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Cant. Seem. To. Move. On.
March 30, 2014 10:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm 30 and female. A year and a half ago I broke up with this guy who I had been with for just as long. I didn't want to break up with him, because I loved him dearly, but I had to because he was treating me so poorly near the end. Ever since we broke up, I've been a semi wreck when it comes to anything romantic. I had an ill-advised rebound with a secret alcoholic followed by a guy who took me for a three month long ride. Meanwhile my ex got back in touch from afar (he lived in another state) this summer and started calling me every night, telling me he loved me and was open to us being together again when I moved to where he lived. But when I actually did move to NY (where he lives) not for him but to start my career in earnest, he abruptly changed his tune. Suddenly he didn't even want to be my friend and couldn't stay in touch. We last spoke a month and a half ago (we've been in very sporadic contact since I moved) and I haven't heard from him since.

Since moving here five months ago, I just feel depressed and hopeless when it comes to relationships. I've been asked out by some guys but they were all vastly incompatible with me or unattractive to me. I gave one of them a chance and he turned out to be completely insane as I had suspected on our first date. And yes, I would feel this way no matter the circumstances.

I can't seem to motivate myself to try but I'm very lonely. I loved him so much and sometimes it feels like I spent up all the love that I had on him. I used to think it was bullshit when other people said that, but now I sort of related. It feels like something inside me shifted deep down and can't be repaired. My attitude about life and people has become more cynical and defeated. Not in an angry way. I'm past anger to apathy.

As my confidence has slipped since moving here, so has my attention to my appearance. The first two months I moved to the city, I put a lot of effort into looking good. Then I got a bad haircut and started feeling unattractive and sort of let my appearance go. I'm just completely absorbed in my work and trying to ignore all other concerns but sometimes I'll suddenly be reminded of how lonely I am or how much I miss him.

Why is this happening to me when I've always bounced back from every other breakup in a few months or less with my confidence intact? What's strange is even when I push myself to be more social and go out with a girlfriend from work, it doesn't seem to lift my spirits.

I think part of what's really getting me down is the fact that I know NY guys are more superficial and picky than average. I don't feel like I have a shot with anyone decent in this town without being very pretty and successful. I'm afraid of throwing myself out there into the dating world in this city considering how fragile I feel right now.

What should I do? I've taken plenty of time off dating (six months) and it doesn't seem to have helped. Is online dating too brutal (I've never really tried it)? Also, is there something I need to switch mentally to get unstuck? I can't seem to figure out what's wrong.
posted by caseofyou to Human Relations (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Realistically, if you last spoke six weeks ago, you've only been broken up six weeks. The reality of just how much you are in the brand-new-breakup phase is illustrated by the fact you are still mooning about the love for this guy.

And yes you should try online dating -- it will give you something to do besides moon and will boost your confidence.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:57 PM on March 30 [6 favorites]


It's really difficult to date in the first few months of living in a new city.

Give yourself time to come into yourself. Stop worrying about that bad haircut. Devote the time you need to devote to your work without feeling guilty about it.

I felt exactly the way you feel for my first year or so living in LA (where guys are also famously superficial, and they can afford to be picky since there are so many cute young women here). Then something clicked, I fell out of the funk I was in, started feeling better about myself, and got back on the dating horse. Things have been going really well.

One thing that was absolutely necessary for this to happen was for me to feel secure and confident. The major change, there, was that I started a big creative project which forced me to get outside my own head about worries like not being pretty enough or successful enough.

I think you should get a hobby. Something you love to do, which will give your life a little more meaning. Don't worry about meeting men there. This is for yourself.

And, yeah, try online dating. Why not?
posted by Sara C. at 11:00 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


One more thing: you need to go no contact with your ex. Every time you talk, the wounds reopen.
posted by Sara C. at 11:01 PM on March 30 [17 favorites]


I think you are ruminating about this asshole ex of yours and you sound depressed. Go see a mental health professional and don't beat yourself up for not being able to bootstrap yourself out this mess.

Also, stop talking to your ex! I read your previous question about him and he sounds awful. Don't maintain sporadic contact with him - he's not going to add anything to your life other than pain.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:50 PM on March 30 [8 favorites]


Also, I would like to add that if this is the first time you've been in love, what you are feeling is common: that you'll never get over him, that you'll never love like that again, that you may date but it will never be like that, etc. For an 8 month relationship, I'd give it a year since last contact to get over. My first proper besotted boyfriend, I cried for a year after our last contact.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:10 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Did you write this, by any chance?

I don't have a solution for you, but I think all of it is related to his having NPD. (And the "emotional vampire" in the letter above has NPD, even if Polly never actually uses that term.) I disagree with the blame she places on the victim, though. Anyway, if you see a therapist, try to find someone who understands personality disorders--not because you have one, but because he does. It has screwed you up.

I've taken plenty of time off dating (six months) and it doesn't seem to have helped.

That's a laughably short time, sorry.

I cried for a year after our last contact.

That's laughably short too.
posted by Violet Hour at 12:59 AM on March 31 [6 favorites]


You've spent the time since you've broke up still in contact with this guy and waiting to hear from him, and it sounds like he's been really messing you around. You haven't had a clean break, this guy's been up in your head and making you feel lousy. It's ok to feel confused, apathetic, lost, stuck in that situation. It's ok to feel whatever you're feeling. There's no need to bounce back quickly from an awful experience, and there's no mental switch you can press to make everything better. Given time and patience this will fade, I promise.

Concrete advice: delete every trace of this guy from your life: all social media, delete and block his number, direct his emails to spam, everything. He's made you feel like shit and he's not allowed to talk to you and hold you back any more.
posted by mymbleth at 1:38 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


I think it would be a serious mistake to get over this trauma by convincing yourself that you've survived some hypothetical narcissistic personality disorder. You are courageous enough to admit your low sense of self-worth. That in itself causes asymmetries in relationships where you're left desperate for affection and he is understandably unmotivated. There's neither gain in self-loathing nor blaming others.

Do not just wait. Time healing wounds is a stupid lie. It is the hard work you do in that time that resets your habits and sets you back on the rails. All of your effort now has to be towards building your sense of self-worth. That means discipline: eat right, sleep right, work out, work hard, and play hard. Take up a hobby like Sara C says. You seem like a bright person and you absolutely can bootstrap yourself out of this mess.

And by the way, there are a lot of guys in NYC. When your confidence is back up, you'll automatically feel more hopeful about meeting one good one.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:52 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


As my confidence has slipped since moving here, so has my attention to my appearance. The first two months I moved to the city, I put a lot of effort into looking good. Then I got a bad haircut and started feeling unattractive and sort of let my appearance go. I'm just completely absorbed in my work and trying to ignore all other concerns

It sounds to me like your depression may go beyond affairs of the heart. I think I'd work on getting back on my feet emotionally before I even considered bringing someone else into the mix.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:20 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


@Violet You -- No, that wasn't written by me but there are some eerie similarities to my ex, although he never cheated as far as I know.
posted by caseofyou at 4:44 AM on March 31


It sounds like two things are going on here - your hurting from your breakup, and you're depressed. Either one of those things is enough to deal with at one time. Having the two of them together is making things worse because they're going to feed off one another.

Firstly, regarding your breakup: don't look for connection right now. You're not in a place to be dealing with this. You might not have been dating for 6 months, but you had contact with your Ex 6 weeks ago. You need to cut off all contact with this person - both from your end and from theirs. Delete their number from your phone, but also block it. That way you can't contact them, and if they contact you, you won't know about it. Do this for every way they have of getting hold of you. There's some oft-repeated advice about the fastest way to get over someone being to get under someone else, but I don't think that's going to work for you. Look for the connection you're seeking in friends, family, meeting new people, maybe chatting to people online, etc. Take sex and that particular form of bonding off the table until you're ready for it. There's sure to be a Meetup group going on in NY that you might be interested in, so go along to it. Ask your work colleagues out for drinks. Etc.

Regarding your depression: CBT is a cheap effective way to deal with it that works for a lot of people. You can do it at home, no need for a therapist necessarily, with a book you can buy from Amazon for a few dollars. Even if it doesn't help with your depression, learning to notice and deal with unhelpful ways of thinking can only be beneficial. Exercise is often mentioned as being helpful for dealing with depression too - is there a jogging Meetup you could go to at your local park, or something? Getting moving if often the hardest part with depression - everything slows down to a crawl. Maybe find yourself a little ritual that you can do every day that's just for and about you, like brewing a special blend of tea in a special teapot and drinking it from a special cup.

Basically, love yourself. Don't rely on other people for your self worth. The message that you are worthy can resonate a lot louder within you if you say it to yourself often enough.

Don't expect things to change overnight. Building your confidence back up will take time. But it's totally doable.
posted by Solomon at 5:01 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


FYI - not enjoying things that you used to enjoy (like going out with colleagues) is a warning sign for depression. And depression is not an unusual response to your situation.

Moving to a new city is hard, and NYC is especially tough. I think your grief and confusion over this guy PLUS the major life change is kind of creating the perfect emotional storm here. And speaking of storm, the winter we have been having is almost certainly not helping you out here.

I think it's best to not date while you're feeling so fragile. Take care of your home, your job, your bills, yourself (see a doc and get some bloodwork done, ask for a referral to a therapist). Look for social groups and organizations that you find interesting, try a few out, stick with the ones you like and get to know the people in it. I especially recommend learning new skills and volunteering.

I say all of this as if it's easy - it's not, and you'll have to do it one step at a time. But know you'll likely be in a much better place 3 or 6 months from now than you are today.
posted by bunderful at 6:00 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


It wasn't your fault that this happened to you. Your low self-esteem did not cause the narcissist to "understandably" treat you badly. He probably caused your self-esteem to drop in the first place. You should absolutely frame this as "I survived a narcissist." Because you did. What esprit de l'escalier said is victim-blaming. Sorry to be harsh but I have to call it out.

Normal people do not react to the self-esteem issues of others by treating them badly. Instead, they empathize and try to build people up. Narcissists, on the other hand, home in on people who are sensitive and empathetic. We can meet their bottomless need for admiration. They want worship, not relationship. Narcissists will destroy your self-esteem, and feel special and powerful for doing so. Learning how to recognize and avoid them is one of the best emotional self-defense skills an empath can develop.

I read your other questions, and I totally empathize with that feeling of deep connection that your ex elicited with his intuitive understanding of your feelings about the painting in the museum. I've known a number of narcissists, and that finely-honed intuition about what makes people tick is something unique to them. It's a survival mechanism. They're able to suss out how to make people love them, and just as good at figuring out a person's weak spots. But just because they understand you doesn't mean they give a shit. They're mimicking true connection, and love. They might even have themselves fooled, that their longing for a particular person's admiration equals love. My ex-narcissist believed he loved me, and that he had loved other women in the past. But what he loved was having someone on his arm that other men admired; having a smart woman listen to him; and having an empathetic woman soothe his rage. He, and the other narcissists I have known (friends and a boss) wanted to take emotional support but were never satisfied. It soothed them temporarily, but since it all went into the abyss inside of them, they always wanted more. And it goes without saying that they have absolutely nothing to give in return.

Of course, this is sad, and we empaths, knowing loneliness so well, generally feel terribly sad for the narcissist and want to help. But we can't, unless we want to pay the price of being drained, numb, and cynical. You're feeling that right now. For the love of all that's holy, do not continue to contact this person. You think it can't get any worse, but it can. He that lies down with dogs gets up with fleas.

You can heal. But you need time. As I said, and others have said, NO CONTACT. It is going to be brutal. It is going to be like heroin withdrawal. Also, I cannot recommend highly enough that you take another six-month dating break. And by break, I mean you shouldn't even dip your toe into the dating pool. Don't surf OKCupid just to see what's out there. Don't read relationship advice columns or books. Do read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It will help you recognize when your intuition is telling you something is wrong, and you need that to stay away from narcissists, sociopaths, and others who will do you harm.

I know a lot about this because I've been in your shoes. My ex-narcissist, like yours, told me he loved me one day, and the next that he never wanted to see me again. It went on like this for a few weeks until I obliged the side of him which wanted me gone. We have been 100% no contact since July, when I received a letter from him which I did not answer. And at six weeks out, I was certainly a wreck, as you've said you are. Now it's been nine months and I still dream of him and think of him with mixed emotion. It takes a long time to heal. Give yourself that time. Pour all that love and empathy into yourself instead of another person. Expend your energy in things you enjoy, and in friendships with people you're not attracted to, and family relationships.

Narcissists abound in New York, and author Jean Twenge has said that your generation has a high percentage of narcissists. But don't despair. There are still good, kind men out there, even in the Big Apple. Right now, it doesn't seem like you're ready to meet anyone. Don't be afraid of solitude and of giving yourself the space and time to recover from this experience. MeMail me if you like.
posted by xenophile at 6:04 AM on March 31 [13 favorites]


I just wanted to say, based on the shitty way he treated you, you should feel proud that you made the right decision (initially) when you showed his ass to the curb.

Separate out the lonely attachment based feelings from actually missing your ex. Even if it's a shitty relationship, when bonds are broken it hurts. Doesn't mean he was "the one" or any such BS.

Try reading that book "Attached" it is very helpful in learning about these things and spotting these wishy-washy types early. Hugs.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:13 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


First, go see a GP and see if you have depression. Sometimes situations will bring on depressive episodes. Perhaps your GP will advise a low-dose of something that will help, if so take it. Your GP may recommend therapy, if so, do that. Try everything if it's appropriate.

As for your love life. You need a baptism and a fresh start. That means no boys for a least a year! Seriously, I mean it. Unless and until you can treat yourself well, understand exactly what it is that you want, and are 100% confident that you deserve a wonderful relationship with a fully formed adult, you'll just keep having these misadventures. Each one will etch away your confidence and leave you worse off than when you started.

So, for now, dating is off the table. So, what will you do for connections and fun and to combat loneliness? You'll do SOMETHING!

1. Take classes in the evening and on weekends. Perhaps you'll do a certification program (Like PMP or Management.) Get a graduate degree. Learn to cook Punjabi food. Learn to sew. Take a series of walking tours. Learn a new language. NYC has a million and one options for learning all kinds of cool stuff.

2. Volunteer. Nothing makes you feel better than helping someone else. My sister holds premies at a large hospital once a week. She feeds them and talks to them and changes diapers. She loves it! Give blood, serve soup, help people with resumes, do volunteer work that you enjoy, don't punish yourself just because it's volunteer work.

3. Blog. Start up a daily blog. Blog about being new to NY, blog about your career, blog about your outfits. Whatever it is, writing can be cathartic. You don't have to share the blog with anyone. Or share it with the world! Whatever.

4. Keep connected with your friends. Call them, write hilarious emails to them, stay on social media. I'm connected with people from High School, from college, from grad school, from that job I moonlighted at, I mean, it's like I'm a Sim or something.

5. Read good books. Go outdoors and read in parks, get a library card and browse the stacks. Sit on your fire escape. I have a series of books that I read after a move or when I'm stressed. All of Jane Austen, Jane Eyre and then the works of P.G. Wodehouse.

6. Get your hair fixed. It doesn't have to cost a lot. Go to the Aveda Institute and explain what you don't like about your current hairstyle.

7. Join a gym, or a yoga class, or go walking every day.

8. It's spring, time to get your lighter-weight wardrobe together. Buy a couple of new things to round out what you already have. Go to Century 21 and see what they have. They may have nothing, but it's a fun thing to do on a Saturday.

Basically, get outside of yourself. Work on the outside and the inside will eventually catch up.

Right now, you're a mess. It's okay, we've all been messes. You don't have to stay that way though.

You have the opportunity, here and now to make a lasting change in your life. Take the year off from dating, and concentrate on dating yourself! Make new friends, do new things, be a new person.

You'll never regret doing this, because your life will be so much better going forward.

I promise.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:38 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


I left an abusive man about 1.5 years ago. The mountain of work I have to do on myself still to heal and recover often seems infinite. I have worked my butt off since I left him and I'm a lot stronger but I am nowhere near at peace with myself. I don't love myself yet. You should hear my internal monologue. It's like he's still behind me, a year and a half later, whispering awful things about me on a daily basis. And yet I still miss the motherfucker sometimes. Go figure. Being a survivor of abuse is like living inside of a yo-yo sometimes.

He targeted me because I had low self esteem and then he exploited my low esteem and pushed it down even further. When I left I was a crumb of a person.

Time alone might be incredibly beneficial so that you can learn who you are and love that woman fiercely. I wouldn't date until I felt true love, respect, and compassion for myself as a person.

Best of luck to you.
posted by sockermom at 7:43 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


xenophile speaks only truth.

Follow their advice.

Good luck.


PS - get your haircut fixed because you will feel better:))
posted by jbenben at 8:54 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I love your username, really, but it makes me wonder if you are not romancing this past relationship a bit too much to allow you to really move on. (Especially now I see that it also figures in a past post about this relationship.) At some point you'll have to really let go and say goodbye in your own mind. Or maybe you'll keep on finding people just like this guy because that is what is familiar to you and there is something comforting about it, however dysfunctional. Or, you know, as in a more recent song, you're "addicted to a certain kind of sadness." I hope not. There is no reason why you shouldn't be happy.
posted by BibiRose at 8:55 AM on March 31


Listen to the most cheesy girl power pop ballads you can think of. Cher, Pink, Alanis Morissette, Aretha Franklin, hell, Cyndi Lauper, whatever. On repeat until it sinks in. Also, remember all of his flaws and write them down. Every moment he made you cringe. Every time you felt disappointment and tried to hide it. Every time he didn't listen to you. Every time he embarrassed you. Relive them. Until it sinks in. He was not good for you. Maybe he's not a bad person- fine. Maybe he's like a big dog that doesn't know his own strength, and yanks you around totally accidentally- whatever. The point is, your arm is getting really tired and you're stressed out. Why he did what he did, why he is what he is, it just doesn't matter. At all. Think of him as a tsunami or poison or some other dangerous natural unthinking thing you need to sensibly avoid.
posted by quincunx at 10:07 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


Things I did to help detox from a former relationship:

-Carry a small journal around with me to dump all the feelings I was having when I was having them. Just get them out of my head and deposited some place. Away from my head. May I never look at that fucking thing again! But it seriously helped me find a place to put a lot of recurring thoughts I was having. Especially the negative ones. It played a big part in my ability to reclaim a sense of who I was minus the ex.

-Permission for self care. I was going through financial trouble at the time, but I set aside a small bit of money for a few indulgences. Maybe it was fancy coffee. Maybe it was a yoga class. It was my $20 a week that I let myself spend without guilt.

-More permission for self care. When I wasn't feeling up for social situations, I gave myself permission to flake. And to simply tell the person that I wasn't feeling up for social interactions. Being honest about where I was at helped.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:21 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


You moved to New York, a city unlike any other in the U.S., 5 months ago for your career. Is it possible that a big part of this is culture shock causing you discomfort which you are misattributing to the relationship?

I lived in the same house for most of my early life. I graduated high school with people I went to kindergarten with. When I married and his career took us elsewhere, I did not know how to cope. I was utterly miserable. It took me years to get some perspective and stop blaming Texas for my misery and realize that between the shock of moving someplace new for the first time and also being pregnant (and deathly ill) for half my time there, I would have been utterly miserable anywhere.

If you had gone to NY to be with him and were all mopey about it, I would be more concerned that it really is HIM. But since you went there coincidentally for your career, I think there is more going on than just being unable to let him go. When you arrived, he gave you clear signals that, no, he is really not up for a serious relationship with you. That was BS. The good news: You didn't move there to be with him. You didn't wreck your life for him only to be left in the lurch.

Focus on your career. Keep a journal. Watch a tear-jerk movie every Friday night. Cry your eyes out. Give it time. And wrestle with some of the other stuff going on here. I see no reason to believe that the level of stress you are experiencing is really about this one guy. It sounds like you have a lot going on and are just assuming your feelings have a singular cause without thinking too deeply about how true that is.
posted by Michele in California at 12:24 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Nest. Make your home cozy, fill it with things you love that he can't judge or touch. Little things from your life before him, new things that catch your eye. Find *your* breakfast place, *your* coffee shop, *your* gym where you can go and pound his face in or run away or whatever you want to do. You can use that to feel better. This is *your* town now, to figure out yourself in. For now, wherever you think he is, don't go there, don't look there. I agree with getting a nice haircut and everything else people said.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:33 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I guess I'm a little late to the game. Hopefully you'll see my answer. So I'm you, but 10 years older and so happily married:) I know how you feel. I really do.

When I was 28 my boyfriend just broke.my.heart. And everyone was getting coupled off and married and I felt defeated and like my ship had sailed. Like maybe all the "good ones were gone." This is such a universal feeling that there is even a country song about it.

There are some things in life that to succeed you have to go through a lot of crappy experiences and failures before it works. Dating is absolutely like this. So are many other things that are worthwhile, like finding a job, or publishing a novel, or...well, I could go on but you know what I mean. The trick I think is to realize that it's a process for everyone and not let it get you down. Realize that it's universal (or nearly so) that everyone goes through at some point.

Here's what I would do if I were you (and what I tried to do).

(1) The self esteem thing. That's no good. We can't have that. Ask around and find a solid hairdresser and fix your hair. Get a few really cute outfits. Watch the show What Not to Wear (it's in reruns only now but still on TLC and I bet you might find it online). They have really good tips for finding flattering outfits, haircuts, bolstering your self esteem. Same thing with make up. Go get some nice make up. I'd also go to the gym because that always, always, makes me feel better about myself. Your mileage may very. But really: if you are angry and upset -- turning loud pounding music up as high as you can and running is very very therapeutic. That is how I got through my first bad breakup.

Now you got a few cute outfits, a kickass haircup, and some flattering makeup. I bet you feel better.

(2) Volunteer. I met my husband volunteering and I think it is the BEST WAY to meet someone if you can. Here's the secret. For the most part? People who volunteer have some redeeming qualities. They usually care about other human beings. Not always, but often. AND. AND. AND. If you don't meet a guy? Ok. It's cool. You still did something meaningful for another human being. Which helps cure a sick soul, fills you with gratitude, and makes you feel better about yourself. And that will make you feel better. Really. So get out there and volunteer. Onebrick.org is great for this but they are a little slow in NYC (if you'd like to get in there and revamp their chapter I'm sure they'd appreciate it) but you can try volunteermatch or NYCares. Try to pick things where you will work in groups and there won't be lots and lots of women.

(3) Volunteering is not enough though. Sorry. I need you to do a little more. When trying to meet someone you should shoot for at least three events a week, I think. It's all a numbers game. The more guys you meet the better off you are. Maybe for one of these you can try a hobby that you are really into. Tennis, hiking, biking, writing (try the gotham writers workshop), whatever it is. Take a class. Join a meetup.

(4) Doing a hobby still isn't enough. Sorry. Three days a week. Remember? Okay so you are volunteering once a week (hopefully), and you are doing that class or hobby activity that you like once a week. Well, yeah, now I think you should do an exclusively singles thing once a week. It could be online dating or it could be a singles group through meetup or in a church. The great thing about singles group is everybody is looking so you don't need to worry about someone being partnered. And you can just ask guys out. That's what I did with my husband.

So, in a nutshell, (1) get a nice haircut, get a few cute outfits, go to the gym. (2) do three things a week to meet men: (1) volunteer; (2) do a hobby class or activity that you enjoy; and (3) do one exclusively singles event a week

And hang in there, because what you are going through is universal.
posted by bananafish at 2:02 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


New haircut, stat.

After that, buy all new underwear and socks.

After that, some jogging pants and shoes and go for a run along the Hudson. It's beautiful out.
posted by yarly at 5:18 PM on March 31


I want to explain some of my advice to you, caseofyou.

We all know how low self-worth affects attractiveness. Why is that? Just as parental love looks down at a child, and spiritual love looks up at the divine, relationship love looks across at an equal partner. It is impossible to fall in love with someone who doesn't respect herself as an equal partner. Do you really think it's helpful to see yourself as a victim of someone else's fair and honest reaction to your self-presentation?

The line between victimhood and responsibility is the line between circumstance and volition. Sure, someone can treat you badly, but how can someone's perception of you affect your self-perception as an adult? You have dozens of years of experience with yourself. He has one or two. You have watched yourself overcome your life's great tragedies. If you were calling character witnesses at a trial, you would be first to the stand. If you are such an empath, tell me, where is your empathy for yourself?

It is very common to romanticize coming of age when the reality is that maturity is mainly opening one's eyes to hard truths about the world and about ourselves. It's easy to attribute the burden of reality on others who merely served as catalysts in bringing that reality to light.

Men sometimes say "that bitch cheated on me and broke my trust in women". Maybe, but why did she cheat on you? This is the hard truth that is being brought to light. But people are so afraid of hard truths that they live their lives stuck, seething at the unchangeable past.

It is well-known that people who cast themselves as victims remain victims. Everything that happens to you can be an anchor that holds you fast onto your past, or else it can be the clue into the profound truth of your existence, heavy at first, but finally as light as a child's hand.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:20 PM on March 31


People don't have carte blanche (or any excusable reason) to treat a person with low self-esteem badly. It is not OP's fault that this person treated her badly, and she did not deserve it, or bring it on, by having low self-esteem. It is not "fair and honest" to treat a person badly in any circumstances.

We don't even know that she had low self-esteem in the first place, or if she even does now. Her post mentions feeling sad that her relationship is over, and some of the common symptoms of depression, not low self-esteem. She had the gumption to break up with the guy, even though it was hard, which indicates self-respect. She had the bravery to pick up and move across the country too. Even if she does have low self-esteem it doesn't make her deserving of cruel, narcissistic behavior. But if she does, it's probably from him anyway.

Caseofyou, I hope that the supportive advice in this thread outweighs the lone voice saying that you deserved it and brought it on yourself. You deserve to be treated well in a relationship.

Esprit, I don't know where you are coming from, but I don't think you are being helpful.
posted by xenophile at 6:50 AM on April 1 [6 favorites]


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