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Time to move on? If so, how?
February 10, 2014 10:16 AM   Subscribe

A major argument with my boyfriend put our > 5 year relationship on hold. Did I make the right decision to not get back together with him? I am trying to hold fast to my decision but I still love him.

My boyfriend and I (both in our mid-20's) have been struggling because although we want to get married, there are several issues that have been hindering us from being completely open about our relationship and doing so. I periodically questioned our future because these things are such a long-standing issue. Furthermore, in a way, I felt I have been the support in our relationship and I was questioning if this would ever change.

Recently, I learned that one of my parent's may have cancer. I was an emotional wreck and I started thinking seriously about my life, my parents' life, and where my boyfriend and I were going. I messaged him saying I was unsure about whether we should be together. He immediately said that he didn't want to be with me and broke up with me over text.

After that, he apologized - albeit, in my mind, half-heartedly and without remorse. He seemed smug that I did not accept his apology, like I was to blame for this. In my mind, I did not break up with him over text I merely shared my concern, I was scared, I felt like I was losing the people I love. Furthermore, I did not hear anything from him afterwards - he did not care about how my family and I were doing except one text about taking care of the lawn. Anyway, I was literally taking care of myself for over one week and he did not do anything - no inquiry, no visit, nothing. I wondered, if he will be out of the picture when things get rough, what will he do when we're married? He just withdrew and ran away. He was detached, aloof. He has a tendency to do this when things get rough, but at other moments, he's ok and/or supportive.

At the time, I needed support…I needed something. I had nobody. He was my best friend and even if we broke up and I didn't want to be with him romantically, I felt at the very least that he should still call and ask how I'm doing. Even if we fought, I feel like he should've made the effort to let me know he was there because I would've done the same. And, you don't break up with someone you've known for so long over text. After I asked him about why he acted this way, he said that I probably wouldn't have reached out and that my parent was not 100% diagnosed with cancer. He also said that I made it clear I didn't want to be with him. I feel like his disregard broke our relationship.

I really couldn't believe all this. Do people think this way? My friends agree he was a selfish person and I believe he was, as well. I need some objectivity, however. Should I move on from this and if so, how do I? Honestly, he was my whole world and I still love him. Was I harsh in expecting him to be there for me after our argument? I don't think I was being unreasonable. If he's going to falter when it's his time to be strong for me, how can I rely on him in the future?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
This question is impossible to answer without knowing what the "several issues that have been hindering us from being completely open about our relationship and doing so" actually are.

It's possible he's being a jerk. It's possible he's just tired of whatever the issues are. It's possible it's a combination of both. We just don't know.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:23 AM on February 10 [13 favorites]


He immediately said that he didn't want to be with me and broke up with me over text.

He has inadvertently done you a favor by showing you that he is a crud. It's hard and it's sad but you are better off.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:24 AM on February 10 [17 favorites]


You for sure should move on from this. Your ex-BF sounds pretty immature and silly.

For future reference, all important information needs to be relayed in person or on the telephone. I would NEVER text anyone about a scary health diagnosis. Nor would I EVER write anything to anyone in anger. Say it forget it, write it regret it.

Your relationship came to an end and it seems like your ex wasn't worthy of you.

You are strong and you'll survive this. I sense a bit of the Drama Llama in you. Messaging him to test your relationship, it's really disrespectful.

So bear that in mind for future relationships.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:24 AM on February 10 [33 favorites]


This sounds like a rough spot to be in, and I'm sorry you have to deal with all this stress at once.

But in a way, you're very lucky that this situation with your (ex)boyfriend is happening now, instead of after you're married.

You now know how he behaves and how he treats you when things are difficult and you need support: poorly.

Consider this a bullet dodged. Be good to yourself, take care of your needs and your family's needs, and let this guy fade away.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:25 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Welcome to adulthood, where the fact that you love someone doesn't mean you should select them as your life partner. This guy clearly doesn't have the qualities you want in a partner, and I personally would doubt his ability to step up and gracefully deal with the huge stressors that come with many coupled lives: moving, property purchases, pregnancy and birth, long term illness, bereavement, etc.

It seems like, in retrospect, he was looking for an excuse or a way to get out and he took it when you first texted him. So take him at his word: he doesn't want a relationship with you.

On the other hand, the two of you broke up and you don't get to be critical of how he deals with that. If going no-contact is what's best / easiest for him, he has every right to do that. He doesn't want to be your friend or your support, and while the timing is shitty for you, that's completely fair of him.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:26 AM on February 10 [15 favorites]


To be clear, you don't initiate a discussion about whether you should break up via text message. That doesn't excuse his subsequent behavior but, like Brandon Blatcher said, we don't have enough details to figure out if he is a plain old jerk, or there is a prospect of salvaging this relationship.

But suffice it to say, don't get married without sorting this out through counseling.
posted by rocketpup at 10:27 AM on February 10 [12 favorites]


He's passive aggressive and immature.

My ex of four years (fiance, actually) broke up with me on the day my beloved grandpa who was dying of pancreatic cancer had a stroke. That shit was hard, so hard I'm having trouble even thinking of it right now. We're friends now but part of me will never, ever forgive him for that. The next time he called me at midnight and wanted someone to talk, I was astounded at his selfishness and hung up on him, and I don't regret doing it to this day.

You could have worded your text better, but he could have given you more benefit of the doubt, too.

I'm really, really sorry about your parent's cancer scare. Dealing with a parent's mortality is one of the most bone-shakingly hard things about growing up, especially if you assume you have a few more years before you have to worry about it. It's definitely one of those things that separates the men from the drifting 20s manchild boyfriends.
posted by quincunx at 10:28 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Doesn't sound like it is on hold, it sounds like he's done.

Unless I'm missing something, this isn't your choice anymore. He's done.

I'm sorry he's not there for you anymore, however, he is doing you a favor by being gone. The sooner you accept that you can't make him be there, and that he is no longer your best friend, the sooner you can focus on developing healthier ways of coping with this painful family situation.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:32 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


My boyfriend and I (both in our mid-20's) have been struggling because although we want to get married, there are several issues that have been hindering us from being completely open about our relationship and doing so.

What are these issues? This is one of two things I would really need you to clarify in order to help you at all.

I messaged him saying I was unsure about whether we should be together. He immediately said that he didn't want to be with me and broke up with me over text.

This is not the kind of conversation you should have with someone over text. A lot of nuance is lost. From your perspective, you were communicating your concerns and uncertainties. From his perspective, you may have seemed to be engaging in brinkmanship, and he may have thought he was calling your bluff.

After that, he apologized

This is the second thing I need you to clarify. He apologized, but did the two of you get back together after he dumped you over text? Or did he just apologize for upsetting you but you're still broken up? Your wording isn't exactly clear.

A mod will be able to relay updates for you - please contact one with an answer to these questions and then I will be happy to come up with an answer. I would also caution against taking any advice until you provide this information - we are a group who are eager to help, but the missing info is kind of huge and may dramatically change the answers you get. Thanks in advance.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:32 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Yeah, to be clear, did you send him a TEXT to inform him "hey my parent has cancer and BTW I'm not sure if I want to be with you anymore"? Because if so, that is kind of a dick move and, depending on what exactly was said, I could seem him reasonably believing that you had dumped him via text and (again, reasonably) feeling shitty about that.

I mean, sure, maybe it's best if you stay broken up and maybe it is time to move on. But the way you've described it, there is at least some ambiguity here and/or it's not all his fault. Which... I'm inclined to give people a lot of latitude when they get bad news about serious stuff like family health problems. And so I wouldn't really say you're to "blame" for whatever. But when your bad emotional state leads you to say or do things towards other people, they are allowed to have feelings about that, too, is all I'm saying.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:34 AM on February 10 [20 favorites]


It was shitty of him to break up with you via text. It was shitty of you to tell him you were thinking of breaking up via text.

If you can't communicate serious issues in person or over the phone, and if you can't be open about your relationship for whatever reason, then you're not ready to be married.
posted by rtha at 10:36 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I messaged him saying I was unsure about whether we should be together. He immediately said that he didn't want to be with me and broke up with me over text.

and

And, you don't break up with someone you've known for so long over text.

If I read this correctly - you initiated, via message/text, that you weren't sure if you should be together. He then took this badly and broke up with you. I don't know why it is you think you can have these important conversations via messages but he can't, but it's a horrible medium to be dealing with major issues over.

It sounds like there's an incredible amount of context missing here, but on first blush it seems like during your time of need, you pushed him away and you expected him not to push away too - but he did. And you expected him during this breakup to still be there for you, despite the fact he was probably upset about the end of the relationship too.

I think there are clearly some problems in your relationship, but I would stop putting all the blame on him for them. You started a terrible conversation via a terrible medium and got terrible results. I'm sorry about your parents' issues, but perhaps you ought to explore why it is you want a relationship back that you instinctively started getting out of during your greatest time of need.
posted by rutabega at 10:38 AM on February 10 [33 favorites]


All the stuff about is he to blame or are you to blame is totally irrelevant here.

The point is, clearly you're having trouble communicating and you're unhappy. You're also already broken up. I would do my very best to move on if I were you, and treat it like a real breakup for now. Certainly at least do not rely on him for friendship or support for now.
posted by quincunx at 10:38 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


You texted your boyfriend saying you were thinking of breaking up with him. Did you not mean that?

You don't get to initiate a breakup with someone and then expect them to support you.

There's not really enough information here to say whether you have a good relationship or whether your "issues" are insurmountable. You aren't going to get "objectivity" here because we do not have any knowledge of the situation other than what you supply subjectively and selectively and we fill in the blanks with our own subjective experience.

Was I harsh in expecting him to be there for me after our argument?

This wasn't an "argument," it was a breakup.
posted by grouse at 10:41 AM on February 10 [21 favorites]


I don't think I was being unreasonable.
Sorry, but I do. I have no idea whether it's relevant or not.

However, no one here can tell you whether you made the "right" decision or not. I'm not even sure if it matters. The relationship is over.
posted by sm1tten at 10:42 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


He's passive aggressive and immature

Sending your boyfriend of 5 years a text saying that you're not sure if you should be together screams passive aggressive to me. It's very easy for me imagine this being someone's breaking point, depending on what these "other issues" were.

At the time, I needed support…I needed something.

And it that time of need you pushed him away/lashed out. Why did you do that? Whatever the answer is, it probably means it's best for both of you to not be together.

Also, you don't really get to expect things from your ex-boyfriend. You pretty much broke up with him, and then he definitely broke up with you. Him staying away from you is what ex's are supposed to do. As far as I can tell, he apologized for how the break up happened, which actually sounds like a half-way decent thing to do. That doesn't mean he's going to still be part of your emotional life.
posted by spaltavian at 10:42 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


If you had questioned our five year relationship at a stressful point in your life, I would interpret that as you needing time out of our drama-filled relationship to deal with this huge life change.

And it's best for both of you. My partner's father killed himself a few months ago, and it's been really hard. Not just for him, but for me. It's hard to take a backseat and let your partner focus on that rollercoaster of emotions. It's hard to talk them down when they're lashing out at the world because they're losing something that was there before they were born. It's worth doing for someone you love, but that doesn't mean it's easy.

If the relationship was rocky, that means it's just another level of drama and bullshit that you don't need. Grieve for the relationship that didn't exist, but understand that this freedom is better than what it would be like if you tried to take a shitty relationship into this shitty life situation.
posted by politikitty at 10:44 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


First, IMO, yes it is unreasonable to expect your ex-boyfriend to be there for you when you've just broken up.

Its also unreasonable to blame him for breaking up with you over text when you started the text conversation about potentially breaking up.

He may well have been calling your bluff and waited for you to come to him when you were ready to get back together or maybe he's just sick of the unspecified issues stopping you from getting married - its impossible to say
posted by missmagenta at 10:49 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]


In my mind, I did not break up with him over text I merely shared my concern, I was scared, I felt like I was losing the people I love.

Okay, but in all seriousness, in his mind, you may very have well broken up with him via text.

He also said that I made it clear I didn't want to be with him. I feel like his disregard broke our relationship.

Why?

You pretty much broke up with him via text, he broke up with you via text. You don't get to choose how an ex moves on, and in this case it sounds like he already has.

Him not calling you to check in and not seeing you doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't care about you or your family--he might, I don't know the guy. He might just be doing what he needs to do to move on from this relationship.
posted by inertia at 10:49 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I messaged him saying I was unsure about whether we should be together. He immediately said that he didn't want to be with me and broke up with me over text.

You broke up with him via text first. "I don't know if we should be together" is not something you text someone, no matter the circumstances.

I think the two of you should at the very least take a break and avoid contact for awhile. You seem rather toxic to one another.
posted by xingcat at 10:49 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I don't know what's happening with your relationship, but people do sometimes break up by text. You mentioned that you've periodically questioned your relationship, and that you texted him to tell him that you are once again unsure about your relationship.

That's not "merely sharing your concern" - for starters, it's not merely a concern. You were opening what sounds like a really important, potentially life-altering rejection. You were saying "I'm not sure that I like you enough to stay in this relationship." That's different from saying "things are so hard right now, I'm a wreck." You probably hurt his feelings.

It sounds to me like he may be tired of entertaining your doubts about the relationship, and he's not 'on call' to rehash the problems in your relationship at the drop of a text. Even during trying (for you) times. I think he's really angry at you.

You took care of yourself for a week without his support. Stay on that track. Many people go through whole stretches of time taking care of themselves without anyone's support. You can do this.
posted by vitabellosi at 10:52 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I'm sorry for your troubles, but I do think that it's understandable that a text out of the blue saying something like "I don't know whether we should be together" might be interpreted as a breakup over text (or at the very least a prelude to it), and look how you're reacting to a breakup over text. Why is he so awful for reacting to it essentially the same way you are?

I furthermore think that yes, it's a bit much to expect a guy whom you (intentionally or not) essentially sent a Dear John letter over a text message, and whom, after he had responded to you in kind and which he later apologized for, you apparently explicitly did not accept that apology from, to be there to comfort you and check in on you and so forth. I mean, great on him if he would, but I don't think it's terribly reasonable that you should expect that of him.

Again, sorry for your troubles.
posted by Flunkie at 10:55 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I say all of the following as someone who's lost a parent to cancer. I know the maelstrom that is taking over your brain right now--it's horrible, and unmooring, and you feel like you must do SOMEthing because nothing is under your control anymore. It makes you want to break things, because you can't fix anything. And so you did--you took all of your out of controlness and changed the one thing you had control over: your relationship.

Now in the end, this is probably a good thing! Confronting mortality and our own lack of control tends to clarify what things need to be in and out of our lives. This relationship sounds like it was not going real well.

But someday the clouds will clear and you will need to own the fact that YOU broke this relationship. You broke up with him, whether you meant to or not. You hurt him. Whether or not you were also hurting at the time doesn't change that fact. He did not hurt you. He acted appropriately as someone who'd just been dumped by his girlfriend of 5 years, by text.

Your hurt is because you might be losing a parent. Your hurt is fear. Your hurt has nothing to do with your ex. Put the ex aside, and face your fears. Hugs to you.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:08 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


So sorry that your parents may have cancer. Both of my parents have had cancer (my mother twice, actually). It sucks and it is hard. Best wishes to all of you.

I do think that your relationship is done. None of the details matter in my option, simply because the bit you have written here makes me feel like you and your (ex)boyfriend have a really really unhealthy dynamic. Maybe the stress from the news about your parents caused you to act impulsively and end it because deep down you knew it wasn't a good relationship. And I *DO* think you know it wasn't a healthy relationship... You're better off having your relationship be done so that you can focus on your family. The alternative, it seems, is that you and your ex get back together and the relationship adds MORE stress to an already bad situation. You don't need that right now. Trust me.

Seriously. You're done. It is okay.

And yes, your text wasn't exactly your best moment, breaking up via text message kinda sucks (there was a whole Sex in the City episode about it) but it happens. You aren't evil. You are the biggest douchebag that ever douched. It isn't like you hired a skywriter to announce that he has a tiny penis while you purposefully drove over his cat. You just broke up in a bit of a crappy way. Learn from this, say serious emotion stuff only in person or, at minimum, over the phone. Let it go for now and focus on doing what you need to do for your family and for yourself.

best wishes.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:11 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I think you have broken up and that is why he hasn't been in touch.

We can't say whether his reaction was disproportionate because we don't know the history of the problems you were having.

I do think that, insofar as you get any say, you should not attempt to get back together with him because, judging by the interaction you described, you must have had a really bad relationship. A bad relationship isn't something you need right now, while you're trying to focus on something truly important.

I understand why you don't want this particular loss at this particular time, because when someone dies, you know why they're not coming back, but if you have a falling out with someone at the same time, you can't understand why this other person is out there walking and talking and living and breathing, but not with you.

Even with that in mind, I still don't think you've described something that you should go back to. It's not going to help.
posted by tel3path at 11:18 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Read up on the sunk cost fallacy and consider yourself lucky for having only lost five years on this one. Neither of you is what the other one needs.
posted by Etrigan at 11:18 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I would like to add that the first time one of my parents got cancer my (fairly serious) boyfriend at the time offered no support and dumped me the day after I told him (yes, I told him in person). And THEN asked me to drive his ass home because he didn't have a car. THAT is douchebaggy beyond words. Breaking up via text (albeit unintentionally) is chump change compared to the level of douchebaggery I suffered. (no, it was not the popsicle guy. Different douchebaggy ex.) Perspective, people. OP's text message breakup isn't the worst thing any person has ever done, so maybe cut OP a bit of slack...
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:22 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry you're in so much pain and upset right now for so many different reasons - that really sucks, and can't be making it easy to sort out which problems are truly giant vs. which ones could probably be allowed to roll off your back if you weren't already so wound up about some seriously heavy stuff.

From my perspective, you've got such a mix of things going on here that you both could have done better. No one's the bad guy here, necessarily. Your texting something that important was probably not a great idea, and it's reasonable that he took that as a breakup. It's also completely understandable that if he thinks you just broke up with him, he did not contact you. In a perfect world, it would be great if we could break up and then immediately be the friend our ex-partners need us to be, but breakups suck for everyone involved and he may have been hurt and angry and unable to reach out to you just then. I will freely admit that I am probably not a big enough person to offer myself as a support system to someone I perceived as having literally just broke up with me, no matter how much I might love or care about that person or want to be friends with them again eventually.

That said, it sounds like some other aspects of his behavior really do suck - trying to tell you what you would have done? Claiming your parent's diagnosis wasn't bad enough or you were being a drama queen or whatever that 100% remark is about? Not cool.

It sounds like you had other stuff going on in the relationship that was not great, and a bad patch brought it all to a head. It's probably best to know this now, because if you stayed together long-term, I guarantee you you'd have bad patches again, both of you.

If you were my friend, I think the advice I would give you would be to let yourself focus on yourself and your ill family member right now. If you were to try to rekindle this relationship, it sounds like it would be exhausting and drama-filled, and you do not need that right now. Take care of yourself. Maybe down the road, when you are in a better place, you can see about being friends with your ex again. And if you've both learned some things and want to try again then, maybe you can. But right now you appear to be people who love each other but are not good for each other, and that's an awful thing that happens and that I don't know any magic cure for.
posted by Stacey at 11:40 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Should I move on from this and if so, how do I?

I think this is the main question you'll need to have answered, as I agree with many people above.... I think it's over. And I think you're going through a tough and scary time.

My recommendation would be to get help where you can. Friends. A counselor, if appropriate - there are many options if you're low on cash. Reach out to more distant family members (cousins, aunts, uncles) or your siblings (not your parents, since they're already having to deal with a lot right now). The usual rule of thumb is Support In (to your parents) and Reach Out (for support for yourself from others who are not immediately affected by the cancer scare).

As an aside, I tend to be anxious (I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and have a tendency to question everything when I get a major stressor to my system. The way my partner and I deal with this, is instead of saying, "I'm not sure we should be together" - even if I'm doubting everything in my world - is to say, "I'm really feeling adrift, I need to know you'll be here and stick with me for this. I'm feeling really uncertain with everything and I'm scared." It's longer, but it conveys more of what's really happening. In my heart of hearts, I know I want to be with him, and I know we're good - I just also know that this is a predictable pattern my brain will take when things go sideways. This way, I can express my uncertainty without hurting him or insinuating I don't want to be with him. I offer it so that when you're in a better place (hopefully after your parent is well!) you can reflect on if this is something that's true for you, as well.
posted by RogueTech at 11:42 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


OP I didn't mean to imply that you're a huge douchebag or anything for breaking up via text. That shit happens, man. But you need to understand that he took it as a breakup, and agreed. He doesn't owe you anything anymore, especially since you refused his apology later.

It sounds like you were maybe in a place where you sent a "breakup text" hoping for a response from him that was like "no no no! I will be the bestest boyfriend ever and marry you and the relationship will be great from now on." Because you were in pain, and you wanted a thing to happen that would let you know that everything ELSE would be fine and better, even if your parent was sick.

Unfortunately, that isn't what happened. Which is very sad! And you are entitled to be sad and upset and to mourn your lost relationship. I think people just want you to understand that your boyfriend wasn't being cruel, and he didn't abandon you, and honestly didn't even dump you. You gave him a pretty opaque test, and he failed. In future, you should not test your partners--if you find yourself wanting to, it means that partner is not right for you, and that the relationship is not strong.
posted by like_a_friend at 12:43 PM on February 10 [20 favorites]


My boyfriend and I...want to get married [but] there are several issues that have been hindering us from being completely open about our relationship and doing so. I periodically questioned our future because these things are such a long-standing issue [and] was questioning if this would ever change.

Forget everything else at the moment, and take a look at that. After five years you two still hadn't worked through long-standing issues, to the point that you'd been feeling like things would never change and you'd never get past those issues.

You have a choice in those situations: keep doing the same things that don't work, or change something to see if it helps. You changed something by suggesting you were thinking of breaking up with him, and he changed it further by agreeing that you should break up. And that's great, because now you're on new ground, and so you're not in the rut.

Of course, in your case, getting out of that rut means you're no longer in the relationship -- you've broken up, don't pretend otherwise -- and perhaps if you'd reached out for support using a different (read: non-text) method, he might have offered you support instead of responding as he did...but that's water under the bridge. You are no longer in the relationship. It's over.

So, now your questions can be:

1: should I expect my ex-boyfriend to support me emotionally after we broke up?

2: am I better or worse off in this situation than I was in the holding pattern of my old situation?

For number 1: no, you should not expect that, although it would be nice and would reflect well on him if he offered his support, or if you asked for it and he gave it. Does that make him selfish? Not necessarily; it isn't necessarily fair of you to expect support from him outside of the context of the relationship, and you don't know how he feels or what he's going through with this breakup. Perhaps he is, though. Doesn't really matter. It isn't in your control, and he doesn't owe you anything.

For number 2: that's for you to decide. If you feel better off now, great! Way to go, catalyzing a change that made your life better, even if it hurts in the short term. If not...well, we can't always get everything we want, and not all change leads to better things, but based on what you've said I suspect you'll be better off after some more time has passed.
posted by davejay at 12:45 PM on February 10


Side note: in the future, you might consider that if you're periodically questioning the validity of your relationship, the other person might find that very stressful and off-putting because they'll believe you're not fully committed to them, and so your periodic questioning might actually lead to them pulling away and no longer reassuring you. That, plus if you're really stressed out and needing support, you should probably reach out and get it directly with "I'm worried about my mother and I need support and reassurance" rather than indirectly through yet another periodic statement that "I'm not sure if we should be together."
posted by davejay at 12:48 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I agree with like-a-friend. You tested your boyfriend, and he failed the test. It sucks, and I'm really sorry, but things are over now.

I accidentally initiated one of the hardest breakups in my life, by doing something kind of similar. It was Valentine's Day, and I was with my boyfriend of 3 years. My friend was struggling in her relationship at the time and we were talking about it, and I said something about how her struggles made me sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't be together or wouldn't last or something like that. I'll admit, I expected him to respond with encouragement and "no, you're wonderful, what would I do without you" kind of stuff. Instead, he took it and ran with it and broke up with me right then and there. On Valentine's Day. I was stunned and devastated.

So I understand what it feels like -- that you accidentally made your boyfriend break up with you. You might be kicking yourself over that text. I spent a long time regretting saying that one sentence that seemed like it triggered the breakup. But the thing is, how he was feeling about the relationship existed whether or not I said that one thing, and it would have come out eventually. He just took the slightly easier out opportunity by letting me broach the subject.

Don't beat yourself up about the texting thing. Yes, texting leaves things open to too much interpretation, but if he hadn't already been thinking about ending the relationship, a mis-interpreted text probably wouldn't have pushed him there. (And if it did, good riddance.)

Moving forward, if in the future you feel like you need support or encouragement or assurances, just straight out tell your partner "Hey I'm feeling kind of unsettled because of [x], can you reassure me right now? I could really use some cuddles/flowers/kind words/a shoulder to cry on." It works a lot better.

If it helps, I'm (many years later) now good friends with that ex-boyfriend and his future wife and I really value his friendship! It took many years of no contact but now I have no regrets about what happened.
posted by misskaz at 1:55 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Something like what happened to misskaz happened to me. I said the "maybe we should break up" words and the reply was a quick and resounding agreement. (Not the answer I wanted or expected, but it was the right answer for both of us in the end).

I think sometimes they want to break up well before the words are spoken, but have not been able to say it for whatever reason. (Sometimes it's a passive-aggressive move -- i.e., they treat you badly and want you to break up with them and sometimes it comes out of the seeming blue). I am sorry. I know it hurts like hell.
posted by Lescha at 2:30 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I think you made the right decision. You're too young to get hung up in a LT relationship with an immature guy.
posted by discopolo at 5:00 PM on February 10


"And, you don't break up with someone you've known for so long over text."

My first relationship (also 5 years strong) ended this way when my partner at the time decided to break up with me via text on New Years Day. We had dated for 5 years---known each other for 10.

It happens and it's very telling.

However, based on what you've written here, I'm sorry to say that you've really only got yourself to blame. I would've taken your text as a the 'beginning of the end' so to speak. It comes across as a break-up text and your boyfriend simply responded to that. Maybe he was quick to agree because it'd been on his mind already. Or perhaps it was simply a defensive reaction to the inevitable breakup your text implied.

Given all that, it's not surprising that he isn't there to offer you support - you broke up with him. If he's smug, like you're the one to blame - it's because it is. And like you, my ex tried to derive support from me after breaking up (even to the extent of asking for help to woo the man he left me for but who did not reciprocate), so I have a feeling your ex could probably care less that you want/need his support/love/attention at this point.

It's unfortunate things progressed as they did for you. But as others are saying, it's really a blessing in disguise (even if it doesn't feel that way right now). Your now ex-boyfriend has made it clear that marriage and moving forward wasn't ever going to happen anyway--which is why it was such a long-standing issue. Now you're free to move on.
posted by stubbehtail at 5:27 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing - you wanted support, but instead of asking for that, you pushed him away. Which isn't a great way of getting what you wanted.

But it sounds like you know that he wouldn't be any good at being supportive. I think the text you sent was a test as well as a cry for help, that he failed miserably. Just like you knew he would. Call up some friends and ask them for support.
posted by kjs4 at 10:38 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


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