Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


What just happened with this guy?
March 17, 2012 7:46 PM   Subscribe

What just happened in this relationship?

I meet a guy off a dating website.

Things look promising - we have a TON in common, including our education in the past and our current careers (we go to different schools for the same specialized thing). We have very similar visions and desires for the future. And he is HOT, and very attracted to me too.

Our chemistry is amazing, and we have a ton to talk about. He mentions that he has been in the military in the past. Ok, I say, I've never been with someone who has been in the military, but it sounds dark. What are you doing to heal?

He says he has been working to resolve his violent karma for years, and his actions clearly show this. I say I'd be up for continuing to see him if he gets therapeutic help, and he agrees - it's something he's been working towards already, so it makes sense for him. He says he has been seeing someone "for a physical thing" and ends his relationship with them to make space for me in his life.

We go on about three amazing dates and he pulls away without warning, which I find out because I see his profile is back up on the site. In explanation, he says I'm out of his league emotionally, spiritually, physically, and that he finds himself engaging in codependent behavior to try to keep me. We talk and I convince him that I like him as he is; yes, we're a bit different, but that doesn't have to be a dealbreaker. He takes his profile down.

We happily meet again and on the fourth date, he asks if I'll be his girlfriend. A bit fast, I think, but it feels so good to have someone who really means it that he wants me so solidly. I tell him I'm not ready, I'd like to keep getting to know him, and that I am excited that he's so interested in me because I really like him too. He says he wishes I were on Facebook so he could show me to all of his friends. He talks about how we'll be able to support each other during graduation in 3-4 years. Woah, I say; I really like you and am definitely excited about being together, but we also just met each other.

We spend another week together in absolute bliss. He texts and calls every day, tells me he misses me. I think it is a lot of energy to manage, but am not complaining because I really appreciate his solidness in how he is showing up. That and he respects my time and space when I tell him I need it.

After a beautiful weekend together, I am finally beginning to trust that he is serious in his intention; we've acknowledged suddenness of how quickly he has been certain of me, and have decided to roll with it to watch it unfold while acknowledging the "craziness" factor of going on so little actual time together. Alongside all of the momentum, he has moments where he says he is blown away by how much he appreciates and respects qualities in my personality and conduct (and is able to name them directly, so there is sincerity there).

I have a really stressful day and tell him so. He acknowledges that it was rough and comforts me. Then he suddenly messages me to tell me he's having second thoughts - he has been compromising about how I'm not vegan and he is, and he has come to the realization that this may be a dealbreaker. What??

"It's related to very violent experiences I've had in the military. I feel I can't tell you about them without hurting you. We better end things now so they don't end horribly later."

The next day his profile is back up on the site. He says, "I thought I could make it work, but I mean, look at my track record! Every serious relationship I've had ended because I sacrificed a personal value of mine. There is a third of my life that I'll never be able to share with you, and I'm sick of relationships ending over this. I'm feeling the benefit of us not seeing each other any more. I appreciate that his must be hard for you, but I don't want to talk in any strong emotional context because I feel that would be hazardous for me right now; only text and chat will do. I want to be with a strict vegetarian or vegan who has committed to this lifestyle before meeting me. Someone who is as deeply outraged about eating animal products as I am."

I feel deeply insecure and send him multiple emails as I try to make sense of the sudden shift in energy. We agree that we shouldn't be in a relationship, but that we could be friends "down the road" he says. I'm confused and insecure from the sudden change and still need support.

Finally, he comes over to my place and we talk. He says that immediately before coming over, he was at the Veterans hospital and has been diagnosed with advanced PTSD due to his time in the military-- and that it is directly related to his values as a vegan. He says he is deeply angry every day, has not slept well in over four years, has recurring nightmares about his experiences, cannot even be in the same room as meat without imagining it is the flesh of a human and feeling so angry. I tell him I would be willing to commit to staying with him as he is, whether as a friend or as a lover, and that I have faith that he will heal (because I've seen others heal from PTSD, including myself). He says he doesn't want to heal, doesn't trust others with his process, doesn't ever tell anyone about his issues and it is so very weird and uncomfortable that he has told me. He says I'm his only friend on this side of the nation.

He leaves and I send him more emails over the next day explaining how I genuinely like him for who he is, that yes, I'm uncomfortable hearing about his war experiences and that I am still here. He writes back to say he thinks we shouldn't contact each other any more, says that he is not worth what I am investing.

I have written him a few times since then, days apart, trying to make sense of the situation - it seems he has a history of entering relationships too soon and then leaving them, always because there is a part of him that he feels is unacceptable, which he either tries to sacrifice or hide until it becomes unbearable.

I'm not attached to being in a relationship with this guy, but I mean fuck, can't we be friends? Should I just completely let go of him? I did feel deeply incredible having someone so willing to commit to me, even though it felt so ungrounded, so I know I'm working through some deeper longing I have for a stable partner. Still, I know a relationship between us would not be healthy at this time, but I've offered to be present as someone who wants to get to know him and actually cares about him - independent of the intimacy, we really did have amazing chemistry as friends, and have a lot of potential to help each other through school over the next few years if we stay in touch. Meanwhile I am the one sending him messages after he has said "I don't think we should contact each other any more". Can I get a reality check?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (51 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's best to leave this guy alone for now. It sounds like he has a good grasp on what he wants in regards to his relationship with you and some solid reasons. He's spelled out what he wants - no further contact.

It sounds like he has some issues to work out re: self esteem, but those don't really matter in this context. If he feels it's healthier for him not to have contact with you I don't see it going well if you continue trying to be his friend.
posted by Autumn at 7:55 PM on March 17, 2012


"A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason, and the real reason." - J.P. Morgan

I'd let it go.
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night at 7:57 PM on March 17, 2012 [30 favorites]


He says he doesn't want to heal, doesn't trust others with his process, doesn't ever tell anyone about his issues and it is so very weird and uncomfortable that he has told me. He says I'm his only friend on this side of the nation.

Red flags a plenty.

He doesn't respect himself, doesn't think he's worthy, both does and doesn't want to be in a relationship with you and can't talk about stuff with you.

You can't fix him and can't be friend with someone like that. Wish him well and let him be. If down the line he gets well, then he can contact you if he likes. But he's made clear that he doesn't want to talk to you.

But it's kind of dickish of him to keep posting on dating sites when he readily admits he's not ready to be in a relationship.
posted by inturnaround at 7:57 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Adding that it's a big red flag when someone wants to get too close too soon. Huge. Let it go. It's not about you.
posted by yogalemon at 7:58 PM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Let him go.

If he tries to get in touch in a week, don't take his call.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:59 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


He said not to contact him. You keep pushing it. He tried to break things off. You kept pushing it.

He is trying to heal from a major mental illness and you are violating his stated boundaries. Please stop and allow him the space and separation from you that he has decided that he needs to heal.

And, in terms of the PTSD, if meat is a trigger for him and he wants to date a vegan that is his decision to make. You don't get to decide what he wants in a partner. Quit treating him like a child who doesn't know what he wants.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:06 PM on March 17, 2012 [63 favorites]


Here's what I think: being friends is harder than being lovers. It requires more stability, more honesty, more flexibility. In a way, when you become long-term partners, this is why friendship is called a foundation. So it's not a little thing to expect someone to 'remain' your friend, and it's actually less plausible to be friends after not knowing each other for long than to be lovers.

The thing is, this guy sounds like he's in a really bad place, and cannot self-regulate or articulate his needs or his boundaries. When you're young, this seems workable, but the truth is that it's not like ability for tolerating all-nighters-- the young aren't any better at dealing with it even as they're more likely to make a go. Being a good friend requires some emotional stability and age-appropriate levels of maturity and self-acceptance, traits he's struggling with right now.

I guess I could say 'you can't fix him', but that's just a pat response-- the truth is, if he let you, yes, you could help him just by being his friend, but he's not about to let you. The fact that he's broken over a veganism that stems from trauma yet he calls a 'value' speaks volumes. He was feeling pushed to go places he wasn't willing/ready to go by your action and just your existence, just like you were by him sometimes. His own pushing of your readiness levels (by the calls for commitment) is actually a reflection of his own discomfort; this is one strategy of unhealthy co-dependence. The person isn't ready for almost any commitment, and yet yearns for it, so he repeatedly acts like an emotional bulimic-- enters too-deep commitments that drive him to 'regurgitate' the connection once the final degree of tolerance has been overwhelmed with anxiety.


One way you could own this situation is by noting that you may have exacerbated this situation by pushing him about his experiences in the military; pushing your values onto him without checking first may have contributed to his knee-jerk explosion with the veganism (which he may have been triggered by the discussion of the 'darkness'). A number of people are ok with being in the military; on some level, even the people who're traumatized may not be helped by seeing the experience entirely negatively. I think that to make peace, one must be able to integrate some of the positive aspects-- the camaraderie, the good people that died, the things that mattered-- so that the mental dissonance isn't as jarring. One must be able to be proud of one's experiences and behavior on some level (I think) in such experiences so as to begin to heal the darkness. This is my feeling just as a human being (all I know is from fiction, or rather I should say 'all I don't know'). Even so, I can't imagine that it was 100% hell, and it's that dissonance (at least in part) that must be contributing to soldiers' trauma, especially in a volunteer military like in the US.


Anyway, rather than stable, he sounds pretty fragile. While I totally relate to wanting to help and be friends, especially with the people we meet who seem to need it most, at this point you will not get through to him. I'm sorry.
posted by reenka at 8:09 PM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


But it's kind of dickish of him to keep posting on dating sites when he readily admits he's not ready to be in a relationship.

It might be dickish if he really wasn't ready for a relationship. He knew going in that she wasn't a vegan or whatever else. It's clear to me that he changed his mind not based on abstract principles or even his personal feelings, but on having gotten to know her better and deciding he wasn't that into her. I mean, yeah, maybe there's a 20% chance he's telling the truth, but there's an 80% chance he at least left out the part where it's her. Either way, she shouldn't contact him, so maybe choosing to believe he just doesn't like her is more productive than thinking he'll change.

(Wow, that sounded harsh...but I think it's better to face the truth.)
posted by quincunx at 8:11 PM on March 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Should I just completely let go of him?

A thousand times, yes. Let go. I think you were both reaching for something that's just not there, and even if he comes to the realisation later that he may have been wrong, he has some things to work on with himself. And frankly, maybe you do as well.
posted by sm1tten at 8:24 PM on March 17, 2012


He has told you that he doesn't think you two should continue contacting each other.

So, cut off contact like yesterday. Think of this as a good thing because just as a reader, something seems 'off' based on what you have stated about him...
posted by livinglearning at 8:43 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


But also, how you two react seems off in general. You mention so many highs and lows in such a short period of time. This is unhealthy. Both of you deserve to be in healthy relationships.

If you want to help him then cut off contact with him in all aspects.
posted by livinglearning at 8:45 PM on March 17, 2012


I did feel deeply incredible having someone so willing to commit to me

Except, you know, he wasn't. At all. You sound really, really needy here and part of that is you need him to need you a lot. He's not into that. Let him go.
posted by fshgrl at 8:55 PM on March 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


he finds himself engaging in codependent behavior to try to keep me.

You're sort of doing the same thing, aren't you? You're busting through his boundaries right and left. You're acting like you know best for him and refusing to respect his wishes. You're attempting to convince him that how he feels and what he's been through is "ok with you", when what he's really trying to impress upon you is how real and serious his feelings are for him. Whether or not you approve of his feelings is irrelevant and beside the point. You're focused on how he makes you feel and figuring out how to get some more of that good feeling rather than on what he's told you he wants, which is for you to leave him alone. You're actions may feel magnanimous and selfless to you but they seem very, very self-serving and myopic to me.

This guy is attempting not to let this relationship develop into something serious under what he knows are unhealthy, co-dependent terms. This is massively to his credit. You should respect that and allow for the real possibility that he knows what he's doing in ending the relationship.

And, fwiw, what I get off of your question is that you say one thing and do quite another. You say you just want to "date" someone and that you want to be friends even if you can't be in love with this guy, but you're behavior says that you wanted to get serious very, very quickly and you pushed really, really hard to force things to much more than a friendly level of intimacy. I'd start focusing on why I was doing this and let this guy work out his own problems with his own therapist.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 9:10 PM on March 17, 2012 [19 favorites]


He's not ready. It has nothing to do with you. He's not ready to really risk being vulnerable as he is in a relationship, and the fact that you guys may have really, genuinely clicked may have exacerbated this reality for him -- whether he's dealing with that in a self-respecting manner or not.

Don't beat yourself up for getting your hopes up -- it sounds like you had good reason to be genuinely optimistic going in. But it does sound like he's been as honest with you as any person could be. If you're hoping to come out bare minimum as friends, then really respect him when he says he doesn't think you guys should contact each other anymore. As a friend, respect that he's going through sh*t he can't articulate any better than he already has and thus, it's presently in your best interest to let go and focus on yourself.
posted by human ecologist at 9:25 PM on March 17, 2012


Dude is a nutjob. Run.

All this stuff about "violent karma," "what are you doing to heal," "shift in energy," his PTSD-related veganism because meat reminds him of "human flesh" ... I seriously doubt this guy was actually in the military.

He is a psycho and an imposter and I think you definitely should never see this guy again.
posted by jayder at 9:27 PM on March 17, 2012 [48 favorites]


But it's kind of dickish of him to keep posting on dating sites when he readily admits he's not ready to be in a relationship.

No, he said he's not ready to be in a relationship with the OP because he's tired of sacrificing his values. He might be more ready than ever to be in a relationship since he realizes why his past relationships didn't work out. Unfortunately for the OP, if his realizations are genuine, then there's no potential for a relationship, and you admit this. If they're not genuine, then you shouldn't want anything to do with him. But even assuming he's being genuine, here's your reality check: he isn't interested in you on any level, and you're desperately trying to hold onto a shadow of what you used to have with him. Don't waste your time; it's better spent looking for people who are actually able to be with you.
posted by jejune at 9:28 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I know it's hard with people like this--they make you doubt your perception of what is normal in relationships in terms of boundaries and consistency. They are not willing (or possibly not capable) of being completely honest and consistent, so you stop taking their statements seriously. You don't trust him to actually mean it when he requests no contact. That is perfectly understandable, emotionally. Unfortunately, though, for a lot of reasons, you have to take his request for no contact at face value and respect it completely.

Something that helped me in a similar situation is recognizing the fact that keeping tabs on his online activity and contacting him after he asked not to be contacted would be dangerously close to stalking and/or harassment. That realization led me to decide that even if he is the kind of person who would say "don't contact me" without meaning it--it doesn't matter. I am the kind of person who respects stated boundaries.

I think you are a good person who has been temporarily thrown off balance by this confusing situation, and I know that you'll make the right choice going forward (which is definitely to let him go).

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:36 PM on March 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sorry, when I said "unfortunately" I meant "ultimately".
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:38 PM on March 17, 2012


He says that immediately before coming over, he was at the Veterans hospital and has been diagnosed with advanced PTSD due to his time in the military-- and that it is directly related to his values as a vegan.

This dude is almost certainly either a scammer or suffering from a significant mental illness that is not in fact a result of the "experiences" he describes. jayder nails it, and even on the .001% chance that he's telling the truth, you should still go out of your way to avoid him.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:38 PM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Listen to jaydar. Leave this guy alone.
posted by ellF at 9:41 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Too much contradiction and nonsense. By the point you're at now, I wouldn't really be able to trust anything he said. When you've got to that point there's nothing left to do but walk away.
posted by ead at 9:44 PM on March 17, 2012


I'm so sorry that this has all happened. It sounds really confusing and weird, and I don't blame you for being upset. However, it seems the early potential of the relationship did not translate well into the reality of the later red flags. His behavior is erratic, inconsiderate, and emotionally unstable. It could be related to PTSD and it could just be because he himself has personality flaws related to being unstable or manipulative.

As for PTSD more specifically, it's a crazy whirlpool of fuckery that sometimes takes years to get better and even then--nightmares, waking up paralyzed, horrible sense of dread, startling easily--it's not something to take lightly (as you seem to know, and I'd add that while I've also had a PTSD diagnosis, I've found the prolonged exposure to trauma related to war has specific and really mind-altering effects that cannot be understated). It's best that he focus fully on his recovery. A partner doesn't need to be perfect, but someone in the phase he is in will probably need to be alone for a while (regardless of whether or not he abides by this). If he doesn't enforce it himself, you do it. Pull yourself out of this situation and take time to heal from the confusion. It's better to do it now, it will only become harder.

Also, as someone who has also experienced that deep longing you're talking about--nobody who offers the partnership you are looking for to you so quickly (with no basis) can follow through on it. That's the thing that sucks. Patience is necessary to get there. The one you want is the one who carefully and deliberately commits to you in a considered way! This is a process that takes time. Lots and lots of horrible and yet sweet, character-building time. Hang on to your hopes for that strong and deep bond, and don't be distracted by this bump in the road. Insist on having the best, healthiest, happiest relationship you can.
posted by araisingirl at 10:21 PM on March 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I also want to note that there are strong signs that jayder is right, and you should carefully consider that possibility. I based my answer on giving him the undeserved benefit of the doubt (and also to be kind to you, because you seem to be sensitive and believe him, and I trust that you could be right or you could just be a very empathetic person who is being exploited in this case) that he is in fact struggling in the ways he has related to you, rather than the apparent dysfunction of how and when he has related those things.
posted by araisingirl at 10:27 PM on March 17, 2012


I couldn't even read all of this, there were so many red flags. He wants to pull away. Let him.

I'm going to be blunt, and not as kind as people like araisingirl have been: whatever makes you want a relationship like this could be a serious psychological risk factor for you, and you should address it through therapy. Maybe I'm wrong, but based on what you present, I only see causes for concern.

TryTheTilapia is right; your approach here is codependent. Your instincts tell you not to date him unless he promises to get therapy? You make him promise to do so as a condition of the second date? Then you try to persuade him that you accept him as he is? You obviously don't. Why are you saying you do? You don't need to. I wouldn't. He doesn't even accept himself. Why would you accept someone who doesn't accept himself? He is "deeply angry every day," still "working to resolve his violent karma," and doesn't want to heal. Those seem like good reasons for him to feel not ready for a relationship. Why would you not listen to your instincts, or at least his statements about himself? Or if you believe him, why would you put yourself in harms way? Some people with PTSD do hurt others. Do you think you're so invulnerable that this couldn't be hard for you? It's hard already. Do you think you should put up with hard things? Why? How will that lead to a sustainable lifelong relationship? It won't. What would lead to one is having standards and enforcing them. After stating that you'd need him to get therapy, why would you still want to be near him after learning he doesn't want to heal? Do you feel like you don't deserve to enforce your standards? Why would someone who is actively pushing you away, who thinks you're out of his league "emotionally, spiritually, physically" meet those standards? Don't you want to date someone who believes he deserves you? How can you have a real partnership otherwise?

His situation truly is sad. I have a lot of respect for veterans finding ways to live with and work through PTSD. I am so glad that he is getting professional help. It is the professionals who can help him. Setting aside the issues about what you deserve, do you think it helps him to have someone tolerate him, if he works as hard as he can to heal as quickly as possible? Bonding over the fact that you both want him to change is not a good foundation for a relationship, and it sounds like he doesn't want that. It sounds like he feels deeply unhealthy and in need of help right now, and he rightly thinks that this is not a good foundation for a relationship. The best thing you could do would be to respect that.

You are now looking for closure and to understand all the feelings you have here. The best person who can help you with this would be a therapist. You sound like an incredibly capable and kind person, but it worries me that you would take your capacity and your compassion and try to attach yourself to someone who doesn't actually want to heal, and who himself says he wouldn't be good for you. That is profoundly unhealthy. I hope you find other uses for that energy, because I really don't want you to end up in a romantic relationship with an angry person who doesn't want to heal. Could you meet your desire to help others who are dealing with darkness and violence by volunteering? Even more than that, I hope the confusion you feel now is an incentive for you to talk to a therapist about why this relationship was so appealing to you. Best of luck.
posted by salvia at 11:09 PM on March 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


P.S. I hope I don't sound like I think everyone with PTSD is dangerous like on the Lifetime TV shows. I went back and looked and couldn't find the place where he said he was "dangerous," which I thought I'd read. Anyway, I don't mean to demonize him like some crazy dangerous person, only stating that you should believe your own instincts and what he says about himself.
posted by salvia at 11:14 PM on March 17, 2012


All this stuff about "violent karma," "what are you doing to heal," "shift in energy," his PTSD-related veganism because meat reminds him of "human flesh" ... I seriously doubt this guy was actually in the military.

My first instinct as well. I have known several dudes in the military, and while I don't want to generalize, most of them do not really interact like this - the persona that lends itself to military service and one that says stuff like "shift in energy" don't usually intersect on the Venn diagram. Regardless, he sounds emotionally exhausting and you barely even know him. Not being more intertwined with this guy is probably a blessing.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 12:01 AM on March 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's push and pull for whatever reason - the reason doesn't matter.

"We better end things now so they don't end horribly later."

He writes back to say he thinks we shouldn't contact each other any more, says that he is not worth what I am investing.

Listen to what people tell you. As hard as that is - listen to what he's saying.
posted by mleigh at 12:05 AM on March 18, 2012


A relationship that's not even a month old should not already have this much drama. Regardless of whether he's a military poser or not or whether he has PTSD or not, etc. is irrelevant. It was strange to read you demanded he agree to therapy before your second date. That should have been a giant red flag for you, and the fact that it wasn't is pretty worrying. Speaking of therapy, I strongly agree with other responses here that you should think about seeking it yourself: something is off here with your end of this relationship and you don't seem to realize it. Let this guy go, which is what he's asking of you, and focus on what's going on with you right now.
posted by asciident at 1:03 AM on March 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Whether the guy was in the military or not, whether he's a scammer or seriously mentally ill or, most likely both, doesn't really matter in answering your question. No matter what, he doesn't owe you friendship or anything else. You must be pretty lonely to cling to this situation. Work on alleviating that, and leave this guy alone. You both deserve (in the nicest sense of the word) for this to end now.
posted by hazyjane at 1:06 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


The young rope rider is exactly right. You keep violating his stated boundaries. Back off and leave him alone. Whatever healing or changing he needs to do, that should be between him and his therapist.

I know it feels good to have someone say they commit to you that quickly. And I know it feels good to have someone tell you things they don't tell anyone else, and to tell you that you are their only friend. I don't blame you for feeling good based on that. However, I think you really need to just leave it at that and move on.
posted by cairdeas at 1:31 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


...he finds himself engaging in codependent behavior to try to keep me. We talk and I convince him that I like him as he is...

He was saying to you "I recognize patterns of unhealthy behavior in myself when I am with you, and so to take better care of myself I do not want to be with you anymore." You should have respected his boundaries right then. And multiple times after that. Leave the guy alone.
posted by headnsouth at 4:30 AM on March 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


"And he is HOT, and very attracted to me."

Leave it at that.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:53 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think either he's doing what he's doing for the reasons that he says, or jayder's is right and he wasn't in the military.

"You mention so many highs and lows in such a short period of time." The kind of experiences that lead to PTSD can also lead a person to addictively seek highs and lows in everyday life. Or, being the kind of person who would fake a military background and PTSD is also consistent with being the kind of person who knows exactly what kind of highs and lows to put you through so you'll keep addictively seeking him out.

Here's another pattern that's as old as the hills: if his story is true, it means he's too messed up to have the kind of relationship with you that you want. If he's lying, it means he's probably a psycho, in the literal sense, and will always be too messed up to have the kind of relationship with anyone that anyone would want, so he entertains himself by exploiting people and fucking with their minds instead.

Just leave him alone.
posted by tel3path at 5:30 AM on March 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


What just happened in this relationship?

You had an intense and emotionally manipulative experience. I had one of these once! It was really BIG. So many feelings! So many feeling so fast! From some distance on it, I would say it was entirely acting out psychodramas. It was hard for me to see that up close at the time, because the sexual chemistry in these things is so overwhelming.

Can't we be friends?

In the year 2019, yes!

Should I just completely let go of him?

Yes, my friend. That is the prescribed treatment for this kind of wild, boundaryless enmeshment.

Can I get a reality check?

I think you did. Reading this thread can't be fun. Sorry about that. But it's pretty accurate.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:39 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


There seems to already be a consensus here, but I actually don't fully agree. Although I also believe it's time to take his words at face value and give him some space, and let him deal with his problems, as well as for OP herself to cool down, I don't like how everybody here seems to force the preconceived idea of a "healthy relationship" on to the OP, and proclaim that she needs to get the hell out because according to that measure stick, this situation is crazy. Some even go as far as to say OP needs therapy. Jesus, not everybody wants or is made for the same thing! If she cares for the guy, we should respect that, not accuse her for it. She's merely asking if she can be of his support in some way, and that's where I feel we should focus our responses on.

I agree with others that the guy seems troubled in many ways though, so I think OP, you should begin by recognizing that. Recognizing that there are things beyond your help, and things he needs to come to terms himself. However, I didn't get the impression that he was crazy, as some people here have called him dangerous for saying that he doesn't want help, but that is completely understandable in my opinion. When he's suffering, and people expect him to "heal", that makes him feel like he's not accepted as who he is. I think right now, he's unconsciously more looking for someone or an opportunity to be able to share his experiences and feelings without any filter, so that he can start accepting what's happened to him. That's the first step towards getting better, and I'm afraid you're not going to be able to help him in that area, since he's quite adamant in not wanting to share those things with you at the moment. Maybe he's in a delusional state, that with a strict vegan, he could open up, but I doubt that as well. You've already suggested therapy for him, so other than that, you're gonna have to let him do what he wants. You've already tried hard enough, and I'm sure he gets your point and your good intentions. This doesn't mean you have to completely forget about him. You could still care about him, but not through the same approach or intensity hopefully. I hope our insights can give you different perspectives to help you organize your feelings.

Also, in the OP's defense (although I may be speaking out of turn) I don't think it's fair to accuse her of repeatedly disrespecting the guy's boundaries. Sure, she definitely pushed it, but that's what you do sometimes when you communicate. His stance was clearly perplexing, and it was only natural for her to try to understand him beyond his words. Sometimes that effort is needed, and you can get to the bottom of things together, but sometimes it's uncalled for if the other person is completely sure. In this case, I think it was only a natural process. However she's come to a point where she's questioning if further contact would be inappropriate, and I think that shows that she hasn't crossed the line. And once again, I recommend respecting the guy's wishes regardless of his true intentions or anything.
(And this may be off topic, but I'm curious why some people feel the guy is a fake? Words like "shift in energy" and "what are you doing to heal" was said by the OP, if I understood it correctly. I can easily imagine how being a vegan and going through a bloody military experience could be linked as well. )
posted by snufkin5 at 5:50 AM on March 18, 2012


He's going through some pretty rough shit, internally. You picked up on that yourself when you asked him what he's doing to heal.... and this is what he's doing. Unfortunately, it's not something you can be a part of right now.

Let him go and figure out what he needs to do. Wish him well, but don't try to hold onto him right now.
posted by sonika at 5:53 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


And this may be off topic, but I'm curious why some people feel the guy is a fake?

His whole personal drama just sounds fake to me.
posted by jayder at 5:55 AM on March 18, 2012


nthing Jaydar above --- this dude sounds like some sort of scammer/psycho combination. I've know loads of military folks in my life, and this guy sounds more like some Steven Seagal-wannabe and fraud than an actual vet.

You don't have a "relationship" with him, all you have is drama. PLEASE let him go! He says he does not want to be with you, for whatever reason, so please take him at his word and stop contacting him and checking him out online --- I'm sorry to say you're starting to sound kind of stalker-ish yourself.
posted by easily confused at 6:15 AM on March 18, 2012


sonika --- it's everything from that vague "in the military" rather than straight-out saying "in the Army" or "the Marines"; it's the drama and emo and just the total FEEL of the guy. As a group, the kind of folks that join the military tend to be somewhat hardheaded and practical; new age stuff about karma and spirit energy or crystals rarely apply.

This guy ain't even Rambo (I've known a couple Rambo-wannabes, at least they're usually honest), he's Steven Seagal-levels of fraud, and the kind who would keep dropping hints about 'secrets' and 'the things I've seen' until eventually he modestly admits to having led SEAL teams and having won the Congressional Medal of Honor, twice. (Every real military member I've known or know now would just keep their mouth shut about stuff: not one would be dropping vague hints about unspecified tragic events. They'll either TELL you something, or keep their lips zipped.) And if this guy showed me any medals he claimed he was awarded? I'd insist on documentary proof before believing him --- he sounds like precisely the sort of person the Stolen Valor Act was aimed at.
posted by easily confused at 6:40 AM on March 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


He has said he doesn’t want anymore contact. Don’t contact him any more. Period.
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 6:56 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe he is a con man. Why a con man would vehemently and in no uncertain terms push away a mark who is completely willing to get sucked into their drama, real or imaginary, escapes me, but anything is possible.

It is also possible that this guy is seriously, seriously fucked up because of his military service. Maybe he was fucked up to begin with. Maybe he is flat-out delusional or lying through his teeth. All the more reason to do as he has explicitly stated he wants you to do and leave him be.

If your impulse when someone tells you to leave them alone is to continue to attempt to engage them, then you are perhaps attempting to play the role of rescuer to their victim. That behavior is unhealthy and is something I would address with a therapist of my own.

The desire to help someone, in and of itself, is not unhealthy, crazy or bad. But when you repeatedly do so to your own detriment, particularly when the person has told you unequivocally that your attention is not what they want, then your behavior seems compulsive and motivated not by selflessness but by need. Many of us have been down this road and know of what we speak. Put another way, his motivations are irrelevant. He's said no and you should take no for an answer, full stop.

OP, you're not a bad person for wanting to make a situation that made you feel really good for a while into a normal dating situation. I've done it, as have many, many people here. That's why I and others know this situation smells really off, in spite of how wanted it made you feel and how intense it was physically. If you can't see the red flags here, or if drama and navigating a full obstacle course of major issues four dates into a relationship is typical for you, then it's worth sitting down with a therapist to figure out why that is.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 9:56 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have come back to this question because there are so many red flags for me, but there's so much info here that I didn't provide much reasoning in my earlier response. Now I've gone through and picked out what I consider the craziness, the contradictions, and the big red flags:

He says he wishes I were on Facebook so he could show me to all of his friends.

So he's talking about "all his friends," sounds pretty normal so far.

He says I'm his only friend on this side of the nation.

He's trying to draw you in. He sensed that by singling you out as his "only friend" this would help him get into your life. But it rings a bit false after the bit about "all his friends" ... I suppose it could be true that all those friends are on the other side of the country.

He says he has been seeing someone "for a physical thing" and ends his relationship with them to make space for me in his life.

Does this person not count as a friend? She's clearly on THIS side of the country.

He says he has been working to resolve his violent karma for years, and his actions clearly show this.I say I'd be up for continuing to see him if he gets therapeutic help, and he agrees 

Okay, I'm very disturbed by this. YOU have witnessed violent actions from this guy? YOU are already requiring he seek therapy for his violent karma because of actions you witnessed? Is he getting in fights with people? Punch a hole in your wall? Claim to have a flashback of a firefight? If so, dude is clearly dangerous or is at least so nutty that he's trying to draw you in by pretending to be dangerous. So as I said earlier, run.

We go on about three amazing dates and he pulls away without warning, which I find out because I see his profile is back up on the site. In explanation, he says I'm out of his league emotionally, spiritually, physically, and that he finds himself engaging in codependent behavior to try to keep me.

So you think you have a great thing going with this guy, he told you he ended another thing to make space for you (implicit assurance of exclusivity), and you FOUND OUT he was "pulling away" because you saw his profile back on the site? No, he wasn't pulling away, he was trolling for more tail with his wounded warrior schtick and you busted him.  And being the manipulator that he is, he masterfully recovered by playing it off by turning it into a compliment to you that he was off trying to hook up behind your back... You're "out of his league"! Nice one, that is truly virtuoso on his part.

We talk and I convince him that I like him as he is; yes, we're a bit different, but that doesn't have to be a dealbreaker. He takes his profile down.

And you fell for it, assuring him you really do like him! He's patting himself on the back for that little "out of my league" thing working so well.

He talks about how we'll be able to support each other during graduation in 3-4 years. 

He's just saying stuff to say stuff. That doesn't even make sense. (Crazy people often say things that, when you think about it, don't really make sense.) Support each other during graduation? Does that mean accompany each other to pick up caps and gowns? Clap as the other crosses the stage? It's just nonsense.

Woah, I say; I really like you and am definitely excited about being together, but we also just met each other.

You're showing some level headedness and common sense here, which is having the double effect of making him want you (because he surely is attracted to that) but also making him redouble his efforts to draw you into his web of crazy because he wants to own you ... 

We spend another week together in absolute bliss. He texts and calls every day, tells me he misses me.... Alongside all of the momentum, he has moments where he says he is blown away by how much he appreciates and respects qualities in my personality and conduct

That's him trying to draw you in, after you showed level headedness in reminding him that the two of you just met. And there's more of the "just saying stuff to say stuff" -- "blown away" by how much he appreciates your qualities? That's just nonsensical bullshit to draw you in.

I have a really stressful day and tell him so. He acknowledges that it was rough and comforts me. Then he suddenly messages me to tell me he's having second thoughts - he has been compromising about how I'm not vegan and he is, and he has come to the realization that this may be a dealbreaker. What??

As soon as your focus shifts to YOU -- your bad day -- and not how wonderful it is to be loved and cherished by him, he pulls away. He's threatened by you HAVING A LIFE apart from him.

"It's related to very violent experiences I've had in the military. I feel I can't tell you about them without hurting you. We better end things now so they don't end horribly later."

That's just plain nuts. He may kill you? What does that even mean? I think he's sensed that you may be intrigued by his tortured warrior schtick and that's the card he's going to play to get you back on board with his script where he calls the shots. He didn't like the focus being shifted you your bad day, your career, whatever didn't have to do with him.

The next day his profile is back up on the site. 

See, that's just too quick. If he's so tortured and tormented that he abruptly pulls away from you, does it make sense that he rushes home to reactivate his profile? No.

He says, "I thought I could make it work, but I mean, look at my track record! Every serious relationship I've had ended because I sacrificed a personal value of mine.

So he's breaking up with you by simultaneously saying "it's not you it's me," but also building himself up to be the Man of Integrity. Calculated to make you want him even more.

I feel deeply insecure and send him multiple emails as I try to make sense of the sudden shift in energy. 

He's got you right where he wants you. You're falling for his manipulations.

He says that immediately before coming over, he was at the Veterans hospital and has been diagnosed with advanced PTSD due to his time in the military

RIGHT BEFORE he came over, he was at the VA getting diagnosed for PTSD? Or getting a treatment for it? He is shoveling some serious bullshit now, this is almost certainly a total lie.

and that it is directly related to his values as a vegan.

That just sounds like bullshit. His PTSD is related to his values as a vegan? Because he had to shoot people in Iraq who were ... made of meat? This guy is a total, laughable fraud.

He says he is deeply angry every day, has not slept well in over four years, has recurring nightmares about his experiences, cannot even be in the same room as meat without imagining it is the flesh of a human and feeling so angry.

He's angry. We get it. You get it. He's angry. He's a warrior, he's seen terrible things, he's macho, and he's angry.

He says he doesn't want to heal, doesn't trust others with his process, doesn't ever tell anyone about his issues and it is so very weird and uncomfortable that he has told me. 

He doesn't want to heal because the angry PTSD thing is his "thing" on Match.com and OKCupid -- he's nuts and he's using this to conceal his vacuous and sad life.

Please cut this guy off, cold. He's almost certainly crazy as hell, a pathological liar, and will bring you nothing but torment. 
posted by jayder at 11:33 AM on March 18, 2012 [24 favorites]


He says he is deeply angry every day, has not slept well in over four years, has recurring nightmares about his experiences, cannot even be in the same room as meat without imagining it is the flesh of a human and feeling so angry

I think he's been pretty clear on this. I think you should listen to the fact that he's not emotionally ready.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:45 AM on March 18, 2012


What happened is he is not in a place to be in a real stable relationship. Find someone else to crush on. The end!
posted by manicure12 at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do understand people not trusting this guy for any number of reasons, and I'm with every other voice here in saying to leave this go, don't contact him, don't take his calls when he contacts you, which he very well may, once he finds out you're not going to play his game any longer. So there is all of that -- let this go.

But saying that people cannot get deeply -- and sometimes irrevocably -- trashed from what they've seen and what they've done in combat, that's just inaccurate. Yeah, some guys are able to hold on fine, I think a big part of basic training is in toughening you up emotionally, giving you a skin, getting you in group-think, us vs them, etc and etc.

But some guys do get trashed, and some of them never make it back. I know a guy here in Austin who is pretty damn lost and has been and I think will be, things he saw and things he did in Iraq. I believe this man and I believe in him, but I'm not sure I'd tell you to get into a relationship beyond buck-fuddies with him.

Just sayin'...
posted by dancestoblue at 8:18 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The references to violence are a red flag. Pay Attention. He's being clear about not wanting to see you. He re-posted his profile. Pay Attention.

Some people with significant mental health issues can be intense and seem charming, but it's not sustainable or healthy. He does not have a healthy, happy relationship to offer.
posted by theora55 at 9:30 PM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


This guy is crazytown. I would honestly cut off contact with him - do not write, email, call, text or fax.

I wouldn't even be friends with him, there's just way too much potential drama from the sounds of it.
posted by floweredfish at 6:31 AM on March 19, 2012


There is a distinct reason there are organizations dedicated to exposing people claiming military experience or honors they didn't receive. Last year I had a brief interaction with a MMA instructor at an event, and he gave his rundown of experience, accolades, and connections - plus he gave me a quite "off" vibe despite everything on the surface being an upstanding and dedicated person. Filed it away, and this last week I found out from another person that this man was decidedly not legit. His claimed Navy SEAL service was , and I listened to a phone message (four of them within 10 minutes) threatening that he was being disrespected by the local police, and if he did not get his call returned within 90 to 120 minutes he would be contacting his high level connections at the Pentagon.

I'm not saying this man is a fraud, but people tell these lies without a logical plan.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:45 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Third option - guy was in the military and was a nut job/user before and is worse now.

In any case, the facts as of now are that he is acting like a crazy person who should not be in a relationship (whether he is a mentally ill person or just an asshat is not important) and the OP should stop, move on, and try not to rush into anything.

The short answer to "what just happened" is nothing good, nothing real. Move on. Enjoy life. Let this go.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:34 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find it believable he could be military. Military dudes I have met do have extremely circumspect affects, but I have always felt that they are just barely keeping it all inside. The rigidity is a self defense mechanism, and I can easily see a former soldier turning to concepts of karma to make sense of his service. If he really is on Facebook you should be able to quickly verify his service because he will have lots of military friends.

But anyway he sounds tremendously messed up. Move on and ask yourself why you ever thought it was even I question.
posted by yarly at 10:15 AM on March 19, 2012


Yes, I could also see him truly being in the military in one form or another so if you know for a fact that he is, don't latch onto that as a reason that all the other things everyone has said must be wrong. I know more than one military Wiccan (one a Marine, one in the Coast Guard) and they are totally the type to talk about things like karma and things like that. The one in the Coast Guard is also a wacked out drama king who I could totally see making all sorts of woo-woo-ish and melodramatic statements.
posted by cairdeas at 10:27 AM on March 19, 2012


« Older Trying to make paper mache mas...   |  Bug bite filter: I woke up wit... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.