. The second time around I couldn't stop noticing other women because they reminded me of the GF's flaws.

Strange aside: Through the magic of mutual friends and Facebook, we've re-hooked up (a couple of dozen FB messages over a year)...20 years later. We're both married to other people; nevertheless, a nice friendship has resulted, something I could never have predicted. Strangely, we've grown into people (although apart for two decades) that are quite similar...far more similar than we were back in the day.

Moral? The personality traits exhibited by your BF are not set in stone, but if the drama (or the potential drama) is too much...move on. FWIW, though, I don't know how someone "develops" a sense of humor :)
posted by teg4rvn at 8:23 AM on September 29, 2009


He pulled the football away. He's not an evil person for doing so; lots of people get "cold feet", which is just a cute way of saying they're terrified.

You can still find love with someone, with the full knowledge that they're not perfect, as you're not, and these things may try the relationship, but that the relationship will endure as long as there's that bedrock of trust and respect.

But once someone pulls the football away, it's almost impossible to get that back.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:39 AM on September 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do others agree with this, that as you get older you lose the capacity for these types of feelings?

No, not at all!

This may be a misreading of eccnineten's comment...but because "be thankful every day for that" was included at the end, I didn't take eccnineten's words to mean that people should expect to lose their capacity for deep and robust love as they get older. I read it in much the same way salmonking did, with the most salient piece being:

...there is a tiny piece of my "romantic innocence" (for lack of better description) that died and will never return.

My experience resembles salmonking's in that I once had a Big Love - someone with whom I spent 14 years, and loved more fiercely than I had ever thought possible. He broke my heart into a million pieces when he left me for someone else. Although I have a fulfilling life now, it's also true that I haven't ever been quite the same since. That loss left permanent scars, and it removed every last trace of what salmonking is calling "romantic innocence." I mourned that loss of innocence for a long time, and in some ways I'm still mourning it.

But here's the thing, and this is how I interpreted eccnineten's comment: there is sweetness to be found right alongside that kind of loss...and for that, we can be thankful. People do not really get "back to normal" after major losses and betrayals of trust of the kind you experienced. The old self is gone, and will never return. But there is a certain wisdom in this process. The loss of that old self is what paves the way for transformation, as well as a whole new awareness and an expanded sense of perspective.

There is no doubt in my mind that I still have the capacity to love without reservation, and that this capacity will only increase with age. But the way I love now has a different character...a different flavor. It lacks the innocence, romantic naïveté and blind-faith certainty that were components of the Big Love I once had, and I have come to feel grateful for that.
posted by velvet winter at 1:36 PM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I was heartbroken"

Sometimes things get broken beyond repair. Your love for him may be one of those things.

...

If I did the math right, you're 32 now.

Do you want to have children?

Do you want to have children with him?
posted by Jacqueline at 9:00 PM on September 29, 2009


Unfortunately, experiences take away that innocent certainty we have before a whole bunch happens between two people. It's sad, but life.
posted by VC Drake at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2009


Yes, to sunshinesky comment above.
It seems obvious from your question, that the problem started because of how he treated you the first time around.

I had this type of situation happen to me too. My guy was freshly divorced, hadn't had any other dating experience after his ex-wife. I came along during his divorce. He felt he had to have other experiences, so this thought left him feeling trapped by me, as if I was the thing standing between him and ALL these other experiences with other women. He screwed me over big time, then after a few months of being apart, he too, wanted to get back together. It was never the same. I never could trust him or have the unbridled happiness, pleasure as before. I had seen a very bad side to him that I just couldn't shake. And he would not do the things to regain my trust, wouldn't spend the time discussing it, working it through. So after a 2nd and 3rd try, over about 6 months, we broke up again.

The pain fades. You eventually see that there will be someone better suited to you out there in your future. Like you experienced, I too, exprerienced the dropping away of daily anxiety, fear, all that, after he and I split for good. ....but I do still miss him and am tempted to call, but I don't.....

Good luck. You deserve someone who is READY. Is this guy ready?
posted by bananaskin at 9:13 AM on October 10, 2009


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