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I'm ready to be over my ex. What's taking so long?!
March 30, 2011 8:09 PM   Subscribe

The ex and I broke up a year ago. I've been seeing someone else and am extremely happy, but it still bothers me that the ex's new relationship is going well. I don't understand why he's treating this other person so well when he treated me so poorly.

I don't want to be with him and I don't want to talk to him. I can't shake feeling inadequate or like I have this personality flaw because he not only wasn't that into me, but also treated me poorly for two years instead of just saying "I'm not all that into you, sorry."

I always suspected he wasn't that into me, but I thought he just needed more time. He was hot/cold. It bothers me that he's seemingly changed and that he and his new girl are headed for happily-ever-after. I try to reason that I can't truly know how their relationship is, because I'm only going off of facebook and mutual friends. But they've been together since October and I doubt she'd stay that long if he treated her the same way he did me.

He was #1 in the relationship, always. The last time we spoke he asked if I was pregnant, then said that he didn't want to know because he cared, just that he didn't want any kids running around he didn't know about. And now he's super-serious about someone else and moving across the country to be with her (he was planning to move anyway but seemed to have scrapped the idea until now.)

I don't know how to not see this as a personal attack on my own character; that I wasn't good enough to be loved, treated properly, respected, etc. Please don't kill me for saying this, but I would like his relationship to fail because that would mean he was the problem. As it stands it just seems like he needed the "right person" to come turn him around, and it hurts that I wasn't good enough.

Mid-April marks a year since the break up and I'm seriously ready to be over this and not care if the ex is single, engaged, shacking-up, whatever. Help!

Might not be relevant, skip if you want:

The person I'm seeing now treats me like a queen. He's my best friend; I feel completely loved and supported and I wouldn't trade that for the world. He's told me that he wasn't that great of a boyfriend in the past (his shortcomings were quite similiar to my ex's in fact but not in the ways I've listed here), and that he was single for a few years to get his act together. I'm the first person he's dated since, things are going extremely well and I don't think our relationship success reflects poorly on his exs' character at all.

So then... why the heck do I think my ex's success reflects poorly on mine?! What the heck, brain? I know part of it is that my ex was only single for 8 months vs current boyfriend being single for two years, so it seems unlikely that my ex did the whole soul searching thing. Still...
posted by Pericardium to Human Relations (45 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
so it seems unlikely that my ex did the whole soul searching thing.

But maybe he did. Maybe he wanted to be better when he was with you but force of habit prevented him. Maybe it only seems this way to you look at his new relationship from the outside.

Don't sweat it! Be glad you're happy now and stop paying attention to that nagging little pop up window in your head that makes you think about this. It will go away if you do.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:12 PM on March 30, 2011


Maybe he just figured out that his past relationships had all failed because of his behaviour. You don't need months or years to realise this: just a straight-talking friend, or an afternoon of taking a good hard look at yourself.

My husband treated some of his ex-girlfriends very shabbily indeed, but he says the reason he is such an awesome partner now is that he learned from each past relationship what not to do in the future if he didn't want to lose his next girlfriend.
posted by lollusc at 8:21 PM on March 30, 2011


Did people outside your relationship think it was going well? People not in a relationship often see a completely different picture than the people outside it.

And if he's moving to be with her across the country, then that means they don't live together now, right? Easy for things to be perfect when you're not actually physically together because you have had too much time being pleasant to each other and not enough time being real.
posted by inturnaround at 8:21 PM on March 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh, can I help you here!!

Believe me when I tell you that you are misinformed regarding how wonderful this guy's current relationship is. Even though he will move, despite what the friends and the advertising tell you. TRUST ME.

Time prevents me from explaining more now. Let's memail! I'd love to tell you how this all turns out a few years from now.

Really. You have the wrong idea. Appreciate the guy who treats you lovely and don't let the ex sabotage you.

Later.
posted by jbenben at 8:25 PM on March 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


Another possible explanation: have you noticed that you have some bad habits in how you talk to your parents or siblings that you never have with anyone you met as an adult, but as soon as you go back and see your family you fall right into those again?

Being around certain people can trigger a behavioral pattern just because it's something we did over and over with them in the past, not because those people are doing anything wrong now. Sometimes it takes being with different people to be able to act differently.
posted by synchronia at 8:26 PM on March 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


As it stands it just seems like he needed the "right person" to come turn him around, and it hurts that I wasn't good enough.

My mom went through this after my parents split up after almost 20 years of marriage. She'd see my dad [who was sort of a cad really, but charming and interesting] with his new girlfriend and think "Why do they get along when he and I always fought?" and really there were a few reasons but the main one was that he didn't really have the relationship with his new girlfriend that he did with my mom, and never did. He and my mom were basically equals with sharp intellects and scrappy people who each had to have the last word which would lead to terrible fights that lasted forever. The new girlfriend was younger, not as bright and basically let my dad be the smart guy (even though she was plenty smart) so there was a lot less struggling for who was on top. My mom imagined that he had the relationship with the new gf that they had had, but it wasn't true at all.

I'm sort of similar. I am the gateway to marriage girlfriend. I date guys forever and then they marry their next serious girlfriend. It used to sort of bend me out of shape, but at some level even though within my relationship with them I felt like "hey this is right, this is what we both want" they were looking for something different. Maybe a more boy/girl relationship (I'm not great with traditional gender roles), maybe someone closer to their family, maybe someone who wanted babies and to be a stay-at-home-ish mom with a part time job. None of those were me. So at some level it seemed weird, on another level, when I thought about it without a "WTF" lens on it, it sort of made sense.

Your ex is moving on, probably talking a good game [do you know anythign else about his relationship besides what he tells you] and is MOVING which is sort of great. Don't worry about it, don't jinx him, the right thing is for the two of you to be happy with other people, even though it feels weird to see someone who was a jerk to you be happy elsewhere. There's definitely a point I've been in, in bad relationships, where we split up and I realize that I was not that happy for at least a little while but I was sort of powering through it because I wanted the relationship to "work out" Sometimes my partner was the smart one who twigged to the fact that it wasn't actually working. Maybe that's a nagging feeling, that you should have known, and he did, and sort of let the relationship limp along. Bleh. Congrats on your new guy.
posted by jessamyn at 8:29 PM on March 30, 2011 [22 favorites]


this thing, the why-with-her-and-not-with-me thing, is the bit that can sink the deepest, bitterest claws into your heart. Time and distance and the love of a better man eventually help, but it will suck for a while and it really does gnaw at you... but try to keep in mind what others have said above, that what you think you're seeing is probably not the whole of it; in a few years she'll be in your shoes, wondering why that asshat is being so nice to the girl he ditched HER for.
It burns. But it does go away, with time.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:30 PM on March 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Simple truth: You will never know exactly what happens inside another relationship. It may look great on the outside and be filled with ugliness on the inside.

The only relationships you will ever truly know are the ones in which you are a party -- and even then you only have partial understanding.
posted by driley at 8:35 PM on March 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


jbenben: Appreciate the guy who treats you lovely and don't let the ex sabotage you.

QFT. Your current beau deserves your attention, or break up with him so he can find someone who's ready to be with him.

Your ex has a right to seek happiness with someone who is the right match for him. You do too.

I don't know how to not see this as a personal attack on my own character; that I wasn't good enough to be loved, treated properly, respected, etc.

Where your ex is in his life has nothing to do with you, and says absolutely nothing about your character. That you think your character is defined by what other people do is something you might want to think about.
posted by headnsouth at 8:38 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


But they've been together since October and I doubt she'd stay that long if he treated her the same way he did me.

Don't assume that. I was in this exact situation too, where my boyfriend of 5 years dumped me and fell in love with another woman. They were together, they looked happy in the Facebook photos and sounded in love based on comments from mutual friends. And like you, I assumed he must be treating his new girlfriend like a queen if she was sticking around with him for month and months. Then I found out he was treating her the exact same crappy, abusive, distant and fucked-up way he had treated me. And I found out he had done the same to plenty of other women he had dated both before me and after that new lady.

Turns out, women really do stick around despite their partner treating them like crap. You're not the only one. I'm not the only one. Lots of women do it. Don't think that her sticking around means he's being a prince. Don't think he's treating her any better than he treated you.
posted by joan_holloway at 8:38 PM on March 30, 2011 [22 favorites]


I understand this, I'm struggling at times almost 8 months after the breakup of a 5+ year relationship and engagement. My ex didn't really treat me very well, especially in the last year or so when he agreed to marry me while not really wanting to. How selfish to not let me go when he realized that, instead of waiting for something else shiny to come along. He was off to the other guy's couch immediately after we broke up, and within two months at the outside they were dating.

It hurts to see someone caring about someone else they way they did (or should have) cared about you. And the less information you have, the more your mind can go crazy imagining how perfect things are for them while you're still in so much pain. For me, it feels like the guilty ones get the fun and the relationship, while I get to be alone.

But truth be told, I'm so much more happier (most of the time) than I have been for years. And you're not alone, you've got a great guy who you're happier with! And as for your ex, screw him. He wasn't right for you, which also means you're not right for him. Maybe he's learned and grown and the new relationship will last, in that case, good for him. And maybe he hasn't changed and the new relationship is awful and will crumble any day, for similar or different reasons.

It's hard to let go, as I said up top I still struggle and have bad days, and can't understand even though intellectually I know I'm far far better off out of that relationship than I would be if I was still in it. But it's all time.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:42 PM on March 30, 2011


If anybody who didn't live in our apartment ever was curious about my relationship with my partner, they would think that we never fought, that I was never an asshole, and that every day, even if we were dealing with an external crisis or some other drama, that I was a perfect partner in every way.

Sadly, this is not the case.

Or what driley said.

The words to focus on in your letter are "seemingly" and "can't truly" know. Very few people use Facebook to track the low points in their life.

So in your hand, you have a guy who treats you like a queen. In the bush, you have the guy who got away who you aren't hearing is being a pain in someone else's ass, but you don't really know. Focus on what's in your hand.

But if you must focus on him, realize that the two of you weren't a good match. Different people respond different ways when things in a relationship don't work out. Lots of assholes are assholes at this time. He was an asshole to you because you weren't a good match. That is the only way it is a reflection on anything having to do with you. Him being an asshole isn't a reflection on you anymore than him being a seemingly nice guy is a reflection on the new girl -- just that they were a better match. Maybe they are a better match because she's as asshole too.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:46 PM on March 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was in a very abusive relationship. Not a soul suspected it. Everyone thought we were a match made in heaven/fairy tale relationship.


Most abusers lead you to believe that you deserve the ill treatment, that it's only occurring bc of some fault of your own. so it's natural for you to want to be 'worthy' of the good treatment.
It's all BS, he's the abuser, end of story.
posted by Neekee at 8:50 PM on March 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Eyes on the road ahead of you, kiddo...
posted by hermitosis at 9:22 PM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hi there. It's possible that I am your ex (figuratively speaking)!

I was with a guy for 5 years. At the beginning, we were just two old high school buddies, but in the end we were engaged and living together. Somewhere along the way, I think I realized that I was Just Not Into Him anymore and that I didn't see a future with him, but I was mentally unwell and did not know how to get myself out of that situation. He was the bread winner, and I made barely anything at all. So what money I made went to him, leaving me with no savings and no way out. Honestly, I felt so trapped, and all I thought to do was be a miserable, horrible girlfriend and some day he would just leave my pathetic ass. But it never happened. He just put up with my shit, day in and day out because he told me he would love me forever. I'm talking affairs, verbal abuse, out and out disgusting awful behavior on my part, and it was like he didn't understand the concept breaking up. The cycle of me being an asshole and him putting up with me really did a number on the both of us. We were so goddamn unhappy.

Eventually, I broke up with him, moved out, and started dating other people. And then I met someone and fell in love. It was clear that this person was special. In less than a year, we were moving in together. But I was still not mentally well. Happier, for sure, but I needed help, and we both knew it. There were days when I'd think about the way I treated my ex, and I would just cry. I knew I needed to be better. So, I got help. There may have been a moment when I said "I need help" and he said something like "good idea", but there was no ultimatum or deal. It was just clear that something needed to change so that the relationship would grow, and that change had to be with me.

Now, we're married. He's lying next to me in bed. I love him so much, I can't imagine doing harm to him in any way. I'm still learning, but I'm getting better and am 1000 times better than the person I used to be.

I don't know the finer details of your relationship. And I don't want you to think that you were not good enough for him to change and be a better person. It wasn't really about the person I was dating, but it was our attitude. With my ex, NO ONE was making any moves. We were just banging against each other, keeping the other in place. There was no reason that I saw (with my crazy mind) to change because I was trapped and my ex accepted my behavior, so what was the point? With my (now) husband, it was that my behavior was not only not acceptable but not to be tolerated.

People can change, I promise you. Sometimes I think that I should write my ex a letter and apologize to him. I don't, because I know that it would only be for me. I know he's happy; it'd be impossible for him to be LESS happy than when he was with me. And telling him I'm now this amazingly caring and loving person now would DEFINITELY make him feel better, I'm sure.

So, you can't know whether he's changed or not. What does it matter? You are FREE from his pain. You are loved and cared for. You are in a relationship in which you have control and you can grow. There is a future and possibilities. You didn't have that with your ex, and you never will. That's all there is to it.
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:26 PM on March 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


Oh my, have I been where you are now. Right down to now having a lovely boyfriend who treats me really well. Thank goodness!

About the ex though. When we were together we were best friends but didn't really treat each other all that well as a couple. I was waaaay more into him than he was into me also. Which led to a lot of hair-tearing and heart-searching on my part when he broke up with me, went overseas and found himself a girlfriend who was ten years younger and ten times cuter than me. Who he then proceeded to treat like she was the love of his life.

They did all the things I wished he'd done with me, but didn't. They went on romantic trips to the London Eye, he bought her flowers, carried a picture of her in his wallet, took spontaneous photos of her looking adorable and skinny, and introduced her to all his friends and family. The contrast was so, so painful.

When we were a couple, I had to nag for ages just to go to on a daytrip to the Big Worm. On the subject of flowers... Me: "I love flowers! They are beautiful expressions of our love!" Him: "They die". He was a photographer and never took pics of me, ever. While we were together I thought it was just that he was kind of over it after taking pics all day. Then they got together and it was loooove photos pictures all the time aaaaargh. And once, he made me hide in the bedroom when his mum came to visit.

And to me, it was alllll my fault. If only I'd been thinner. Less grumpy. More adorable. Nicer. Thinner. (Sigh, especially thinner. Oh, the torture.) Then he would've treated me like he treats her.

Except... it really didn't have anything to do with me. Or her. It was all to do with his idea of what he wanted in someone else. When he found someone who fit his criteria, he fell in love. And treated her as though he loved her. They're still together ten years later.

Sometimes... people really just aren't that into you, and they'll be more into the next person and treat them better. It honestly, truly, doesn't reflect on you.

Also: I treat my current boyfriend way better than I treated Mr Hearbreak. Because I learned from the experience and didn't want to be that mean grumpy person any more. I still am mean and grumpy sometimes, but less. So maybe your ex is still all the not-so-nice things he was to you, but is trying to be a better person with someone who's a better fit. Just a thought.
posted by t0astie at 9:30 PM on March 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh addendum. I think I dodged a massive bullet. If my ex's iron-clad must-haves in a relationship were "skinny", "boyish", well, fair enough. But... I'm pretty happy I'm not stuck with someone for whom I was always going to fall well short of their personal benchmark for loveable and attractive.

I think you've done pretty well too, to loose the one who treated you mean and to find one who loves you and treats you like a queen. /End unintentional poetry.
posted by t0astie at 9:38 PM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


As it stands it just seems like he needed the "right person" to come turn him around, and it hurts that I wasn't good enough.

"Good enough" doesn't play into it. Just because two people don't get along or just because someone acts like a "better" person with one woman rather than another doesn't mean that you're "worse" than she is or even that she "made" him a better person. It's that people's behaviors are very context-dependent. There's no "girlfriend X is a better person than girlfriend Y." It's that his new girlfriend might be a better person for him and whoever you're with is a better person for you.

I'd never make it as a car salesman. And maybe if I had that job, I'd be very unhappy and start showing up late to work and having times where I'd "just happen" to forget about meetings. That doesn't mean that I'm not "good enough" to be successful. It means that I'm not a good fit for car sales. I can still be successful in other ways, so I go find those other opportunities where I can be successful-- and sure enough I'll get up happy in the morning, go to work on time and get along with my colleagues. It doesn't mean that sales isn't "good enough" for me because it's financially beneath me-- it's great for some people who make lots of money in it. It just means that it's different and going to have different results for different people.
posted by deanc at 9:50 PM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


All of these answers are talking to logical brain. Here is an exercise that talks to the other part. Sit quietly and think about all those insecurities and bad wishes and other yucky feelings that you have towards your ex. Notice what they feel like in your body. Now picture them as an object - a cloud of black smoke, a tangle of barbed wire, a tar pit - whatever works for you. Spend a few minutes getting this image exactly right so it captures all those feelings. NOW, change that image into something positive - bright, shining, beautiful and then send this new thing off to your ex with your best wishes.

Be thankful for whatever good things you got from that relationship and be grateful that he freed you up to meet someone better. Coverting the remaining bad feelings into something that makes you feel good and send it if as a farewell gift frees you up to be your best self.
posted by metahawk at 9:57 PM on March 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


The important thing is to remember what went wrong with you and the ex every time you feel one of those pangs. Remember it, hold it until you remember why you don't want him, not why he didn't love you.

You're trapped in a toxic thought cycle that still gives him the power in your now-defunct relationship. Even though it's over, over, dead and gone and beyond revival, you're still measuring yourself by your idea of his yardstick.

Stop. You can't know if their relationship is as good as it seems or not, if he loves her more or not. You stuck it out with him for two years. He has either picked someone else who'd put up with him despite his behavior, or maybe he has in fact found a better match to be nicer to. Either way, it doesn't matter because you are happy right now with a great new fella. Pride yourself on teaching the ex how not to behave (sucks, but someone along the way probably helped teach you the same thing, no?), and learning, really learning, even the hard way, how you wanted to be treated the next time and then finding that.

Don't lose sight of that last bit. You found a good one! Hooray, you! And RuRu has it right: Now DON'T fuck it up.
posted by OompaLoompa at 10:06 PM on March 30, 2011


It could well be this - different person, different dynamics. That's all - no 'better' or 'worse'.
posted by unliteral at 10:09 PM on March 30, 2011


Hi there,
Three years ago, I was probably a lot like your ex, and now I'm married to a different girl.
Short story: I grew up a lot.
Long story: It's not really the persons involved so much as it is your attitude to dealing with what comes up. Sometimes that happens quickly, sometimes it happens eventually, and sometimes it doesn't happen at all.
I got it together because I didn't want to repeat a mistake. Consider that this might be what he's doing now; not to spite you, but to prevent himself from fucking up a second time.
posted by Gilbert at 10:35 PM on March 30, 2011


Sometimes when you're in a relationship and you stop liking/loving the person anymore but are "stuck", you become a dick.
Then eventually it breaks off and you find someone more compatible for you.

I've had a lot of relationships that I just stuck around longer than I should have. I became withdrawn and complained a lot. In retrospect, I should of just ended these relationships earlier.

I am still friends/chat occasionally with a lot of my exes... as they're great for conversation and humor... but relationship-wise, there were some mismatches.
posted by KogeLiz at 10:50 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear Pericardium,

I've got time now. Here is my take on what you've written. Also, my take on some of the responses you've gotten thus far.

While it is true that no one can "make" you feel badly about yourself because ultimately you are in control of your emotions AND sometimes folks just don't mix, which doesn't make anyone at fault... I notice some statements in your Ask that tell me there is more going on here. Knowing the mechanics might really help you get that control I just mentioned.


"...he not only wasn't that into me, but also treated me poorly for two years ..."

"He was hot/cold."

"He was #1 in the relationship, always."

"...he asked if I was pregnant, then said that he didn't want to know because he cared, just that he didn't want any kids running around he didn't know about."


#1. People like this don't change overnight. It takes work. Lots.

#2. People who play hot/cold with you are usually pretty manipulative. The hot/cold thing is very effective for hooking you in. It keeps you churning on a hamster wheel. People employ this technique because it works for them. It worked for your ex for two years, didn't it?

#3. Hopefully now the next time anyone (romantic interest, friend, or employer) plays hot/cold with you, you'll see it as the losing proposition it always turns out to be and you will RUN.


Lastly.


"And now he's super-serious about someone else and moving across the country to be with her..."

From this statement I take it they don't live in the same city or see each other regularly, yes? Well guess what? He's in a "hot" phase that's easy to maintain because of the long-distance relationship aspect of things. Whether she'll stick with him once they are 24/7 is none of your concern. Just pointing out that your judgement on their relationship is likely skewed the wrong way if I'm interpreted this correctly. Otherwise, just remember that the hot/cold thing is a powerful hook. Also, you really don't know about her and maybe she's playing him, too.

Conclusion:

Their relationship is NOT our business. Just pointing out that the scenarios I outlined are a lot more likely than one where your ex has morphed into a super great guy overnight and found True Happiness and/or your idea that his new gf is just so perfect he can't help but be a better man for loving her. Magical transformations are a hallmark of bad romcom movies, which are not at all related to Real Life.

-----

OTOH, you have found a great guy who treats you super duper well. The lasting damage from loving a hot/cold person is it usually undermines your thinking in future relationships. Get a good therapist or work with a friend to "de-program" the faulty thinking you engaged in for 2 years while you were churning away trying to please your ex. You owe it to yourself, your new great guy, and any chance you have at happiness to put in the work here!

If I thought other answers about "well maybe these two are a better mix" was likely to help you shed your faulty thinking, I'd have let those answers stand. While you are ultimately responsible for how you look at stuff, your ex gave you a big push in a negative direction. I don't think you can get past the negative thoughts without seeing the dynamic that created it.

----

Do some processing. Deconstruct all the negative things you are thinking one by one. Rebuild on Reality.

Best of luck as you move forward. Be well.
posted by jbenben at 12:02 AM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hmmm. Where have I heard this story before? Oh, from one of my own ex-girlfriends. Eerie the similarities really. Thus, I propose that these are rather common feelings that we have whilst trying to reconcile our own memories of significant relationships.

First of all, I would behove you to stop indulging in examining the old relationship. It's over, it's been over, and it's never coming back. The only reason it bothers you is because you give it attention. I'm sure other people have done things in the past which have upset and hurt you -- and those things would probably still both you if you thought about them constantly. There's just no reason to go here anymore. Personally, I don't see why you still speak with him, given the feelings unless you yourself are unresolved about it and looking to him to provide you with some form of peace that is elusive for yourself.

If you look at the balance, he's been gone and thus to attribute anything in the present back to him is a construction that you are making.

I think you do have a bit of a complex about being loved. There's a few choices of how to feel here. "He was hot/cold, he was an a-hole, I'm much happier now, case closed" is one of them. But instead you seem to be going to a place where Current You is upset at Previous You and Him for being immature.

Now, each of you may act differently. You wouldn't have stayed so long. He would have concluded things sooner. Yet that is not the version of history that we have before us.

Your finally comment is extremely relevant. Your current boyfriend has told you that he matured and is now functioning in a way in which you feel like a princess (congratulations, that's a beautiful thing to hear!). It's just natural that you go backward and wonder why, if he made the change, didn't your previous boyfriend make the change.

It doesn't make sense to you perhaps. That they both started in the same place yet your new man is so... well... a man. Thus perhaps you are taking that template and moving it backward to your old boyfriend, maybe with the thought, "he WAS capable of treating me like a princess, thus he CHOSE not to."

Which is not exactly correct. Further, you are then applying that to yourself, "Why wasn't I worthy?".

I feel you're at an important cross-roads here and urge you to do what you need to do to find peace -- without interacting with your exboyfriend. You are happy. Life is good. There's just a niggling bit when it comes to your thought patterns of not being able to let go of what happened.

It's okay. Your ex treated you as best he could at the time. You can interrogate that up and down, but you need to believe it is true. He could not have done a better job loving you to his capacity. Years are a long time and he was invested. He did care, he did love you.

And for you, you did the same. You stayed out of love and you stayed because you also made the best decision that you could at the time. You could not have done a better job at loving him to your capacity.

And it prepared you for what you have now. Life is bittersweet like that. If we love what we have in front of us, we also must love what we have behind us because the two are completely inter-related. There is no separating them and trying to do so results in the cognitive dissonance that you currently feel.

It's okay. It was a significant relationship and it ended. It could have been different in so many ways but it wasn't. And that's perfect. It was exactly what it needed to be.

I will leave you with a thought. I wonder if perhaps you don't feel a bit guilty? Do you feel as if you have this wonderful relationship now and are completely involved with someone who you find emotional parity with. Are you worried about him? Do you desperately hope he has changed but for some reason think he may be repeating the same patterns with himself or someone else?

It's a bit like survivor guilt. "Why was I the one to escape the plane crash? We were all on the plane together." Why are you the one who is happy and why don't you believe him when he says he is?

Obviously you care about him -- we always will care deeply about people we once loved and want the best for him -- and I wonder if perhaps you're worried for him?

Not to say that IS how you feel, but just to provide an alternative emotional possibility with the hopes that you see that your feelings for this man are always going to be indistinct and conflicted. And there is never going to be an answer.

Thus, the surest way to continue moving forward and progressing as you have done seems to be to stop asking the questions about it. Put that relationship in its place in your life. Literally put it on the shelf and recognise it for what it was and then spend every moment absorbed in the bliss of the new happiness you found.

Because god forbid if the current relationship collapsed because you can't sweep away all the detritus from this relationship. And that can happen. I've seen it before.

And for note about my experience so you know this is not vacant platitudes, for ten years, my ex constantly played that guilt trip. "Why was I not the worthy one. Why did you treat xx or xx or xx so well and not me." That plagued me and I looked for answers for a long, long time. I indulged her, we chatted. I did as much as I could do to help her find peace.

Meanwhile, my life is ticking over quite well. Finally, I sat down with a bald psychotherapist and after a few weeks, he said, "Just let it go." Silence. "I can't." He laughed. "You can't lift a Volvo over your head, you can put this to bed. Why don't you want to?"

Because I wanted more for her -- I wanted to believe that she was someone that she is not. Our relationship all those years ago partially failed because I saw her as someone that she was not. I saw how she limited herself and was scared for her future. And then for a long time, it was hard for me to accept that I had these amazing experiences with new partners whilst she sat repeating the old behaviour.

And it wasn't her limitations I had to accept to find peace. It was my own. Breaking up was the right decision.

In your case, it's okay. He'll be fine. He will have a long life of his own making. That part of your life is over and it's okay to let it be over. Put it on the shelf. Have a cry. Say goodbye to him and the part of yourself that still lives on with him.

Don't reminisce or romanticise. Don't imagine what could have been. Look at what you have and really love it. Love it so much and there's literally no room or time to go backward.

Be gentle with yourself and realise that you couldn't have done any better. Say it out loud, maybe quietly at first and perhaps repeat it until you say it with such conviction, all the doubts in your mind leave with the air you use to say those words.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to let this go when you really love yourself and accept the brilliance with how you have arrived where you are.
posted by nickrussell at 2:53 AM on March 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


Please repeat after me. You are good enough to be loved, treated properly and respected. The fact your ex didn't treat you well is his choice not yours. He is responsible for his own behaviour. Women are often taught that their love is transformative - by loving a guy they can make him a better man or show him to change (Beauty and the Beast basically). This is not true - he chose to treat you shabbily. Some people are like that. Its not your fault, be glad you're free of him.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 3:46 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


wow you are giving this AH so much power over you! STOP!
posted by Wilder at 4:09 AM on March 31, 2011


People click, others don't. So much that seems to be a matter of 'love' is in fact a matter of timing, or of other material factors, too. It's certainly not a question of how 'good' you are. Take an analogy from the book world: loads of publishers turned down Harry Potter! Idiots. Also, I imagine your ex has been doing some soul searching, he realised he treated you like rubbish, and he's resolved to try harder. That sucks for you, but you're benefiting from a similar resolution by your current boyfriend. Unfriend the ex for Lord's sake and love the one you're with; comfort yourself if you really need to with the thought that his current relationship might in fact fail any moment.
posted by londongeezer at 6:21 AM on March 31, 2011


This jealously and comparison is totally normal. But really, he's not necessarily treating her any better than he treated you. Honestly...it seems - and you have to start looking at it this way in order to move on - like she's just willing to put up with, either out of foolishness or misguided patience - a fucking douchey asshole, where you could not.
posted by Sayuri. at 6:50 AM on March 31, 2011


His new relationship is not your business any more than your new one is his.

You said you always suspected he was not that into you; this episode would simply seem to confirm that. Have you never dated someone who were not really that into, but stuck with for a while to see if it would get better?

I think you're making this into a much bigger 'deal' than it needs to be. Not everyone is compatible.
posted by modernnomad at 7:40 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


When my ex and I were married, he did little to nothing around the house. I had a full time job and a hyperactive child, and I continually struggled to keep up with the housework while he didn’t lift a finger to help me. We didn’t fight about it mostly because I felt guilty and inadequate about not being able to keep up with it like other women seemed to; but he knew how hard it was for me and how bad I felt about not being able to keep things nice.

When he started living with his new girlfriend, I found out that he was being Mr. Perfect around the house… doing dishes, wiping his crumbs off the counter… if he dropped cigarette ashes on the floor, he’d immediately run and get the vacuum. (When he was with me, I watched him grind them into the carpet with his toe.)

I was hurt and angry for awhile after I found out. Couldn’t understand why he didn’t care enough to do those things for me but was falling all over himself to do them for her. Later I found out from my daughter that the new girlfriend (now wife) is a clean freak who will give him ten kinds of hell if he doesn’t do his share and clean up after himself. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure he’d have done the same for me if I’d been willing to be a bitch about it. (Or you know, maybe just be more assertive and insistent.)

The point being, it’s entirely possible that the reason your ex treats his new girlfriend better than he treated you, is that you put up with his shit and she doesn’t.
This does not mean that you deserved to be treated badly. Assuming his new relationship is as good as you think, and knowing that your new relationship is wonderful, what it means is that he needs to be with someone who is more of a hardass about getting her needs met, and you need to be with someone who is by nature more considerate and loving. You simply weren’t right for each other.

I'm also not letting him off the hook for being a douche to you; I'm just pointing out that sometimes a douchey guy can be brought into line by a woman who won't put up with any nonsense (possibly because she's not into him as much as he's into her.)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:46 AM on March 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


What Serene Empress Dork said. But he sounds kinda worse than douchey, the hot-cold stuff sounds like he was determined to be a douche no matter what.

Being a hardass about getting your needs met might have worked, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's worth the bother of babysitting someone who will otherwise behave as badly as he can get away with.

I recommend the book Why Men Love Bitches for this kind of boundary-setting, but for all the other unavoidable jerks in your life, not for the man who is supposed to automatically want to make both your lives more pleasant.
posted by tel3path at 8:14 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why are people focusing on ANYTHING to do with the ex? The issue here is not the ex, it's that the OP can't let go. This is not the ex's fault and we have no input from the ex. How about the OP needs to look at herself and figure out why she still cares? Therapy is probably the only way to get to that.
posted by spicynuts at 9:40 AM on March 31, 2011


She probably just has a higher bullshit tolerance than you do. Just be glad he's not your problem any more.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:24 AM on March 31, 2011


Being a hardass about getting your needs met might have worked, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's worth the bother of babysitting someone who will otherwise behave as badly as he can get away with.

Oh, absolutely. I'd be miserable in a relationship where I had to be confrontational all the time in order to get the guy to be decent, whether it "worked" or not.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:46 AM on March 31, 2011


Maybe it's not going great. Maybe this is all a ruse to get you to feel inadequate. Maybe he's treating her the same and she's reacting as you did. Who knows; he may have just lost respect for you and treats you like crap for the lulz.

You should drop him from Facebook, stop talking about him and concentrate on your awesome new dude. Sometimes people are just assholes.
posted by dozo at 12:40 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you want to get over him, why are you still privy to details about his life? Delete him from everything, and if you still run in the same social circles, ask your friends not to talk to you about him, and avoid going places where he is.
posted by yarly at 12:47 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. You cannot tell how a relationship is going from the outside.

2. You might be glossing over your role in the past relationship.
posted by tarvuz at 12:53 PM on March 31, 2011


Somewhere, your current boyfriend's ex is wondering why your current boyfriend treats you better than he treated her.
posted by xenophile at 1:34 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


My tangential advice in situations like this is always: Get off Facebook.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:39 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Step 1: Block him entirely on Facebook
Step 2: Don't discuss him with mutual friends. If someone brings him up, change the subject or say "I don't want to talk about that."
Step 3: Move on. Your new boyfriend sounds wonderful. Congratulations!
posted by smithsmith at 1:48 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here are some things to consider: Relationships often start out well. Sometimes 2 people are wrong for each other, for reasons that are inexplicable. You are no longer in a relationship. He's unlikely to learn from you or listen to you. You are having a hard time detaching.

My ex- was a real jerk to me. I'm so happy he left. He's been with new wife for a while, and she seems to know what I didn't: he responds to bullying. His words are worthless; to know what he thinks or feels, watch his behavior. Maybe she doesn't know, or chooses not to know, that he's cheating. Maybe she's okay with being the financially stable 1 on the marriage. Whatever. Not my problem.

We have a son, so he has occasional opportunities to be a jerk to me. Mostly, He's my past, and staying uninvolved with him makes me happier. Make yourself happier - hide him on facebook, don't discuss him, think about him, etc. Look forward to what's next, because it gets better.
posted by theora55 at 3:53 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Others have given good advice, however I'll just mention this: also treated me poorly for two years instead of just saying "I'm not all that into you, sorry."

It is entirely possible that while it may be true that he wasn't "all that into you", he may not have had the insight to know that was the case.

However - live your own life well. What others [including your ex] do should be irrelevant to this.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:15 PM on March 31, 2011


For me, alot about reconciling with the past is about ensuring/learning not to repeat it. So personally I would think about what signals there were he was not really present in the relationship really early on or what signs there were that he wasn't what you needed/wanted. Some examples from your description:
* He told you he was committment phobic
* He was hot and cold
* He treated you badly

Next time, vow that you'll have the discussion about what the guy is looking for early on, and if he is commitment phobic, you'll just put him in the friend bucket. Likewise on other indicators. Its the best recovery you can give yourself.
posted by zia at 2:53 AM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whatever. She probably sucks in the exact same way he sucks and now they're free to be totally horrible people together, which is why he likes her. You were probably just not shitty enough

Anyway, that's the kind of logic that works for me. See what kind of mileage you can get out of it.
posted by pineappleheart at 8:20 AM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


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