Meetup with Ex Gone Wrong
September 11, 2011 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Met up with ex-girlfriend six months after the break-up. Things went well, and then they didn't. Am blaming myself a lot and need to know what, if I anything, I can do.

We dated for 8 months. She broke up with me. I went into no contact/low contact mode. In the past few months, she began to contact me more, saying that she missed me and asking to meet-up. I finally agreed. We met again the first time three weeks ago, and it was fun, flirty. Then this past weekend, we went to dinner near my place.

We had a good time at the dinner. We had no problem talking, making jokes. It felt like a date. We came back to my apartment afterward for her to try a dessert I had made. Then at one point while we were standing up, I leaned over and kissed her. She seemed to respond, but then backed away and said that she was feeling uncomfortable.

I backed away. I sighed and said, listen I just want you to be happy, and if you are happier without me, I can be gone. She said that I was over-reacting because I was hurt. I said that I wanted to know where her head was. She said she didn't want a relationship. She wanted friendship. I said that I already have enough friends. She said maybe I was rejecting her. I said, no it's her choice. I told her that unless she wants to have something with me we probably should not be in touch. She nodded, looking upset. We hugged and I told her how much I cared about her. She left, and then I deleted her off Facebook.

Three nights later, I broke my stance. I texted her to see if she heard back about a job she really needed. She said no, haven't heard, and when I asked if she wanted to talk, she said she was helping her sister out with college apps and wasn't in the mindsset. I left it at that.

Now I am beating up myself over what had happened. I feel like i may have rushed things too quickly. And now there's this cloud hanging over us. I would like to have her back, and even though I knew the chances were slim, I feel they are even worse now. If she doesn't want a relationship now, I don't want to close the door to a relationship later, if that's still possible.

Is there anything I can do here? Friends have suggested anything from disappearing to writing her a letter that's collected and calm-headed.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
She wants to keep you on the back burner, so that she can have some attention and adoration, if and when she wants it. Don't write, don't text, don't call. Even if she wants a "relationship" why would you want to be with someone who jerks you around?
posted by Ideefixe at 11:43 AM on September 11, 2011 [25 favorites]


Yeah, reel it all back in. All the different means of electronic communication will only be emotional leaks. There's a slim possibility as you say, perhaps, but in the meantime your life is passing you by.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:47 AM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


You two haven't been apart long enough to have a friendship, which requires actually being over the breakup, which you (and, it seems, she) clearly aren't. There's no set time.

Write her an email saying something like "My feelings for you from our relationship aren't done, and I don't think we can be friends until they are. I'm sorry, but I need not to try to be friends while I'm still getting over things."
posted by fatbird at 11:48 AM on September 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


You didn't fuck up, since that is at bottom what you seem to be asking. There was some mixed communication from each of you; hers seems to have been deliberate, yours more a product of your own attempt to hand off the decision (as it were) to her.

Don't contact her again. It's clear that what you're interested in isn't going to happen now, if ever. If she contacts you, be polite and non-commital - and unavailable. You need to meet other women, go on dates, etc. and pretty soon this won't bother you.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:48 AM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think she felt guilty about dumping you. I've dumped a few people in my day, and there's usually a time (even if I absolutely want nothing relationshippy to do with the ex) several months after the fact where I feel bad about the particular way in which I ended it, and just want to check up on the guy and see how they're doing. Not hook back up with them, just, you know, touch base, be friendly, maybe make sure that they don't think I'm some sort of asshole harpy.

I've never actually gone through with it, of course, because (for me) that has Bad Idea written all over it.

But that's what this situation seems like to me. She felt bad, wanted to see how you were, called you, you guys met up, and then things went to a place where she didn't want them to go and she backed off. Don't entertain the thought of being in a relationship with her. You go be happy doing your own thing. Let her work herself out on her own.
posted by phunniemee at 11:50 AM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree with phunniemee. It sounds like she wanted to get back in touch as friends, maybe because she wanted to see how you were, maybe because she missed some aspect of your company or you as a person. She maybe didn't realize you would see this as inevitably leading back to you guys getting back together because in her mind, your relationship is in the past.

It sounds like you're in a different place than her on that. You naturally saw her contact as "hey she misses me! Maybe she wants me back!" You were rejecting her when you didn't want to be friends- that's what she has to offer, but that clearly isn't what you really want. It isn't "up to her" because what you want isn't what she can give you. It sounds like you need to leave this alone because you aren't as over this relationship as she is, and you can't be friends until you don't see friendship as a route back to dating her.
posted by MadamM at 11:59 AM on September 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


you say "there's a cloud hanging over us," but there isn't, there isn't an "us" any longer. you've already told her where you stand. she's told you and shown you where she stands. you don't need to tell her again. delete her from your phone. find a friend that will let you call/text them when you want to contact her.

i'm sorry you are feeling heart broken, but she can't help you with that. this is the ultimate in you want different things - you want a relationship with her and she wants a friend and/or a back up boyfriend to stroke her ego.
posted by nadawi at 12:01 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


She broke up with you, and now wants to be friends?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:03 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that she feels guilty about dumping you and also that she wants you on the back burner - or, at least, that she's craving some of your attention and adoration. Honestly, the 'friendship' thing is a pretense, although she's likely convinced herself that it's true. I'm a lady, I've dumped guys; I know all about this. Anyhow, it's unfair on her part. It's all about her. And she has no intention of getting back together with you. You didn't do anything wrong, but now it's time to break contact for good if you don't want to be part of an ongoing drama. And you don't.
posted by kitcat at 12:11 PM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


If she doesn't want a relationship now, I don't want to close the door to a relationship later, if that's still possible.

She doesn't want you back. She doesn't want to be committed to you. She was really clear about it: "I don't want a relationship. I want a friendship." Believe her.

The "maybe later" you're dreaming about won't happen if you don't let go of her. "Maybe later" happens after you are at peace with the idea that you'll never get back together. You have to move on first--pursue your own dreams, feel that sudden spark for someone else, really start enjoying your life as a single person. Then you meet up and find that in spite of the ways that you've both changed, there's still a spark. That's the only "maybe later" you could have...and honestly, if you're young, those maybe laters rarely happen. I've said "maybe later" to someone and had someone say "maybe later" to me...and I know now that "maybe later" is "never". This is a good thing. You've got a long life ahead of you and so many changes and loves to experience. She's special, no doubt. But believe me when I say there are other women out there who are just as special and delightful. Don't mope around waiting for her.
posted by millions of peaches at 12:22 PM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I disagree with all comments giving her hurtful or disrespectful intentions. I am a guy, and I do try to stay friend with most of my exes. Typically it begins with a few months of limited contact, followed by a few months of confusion and hardship, but in the end, sometimes when either of us ends up with someone else, it becomes clear that we have moved on and our friendship becomes rewarding.

I am not used to cutting off contact altogether. In a way, it makes no sense to me. If I've met someone with whom I have a great connection, eventually the lowest common denominator takes over and the relationship can be healthy. Of course, in some cases, both people are in a in-between state which makes a clear-cut friendship difficult. This means that more time off is required.

I just want to reiterate that attributing any kind of ill intent on her part is misguided.
posted by StoneSpace at 12:25 PM on September 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


You are rejecting her. She thought you enjoyed her enough as a person to want to be friends with her even if she wasn't offering you a physical relationship. She is disappointed to find out that she was wrong.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:28 PM on September 11, 2011


i'm a woman and i have absolutely kept guys on the back burner to feed my ego. i'm not proud of it and i have learned to not do this, but it's not an absurd notion. i don't think anyone on the internet can say for sure if she honestly wants to be friends, if she is feeling guilty, if she is feeding her ego, or some combination of any or all of those.
posted by nadawi at 12:33 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]



I just want to reiterate that attributing any kind of ill intent on her part is misguided.


Obviously the only person who would know for sure is her, but from the story told I would agree with this. But like nadawi says, who knows? You can't see inside her head, so you can only go off of her actions.

Based on the story told, I think she is at least somewhat confused, and both of you are sending mixed messages and not communicating well. That said, though, it sounds like what she is saying is pretty consistent ("I want to be friends only"), even if her actions (eg the flirty dinner, coming over to your place after) might blur that a bit; I think it would be smartest to go by what she is saying and stop any movements towards a relationship unless you are getting really unmistakably clear signals from her. Pushing for clarity is usually a lot less helpful than just waiting and seeing how things fall out.

Honestly, it can be super hard to read the signals from an ex, because even when things are incontrovertibly over and done, there is some underlying level of physical ease that you can so easily fall into, you know exactly how to read their flirting and sexual signals, etc. I mean, with an ordinary female friend, I know exactly where the boundaries are (we touch like this, not that, say); with an ex those boundaries are a lot more uncertain and amorphous.
posted by Forktine at 12:44 PM on September 11, 2011


I would like to have her back, and even though I knew the chances were slim, I feel they are even worse now. If she doesn't want a relationship now, I don't want to close the door to a relationship later, if that's still possible.

Its not impossible that one day you'll have her back. But as long as you're wishing and willing and anticipating that day, you're torturing yourself and preventing yourself from moving on and probably also not making yourself terribly attractive. If it will happen, it will happen on its own schedule, not yours. It will not be a return to your old relationship, or a continuation of it. Rather, it will be a new relationship which will have to start in a new way, from step 1. And, judging from your story, IMO its not very likely.

In the meantime, you have to start detaching yourself, for everyone's health and sanity. What's helped me, though it was by no means pleasant, was to imagine yourself through her eyes. Think of a girl you know, someone of whom you're very fond, someone for whom you want only the best, but for whom you do not have a shred of romantic feelings. Now imagine this girl was hopelessly in love with you. You're not interested in her, but you're a bit concerned, you feel a bit of pity, you're also thinking about how to preserve your friendship with this girl, and maybe - just maybe, if you were drunk or desperate or lonely or whatever you would take advantage of this girl's feelings and sleep with her, and then hate yourself for it.

Now replace this girl in your imaginary scenario with yourself. This is how your ex sees you. When you start to think "but maybe..." or "what if...", just summon up that scenario.

Also, anecdata: I've been in two major longterm relationships that ended, and I count both of those ex's as close friends. It took a year of near-zero contact before weird awkward contact was possible. Then another year for things to normalize. But it was totally worth it to not lose either of these women from my life.
posted by tempythethird at 1:13 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


You have to get over her before you can do anything else. And by get over her, I mean accept that a relationship with her isn't going to happen. She said to you, directly, that she doesn't want a relationship. The sooner you accept that, the better it will be for you.

The best thing for you to do right now is leave her alone. You'll never get over her if you keep longing for her, which will only be compounded by you contacting her. Any more strange behaviour* on your part is only going to make things worse for you in the long run.

Spend the time you're not contacting her by licking your wounds and getting out into the world. Make some new friends, pick up a new hobby, whatever works to take your mind off this. What you did was a pretty human thing to do. But it's also not a good idea. Only contact this girl when you can stop giving her mixed messages.

*Don't try to kiss people you used to be in a relationship with when you're still hung up over them. Don't cut someone out of your life and then invite them back in again 3 days later.
posted by Solomon at 1:19 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


You didn't move too fast; you never had a shot.

She wants you on the backburner, or she just wants the fact that you want her in order to make herself feel good, or possibly she even wants to be friends.

She didn't, doesn't, and won't want a relationship. Look, if she ever does, she knows where to find you. Allowing yourself to be jerked around by her isn't good for your mental health, and on top of that, it won't help you with her. Stop talking with her. Stop hanging on.

You told her you have enough friends. She knows where you're at. Stick with that.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:21 PM on September 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think you handled this well; it just wasn't meant to be. She wanted ... who knows what (a taste of the old fun, to see if she'd made the right decision, to attempt to be friends, or who knows). It was too soon; you both fell into your old flirty habits. You knew what you wanted -- to get back together -- and you made a move. It was not what she wanted. She said so. You clarified that hanging out non-romantically was too hard for you (common, honorable). You created distance for yourself. That was all done well.

Some might wonder, if you'd gone slower, would it have worked? My guess is that this would just have wasted time. Some might wonder, would it have been better to ask what she wanted rather than go for what you wanted? Nah, it likely would've lead to the same answer, or to a lot of time-wasting mixed messages.

You knew what you wanted and asked for it. Generally a good thing. That quickly got you your answer, that she didn't want the same thing. Sorry, that sucks. On the bright side, you saved yourself from having to linger in limbo-land or trying to interpret confusing signals from her. "I want this; do you?" "No." Okay, that sucks. But it wasn't a bad idea to ask, nor was it bad to be honest that you can't be friends now.
posted by salvia at 1:23 PM on September 11, 2011 [17 favorites]


You are rejecting her. She thought you enjoyed her enough as a person to want to be friends with her even if she wasn't offering you a physical relationship. She is disappointed to find out that she was wrong.

Oh God, not this shit. The OP is not objectifying her for not wanting to be friends. "Friendship" with this person would mean even more opportunities for the OP to overanalyze, fret, plot, and then self-loathe because of the dishonesty involved. I would actually say the ex is emotionally objectifying the OP if she wants him or her to go through that.
posted by randomname25 at 1:29 PM on September 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


The "there's nothing you can do" has been well covered. In response to your other question, "did you fuck up," I strongly agree with salvia that you actually played this well. Waiting to make a move wasn't going to help you. If there was a chance she felt the same way, kissing her then wasn't too soon, and it was going to get a good result.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:37 PM on September 11, 2011


It sounds like you both were pretty clear about what you want/don't want. It just turns out that they don't happen to match up in any functional way. So, in no way did you screw up, but in no way are you going to be together anytime soon.

Take care of yourself, even if that means cutting off contact. Let future-you fend for himself. Whether you and she remain friends or not, people have a funny way of turning up again later if they are meant to.
posted by hermitosis at 2:00 PM on September 11, 2011


I'm really sorry but I don't think you can beat yourself up about rushing things with someone who has explicitly stated they just want to be friends. A relationship isn't something you can just... sneak in there.

Go date someone who actually is interested in being in a relationship with you.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:04 PM on September 11, 2011


She broke up with me.
In the past few months, she began to contact me more, saying that she missed me and asking to meet-up.
She seemed to respond, but then backed away and said that she was feeling uncomfortable.
She said that I was over-reacting because I was hurt.
She said she didn't want a relationship. She wanted friendship.
She said maybe I was rejecting her.
She nodded, looking upset.
she said she was helping her sister out with college apps and wasn't in the mindsset.


God-DAMN, is this woman ever running a game! What a mind-fuck!

I'm sure you can find a gamier woman within 214 miles, but you'll have to look awfully hard.

She's got to have great legs.

**************

I said that I already have enough friends.
I said, no it's her choice.
I told her that unless she wants to have something with me we probably should not be in touch.
We hugged and I told her how much I cared about her.
and then I deleted her off Facebook.


You've done everything right in the face of this mass of confusion.

Don't call her again. Don't take her calls. No text, email, nothing, nada. Don't follow her moves on FB or whatever. When you run into her, look at her, dead in the eye, then walk on. She'll know then that you've busted her, that you know she's running these rackets, and maybe she'll quit running her games a bit faster than she otherwise might -- no-one likes to get seen for who they are when they're being a jerk, I know that people have helped me lots by calling me on my games, helped me be a better person.

Sorry you had to learn her lesson. You did real well. You sound like a real citizen.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:20 PM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's as simple as her trying to jerk you around and keep you on the back burner. She probably really did miss you and really did want to see you again, and maybe felt ambivalent about anything beyond that. But, when it started to get physical, she realized she really didn't want to get into all that again with you. You should probably consider the relationship officially over and not hold onto hope she'll come back around except as a potential friend.

If you really feel like you have enough friends and don't want her in your life unless she's your girlfriend, don't bother talking to her anymore. You might as well tell her that politely to avoid any possible confusion about what you might be feeling, though she might've gotten the hint when you unfriended her.
posted by wondermouse at 2:24 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's got to have great legs.

Perhaps she just has an enthralling personality.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:43 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Eh, things happen. This is hard.

You really need to put yourself first. Be your star player. Focus on you not her. The time to focus on her was prior to all thse shenanigans.

You never know what doors may open. Give yourself some time to heal, ignore her if/when she reaches out and move on. There are plenty of fine women out there, and I am positive you will meet one who doesn't play these games.
posted by handbanana at 3:12 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always feel a bit guilty about the one ex who I really was like "look, we're dating and having sex, or we're not going to be hanging out." I just didn't want to be friends. The feelings were NOT friend feelings, they were romantic feelings.

It's not about just wanting her body or physical stuff or whatever, it's the reality that if we're not dating, hanging with them as a friend would be unpleasant. It happens.

So yes, it was a rejection, but sometimes we have to reject people. She has other friends and will be okay.

(Postscript is that I felt bad about rejecting the friend offer, and about a year later, offered to be friends when I finally felt more platonic, and was shot down. Guess it wasn't a big deal after all.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:43 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I came in to sat what KokuRyu said.

She broke up with you. You seem to be forgetting this.
posted by jbenben at 5:45 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can't be friends (or even "friends") if you still want her back. Period. NO CONTACT until you think of her in the same way that you'd think of any female you are platonic with. They have the "Dead to Me" rule exactly because of situations like this.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:09 PM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


She said she didn't want a relationship. She wanted friendship. I said that I already have enough friends. She said maybe I was rejecting her. I said, no it's her choice.

I think you already know that all sorts of red flags are coming up especially when you remember that she originally rejected you.

Just stay away and don't respond to contact anymore.

You do have enough friends. Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:10 PM on September 11, 2011


Oh shit...and just block her on your cell, and facebook. Have her emails automatically go into junk or trash.

And you are set!
posted by hal_c_on at 7:12 PM on September 11, 2011


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