I had a sort-of breakup recently, and I'm wondering whether I should move forward as friends or never speak to this guy again.
posted by cscott to Human Relations (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hi everybody, I'm back again. The good news is I've finally found a therapist who "gets" me and I'm making an effort to stick with it to deal with my issues. The bad news is that I recently blew an opportunity to date a guy I really liked. I'll call him Sean (which isn't his real name).
Sean and I met on Facebook a couple of months ago and started chatting regularly. We live in the same state but at opposite ends. He's ten years older than me, unemployed and looking for work, from a middle-class background, has a college degree, and white. I'm a Ph.D. student, South Asian, and I come from a privileged background. Despite these differences, we got around to video chatting on FaceTime almost every day for about four weeks. We found each other very attractive, shared funny stories from our lives, had meaningful conversations about working class politics, discussed the struggles we faced as gay men, and just really seemed to enjoy each other's virtual company. Two weeks into all of this I gathered the courage to ask Sean if I could visit for a weekend. He gladly agreed and we decided on the first full weekend of December. Along the way, he said many sweet, romantic things to me: "My mother would love you if she met you," "You're my hope," "I could see myself coming home to you," "I think you could make me happier than I ever thought possible," "I'm falling for the idea of you," etc.
I travel quite frequently; the week before Thanksgiving I went on holiday with my family for two weeks. I was 16 hours ahead of our time zone, so we weren't able to video chat at all, and I began to sense that he was less enthused in his messages. He admitted to insecurity about the difference between us in level of education and, since he's terrified of flying, he didn't want me to be bored with him by not being able to travel around the world. I tried to assuage his fears, but he started to respond less frequently and his tone grew more somber. Something felt "off." I knew that he was running out of unemployment benefits and was stressed out trying to find a job, so I tried not to read too far into it. About a week before my visit, though, I saw in my Newsfeed that he'd left a very flirtatious comment on a guy's shirtless photo. It stung me. I realized then that I'd allowed this guy to fill my brain whereas he was still wanting to flirt with other men. I'm only able to give my heart to one person at a time, and don't have it in me to date more than one person simultaneously. He'd not done anything wrong; we weren't boyfriends and there was no understanding between us. But he knew that I could see the comments, and I felt that it was inconsiderate of him.
By the time I got to see Sean in person, I felt conflicted--he was sweet but not as enthusiastic as I remembered him in our video chats. The first two days were nice. Things were pretty hot and heavy in bed, but he didn't seem all that emotionally connected during intimacy. Still, he was gracious and even texted a mutual friend of ours to say that I'm wonderful. The evening of the second day, we went out to dinner. In the middle of conversation he noticed a buff guy walk into the restaurant and exclaimed, "oh, muscular!" I felt that it was extremely rude of him to do that in front of me since we'd both talked about the weekend as one long date. I started to feel insecure. The next day I made some poor choices. I needed to use his computer to check my e-mail, and thought I might log into Facebook as well. When I went to the website, though, the computer was already logged into his account. The first thing I saw was a series of flirtatious messages between him and the guy whose shirtless photo he'd commented on a week earlier. The guy had sent an explicit photo to Sean, who was responding flirtatiously and even said "hopefully we will meet soon!" the day before I got there. Later that day, we went out drinking, and I did a few annoying things which he was not too happy about. I apologized once we got home. I confessed to violating his privacy earlier in the day and apologized for that too. He said, "that's okay." He explained that the guy was a friend's ex and that it was nothing serious, but also that it's "nice not to have any rules." He saw that I was upset about the fact that I'd foolishly made him a priority while I was just an option for him. He tried to comfort me by saying, "Why would I want to date anybody else when there's you? The key is not to rush." I'd gotten carried away with the idea of a romance that was never actually unfolding.
When the weekend was over, he told me that he wasn't pleased with what happened on the last day. He said that I wasn't able to trust him, and that he can't have stuff like that happening (i.e. snooping). He was also still angry about my making too much noise climbing up the long flight of stairs to his apartment and poking fun from a distance at a group of people making silly faces while taking photos at one of the bars we went to. I accepted full responsibility for all of that. Then he said that he found my behavior snotty and stingy. He mentioned that, as he was getting my change for me from a bartender for a $7 drink, he was ready to leave a $3 tip, and I asked whether it was custom where he's from and said that where I'm from we usually leave one dollar. I left the $3 tip anyway. He also said that he found it awkward that I asked another bartender the price of a drink, which he said he's never seen anybody do. I explained that it's not considered inappropriate where I'm from to ask the price of a drink if there's no menu and you're not sure if you have enough cash on you. I had to remind him that I paid more than $50 for one of the meals we had, which was not exactly proof of stinginess. It felt to me as though he was projecting his insecurity about our class difference onto some harmless things I did. He was also irritated that I changed a few songs in his car without explicitly asking for his permission, and that I didn't like his playlist. So ... he was done. After I shared my thoughts with him and said, "I guess we go our separate ways now," he said (to my surprise), "So you don't want to talk to me anymore? We don't have to be cut off, you know." I explained that I needed time to process my feelings of shame and regret.
It's been two weeks. My question is ... Can I contact him to try to preserve the friendship we were building? Or have I ruined everything with my poor choices? On the one hand, we were not very well matched as a couple. My feelings for him were obviously stronger than his for me. My insecurity caused me to violate his privacy; his insecurity caused him to angrily make unfair accusations against me. We also live in different cities, and he was in no position to contribute financially to my flying to see him. I realized that all the sweet things he told me online were an illusion, that none of it was ever real. On the other hand, it somehow feels extreme for me to never speak to him again. So ... should I send an e-mail at any point or just accept that I totally screwed this up, learn from it, and move on with no further communication? Thanks.