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?
posted by alxnrwd to human relations (117 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
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?