Maybe not so silly, but still conflicted :/
March 21, 2009 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Okay, it's me, back again with yet more break-up/move out questions. If you guys get tired of me asking these just let me know, I'll quit. Details inside... ugh...

Okay, so if you remember reading my recent questions you will remember that I am 21, living with my 37 year old boyfriend. That is, I am for the moment. I decided to move out about two weeks ago and have since found an apartment. My friend and I are filling out the application now, and if all goes well we'll be able to move in just one week.

So here's the rub. I had always felt incredibly conflicted about my boyfriend. He's much too old for me, and I know we have no future... but still he's very important to me and has been a good friend of mine for some time now. It makes me incredibly sad to think that I am going to break his heart, and that combined with my fond memories of times we've shared have left me more confused than ever.

Then again, perhaps I'm not really confused at all. In fact, I can feel deep down that I need to break up with him, but still I hesitate, reminisce, feel immersed with guilt whenever I consider it. When I came back from my grandmother's funeral in another state he dumped me, but the next day told me I had misheard him. That we were still together, but only until I moved out. Didn't make any sense at the time, and since that conversation have spoken several times about the fact that we're not getting along very well, but that we were going to give "us" another shot once I moved out.

He's been pretty complacent and has helped me even with seeing potential apartments, but I know he's holding a grudge for a few not-so-perfect (but honest) things I've said to him. He denies that he's upset, but I can tell by the way he acts.

So, great, right? I move out in a week, shouldn't be a problem. We're doing okay and it seems like it won't be too overwhelming for anybody. So why don't I just wait?

Well... because this week I've been really sick and he hasn't really been acting like a boyfriend, or even like himself. He's gone out every night that I've been at home sick, and he's seemed incredibly put-out by everything I ask him to do or he offers to do for me.

So, I'm miserable. I know that my heart is saying this relationship is dead, and that I'm not happy anymore, but I still don't know how to go about this. I know probably no one here will think I should, but would anyone advise me actually giving him another shot?

If not, should I break up now? If I wait until after the move it will look like I've planned this all along (something he already thinks) and will reflect poorly on me, and he'll probably do a fair bit of "I-told-you-so"ing, but do you think that's the best plan?

Ugh, maybe I shouldn't even be asking people I've never met before, but you've always given me good information before, HiveMind, and I know that you are all experienced, kind, thoughtful and mature people with good heads on your shoulders. So, what do you think? (Sorry it was long!)
posted by big open mouth to Human Relations (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
He's gone out every night that I've been at home sick, and he's seemed incredibly put-out by everything I ask him to do or he offers to do for me.

you're leaving the guy, and he's trying to get over you. stop expecting him to treat you like his girlfriend when you've already told him you don't see a future with him. just leave already! stop wasting your time and his time and let go.
posted by lia at 1:26 PM on March 21, 2009 [29 favorites]

You've been through alot lately and it sounds like he's been way less than supportive or understanding. Wait until after the move to break up with him so you can then ignore him, put him out of your life, delete any i-told-you-so's, and get some time to yourself to heal. I don't think this would reflect poorly on you to anyone.
posted by amethysts at 1:26 PM on March 21, 2009

Well... because this week I've been really sick and he hasn't really been acting like a boyfriend

That's because he's not your boyfriend anymore.

Breakups suck, they really do. Your best bet is to pack everything, go live with your friend for the next ten days, and come back on moving day. These long, slow, drawn-out things are worse on everyone.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:26 PM on March 21, 2009 [20 favorites]

Break up with him, and do it now. It seems to me that you're really ready to break up with him, you're just afraid to do it. Recognizing that you two aren't going to work doesn't invalidate all the good times you've had together, but clinging to this relationship until both of you are nothing but miserable will. Both of you are clearly not happy, and postponing the inevitable is not going to do anyone any good.

Start packing up your stuff and get out of there as quick as you can. See if your friend (or someone else) will let you crash with her until you get the new apartment straightened out. Both of you will be better off in the long-term if you do this quickly rather than waiting it out until the bitter end.
posted by lilac girl at 1:31 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

It doesn't really matter when you break up with him, because you've broken up in everything but name - you're moving out, he's withdrawing, etc. No matter when you actually say the words, he will find some way to make it seem like you've been cruel and conniving, but that's because people say mean things when they're breaking up. It's horrible, but it's how some people deal with the pain -- by making the other one seem like the enemy for a while. If you've had a good relationship overall, things will level off eventually, and you can work on the friendship, but this cannot happen until you're well and truly separated.
posted by TheLittlestRobot at 1:40 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yep, breaking up sucks. You will hurt for a time. The person you care about will hurt time. That's why it sucks.

I don't mean to be flippant; I mean to suggest that you need to accept this discomfort as a simple fact, as an inevitable accompaniment to the (perfectly legitimate) decision you've made. Sometimes we have to do things even though they hurt. Pain cannot always be avoided, and decisions made in order simply to avoid pain in the short-run can often wind up being decisions that cause more pain in the long run.
posted by scody at 1:41 PM on March 21, 2009 [7 favorites]

Frankly, yes, this is tiresome.

As people noted, the last go-round included more than one red flag so bright it obliterated the light of a thousand suns. I know these things ain't easy at your age or 2x your age, but you seem at least partially ensnarled in an unhealthy approach.

If I wait until after the move it will look like I've planned this all along (something he already thinks) and will reflect poorly on me, and he'll probably do a fair bit of "I-told-you-so"ing, but do you think that's the best plan?

It's been made abundantly clear that the guy is somewhere between disturbing and warped--and it seems at least some part of you knows this. Alas, there is another part that is slow or reluctant to grasp that the rational, healthy choice is to not give a rat's incontinent backside about all the complete, idiotic, selfish crap this guy might think or spew, and not think for the first shred of a second about staying with this sick thing.

Sorry if this comes across as someone being what comes out of the above-mentioned rat's backside, but people have been thoughtful, patient, kind and supportive in sharing the gifts of their time and thought and this is starting to read like, "Yeah, but... ."

How much more clear do you need or want people to relate what was about as unanimous as anything on this site ever has been or will be?

Enough--if for no other reason than your own life and sanity. What someone or some people here think is less than spit in the ocean, much as some people here might find this ugly drama tiresome.

Remember those three words: ugly, drama and tiresome. A sense that perhaps you've thought those words or similar relative to all this. If so, remember that. If not, this would be a really good time to start.

Clearly this isn't like seeking insights about how to find out if a battery, alternator, both or something else might need to be replaced, but with anyone, there will reasonably be a point of exasperation, to include people becoming exasperated with themselves. Some people feed on that sick energy and mayhem with a self-absorbed approach.

"Enough of me talking about me, let's talk about what you think of me."

Stop it.
posted by ambient2 at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2009 [7 favorites]

guh, "the person you care about will hurt for a time." I don't know how someone would actually hurt time, though I find the concept intriguing.
posted by scody at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2009

Best answer: I'd wait out the last 10 days with as little confrontation as possible. Try to just be nice. Don't give him shit for being a bad boyfriend (since he pretty much isn't any more). Just get lots of sleep, be nice, pack your stuff, make lots of social dates with friends to keep out of this guy's hair, but don't come stumbling home drunk or start seeing anyone else until you're out of the shared space. Try to let it all roll off your back, move out as planned, thank him lots and be really nice. Just because you're at the end of a relationship is no reason to act like a jerk, either of you. If he's being a jerk, well, you can't control his actions, but you can help by not adding to the drama. After you're all moved into your new place, step back, evaluate, and if you decide to end the relationship (which sounds like the right plan) do it nicely and with as much goodwill as you can muster- in honour of the good times you had, treat him well and graciously at the end. Good luck! I know this part is hard, but behave well until it's older, it's only a couple more weeks. Then I think you'll be happier dating guys in your age range.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2009 [5 favorites]

It is easy to see how he has manipulated you so much. Your questions show that you are extremely indecisive to the point of not seeing what's plainly in front of your face.

I know probably no one here will think I should, but would anyone advise me actually giving him another shot?

Hell no! Why would we?

If not, should I break up now?

Yes, absolutely. This guy is making you miserable. Get away from this abusive, damaging relationship. Start spending time with people your own age. Work on getting your self-respect back after this 37-year-old loser sapped it away from you.
posted by jayder at 1:46 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

And yeah, he'll say he told you so. If you wanna stay friends, let him have a few (just a few, don't be a doormat) little moments of needling you, it probably helps his ego to do so. If you feel it's worthwhile staying friends, pretend not to hear that junk the first few times- most people act a little sanctimonious and dickish when their feelings are hurt, and if he's really worth being friends with, he'll come around. On the other hand, if he gives you "I told you so" bull for more than a couple weeks, take it as a hint that he's not worth it and you should just quietly stop answering his calls. No drama- just let him fade out of your life.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:48 PM on March 21, 2009

If not, should I break up now?
You've already broken up. You're just venting in AskMe now.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 1:49 PM on March 21, 2009

>but behave well until it's older,

OMG, best typo ever.

posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:50 PM on March 21, 2009

Best answer: There's a a lot to respond to here. Much of what you say about your boyfriend's behavior -- coupled with the information that you provided in your last post -- confirms that he is prone to manipulative behavior and that you are not happy being in this relationship. As you work through your feelings over the breakup, looking over what you've written here and in the earlier post may help you sort through your feelings and get a clearer sense of what's happening and has happened in this relationship.

But: the task at hand. Something my sister told me when I was agonizing over breaking up with my first boyfriend is that breakups almost always are sad, and very often ugly. Unfortunately, that's the nature of the beast. If you're a nice person, you want to do everything in a way that won't hurt anyone's feelings, and there are some situations where that's impossible.

If you're the one ending a relationship, it is easy to feel like you are inflicting pain on someone and easy to feel bad about it. It's hard to cope with the idea that doing what you need to do for yourself might cause pain or inconvenience to another person. Remember: that face that you are feeling and thinking the things that you are right now -- about how much you care about this person and how much you want to avoid hurting them -- is a sign that you're not a terrible person or a mean person for wanting to end the relationship. So try to stop feeling guilty or that you are somehow obligated to do anything other than what you know is best for you -- which, you have already decided, is ending the relationship.

So here's the kernel of my advice on how to go about this: finish your move, and then ask him for a two-week period of no contact to adjust to your new situation and think about your future. Take that time to see how it feels to be in your new environment, what kind of person you'd like to be, and how your boyfriend is or is not helping you become that person.

I think you need to wait until you're moved in to your new place to meet up with your boyfriend -- on neutral territory, not at his place or yours. Just moving will clear up a lot that's going on in your head, and I think you'll feel far stronger and able to assert yourself and your feelings once you're out.

I don't know if you should give this person another chance -- you seem to want to do so only to make him happy and dissolve the tension in your relationship -- but you can't have any perspective on that until you have your own space and some time away from the relationship and from him.

When you do speak with him, be frank -- as hard as it sometimes is -- with him, and don't be tempted to equivocate to avoid hurting him or to make things easier on yourself.

Yes, you "planned" this, but so what? If you were in a different relationship, or were older, maybe you would have handled this differently, but this is the way you could do this, so that's how you did it. What were your options here, really? I'd also like to remind you that your boyfriend has responded to the tension in your relationship by acting like a jerk -- remember, if he wanted to have a blunt conversation about this, he could do so instead of passive-aggressively leaving you alone at home while you are sick, making snide comments, and generally placing the burden of the emotional work on you.

There's so much to say about your post, but a few final thoughts I think might be particularly helpful:

There are many people who are cold-hearted assholes, but you don't sound like one of them. Remember that while other people's feelings are important, no one's feelings can or should be more important than your own. You've said quite a number of things that suggest that your boyfriend is profoundly manipulative, and you need to remember that you don't have to do things to make other people happy if they don't make you happy. Don't let your boyfriend make you feel guilty or disparage your ambitions to be a healthy, independent adult to try to manipulate you back into being with him. You deserve nothing less than a partner who considers your emotional welfare to be a priority and takes your feelings seriously.

Good luck with this hard, hard thing.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:52 PM on March 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

I would look at it like this.

You've agonized long and hard about breaking up with him. Decided for whatever reasons that it really *is* the right thing to do, even though, of course, you still have feelings for him.

You're moving out, he's trying to "get over you" by going out every night, this hurts a little because you are a human being, and want him to express some love for you when you're sick, even though you've basically cut him off at the knees.(No one is really at fault here)

I know the guilt hurts, but dragging it out hurts worse. This is one of those Band-aid moments. Rip it off, quickly.

He's not it. He's not doing it for you. This relationship is on it's last gasps. Put it out of it's misery.

Do this for yourself. Take charge of this. Pull the trigger, and enjoy just being yourself for awhile.

The true Love of Your Life has to be you, BOM.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 1:54 PM on March 21, 2009

Best answer: Be mature. Use this relationship experience to become a full-fledged adult. You're still quite young, in years, but you can demonstrate to your ex, and to yourself, that you are fully ready to move on as a mature, responsible individual. Be civil, helpful, understanding. Take the high road. Avoid emotional demonstrations and breakdowns. No whining or crying. When all is said and done, and the next month is behind you, you can look back and give yourself a big high five for acting and being the person you truly want to be. Yay you!
posted by netbros at 1:58 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just saw some of the responses above. Seconding, thirding, fourthing, staying with your friend until moving day and then showing up WITH FRIENDS to get the rest of your stuff out.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 2:00 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

You've just said you and him have no future.

I don't think I can add anything to this other than the fact that you need to get the fuck out.

Don't let him help you find apartments.

posted by kldickson at 2:03 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, I know. He's manipulating me and I'm playing right into it. I have issues, I know, but I'm trying to be a good person, and balance my own morals and ethics with the logistics of an entirely new and touchy situation. I've never even dated someone for longer than a few months before my boyfriend now, and he's been nicer (yes, and more manipulative, too) than any of my past suitors. It's new, I'm trying to listen to my instincts but also trying not be a big time jerk or irrational or immature. Sorry that the posts have been dragging on and I've wavered and sounded as if I'm saying "yes but..." it's true. I am. Sometimes I think it's okay to waver in your convictions if you're unsure, and I don't think blazing straight forward without examining the possible benefits and drawbacks of different methods would be wise.

What I'm saying is, thanks for your honesty, and I'm not offended if you find me tiresome sometimes. Thank you also for your advice about the timing, it's definitely something I'm taking seriously and trying to weigh the importance of integrity versus ease.
posted by big open mouth at 2:10 PM on March 21, 2009

Break-ups suck. Always. Big time. Everyone goes through them. You'll get through this one. You had some grand times with him. Years from now you'll cherish the memories of the good times. Right now your emotional radar is tuning into every "break-up" song (previous AskMe threads -- 1, 2) you hear on the radio. You identify with the them and are convinced the lyrics were specifically penned for your. Endulge in them. It's okay to wallow in the sorrow. But, soon, you'll hear the same songs and they'll apply less to you. As they say, time heals all wounds.
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on March 21, 2009

Nthing stay with your friend until you officially move out. It will make things easier for both of you. He won't have you around to remind him that you're leaving, and you won't have to deal with him. It will probably be a much cleaner break if you leave now than 10 more days of awkwardness.

You need to tell him that you are 100% broken up. No pretend still together limbo time. Once a couple has acknowledged that they are not going to be together indefinitely, the relationship should end there, because it's already over.
posted by fructose at 2:29 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you guys get tired of me asking these just let me know, I'll quit.

We're not therapists, and we're not here as a support group. I don't speak for everyone, but I know that I'm personally happy to help in situations where people feel stuck... but repeated questions about the same relationship smack of "Break up, get a therapist."

If you need to vent to the internet, I honestly highly recommend livejournal as a way to get your thoughts out there and get feedback from friends.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:30 PM on March 21, 2009 [9 favorites]

It may be easier to figure out where you are if you think of the relationship as a puppy with end-stage cancer.
posted by rhizome at 2:50 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Regardless of what he does or how he reacts, you need to do the things that will make you look back on the whole situation and make yourself proud of how you handled it. And not just in one area, or for one day, or in one instance. THE WHOLE ENTIRE TIME, until you are gone, until none of this matters anymore, until you are completely over this and have really, truly reached the point where you indeed ARE 'looking back on it'.

I guarantee that if you spend your time focusing on yourself and your behavior, the time will fly by faster, you will get over this quicker, and it really won't matter what anybody else (including him) does.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:01 PM on March 21, 2009

It sounds like you have a serious entitlement problem here. You don't think he's being a "good boyfriend", he's not doing enough for you, he's not taking care of you while you're sick (with what, a cold?). Why do you think you're owed all that special attention? You're not paying rent, you both know the relationship is over, why are you even doing in that apartment anymore? Stop dragging this out, just get out and let it die. Are you going to continue this relationship once you move out? You already know you're not, you said so at the top of your post. Sounds like these are the nice words you use to make these last few days more bearable. And give you a reason to keep living rent-free, perhaps?

And why on earth did you get him to help you find a new apartment? You're a grown up. You shouldn't be having him help you do anything anymore. You object to the way he treats you, but you need to think about how you treat him. He's not a de facto parent. You don't get your ex-boyfriend to help you move on with your life without him; that's cruel.

Stop calling him your boyfriend. He's not your boyfriend anymore, he's some guy you're inexplicably mooching off of.

Move out NOW.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:04 PM on March 21, 2009 [19 favorites]

I'm trying to be a good person, and balance my own morals and ethics with the logistics of an entirely new and touchy situation

Dear god and baby Jesus what are you talking about? Morals and ethics? Logistics? Young lady you're not involved in a hostage negotiation situation crossing international boundaries, involving a Columbian drug czar and a prostitution ring.

You're a girl dragging her feet over looking some needy old jerk you're shacking up with in the face and saying "You're a wierdo. I'm dysfunctional. This isn't working. I'm getting the fuck out."

The world is absolutely FILLED with people who piss their lives away, drag their feet, blame other people, and in general manage to suck terribly at life. You're young. Don't turn into a bitter old woman with a lifetime of fuck ups behind you.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 3:30 PM on March 21, 2009 [10 favorites]

If I wait until after the move it will look like I've planned this all along (something he already thinks) and will reflect poorly on me...

It won't reflect any poorer on you than clinging to the shreds of a relationship that everyone in the world knows is over and was probably a bad idea in the first place.

Leave now if you can, leave later if you absolutely must, and read Hildegarde's pointed comment about a hundred times if that's what's necessary for you to see all this from the outside.
posted by hermitosis at 3:31 PM on March 21, 2009

Also, the sooner you get rid of the idea that breakups should be painless, the better off you'll be. It does happen sometimes that two people part totally amicably and without regrets (usually because one or both are leaving the country for the opportunity of a lifetime or something) but it is not the norm by any means.

So, yeah, he will probably hurt over this. And so will you. That's the norm for breakups. If you're wise, you'll learn something from the pain.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. -- Samuel Beckett,Worstward Ho.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:58 PM on March 21, 2009

First he tells you that you're broke up and then he tells you that you're broke off after you move out and then he tells you that y'all are gone a give it a shot after all. Quit abdicating your responsibility for this situation (which includes asking the internet to shake some sense into you over and over again), quit letting him dictate what is going on (and he will just keep screwing around with you to hold on to some of the power he's lost). This relationship was doomed from the start and now it's over. You're not beholden to your misbegotten initial plan to try to move out but try to keep dating. There's no nice way out of this, never was. You both already know it's over. He obviously lacks the backbone to hew to the obvious course, so it's up to you.
posted by nanojath at 5:07 PM on March 21, 2009

It is worth noting that the question poster has disabled her account.
posted by nanojath at 5:13 PM on March 21, 2009

Well, I guess when she said this:

If you guys get tired of me asking these just let me know, I'll quit.

...she meant "quit" in a different way than the rest of us inferred.
posted by scody at 5:16 PM on March 21, 2009

Posted to MeTa wondering about the continued existence of this thread in light of the poster having left the building.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:35 PM on March 21, 2009

Actions speak louder than words
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:25 PM on March 21, 2009

big open mouth: just so you know, you can come back later by dropping a note to jessamyn or Cortex asking to reactivate your account. I'm telling you this because I have a feeling you're going to need us in the future, and even though your feelings may be a bit hurt at the moment, we're really a good resource - sometimes most especially when we tell you things you don't necessarily want to hear.

I infer a troubling lack of parental guidance here, which may have something to do with the age discrepancy with boyfriend and the choice of relationship in which there is such an imbalance of power. If it's true that there may be parent/daddy issues at work here, this is something that will dog your days for perhaps for the rest of your life (even when the ages are more closely aligned) and cause a lot of misery unless you get it worked out with therapy. (Experience gleaned from watching a friend go through this for many, many unhappy years - more years than you've been alive... and I see a startling similarity of behavior, almost point by point). A total guess from left field, but if it seems accurate after some honest consideration, you can save yourself many years, if not a lifetime, of unhappiness by working through it early. Best of luck to you.
posted by taz at 11:40 PM on March 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

i haven't followed this whole drama; i assume the question has already been asked elsewhere, maybe the girl is just anxious and hoping the boy will say, "no, please stay!" and maybe it's not all that bad a relationship after all?
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 12:07 AM on March 22, 2009

You're miserable because you are trying to hold on to the past while moving into the future. You can't break up with this guy and keep him too. Trying to be important to him while removing yourself from his life is impossible. Accept the direction you are moving and stop looking back over your shoulder. You have decades ahead of you with thousands of people yet to meet - go that way.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:55 AM on March 22, 2009

You are miserable because somewhere along the way you have not experienced or fully integrated what Loss is, and it's a hard thing to learn, but learn it you must so start now -- when you have some control over Loss so that you will be at least a little prepared when it happens in a more profound and uncontrollable way, and it will. It is a process.

You are in the process of grieving. The pain of that is causing you to feel weak, unsure, lonely, helpless, hopeless, overly-empathetic to him, on and on and on. Time, coupled with some behaviorial tricks to help you across the gulf (keep busy, exercise, etc etc) is the answer. No other advice applies, with respect. You need to comprehend that no events or behaviors either of you exhibit is relevant anymore. It's time to get distance (physical, electronic) and with it will come emotional distance. It's time to let the process begin, with the expectation that you will weaken -- but you must not (and yes it's hard) if you want to mature (because as you've said, you know what's right).
posted by thinkpiece at 7:10 AM on March 22, 2009

I'm taking seriously and trying to weigh the importance of integrity versus ease.

There is no "weighing" here.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:02 PM on March 22, 2009

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