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How many days are considered "giving him time"?
April 3, 2012 6:42 AM   Subscribe

I asked for him to give us another try. He said he didn't know how to respond, needed some time/space to think, and that we'd talk soon. MeFi poll: how many days would this mean to you? Explanation inside.

This was a serious relationship (more than a year). Break-up was sort-of mutual (I initiated the conversation but I didn't think it would wind up in it being over; I just wanted to address some things). Occurred approximately 3 weeks ago. We've gotten together once since and had a great time; he said he was surprised and that it made him "want to think about trying again." He also said things that I didn't know - I had felt significant distance from him lately but couldn't get him to talk about it (kept saying everything was "fine") and he finally opened up and said he had had some SAD-type depression going on, that he's been that way for years, that there was additional work stress that I sort of knew about but didn't REALLY know about ... anyways, I mulled this over and asked for another shot a few days later. He responded that he:
- wanted me in his life
- didn't know how to respond
- wanted some time
- didn't want to make me wait
- we could talk soon

So my question: how many days before his lack of response gives me my answer? Or should I call to follow-up, and if so, how many days should that be?

He tends towards the introverted, emotionally-reticent side (atleast as of late, but he wasn't always like this). As for the break-up: I had told him that I didn't think he was treating me the way I envisioned my life-partner to treat me (sharing, communicating, thinking of one another and doing cute little things for each other). He responded that he had been having some serious doubts about our compatibility for a while, that he knew he had been an asshole much of the time, and that he had kept hoping that one day "he and I would click and feel right," but that, for him, that hadn't happened.

I think that our relationship is/was worth one more shot. I honestly think he has some sort of commitment-phobia; I really don't have an explanation for his recent cold behavior. I do NOT think he cheated on me.

I feel like I'm hanging out in the wind here. It's a very lonely place to be. (It's been five days so far.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
So my question: how many days before his lack of response gives me my answer?

That's up to him.

Or should I call to follow-up, and if so, how many days should that be?

If you want to, call him. How many days? That's entirely up to you. Wait as long as you think you can bear it, and then communicate with him. But be prepared for him to tell you to wait some more.
posted by xingcat at 6:45 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Five days, and he's been having serious doubts for some time...I know it hurts, but it's time to move on. Relationships feel different to the people in them, and it doesn't sound like he feels as positively about the relationship as you did.

Very sorry, this is really hard. He should have just cut things off and not given you false hope.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:46 AM on April 3, 2012 [18 favorites]


Based on the exact examples you provided and that he's an introvert, five days isn't that long; I would think several weeks, at the very least. But that is just my opinion.

...towards the introverted...sharing, communicating, thinking of one another and doing cute little things for each other...

You probably won't get these things from an introvert. If he doesn't do them after a year, he isn't going to start. It isn't in his personality. Don't try to change him because no one will end up happy.

...he had been having some serious doubts about our compatibility for a while...

He is exactly right and he already has it figured out. He just doesn't know how to articulate it. Being an introvert might have something to do with it.

Move on. Don't wait for him. But if he comes back, give it a shot then.
posted by TinWhistle at 6:47 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, and if he is willing to get back with you, you'll forever be walking on eggshells, worried about whether bringing up concerns will lead to another breakup, worried about whether he's really committed...the comfortable, secure part of your relationship is over. What is left will be much less pleasant after this major breach.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:47 AM on April 3, 2012 [22 favorites]


i think you should act as if it's over. He said he would contact you but you need to take care of yourself.
posted by spicynuts at 6:52 AM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sounds like he likes you enough to want to be your friend, but doesn't think you're compatible enough to be lovers. But he has no idea how to process that/articulate it.

Any time someone gives you the "I need time to think, but don't wait for me" it's over. He just doesn't know what the eulogy will say.

Move on.
posted by inturnaround at 7:08 AM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's really no appropriate number of days - it's not enough for him, it's too many for you -I think you should move on, consider no response a "no response" and don't follow up. When someone says they don't want to make you wait, that's not your cue to wait... that's your cue to keep it moving, on your own, regardless of the decisions they are making. If he does decide he wants to try again, address that when/if it comes up.

Also, I don't think he's a committment-phobe; I think he's a guy who realised you two aren't compatible, but wishes you were. And you do have an explanation for his recent coldness - depressed, stressed, and doubtful. I'm not saying it's hopeless, but it doesn't sound hopeful, either.
posted by sm1tten at 7:11 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


No matter when you call, it's too soon. Just wait, and try to move on.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:27 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is over. Move on.

You asked to try again - if he responds, then good.
Until then, you not to start moving on.

Asking again, pestering him - that will only alienate him more.
You asked - the ball is in his court - he does not have to return it.
posted by Flood at 7:30 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Break-up was sort-of mutual (I initiated the conversation but I didn't think it would wind up in it being over; I just wanted to address some things).

This sentence in particular seems very telling; it sounds like you were just trying to address some problems in your relationship, and he took the opening to break up with you.

I'm really sorry, but it does sound like he has realized you're not compatible and tried to end your relationship, but (as is natural) he misses you. His own loneliness, and his guilt about hurting you, have led him to say perhaps the two of you could give it another shot. Unfortunately, he's given you false hope. I think the kindest thing you could do for yourself is let him go.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:37 AM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


...towards the introverted...sharing, communicating, thinking of one another and doing cute little things for each other...

You probably won't get these things from an introvert.


Eh. My boyfriend and I are both introverts and I'd say we do pretty well on all of those scales. Introversion is about how you recharge. It doesn't mean you're shy, socially inept, or thoughtless (although it also doesn't mean you're not).

I agree with the people above who feel like this is about him not feeling like he's right for you, and not being able to communicate that well. If you weren't feeling like your needs were being met after a year, I don't think it's likely to change if you give it another try. Sometimes the other person is great, but it's just not meant to be.

I'm sorry you're going through this. :-/
posted by pie ninja at 7:38 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't call him. Chasing him is very unlikely to help and very likely to hurt. Absolutely not after 5 days.

But also don't wait around for him (longer than you want to). He's either not into you, or he's unsure, which means he's probably not going to give it another shot (which he might be too chicken to ever tell you), and if he does he might take a long time to decide.

If you're having trouble moving on, you can try giving him a reasonable deadline which gives him lots of time to think (maybe a month or two), and let him know (in advance) that you'll be closing the window after that.
posted by randomnity at 7:47 AM on April 3, 2012


Think of it this way: if you do get back together, you want him to truly and wholeheartedly want you back, right? You don't want him to feel ambivalent or pressured, and you don't want him to jump back in only to change his mind again. That's not a quick or easy decision to make, and it's a decision he has to make himself, without deadlines or pressure.

The answer to "how much time" is "as much as he needs."

There's a real chance he may never come back, and right now you don't know, and there's nothing that can be done to get him back, or to get an answer. It's an uneasy, lonely, sad place to be in, I know - the kind of sadness you can feel in your stomach. The best move right now is to recognize it's entirely out of your hands, and to take care of yourself. Best of luck.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:03 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why not pause for a moment to take stock of the situation:

1.He said he knows he treats you like an asshole most of the time.
2. He also said he hasn't clicked with you.
3. You said he's not treating you the way you want a life partner to treat you.

WHAT'S IN THIS RELATIONSHIP FOR YOU?

Stop coddling him and move on. You deserve someone who loves you and makes you happy.
posted by doreur at 8:05 AM on April 3, 2012 [13 favorites]


I went through this in my first relationship. I panicked and got really upset when a recurring issue cropped up and to stir up drama (I was immature!), I said "well, maybe we shouldn't be together anymore." He took that opportunity to officially end things. I then came back a few weeks later and begged him to try again. Instead of directly shooting me down, he kept me on the hook.. basically for a few years. He even asked me to try again at some point, and when I told him I was concerned about how that would work, he lost it and ignored me for several days.

All that is to say that getting back together rarely works, but it especially doesn't work if one person doesn't want to do it. I know this hurts tremendously, but it's over and it's time to move on.
posted by anotheraccount at 8:13 AM on April 3, 2012


I'm sorry to hear this. The last guy I was with called it quits after 2 months 'cause he didn't feel a connection. And I didn't either but wanted it to work out. I'm sorry girl. Us women, usually are the ones who try to make something work out of nothing. You'll have to accept that ya'll need to get away before you badly hurt each other in the long run. That's how I look at it.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 8:16 AM on April 3, 2012


Put yourself in his shoes. If you had (sorttttt of) initiated a break up with your girlfriend or boyfriend of one year, and then realized you wanted to get back together with her/him afterwards, would you wait five days to say yes after she/he asked you to return? Probably not. If you realized that you had made a big mistake and that the real potential for something good were still there, you would probably jump at the idea of another chance. Instead, however, you have spent those five days waiting on tenterhooks for his answer. To tell the truth, he probably already gave his indirect answer when he aired his persistent doubts about your compatibility, his wishy-washy feelings about your being together, and the "rightness" he felt was missing from your relationship. He just hasn't done you the decency of giving you a direct yes or no response to your request yet.

This is not equal ground to form any kind of "second shot" scenario from. It sounds like you two are not in the same emotional place with regard to your relationship. Specifically, you want to have a relationship together, and he does not. He just hasn't found a way to say it to you yet. I agree with previous posters--stop holding your breath for him and start moving on. I know this is hard, but trust me, you will thank and respect yourself later for not groveling with someone who is not enthusiastic about being with you. (If you need a motivational push, I really recommend the book It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken--it helped me move on in a similarly painful situation.)

If he does come back--with no more asking from you, because you already asked once--then great. That would be a healthier, more equal place to try again from. Good for you for screwing up the guts to ask for another shot. I have confidence that you will also have the guts needed to now call this one done and close the book on it--for your own sake.
posted by anonnymoose at 8:21 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Leave the ball in his court and leave him in his court as well, and move on. If you haven't heard anything from the guy for five days then you have your answer.

You like him and you've grown attached to him. With a little distance you might be able to see that this relationship wasn't a good fit for you. Something eerily similar to this situation happened to me recently, and now I can see it a little clearly, and I was making a lot of the same mistakes you're making now: You think you can figure out what his specific reasons are for not wanting to be in this relationship (he's reticent, he's commitment-phobic, etc), and then solve those problems. The truth is, you can't. Desire is not beholden to logic or specific reasons. He's just not feeling you and he has no idea how to convey that.

Andt he's being kind of a coward about this, because he is making a dreadfully common, and commonly dreadful, mistake: He thinks that leaving you on the hook will somehow hurt less than the truth would. He doesn't want to be with you, he doesn't want to give this another shot, and he has no idea how to say that in plain language because he's hoping that if he just acts wishy-washy enough for long enough, you'll go away on your own.

he had kept hoping that one day "he and I would click and feel right," but that, for him, that hadn't happened.

This is the only part of all this that's relevant. It, whatever it is, just isn't there for him. I know it hurts to be in this situation and I'm so sorry. But this guy's behavior is not indicative of someone who could be good for you. It's over and it's time to get a move on. Be kind to yourself and seek out your friends and get exercise when you can. You'll be okay, in time. Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:31 AM on April 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I think you should move on. He may be telling the truth and be really confused and unsure of what he wants. If this is the case, you should run away from him as fast as you can. Confused people who are figuring what out what they want will hurt you more than any other kind of person - more than assholes, because you can't even hate them.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:42 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


From my understanding he is gone and you should move on. He seems to have issues he hasn't dealt with yet and when he does, you will be his past, who helped him in dealing with these issues. That's it. You exposed his vulnerabilities to him, he saw that and will never come back to you because of various internal dialogues/issues. You were part of his growing up process.
posted by pakora1 at 9:47 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


His request for time is in turn, your best remedy.

If there was a pill that immediately cured your loneliness today, you would replace your urge to call with the clarity of reflection.

If you let a number of weeks pass, you will have achieved the same effect of such a pill, and will no longer desire to pursue what you will then realize to be a relationship not in your best interest.
posted by Kruger5 at 10:37 AM on April 3, 2012


It doesn't sound like he is chomping at the bit to get back together with you. He sounds like more of a hedging no than a yes here.

I think I'd consider the relationship way over.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:44 PM on April 3, 2012


Your break up sounds very similar to my most recent break up. I went the no contact route and it worked. If he wanted to get back together with you, he would have let you know by now. In fact, he would have addressed your concerns instead of breaking up with you if he wanted the two of you to be together. You deserve more than a wishy-washy boyfriend.

In the end, it doesn't matter what his reasons were for breaking it off. My ex-boyfriend was also quite depressed and dealing with issues. At the end of the day though, it didn't matter if we broke up because he was depressed or for any other reason. His feelings regarding the break up are none of my concern.

The sooner you cut him out of your life, then easier it will be to move on. No more fun get togethers. No more asking him for another chance. If he suddenly decides he can't live without you as his girlfriend, then the relationship might be worth another try.

My best advice is that when someone breaks up with you, take their word for it and move on. Forget trying to be friends at least until you can imagine him dating someone new and genuinely feeling happy for him.

Most of all, take care of yourself.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:04 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would assume he wants several weeks at least. And I don't think you should be the one to initiate contact at all. I'm sorry.
posted by lollusc at 5:46 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's extremely over. He doesn't have the courage or whatever to make that clear to you, unfortunately, so you have to do it for yourself.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:36 PM on April 3, 2012


You know him better than us. But my opinion was also two to three weeks. I would start assuming it's over and not call him, really assume it's over after two weeks, and set your own "now I am going to move on" internal deadline at three weeks.

It's totally arbitrary, though, right? I mean, he might finally snap to it in six months. And I picked those dates in part because I'd personally want to wait at least that long. If you're ready to move on sooner, go for it! The real answer is that it's too long at whatever point you finally say "screw this! The awful waiting isn't worth it!" There's nothing magic about my numbers. The magic is you figuring out what approach will make YOU feel like you waited long enough.

Sooner rather than later, go ahead and move on. He can always try to woo you back later. But for now, I'm sorry. :( I recommend long walks and bike rides. Here are a few songs for you.
posted by salvia at 8:31 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


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