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19 = bad life decisions
May 10, 2014 3:22 AM   Subscribe

Should I get back together with a cheater?

Hey mefites, my ex-boyfriend who I dated for half a semester got drunk and slept with someone and then after that I made a really harsh comment and he used that as a reason to break up with me over the worst text message ever. He didn't even tell me about sleeping about someone else until the second time I asked. And then he asked to get back together at the start of this semester while I was still tipsy because but I was so furious I quite forcefully said no. I thought I had gotten over it then, and on paper I am aware how bad this sounds but ever since the break up I've felt so empty and sad. And I've been on dates but I haven't liked anyone as much as this guy. Ever. And part of me wants to forgive this and give it a second chance, but the other part thinks NO!! I want to have self-respect! And a third part of me is like 'there are no rules in relationships, follow what your gut says'

It's been weeks since the breakup and I still think about it quite a lot and I really think that this time things would be better because the break up forced us to open up and be honest with each other. I don't know why but I can't let go! I don't even want it for the long term just for a few months more because being with him felt so right and he was really sweet until the breakup. I don't think I'm thinking straight and all my friends have been telling me that he sounds like bad news (I would give the same advice) but this is hard! I don't think he realizes that I'm still hung up about this because I look happy. And I told him I had no feelings anymore so he probably will leave me alone unless I approach him. So should I? Is it worth another chance? How would I go about it? And if not, how do I get over this? We've been broken up for longer than our entire relationship and yet I'm still thinking about it! Is it that bad to let myself make some bad life decisions at this age? Part of me thinks 'this is a terrible idea' but the other part thinks 'make mistakes and learn from them' 'take risks!'. What should I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
No, the mistake you made was misjudging his character and trusting him in the first place. The 'learning from it' would be not giving him the chance to do it again.

You're 19. Walk away. The 'bad life decisions' you want to make are the ones that lead to short-term fun, not the ones that will make you miserable very quickly, and erode your self-esteem.
posted by Salamander at 3:30 AM on May 10 [42 favorites]


Apart from the line where you say he was sweet until the breakup, all your reasons for getting back with him seem to be about trying to ignore that some part of you thinks its a bad idea, because it can be good to "take risks". I'm sure he is a sweet guy but it doesn't sound like it made either of you totally happy.

It might be more useful in the long run to learn the life lesson that it hurts to break up with someone but you will get over it. If you go back because you miss him you won't learn that. If you consider being with someone "a bad life decision" then, irrelevant of age, it's wiser to try and make a different one. Take care.
posted by billiebee at 3:44 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


And if not, how do I get over this? We've been broken up for longer than our entire relationship and yet I'm still thinking about it!

That's pretty typical for people who are getting out of one of their first serious relationships. It can take awhile. Give it time and don't assume that your inability to get over him will last forever. One day, you will get over it, and one day you'll look back on this and be amazed that you wasted this much mental energy on a guy who was such a jerk to you.
posted by chaiminda at 3:49 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


I don't even want it for the long term just for a few months more

Even if it's for the short-term, why subject yourself to the possibility of him being a terrible guy to you again? If you've already determined that your time with him will be limited, wouldn't it make more sense to want that time spent doing nice fun things together, instead of dealing with the possibility of his infidelity? It sounds like you are in college, so I have a hard time believing there's any shortage of young good-enough guys who are primarily interested in short-term flings...

Part of me thinks 'this is a terrible idea' but the other part thinks 'make mistakes and learn from them' 'take risks!'. What should I do?

You should make mistakes and learn from them. The risk: dating a guy; the mistake: dating a guy who turned out to be a disrespectful cheater; learned from this: no more dating guys who are disrespectful cheaters. Basically, what billiebee said.
posted by obliterati at 3:49 AM on May 10


nope. not worth it. in fact, count yourself lucky that you found out about the cheating side of him early on. If I had the sense to ditch the cheating jerk I was with when I was 19 I could have spared myself 3 years of an abusive relationship. Spare yourself that kind of heartache, and stay away from him. I get that you're feeling bad about it, but it could very well be that you are hurting because a rotten thing happened to you, not because breaking up was the wrong thing to do. Getting back with him means that it is very likely more rotten things are going to happen. Give yourself some time to recover from your hurt - there really will be other, non-cheating guys you will meet and like.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:09 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Mistakes happen and we learn from them, yes, but this guy had proven to you that he's not a stand-up guy. Listen to your gut that is telling you "No!". That is a gift brought to you by thousands of years of evolution. Use your gift!
posted by SillyShepherd at 4:40 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


ever since the break up I've felt so empty and sad.

Understandable, but getting back with him is not the way to deal with these feelings.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:45 AM on May 10 [11 favorites]


Read your first sentence out loud ten times and imagine it's your best friend asking you this question. What would your answer be?

No. No. And fuck no.
posted by Sal and Richard at 4:56 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]


I really think that this time things would be better because the break up forced us to open up and be honest with each other.

A relationship that requires such pain and drama to foster moments of the honesty and intimacy you want is not likely to be, on balance, all that much fun.

Is it that bad to let myself make some bad life decisions at this age?

Does trading away loneliness and getting lowered standards and a lasting fear of betrayal in return sound like a good deal?
posted by jon1270 at 5:01 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Half a semester is what, 2 months? Three at most. That is a very VERY short time; the chances that you even really know him are near zero. Trust his actions, not his words. His actions will tell you all about who he really is.

But instead of listening to me, just listen to yourself for the answer:

I want to have self-respect!

Look forward, and keep your self-respect by redirecting your impulses to contact him.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:08 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Oh HELL no.
Getting back together with this tool would go down in the Hall of Fame of Bad Decisions.
You want self esteem?
Just think how great you will feel by turning down this opportunity and hanging out with folks who truly love and respect you. That's how you build your self-esteem muscle.
Fuck this noise.

MOVE ON DOT ORG.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 5:24 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


This sounds like an April Fools joke.

Re-read your post pretending that it's coming from your best friend who slept with a douchebag. That should give you some perspective.

Trust me you don't want to waste your 20s dating these asshats. Save yourself the trouble and therapy bills and just date good guys. Otherwise you'll be writing me-fi in 15 years crying about how you can't find someone and you don't know why.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:40 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


And a third part of me is like 'there are no rules in relationships, follow what your gut says'

It's been weeks since the breakup and I still think about it quite a lot .... I don't think I'm thinking straight ...


Go with the part of your gut that tells you you're not thinking straight.

Your situation is a perfect example of how there are some rules in relationships, and it's not always a good idea to follow your gut. I suggest this rule: don't get back together with the person who cheated on you just because you're still infatuated with this person a few weeks later.

Why not? Doesn't he have some good qualities? I'm sure he does. But you're intensely, inordinately focused on him right now. If you go back to him, he'll be monopolizing your time. That's time you could be using to find someone else — a real, specific person, someone with a name and a face, who you'd also be attracted to, and who'd treat you better. But you'll be depriving yourself of that alternate world by staying in the inferior world. Now, what I'm saying might be against your gut, and it might be "rational," but just because it's rational doesn't mean it's disregarding emotions. The whole issue is about feelings, but there are more and less rational ways to think about them. By thinking more rationally about your feelings — not just current feelings but also future feelings in new scenarios you haven't explored yet — you will actually be respecting your "gut" more than if you impetuously act on your current crush.

Bottom line: Is he really the best you can do? Do you not deserve better?
posted by John Cohen at 6:54 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


No way! you are sooooo young. Explore yourself and other people! So should he! Don't settle down until you're 30 AT LEAST. That is exactly what I would say to a 19 year old me. (32 now... maybe don't settle down until 40. haha)
posted by katypickle at 6:58 AM on May 10


Your hurt is real, but time will heal it. You deserve respect and love; don't ever settle for anything less than respect. Love grows over time out of affection. This guy has been disloyal and mean, don't accept that.
posted by theora55 at 7:02 AM on May 10


You are 19. You are young, vital and alive. Why do you want to waste all that on someone who does not appreciate it? Who will, trust me on this, take away those very traits. Do you want to be the starter girlfriend who suffers all his douche mistakes before being ditched for someone else more vital and alive? You know why they are more vital and alive than you? Because they did not waste those qualities on said jerk, yet.

He cheated on you, ditched you by text and now is all, "but baby, you know I lurv you." Yeah, NO.

As an academic advisor, I can tell you that I see plenty of female students who self-sabotage with bad boyfriend choices. It eventually impacts their lives in many long term ways, some obvious and others not so much. Basically, they become the victims of their narratives and no longer the heroines. Don't underestimate yourself or your worth.
posted by jadepearl at 7:08 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


Having chemistry with someone is powerful. It feels wonderful. However, chemistry isn't enough on its own to sustain a healthy relationship--and that sucks. Because the good feeling of chemistry is real. You're missing something real. At the same time, you know that it's not a good idea to be in a relationship with this guy. You refer to him as a "cheater." You feel angry and hurt by his behavior when the two of you were in a relationship--and, crucially, you're not seeing any signs that he has made changes or grown in ways that will prevent further behavior like this. These things are as real as the chemistry you two share.

So, you get over this by trusting your sense of what is good and healthy for you--that part of your brain that calls him a cheater, that rejects his request to get back together, that thinks he's bad news. You can keep going on dates to see if there's another person with whom you have good chemistry, or you can take a break from dating and put your energy into something else fun.

The thing about making mistakes when you're young is that sometimes the consequences are really painful. And yeah, that's a normal part of life, but if you can see the mistake for what it is and choose something better for yourself, you'll be better off. That would be my hope for you: that you would see this juicy, appealing bad decision, recognize that you want it, and seek out other options because what you really want is what's best and healthiest for you in the long run.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:46 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Nobody on the entire planet except for him is going to tell you to get back together with this guy. Nobody. Not us, not your mom, not Dan Savage, not your friends, and possibly not even Lori "Settle!" Gottlieb. Even you would advise you not to date him again!
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:54 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


I really think that this time things would be better because the break up forced us to open up and be honest with each other.

He didn't even tell me about sleeping about someone else until the second time I asked.


I'm not seeing any "open and honest" here.

Nobody on the entire planet except for him is going to tell you to get back together with this guy. Nobody. Not us, not your mom, not Dan Savage, not your friends, and possibly not even Lori "Settle!" Gottlieb. Even you would advise you not to date him again!

I don't think he realizes that I'm still hung up about this because I look happy. And I told him I had no feelings anymore so he probably will leave me alone unless I approach him.


NOT EVEN HE wants to get back together with you. Please please please move on.
posted by CathyG at 9:05 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


You feel empty and sad because that's how people end up feeling after breakups, especially breakups with the sort of awful people who can't even handle fidelity for a couple months. You've been wronged and you feel bad. Time will make it feel better. Giving him more chances to hurt you will not.
posted by Sequence at 9:42 AM on May 10


At 19 with no marriage and no kids? HELL NO.
posted by Jahaza at 10:32 AM on May 10


He took a mean comment you said and used that as an excuse to break up with you via text-message, so that he wouldn't have to worry about you breaking up with him when you found out he had cheated on you. Which you eventually got him to admit, but not until he had already denied it.

He cheated on you after only a couple of months. He lied about it. He broke up with you via text-message. (I dunno, I keep hearing from people that this is not as bad as other people think it is, but it seems really lame.) I don't believe in "once a cheater, always a cheater", but if you're teenagers, and you dated for like 8 weeks, and you've been broken up for like 8 weeks, if you decide to date him again even though he's made no interest in dating you again, you're pretty much making him think that he can cheat on you and lie to you and you'll eventually be okay with it, simply because you find him charming.

It's one thing to make mistakes, then learn from them. It's another to make mistakes, not learn from them, then make the same mistake again on purpose. Don't date this guy again.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:07 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


When I was 19 I, like you, thought that really missing someone after we broke up was A Sign of some sort. Although I didn't examine it deeply, my reasoning seemed to be that if the relationship wasn't meant to be or the guy wasn't a good guy, the breakup would feel good or ok. I was very good at creating an argument about why I should get back together with someone that, in my heart of hearts, I knew I shouldn't get back together with.

Here's what I know now that I wished I'd known when I was where you are:
-Breakups are nearly always painful.
-Breakups with guys who aren't right for you/aren't good people? Still painful.
-Ending incredibly destructive relationships? Oddly, even more painful.
-Doubts in the breakup process aren't A Sign that you're meant to be with this person. They happen in most breakups, and they're actually not about the other person at all. They're about something that's going on with you - loneliness, insecurity, pain, etc.

I hope that helps...those are things that took me years to learn.

Oh and the other, hardest-won piece of wisdom...you have to always, always, always trust your instincts when they tell you to leave, to NOT do it, to protect your self-respect.
posted by leitmotif at 12:34 PM on May 10 [12 favorites]


Like everyone above said, NO.

I'd like to add another reason to turn you off this idea.

You're 19. You need to look after your sexual health. The increased risk of catching an STD which will stick with you for life is not worth the buzz of being with this cheater.
posted by Catch at 1:42 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


i would stay broken up with someone who broke up with me over text on principal. that shit is really, really pathetic and should be reserved for edge case situations of cutting off contact with an abuser, possibly long distance, or something. It's just generally disrespectful and shows how little of a shit they give about the relationship.

i also think as a general rule, someone who does something shitty and then breaks up with you doesn't get a second chance. If you broke up with him, and were considering getting back together than would be one thing maybe... in vacuum, without any of the other details.

I mean even without churning through all the other little details, those are both good enough "nah, fuck it" ones for me.
posted by emptythought at 5:32 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Nope. Find someone new.
posted by ead at 11:27 AM on May 11


My friend once told me when dating, she asks herself "is this the kind of person I would like to see my best friend date?"

So, I ask you, is this the kind of guy you would want your best friend to date?
posted by inertia at 8:21 AM on May 12


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