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(How) Do I get over my girlfriend's one-time infidelity?
January 18, 2010 9:29 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend cheated with an old ex. (How) Do I get over it?

I'm 20, she's 22. We're both in college, she's in her fourth year, I'm in my third. We've been dating for 5-6 months. We met my first year and were friends until last summer. We also share a lot of friends.

Relevant: she had been in a longish distance relationship ("John") since the end of high school. Before that, she had a relationship with "Jim" for 2 years.

When our relationship started, she was still very much in the "I'd like to be single for a while now" mode. She had been seeing other guys around that time, but those things ended within a few weeks as we decided that we wanted to be serious about each other. Over the course of the rest of that summer and the fall, we gradually became more serious about the relationship, spent more time together, etc.

There was always a question of independence though: she has a lot of friends, many more than I do, and she likes going to lots of different kinds of events with different people. I didn't like to ask her about who she went with and what she did all the time, because I told myself that I liked this kind of relationship where we both could be independent and not share everything, while still being together.

The other thing was that she was reluctant to label us as boyfriend/girlfriend for a long time, and the few times we did try to discuss it she got distant and changed the subject.

Cut forward to the last 2 weeks. We've been spending more time together than ever, and I really felt like we were becoming closer and a better couple. Yesterday, while walking outdoors, there was some little thing that she did that I liked, and from my mouth come the words "I *love* you!" I really meant I love it when you do that, or I love that little thing about you. I was not really ready to say those words, and there was a bit of a brief silence, and then we changed the subject.

I didn't think much of that, until later that night - she brought up that she felt like I shouldn't have said that, and that she was kind of afraid at how close we were becoming. After a long period of silence, she told me that the reason for this was that she slept with her ex-boyfriend "Jim" once over winter break.

It means a lot to me that she told me and didn't just keep it a secret, even though chances are I wouldn't have found out anyway. I told her that I found that unacceptable, that I was disappointed, hurt, etc, and she told me that it was a mistake, that she was sorry, and that she would never do it again.

As reasons, she cited:
1. All of her other friends were gone, so she ended up hanging out with him
2. It was kind of like a 'test' of whether or not she really wanted to be in a relationship again. She said she missed me during it.

What should I do? I really like her - the time we spend together is always fun, I feel that we share a connection, physically and mentally, etc. I feel that a stronger man than I might say "it's over" based on principals. I don't feel revulsion toward her because of it, just a sense of disappointment and betrayal. I can see myself getting over it fairly quickly.

We've already spent a long time talking about it, but the question that remains is, how can she keep her independence after such a betrayal? I don't feel that I want to grant her the same flexibility that I did, and she agreed, saying that she "abused the flexibility that I allowed her".

I don't want to end it. Should I? How can I reestablish trust if not?

throwaway email: mefithrowaway79@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (55 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
You are way too invested in a girl who doesn't think much of you. Kick her cheating ass to the curb, tell all your friends why you did it, and get a new girlfriend. Rinse and repeat.

It wasn't just "once over winter break."
posted by rhizome at 9:36 AM on January 18, 2010 [29 favorites]


It's not clear to me that you and she ever established that you're in an exclusive relationship. Unless I'm missing something, the way I read it is she wouldn't ever commit to that. If that's the case, then it wasn't cheating.
posted by amro at 9:37 AM on January 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


I feel like you're saying, "some other guy would end it. That means I should. But I don't want to. I'm confused!" She says she regrets it and it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to you. So why do something drastic because of some imaginary plot device you saw in a movie or something? It seems like she was having a little trouble thinking of herself as a "girlfriend", not that she doesn't like you or respect you. If you want to cut her some slack, do it. There's no reason not to.
The only thing that sounds weird is that you're talking about "how can she keep her independence". Her independence isn't yours to dole out when she behaves. It's hers already. If you can't trust her to go out and have fun with her friends, then maybe you should break up. Or maybe you should ask her to include you more because you want to share these things with her too. But this thing about "granting flexibility" sounds a little weird unless you left something out. Maybe all you need to do is sit down and decide if you're a couple or not.
posted by amethysts at 9:42 AM on January 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


It sounds like she doesn't want to be in an exclusive relationship. FWIW, at 22, I didn't either.

I think you should either accept that you have an open relationship and continue to date her with this knowledge or dump her because she is not fulfilling your needs (for an exclusive and committed relationship).

Also, from what you say about convincing yourself that its fine for her to "be independant" it sounds like you also would like someone who spends more time with you and would invite or include you in activities they attend with their friends.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:42 AM on January 18, 2010


I'm with @amro; are you SURE you were a couple?
In a committed, monogamous relationship?
Your insistence on labeling it as such and her reluctance to label it as such are a disturbing disconnect.
Her reasons are more like her post hook-up rationalizations.

She's not ready for you, and she's not ready for a relationship.

I'd get away, and I'd get away fast.
posted by willmize at 9:45 AM on January 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


and from my mouth come the words "I *love* you!...and then we changed the subject.

Has she ever said anything even close back to you?

The other thing was that she was reluctant to label us as boyfriend/girlfriend for a long time, and the few times we did try to discuss it she got distant and changed the subject.

Is she ok with this label now?

I was in a similar situation once, and I get the feeling that your relationship is a bit lopsided. It sounds like her head isn't into it like yours is. If she's willing to give you a verbal commitment and not be all wishy-washy subject-changey every time you want to talk about the status of your relationship, then maybe there's a chance things will work out. Otherwise, I'd proceed very cautiously.

Also, this being concerned about independence is a bit odd. If she's a good, trustworthy person, then it should be a non-issue. How would she "not keep her independence"? Are you really going to follow her around 24-7? If she can't trust herself to be faithful, then you certainly can't trust her.
posted by ripple at 9:45 AM on January 18, 2010


What should I do?

Dump her and move on.

I really like her - the time we spend together is always fun, I feel that we share a connection, physically and mentally, etc.

She doesn't feel the same for you.

I feel that a stronger man than I might say "it's over" based on principals.

So, you're saying you're a weak man? Indeed, you may be. As a great movie once said, "I try to imagine a fella smarter than myself. Then I try to think, "what would he do?"

I don't feel revulsion toward her because of it, just a sense of disappointment and betrayal.

This is appropriate.

I can see myself getting over it fairly quickly.

So, what's the problem again?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:46 AM on January 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Lord man dump her ass as soon as you can. You're so young, she obviously doesn't care. Don't get over it. Get rid of her.
posted by xmutex at 9:47 AM on January 18, 2010


If you are okay with giving this girl lots of space, then things should be fine. From your post, it's hard to tell if she's not that into you, or if she's not that into being tied down. Maybe it's some of both. Maybe it's age- and time-of-life related confusion about what she wants. In any case, it really does not sound like you two are in a committed relationship.

But you might want to keep an out for other girls. This girl doesn't seem to want an exclusive relationship - that is her choice, not yours, but if you two are just dating, you can do whatever you want in your own time. Keep that in mind and see if you ego doesn't feel better.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:48 AM on January 18, 2010


1. Well-written post.
2. Can you imagine yourself in her place and still deserving trust?
3. I tend to lean toward forgiveness but you do have to be careful. Obviously you have been more emotionally invested in the relationship up to this point, and if you get indications this is not going to change then I would end it. If you really believe things can be different then it could be worth staying together.
posted by ropeladder at 9:48 AM on January 18, 2010


As reasons, she cited:
1. All of her other friends were gone, so she ended up hanging out with him
2. It was kind of like a 'test' of whether or not she really wanted to be in a relationship again. She said she missed me during it.


These are lame excuses which belie her apology. If she really felt it was wrong then she wouldn't be trying to make it seem understandable. She regrets the possible consequences of her choice, but I don't get the sense that she sees it as having been fundamentally wrong.

If you had agreed to be exclusive, then I would end it now. Infidelity so early in a relationship is a bad, bad sign. No already iffy six-month relationship is worth the anguish you will face if you get yourself more deeply entangled with someone who treats you this way. I write from experience.
posted by jon1270 at 9:48 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


It would seem that you are more invested in this relationship than she is/was, even before the (to amro's point) "cheating". Of course she "missed you" during it - she wants to keep you around, because it's probably very convenient to have a lapdog around.

Maybe what was written misconstrues the real tenor of your relationship, but it would appear that you're her guy in waiting, when she bores of her other friends (and apparently other lovers), you're the one she turns to. That's wonderful if you can abide by that arrangement, but I get the feeling you're looking for a bit more.

That she presented you with the fact of her infidelity might point to a strengthening of feelings on her part, or it could just as easily be a perverse barometer on whether she has you correctly figured as her fallback guy.

Sounds like you need to move on here.
posted by po822000 at 9:50 AM on January 18, 2010


When you've been dating someone for 5-6 months and they cheat on you, you break up with them. I mean, maybe there are some exceptions to that rule of thumb. But this isn't one of them.
posted by The World Famous at 9:52 AM on January 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's not clear to me that this girl was your girlfriend, or that she cheated, because you weren't really in a relationship, right?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:53 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


She's just not into you. Dump her and go on dates with other people.
posted by bshort at 9:56 AM on January 18, 2010


Just because in the past two weeks things have been going better than before doesn't mean you two are heading in any sort of direction. You just had a few good times together.

The other thing was that she was reluctant to label us as boyfriend/girlfriend for a long time, and the few times we did try to discuss it she got distant and changed the subject.

Calling her your girlfriend and claiming infidelity in the title of this post is throwing people off when she did nothing wrong. She was not your girlfriend and she made it very clear that she did not want to move in that direction. Being as you weren't really getting the hint (i.e. the I love you thing), she told you about hooking up with her ex. That was her mechanism of pushing you back a few steps.

It's also reckless to say she doesn't care. She is handling this a lot better than a lot of people (especially at your age). You should be thankful she *is* pushing you away instead of breaking your heart later on. Just slowly back away.
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:58 AM on January 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


"she brought up that she felt like I shouldn't have said that, and that she was kind of afraid at how close we were becoming. After a long period of silence, she told me that the reason for this was that she slept with her ex-boyfriend "Jim" once over winter break."

When you tell a girl that you love her and she responds with admission of her fear of intimacy and a confession of infidelity, you take your bits and run off to better pastures.

You sound like a thoughtful, considerate and loving guy. Life's too short for anything less than chasing good times and good people who can offer you enriching experiences. Good luck!
posted by iamkimiam at 9:59 AM on January 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


2. It was kind of like a 'test' of whether or not she really wanted to be in a relationship again. She said she missed me during it.

People who engage in "testing" at your expense are not ready for real dating. You should "test" how you feel about her by breaking up with her. Give yourself the treatment you deserve by finding someone you deserve.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:06 AM on January 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


She's probably a fine girl, she's just not ready to be loaded down with responsibilities of a full-on relationship with you. If she "cheats" again, it's just going to undermine your self-worth and make you depressed. She's given you a wonderful gift -the excuse to break up on your terms, with your dignity intact. This would be a FANTASTIC time to end it.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:07 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


What do you really want from your relationship?
Are you getting it?
What does "boyfriend" mean to you? What does it mean to her? Do either of you want those things?

If you really want monogamy and commitment, and she really doesn't, then you're hosed.

If you don't particularly want either of those things, but you think you're supposed to demand them because you think everyone else does: screw everyone else, and do your own thing.

Finally: If you have been having unprotected sex with her, go and get tested. Then buy some condoms.
posted by emilyw at 10:11 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've been that girl, and I've been you. When I was you, it broke my heart that I was giving and giving and he seemed to give back less than half of what I was putting in. Then, of course, I found out that he was a serial cheater and had even lied to me about who he cheated with and more! When I was her, I got into the relationship for the wrong reasons and couldn't find my way out. Either way, for the two of you, it's not working out; you should calmly break up before extreme drama happens. This, more than anything, will preserve your mutual friends, and in time the two of you can perhaps be healthy friends with one another as well. You both have tons of adventure left in you - don't waste your time with people who aren't in tune with you.
posted by Mizu at 10:13 AM on January 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


You're in a relationship. She's not. Detach yourself before your heart gets stomped on even more.
posted by Billegible at 10:16 AM on January 18, 2010


The saddest thing about these threads is that I always get the feeling that the person asking the question will NEVER take the advice offered.

There's never going to be a moment in their life where they go, "You know, I was thinking XYZ about this relationship, and the answers from AskMe really helped clarify my thoughts, so come hell or high water, I'm going to take charge and really do this."

Mr. Anonymous -- you're going to get a lot of advice here, some of it contradictory, but most of it pointing in one way.

TAKE THE ADVICE.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:26 AM on January 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


2. It was kind of like a 'test' of whether or not she really wanted to be in a relationship again. She said she missed me during it.

People who engage in "testing" at your expense are not ready for real dating. You should "test" how you feel about her by breaking up with her. Give yourself the treatment you deserve by finding someone you deserve.


Yeah, this. Of all the *possible* rationalizations of sleeping with an ex while in another relationship, this one might win for most bullshitty.

Look, dump her or don't. If I were you, I probably would. But what you should think about is if you stay with her and continue to make what will be an ever increasing investment in this relationship, you might end up really hurt, regretful and angry, considering the type of person she seems to be and the level of (dis?)interest she has in you.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:27 AM on January 18, 2010


Watch (500) Days of Summer. It's about exactly your situation, and while it's not a perfect movie, it might be easier to swallow than a bunch of internet people telling you (correct though they are) that your relationship isn't really a relationship.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:33 AM on January 18, 2010


I look at it as, maybe she didn't officially view the relationship as committed but it should have been understood at that point. Like it was felt unsaid. I'm dating a girl right now and we are in that gray area as well. I could go out and have sex with another woman but then I'm sure my date would not have anything to do with me. She couldn't be mad about it but at the same time it would say a lot about my character. Back to your situation, I think this says a lot about her character. She goes off on Christmas break and sleeps with an ex while you and her are sort of dating. What does this say about her? She obviously doesn't care too much about your feelings or she would not have done it. You are a college fuck to her. That one guy she can pal around with and sleep around with so she doesn't feel alone. You deserve better. Dump her and find a good person. You are in college and there are plenty to go around. If you get that lump in your throat... swallow it down and move on.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:50 AM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


To 100th the above: someone who is really into your relationship doesn't sleep with other guys, no matter what she says. Actions speak volumes - she wasn't that into you at that point. And she wouldn't even claim to want boyfriend/girlfriend status? She told you she wasn't ready for that? I'm not really sure how much more clear you need her to be with you. So the winter break thing - I wouldn't really call that cheating.

If she's into starting an exclusive bf/gf thing now, then you're going to have to start off from an assumption of good faith and trust. No fair holding the winter break thing against her - that was before she committed. Treating her like she needs less "flexibility" and that she "abused the flexibility [you] allowed her" [wtf, btw], even if she buys into it, is likely going to doom your relationship from the get go.
posted by ctmf at 10:57 AM on January 18, 2010


Life experience has taught me that if someone cheats once, they'll do so again. I have to agree with the first poster. I seriously doubt it was just once.
posted by xammerboy at 10:59 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't want to end it. Should I? How can I reestablish trust if not?

You should end it, not so much because she cheated, but because you seem to be more into her than she is into you. That's an unhealthy balance and if this continues, can be taken to and extreme that'll leave you emotionally drained and devastated.

You're 20, it's been 6 months and you don't need this shit. End it, mourn the loss and move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:13 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


2. It was kind of like a 'test' of whether or not she really wanted to be in a relationship again. She said she missed me during it.

Ugh. What everyone else has said. This is a terrible excuse for cheating. It belies how selfish she is, and how little she thinks of you.

Look, whether or not you're in a committed relationship (and everyone else is right that this seems unclear, but I'm sure this is, in part, due to how your lady friend is trying to spin it--if she's anything like the manic pixie dream girls I've met, her level of commitment varies according to what she'll get out of it and how bad honestly will make her look), she doesn't love you. She's not magically going to start loving you further down the line. It's far more likely that she'll continue to string you along until some guy comes around that she actually does care about, in which case she'll dump you, or use your affection for her to garner favors (sexual or otherwise) for herself when he's not around.

And I'm one of those women who hates the whole ladder philosophy. It's not true that nice guys finish last--but it is true that nice guys finish last when they're involved with selfish girls who aren't really interested in a committed relationship in the first place. And, hell, it's not even just nice guys. I've known some pretty bad ass seeming men who have married these girls and ended up being constantly cuckolded.

Yesterday, while walking outdoors, there was some little thing that she did that I liked, and from my mouth come the words "I *love* you!" I really meant I love it when you do that, or I love that little thing about you. I was not really ready to say those words, and there was a bit of a brief silence, and then we changed the subject.

After six months, you shouldn't have to be ashamed or make excuses for telling your partner that you love her. She is not your partner. DTMFA.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:18 AM on January 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


You two do have a relationship. The problem here is communication, especially about your expectations and boundaries. The fact that you had the trepidation about saying "I love you," her reaction, and the fact that she tried to spin the sleeping with the ex episode tells me that both of you have conflicting ideas, hopes, fears, and expectations about the nature of your relationship.

The fact that she told you about sleeping with her ex at all is a sign that she's willing to communicate and that she cares enough about you to risk being open with you. It's worth a shot trying to work it out, but you both have to be painfully honest if you have any hope at all.

Lay it all out. What you felt before, what you feel now, your hopes for the future, and your expectations of boundaries and monogamy in your relationship, etc. Take turns being very honest. Of course you also need to create an atmosphere where it is safe to share.

Once you hear her take on things, decide where you are going to draw your own boundaries. What does your personal integrity say you'll accept in a relationship? And is your behavior respecting her personal integrity and boundaries? (In other words, did you promise "nothing serious" before and just now want to get serious?) Then make the call. Many of my long married, happy couple friends experienced such turbulence early in their relationships. They got over it by sticking to it and learning to communicate like grown-ups.

I am trying to be values neutral here as much as I can. But I think you both might benefit from a less values neutral tool I have talked about here before, the Relationship Attachment Model. If you are interested in a longer-term healthy relationship (or just want to avoid marrying into a bad situation down the line), you owe it to yourself to at least check it out.
posted by cross_impact at 11:20 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It means a lot to me that she told me and didn't just keep it a secret"

Ah, but she DID keep it a secret. She didn't come back from winter break and immediately apologize, telling you she'd made a horrible, horrible mistake, did she? In fact, had you not said "I love you", would she have told you? You're the guy she's going to cheat on and dump the moment she finds someone better, but you don't have to be.

Smokey The Bear says "Only YOU can prevent forest fires."
2oh1 says: "Only YOU can prevent yourself from getting burned."

Dump her.
You deserve better.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:22 AM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


one of her stated reasons for screwing her ex was that there was no one to hang out with. this is not a girl who wants to be in a relationship. listen to what she's telling you - she doesn't want to be your girlfriend, she doesn't want you to love her, she values you so little that being bored is enough to sleep with someone else.

move on.
posted by nadawi at 11:23 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I don't understand MeFi - how could this not be cheating? She apologized, and said it was a mistake. You know when you violated someone's trust, the fact that they don't have the relationship equivalent of a signed contract is a technicality that ultimately means nothing. And then told him she missed him while she was having sex. Far from suggesting she doesn't truly believe it was wrong, she is trying to convince him that he shouldn't feel bad because she did it for him!

Anonymous, it's clear that you are half-way to patching it up already, but you should end it. You're hopeful that you can avoid that, but you can't. You have to learn to stand up for yourself, and if you don't do it now, it's going to come back again and again in future relationships.

The whole "I abused my independence" thing sounds like she's trying to get you to punish her so she can soothe her conscience, and once she feels like she's paid her debt to you, you'll be right back where you started. But even if you did dump her, she'd probably come back pretty soon anyway, if not immediately (but, not for a real relationship).

You are taking her willingness to limit her independence as a stand-in for commitment. It's not.
posted by AlsoMike at 11:25 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't see that there was actually a conversation that established an expectation of monogamy. She says sorry now because she's sorry she hurt you, and sorry that she doesn't love you back. Cut your losses and move on. At least, when you look back at this, you won't have to be bitter that someone cheated on you ... merely that you were romantically involved with someone who didn't want to be exclusive. Next time, make sure you have similar expectations going in.
posted by Happydaz at 11:33 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Either she cheated on you or you both had such serious communication issues that you never figured out exclusivity. Either way, you're done here.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:34 AM on January 18, 2010


AlsoMike - it's not cheating under the subjective definition that she never agreed not to. Granted, she probably knowingly led the OP to believe that she wouldn't, but I'd bet that she doesn't feel like it was cheating. She only mentioned it as a strategy move against having to commit to the OP, and now she's acting contrite because it suits her motives at the moment - to continue stringing him on in this half-relationship where he's committed but she isn't.
posted by ctmf at 11:36 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dude, a woman tells you she "missed you" while she was doing her ex? That's like the coldest thing I've ever heard in my life. Country song-worthy, actually.

Everyone here is right. You deserve waaaaaay better than that. Even a douchebag would deserve way better than that, and you're not one. You're just not seeing straight.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:41 AM on January 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


2. It was kind of like a 'test' of whether or not she really wanted to be in a relationship again. She said she missed me during it.

FAIL.

Do not waste your time on someone who thinks it's a worthwhile exercise to "test" your relationship by sleeping with other people. Good gourd, but that's the stupidest "reason" for anything I've ever heard.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:43 AM on January 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Regardless of whether it was cheating or not, one of you wants a serious relationship and one of you does not. You now have very clear evidence of this. That is enough reason to cut this off now.

Also those are two of the lamest "excuses" for sleeping with someone I've ever heard. Seriously. Pfft.
posted by grapesaresour at 11:50 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds to me, honestly, as if she took pity on you for hanging off of her every word. Of course she didn't come out right after winter break and say that she slept with her ex. Of course she said she missed her friend during their time away from each other. She was your friend.

I'm not understanding the comments here saying she was a terrible person. There was no underlying foundation to this relationship besides the fact that you were really into her and she was very up-front about her lack of motivation in regards to being in another relationship.

Unfortunately, you two are at different points in your life. She never meant to hurt you, but she was telling the truth when she said she wanted to stray from labels. You kept wanting something more -- which in turn made her feel guilty. That said, I doubt she slept with the guy because there was no one else around. She just slept with the guy. She was comfortable with him just as she is/was you. She apologized simply because she realized it would upset you as she knew you were wrapped around her finger.

You can either continue to be friends (with benefits or whatever you are) or you can throw her to the curb. But before all else, realize that she was telling you the truth all along and there is no reason to be mad at her or think she cheated on you. Like we've all said, you two are obviously at different points in your lives, and you aren't going to convince her either way. If you are fine with the fling, continue on; but if you're looking for love, this is not her, not now.
posted by june made him a gemini at 11:57 AM on January 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Not to just add on to the pile here, but...

While ending this relationship will suck in the short term - especially considering your feelings for her - it is the decision I would advocate.

The real problem is, I (and many here) have the benefit of experience and hindsight. When I was your age I was battling a similar problem, and I made the choice you seem to want to - to get back together/fight for the relationship.

Because I made the wrong decision, I know it was wrong. But if I had given up on her and run away, I might not be talking to you from this perspective. Instead, I went back to her (time and time again), only to be hurt (time and time again).

So - yes, I would DTMFA, but that is 2010 me (happily married! There is hope for the future!). 1995 me made a lot of very different decisions. And while they were really painful at the time, they were my choices and I lived with them. But, yeah. It sucked, and who knows what kind of experiences I *missed* by fighting for her.
posted by pkphy39 at 12:00 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


*I hate saying never, but honestly in a situation like this, you've already accused her of something she did not do, so I'd throw any idea of you two ever working out in the trash. No one is to blame here -- it was just an unfortunate collision of two lonely people. It happens. It will likely happen again. Learn to be supportive of each other, regardless.
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:00 PM on January 18, 2010


It boils down to this: you are clearly more invested in this relationship than she is. This is a simply statement of fact. It doesn't make her a bad person and it doesn't make you a doormat; it just means that her words and actions are telling you that she's not as into you as you are into her. Period.

And here's the thing: the 6-month mark is often the approximate point where the couples need to evaluate if they mutually want to go forward with the relationship. That means, among other factors, that you both need to have the same level of investment in the relationship. When there's this level of imbalance at this point -- much less the drama of getting together with exes, etc. -- is is a clear message that This Isn't Going To Work Out. Again, this doesn't make her a bad person or you a doormat; it just means that the two of you clearly aren't made to go forward together in an exclusive, committed, satisfying relationship. (Or to put it another way: if you genuinely want to be in an exclusive, committed, satisfying relationship, you need to look elsewhere.)

Say goodbye, wish her well, nurse your heart for a little while, and move on.
posted by scody at 12:01 PM on January 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'd bet that she doesn't feel like it was cheating...

My reading is that she feels pretty guilty about it, and she's also ambivalent about whether she wants this relationship or not. She ended other casual relationships, why wouldn't she do the same in this situation if she thought it was getting too serious? It's not a simple case of her thinking its casual, but he's more serious, and thoroughly deluding himself about her.

The meta-point about "did she or did she not specify that they were exclusive?" - I understand that it's much easier and more rational to judge things if they are based around what the parties agreed to and were those promises kept or not. But relationships aren't based around signing of contracts, they are based on empathy and connection. Or at least, a lot of relationships are. If a bond is formed between two people and then broken, it hurts, regardless of whether a prior agreement exists or not, and brushing that aside risks being emotionally repressive.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:44 PM on January 18, 2010


<solution>DTMFA</solution>

There are a ton of great responses above as to why you need to DTMFA, but regardless, DTMFA. You *will* be happier and your life *will* be better for having done so.
posted by The Michael The at 1:07 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"As reasons, she cited:
1. All of her other friends were gone, so she ended up hanging out with him
2. It was kind of like a 'test' of whether or not she really wanted to be in a relationship again. She said she missed me during it."

--

Dude. You're 20. She's playing games with you and stringing you along like a sucker.

Kick her to the curb and forget about her. I wish I would have had ask mefi back when I was 20. :|
Seriously. There are plenty of girls out there. Also, you didn't mention if you two have been sleeping together. Clearly she had been sleeping with her ex, and "Oh, it only happened once, it'll never happen again" isn't much of an excuse.

Go sleep with some other girl and then tell her the same. Watch her reaction, and go from there. I bet you'll get a different reaction entirely. But it's very clear that you two have different priorities.
posted by drstein at 2:33 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. All of her other friends were gone, so she ended up hanging out with him

Oh, and I wanted to chime in again to say this: I am much, much more social than my spouse. I often hang out with my friends without him. But, frankly, that doesn't mean I need to fill up moments of solitude with some other dude's dick. That she's convinced you that this is a rational response to a few days alone speaks volumes about the type of behavior that you're willing to tolerate--and I'm sure she knows it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:37 PM on January 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm with everyone saying she made it clear that she didn't want to be in a serious relationship with you, didn't want you to consider the two of you as boyfriend/girlfriend, and that your being really into her was probably a huge guilt trip for her but didn't make the relationship any more real. I'm really sorry for you that this happened, and clearly you need to be with someone who wants to have a committed relationship with you. There's nothing wrong with you for that, but at the same time, I don't think this girl is nearly as horrible as many are painting her to be. It sounds to me like she's been upfront about her feelings. If she were morally perfect she would have overcome her guilt and just broken things off with you before sleeping with anyone else, but she never promised you anything from the sounds of it.
posted by Nattie at 5:58 PM on January 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm going to have to disagree, Pho. She was probably trying to soften the blow by making up (admittedly poor) excuses; she knew the kind of impact it would have on the OP. She was aware of how much the OP wanted to be in a serious relationship with her and knew how crushed he'd be.

There is a reason she did not want to be your girlfriend. This is exactly it. She knows she is not ready to be committed to someone. There is nothing wrong with that and it does not make her a bad person. There are plenty of people who feel the exact same that either feel too much guilt or anxiety to say they're not actually ready and just let the relationship eat away at both parties, and there are just as many people who love preying on people like you.

She is likely to understand 110% if you do not wish to continue seeing her in whatever manner you currently are, and that would be your best bet. However, if you stick with her through this and continue to try to woo her despite her indifference, that is when she is likely to realize that you're trying too hard and just go with it or completely push you out of her life.

Not fun either way. You're only 20. If there's anything I've learned and come to terms with from my early 20's it's that I became an entirely different person.. someone I never saw myself being even two years ago (I'm 24 now). I'm sure in two more years I'll say the same thing again.

Early adulthood is a fun and crazy time and there's no reason to latch yourself onto someone who isn't as excited about being in a relationship with you as you are them. Do yourselves both a favor and give some space. Let her make the first move if she wants to contact you in the future. You'll be just fine.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:12 PM on January 18, 2010


I'm going to have to disagree, Pho. She was probably trying to soften the blow by making up (admittedly poor) excuses; she knew the kind of impact it would have on the OP. She was aware of how much the OP wanted to be in a serious relationship with her and knew how crushed he'd be.

AlsoMike is right, though--whether or not there was the technicality of the relationship, her behavior indicates that she's quite okay with stringing him along. She's not faultless here, though maybe she's not mature enough to see how behavior identical to relationship behavior is almost undoubtedly going to be interpreted as being interested by someone who wants to be in a relationship, whether or not you call a spade a space. But honestly? I doubt she's completely that naive. She is getting something out of this interaction--friendship, attention, affection, sex, whatever--which is why she hasn't ended it. Which is precisely why OP needs to step up and cut things off completely.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:03 PM on January 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


If she was your girlfriend then it was cheating. If she wasn't your girlfriend then it wasn't cheating. Saying that it's not cheating if she didn't specifically say she wasn't going to do it is like saying it's OK to do anything as long as you didn't promise not to. (I didn't promise not to read your diary; I didn't promise not to share your secrets with my friends; I didn't promise not to post goofy pictures of you on the internet...)
The reason why "cheating" is bad for a relationship is that it means that one person is putting a lot less effort into the relationship than the other, causing is a deceitful drain on the other person's resources, hence "cheating"
As for the relationship, whatever this woman's motive's (confusion, cunning, whatever) she is not worth bothering with at this point in time. Doesn't mean to say she's evil but she's not providing a good relationship and isn't likely to be doing so any time soon, so forget it.
When people say they are not sure that they are ready to get into a relationship, it's worth listening to them. She did say so but your optimism made it so that you didn't hear.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 10:15 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Women outnumber men in college. Don't kill yourself trying to make this thing work when you could be finding something better. This person is not your only hope for a girlfriend. She is not the only woman you could possibly click with. The sooner you leave this non-relationship behind, the sooner you can begin to meet women you not only like and want to be with--but who like and want to be with you.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:10 AM on January 19, 2010


The other thing was that she was reluctant to label us as boyfriend/girlfriend for a long time, and the few times we did try to discuss it she got distant and changed the subject.

There seems to be a big difference in level of interest here, but it only SEEMS that way. You have no way of telling what her intentions are based on what you've told us here; you have to ask her. You've been together long enough that I think that kind of conversation is definitely on the table.

Her actions seem contradictory. On the one hand, she's spending more and more time with you and you feel you're becoming closer than ever. On the other, she really doesn't want to have "the talk" about where things are going, and is using this incident as an excuse not to let things get too serious between you.

Either she is not a very good communicator by nature, and dislikes these probing questions and conversations, or she's doubting her level of commitment to the relationship and is still seeing herself as independent single gal doing her own thing. Talk to her, bring it up gently and casually, feel things out, really listen to her answer (nonverbal signals included) and then go with your gut. Don't waste any more time on her if you decide that her heart is really not in this relationship. It sounds like yours is. I agree with the above poster, there's no shortage of women out there who want an exclusive relationship. If you really do love this girl, you might need time before you're ready to go out and find someone else, but at least you won't be wasting your time on a dead-end relationship.
posted by maggymay at 3:32 PM on January 23, 2010


If you're 110% sure she did, why chance it again? I dunno about anyone else but the thought of having sex with someone who couldn't keep their fanny in their knickers for some other guy absolutely repulses me.
posted by Hinny at 9:16 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


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