Why can't i quit her?
July 22, 2009 11:30 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I broke up about 3 months ago now. However, we have been in contact regularly (after about a month and a bit of zero contact) since then and have seen each other on occsasion. When im not busy i find myself always thinking about her, and things constantly remind me about her. Im not 100% sure about getting back together with her, what should i do?

Towards the end of our relationship, things got pretty bad - i wasn't happy because we were fighting alot. I guess i became less affectionate/caring because of the fighting and it put things into a downward spiral. So i broke up with her in a bit of a kneejerk reaction to a fight we were having.

How do i know if its the right thing to get back together or give it a shot? I obviously care about her a lot because i havent cut her off completely, but popular culture tells me that i should have this burning desire to get back together with her and we wouldnt have had this break for this long?? If it is the right thing to do, whats the best way to play it.

I would think we'd hang out and see where things go, but she would find that hard to deal with and would want some certainty ie. if we're not together by x date then its off?
posted by jdp to Human Relations (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's hard to say, in the absence of some detail: What you were fighting about, why, how often, etc.

That said:

"but she would find that hard to deal with and would want some certainty ie. if we're not together by x date then its off?"

That doesn't seem like a healthy approach.
posted by mellifluous at 12:00 AM on July 23, 2009

Based on your question history, it sounds like the two of you weren't even together that long in the grand scheme of relationship things, and it started going rocky after only a few months. That's not a good sign. Your initial reaction to the fighting was to terminate the relationship rather than work through it. That's not a good sign, either. Of course you still care about her - that's normal. And of course things are going okay now that you're just friendly with each other and the pressure's off. But still? There were problems here, and it doesn't sound like either of you have had enough time to heal and think clearly about the next step. Maybe it's not a good idea to keep in touch right now.
posted by katillathehun at 12:23 AM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

Have either of you changed in relevant ways since you broke up? If not, you're still the same people you were then, and are just as likely to break up again. Keep that in mind when you're thinking about her.

You guys fought and then broke up for a reason. If that reason hasn't been dealt with and gone away, it's still there.
posted by Solomon at 12:33 AM on July 23, 2009

Spend some time apart, doing your own things separately (especially with separate people... you may lose some of your mutual friends, but go find some new friends by doing the things you enjoy doing). I think after a while, the answer will become clear to you either way. Hanging out with her is not a good idea, and I think the main reason is that you're both being civil with each other. If you need some guidance in figuring out whether or not to get back with her, ask yourself if you would argue again, and if you feel that you'd stop fighting, make sure you know specifically why that is. If you're unsure, you'll probably just start fighting again.
posted by spiderskull at 12:37 AM on July 23, 2009

It's completely natural to still have feelings for even though you broke up -- if you didn't, then why would you have been with her in the first place?

But just as Solomon said, as you learned more about each other something became unsettled. I don't know what your issue was, so I can't offer any advice on whether you should fix the problem or not. You said yourself that you are not 100% sure yet on whether or not you want to be with her. I think that definitely means you need more time to think about it.

Also, I'm sure you know this, but she has to deal with this problem too. She may (or may not) feel pressured to get back with you if you start suggesting that you'd like to get back together. This is something you both need to make a decision on, and once you take action on a relationship you can't take it back. So be sure that both of you have had ample time to think this through.
posted by formaltide at 12:58 AM on July 23, 2009

Long alert:
Your situation sounds like an exact -- and I do mean exact, to the point that if I didn't know I hadn't written it, I might believe that I did -- copy of my girlfriend and I.

We were together for a year and some months, but most of the last 6 months had been a distance relationship and things had gotten really rocky. We both figured that when she graduated and moved back home, things would get better, but they weren't really that much improved. We kept at our old habits of fighting, and things escalated drastically once. We both agreed that if it happened again, it should probably be a telltale sign for our relationship.

... well, it happened again. And I was guilty of the kneejerk reaction of calling the cops for a fight that was really not of the magnitude where you'd say, "ok, maybe law enforcement needs to be involved." And that was it. After we settled down, (this is a good deal later, after the cops had left after giving us a talking-to) we decided to break up.

We spent about a month apart -- I went on a family trip to Europe and she was caught up in her new job at a PR firm. But she was never really far from my thoughts and I apparently wasn't that far from hers -- sometimes, I felt like I was living out Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where I'd be living my life with spliced-in memories of us together. During that time I tried talking to another girl who I thought was interesting, but the shortcomings in our interactions just reminded me of how well my then ex- and I had worked while we were together. So while it was a "rebound" (no sex or anything, we were in different parts of the state at the time) it really didn't help.

After about a month had passed, my then ex- called and said that she was trying to make things work, to be more independent and develop more outside interests to occupy her time, but she felt empty and missed me. And, at this point, I was sure that I missed her, too, even if I was afraid of getting back together and us getting in the mother of all fights. So we talked on the phone, two days in a row, and by the second day I had been talked into believing it was a good idea. I thought, maybe we could start seeing each other, and take things slowly, and maybe -- maaaybe -- ease back into a relationship.

But when we saw each other, it was like the old us, before the B.S. fighting and the loss of independence and the clinginess... and now, we're back together, albeit in a hopefully more mature capacity, and hopefully we can make it work or at least figure out our need to be apart amicably. So far, so good.

Here's the thing:
as much as our situations are alike, you and I, we're probably not that similar. You might a completely different type of person than I am (or, conversely, maybe not). Our girlfriends could be identical. . . or completely disparate (ed.? Am I using that right?) But here's what I think about the whole thing -- I'm young (21, to be exact), and while youth is a terrible thing to waste, my girlfriend gets me. She really, really gets me. So while others might think, "oh, you've been there before, you'll just break up again and have wasted your time," I think, well -- I missed her and she missed me. What more do I need? If it doesn't work out, then we've really and truly established that we're not a good match. If that happens, well -- I'm still 21. Hopefully I've got a number of years ahead of me. If it doesn't work out, it will still have been worth my time and love.

I often thought about Ask[ing]MeFi for advice about my situation, but really, it's besides the point. You're the best-informed person out of all of us. Evaluate the situation -- do you miss her? Might you have been onto something special? Is it worth your time to give it another go? Do you think things will genuinely be different? Then decide. Maybe I'm the devil's advocado, but I think getting back together with her wouldn't be the worst thing.
posted by the NATURAL at 1:17 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't pay too much attention to popular culture- do you have a burning desire to get back together? If so- follow that path and see where it leads, if not, be a gentleman and let her know.
posted by mattoxic at 4:08 AM on July 23, 2009

Response by poster: thanks for all the responses guys.. i guess to give a bit of feedback on the situation might help.

Its pretty hard to put a finger on why we were fighting but after thinking about it, it stemmed from the fact "that i wasn't there enough for her" (her words). I travel a lot for work have a pretty busy schedule (all the time). However, i always made time to spend with her. She didnt think it was enough time though.

I guess where the issue came from was that she didnt feel secure in the relationship because i wasnt as open as she is about how she felt. And that doesnt mean i didnt/ dont feel that way about her, i just didnt verbalise it constantly. I tried buying her gifts (teddy bears, perfume etc) to give to her when i got back to show her how i missed her etc, but it didnt ever seem to be enough.

The natural is right; i am probably the best informed person. However im so damn confused about everything because im always thinking about her; but so worried that we'll get to where we were.
posted by jdp at 4:10 AM on July 23, 2009

Yeah, you might want to revisit your previous (deleted) question - even though you want her back now, it wasn't working and you knew it.

The letter to your ex in that question could be boiled down pretty succinctly: "Ex, you were unhappy with our relationship because I didn't do X, Y, or Z. Why are you so damn insecure? I want things to change but I don't think they will, because I'm putting the burden of change squarely on you." If that's what broke you guys up, it's going to be there when you get back together, and the thing is you're really going to have to meet her halfway on these issues, not just expect her to change to accommodate your busy schedule.

You mention giving gifts of teddy bears and perfume... seriously? Those are the ultimate in phoned-in gifts; unless she's a bear collector or in middle school, I can't see a teddy bear gift going over well. And regardless of the quality of the gift or thought you put into buying it (and really, it just sounds like you picked stuff up in the airport gift shop between flights), a gift is a poor substitute for actually being physically and emotionally present in the relationship. She didn't want perfume; she wanted communication and intimacy. But she got perfume.

Do what you will, but if you get back together with her, either make a sincere effort to work with her on the problems that broke you up in the first place, or expect more of the same.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:23 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was in and out of a relationship that was good, but not perfect, for most of my 20s. One of my best friends was in an on-again-off-again relationship during the same time period with her current husband. These relationships both involved breaks that were months to years long at a time. I would characterize both of our situations as relationships that maybe didn't set the world on fire, but were solid, comfortable, and ultimately good for everyone involved. So, I don't buy the narrative about a "burning desire" to be with someone, or an inability to stand being apart as signs of love - certainly it doesn't apply to everyone.

Do you miss her, or do you miss being in a relationship? Be very clear with yourself on that point before you make any decisions. And do not get back together if both of you aren't willing and able to talk honestly about what didn't work and what you can do to change that. Clearly communication was one problem before - she wasn't hearing your gifts as the affirmation she wanted. Can you be more verbal? Can she learn to "hear" gifts as an affirmation? Would different gifts work? (Personally, gift-giving is not my language, and I would have to remind myself to regard gifts of perfume and teddy bears as signs of love, but a book or CD or just something random that made someone think of me would get the point across better.) If you both aren't willing and able (self-awareness is crucial, here) to have this conversation and figure out areas where you're both making an effort to bridge your differences, you're pretty definitely going to end up back where you were.

(On preview, count me as seconding Metroid Baby's advice, essentially.)
posted by EvaDestruction at 5:34 AM on July 23, 2009

If you guys stay in contact, you'll keep thinking about her. Just basic, doesn't mean she's the love of your life or anything. The situation hasn't changed so I would suggest moving on--for real--no contact for a longer period of time.
posted by kathrineg at 8:54 AM on July 23, 2009

Have you seen anyone else since breaking up? That's the real litmus test. If you're with someone solid and you still think about her, maybe you should try and get back together...
posted by stratastar at 9:24 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Only get back together with her if you can really and fully accept that eventually you will both be fighting again and one of you (probably you) will leave again. Even after years, maybe even after marriage. Off again/on again rarely settles at "on" in my observation -- not permanently. That's my very very butthole response, sorry, please read as jaded rather than bitter.
posted by rahnefan at 5:52 PM on July 23, 2009

Based purely on my affinity for romance, I vote get back together with her. You miss her, be with her. Buy her roses and give it a go.
posted by wild like kudzu at 9:50 PM on July 23, 2009

Response by poster: thanks all - appreciate the variety of responses.
posted by jdp at 10:13 PM on July 23, 2009

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