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I am the one who ended our relationship, so why can't I move on?
April 18, 2010 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Why am I so emotionally attached to someone that I ended a relationship with? Six months ago I broke up with my daughter's father for the third time. The first two break ups happened before my daughter was born so my feelings are not simply for the obvious reason of us sharing a child together. He is such a wonderful person; I look up to him, he is smart, caring, and we have a similiar outlook on life; morals, values. However, whenever we are together, I lose all physical attraction for him and everything he does drives me insane. He has never put an effort into our relationship. We don't share the same sense of humor and I have never felt like he was my partner in crime, something I always hoped my life partner would feel like.

He started dating someone shortly after we broke up, yet I can't even think about dating anyone else. I cry myself to sleep almost every night. The fact that I am having such a hard time accepting this makes me feel like maybe I made a mistake. I know, I've felt the need to end things three times, but I've also felt the need to try again twice. I've had two serious relationships prior to him, and I've been able to move on without looking back, Why can't I let go of him and what I wanted our relationship to be?
posted by aprilc34 to Human Relations (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
maybe I made a mistake

Um ... you don't like the way he looks or the way he acts. You don't get along very well, and he put no effort into the relationship when you were together. You didn't make a mistake in ending the relationship. This isn't even close. You're just idealizing him in his absence, but that's a fantasy, not reality.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:31 PM on April 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


Past behaviour predicts future behaviour. History would suggest a fourth attempt will not end well unless something drastic changes.

As for why you can't let go, I've found that the hardest people to let go of are the ones that were absolutely perfect apart from that one tiny thing. If that one tiny thing changed, it'd be amazing, right? It's so easy! Of course you'd want to give it another chance. I still struggle with it, but the only solace I've found is that the fault, whatever it is, is as integral a part of them as are all their other qualities, and you can no more expect them to be without it than you can expect them to lose all their redeeming features as well. It's much easier when the fault is something obvious and catastrophic, but if it's caused you to break up three times then this issue is just as worthy of moving on forever.
posted by twirlypen at 5:37 PM on April 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


When more time has passed...when you are not crying yourself to sleep...you need to have a very honest conversation with yourself.

In that conversation, look unflinchingly at his faults, his lack of effort in the relationship, the things that drive you away.

Then look unflinichingly at the qualities he has that makes you not want to let go.

Figure out which side of the scales weigh more, because neither his faults or his qualities are going to go away, and then go be that thing.

You're not doing anyone any favors by going back and forth. I know that most people responding will tell you to keep him dumped, but only you know whether, at last, it is his qualities or faults that weigh more.
posted by mreleganza at 6:06 PM on April 18, 2010


Are you having a bout of "I can't have made a mistake with this guy because he's the father of my child and I wouldn't screw up a decision that huge... but here I am, we don't get on and probably never will but we have a kid now" leading to "OBVIOUSLY I MUST TRY HARDER?"
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:27 PM on April 18, 2010


you say that he is such a wonderful person! well, good thing that you think that way about the father of your child! he'll be in your life for a long time. and he won't be pissing you off as your boyfriend. so, it looks to me like you may have a pretty sweet deal under all of those tears.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:55 PM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're just idealizing him in his absence, but that's a fantasy, not reality.
This. It must be especially hard since he's the father of your child. Maybe that's why it has been harder to move on than it was in your previous serious relationships?

When you say he won't put "any effort" into the relationship, are you saying that he wouldn't go to couple's counseling with you? Because I would hope that has already been attempted, especially if this breakup is causing all these doubts and pain. But if you mean anything else by that, then I really think it's time to work on moving on (and probably see a counselor yourself).
I'm sorry that you're going through this.
posted by Hdog at 7:33 PM on April 18, 2010


You're just idealizing him in his absence, but that's a fantasy, not reality.

Take that idealized vision and make that character your imaginary friend. Tell that imaginary friend about how your day went.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:01 PM on April 18, 2010


You're just idealizing him in his absence, but that's a fantasy, not reality.

Yes, they are all right. I love this metaphor about couples who break up repeatedly: think of, say, Dave as a Home Depot. You are in need of milk. So you go to Home Depot and see so many wonderful things you hadn't even thought of--paint rollers! garden tools! cordless drills!--so you end up spending a very long time wandering around. At the cash register, you realize: milk! You look some more, and finally leave parched.

A while later, you've driven past stores--not gone in them or really gotten to know what's inside, mind you--but they all seem lacking. You return to Home Depot, for surely they must have milk! How can such a place not carry something as simple as milk, when they had saws and industrial-strength everything?!? Alas, you must eventually come to terms with the fact that they don't carry something essential that you seek.

Maybe you're scared that if you do ever find a store that carries milk, it won't have circular saws or light dimmers, things that now seem like necessities. But the bottom line is that you're not being picky, just realistic about what you can and can't live with. Don't forget about all of the horrible feelings you had at the end--if anything, remind yourself of those, instead of the good feelings that naturally come along with nostalgia, which are confusing you. Don't fall into the 'but maybe I didn't go down that last aisle' trap, or the 'but maybe the shipment was late' trap. There is no such trap, as there is no milk. Just lots and lots of power tools.
posted by blazingunicorn at 8:06 PM on April 18, 2010 [23 favorites]


The shorthand for blazingunicorn's analogy in my peer group is "looking for meat in the produce aisle," and it covers so many situations... including this one.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:35 PM on April 18, 2010


Another way to help you stick with your decision is to realize that as your daughter gets older, a clean break-up and a stable household is better for her than a situation where one member keeps coming in and out. It would be very hard for her to have her dad leave more than once, once she's past, say, a year old. So if part of this is anxiety for her feelings, I think you're better off sticking with the decision that you keep on coming to anyway.
posted by palliser at 6:08 AM on April 19, 2010


Thank you so much for all of the great replies!

As for why you can't let go, I've found that the hardest people to let go of are the ones that were absolutely perfect apart from that one tiny thing.

This is so true. I know I question my decision over and over because I feel very guilty about what "that one tiny thing" is - I'm not attracted to him and just don't have that "feeling". I feel like I didn't have a legitimate reason for not wanting to be with him. I truly wanted to convince myself that his good qualities held much more value and I feel like a bad person for not being able to see things that way. I think I am so jealous about his new girlfriend because she can see him the way I wanted to see him.

Maybe you're scared that if you do ever find a store that carries milk, it won't have circular saws or light dimmers, things that now seem like necessities.

Very. I honestly believe I will never find someone with all of his great qualities plus that one special thing. But I also knew, three times, that keeping someone around just because you are scared you won't get better is an awful thing to do. Every time we broke up though I truly felt like I was doing it for him also, because he deserves better.

This may sound strange, but I have always been more concerned with his feelings than mine. I have always felt that he is right, and I am wrong. So when he wasn't the one who made the decision about breaking up, I question it.

When you say he won't put "any effort" into the relationship, are you saying that he wouldn't go to couple's counseling with you?

no, he would not go to counseling with me. He always said a therapist would not help me to feel attracted to him. What I was mostly implying was that he just seemed to be lazy about the relationship. Whenever we broke up, he would start eating better and exercising and doing things and going places; as soon as we got back together, we never did anything. Period. Now that he is with this new girl, he is taking her to all the places he never wanted to take me. That really hurts.

I just hope that someday I will find what I am looking for. I know that I don't want to have to think about it so much the next time around, but I am also scared that it might not work that way. Thanks again for the replies.
posted by aprilc34 at 10:01 AM on April 19, 2010


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