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How to get my ex back in this complicated situation?
August 31, 2012 5:52 PM   Subscribe

My first love broke up with me 4 months ago. I had taken her for granted, albeit under difficult circumstances. I want to rekindle things but I know I've hurt her. If I don't try to rekindle, I think I'll regret it forever. How do I do that while respecting her feelings?

Kelly and I met in college. Took each other's virginity. Things were great before we graduated. Honestly thought I could marry this girl, which blew me away at the time, because I was completely immature in relationships. But she had everything I knew I would want long-term: cuteness, intelligence, manners, morals, family background, goals, ambitions. We're so long-term compatible it's actually ridiculous. When we were together in school it was amazing.

She went abroad to Africa for a year after graduation to take her dream job. I gave her my blessing and we stayed together. She asked me to just take things one day at a time, but I began to resent her and put more pressure on the relationship than I should have. (Long distance sucks, let alone when you're a 22yo male with cash to burn.) There were other girls trying to get with me and I was an immature asshat to Kelly as a result. I asked for naked pics and I guess, unintentionally, immaturely, made her feel like she 'owed me.' But generally things between us were good. We were calling each other "the loves of our life" etc, talking about the future together.

Kelly came back to America and moved in with me, because it was what we'd discussed, what I said I wanted, even though we weren't ready at all to live together -- as you might very well imagine. She had said things like "I'll be a barista when I get back to be with you!"

Anyway -- she got back and started looking for work. She is very ambitious (we both are) and she began to realize that all the jobs she wanted most were in New York. I wanted to move there, too, so I gave her my blessing and we decided to move to NYC together. But I had trouble giving her a firm moving date because of money and job concerns, and I was too stressed out with work to put as much effort as I should have into finding a new job (I was in a consulting job working 80 hours a week).

As we became more disconnected and more stressed, I started putting more and more pressure on her to make me happy. I stopped enjoying living here as I looked forward to building a life together in New York. Our sex life turned to shit, and I began to take her for granted as I felt she was pressuring me too much to move. She broke things off after I had been wishy-washy about moving and an asshole for a few months. Ultimately I tried to make her take responsibility for making me move as well ('will this lead toward marriage?') but neither of us is ready for that level of commitment just yet, and it was too much.

Breakup was messy as a result. Both of us said and did things we didn't mean. I lashed out and was needy, did a couple EXTREMELY regrettable things that I will leave out here, and after a ton of back-and-forth she ended up saying she's not attracted to me anymore and just wants to be friends. That she hopes we can each move on and find our own happiness, that she doesn't know if she wants to get married until she's 30, that she's fallen out of love with me, all sorts of stuff.

I made perhaps the biggest mistake of my short life by being so wishy-washy about moving and by treating Kelly badly. I just did not know how to act - it was my first relationship - I was narcissistic and I was wrong to put my career ahead of this girl. I've learned a ton about myself through this breakup.

I love this girl dearly, care for her deeply, and even 4 months after we broke up, even after working on myself a lot, getting into great shape, and seeing other girls -- even ones that are objectively prettier and maybe even all around 'better' -- I still want her back. I think she's the love of my life and I care for her an incredible amount. I just want her to be happy. I feel we are very compatible, but I put too much pressure on her, resented her, and took her love for granted. I'm incredibly regretful. I would have quit my job at the drop of a hat to move to New York with her, if she had asked me directly, and I probably should have done that without any prodding.

The kicker is that, even putting Kelly aside, as I've examined my own desires as a single person, I still want to move to New York, and I've decided I will be moving there even if there's no chance that she and I can get back together. (I know you'll all read this determination with a grain of salt, but the fact is that I have wanted to live in New York since I was 16. You gotta trust me on this. I applied Early Decision to Columbia for godsakes.)

I quit my job and am taking a programming class this summer that will make me pretty easily employable in New York City. I am planning to move home to upstate New York in a month or so, and I will look for work in NYC from there (going back and forth to the city and staying on friends'/family couches until I find a job). I plan to have a job in the city by November/December, but obviously it's tough to predict an exact timeframe given that I will need a job before I move to the city.

Kelly just moved a couple weeks ago from her parents' house in New Jersey to a new apartment in Brooklyn.

We didn't talk at all for the first 3 months after the breakup, as I had been pretty angry about being 'left behind' in Chicago after we had planned this whole future together. We have a ton of mutual friends and this breakup was basically about as 'public' among our friends as one could ever be.

A couple weeks back I reached out to her to catch up and see how she's doing. It was right after she moved into her new place, and she was ecstatic about that, and sort of gloating about being single. We caught up for 45 minutes which was good but then I made the mistake of asking her how she felt about us -- of course she feels great, given the awful way I treated her and the awful shit I did after the breakup.

So I called her again last week. Told her I wasn't happy with where we'd left things. Told her I totally understood the breakup and it was a real wakeup call for me, that I really regret the way that I treated her, and that I was sorry for a ton of stuff that happened (in more words than this) .

She was incredibly glad to hear it and said she bears blame too. She said she'd like to be friends, but she "wants to be single" and experience "life on her own" because she has some "growing to do." She said living with me had made her "sexually anxious" -- she has GAD and I guess she had felt anxious since she went abroad and I had pressured her. She said she's not dating and has no plans to date for "a while." She also said she's come to terms with the breakup because she just "doesn't think we're compatible," alluding to my strong concern over money that led to our breakup. She wants me to "focus on my own happiness outside her." (She's very emotional and very Italian and prone to overstating her feelings in one direction or another once she has something on her mind. We both are. So I take all this with a slight grain of salt.)

But we had great chemistry on the call and she said it was "actually amazing to talk to [me]!"

So.... all of the above sucks for me, given my feelings, but it totally makes sense to me why she feels the way she does. Things were shit between us for a while before she left, and I can see why she doesn't think we're compatible -- I wasn't living my true values at all -- I was immature. I had put a ton of pressure on her, sexually and otherwise, and definitely didn't appear strong and focused on moving to NYC with her. By the end I was critical, demanding and a big asshole in general.

I blame distance, timing, and immaturity for almost all of this, and I just don't want to abide by losing her because of that shit.

The breakup's fundamentally made me a man and I would do anything to show that to her and to make things right.

We agreed not to talk until I'm in New York in a couple months, but she seemed to be looking forward to meeting/talking, and definitely very open to seeing me, although adamant that she wants to "be friends."

I am perfectly fine taking things slow once I get to NYC given everything that's happened, and given that I'll be focusing on my own career as well. I know I need to show her I'm a fun guy and that we are in fact 'compatible' and everything else that's great about our relationship. I know I need to show her (subtly) the changes I've made since the breakup and treat any relationship we have as if it's starting from scratch.

But essentially I know that I am going to lose my shit if she decides she wants to see other people, which is obviously a strong possibility. I'm in love with her and want to marry her. :|

At what point do you all think should I make the depth of my feelings for her known? How do I ensure I'm respecting the things that she's saying about us being incompatible, and not attempting to 'convince' her to get back with me, even though I feel differently from the way she does?
posted by alxnrwd to Human Relations (117 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
You've already let her know your feelings. And she has very very clearly stated hers, which all point to a resounding "I DON'T WANT TO BE WITH YOU". Move on. Don't keep in contact, especially because you say you'll lose your shit when she starts dating (which she very well might be doing already, just not telling you about it). Seriously, move on. You are 22 and in NYC, so go forth and find a new girl because Kelly most certainly doesn't want you back.
posted by greta simone at 6:01 PM on August 31, 2012 [25 favorites]


I'm sorry, but it sounds like she has moved on and has communicated it pretty clearly. Therefore, no, I don't think it's appropriate to make the depth of your feelings known. This sounds like a good opportunity to learn how to treat partners better in the future, learn a few things about how to handle relationships maturely, and have a great next relationship with someone else.
posted by anonnymoose at 6:03 PM on August 31, 2012


I'm sorry to say this as I know you're hurting, but the best way to respect her is to actually listen to what she's saying. She knows. Leave her be. Take the lesson. The sooner you learn it, the better off you're going to be.
posted by miles1972 at 6:04 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm in love with her and want to marry her. :|

I believe you. But a very large part of love is respect. You need to respect her decision to be single, which she has relayed to you plainly and clearly.

I can't say what your future holds. It's remotely possible that you'll find your way back to each other one day. But I can tell you that the only way that will happen is if you back off now.
posted by artemisia at 6:04 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


We're 24, and she seriously isn't dating... I have friends that would tell me if she was. But she probably will soon.

I haven't really let her know my feelings, post-breakup, in terms of the fact that I still want to be with her, especially.

If I move on without letting her know my feelings, in person, once I get to New York, I think I'm going to regret that for a long, long time.
posted by alxnrwd at 6:05 PM on August 31, 2012


I am going to lose my shit if she decides she wants to see other people, which is obviously a strong possibility.

At what point do you all think should I make the depth of my feelings for her known?

You've already done that, repeatedly. FYI, it never feels good when someone doesn't treat you well, then tells you they only realized how "lucky" they were when you were together. That isn't the romanticized regret that people are imagining in their minds - life isn't a movie. IMHO, hearing someone say this in real life, only solidifies that the relationship a bad one, and pretty much will again be bad if given another shot.

Go your separate ways. Let her be. Continue to work on yourself without your ex in the picture. Let her work on herself, in whatever way she sees fit, future boyfriends and all.
posted by raztaj at 6:05 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


By the end I was critical, demanding and a big asshole in general.

Realizing you were being an asshole is only half the battle. What have you done to yourself to make sure you're not an asshole anymore?

She wants me to "focus on my own happiness outside her."

She's right here. You can't be happy with someone unless you're already reasonably happy without them. She's not going to magically make you happy just by agreeing to date you again and it's not at all fair to put the weight of that expectation on her.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:06 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


" I think I'm going to regret that for a long, long time."

I realize this may sound harsh, but you sound rather selfish. Your regret is not her burden.
posted by raztaj at 6:08 PM on August 31, 2012 [49 favorites]


Learn and move on.
posted by alex_skazat at 6:09 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I move on without letting her know my feelings, in person, once I get to New York, I think I'm going to regret that for a long, long time.


i think it's the exact opposite. you've already made yourself clear. if you force your feelings on her, you will just have another thing to regret. you gotta let her go.
posted by facetious at 6:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do I ensure I'm respecting the things that she's saying about us being incompatible, and not attempting to 'convince' her to get back with me, even though I feel differently from the way she does?

You listen to what she says, and believe it. Without qualifiers like, "She's very emotional and very Italian and prone to overstating her feelings in one direction or another once she has something on her mind. We both are. So I take all this with a slight grain of salt."

Dismissing other people's emotions like that, even one that you purport to know very well, isn't terribly respectful. Believe her when she says she wants to be friends, and don't push her or emotionally manipulate her by pushing your emotions on her when she is very, very clear that she doesn't want them nor can she reciprocate.

I know it's hard, but unfortunately thems the breaks. I'd recommend you use this as an opportunity to grow more, to become more mature and self-aware. Then hopefully you won't find yourself in the regretful situation of under appreciating a loved one again. Good luck.
posted by Paper rabies at 6:11 PM on August 31, 2012 [18 favorites]


What have you done to yourself to make sure you're not an asshole anymore?

I've started going to church, I've quit smoking 420 and getting drunk, I've started running every morning for the first time in my life, I quit a job that I hated and am taking classes to better myself and to get closer to a career I am passionate about. I have also chosen said career. I've ALSO gotten therapy.

You can't be happy with someone unless you're already reasonably happy without them. She's not going to magically make you happy just by agreeing to date you again and it's not at all fair to put the weight of that expectation on her.

I totally get this. My therapist says that as an ENTJ I am prone to subjugating feelings in pursuit of a goal, and that's what happened here. I made myself unhappy in pursuit of getting to New York... I'm just not a fundamentally unhappy person AT ALL, I'm really excited about where I'm at, and that's what I'd like to show Kelly...
posted by alxnrwd at 6:12 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


At what point do you all think should I make the depth of my feelings for her known?

I think you should wait until you get to New York, get settled, and have hung out with her a few times before you even think about being madly in love with her, wanting to marry her, etc. She's made it very clear she's not interested right now in a romantic relationship with you; you're not going to be able convince her otherwise now from a distance or fresh off the bus once you get to town. You have to rebuild the connection that was lost when you all broke up and see where it goes from a friendship standpoint. You may find once you get there that she's changed so much from the girl you knew and the girl you're idolizing that you're no longer interested in her as The One.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:14 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Move on.
posted by roboton666 at 6:15 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've started going to church, I've quit smoking 420 and getting drunk, I've started running every morning for the first time in my life, I quit a job that I hated and am taking classes to better myself and to get closer to a career I am passionate about. I have also chosen said career. I've ALSO gotten therapy.

These are all really great things! But you've only been broken up for 4 months, you said? Give yourself more time to feel full again, set new positive habits, to love (and forgive!) yourself, to establish your career and figure things out in therapy. Do it for yourself, not to "show her you've improved". That would be my advice (coming from a similar-ish place of post-breakup confusion).
posted by Paper rabies at 6:17 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do I ensure I'm respecting the things that she's saying about us being incompatible, and not attempting to 'convince' her to get back with me, even though I feel differently from the way she does?

By taking her at her word that she "wants to be single" and experience "life on her own."
posted by headnsouth at 6:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


I would be careful of reading too much into her being happy to talk to you in that one conversation. It's easy to fall into an old familiar groove for the space of a phone conversation that doesn't actually reflect how you're feeling in real time. I've had a couple of conversations like this with exes, when the issues that broke us up didn't have to enter into the picture, and so I could be goofy and delighted with them for the space of 30 minutes or so. But even though that is also how I act when I am truly in love with someone and excited to talk to them, it wasn't the same thing: it was the traces of the old emotions that had been worn into my brain during our relationship and that, like old wagon trails still wandering through the prairie 100 years later, still hadn't quite grown over again into smoothness. And so as soon I got off the phone with them, all of the other emotions that were actually more truly connected to that ex would come crashing back: 'How dare you?' and 'GodDAMNit' and 'fuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK.' Notice that none of these sounds anything like, 'I love you!'
posted by colfax at 6:32 PM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wasn't living my true values at all -- I was immature. I had put a ton of pressure on her, sexually and otherwise, and definitely didn't appear strong and focused on moving to NYC with her. By the end I was critical, demanding and a big asshole in general.

You are continuing to be demanding and, while not a big asshole, somewhat self-centered in your pursuit of her.

The breakup's fundamentally made me a man and I would do anything to show that to her and to make things right.

There is no universal doctrine that says you must "make this right" and get back together except your own desire to see yourself as a Good Guy. She doesn't want you to make it right, which makes pursuing her selfish. Apply what you have learned to your next relationship.

No shit you don't feel a deep connection to other girls when you haven't known them for years. Give one a chance.

Regarding your NYC move: If you knocked on her door your first night there and heard some dude having noisy sex with her, would you regret the move? If so, don't. If it wouldn't be a big deal, then move anyways.
posted by benzenedream at 6:34 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


You keep writing, "I gave her my blessing." It's weird, it connotates ownership, I feel suffocated just reading it. Then this: I asked for naked pics and I guess, unintentionally, immaturely, made her feel like she 'owed me. Give her her space. Give her a chance to find out who she is. Get into some other relationships yourself. You may or may not be a match for each other in a few years.
posted by availablelight at 6:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [51 favorites]


Unfortunately I don't think you can blame external factors, or even something like "immaturity" which you believe you've changed, for a breakup. I'm sorry that it didn't work out for you but it sounds like the relationship is over. I have found it hard to move on from breakups where I've wanted the person back, but eventually I've grown to realize that there's no use in being with someone who doesn't want to date you anymore.

If anything, ask if she wants to hang out once you get settled in NYC. But don't do it right away, and don't start telling her how much you want to be with her forever. If it turns out she is interested in starting again, she will make it clear.

Also, I get what you mean, but saying that you've been with other girls who are overall "better" than her is not cool. And by "lose your shit" if she starts going out with someone else, I hope you mean be upset with yourself, and not saying anything to her, because that really wouldn't be cool.

I'm sorry that my advice is not kind. In my time I have wanted to hang onto many a relationship that wasn't right for whatever reason, and I have never had success in trying to "win someone back." I bet you can find someone else who's right for you, even if it feels impossible right now. It's happened to me.
posted by mlle valentine at 6:38 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


OK so I genuinely, genuinely don't understand how I am continuing to be demanding or how I am being self-centered. I'd like to see her as friends and let her see that I'm not this monster she seems to think that I am. If it reaches the point where our emotional connection seems to be coming back, I'd like to tell her I still have feelings for her.

Is it my responsibility to just not even see her or talk to her at all as long as I still have even the remotest feelings for her? That doesn't really seem to make much sense.
posted by alxnrwd at 6:38 PM on August 31, 2012


"she seriously isn't dating... I have friends that would tell me if she was."
Hate to have to say this, but you're coming across a little stalker-ish here.

"At what point do you all think I should make the depth of my feelings for her known?"
"I haven't really let her know my feelings, post-breakup"
She's broken up with you, dude: I'm sorry, but she doesn't CARE how you feel about her, she doesn't care if you've quit smoking and getting drunk or have started running and taking classes to better yourself. She is your EX-girlfriend, and apparently plans to stay that way.

As you say, you were pushy and demanding and immature, plus you are both still pretty young. Take this as a learning experience and move on, like she has.
posted by easily confused at 6:45 PM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Here is why you are coming across as selfish: You are talking about your feelings, not hers.

She told you what she wants, but you don't seem to want to believe her. You should continue trying to improve yourself, and worry less about what you want from her.

As an aside, 4 months doesn't seem like a long enough time to have made long-lasting permanent changes to me, but you are young. It may seem long to you.
posted by annsunny at 6:47 PM on August 31, 2012 [31 favorites]


"Knowing I am going to lose my shit if she decides to see other people "does not match with "if it reaches the point where our emotional connection seems to be coming back, I'd like to tell her I still have feelings for her."

She WILL decide to see other people because she is single now. That boat has sailed for you both. If you truly have her best interests at heart, allow her to move on gracefully and you do the same.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 6:50 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is it my responsibility to just not even see her or talk to her at all as long as I still have even the remotest feelings for her? That doesn't really seem to make much sense.

Your feelings toward your ex-girlfriend don't entitle you to anything. She made it clear that your relationship is finished. Respect her wishes. Take what you've learned and move along.
posted by Pudhoho at 6:59 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think given the tenor of this question, and maybe my writing style, and the fact that I've been really open with my feelings here, I've done a bad job communicating how I'm going about this.

I'm moving to New York for myself and my career. I CANNOT WAIT.

Kelly is obviously in the top three "People I Know Best In New York" and is willing to see me as a friend.

Am I not allowed to like... be an attractive person around her? I'm just asking if/when you guys think it'd be best/okay to bring up the way that I feel... am I simply just not allowed to do that unless she does first?
posted by alxnrwd at 7:01 PM on August 31, 2012


I say bring it up immediately so that she knows how you feel and can decide whether or not to see you/be friends with you.

Frankly, she doesn't want to have sex with you. She doesn't find you sexually attractive because you don't feel safe to her anymore, she doesn't trust you, and/or she just doesn't want to have sex with you because she finds you physically unpleasant. That is not going to change.

The sooner you're honest with her, the sooner she can get this over with. Being friends with her in a hope to win her back is manipulative and will just drag out the inevitable.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:06 PM on August 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


Am I not allowed to like... be an attractive person around her? I'm just asking if/when you guys think it'd be best/okay to bring up the way that I feel... am I simply just not allowed to do that unless she does first?

She knows the way that you feel and does not reciprocate it. Continuing to bring it up is, yes, self-centered and assholish.
posted by animalrainbow at 7:08 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


She broke up with you. Presumably she knew when she did that you felt attracted to her, wanted to be with her, etc. What SHE felt was a desire to not be with you. Whether or not you have explicitly said "I still want to be with you" (or "I would lose my shit if I saw you with other people"), she has explicitly said she does not want to be with you. So yes, respecting her feelings would require that you not try to get back together with her when she does not want to get back with you.

I really hope that with time and perspective you can take to heart the just as explicit responses you're getting here: the answer to "when do you guys think I should tell her I want to be with her?" is "not until and unless she explicitly tells you SHE would like to be with you again."

I'm sorry, but doing otherwise is putting your own wants in front of hers, which sounds like a large part of why she broke up with you in the first place.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:11 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Friends is one thing, but that is not what you honestly want. You want your old relationship back. It's not likely to happen, and not healthy for you to cling to that idea.

Also, though you may not have meant it this way, it sounds like you think being attractive around her will get you what you want without regard to what she has already said.
posted by annsunny at 7:12 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


You must accept -- and I mean deeply, fully accept and respect -- that Kelly is a entirely separate, autonomous human being with free will and wishes all her own, and that you must respect her choices and wishes EVEN WHEN they don't coincide with your own, without a hidden agenda in which you think that this will win her back, and without the expectation that any changes you have made or will make in the future entitles you to anything from her. You learn to understand that what you want does not trump what she wants, just because you're the one wanting it.

That is what being an adult is about.
posted by scody at 7:20 PM on August 31, 2012 [23 favorites]


Can you guys pinpoint exactly how I am coming across as disrespectful?

I told her to go to Africa and stayed with her and 100% faithful despite the fact that her BEST FRIEND tried to "sleep over" on numerous occasions during that period.

I was willing to move to New York because she wanted to.

I legitimately want her to be happy more than anything in the world.

I just feel like if I had the chance to show her how I've changed things might be different. How is that so wrong?
posted by alxnrwd at 7:28 PM on August 31, 2012


My friend went through a similar situation to yours. His girlfriend decided she needed some space as well as time to think, and told him she wanted to just be friends for a while (they were having some pretty big relationship problems). He refused, and stubbornly tried to win her back.

Guess what: His prolonged pursuit of this woman ruined whatever chances they had at a friendship - she no longer has any desire to speak with him (in fact, I believe she currently despises him).

If you want this girl to remain in your life, I suggest you put on the breaks indefinitely while you work on improving yourself further, 4 months is simply not enough. From reading what you have posted it seems like you can still come quite a bit further in regards to respecting others' emotions and opinions. I honestly think the way you plan on doing this will make you seem like more of an asshole to both her and your mutual friends, and furthermore ruin your chances of maintaining even a friendship with her.

But you seem pretty set on your plan of action, so best of luck to you.
posted by Kamelot123 at 7:32 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I legitimately want her to be happy more than anything in the world."

"I am going to lose my shit if she decides she wants to see other people."
These two statements are not compatible.
posted by dfan at 7:34 PM on August 31, 2012 [19 favorites]


BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T WANT THAT.

I hate yelling, but your feelings do not have a higher priority than hers.

You are beginning to sound stalker-y, and creep me out.
posted by annsunny at 7:35 PM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


These two statements are not compatible.
I just mean that I'm going to be even more regretful about the decisions I've made than I am already. I would never dream of bringing that up to her or sabotaging her relationships in any way. I will be the most fucking cordial ex boyfriend of all time.
posted by alxnrwd at 7:35 PM on August 31, 2012


Listen to yourself. "I" "I" "I" "I" "I". This is all about you and not about her at all. This is why she dumped you. She is enjoying her post-you life. Leave her alone, there are a gazillion potential new friends for you in New York. Go and find some and leave this girl alone.
posted by crankylex at 7:35 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Just as you were pushy and selfish during the relationship, you are being pushy and selfish in how you are handling the breakup.

Try to apply the lessons you say you learned from your relationship to your situation with her currently.
posted by Pwoink at 7:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


You might want to consider whether your seeming inability to take no for an answer and your continued insistence on your desires at all costs may have contributed the situation you find yourself in.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 7:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [43 favorites]


She doesn't want you to show her how you've changed. She doesn't want you in that way. She's been very clear about this. Ignoring her explicit request to remain friends is an attempt at manipulation, like you can somehow convince her that she's wrong and you're really awesome, which is just repeating the same pattern of pressuring (if I'm around her enough she'll like me again!), making her feel like she owes you (because you dated! so she must give you a second chance!) and not respecting her as much as she deserves (she doesn't really know what she wants!). She's being crystal clear about her desires. Listen to her.

If you want to be her friend - and are completely OK with ONLY being her friend and NEVER being anything more, then yeah be her friend and be awesome around her. If your ultimate goal is to be her boyfriend again... then stay away from her because that's not what she's asking for. She's not consenting to being your love interest. In fact, she's explicitly told you that she doesn't want to be your love interest. No means no, back off.

Also, 4 months is not long enough to have made any concrete, reliable change (let alone have proof of it). You barely know who you are as a person independent from her. She barely knows who she is as a person independent from you. Those people may be completely incompatible, but you don't even know them! Give yourselves time and space.
posted by buteo at 7:37 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Move to New York. Leave the poor girl alone.

Do not make her your one friend in New York as a way to guilt her into spending time with you.

Because you do not want to be her friend, you want to be her boyfriend, and while it's possible for men and women to be friends, it doesn't work so well when one of them is carrying an Olympic Cauldron-sized torch for the other person.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:40 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


The breakup's fundamentally made me a man

Son, if you need to nursemaid an internet discussion about your own four-month old breakup like this, nothing has made a man out of you yet.

Take her at her word, respect her feelings, show some dignity and self-respect of your own and let her go. Once she's gone, sort your own shit out.
posted by mhoye at 7:42 PM on August 31, 2012 [36 favorites]


How do I ensure I'm respecting the things that she's saying about us being incompatible, and not attempting to 'convince' her to get back with me, even though I feel differently from the way she does?

By respecting the things that she's saying about you being incompatible, and not attempting to 'convince' her to get back with you, even though you feel differently from the way she does.
posted by lucysparrow at 7:42 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


She may have felt it was "actually amazing to talk to you" because you didn't try to convince her to date you again during the phone call - instead, you did acknowledge that it was at least partly your fault and said that you "totally understood the breakup" which implied that you also accepted it. That's why I might have said it was an amazing/good talk.

You need to listen to what she said: she "wants to be single" and experience "life on her own" because she has some "growing to do." ...she just "doesn't think we're compatible," [and] wants me to "focus on my own happiness outside her." Those are very clear, unambiguous MOVE ON statements.

I broke up with my first really long-term boyfriend after he made some really poor choices while we were long-distance. I was willing to attempt to be friends with him after some healing time had passed, but whenever we'd run into each other he'd keep telling me that he could see it in my eyes that I still loved him and weird stuff like that. When, if my eyes were conveying anything at all, it was "this is awkward but let's get through this chance meeting politely and catch up and perhaps eventually it won't be awkward anymore." Or he'd email me to grab lunch just as friends, flake (ruining my lunch hour), and then email a long emotional rant about how he didn't know whether or not to come because he knew we were meant to be together forever.

After a few of those interactions, I emailed him that I wished him well in life and that we'd be better off not contacting each other again.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:44 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was the girlfriend in this situation once. He tried and tried to get me to see how much he had changed. I just couldn't. Especially not after only a few months. The ghost of that old person I had been with for years was still lingering in my head and even in his actions, no matter how much he had worked on himself.

Just don't do it. Be happy for her and move on.

Or consider this: what if she broke up with you because she genuinely started to dislike you as a person, but she didn't want to bruise your ego too much? You can't make someone like you. It doesn't work that way.
posted by joan_holloway at 7:45 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will be the most fucking cordial ex boyfriend of all time.

Even when she sleeps with not-you? Because she will. No one moves to New York to not sleep with a veritable smorgasbord of hot, interesting people. There's a reason people here get married later than anywhere else. It's not a "maybe," it's a "definitely." And when it doeshappen, you should probably be somewhere where showing up in front of her apartment in shambles isn't an option. Finding out someone you still love is sleeping with not-you (and completely blameless) is a horrible, horrible feeling. One of the worst. And its inevitability in this case means you need to be somewhere you can't screw up her life when you find out.
posted by griphus at 7:46 PM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


You really want to win her over and she doesn't want you to win her over so you can't try to win her over. You have to not be in contact with her and be happy for her without her knowing you're happy for her - because if you really care about someone and know they don't reciprocate your feelings, that's what you do for them. But if you keep trying to win them over, which in turn makes them feel uncomfortable, then you're hurting them, and then it's not really about how much you care for them, it's about your ego.
posted by heyjude at 7:48 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Imagine two scenarios:

1. You move to New York and attempt to hang out with her within the first week. You maybe go for coffee, or for a drink. You're overwhelmed with emotion at seeing her again, she feels awkward and trapped, and this ends badly for both of you.

2. You move to New York, start a new job and meet new people. You perhaps start dating a really cool girl you meet at church, or at the gym. A year or so from now, you call up your ex and go have a drink. You both wonder at how much things have changed in so little time. If you're both single, and if something just happens to spark, you meet up again.

Which of these sounds like a better plan?

You're about to start a really cool adventure: moving to New York on your own. The world is your oyster, as they say. Why start this off with ties to an old life? This is your chance to start fresh, as someone you like and can be proud of.
posted by third word on a random page at 7:51 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


That she hopes we can each move on and find our own happiness, that she doesn't know if she wants to get married until she's 30, that she's fallen out of love with me, all sorts of stuff.

It sounds like you think these are irrational things said in the heat of emotion, but they sound very rational to me, and my guess is that this is all absolutely true for her.

Especially given what you report about your recent conversations. She is saying in no uncertain terms that she's not interested in starting a new relationship with you, and you're just writing that off as if she doesn't know her own mind or something, or as if you're going to overpower her with a charm offensive.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:52 PM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


It sounds like you think these are irrational things said in the heat of emotion

That is because she was bawling her eyes out when she said them.
posted by alxnrwd at 7:55 PM on August 31, 2012


alxnrwd, people say lots of rational things in the heat of emotion is my point.

You're not listening to her. Learn to listen to people. It's your best tool to have better relationships.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:57 PM on August 31, 2012 [32 favorites]


I just feel like if I had the chance to show her how I've changed things might be different. How is that so wrong?

It's wrong because you haven't changed.
posted by headnsouth at 7:57 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, that would make them rational things said in the heat of emotion.
posted by griphus at 7:58 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will be the most fucking cordial ex boyfriend of all time.

Being cordial is not the point. Being cordial is the baseline behavior that you're expected to show to your neighbor, or the person who pours your coffee. It isn't going to form the basis for a friendship with the girlfriend you want to win back, despite the fact that she doesn't even want you to try. Her needs -- including the need to NOT BE YOUR GIRLFRIEND -- are perfectly legitimate and rational, even though you don't like them and wish she didn't have them. She knows what she wants better than you do. Until you drop all attempts to win her back (whether overtly or passively), you are essentially saying that you know better than she does. And this is the very definition of disrespect.

Look, I am a huge believer in exes being able to be friends. I'm friends with my ex-husband (and his wife!) and virtually all of my significant ex-boyfriends (and their girlfriends and wives, as applicable).

But I was NOT friends with any of them four months after the breakup while either of us still had any residual feelings for each other. This is because "I will lose my shit if they're dating anyone" and "I totally respect the other person and their boundaries, needs, choices, plus I truly only care for their happiness" are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE STATES. This is an inviolable rule. If you are carrying even the smallest torch for someone, you can't be friends with them, no matter how fucking cordial you are.

That is because she was bawling her eyes out when she said them.

Guess what? People can be very sad when they break up with someone -- and at the same time, they can still legitimately want to break up, and breaking up can still be the right thing to do.

I was sad -- heartbroken -- when each and every one of my major relationships ended. And yet, at the same time, they all needed to end.

Again, THAT is something that an adult understands.
posted by scody at 7:59 PM on August 31, 2012 [55 favorites]


Whops, hit the button too fast.

One thing you need to understand is that just because something hurts to say, doesn't make it irrational pr wrong. "Irrational" is claiming you love someone, but going about things in a way that implies you are somehow more emotionally divorced from the situation and, therefore, know better than they do. Everything you think she did/is doing (i.e. acting out of emotion to the detriment of the other party and any sort of potentialplatonic relationship) is what you're doing. People who understand what you are experiencing arewarning you that you're on a dark road. Listen to them before you wake up and find yourself that ex.
posted by griphus at 8:04 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Please leave this poor woman alone. Move. On.

Stop making excuses, stop looking for the answer you would prefer, just stop.

LISTEN to to what the woman is saying - she doesn't want to be with you. She especially doesn't want to be with you when you are haranguing her to do what she obviously does not want to do.

RESPECT what she is telling you. It is over. Yes, she has the right to decide that unilaterally, regardless of what you may want.

ACCEPT that there is nothing - NOTHING! - you can do to change this. If you start acting like an adult who hears her, respects her and accepts her decision, you might get to be friends with her someday. Not now.

Let her go, because she is gone. Anything else you do will just drive her further away, and frankly, I hope she stays far, far away from you. You sound like a stalker. You don't even care what she wants, all you can talk about is what you want. Think about what she wants for once. If she changes her mind, she will let you know. Trust me.
posted by caryatid at 8:15 PM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


I will be the most fucking cordial ex boyfriend of all time.

Be cordial by being not there.

You have the rest of your life in front of you and it doesn't include her. But it could include a no contact order, and when that appears on your background check your career options will shrink from 'Jr. Developer' to 'Guy In a Bear Suit Waving a Sign'.

This is an opportunity for you to learn several important life lessons. Future you will thank present you for making the right decision.
posted by Pudhoho at 8:15 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


> Can you guys pinpoint exactly how I am coming across as disrespectful?

By dismissing the things she's said. She told you she doesn't want to go out with you, but you refuse to believe that she actually knows what she's saying.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:21 PM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Tell her you want her back now. Seriously. Call her tomorrow. Better that than to pretend to be friends while biding your time until you think enough time has passed to reveal that you are still in love with you.

Look, there's a good chance she already knows you're in love with her. She doesn't want you back. She doesn't even want you to try to win her back. Considering how obsessed with this you are, it would be best for everyone if you didn't move to NYC. But if you do, god, leave her alone. Respect what she wants (to not be with you).

You've learned some stuff? You're a better person now? Great. I think this means as much to you as she herself does, potentially, and that may be a good thing. So how do you prove you've grown? By not being a shit to your next girlfriend who is not her.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:27 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know how to say this other than what you're doing is very controlling and manipulative.

People that act in the manner that you've expressed only want to make others believe that they have changed when in actuality they haven't.

You said that you will "be the most fucking cordial ex boyfriend of all time," but you also said certain things that were uncalled for or behaved in a shitty way towards her.

And, while I strongly believe that people can grow it's very difficult to change who you are completely to the point where you two are compatible with each other.

You'll never be able to control her and likewise, she will never be able to control you. You two are not healthy for each other.

You can either dwell on what could have been or you can learn from this relationship and move forward with or without her.

Speaking of her, allow her to define the relationship that you two have. At this point, it honestly doesn't seem like she wants much to do with you. Respect that. You will be a better person for doing so.

Being single can feel lonely at times, but it's better to move forward, work on developing a better version of yourself, and pursuing relationships with people that are healthy for you and likewise, that you are healthy for.

You may or may not end up becoming friends with this ex again, but I think this might be better for you two even if you don't realize it now.

Also, consider therapy because you seem to have control issues which are only going to follow you into new relationships and cause similar problems if you don't acknowledge this unhealthy thinking and change it as well.
posted by livinglearning at 8:30 PM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


The part that seems not ready, not mature, is stuff like...
"gave her my blessing"
"told her to go"
"girl"
"get my ex back"
comparing her looks and relative value to other "girls"...
...and all the talk about convincing her/showing her, along with the already referenced promised freak out if she dates anyone else.

I get that it doesn't seem like those things would be signals of immaturity, but to people who have been through a few experiences like this, they really are.

You're coming across to me as someone who is somewhat thrown by your lack of control in a situation you'd very much like to have control in, and you're devaluing her communication to you in the process. She's been crystal clear with you about not finding you attractive and, more importantly, deciding that she needs to work things out for herself not with you.

Trying to throw a spanner into her quest for self-determination and healing by turning up to show the other side of your coin to her is kind of crappy for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is that when she was already giving you a chance to do all of this, you blew it off and are still blaming everything but yourself, and now that it works better for you/is more attractive than it was before, you want to drag her back from her own evolution to mesh with your current life plan.

What if all of the things you're doing now are the opposite of what she wants right now? Will she still be the one person on Earth you want to marry? What if part of the self-exploration she's engaged in now includes branching out into different expressions of her personality and she begins appreciating characteristics about herself that are not interesting or attractive to you - will you still want her as badly, then?

I think she wants to see the person she will become without the influence of a historic relationship that comes with significant baggage that seems like it made her question her value as a person. That's going to take a while to work through. You can't just come slip-sliding (or cannon-balling) up into the middle of work like that. She's basically said this to you, and you don't want to hear it and are trying to find a way around it. That sounds both immature and disrespectful.

Sure, you don't want to hear this. Maybe you were hoping we'd encourage you to do something wildly romantic or work on some type of build-up scheme. Or, clearly, just anything other than the "dude, leave her alone" you're getting right now. I totally understand. It doesn't make it any less true, though.

You hurt her. She needs to heal up. The wounds from your relationship seem like they cleaved her to investigating some new directions, and she seems pretty clear about not wanting you on those paths. I'd respect that, if I were you. If you really want to ever be good friends with her again and not just the guy who wouldn't let go.

Once you're in New York and you're settled enough to contact her, don't say anything about how you feel and don't try to start that fire up again. Just say "hey", listen to where she's at right now, and leave it at that for a while. Let her dictate how much contact you have, if any. Don't integrate yourself into her scene, so that if she does decide to date other people, she's not worried about your reaction and you're not having one. Just let her become whomever she's becoming and back off.

New York is an intense place. You're sure to make some other connections there. Do that. Keep working on this improved path you're on and show it to these new people and learn about them. This will make you more interesting, well-rounded, and fully realized. Totally worth it.
posted by batmonkey at 8:31 PM on August 31, 2012 [27 favorites]


I know I need to show her (subtly) the changes I've made since the breakup and treat any relationship we have as if it's starting from scratch.

But essentially I know that I am going to lose my shit if she decides she wants to see other people, which is obviously a strong possibility. I'm in love with her and want to marry her. :|


Does not compute. No, seriously, you're making statements that don't logically follow each other.

How do I ensure I'm respecting the things that she's saying about us being incompatible, and not attempting to 'convince' her to get back with me, even though I feel differently from the way she does?

By taking what she says at face value, with no grains of salt.

You can start working on your listening skills by contemplating the advice you've gotten here instead of feeling the need to defend yourself.
posted by bleep at 8:43 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


You are clearly not currently emotionally equipped to be "just friends" with this woman -- you don't even want to be "just friends", you want her to see how awesome you are and fall back in love with you. She has very clearly and repeatedly told you that that "just friends" is as far as she is willing to go. So, yeah, you need to stay away from her. The only result of trying to be just friends with her will be for you to lose your shit. Because she will start dating people, and those people will not be you. And you are not going to handle that well. At all.

At what point do you all think should I make the depth of my feelings for her known? How do I ensure I'm respecting the things that she's saying about us being incompatible, and not attempting to 'convince' her to get back with me,

This is your whole question in a nutshell. I mean seriously look at your own words. "How do I convince her to get back while respecting the fact that she has told me straight out to not try to convince her to get back with me?"

The answer is you don't. You blew it. You done fucked this one up. It's over. If this breakup has turned you into a new man, that's great: find a new woman to fall in love with, because the old one is no longer available.
posted by ook at 8:56 PM on August 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


As a fellow ENTJ, I sympathize with you, and I'm going to try to communicate in terms you might have a stronger rapport with. I know exactly what it's like to be in pursuit of a goal, and be willing to throw away or discard everything else in pursuit of that one moment of pure bliss, where you've accomplished that. But as you get older, you'll learn that people can be goals too, and best of all, they are goals that you can always keep working towards. You screwed up with Kelly, and while it's probably not unforgivable (it sounds like you stayed true to your own unique code of conduct, which is the important thing) it's something that needs a step back to reassess. You're operating blindly out of your emotional need now, and that's not a good way to make long-term strategic decisions. You'll never get her back without a careful analysis of how she thinks, and a complete understanding of where things went wrong.

My perception is that you're worried that this window of time is your only period to win her back, and that if you don't get her back now, she'll be gone forever. I'd like to disabuse you of that notion. From what you are describing, Kelly is still associating you with the negativity of the breakup. Furthermore, she is undoubtedly curious to experiment sexually (since you both were virgins before each other) - so this is actually the worst time to make your move. I recommend a "tactical retreat" - focus on being the best friend you can be. Date other women, get some experience yourself. If you meet a nice girl, be the sweetest boyfriend you can be to her, and let Kelly see how you've changed by treating this other girl with the respect you should have showed her. I know you may think that demonstrating consistent devotion to Kelly and avoidingdating other women is the best way to show her you care - and that's the way people SHOULD think, in an ideal world - but non-ENTJs are generally ignorant about our whole loyalty thing, so don't expect them to value it as much as we do.

And who knows? If this other girl you end up dating turns out to be a better overall package than Kelly, consider trading up and shifting your emotional investment to her instead. It's not like you owe Kelly anything - she broke up with you, after all. Even if Kelly was the best girlfriend ever, all she's entitled to at this point is your friendship.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:58 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I will be the most fucking cordial ex boyfriend of all time.

ummmm... why don't you start now? Leave her alone, let her happiness blossom without you. That would be a pretty fucking great ex-boyfriend thing to do.
posted by French Fry at 9:01 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am friends/friendly with my two significant exes, but it took YEARS, not months. A decade in the case of my first love, and three years apart, 2 years of NO contact with the more recent ex.

Trust me, I get it. I dated someone recently I didn't want to break up with and he did. I had never been dumped out of the blue like that and it threw me for a loop. I felt out of control, which is probably the worst feeling for a control freak like me. I fantasized about making all these changes and getting him back.

What happened instead was forgiving myself for the crappy relationship and the crappy breakup, then letting go of thinking I had any control over him or the situation. I never did, and that was hard to accept at first, but it turned out to be the lesson I needed to help me be less controlling overall.

So, forget trying to prove yourself to your ex and work on forgiving yourself; forget trying to control the situation and work on things that you actually can control.

I recommend reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (control issues) and Four Loves by CS Lewis (romantic love can't make you happy). These are my go-to breakup books.

PS - leave her alone! For like, a year!
posted by peacrow at 9:25 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


In all your words, two things seem rather breezily glossed over: the "EXTREMELY regrettable things" you say you did after she broke up with you, and the fact that she has GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, yes?). Has it occurred to you that she still might be wary of you or even traumatized by whatever "regrettable" things you chose to do to her? Has it occurred to you that putting your own needs above her explicitly stated desire to not be with you might exacerbate her GAD? It doesn't matter if you've been canonized as a saint in the four months since you broke up; people don't simply get over bad experiences just because the perpetrator wants to be back in their life - and even if you have genuinely changed, she has seen what you are capable of doing and won't forget it.

Show that you respect this woman by leaving her alone. Show that you care about her happiness by leaving her alone. Show that you're an adult by leaving her alone.

Right now you still have the choice to NOT edge into overbearing (at best) or stalker-ish (at worst) behavior - so believe what she tells you about her own wishes and quit rationalizing them away. Back away now before you end up doing more regrettable things. Don't become that person that she has to read "The Gift of Fear" to deal with.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:28 PM on August 31, 2012 [19 favorites]


I've gone through a very similar situation as The Girlfriend.
I have also heard all the things that you've said. So allow me to tell you what it sounds like from the other side.

It's disrespectful to talk about getting back into a relationship right after breaking up. One does not decide to end a LTR on a whim. You mentioned that she was emotional and crying, so she obviously cared about you and came to a conclusion that was difficult and painful- but necessary for her. You're telling her that you don't trust her judgment and that she is incapable of making her own decisions. Not only is it disrespectful and dismissive, it's condescending.

If you decide to repeatedly tell her about your feelings then it will become a burden and source of anxiety. Particularly if she has already said no. I began to dread even having to see his face and would panic if I saw a car that looked like his. The very thought and idea of him eventually became uncomfortable and made me miserable.

And to be quite honest, each attempt to "win me back" became a gigantic sign that I made the right decision to end the relationship. My thoughts, feelings and words were not being heard or respected.
It seemed pretty clear that he was engrossed with feeling sorry for himself and his actions. Each attempt he made was entirely selfish. He was completely oblivious to how painful and difficult the experience was for me and disregarded what I had to say. (A lot of his responses began with "Yeah, but...")

Gestures he made to show he still cared about me became a burden and uncomfortable.
Time and space will be beneficial to both of you. Four months feels like ages following a break up, but give yourself a chance and don't let yourself ruminate and get stuck on this. And in any relationship you're in, you deserve to be with someone who wants you back.

Mistakes were made. Whether or not you accept your part in it (Since you're blaming distance, timing and immaturity). You are only human. Make the decision to forgive yourself and move forward.
posted by penpenne at 9:34 PM on August 31, 2012 [25 favorites]


AskMe is rarely unanimous. On the occasions that it is, that really means something.

I'd like to see her as friends and let her see that I'm not this monster she seems to think that I am.

Completely take her at her word. Do not fish for more. Do not try to impress her with how "together" your shit is now. Make other friends. Treat the next woman better than you treated Kelly.

Any deviation you do runs the risk of appearing MORE monstrous. Because, as you can tell here, you may not be the best at determining how your words and actions are interpreted, even when they are well-meant.
posted by hermitosis at 9:35 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


wolfdreams01, thank you. It's been very hard to let go of this goal of getting to New York with Kelly as I had oriented my entire life around it for the better part of 1.5 years. Gah! My "one moment of bliss" was going to be my first night going to sleep in NYC with her.

Now I am obviously having to reframe, and I guess my career uncertainty has left me a dearth of other goals toward which to orient myself.

I have analyzed Kelly's personality and I have concluded she is probably very susceptible to falling deeply in love with someone else -- she is ESFJ. While she is most certainly not the type to sexually experiment, she is going to be susceptible to white knights that she will turn into something serious.

While she may not be quite ready to trust me just yet, I know that the first contact we have in New York is a substantial opportunity to change her perception of me completely. If I am truly happy, confident, secure, and accepting of the breakup, and I've lost 15 pounds and have a new career and new friends -- and I can do something to engender trust and security again -- I think that might be my best hope for a long while.

Of course that comes at the risk of being in New York if/when she begins to date others.... but I think that is something I can live with.

... honestly at this point I'm torn between that and trying to go to California for a while :)
posted by alxnrwd at 9:39 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


All of that is a fantasy. Even your analysis of her personality steers you toward what you already want to do anyway.

I hear California is great this time of year...
posted by hermitosis at 9:43 PM on August 31, 2012 [24 favorites]


While she may not be quite ready to trust me just yet, I know that the first contact we have in New York is a substantial opportunity to change her perception of me completely.

You know those romantic comedies where two people aren't getting along and one of them says, why don't we just start over? And they shake hands and introduce themselves as if they were meeting for the first time? And then they have a montage in which someone tries on outfits and someone else falls in a lake and then they're in love all over again?

TOTAL. FANTASY. CLICHE.

That's not how real life works. This girl, with whom you had a break-up so messy that you can't admit to the details of it in an Ask.Me where you're otherwise pouring your heart out, is not going to see that you've lost a bit of weight and stopped smoking pot and change her opinion of your completely. She might revise it upward very slightly, but all that history, including the shitty things you did to her (as well as any shitty things she did to you) are still going to be there.

You see yourself as a changed man, but so far, all you've done is make some changes to your daily routine. Based on your reliance on Myers-Briggs types, it doesn't even seem like you believe that people can fundamentally change who they are or how they think.

And who you are is someone she does not want to date.

Oh, and you're not 'accepting of the breakup'. If you were accepting of the breakup? We wouldn't be having this conversation!
posted by jacquilynne at 9:51 PM on August 31, 2012 [22 favorites]


While she may not be quite ready to trust me just yet, I know that the first contact we have in New York is a substantial opportunity to change her perception of me completely. If I am truly happy, confident, secure, and accepting of the breakup, and I've lost 15 pounds and have a new career and new friends -- and I can do something to engender trust and security again -- I think that might be my best hope for a long while.

You are still refusing to hear what everyone is saying. Leave her alone. The point to becoming happy, confident, secure, and to build a life with new friends and a new career is to become happy, confident, secure, and to build a life with new friends and a new career for their own sake -- not as some way to orchestrate her perception of you! You are not playing a chess game with her and there is no strategy in which you can put her independence and autonomy into check so that she's forced to find you attractive again. Stop trying to sabotage her free will and to manipulate the outcome. It's unhealthy, it will drive her further away, and you will not make yourself happy nor free yourself from the pain you feel.

You need to leave Kelly alone. Period, full stop, end of story. And I would strongly endorse the idea that you need to consider going someplace other than New York. California's great for this sort of thing. Honestly, our state slogan ought to be "Start Your Life Over Here; We Have Better Weather, Anyway."
posted by scody at 9:52 PM on August 31, 2012 [34 favorites]


While she may not be quite ready to trust me just yet, I know that the first contact we have in New York is a substantial opportunity to change her perception of me completely.

Oh please for the love of god just stop already.

You are not going to change her perception of you completely. That is not possible. All the stuff you pulled during the breakup that you didn't want to tell us about, all the stuff you pulled before the breakup, that stuff happened. Losing weight, making new friends, and imagining yourself to be "accepting of the breakup" does not paper over that.

She told you repeatedly and adamantly that she does not want you to try to get back into a relationship with her. Everyone in this thread -- literally every single person here -- is telling you that you should not try to get back into a relationship with her. And yet you still seem to think that somehow you have a shot at getting back into a relationship with her, and that that somehow doesn't completely disrespect her stated desire to not be in a relationship with you, and that the best time to do that is right away, first contact. Brilliant.

You want to "do something to engender trust and security again"? Do you really truly think that the best way to do that is to start off by doing exactly the thing that she has told you explicitly and repeatedly not to do?
posted by ook at 9:54 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


I realize that this is going to sound harsh, but I think you need to hear it from someone:

Even with this most recent post, I just don't think you understand what so many of us are trying to tell you...

Trust is something that needs to be earned and it's incredibly difficult to gain back trust after it's been broken. From what you've written, she doesn't want to be with you.

Losing weight, having a new career, new friends, etc.. aren't going to result in her saying "oh yes, you're my knight in shining armour. marry me!" even if that's the fantasy that you've developed in your mind.

If you still can't let go of the idea, then tell her. We can't speak for Kelly, but we can only tell you what we know from our own experiences or experiences of those around us. Chances are that you will make her feel even more uncomfortable and that she will reject your idea of getting back together. You both will feel uncomfortable after your declaration because a boundary was crossed.

You two need a break from each other. Or, better yet, you two need to end contact completely.

I say this with good intentions, but, you should probably seek some therapy or read those self help books that were mentioned above...
posted by livinglearning at 9:55 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Go to California and leave this girl alone. It's over. The relationship never found balance and your movie in which you're the star is not the same movie that she's in. Period. Good luck. Liberate yourself from this idea that you can behave your way back into her heart and the world will open up for you.
posted by lois1950 at 9:57 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chiming in with another "I was the girl in this situation". He asked me out for drinks and I knew instantly what was going down. It was one of the worst anxiety ridden nights of my life. He wouldn't just come out with it over the phone so I couldn't just tell him no and the entire night it was like the Jaws theme was playing in my ears, waiting for it to pop up. I remember after it finally came out and I explained (again) that I wasn't interested thinking how in only a few hours it would all be in the past. It felt like a nightmare. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I'm prone to anxiety and if she's even farther on that scale, this isn't a conversation she'd be looking forward to.

We stopped talking for a long time. He's married now. I have never for a second regretted my decision. Though if it all happened over I'd refuse to go out for drinks.
posted by Dynex at 10:02 PM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


I had taken her for granted, albeit under difficult circumstances. I want to rekindle things but I know I've hurt her.


I have read your entire question and... oy. I am going to reply without reading the other answers (except your follow-ups) so I may be repeating someone. But here is my best advice for you if you ever want a whisper of a hope of getting back together with her again. I think you don't realize just how far in the hole you are, and the more you let impatience get the best of you, the further into the hole you are going to dig. I am not going to beat around the bush so if you don't want to hear some civilly negative feedback, however constructive, then it's better to skip this answer.

Might as well start here:

There were other girls trying to get with me and I was an immature asshat to Kelly as a result. I asked for naked pics and I guess, unintentionally, immaturely, made her feel like she 'owed me.'

It seems like you honestly don't realize how big of a deal it was to make her feel pressured for the naked pictures. But if she honestly felt pressured into sending you naked pictures out of a sense of "owing" you, for most women, that would go way beyond "hurt" feelings. There is a good chance her feelings are more along the lines of these words: "violated" "ashamed" "dread" "trapped" "forced" "humiliated."

Please do not jump to being defensive because I am trying to help you here. I am not trying to say that you forced her into anything. But if her feelings are anything like what I just listed, and you want any hope of getting back together with her again, you need to deeply understand just how serious that could be for someone. If she feels like you pressured her into doing something violating and humiliating, that is not something that can be written off by, "gosh I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to, and I was just immature." If that is how she feels, then she probably sees you as someone that she cannot trust at all not to pressure her into violating things.

You may be able to SLOWLY AND GRADUALLY build trust back over time, by consistently behaving in a way that upholds her welfare and well-being 100% of the time and never puts your own wants and needs ahead of hers, and never ever ever trying to force anything on her or "convince" her of something that she doesn't want. (Making promises and/or ASKING for her trust is not going to help you at all, and will probably just make it worse because she will feel pressured/guilt tripped by you, again making her feel like you are pressuring her into something she doesn't want or makes her feel unsafe.) Also, demonstrating that you clearly don't grok how serious this sort of thing could be for someone, and waving it off as something that was unintentional and immature, is not going to build up any trust whatsoever. It is more likely to make her think that you still just don't get it.

Kelly came back to America and moved in with me, because it was what we'd discussed, what I said I wanted, even though we weren't ready at all to live together

Have you ever given a short, sincere, and to-the-point apology about this? Something like, "Kelly, I said that I wanted us to move in together, and then once we did I behaved horribly. I am truly sorry about doing that." If not I think it would be a good idea. The only thing is if you do it, give the apology ONLY because you owe the apology. Do not give the apology as part of trying to convince her to get back together, in other words as part of trying to get what YOU want. This is something that should be JUST for her.

As we became more disconnected and more stressed, I started putting more and more pressure on her to make me happy.

Sincerely apologize for this. Do not start going into reasons and explanations for your behavior. Just a short, sincere apology.

Our sex life turned to shit, and I began to take her for granted

Apologize for this.

Again, just remember that the apologies should only be given because they are owed. Without them, I don't think anything else has a hope of going forward. But you are not going to get her back with words or promises. Your only hope of getting her back is if she can observe you in real life for a while and she can OBSERVE that your behavior has totally changed and you don't behave in these ways anymore.

You said that you acted like an asshat because of job and money concerns and stress from work. So, that means you need to let her spend a good length of time SEEING you undergoing job and money concerns and work stress, and handling it with a total lack of asshat behavior.

You said you behaved badly while you were long distance because of being a young guy with money to burn and girls throwing themselves at you. Well, maybe that means you need to let her SEE you dating other people and treating them really, really well despite however much money you have to burn and how many people are throwing themselves at you. Maybe if she sees you treating someone else with true decency, care, respect, and character in a relationship despite those temptations, she might feel more comfortable with the idea of dating you again if you wind up single again. (If you do this, of course, that means GENUINELY treating the person you date well, not just using her as a tool to ultimately get Kelly back.)

I stopped enjoying living here as I looked forward to building a life together in New York ... I felt she was pressuring me too much to move.

I cannot tell if you realize this, but these two statements are completely contradictory and don't make logical sense together. While you are apologizing for the other things, I think you should include a statement about how your behavior around the NYC move was completely contradictory and illogical, and you apologize for that.

And I think that will also have to go on the list of changes she will need to observe in you with time, that you are not a guy who tells someone they want one thing, then acts completely resentful about it because they are not getting the OPPOSITE thing than what they said they wanted. You will have to just display, slowly over time with your behavior, that you are a person who knows what he wants and can express what he wants, without everything getting tangled up like this.

I ... did a couple EXTREMELY regrettable things that I will leave out here

This really worries me, given how major the things are that you DID include about how you acted. Since you are leaving them out I cannot give you any advice on them. I can only say that depending how "regrettable" they were, you just might not ever be able to come back from them at all with her no matter what you do.

Now:

she ended up saying she's not attracted to me anymore and just wants to be friends. That she hopes we can each move on and find our own happiness, that she doesn't know if she wants to get married until she's 30, that she's fallen out of love with me, all sorts of stuff.

Here she has expressed her feelings and desires to you. Just stop and think for a second about how you are reacting to them. You are not saying to yourself, "Kelly has expressed her feelings and desires to me and it is extremely important to me to respect Kelly's feelings and make sure I do not do anything to impede her desires."

You're kind of saying, "Kelly has expressed her feelings and desires to make and how can I change her mind?"

This goes back to what I said up above about what is the core of all of this:

You may be able to SLOWLY AND GRADUALLY build trust back over time, by consistently behaving in a way that upholds her welfare and well-being 100% of the time and never puts your own wants and needs ahead of hers, and never ever ever trying to force anything on her or "convince" her of something that she doesn't want.

If you do not listen to a single other word I say I hope you listen to this: dismissing what she expresses to you and trying to convince her of things she doesn't want will dig you way deeper into the hole that you are already in. Respecting and accepting the things she she tells you will help you slowly, slowly climb your way out of it.

I care for her an incredible amount. I just want her to be happy.

Then respect her enough to trust that she knows what she wants and she is the best judge of what would make her happy.

even after working on myself a lot, getting into great shape, and seeing other girls -- even ones that are objectively prettier and maybe even all around 'better' -- I still want her back.

Urgh, this is minor in the scheme of everything, but "objectively prettier and maybe even all around 'better'" is a pretty off-putting way to be thinking about this. For one thing, it's really not nice or respectful to be thinking of potential intimate partners in terms of those kinds of comparisons to each other. Also, seems pretty judgmental (judging someone as "better" or "worse" as a human being) and also that you see your subjective tastes as a kind of objective reality. I would suggest consciously trying to move away from this sort of thinking.

I care for her an incredible amount. I just want her to be happy. I feel we are very compatible, but I put too much pressure on her, resented her, and took her love for granted. I'm incredibly regretful. I would have quit my job at the drop of a hat to move to New York with her, if she had asked me directly, and I probably should have done that without any prodding.

I've examined my own desires as a single person, I still want to move to New York, and I've decided I will be moving there even if there's no chance that she and I can get back together.

That's fine, I don't see anything wrong with you doing that.

I had been pretty angry about being 'left behind' in Chicago after we had planned this whole future together.

Whaaa??? Just upthread you said I began to take her for granted as I felt she was pressuring me too much to move. She broke things off after I had been wishy-washy about moving and an asshole for a few months.

I am 100% sincere in asking this question: do you realize how utterly irrational your anger at being "left behind" is in light of the above? It's not clear whether you're still angry about this or not or still believe she did you wrong in some way with that, but if so, you really, really need to realize how irrational that is, realize you are not in NYC wholly and entirely because of YOUR OWN decisions, and let that anger go.

That is another reason that she probably does not want to be with you, blaming and directing anger towards others based on things that you caused for yourself with your own decisions. That is another thing that she is going to have to NOT see you doing in person, for a long time. Also having the attitude that others should put their entire life on hold as you act, in your own words, like a wishy washy asshole, and if they move on without you then you have the right to get angry at them. You really, really need to move past that attitude completely if you still have any part of it.

We have a ton of mutual friends and this breakup was basically about as 'public' among our friends as one could ever be.

Another thing to apologize for. Even if she also did things that made it public, do not bring them up and apologize for YOUR part in that.

I made the mistake of asking her how she felt about us -- of course she feels great, given the awful way I treated her and the awful shit I did after the breakup.

So I called her again last week. Told her I wasn't happy with where we'd left things.


Stop for a second and really look at this. You ask her how she feels about something and she tells you she feels great about it. How do you react? You call her again and tell her YOU aren't happy with it. Ignoring the fact that she feels great about something and putting forth your own wants.

Stop this. I am saying this to you because I am trying to help you get her back. Stop putting your wants in front of hers. If she says she is happy with something your thinking should not be "Well *I* am not happy with it so let me see if I can change her mind." The thought should be, "If Kelly feels great about how things are then I should should leave things how they are."

She was incredibly glad to hear it and said she bears blame too. She said she'd like to be friends, but she "wants to be single" and experience "life on her own" because she has some "growing to do." She said living with me had made her "sexually anxious" -- she has GAD and I guess she had felt anxious since she went abroad and I had pressured her. She said she's not dating and has no plans to date for "a while." She also said she's come to terms with the breakup because she just "doesn't think we're compatible," alluding to my strong concern over money that led to our breakup. She wants me to "focus on my own happiness outside her."

I changed my mind. If you do not listen to a single other word I say I hope you listen to this: LISTEN TO HER. If I knew how to make the blinking text there I would.

The only way you are ever going to have a hope of getting her back is by LISTENING TO HER, accepting what she is saying, and not trying to pressure or convince her of anything else in any way. The only, only, only thing you can do is be friends with her as she offered and let her SEE over a long period of time that your behavior is totally different, your coping skills are totally better, you are better at knowing what you want and communicating it, no more anger problems, and so on, and so on. Not like constantly being in her face demonstrating these things, just letting her see them over the course of normal life.

She's very emotional and very Italian and prone to overstating her feelings in one direction or another once she has something on her mind. We both are. So I take all this with a slight grain of salt.

That is condescending, dismissive, and disrespectful. If you want to have a hope, an inkling, a whisper, of anything with her ever again, you need to move far far away from this kind of thinking. The more you tell yourself that you can take something she says with a slight grain of salt, the less she will ever want to be with you again.

I blame distance, timing, and immaturity for almost all of this, and I just don't want to abide by losing her because of that shit.

I totally believe you that this is what you truly think was the cause of all of this. But I think some of these behaviors were way more serious than just some things that can be chalked up to normal distance and immaturity. I think you have some serious problems with lack of respect/contempt, anger, controllingness, and self-centeredness swirling around in there, and I would wager that Kelly feels a similar way. So, I think you are going to go in the OPPOSITE direction that you want to as long as you keep harping on getting back together and chalking things up to just some youthful immaturity that is magically all gone now that you are a man due to the breakup.

In the real world, these things just don't go away that quickly. Especially things like the coping skills during stressful times, those are things that most people have to build up and practice over years to get really good at them.

The breakup's fundamentally made me a man and I would do anything to show that to her and to make things right.

Would you really do anything? ANYTHING? Really? Would you swim the English Channel? Would you fight a pit bull? Would you pay a million bucks?

Okay, now how about something that is not macho, dramatic, exciting, Romantic, or a Grand Gesture in any way. It is easy to do macho, dramatic, and romantic things. But it is much harder to do things that require years of patience, extremely delayed gratification, and going against your strongest desires and all of your natural instincts.

I am talking about scaling WAY back on pursuing what you want, respecting what she has already expressed to you multiple times that she wants and would make her happy, and just focusing on being her friend for quite a while to come and being a good friend to her, a good person to the other people you meet, and a good boyfriend to the people you date in the future. And working on yourself for a long time, rather than focusing on working out at the gym, focusing on working on issues of anger, blame, stress coping skills, and so on.

Would you be willing to do THAT?

We agreed not to talk until I'm in New York in a couple months, but she seemed to be looking forward to meeting/talking, and definitely very open to seeing me, although adamant that she wants to "be friends."

Okay, that sounds good.

I am perfectly fine taking things slow once I get to NYC given everything that's happened, and given that I'll be focusing on my own career as well.

Fantastic.

I know I need to show her I'm a fun guy and that we are in fact 'compatible' and everything else that's great about our relationship.

You are way WAY off with this, but I just went into what you need to show her, above.

But essentially I know that I am going to lose my shit if she decides she wants to see other people, which is obviously a strong possibility. I'm in love with her and want to marry her. :|

*Eyes bulge out* That is NOT okay at all. If you don't understand how fucked up and out of line it would be for you to "lose your shit" over your EX GIRLFRIEND who has quite clearly and repeatedly expressed she wants nothing to do with a relationship with you, dating someone else, then there is no hope here. If this is really true then you should not move to NYC under any circumstances and you should end contact with her.

I am going to say it one more time, the only way for you to ever get her back is for you to completely stop putting what you want in front of what she wants. It is absolutely irrelevant how much you want to marry her.

At what point do you all think should I make the depth of my feelings for her known?

Two years, minimum.

How do I ensure I'm respecting the things that she's saying about us being incompatible, and not attempting to 'convince' her to get back with me, even though I feel differently from the way she does?

By being very patient and waiting for a long period of time, while you work on your problems and don't interfere with her life and stand in the way of what she wants.

Now that I have carpal tunnel syndrome, I sincerely wish you luck and that you can gain some insight and make some real progress on some of these problems.

So, to TL;DR it and come back to one of your original questions:

If I don't try to rekindle, I think I'll regret it forever. How do I do that while respecting her feelings?

It sounds like right now and for the forseeable future, these two things are utterly incompatible. Your best bet is to just be patient and let her see your changes over time, while you treat her and her wishes with total respect.
posted by cairdeas at 10:06 PM on August 31, 2012 [38 favorites]


I have analyzed Kelly's personality and I have concluded she is probably very susceptible to falling deeply in love with someone else -- she is ESFJ. While she is most certainly not the type to sexually experiment, she is going to be susceptible to white knights that she will turn into something serious.

I have to say, I would be pissed if someone "analyzed" me like that.

"Susceptible"?

Your ex is an adult who is capable of choosing the person she wants to be with, not some hapless, naive waif who is prone to falling in with whatever "white knight" sets his sights on her. She will eventually be going out with someone who is not you, not because she was susceptible to his advances, but because she wanted to go out with him and perhaps even because they are more compatible than the two of you were. This analysis of yours only underscores the patronizing attitude you seem to have towards this woman.

It would probably be great for both of you if you cut off contact and went to California.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:09 PM on August 31, 2012 [70 favorites]


I am not worried about sounding harsh, because it looks like there isn't a harshness level that will get through to you.

While she may not be quite ready to trust me just yet, I know that the first contact we have in New York is a substantial opportunity to change her perception of me completely. If I am truly happy, confident, secure, and accepting of the breakup, and I've lost 15 pounds and have a new career and new friends -- and I can do something to engender trust and security again -- I think that might be my best hope for a long while.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

What does it take to get through to you? SHE DOES NOT WANT YOU. LISTEN TO HER. RESPECT THAT. ACCEPT THAT. LEAVE HER ALONE. SERIOUSLY.

You are NOT going to change her perception of you, unless you want her to perceive you as a psychopathic stalker. Is that what you want? No?

THEN LEAVE HER ALONE.

Look, I've been in your situation, and I've been in her situation. I can tell you that you are deluding yourself. I can tell you that if you continue to do this, you are going to creep her the fuck out and ruin ANY chance of being the smallest part of her life, let alone anyone's life (because people with convictions for stalking are not great relationship material).

Christ, I'm ready to call the NYPD on you myself. Maybe it will take being arrested for stalking and harrasment to make you understand that what you are planning is NOT OK.

Seek help. AND LEAVE HER ALONE.
posted by caryatid at 10:12 PM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Let's make a list: In the context of pursuing her despite the fact she doesn't want you, you plan on using the false pretense of being friends (false because your ultimate goal is romance, not friendship). You plan on "subtly" showing her how you've changed--what does this even mean? If you have changed, it will be evident in everything you do and say. A campaign to prove it to her, no matter how subtle, indicates you are putting on a certain face for her to try to win her back. Your energy is focused on trying to create situations where you can worm her way back into her good graces.

Dude, you know what this all adds up to? You sound like you were controlling and selfish and manipulative as hell within the relationship, and that hasn't changed one whit. You think you know her better than she knows herself ("her statements were irrational--she says she doesn't want me, but I can prove to her she does!"). She won't openly accept romantic advances, so you've decided to engage in manipulation and use false pretenses to try to initiate them under the guise of friendship. You say you're goal driven? Buddy, you are pursuing your little goal at the expense of her feelings. How is that a good formation for a relationship? How is that going to make her happy?

If you don't want her to see you as a monster, start respecting her feelings and back the fuck off from her. Think about her happiness. Right now she's happy and she's happy single and without you. So let her be happy! Live your own life. Be your own person. Let her be her own person and grow in her own way. But stop trying to think of all the ways you can get her back, because you are being creepy and controlling. And for the love of God, do not date some poor girl just to prove to Kelly how awesome you are. I guarantee you both of the girls would find that reprehensible.
posted by schroedinger at 10:22 PM on August 31, 2012 [26 favorites]


Do not move to New York. Stop analyzing her. Learn from this and do better next time.
posted by Sal and Richard at 10:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cairdeas, thank you very much for your impeccably reasoned response. You've helped me truly consider Kelly's perspective, which I know I haven't done a good job doing, and which is honestly all I want to do, because I truly do want her to be happy. I know that if I am to get her back it will need to be fully of her own volition. I am just trying to make sure I am doing the best I can to help that process along. But you're right, it's not about superficiality; it's about real change.

I realize I've been irrational about feeling "left behind" but I thought I had clearly communicated my priorities to Kelly, which were to be with her in New York, timing and career being secondary priorities. She gave me ample opportunity to move but I guess I was angry that she didn't give me an 'ultimatum' or anything like that. It now strikes me that I might have a rare personality to crave being given such an ultimatum.

Would you swim the English Channel? Would you fight a pit bull? Would you pay a million bucks?

You totally got me. I was like: yes. Yes. YES!

I do want to become a better man through this. And luckily for me, I think there is still time.

I am going to take your post very much to heart. Thank you for helping me sort through some of this. I will continue therapy and make sure to bring up these issues.

I think it might be time for me to move to California.
posted by alxnrwd at 10:27 PM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


You say that if you do not tell her your true feelings you'll regret it for the rest of you life. I suspect that's true. And I think you should tell her. In a letter.

Get the words you want to say onto a page, tell her what you've told us -- that you'll regret for the rest of your life if you don't reveal your heart to her, if you don't lay your cards face up on the table. Conclude that letter by telling her that you're not going to say anything about it further, but you felt you had to say it, to put it on the table where she can see it.

Then. Get the fuck away from her. Stay the fuck away from her. Live your life. Leave her about sixteen different types of alone. No pressure. None. And believe me, if you are still pressuring her, even without telling her, she'll feel it, you could be living in another galaxy and she'll feel it, the very air will carry it to her, and it'll piss her off, and it should.

You know that thing about not chasing after a butterfly but rather just standing still, your hand out, and maybe it'll land on your hand -- you know that one, right? That's what you're going to do. Back. The. Fuck. Off. Not angrily, nor vindictively, nor any other kind of negatively. But back off, get some distance back, emotionally, then stand still.

Just because you're humbled doesn't mean you shouldn't act with dignity; back off in strength, with dignity.

Say your piece, then get a comfortable emotional distance from her and stand still, don't run toward her or away from her, both of those are ego games that *will* fuck with you and with her.

I'm saying stand still w/r/t her, to your hopes/dreams of whatever with her. NOT stand still in your life. Nope, there you''re going to keep on rocking, keep making the changes that your pain has shown you need to be made. You're going to have to gut up, really grab hold those running shoes, your new job, your new life, whatever that new life turns out to be.

I think you're blowing smoke right up your very own ass to think you can do NYC and not be aching to see her all the time, with your heart where it is at now. There is no reason why you cannot start your running, no pot smoking no drinking life in your parents town, or Chicago, or Salt Lake City -- these changes the pain has led you toward are an inside job; the externals don't mean shit. You can build your character in a prison cell, or a monastic cell, or walking across Venezuela, or doing push-ups in your parents garage, after drinking carrot juice, before heading out to your new job plowing snow.

I know whereof I speak. I have walked what you are walking. I treated a woman terribly wrong, young, and thought that I was right, that *she* was wrong, that if *she'd* change, all would be better. She gave me every possible chance that she could and then finally she left -- you keep pushing someone away, surprise surprise, they'll leave; you did that also.

As in your case, only AFTER she was gone did I see what a total scrote I was, that I was completely out of line, that I'd treated this woman unbelievably wrong. And she was gone, no doubt about it. And I wrote letters, I called, I pleaded -- yep, I pleaded -- begged for her to believe me. But she'd heard it all before, and waved me goodbye.

Same thing happened to me that I think it happening to you -- it blew me apart. Guilt. Shame. Loss. Grief. I shattered like fine, fine blown glass dropped from fifty feet up onto concrete, splinters scattered in every direction, and all the kings horses nor all the kings men, hey, they took one look at the mess I was and said "Jesus pal -- you're fuct." and they went out looking for someone that they could possibly help.

Amazingly, I got the chance to be her friend again. You *can* make drastic, dramatic changes in your life, real ones, and I know that to be true because I did it. She called me, very tentatively, a couple of times, to find out who I was, what I was doing. I stood stock still, offered her friendship and love but not romantic love, real love, friend love, though I sure did love her, and ached like a bastard on fathers day for wanting her. And life does happen, and her second marriage broke up, and she needed a place to land, and I gave her that place, her and her daughter from that second marriage.

I had such high hopes but it was not to be. We made love one time, probably the most sincere I've ever been, and she knew it, and maybe to save me she kept away from me, I never got to hold her again. Perhaps she saw how I needed her and was running a game, staying away so as to hurt me but I surely don't think that was the case. Probably she just no longer trusted me and who could blame her on that -- not I -- or as so many others in this thread have pointed out, people do change, and move on.

So she spent maybe 2-3 months living with me in that small apt, her and her daughter, and she started dating some guy she met at work, Mr. Corvette, and it hurt pretty goddamn bad but I was so relieved to be able to be a decent human being with her that I continued being as decent as I possibly could. I told her it stung but I also told her she was right to follow her star, wherever that led, I took care of her toddler while she was out dating Mr. C and I was glad to do it, glad to have a chance to have become honorable to her, honest, decent, caring -- in a word, glad to have a chance to have become her friend again.

She's 15 years in the grave -- cancer nailed her, young -- but we stayed friends the rest of her time, good friends. I love her still of course -- btw, you're going to love this woman, just how it is -- I'm just so grateful that I got to make small amends toward the grief I caused her; if I never do another thing right in my life, I at least got that right, to the very, very best I could.

Relationships: Some for a lifetime, some for a season, some for a reason. Over time, you'll find out who she is in your life.

Walk slow.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:29 PM on August 31, 2012 [23 favorites]


I think it might be time for me to move to California.

*exhales*

Good luck, alxnrwd, you have my best wishes.
posted by cairdeas at 10:38 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


OK, it sounds like you're listening to me to a limited degree, which I appreciate. However, if you don't mind, please do me the courtesy of allowing me to bend your ear a bit further.

Unlike everybody else, I'm not judging you for trying to win her back, even if it means putting your needs first. Reshaping the world around us to conform to what we think it should be is part and parcel of the whole ENTJ package. You can't not try to do that, and I totally get that.

However, you need to be pragmatic enough to recognize that there are limits to that ability, and be tactical and sensible in how you employ this gift. Winning somebody's heart is a very long and time-consuming project all by itself, and winning it back after it's been broken is probably double that time, at minimum. Do you seriously think you're going to achieve that scale of accomplishment in the narrow window of time before some white knight douchebag sweeps her off her feet with some grandiose romantic gesture? That is not happening. It's regrettable, but there you are. Worst of all, you can't even do a grandiose gesture of your own, since based on your past history it's going to come off as creepy and stalkerish. In other words, you're at a supreme tactical disadvantage compared to any other guy who wants to date her, and only an idiot would take action when the odds are so heavily skewed against success.

In short, you need to accept that even if you two get back together eventually, she's going to sleep with somebody else first. I know that's rough for you to accept because deep down, you're a romantic, and for her to do that will forever change the way you look at her. In fact, you may not even want to be with her anymore after that. Or you may get back together eventually but not value her anymore, since that "specialness" you thought you had doesn't exist anymore. But whether or not you like this news doesn't change the probability of it happening, and (please understand that I say this in an affectionate way) you need to suck it up and deal. And most importantly, don't freak out when she dates somebody new.

If you can accept that scenatio, then you may have a shot. I recommend scaling back your timeframe and instead of trying to win her back immediately upon moving to New York, focus on trying to get back together with her maybe two years down the road. Don't even try to be her next boyfriend - instead try to be the boyfriend after her next boyfriend. And for the love of god, please date other women in the meanwhile and be open to forgetting Kelly if you meet a better alternative.

If you can't do that - if you are so desperate to have Kelly now that you can't even control your emotions, then you're totally screwed, and you might as well abandon this plan. When was the last time anything good came from you being unable to control of your emotions? Your unique strength comes from your long-term planning ability, and I'm sorry, but right now all the strategies you're describing are woefully short-term and poorly thought-out. On some level, you already know that, right? That's why you're posting an AskMe in the first place.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:42 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Damn, dancestoblue. Inspirational.

Sorry for your loss.

I know I am going to love this woman forever and you're right -- I have been terribly racked with grief and guilt all summer. It's been awful.

I am lucky she is even offering friendship but it's so difficult for me to see that as anything but a consolation prize. I need to put my money where my mouth is, in terms of her happiness.
posted by alxnrwd at 10:46 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Hey, alxnrwd, moderator here. I'm glad you have found some good advice here that you can use, but I need to point out that Ask Metafilter is not meant to be a conversation between the poster and the answerers. You need to relax on commenting now, and just respond if people have questions. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 11:00 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


alxnrwd, you're received a lot of good and clear advice in this thread. And I'm going to bring up something that I haven't seen mentioned yet, which is the very strong possibility that you have become so consumed by your longing for this woman that actually getting her back would be, eventually, a disappointment. I say this as someone who was once pursued by a young man who only wanted me, really, when he didn't have me. You remind me of him. We separated many times, and predictably, long agonized letters would follow, reunions would take place, tears would be shed... and then two months later he was the same asshole he always had been. The same treatment, the same story, the same cheating on me, etc. I'm not saying that you are him. I just want you to consider that wanting is very different from having, and that if you actually succeed in your campaign to get Kelly back there's every chance that a year from now you'll be back where you started, no matter how much you think you've changed right now.

Go to California. Get on with your life, and learn as much as you can from this experience.
posted by jokeefe at 11:39 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


You've had a ton of great advice in this thread, so I am just jumping in to say:

I have analyzed Kelly's personality and I have concluded she is probably very susceptible to falling deeply in love with someone else -- she is ESFJ. While she is most certainly not the type to sexually experiment, she is going to be susceptible to white knights that she will turn into something serious.

I think that is perhaps the most unbelievably arrogant thing you said in this thread and believe me, you set a pretty high bar. You clearly think of yourself as above her (and I wouldn't be surprised if this is your attitude in most relationships). Get a grip on yourself, you're not that special, in fact you sound like you are bordering on clinically narcissistic.

And for goodness sake stop defining people by their Myers-Briggs type, it's a useful analysis in one context but defining everything by your personality 'type' (and it's a pretty simplistic test) is just a way of escaping responsibility. Oh, and a therapist who also does this? Not worth the subway fare.
posted by yogalemon at 11:59 PM on August 31, 2012 [35 favorites]


she seriously isn't dating... I have friends that would tell me if she was.

No, your friends won't tell you if she's dating because they're probably sick to the back teeth of hearing you go on and on about this woman and they know you're acting in a creepy and obsessive way. They probably realise that telling you she's dating someone would not end well for anybody.
posted by essexjan at 12:16 AM on September 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


even after... seeing other girls -- even ones that are objectively prettier and maybe even all around 'better' -- I still want her back.

Objectively, it sounds like your attraction is based on the fact that she broke up with you.
posted by eddydamascene at 12:59 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have analyzed Kelly's personality and I have concluded she is probably very susceptible to falling deeply in love with someone else -- she is ESFJ. While she is most certainly not the type to sexually experiment, she is going to be susceptible to white knights that she will turn into something serious.

Oh for fucks sake. According to those tests I'm also an ENTJ (sometimes ENTP) and you're seriously creeping me out here. Firstly, stop pinning your whole world on a stereotype. Those tests have been well debunked by now (Meyers Briggs isn't even the most 'current' version of the test) and are no excuse for thinking whatever you want to think (including the shit about being 'goal oriented' and hanging around as her friend until you can pounce at some later date). In particular, your stereotype of your ex right here totally devalues her as an autonomous person. As does much of what else you're saying actually, ug.

Secondly, the only thing you should be regretting is continuing to go after this girl when she's made it so clear she doesn't want you. The only reason why someone would do that is if they don't believe or respect the opinion of the person they want to keep pursuing, that's why we're saying you're acting selfishly. So stop making up stories in your head and listen to what she's already told you. No more grains of salt, no more "we said things we didn't mean", just understand that she says she's screwed up after your relationship and needs time alone to sort herself out. Then the only respectful thing to do to her is leave her alone to get on with her life. And the only rational thing to do for yourself is to move on with your life without her, i.e. stop holding a torch and pinning your hopes and dreams on her because it hurts you and it's not healthy.

I've seen this whole dynamic play out before with someone close to me and it took her more than five years plus two international moves to finally get rid of the guy. She never took out a restraining order and probably wasn't as flat out harsh to him as necessary, but he also never listened to her when she kept saying she wanted a life of her own without him. Seriously, so many of the things you're posting here could have come straight from him in the first year after they broke up and it screwed up her life for much longer than that. Don't be that guy.

In summary: walk away. Leave her alone for good, move on with your life, start to actually get over the breakup by realising she doesn't want you and there is no going back. This is what both of you need and is the only respectful, mature thing for you to do.
posted by shelleycat at 1:19 AM on September 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am lucky she is even offering friendship but it's so difficult for me to see that as anything but a consolation prize.

Which is why you need to actually, really leave her alone. You can't be her friend and you shouldn't try. Moving on hurts and is horrible, but dragging this shit out for years will be worse, believe me.
posted by shelleycat at 1:22 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


i think you have a chance. but it might not work, and then you'll feel like shit. that's a part of life. I applaud you for being willing to take that chance. Take it VERY SLOW. It's not too easy to psychologically get past your first love. She made a point of telling you that she's not dating right now- I would personally only do that if I had a little bit of interest left in me. Otherwise, if I really wanted the other person to move on I would say stuff like "I have to go, James is at the door...(lots of other references to dates)....NY? Why do you want to move to NY? If you like computers why don't you just move to Cali..."
posted by saraindc at 1:26 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


At this point, if I had Kelly's phone number? I suspect I'd show her this thread, and warn her to watch out for you. You keep showing how you do NOT respect her, with your continuous I-I-I-I-I..... I want her back, I want/I'll do/I need, plus that bit about 'analyzing her personality' was straight-out creepy. Kelly has clearly and repeatedly told you she DOES NOT WANT TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU. She may have been crying during that last phone call, but it was probably from the shear frustration of trying to make you understand: you just refuse to listen.

Leave her alone. Don't contact Kelly in any way (email, phone, or anything else) for at least the next year; don't ask friends how she is/what she's doing/who she's seeing, don't be facebook friends. If she has a blog or online journal, do not read it; don't call her mom to say 'hi'. Just total-dead-stop NO CONTACT.

Move to California, make new friends, and move on with your own life, just like Kelly already has.
posted by easily confused at 2:47 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read quite a few responses including those of the OP, and I can't stomach reading all the way to the end. This thread is a prime example of someone asking a "question" and then complaining when they don't like the answer. OP, the responses to the effect that you don't sound like you respect her, that your relationship is over and you need to move on, etc. are all spot on. You sound extremely immature, but then again maturity isn't an expected attribute of someone in their early 20's. But if you don't *use this experience* to learn some lessons, eventually you are going to be a middle-aged guy who still is immature and disrespectful of others' feelings. And that will be very much not ok.
posted by parrot_person at 2:47 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Go west, young man. Turn your back on your dead dreams and seek some new ones on the far horizon. Go have all the experiences with which one assuages old grief. Don't fear regret for lost love; even a life well lived leaves a million loose threads, each decision a multitude of unknown alternatives. Your only fear should be someday regretting having clung so tenaciously to the scraps of your childhood that you failed to see it was time to begin your life.
posted by itstheclamsname at 3:55 AM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


OP, upthread you said this:

OK so I genuinely, genuinely don't understand how I am continuing to be demanding or how I am being self-centered

Here is how.

Everything you say you want to do: contacting her, trying to prove how much you've changed, trying to win her back, etc. - the goal is to accomplish something YOU want. Something to benefit YOU. YOU want to feel like you're not missing out. YOU want to feel like you've been redeemed in her eyes. YOU want her as a girlfriend again.

These things you want to do to accomplish your goals are, as she and other people here have said, very likely to upset or even harm her. Her needs right now are to heal and to be left alone. These needs are likely very great, based on how traumatic it sounds the end of the relationship was for her. These needs have been stated to you and you, in a nutshell, don't care.

That is self-centered. Self-centered behavior is when you put your needs or wants over someone else's, without regard to the other person's needs or wants. That is what you are doing here.

Self-centered behavior becomes particularly unconscionable the more your actions in pursuit of your goals have a negative effect on other people.

The course of action you are proposing here will have a very negative effect on your ex. She needs time and space to heal. She needs distance from a person who treated her very badly. What you propose to do is the direct opposite of those things. She will not benefit from being back in contact with you. Being back in contact with you will force her to re-live the traumatic things that happened; it will cost her emotional effort to try to navigate the situation you are foisting upon her when her emotional resources are already depleted. It will make it much harder for her to heal and move forward.

As other commenters upthread have pointed out, you don't seem to really be appreciating how much she has been hurt - harmed - by what happened in your relationship. I won't reiterate how this discounting of her perspective is disrespectful, but mention this to suggest that when balancing your needs versus hers you are very likely miscalculating how important it is for her to have the space to heal. She has a lot of healing to do.

One last thing to consider. Why do you want her back? Why do you really want her back?

I think the real answer to those questions is you want to feel better about what happened, and that is not something that will come from getting back together. That is not something she can or is obligated to give you. What you are really after - redemption, a clean slate - can only be had by doing a lot of work on yourself and being a better person in future relationships.

You will not get what you need from what you are proposing to do. You will work further harm on your ex in the process. The harm you will do to her will be greater than the benefit to you of your actions.

Maturity is, among other things, doing the right thing even when it's hard. The right thing is to leave her alone and work on yourself. Be mature. Do the right thing.
posted by AV at 4:17 AM on September 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is such a stereotypical case of false hope in a first-love dumpee that I'm having to work pretty hard at suspending disbelief.

If it were she rather than you who had come here for advice, I would be advising her to stop taking his calls and stop responding to his emails, because he clearly doesn't yet grasp that his first real relationship is over.
posted by flabdablet at 5:56 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Referring to the above comment, yes, this is a totally typical "I can't live without them" question and that is why there are so many answers. OP, people understand how painful this is for you and many many people have either been you or your girlfriend (the one who was left, the one who did the leaving or vice versa). Frankly it's sort of a part of life- think about how many songs, movies etc are based on heartbreak- and you may get over it in 6 months, you may never get over it. It's not about Kelly or New York or anything specific it's about life and loss and growing up. It can be painful. You had a chance to go to NYC, despite it being 'your greatest wish', you didn't get there in time. Or didn't want to go at the time or something, it doesn't matter, it didn't happen. Now you are at another crossroads. And again, you will lose 15lbs or not, go to California or not, what ever you do there is some loss involved and some different opportunities. This ship has sailed, if Kelly calls you out of the blue in a year, maybe you will reunite, but you will probably break up again because usually if you break up in the first place there's a reason for it. Not 'you didn't do this or that' just that you were fundamentally incompatible. It hurts. Believe me. And I'm sitting here right now in NYC after basically moving here to chase someone 10 years ago. It didn't work. I'm sure there's a buddhist expression for it, that you can't chase happiness or force it. Just be the best person you can be, for you, and for the rest of the world. Let Kelly go. Insert some metaphors about trying to catch butterflies in your hands or something like that. Happiness is fleeting, love is elusive and and all that.
posted by bquarters at 6:34 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


But you're right, it's not about superficiality; it's about real change.

Are you going to change into a different person with a different penis? I'm not trying to be an asshole here but she's pretty repeatedly told you that she's not sexually interested in you anymore and that she wants to date (read: sleep with) other people and be single for a while.

A lot of times guys discount women's sexual preferences, thinking that it's REALLY about their job or how nice they are or or or...but women have sexual preferences and interests too, and she's not interested in you. That means it's time to move on. California is a much better idea than chasing this woman.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:43 AM on September 1, 2012 [12 favorites]


Your plan to move to California, if that's still where you're coming out, is a good one and is respectful of everything she is telling you. Good! And, yeah, maybe part of you will love her, but that's normal for a first relationship or first love -- part of you always loves them, and that's ok. If you give yourself time and space and perspective, you'll wind up ok and your ex will wind up ok, and none of that takes away from the relationship you had.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:56 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you using time travel? Because you sound a lot like the guy I dated when I was 21 and he was 23. Key takeaway: it did not work out.

We were intensely in love. For irrelevant reasons, he did shitty things, and I moved away. Then he decided I was the only one for him. He proposed multiple times.

Years passed. He got a great job. He matured. He's still smoking.

Why didn't I get back with him?

Because I could never get over that violation of trust.

She can't either. You have responded so many times in this thread, but not told us what you did to her. It must be truly awful and damaging. She needs to get past it, and you need to move on.
posted by corb at 7:30 AM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Don't move to where she is. Write her a short letter or email, no drama, no BIG STATEMENTS OF LOVE, just saying "hey, I value your friendship, let's stay in touch, I'm moving to Cali and my new address is XYZ, hugs!"

TYRR is correct that you need to hear what she's saying sexually: right now she is saying that she isn't attracted to you, doesn't want to sleep with you, and that she does want to sleep with other men. I put that in bold because I know it's not what you want to think about -- but it's the reality and unless you are dealing with reality it's bad news all the way.

Don't chase her, don't stalk her, don't do all these things you are planning that are focused on this crazy goal of reconnecting with her. Really, don't do it. It's no healthy for either of you, and it's big time not respectful of what she has explicitly told you.
posted by Forktine at 7:34 AM on September 1, 2012


I've been the one who broke up the relationship (marriage, actually) for similar reasons as your ex. And my ex did all sorts of things to better himself, like, going to counseling, taking the anti-depressants, and telling me how much he'd taken me for granted and was an asshole. Unfortunately, that doesn't always matter much once the relationship has ended.

It's great that you're finding ways to improve yourself/be more healthy emotionally, and you should continue to do so for yourself, but she has moved on. She doesn't need to deal with your regret and by ignoring the pretty obvious message she has sent about not dating you, you're being disrespectful. To me, that looks like you haven't really changed much at all. You are still ignoring her desires.

Keep working on yourself and being happy with yourself. Don't make her responsible for making you happy.
posted by persephone's rant at 7:34 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


You want her back for two reasons:

1) Ego. You don't want to be the dumpee. You don't it to end with you being in the losing position. "She is dumping me? How will that look to all our friends? What will the guys think? I'll look like a loser! I can't let this stay this way!"

2) Accepting her decision to leave you behind will require you to accept that how you treated her, the things that you did and said, were in fact that terrible. It's hard to face the truth that you were so mean to someone you loved that you drove them away. By continuing to pursue her you are trying to rewrite history. "If I can get her back, that will prove that what I did wasn't all that bad." Yes, it was that bad. Yes, it was. Face it now.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:36 AM on September 1, 2012 [16 favorites]


I know I am going to love this woman forever and you're right -- I have been terribly racked with grief and guilt all summer. It's been awful.

Dear alxnrwd, I know that it surely feels that way, but let me assure you, that this will change. You may still care very deeply for her as the years pass, but you will not always be possessed of this all-consuming, passionate love for the woman who has broken up with you. Trust me. Close this chapter in your life, and start writing a new one.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:31 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't believe there's an adult* alive who doesn't feel regret for having at some time acted like an asshole toward a partner, if that helps. It's something all of us have had to learn not to do, and for many of us, getting dumped was the only experience sufficiently painful to make the lesson take.

*People capable of acting like assholes without regret don't count as adults in my world.
posted by flabdablet at 5:57 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm going to make this very short:

Don't see her again until you hardly ever think about her.

(Focus on yourself, your life, your feelings, other relationships, etc. and at some point in a year or two you will begin to feel a nostalgic curiosity to see how she's been - but it won't be necessary to act upon that feeling. That is when you will be ready to start anew, if the possibility exists. If it doesn't, it won't matter. Trust me!)
posted by Locochona at 7:27 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


From your question and your followup comments it sounds like so far, you've learned that if you really set your mind to something, and if you really, really want something and you work on it from all angles (if necessary, starting all over again in a different way, towards the same goal) you'll reach your goal. For a lot of situations in life this is true and your skills and ambition in this area might serve you very well.

This is not one of those situations.

And I think that's because of three reasons:

a) You don't completely understand the issue yet, so you don't fully know what to do to remedy it. This will probably make you think 'oh, but I have learned so much from all the answers here and elsewhere, one day I'll get to the bottom of this!'. You might, you might not, but it will not be enough, because of reasons b and c.

b) There's another person in the picture here. A person with thoughts and feelings of her own which you will probably never understand and control completely. That in itself is not a bad thing at all (it makes relationships still interestin after years and years and marriage), in fact, the full understanding and control would very unhealthy. As noted by others, you seem to rationally understand this to some point, but your actions and words suggest quite the opposite. Also, this other person has their own goals, will do things because they want to. Live their own life, without any obligations to friends or exes.

c) Sometimes, damage that has been done cannot be repared. This is not a mess of ropes that you'll untangle and 'fix' if only you work hard enough on it. This seems to be more like an elastic band that has snapped or glass that was broken - not fixable.

So, maybe for the first time in your life, this is something that you probably can't fix, no matter how hard you work on it. That sucks. But as much as it hurts now: it'll get better. Especially if you keep doing the stuff you're doing now: working on your health, finding a good job, in short: taking control of your (!) life.
posted by Ms. Next at 6:23 AM on September 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


While she is most certainly not the type to sexually experiment, she is going to be susceptible to white knights that she will turn into something serious.

Having been a young woman who broke up with their first love, this is both incorrect and patronising. There's a cliche that people change a lot in their 20s, and part of this is working out your sexuality and whom and what you like. That you think her only near future sexual encounters will involve 'white knights' reveals a stunning lack of respect for her and her needs.
posted by mippy at 12:25 PM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


alxnrwd: "We're 24, and she seriously isn't dating... I have friends that would tell me if she was."

Even if she is as single as a penny in a parking meter, that has no relevance to you. Being single does not make her more available to you when she has already expressed herself clearly in this area.

In fact, at this point I would think about being single for a while. It's a really healthy thing to do, to figure out where you are without using another person as a reference point.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:21 PM on September 4, 2012


I just thought of one other thing.

Delete the naked photos you have of her. I mean completely. No copies saved anywhere, no printouts. Then the next time you are emailing her or talking to her, say something really short like - "I have also been thinking a lot about how I acted when you were in SA and I am really disgusted and horrified by how I pressured you for personal photos. I just want you to know that I completely deleted anything you sent and I sincerely apologize for that." Don't go into any explanations for how or why you acted badly, just leave it at that.
posted by cairdeas at 10:27 AM on September 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I've deleted them.

Man.. I really honestly didn't realize what was happening at the time. She is very feminist and outspoken and never hesitated to speak her mind - I just assumed she would advocate for herself more strongly if she felt so strongly.

I totally understand what's happened in retrospect but just honestly didn't at the time.... :/
posted by alxnrwd at 6:09 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sincerely, that is really great that you are realizing it now. So many people never get there at all.
posted by cairdeas at 6:24 PM on September 6, 2012


I really honestly didn't realize what was happening at the time.

First loves are like that.
posted by flabdablet at 6:49 PM on September 6, 2012


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