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Can't wash this man out of my hair! Help!
December 30, 2011 7:33 PM   Subscribe

I dated a guy for a month almost three months ago, and I can't stop thinking about him. Help me get out of this mental rut!

I met a guy at the end of the summer through online dating. We were both pretty new to the online dating thing. I was frustrated by a long dry spell and wanted to avoid dating people that work in my close-knit, incestuous industry. We had a promising start, but then he found out that he'd have to leave the state for a few months for work. He insisted that he wanted to work things out to the best of our abilities, that he really liked me, and that even though the timing sucked, two months really isn't that long. Over the next few weeks, he started to change his tune, finally coming clean about being very fresh out of a very long-term relationship, not being sure about what he wanted, not wanting to lose me but not wanting to be tied down, and so on. What was most troubling to me was that he said that he hadn't really been single in seven or so years. (He's my age). He said that he gets into long-term relationships with girls that he's not that into. (?) I told him that I didn't want to be in a relationship without being in a relationship, but that we should stay in touch and play things by ear. Things were going pretty badly for him in other areas of his life at that time as well, so I tried to be as patient and understanding as possible without being a total doormat.

We said goodbye, and I heard from him a few weeks later. He told me that work was not going well. More importantly, he said that he didn't want me to wait around for him to come back and that he wasn't ready for a relationship. He agreed that we should talk when he got back to town, but I never heard from him.

I've dated around a little bit since then, but I haven't met anyone I've particularly liked or connected with. Meanwhile, through the ambiguous wonder that is facebook, I see that he is possibly dating someone else. And removed his "single" relationship status. And is still logging into OkCupid and still listed as single. And I'm losing my fucking mind and I'm frustrated by my own e-stalker behavior.

I'm an attractive, intelligent woman in my early/mid twenties, and I've never found dating particularly easy. (Does anyone?) I had one serious-ish relationship in college, and since then I've had a few flings and one very long dry spell. I relocated after college for work and I've been very absorbed in my demanding career in a creative industry, and while I haven't really had time to date, I'm human and I need to be loved (just like everybody else does). But I wonder if maybe I'm afraid of intimacy, if I only like someone who can't like me back, if I'm barking up the wrong tree because I don't want to bark up the right tree, etc., etc.

Will I just feel like shit until I don't feel like shit anymore? Why am I still hung up on this guy? Am I crazy?
posted by ablazingsaddle to Human Relations (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Will I just feel like shit until I don't feel like shit anymore?

Yes
posted by space_cookie at 7:36 PM on December 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, you're probably pretty crazy, but almost certainly not so crazy as to feel like shit about this guy forever.

I'm kind of an expert at feeling like shit about this kind of thing, and I'd recommending knocking off the e-stalking. It'll just drag it out.
posted by planet at 7:39 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Focus on yourself and ways you can take care of you. Breakups always, always suck, but they come with a consolation prize: while you are single, you have license to be completely selfish.
posted by eddydamascene at 7:55 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, through the ambiguous wonder that is facebook, I see that he is possibly dating someone else. And removed his "single" relationship status. And is still logging into OkCupid and still listed as single.

I'd assume I'd just dodged a bullet, take a long bath, and start fresh tomorrow, starting with renewed resolve to quit the e-stalking.
posted by juliplease at 8:02 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is what helped me, and I mean it, it seriously helped me get over stuff like this.

At some level, you're grieving because you think you want to go out with this person, and it's timing/situation or whatever that's keeping you from going out with this person. So the pain and frustration and jealous feelings, plus the interest in his personal life, is stemming from this.

But you don't want to go out with this person. You want to go out with an alternate-reality version of this person who wants to be with you back and who everything works out with. That person just doesn't exist.

I wrote about this here in a different question that's not quite the same but sorta the same.
posted by sweetkid at 8:04 PM on December 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


The deeper message underlying his blah blah blah is that you two aren't a fit, from his point of view, and he's tried to tell you this, but did a poor job of it. Just pretend he said something like "darling, it was wonderful, but for reasons I can't really articulate my gut is just telling me that it just won't work between us; you're a great person and I wish you the best" as I'm sure that's what he would have said if he was less of a coward. You're not crazy; being told maybe maybe maybe would drive anyone mad. But there's no maybe's in relationships. A maybe is a no -- which is fine, often things just don't work out even when it seems like they could. Just move on, and it will fade.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:05 PM on December 30, 2011 [21 favorites]


But I wonder if maybe I'm afraid of intimacy, if I only like someone who can't like me back, if I'm barking up the wrong tree because I don't want to bark up the right tree, etc., etc.


That's entirely possible. Fantasy crushes and doling out massive amounts of unrequited affection are symptoms of that sort of thing. Liking someone who likes you also is the basis of a healthy relationship, and all the rest is pretty much just one's ego getting itself in a twist or self-distraction.

Maybe you can ask yourself what, besides his unavailability, this guy offered you when you dated. That's what you probably miss, not the man himself, but the lost possibility for X that he represents.

I'd say the only way to prevent this in the future is to cut off all contact with any man who is waffling and stringing you along (intentionally or not) as soon as he makes it known he has ambiguous feelings. Like at the first "Papa Was a Rodeo"-type murmur, get him out of your life, he's not worth your time.
posted by devymetal at 8:09 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The deeper message underlying his blah blah blah is that you two aren't a fit, from his point of view, and he's tried to tell you this, but did a poor job of it. Just pretend he said something like "darling, it was wonderful, but for reasons I can't really articulate my gut is just telling me that it just won't work between us; you're a great person and I wish you the best" as I'm sure that's what he would have said if he was less of a coward. You're not crazy; being told maybe maybe maybe would drive anyone mad. But there's no maybe's in relationships. A maybe is a no

PercussivePaul, this is what I need to hear. Something I know, but something I've really been struggling with. I've been dumped before, and it sucked, but it was definite, honest, and understood by both parties. And when I've been the dumper, I've done the same. But I think that I'm more upset that I was fed a bunch of bullshit that I believed (bad timing) than I'm upset over this particular guy.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 8:11 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


A maybe is a no --

Seriously-- man, I wish I had learned this earlier.
posted by sweetkid at 8:14 PM on December 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


In fairness, this stuff is hard for everyone, and calling him a coward might be harsh. We say maybe because we don't know what we want, or we want two things at once, or we're confused; we invent justifications that don't hold up ("not ready for a relationship", then poof, in a relationship with someone else) because we think it's better then saying "it's no, but I don't know why". It could be worse; he could have just stopped returning your calls. THAT would be cowardice. Welcome to dating, fun times for all.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:20 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I did the same thing as you are doing and it drove me nuts. I dated a guy for a few months at the beginning of this year, and he abruptly called it off with the excuse that he wasn't ready for dating after the recent end of his marriage. I refused to accept that it was over, and I idealized him in my mind to something that he definitely wasn't. I logged into okcupid and saw that he was still active on the site. I finally accepted that what he really meant was "I don't want to date you". It's hard to accept, but it's very freeing once you do. I got back on the okcupid horse and the very next guy I met the most amazing, kind, caring, sweet, generous person I've ever known. That was 8 months ago and it couldn't be better. I never, ever thought I'd meet someone that I truly connected with, and it certainly took a long time of filtering through bs, but I swear to you I look back on that guy that I was so broken up about and thank my lucky stars that I moved on.
posted by Sal and Richard at 10:08 PM on December 30, 2011


Ugh, I have been there. It really helped me to defriend person I was obsessing over on Facebook -- my logical for myself was that we never were actually FRIENDS, and it was making me insane to obsess over all his behavior, and that was holding me back from moving on. It wasn't nearly as Dramatic as defriending someone I knew from Real Life, and it helped cut the cord. He hasn't been a friend to you, you two do not need to be facebook friends.

And you are not crazy. (Well, if you are crazy, I have also had this version of crazy and eventually it corrects itself.) If you were to meet someone legitimately awesome tomorrow, you probably wouldn't even be thinking of this dude. My theory is that sometimes, when we're romantically bored and have no interesting prospects, our brains have a tendency to latch on to and romanticize the last person we really liked, and in the process turn him or her into a sort of Ideal that they never really were. And then, next thing you know, this all turns into a Spiral of Crazy. I concur that it might be a good idea to cut this dude off, and get back on the horse.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 12:59 AM on December 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh Geez! This sucks. Yeah, he dumped you while managing to string you along.

This is actually a great lesson for the future. Next time you will see this wishy-washy tactic from a mile away and see it for what it is - a brush off with a hook.

Especially telling was how he told you of how unhappy and hard his life was as an excuse -- what a convenient way to make you give more while he gives less. I don't think he did it on purpose, but the effect on you was inevitable. Not your fault until you know better and still fall for it!

This was a great lesson. Congrats!


PS - Only after a while of dating did you find out his troubling dating history was disclosed to you? If I had a dollar for every time that red flag came up when I was dating...!
posted by jbenben at 1:06 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eeugh, I've had this happen to me a couple of times, actually, in a row - you meet a guy, it's going pretty well, then there's some weird life-work issue that rears its head and the next thing you know Mr. Pretty Damned Good has a boat-load of issuesand it's over. And then, in the, in course of trying to get over it, you see they've moved on in some way - either dating again, or just blithely carrying on via social networking as though that Thing didn't Just Happen. Riiight.

Actually what helped me get past this in both cases (a one month, and a three month relationship) was perspective (did I kind of ignore some red or yellow flags or am I seeing some now?), perspective (this was a few weeks out of my life, and I've been through much worse!), perspective (dating is a complete crap shoot anyway!).

Also, getting back out there and meeting new guys helped a ton too. It's not just the attention from someone who might actually be into you -- its the fact that you aren't sitting around obsessing so much over someone who probably isn't worth it, combined with the idea that you can take that negative experience and learn something that you can apply towards the future.
posted by sm1tten at 2:07 PM on December 31, 2011


And you are not crazy. (Well, if you are crazy, I have also had this version of crazy and eventually it corrects itself.) If you were to meet someone legitimately awesome tomorrow, you probably wouldn't even be thinking of this dude. My theory is that sometimes, when we're romantically bored and have no interesting prospects, our brains have a tendency to latch on to and romanticize the last person we really liked, and in the process turn him or her into a sort of Ideal that they never really were. And then, next thing you know, this all turns into a Spiral of Crazy. I concur that it might be a good idea to cut this dude off, and get back on the horse.

Exactly. I'm glad that I'm not the only one, and seeing it written out is very helpful. Spiral of Crazy indeed!

PS - Only after a while of dating did you find out his troubling dating history was disclosed to you? If I had a dollar for every time that red flag came up when I was dating...!

Yeah, he sort of gave me little hints that I didn't pick up on, but we were a few weeks into things before he told me what was really going on.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:22 PM on December 31, 2011


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