I am terrified that I'm repeatedly sabotaging my relationships with my trust issues. Please help me get a grip or perspective. I don't know what to do. I turned 28 a month ago, and the prospect of hitting the reset button this time--I had joked before about getting old, but this was the first time I truly felt the weight of it.
posted by blue rare to human relations (30 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My long distance boyfriend of eight months (he lives in SF, I live in LA) broke up with me on Tuesday. He texted me,"Am I going to get to see you tonight after dinner? I miss you." Instead of an affectionate chat with him, he dumped me. I was blindsided. He had never discussed any of these issues with me before.
The trips were taking too much out of him. They were becoming a burden. It was taking time away from and harming his career (he's a web developer at a startup--SF). Our relationship was taking away from his life instead of adding to it. I tried to figure out what was going on, where this was coming from, hoping it wasn't too late. He had just visited me less than two weeks ago, and things seemed great-- not enough couple downtime, but certainly not anything that made me think we were heading for a breakup. But it was too late. He had already come to this decision on his own--he said it was the best decision for him. It stung. I was an animal, repeating "It isn't fair", "we need more time" and, ultimately, "please don't do this". He was crying, I was crying. He said that he couldn't see a way where our situation would end happily without one of us making a life-changing sacrifice. We had discussed this before; it was understood that I'd eventually move up to SF if I found the right job or opportunity, but that I wouldn't move exclusively for him. But I had no idea this vague timeline had suddenly run out. Only last week he said that he wanted me to move up to SF.
We talked from midnight to 4am, and agreed to speak again. On Wednesday, after having had some time to consider, I told him that I accepted his decision, but that he handled it terribly, like a coward, and didn't accord me the same benefit of the doubt and chance that I gave him (see below). If he had told me when he was first experiencing these doubts then we could have addressed them as a couple, and perhaps grown closer together in the process. Or if I came to the same conclusion, at least it would have been a mutual one. He let me talk, and said that I was right--that it was entirely selfish on his part and that he felt sad and ashamed, and said that I had given the relationship my all. For some reason I held out hope if I explained how I felt, he would realize I had valid points, re-evaluate his concerns and consider trying again. Yes, I was going to logic my way out of the decision I thought he had logicked himself into. But no. He didn't want to try. After listening to me, he said I deserved better than excuses. And it was hard to hear, but they certainly rang more true than the things he was saying the previous night. He had never said he loved me because...he didn't. Our relationship never felt real to him. After 8 months, he said people begin to have expectations that a relationship is going somewhere, and that he didn't think we were strong enough to keep going until that undefined day I would move to SF. Love is in the everyday, I cried. Something that we had never had, because we started long distance. He said to call him or talk to him whenever I needed, but I am still reeling. I want him back.
How we started:
He was moving in as a new roommate of a college friend of mine, whom I regularly stayed with when I was in SF. In November we chatted for about an hour before I left for the airport, and I happened to be visiting again for New Year's Eve. My friend was working, and he happened to be at the house, so we got some takeout and started watching a travel series. I genuinely enjoyed it, had a great time talking with him, and I guess he became interested, because he texted me after midnight on New Year's Eve, saying that he wanted to see me that night. And we did see each other, went back to his place, and in the morning, he made me breakfast. And since I had a plane to catch in a few hours, I asked if he to leave this as it was--I would be fine with it, or if he wanted to explore it. And he wanted to--at which point I unloaded my entire relationship history on him because I wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting into, and because long distance relationships are (say it with me) HARD. I told him about every major relationship I had, some good, spanning 3-4 years, and some bad, where I had been cheated on and now I now have severe trust and paranoia issues. SF and LAX aren't that far apart, he said, and he thought we were mature enough to communicate well. And so we parted, and in the ride to the airport, I told my friend (who I spent part of NYE with before breaking off with a different group of friends) that I was going to pursue a relationship with his roommate. My friend became incredibly angry, angrier than I had ever seen him, and subsequently cut me out of his life, because he explained that he felt it was unacceptable that I had slept with his roommate, and that I was using my friend as a free hotel. To this day, he has not returned any of my phone calls or emails. He also eventually asked my ex to move out of the apartment in June, saying that he felt he couldn't trust my ex because my ex never explicitly mentioned that he was continuing a relationship with me.
How those issues played out:
Initially the first few months were great, as they always are--late night talks until 3am discovering each other, a week in Costa Rica that was fantastic. We also talked quite a bit about my friend and how to make amends, but my friend never returned any of my attempts at clearing the air. Otherwise I was so happy--I joked that I couldn't find anything wrong with this guy, and my girlfriends were all thrilled that I was finally dating someone who made me happy, who was intelligent, ambitious, had a steady job--a marked change from the men I had been involved with before.
But as things progressed, and we dealt with the realities of being long distance (awkward, banal Skype talks where I prattled on about inane shit because I felt like I had to fill the air or be entertaining, since I couldn't just curl up next to him with a book or computer). And there were times when I would hang up after a Skype chat, feeling depressed because of an uninspiring conversation, wondering if he was just tired (he's an early bird, I'm a night owl) or whether he was losing interest in me.
For July 4th I visited him, and while he was working I worked from his apartment, and I read his journal. I honestly wasn't expecting to find anything. He had done nothing to arouse suspicion--but by then I was compulsively checking his Facebook and Twitter for no good reason. It wouldn't have mattered how good the partner was, I would have still felt the same need to know. I found pretty frightening stuff--in April he visited a sister in NY, and there was a mutual friend who he hadn't seen for a few years. He wrote that he became obsessed with her over the weekend and forgot about me, instead ignoring his sister to pay attention to this girl, fantasizing about her. And he wrote that he and I were not going to last forever, and that he wasn't looking forward to breaking up with me because he didn't want to break my heart.
I fled the apartment and wandered around SF before landing in a cafe to drink several glasses of wine. That night when he came home I was a nervous wreck, and started questioning him about our relationship and whether it was serious, and whether he was truly committed to making this work with me. He was understanably taken aback, but it became a conversation that we both agreed we needed to have, and he assured me that he wanted to make it work, and that he too was frustrated by the distance and the limitations of Skype. That he had not said "I love you" (and neither had I when sober; drunk I had told him a few times that I loved him) because in his first, and major relationship, he had said it and been badly hurt (it was a year, he was 23 and she was older and wanted children. He admitted that she wore the pants in that relationship, and pressured him into getting engaged. She left him for the man she would eventually marry).
The next day, I confessed that I had read his journal, fully expecting him to break up with me, but he handled it very differently than I feared. He said it was clear that I was punishing myself for it, and that what he wrote was what he was feeling at the time, but that he was choosing to be with me, and that he wanted to make it work with me, and that he would give me as long as I needed to work on these issues. He said he would be there waiting for me. I was amazed, and I made the conscious decision to trust him about not cheating on me, and I was so glad that it looked like I had found someone who was accepting me for who I was, and was willing to work with me on my issues. We both said that it felt like we had made a huge step forward as a couple, and he said that he felt much closer to me, and that he thought this openess was a good foundation to build on.
That was a month ago. I'm left reeling even more because I thought this was a real chance to have a healthy relationship. I'm exhausted, so sad, so weary. And I feel so broken. I feel like I set in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy by being so frank about my fears. I'm angry because I feel like we were defeated by distance, and afraid that it wasn't distance at all, but compatability issues that I was too blind to see, or didn't know him well enough to perceive. I'm afraid that he met someone else, and that the prospect of dating someone in person (and a person who is NOT crazy) is much more attractive than putting time and effort into just maintaining a relationship that is stuck, unable to grow closer because of long distance.
Summary: I screwed up a potentially great relationship because of my pattern of self-sabotage due to my past relationships ending in cheating? He's a great guy, a wonderful guy did everything right, who handled the end of a relationship poorly. It's his right to decide that it's time for him to move on, as much right as I have if I had decided to do so. But I wanted this one to work out so badly--he was so good to me, and I feel so cheated that we never were able to be a couple in the same place, and experience the everyday.