Did you feel this stupid after your breakup?
June 22, 2009 10:17 AM   Subscribe

How do I get over feeling like a total idiot for believing in a relationship that she ended without a second thought?

Long story short, I went through this, but it was 10 years of friendship/love including 2 years of marriage. My first real, long-term thing. We went through some rough patches, who doesn't, but while I always thought we would work it out, make it through, and be in it forever, she apparently didn't have the faith or trust in us that I did.

Enough time has passed and thanks to the above link, I am pretty well over it. No love, no longing, no revenge fantasies or wishing we would get back together. No real interest in seeing or speaking to her, though we run into each other plenty in social situations and it's cordial. Just a genuine desire and excitement to move on with my life.

What I am feeling, however, in INCREDIBLE stupidity. I feel like such an idiot for being in this relationship for SO long (not to mention thinking it would last,) with someone who was on such a completely different page that she ended it without even really trying to save it.

Did you feel this dumb post-breakup? How did you get over it? Is it just a "hindsight is 20/20, love is blind, give it time" kind of deal?

Thanks, me-fiers. It feels like this is the last mental obstacle to closing the book, so I appreciate your help.
posted by buzzkillington to Human Relations (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
This is what you're doing: Your hinging your entire emotional frame on what you think you know about the other person's feelings.

Don't to that. Other people's thoughts are unknowable, thus you can only act on their actions, not their emotions.

In other words, your making up a narrative in your head based on something that is unknowable and then allowing that faulty and meaningless narrative to effect your emotional state.
posted by wfrgms at 10:21 AM on June 22, 2009 [5 favorites]

Yeah, you have no way of knowing what she felt. I thought my ex was much like you think your ex is... and then we talked about it and I learned that things were totally different on his end than I'd imagined. Just let it go... for all you know, she's agonizing over this as much or more than you are. In the end, it doesn't matter. You're responsible for yourself and that's it.
posted by youcancallmeal at 10:24 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

How did you get over it? Is it just a "hindsight is 20/20, love is blind, give it time" kind of deal?

Pretty much, yeah. I was in a long and lame relationship my last 2 years of college and first 2 years out of it, and the last phase of the recovery involved a lot of kicking myself for putting up with him for so long.

But I kept telling myself "well, Jesus, I was only 19 when it started and I really didn't know any better", and in time, I started to finally believe it. Same too with another relationship about 5 years ago which was shorter, but no less stupid -- I eventually realized that well, he was pretty manipulative, that may have had a lot to do with it.

All you can do at any time is the best you can do at that time with the information you have available to you at that time. You may know that you and she were on diferent pages now, but it may not have been something you could see then -- and back then, you could only operate on the information you had available to you back then. You did the best you could then.

I also firmly believe that everyone is entitled to have a couple of "what the hell was I thinking" relationships, too. This one was one of yours, that's all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:25 AM on June 22, 2009

What I am feeling, however, in INCREDIBLE stupidity. I feel like such an idiot for being in this relationship for SO long (not to mention thinking it would last,) with someone who was on such a completely different page that she ended it without even really trying to save it.

This is purely your opinion. You can't know what she was really thinking or feeling, and you are allowing your opinion of the situation to allow you to feel bad. Stop doing this, you will feel better.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:25 AM on June 22, 2009

My general feeling is that there is value, both personal and social to loving other people. Whether this love winds up being ultimately misplaced, as you feel yours may have been, does not remove the benefit to you and to others from you having been in a loving relationship as the lover and the lovee.

I feel like such an idiot for being in this relationship for SO long (not to mention thinking it would last,) with someone who was on such a completely different page that she ended it without even really trying to save it.

Unless she told you flat out "You and I were not on the same page, I do not and did not care about this relationship" then you're having this sort of conversation with spectres and phantoms. It's normal, but that doesn't mean it's healthy or useful. Some people "try to save it" in different ways from others. I'm sorry that your partner did not make you part of the "try to save it" process but that's ultimately her choice and her loss.

You are, likely, lonely and confused and frustrated and used to having someone with you to help you through these feelings and it's easy to feel adrift when you become untethered like this. My general mantra, which was helpful to me in a similar situation several years ago, is that it's not stupid or idiotic to love people who love you back, though it can feel that way when they stop being a part of that relationship. I am sorry, this sort of thing does suck terribly, but yes, time will help.
posted by jessamyn at 10:28 AM on June 22, 2009 [17 favorites]

I feel like such an idiot for being in this relationship for SO long (not to mention thinking it would last,) with someone who was on such a completely different page that she ended it without even really trying to save it.

This line sounds like you're maybe not over it. It sounds like left over anger. That's natural. And you're not stupid for believing in something she didn't. You probably know that. Thing is, there's almost always someone left wondering what they missed whenever there's a breakup. This time it was you. Unfortunately, the only way to move on is to, well, move on! Keeping yourself busy, especially with other people, is the best healer. Oh, and time, but keeping yourself active makes the time less noticeable.
posted by katillathehun at 10:45 AM on June 22, 2009

Yes, and then No.
I have no interest in being cordial with her. I have no interest in seing her in a social setting. Our mutual friends know this and know that it would be smarter to keep us separate (at my request). Yes, I'm capable of being cordial, yes I know that I would be cordial should the situation force iteself to be necessary (wedding/funeral/etc). But, I am what I would consider "in touch" with my anger and I am far more than okay with not being her friend than she realizes. There's no revenge fantasy - just I have no desire to show her the same level of polite restraint that I would normally show in any social setting.

As positives, being in that relationship refocused what I wanted out of a partner, as well as what I didn't want out of one. Having gone through therapy to understand what went wrong, I learned how better to communicate my needs with people as well as how to better interpret their needs.

But, yeah... hindsight is 20/20, love is blind, and knowing that "you don't have to nor should you put up with that kind off bullshit" is invaluable for future relationships.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:50 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nanukthedog - are you answering the OP or are you the OP? I'm confused by the wording.
posted by katillathehun at 11:04 AM on June 22, 2009

Similar but different experience katillathehun.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:10 AM on June 22, 2009

Well, it's unlikely that she went through the entire relationship that she didn't have any faith in. Even if she told you that, I think it's pretty unlikely. That's just how she feels now.

I think it's pretty common to feel foolish when a relationship ends suddenly and unexpectedly, but I think that foolish feeling is really camouflaged anger. After my last breakup I felt foolish for a long time, and the way that feeling went away was for me to get good and truly angry--angry that my ex had treated me so badly, had ended our relationship so abruptly and rudely, angry that he didn't have the courtesy of even letting me know he was unhappy before he was out the door. Immediately after the end of a relationship, it can be hard to be really angry at the other person because, you know, you still love them and now you miss them and it seems like being angry at them will only keep them away.

You don't need to act on the anger and hurt that feeling foolish is hiding, but you do need to feel it in order for it to go away. Realizing that my ex-boyfriend's behavior was not actually a reflection on me or my worth allowed me to stop feeling like I should have known better, let me be angry at him and hurt by him, and heal and move on.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:25 AM on June 22, 2009 [4 favorites]

I don't think it's ever a mistake to love and to give your heart completely.

The mistake would be in not giving all of your heart, and instead holding back a little, 'just in case'. It's hard enough making a relationship work - you have to be in it all the way for it to be successful.

Things probably weren't horrible the entire time you were together - there were probably enough good things about her and the relationship that you thought you could make it better. That doesn't make you a sucker, that makes you committed.

Did it take you too long? No, it took you as long as it took.

I once realized I stayed in a relationship (marriage) for 4 years longer than I should have and felt like an idiot for not realizing it sooner. But you know what? I learned so much during those 4 years. I learned to stop being a quitter (because in the past I would just have walked away) and I learned about how to communicate in a relationship when the going is tough. I learned about when it's appropriate to want a need to be met immediately and when it's appropriate to wait. I learned about how I react to adversity, and it gave me the opportunity to change that if I wanted.

I was a completely different person in my next relationship with greatly enhanced relationship skills, and I suspect you will be too. Remember, time is never wasted, only spent - and now you are choosing to spend your time differently.

Good luck. It gets so much better than this.
posted by widdershins at 11:53 AM on June 22, 2009 [25 favorites]

Imagine you had kids together and that you'd have to see her every couple of weeks for the next 10 - 20 years. After imagining that for a couple of weeks you'll feel a whole lot better about everything.
posted by fistynuts at 12:12 PM on June 22, 2009

Seems to me she spent the same ten years in the relationship, but without the love, which is the priceless thing that you got to have, ergo she's the idiot, not you.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:46 PM on June 22, 2009 [6 favorites]

I think that the "berating yourself for being an idiot" is a stage in many people's grief process. You weren't an idiot, and someday you'll understand that, but right now you feel like you were an idiot, which sucks.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:55 PM on June 22, 2009

I don't know but if you figure it out let me know. I've just gotten into the same situation and it is hard to deal with the fact she has thought so much of our relationship that she has been having an affair for the past year. I just figured it out a couple of days ago. Feel free to send me a memail if you want to cry in your whiskey over long distance (currently Bruichladdich for me)
posted by troll on a pony at 4:49 PM on June 22, 2009

You guys are all awesome. And correct. And it's good to know I'm not alone - I mean, not good that it's happened to those it's happened to, because it sucks - but that it's not just me (or you.)

@Fistynuts: This I already figured out and practice religiously. Well put, though. I should have that engraved on something or put on a t-shirt.
@OHenry: Excellent point. I should get some mileage out of thos last 5 words...
@Nanuk, peanut, Sid, widder: All incredibly helpful, I will take your words to heart.
@youcancallmeal: You hit the nail on the head - that's exactly what I am doing and I need to stop it. Letting it go as we speak...
@troll: we'll talk...

Thanks again everyone - feel free to keep posting, but I am moving on from this thing and learning from it, remembering that I wasn't an idiot, just a fool in love. :)
posted by buzzkillington at 7:10 PM on June 22, 2009

How do I get over feeling like a total idiot for believing in a relationship that she ended without a second thought?

You could change that assumption, for a start, that it was "without a second thought".

What's more likely is that you just saw the culmination of a gradual process of disengagement & withdrawal, whereby she was mentally & emotionally pulling out of the relationship for some time, before formalising the split with you.

It may have seemed sudden, out of the blue, and "without a second thought" to you, but chances are that she did all her internal emotional groundwork upfront, before the breakup, whereas you're mopping up your side of things afterwards.

In other words, from her point of view, the breakup was already a fait accompli by the time it happened, so she saw nothing left to try to save.

Plenty of people operate that way, and it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't go through a period of struggling with the decision, testing possibilities of saving the situation or grieving over the split; it just means that for whatever reason, you weren't made a party to their internal monologue.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:20 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think you should pat yourself on the back. Why? You are to the point now where you can actually SEE, with objective eyes, what your partner was really about! Congratulations! And no, you were not stupid, instead, you were trusting. That is a wonderful quality. Intimacy requires the ability to trust. You proved that you have that ability.

So, to help move you to the next level in your growth beyond this episode in your life, I think you should pat yourself on the back and say to yourself this: You have the skill to use this trust again with the deserving person, and the fact that you now see it so objectively shows you how far you have come. For remember when your judgment was clouded?

I am post break up in a similar situation. I can't wait until I feel "stupid" by hind-sight. I hope that comes soon. I am still in the missing him stage.
posted by bananaskin at 9:27 PM on October 7, 2009

« Older Dear Congressman, Not Snoopy FOIA Person   |   Online Gayting in the District Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.