Join 3,382 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Have you ever been in a relationship where your best coping mechanism was to maintain friendly contact, but the other partner's best coping mechanism was complete silence?
April 5, 2010 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever been in a relationship where your best coping mechanism was to maintain friendly contact, but the other partner's best coping mechanism was complete silence? And, if so, did you ever become friends again, and how?

My ex and I broke up about two months ago. It was initially a very civil breakup--although he was the one to finally end things, I'd been considering it for a long time myself. I had high hopes that we could have a simple, easy breakup. We both wanted to remain friends.

For the first two weeks, things were fine. But the ex started to act increasingly less friend-like and more typical-ex-like. He stopped IMing immediately after the breakup (previously, even as friends, we'd IM'd at least once or twice a week). He rarely checked up on me, and never invited me places except as was socially required. (We have a lot of friends in common.)

Things got continually more strained and less friendly over time, to the point that we had a few short, but incredibly aggressive arguments. After that, we haven't seen each other at all, except on one memorable occasion when he lied to a friend to get keys to my apartment to pick up the remainder of his things--and I still happened to be home.

At this point, I dread being around him, and I am hurt more every day that he doesn't reach out even to say hello or any other form of basic, friendly interaction.

Our mutual friends and my friends have been recommending time and space. I'm skeptical; the more time and space we have, the more hurt I feel, and the more strained our increasingly few interactions become.

I feel worse as time goes on, and I know from experience in previous relationships where the ex simply cut off communication, that I generally end up feeling more upset and taking longer to get over the breakup. I still have one similar ex, from three years ago, who upsets me virtually every time I think of him.

Conversely, my best breakup ended with us immediately becoming good friends. Because I knew he still cared about me as a person, the heartbreak ended almost immediately.

Finally, the question: Have you ever been in a relationship where your best coping mechanism was to maintain friendly contact, but the other partner's best coping mechanism was complete silence? And, if so, did you ever become friends again, and how?

(Please, no comments about how 'time heals all wounds' or 'it sounds like you just need to give things space and time.' At this point, we have no interactions whatsoever, so there is already plenty of space, and as I mentioned earlier, I feel worse as time goes on, not better.)

I'm also mostly interested in replies from people who wanted to maintain a friendship right away. For those who prefer space and silence, you may not understand the level of pain and hurt pride that comes from being cut off. I'd like to know how others deal with those feelings. (Anecdotal advice is, of course, welcome.)
posted by timoni to Human Relations (42 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I found that the only way to make the friend thing work is to move far away (I moved across the country. Twice.) and keep contact to a minimum for at least a couple of months before trying the friend thing. I know this isn't what you want to hear and I know (because, really...I'm much like you on this one) that it hurts and is really hard, but if one person needs space...well, if you want any kind of relationship with them at all, you are kind of obligated to go along with it. The only other alternative is more fighting.
posted by youcancallmeal at 2:22 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


At this point, I dread being around him, and I am hurt more every day that he doesn't reach out even to say hello or any other form of basic, friendly interaction.

One of two things is the case: either (1) he will eventually be able to be friends or (2) he will resent the breakup forever for some reason. In either case, you gain nothing by continually reaching out to him. The ball is totally in his court. I know that's not what you want to hear, but it's reality. You accelerate the process of reconciling as friends by giving him as much time totally apart from you as possible. If it works, great. If not, oh well. You tried.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:22 PM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah... no. I've been there more times than I can count, both on the "let's be friends" side and the "go far far away" side, and you really do need space, no matter how much you'd like to think that you're both mature enough to deal with it.

My last ex was a cut-off-all-contacter, and I understand how hard it is to accept that. I mean, here's this person who you loved, and who supposedly loved you, right? How can they just STOP? They must be thinking about you, right? Those kinds of thoughts may be quite valid, but you can't predict your ex's actions, needs and thoughts.

The only person whose actions you can control here are your own. I think you need to get out, do some more things, concentrate on doing anything you can to improve your own life in ways you can control on your own. But please don't try to "be friends." You need to learn how to be separate people first, and I guarantee it'll take much longer than you think.
posted by Madamina at 2:24 PM on April 5, 2010


Your question reminds me of a story an acquaintance told recently: when her son was little, he asked her, "How come Chelsea is older than I am?" and as she took a breath to answer, he said, "And don't tell me it's because she was born first!"

You deal with the hurt feelings from someone not wanting the same relationship with you that you want with them the same way anybody else does: by accepting that you wanting it doesn't make it so and that you can't demand a person be closer to you than he wants to be; by venting and bitching and crying when needed; by getting busy with things you enjoy that feed your good feelings about yourself; and, yes, by letting time pass.

Besides, what choice do you have? He doesn't want to see you, he doesn't want to talk to you. You can't make him. And post-breakup, your feelings and how you cope with them are not his responsibility.

I have not become close friends again with an ex if either of us needed to cut things off so completely right after the breakup. I have become friendly acquaintances with such exes, to the extent that we can socialize together in a group, have a friendly chat if we run into each other, and so on.
posted by not that girl at 2:27 PM on April 5, 2010 [17 favorites]


The "hurt pride" thing is something you should think about, maybe. What's really happening here is that you're no longer the center of his attention. This is... kind of the way it works when you break up. Trying to stay in his sights might make you feel better, but it's not really helping either of you move on. (See the seventeen billion RelationshipFilter posts about "I know we broke up but I'm trying to stay friends by calling her every night and I don't understand why I'm not over her yet.")

It doesn't make you a bad person or anything, but it may be useful to remember that it's not all about you. He's not all about you. Not anymore.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:30 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The most unsuccessful break-ups I had were the ones where we maintained contact right after breaking up. That is, the break-ups were successful, but the friendships that could have grown out of them...didn't.

I have not had success in transitioning from partners to just-friends without a no-contact period. I seem to need some definitive period of no-talking-no-emailing-no-nuthin', during which my brain (and heart) recalibrate, and I get used to being in the world without that person, and then, eventually, being in the world with them again, but in a really different way. I use that time to figure out who I am (again), to see what the world looks like from just my perspective, and to let go.

If your ex is a no-contact person, there really isn't anything you can do about it, since forcing him to be a contact person will not get you what you want. I have had exes who wanted to be in contact when I didn't, and although I felt bad that they felt bad, being contact made me feel worse, and inevitably seemed to make a true friendship impossible. I don't know what else to tell you, except the age-old stuff about getting a new hobby, taking a demanding class, or getting the hell out of Dodge, at least for a while.
posted by rtha at 2:31 PM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


The only time I ever wanted to be friends with an ex was when I was the dumpee and had hopes they'd change their mind. When I was the dumper, I couldn't deal with being friends because I knew what they wanted and I felt guilt/aggravation over their anguish every time I talked to or saw them.
posted by Melismata at 2:33 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]



(Please, no comments about how 'time heals all wounds' or 'it sounds like you just need to give things space and time.' At this point, we have no interactions whatsoever, so there is already plenty of space, and as I mentioned earlier, I feel worse as time goes on, not better.)


But time and space is the deal. You sound very hurt, and I am so sorry for that. But there are two people involved here. Your desires conflict with his. You can't both get what you want. I am sorry you are on the losing side of that struggle. There isn't a scenario where you would both feel better and get what you want.
posted by liketitanic at 2:36 PM on April 5, 2010


The title of this question is the giveaway. you describe this as "in a relationship" and you are in fact exes.


take a little control back, ignore him. leave him alone.

It will help quell that heartache and heal that wounded pride. Also (and this might sound douchey) he will be more likely to give you some attention if you ignore him.
posted by French Fry at 2:37 PM on April 5, 2010


Ha, good point. A "not a relationship" would've been more accurate, certainly.

I know everyone means well and it's easy to get into cliques...but what I have now is space and distance and time. I need more concrete advice, which is why I came to Metafilter.

And FWIW--there is no 'making' anyone do anything, at this point.
posted by timoni at 2:41 PM on April 5, 2010


Hmmmm. Meditate? Go for a long bike ride? Do some yoga? Get trashed?

Basically anything that will take your mind off of him is what you need right now.
posted by youcancallmeal at 2:43 PM on April 5, 2010


timoni, more concrete advice about what? You hope to be friends with him in the future, because being friends with exes is what you prefer and what has helped you feel good in the past. But we can't know whether that's possible with this particular person, and the only advice I can give about relating to a person who has said very plainly "leave me alone," is "leave him alone." And the corollary to that is, that if a person you want to be friends with doesn't want to be friends, then you have to figure out how to get over it.

The advice you want that you aren't getting: what are you hoping it will help you do?
posted by not that girl at 2:47 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wanted advice in the form of anecdotes from other people. Here's my question again. This is what I was hoping to have answered:

Have you ever been in a [breakup] where your best coping mechanism was to maintain friendly contact, but the other partner's best coping mechanism was complete silence? And, if so, did you ever become friends again, and how?
posted by timoni at 2:51 PM on April 5, 2010


I'd like to know how others deal with those feelings.

Honestly? If you have an ex whose memory invokes raw feelings from over three years ago and another one added to that list now, you are a perfect candidate for therapy. They'll give you an opportunity to talk about things and they'll suggest good strategies that won't simply be "give it time"; they'll be proactive ways to deal with the sense of rejection you feel. It's a perfect time to make that kind of change. Good luck!
posted by Hiker at 2:52 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I need more concrete advice, which is why I came to Metafilter.

Don't talk to him, don't seek his company, throw yourself entirely into other mental pursuits. Plenty of people have experienced both outcomes. The "how" is leaving him alone.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:57 PM on April 5, 2010


Use that time, distance and space to get over him and get over the ending of the relationship. Fill up that time. Start a novel, learn an instrument or new language, challenge yourself with a big project. Your brain needs distracting, or it's just going to keep looping on a non-productive track where you think about him and think about yourself with/without him, what you miss about him yadda yadda yadda.

It's normal to miss someone when you break up, especially if it was a non-shouty break up that's the sad, resigned kind rather than the GET OUT OF MY LIFE kind. But you still need to get over it.

On preview: Have you ever been in a [breakup] where your best coping mechanism was to maintain friendly contact, but the other partner's best coping mechanism was complete silence? And, if so, did you ever become friends again, and how?

Yes. I cried on friends' shoulders, avoided social situations where I knew the ex would be (as much as possible, at least), respected their desire for no contact, and distracted myself with work, projects, etc. Eventually, friendships grew out of these. They grew slowly, in fits and starts and in general, we didn't rehash relationship or break-up issues. We sort of started new, insofar as that's possible when you already know each other.
posted by rtha at 2:58 PM on April 5, 2010


I'm also mostly interested in replies from people who wanted to maintain a friendship right away.

Dated someone for a little over a year, and we were super-tight. When we broke up, we tried to be friends right away. I mean, like we didn't see each other for like a week and a half, and then right back in to trying to be friends. Even though on some level, I thought it was waaay too soon, and I think she did, too. It soon made our friendship very weirdly unhealthy (like we were dating, but not... we were too close for platonic friends and weirded everyone out) and when she finally got a bf like a year later, it was like breaking up again. Are we still friends? Yes, she is one of my dearest friends in the whole world. The way we did it, it took like 1.5 years to get to a point where we're solid, healthy friends.

I do not recommend doing what I did.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:05 PM on April 5, 2010


I think he probably knows that you crave his attention and wouldn't want to lead you on or drag up bad memories or argue so will stay away. I think you (like me and my ex) can possibly hang out at the same events as acquaintances once you BOTH have new relationships that you have been in for longer than a year (and only with new partners present). I'm not sure it ever progresses to good friends again, maybe in another 1-3 years?
posted by meepmeow at 3:30 PM on April 5, 2010


Have you ever been in a [breakup] where your best coping mechanism was to maintain friendly contact, but the other partner's best coping mechanism was complete silence? And, if so, did you ever become friends again, and how?
I was on the other side of it: after we broke up my ex felt that it was important that we be 'mature' and stay friends, continuing to interact as we had before we'd started dating. Against my better judgment I forced myself to go along with it. It was a terrible idea: I needed space, and I needed time. My partner's attempts to push past that, and their resentment when I wasn't able to do it, eventually ensured that we could never, would never, be friends again.
posted by verb at 3:43 PM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Drink a lot (or inebriant of your choice) and sleep with other people.

You asked for concrete advice. It's traditional.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:40 PM on April 5, 2010


I too was on the other side of it. But luckily my ex let me disappear for a while, and a few weeks later we were back to being friends, and now he's one of my best friends. Another ex refused to let me go, and now we don't speak.

You may also want to consider that you might not have just one "best way" of getting over things. All relationships are different; maybe you'll do just fine if you let him have his breathing room.
posted by yarly at 4:41 PM on April 5, 2010


I've always been on the other side of this - and it's just as awful and unpleasant as everyone says - but I have seen a very dear friend go through it from your perspective. Long-term relationship, broke up in a really civil way, they both still cared deeply for each other, but she wanted to stay good friends from the start and he didn't. It was awful, and she went through so, so much pain.

I would suggest doing what she eventually did, which was to stop thinking that the opposite of 'staying friends' is 'having absolutely no good feelings towards each other at all'. You say that your previous breakup in which you did stay good friends was easier because 'I knew he still cared about me as a person' - which is fine and reasonable, but you can't use immediate shifts to best-friend-status as a measure of that. She also found benefit in not contacting him in all the friendly ways that she had been, hoping desperately for a reply (which isn't the same as not contacting him at all, which may or may not be the best route in your case, but it was easier for her to cope when she wasn't in a constant state of why-didn't-he-answer-ness).

They're not best friends now, but they have salvaged some sort of friendship that both of them seem happy with. This is years after the fact, though. YMMV - and, more significantly for this, so might his.
posted by Catseye at 4:56 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


verb is right. I've been on the receiving end of 'why can't we be friends like we used to' and it absolutely destroyed the entire relationship as well as several other friendships. The ex that I am actually friends with? We cooled all contact for a few months, minimal contact for a year or so and trod carefully for a while. We also got new partners (both of us are now married and he was in our bridal party and my partner was in his).
posted by geek anachronism at 5:31 PM on April 5, 2010


I've been the guy that realized that he couldn't try to maintain a friendship when the breakup was recent. Took me a few months to figure it out.

I told her that I couldn't see her or talk to her for an indeterminate amount of time.

After a year or so, what happened was that I had reconciled what the word "relationship" meant to me and what we as people make it mean. You might do the same thing. Breakups usually tend to be ultimatums of some sort, like "we're broken up, we had something special that's never going to exist ever again" which is ENTIRELY untrue. We still have "something special" and the spark or whatever that started the relationship is still there, but we're not "in a relationship." Except that we are in a relationship, but in a whole 'nother context, kind of a seeing the forest for the trees sort of thing. I had to take my eyes off the tree first though, you know? I think that's what separation means in this context, learning how to have soft eyes, you can't see anything else unless you stop focusing on that one tree.

The separation also taught me one other thing: that it was up to Me to choose whether she was in my life or not. It's not up to fate, or god, or anything else. Only me. Once I said to myself that she was always going to be in my life, it took away all the insecurity. Yes, you have that power too. You (by You I mean We) just don't realize we can do that until we go through the growing pains.

I'm still sort of a young'un I guess, but she has become one of those rare people that you still have honest friendships with 7 years later, which is a long time for somebody my age.
posted by bam at 5:38 PM on April 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


This has happened to me, if you want real life personal anecdotes. We broke up; I wanted things to go back to how they used to be (imagine sunshine and bluebirds) before we started dating. He... didn't seem to care so much, and was the initiator of conversation much less than I was. Painful! Like, here's someone who used to be your one and only and now they don't even want to contact you. It's an ego blow and it does hurt. Something must be wrong with them! How could they not want this?

How did it get resolved? Well, not by an ill-advised trip to see them with a bonus round of drunken sex, that's for sure. That made it worse (although it was great at the time). The ultimate cure? Falling for someone else. And that is hard to do! It's almost like a betrayal, but once I was thinking and crushing on someone else, the ex boyfriend seemed a lot less significant and a much smaller part of my life so it didn't hurt much at all that he wasn't calling me weekly and checking up on my current events.

Now, a year and a half later (and a year after the aforementioned sex), I talk to him regularly (but certainly less often then when we were dating, natch). I'm planning a visit to his city in June and am not worried about awkwardness or being uncomfortable around him, since we're in a good post-friendship-relationship phase.
posted by amicamentis at 7:02 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh yes. I wanted this and the result was that we did maintain contact...and it wasn't until I found out he was engaged (we maintained contact that was ostensibly friendly but I didn't even know he was dating) that I finally got enough distance for it to turn into a true friendship--and this was like..2 years later. However, we're friends now. Not great friends, but we talk oh...20 times a year or so and help each other when appropriate.

My other long term relationship, we didn't talk AT ALL for about 6 months. We're now amazing close friends (talk at least twice a week) and I consider him one of my closest friends. Wouldn't date him again to save my life, mind you but...we're friends.

All of which is to say, in hindsight...I understand WHY I wanted the attention and the friendship, but it turned out, for me, to make things worse. Though I suspect the fact that he was trying to spare me by not telling me about the girl he started dating while we were in the process of breaking up didn't help.
posted by eleanna at 8:55 PM on April 5, 2010


In this situation currently, strangely on a similar timeline. I made a promise to myself not to talk to him until he reached out to me for one week (ridiculous I know).

He did not contact me. Out of weakness and desperation, I contacted him, we were okay for a few days, then he said something incredibly demeaning that I probably deserved.

Then I had someone recommend one month. He did not contact me.

It has been devastating to me. Individually and before we were even together, we knew I suffered from co-dependency issues and he really wants nothing to do with anyone most of the time, but we had a lot in common regardless. The drift between us has been pretty much sealed because I believe he started going to therapy, meanwhile I let my condition worsen and manifest itself into my everyday life.

So basically; don't do what I'm doing, go talk to someone.
posted by june made him a gemini at 10:07 PM on April 5, 2010


Have you ever been in a [breakup] where your best coping mechanism was to maintain friendly contact, but the other partner's best coping mechanism was complete silence? And, if so, did you ever become friends again, and how?

Ha ha, I just deleted about 1500 words describing it to you, but it was the toughest breakup of my entire life. The point of my essay was that this approach spread the breakup over ten years. He didn't want to be mean, and I wanted to keep calling. So on average, we talked about every six weeks for an entire decade. For three years, I would save up everything interesting to tell him. For four years, I would use vacations to visit him. In between, a variety of somewhat humiliating things happened (throwing yourself at someone isn't pretty). After ten years, as I was again realizing afresh how much I still cared about him and maybe this was "the love of my life," and as I was wondering if I could get us back to together somehow, it finally hit me that I had had this realization before, several times, and I already had tried to get us back together, even more times than that, and in fact, I had tried every approach I could think of, and perhaps it really, truly, could never happen. At that point, I was finally free and began to feel much better. Now, something like four or five years later, I suppose we could be friends, but I'm glad not to be feeling the kind of bittersweet pain that I felt around him for so long, and I've let a few calls go unreturned. Maybe one day we will be friends again.

At the time, I appreciated the gentleness of the break-up and him staying in touch, but now I wonder if I would've found someone else to love in that same intense way if I'd given up on him sooner. If I could go back in time, I might actually try it -- I might find my younger self (ideally on a day when I was already kind of mad at the world) and explain that he would never, ever, ever get back together with me. Furthermore, if I kept following him around, I would harbor hopes that we'd get back together (even though I didn't think I was doing that), and by spending time with someone who didn't want to date me, I'd come to think that nobody like him would ever like me romantically. I would explain that perhaps it didn't have to be that way, as there were hundreds of 21-year-olds similar to him, and basically, I just needed to believe that I deserved a relationship like that. I didn't believe I could find anything that amazing, but actually I probably could have if I didn't waste my emotional energy on him. So, that's what I'd say to you: those feelings you feel for him are part of you, and you are in an amazing time of your life right now (whatever age you are), and if you can accept that this is 100 percent over-over-over, you will be more likely to have space and readiness for another connection of this intensity. Sorry if this is straying into the type of advice you don't want. The bottom line is: I tried it, and he went along with it.... and ten years later I realized "oh, we're never going to get back together again," and finally started having relationships with real potential.
posted by salvia at 10:19 PM on April 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Have you ever been in a [breakup] where your best coping mechanism was to maintain friendly contact, but the other partner's best coping mechanism was complete silence? And, if so, did you ever become friends again, and how?

My best coping mechanism is always complete silence; I always need a total break for at least a few months, and sometimes a lot longer. And, with the people who have mattered most to me, we have become friends again - I just needed the space first, to heal.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:39 AM on April 6, 2010


Move on.

No offense, but you're doing the needy ex gf thing. If I could talk to him, I'd advise him to cut you off entirely. Dragging it out just makes it harder in the long run. He's apparently too "nice" for that -- his "complete silence" is anything but -- so you need to do it for him.

Make some new friends, find some new hobbies, and hang out with people you've neglected. But move on.
posted by LordSludge at 7:52 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


> It was initially a very civil breakup--although he was the one to finally end things, I'd been considering it for a long time myself. I had high hopes that we could have a simple, easy breakup. We both wanted to remain friends.

Have the grace and respect to let go completely. If you're lucky enough to have friendship in the future, it is a very fortunate salvation from a former relationship.

But, after a relationship is broken, it's neither party's right.
posted by spaceandtime30 at 10:09 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


My ex and I both said we would remain friends. He gently suggested that we should get space first. I thought we could be friends right away, but it didn't work. Every time I saw him it reopened my wounds. So I called him up and told him that he was right I needed space. So basically we didn't talk for a year. I met a new boyfriend (who became my husband) and started making friends with no connection with my ex. And after a year, I was ready to talk again and we are still friends seven years later. I still see him sometimes when I go back to where he lives. So try to accept that you ex needs space to heal and contact him in 6 months or a year.
posted by bananafish at 12:11 PM on April 6, 2010


(Please, no comments about how 'time heals all wounds' or 'it sounds like you just need to give things space and time.' At this point, we have no interactions whatsoever, so there is already plenty of space, and as I mentioned earlier, I feel worse as time goes on, not better.)

I'm sorry that it's not what you want to hear, but at this point, you don't have space — he's obviously occupying a lot of your attention and thought processes — and you haven't had time — it's been two months. Two months is not very much time at all.

Conversely, my best breakup ended with us immediately becoming good friends. Because I knew he still cared about me as a person, the heartbreak ended almost immediately.

Here's something you may have to face: he may not actually care about you as a person.

That sounds cold, but it's a possibility. At this point, when I think of my most recent ex, I don't particularly "care about him as a person". I have an abstract, intellectualized wish that he have a happy life and do well, but care about him or want to spend time with him or find out what's going on in his life? No. Really not. Which is why I didn't agree to get together with him the last time he passed through town.

The only person whose actions, feelings, and thoughts you can truly affect is you. Your ex may never call you again — can you be okay with that?

If I may recommend a book, Be the Person You Want to Find: Relationship and Self-Discovery by American Zen teacher Cheri Huber might be helpful to you as you go through the emotions you go through while dealing with this.

Best wishes. Being the one who gets broken up with sucks. But (and I'm speaking from painful personal experience here), please don't sacrifice your sense of dignity and self-worth by pursuing somebody who doesn't want to be in a relationship with you.

Getting dumped hurts. Getting dumped and then looking back six months later and thinking "wow, I've been amazingly needy and clingy as I tried to make this person want to be with me; what happened to the me that could stand on her own two feet?" hurts worse, I think.
posted by Lexica at 2:57 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would like to suggest that maintaining friendly contact is not your best coping mechanism - otherwise, trying to do so wouldn't be so painful to you.

I have tried to be friends with a few people that I dated, (not long term relationships), I remained friendly, interested, open to continuing the friendship, but they all found it preferable to just ... stay distant. In spite of supposedly being interested in being friends.

You do have the option of continuing to be friendly, to send him emails, casual invitations, or phone calls, etc. but you can't take his reaction personally. You can't get hurt by him being cold - just keep being the ex-turned-good-friend, show you care, unconditionally, by not reacting or feeling rejected.

Maintaining mutual friendly contact makes things easier, yes, but both parties have to be able to do that. If friendly contact works best for you, then do it whether he reciprocates or not.
posted by Locochona at 3:25 PM on April 6, 2010


I'm friends with all my exes (well, honestly, there aren't that many), and if I had my way I probably would have wanted to keep friendly contact with them all in the beginning, right after the breakup.

But I didn't.

It's very difficult, letting go, but sometimes in life it really is necessary for you even when you can't see that.

I really do understand, believe me, your sense of loss and loneliness right now that he hasn't reached out the hand of friendship already. But there is no absolute timeline for these situations. Just because you have gone almost instantly from breakup to friendship before with someone else doesn't mean this guy can do the same.

Your friends, who care about you, are also recommending time and space. Listen to them and move on. It WILL get easier.
posted by misha at 4:22 PM on April 6, 2010


In the answer marked "best," I see advice that tells you what you want to hear. "The separation also taught me one other thing: that it was up to Me to choose whether she was in my life or not." That's SO untrue. Whether you decide it or not, he might not ever be in your life again - it's not up to you entirely whether someone else wants contact with you - that's stalker-talk. I mean, you can have him in your life by thinking about him all the time, but it doesn't mean it will be a real relationship.
posted by agregoli at 4:38 PM on April 6, 2010


agregoli -

Come on dude. What do you want me to say, that I'm sorry that I assumed that the OP had a level head? I'm not sure what you're hoping to accomplish by adding that in there. I'm gonna assume that your comment wasn't directed at me, because then you're running a social commentary talking about the goings on in my own life, and a great big F U will be forthcoming.

To ease your mind:

OP: No means no. You can't always get what you want either. If he says no, than respect the no. You can still have him in your life, but since he is also part of the equation, (and this is true for any sort of relationship) he gets to flesh out exactly what it means for him to be "in your life."
posted by bam at 6:09 PM on April 6, 2010


THOSE who want to keep in touch after breaking up are either:

(a) Insecure.
(b) Never as into you as you were into them.
(c) Need friendship to assuage the guilt of hurting you (which ironically achieves precisely the opposite).
(d) Never gave you much of their heart or emotional investment, so it really doesn't bother them.
(e) Over the relationship.
posted by spaceandtime30 at 11:28 AM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Spaceandtime, that's interesting. That would mean that I fit into one of those categories.

i feel like it's almost pointless to mention this after so many answers that said basically the same thing over and over...but, FWIW, we are not in contact now. Neither of us is "making" or "demanding" anything of the other. Neither one of us has said plainly, "leave me alone."

So, as I tried to point out in the initial question, any the advice about not trying to contact the other person and giving oneself space is virtually useless, as that's is already happening. Put another way, that advice has already been heard and taken. At this point, I'm looking for people who have been in similar situations, preferably those who (like me) would have preferred to remain friends.
posted by timoni at 1:45 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


i feel like it's almost pointless to mention this after so many answers that said basically the same thing over and over...but, FWIW, we are not in contact now. Neither of us is "making" or "demanding" anything of the other. Neither one of us has said plainly, "leave me alone."
That's one of the reasons that I hope my reply was, well -- a little hopeful. My story ended badly in part because that wasn't really respected (and when it was, it just meant that after two months of 'space' the re-connecting was incredibly intense, and treated as an emotional reunion rather than a tentative experiment). It sounds like you're struggling wit these emotions but are (in the day to day) willing to extend the space.

Stick with that. Stretch yourself. Be willing to miss your ex but not wait for your ex to be ready, as if their absence puts your emotional life in some sort of suspended animation. Those kinds of moves delay rather than help the evolution of a relationship into something new and survivable.
posted by verb at 2:38 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


>>At this point, I'm looking for people who have been in similar situations, preferably those who (like me) would have preferred to remain friends.>>

What do you want those people to help you with, specifically?

I've been in something like your situation. My most significant relationship EVER broke up. At first we talked on the phone every day but after a while he cut it off. He had been the one to break us up. Later he did get back in touch and he explained that he had wanted some space while he got certain business (emotional and practical) done. In the meantime, I was devasted; losing him felt like I would imagine losing a sibling would be; we'd known each other a long long time and been a huge part of each other's lives. Not speaking to him was something I never envisioned.

I can tell you that we wound up friends, but that was only after enough time had passed that I could be happy for him when he met someone else.

Does that answer any of your questions or help you in any way? I'm sorry if that sounds snotty; it's not meant to. It's just that I have a hard time thinking of anything to say except that, yes, it sucks to be in that position.
posted by BibiRose at 1:00 PM on April 8, 2010


It sounds like the key thing for you is knowing that he still cares about you as a person. I would go over all the facts and communications in your mind and find whatever proof exists that this is true. Stopping communication doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't care.
posted by salvia at 2:41 PM on April 8, 2010


« Older A few days ago I received an e...   |  Single-speed bike. Lots of hil... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.