Bad timing for a new relationship?
October 20, 2009 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever pulled out a "goodbye- hope to see you in a couple of years"? and actually reunite after that?

I recently became divorced. (since last May). About 2 months ago, an ex-girlfriend contacted me via FB. We had not seen or talked to each other in about 15 years or more….It turns out she is going thru divorce as well. Fairly similar timelines. So we agreed to have coffee together. I guess there was a genuine attraction that did not die in all these years. We have become quite emotionally involved, pretty fast, in these last 2 months.
In the past weeks, some friction and discussions have started to appear. I can clearly see that most of these issues are triggered by past stuff, not necessarily issues related to her, but more like "past baggage".
I know intuitively that I should heal and fix all my past issues before
jumping into a new one. And definitely after a divorce!! So, I actually started attending therapy sessions about a month ago. I have a strong feeling that I really need to do this- deal with all my issues, otherwise I may certainly start engaging in the same (unhealthy) patterns.

So I have 2 choices:
a) stop seeing her altogether. Say "goodbye- and hopefully in one or two
years, we'll both be in a better emotional state. I'll look for you"
[BTW, has anyone ever pulled a stunt like this? or heard of a couple who did? Does it work? - I am afraid to loose her, actually, but I need to
heal myself first]
b) remain as "friends" -absolutely nothing more-. She would definitely
help me get thru this rough patch as a friend…and I could help her as well, But not really sure if I need to do this alone, or if having her present in my life will interfere.

As always, appealing to this great community to give me insight into
my options…advice, suggestions, all welcome.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Why not make the choice together after you have told her about your thoughts?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:34 PM on October 20, 2009

Mrs MM and I had a lengthy break (i.e. 3 years) some years back before we married. But we did see one another as friends in the intervening period, although not very regularly.

FWIW we didn't find that we brought up loads of historical issues, but then neither of us really had any.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:38 PM on October 20, 2009

Agree with JohnnyGunn that you should talk to her. Also, you shouldn't set an arbitrary time limit. And that you don't need to completely cut her out of your life in the interim. Make it clear to her that you really do want to give the relationship its best shot, and are concerned that you'll be sabotaging it if you pursue it right now.

I've never put a romantic relationship on hold, but I've been able to reconnect with platonic friends after moving far away. It can happen.
posted by adamrice at 2:43 PM on October 20, 2009

Yeah. I was once in a 8 year relationship, in the middle of which we broke up for a year. During this year I kind-of-dated (more like had a really intense psuedo-romantic friendship with) another guy. When I got back together with the boyfriend, he was uncomfortable with me remaining friends with the other guy. So I told the other guy "Hey, I'll track you down when/if me and boyfriend break up". Three years later, boyfriend and I broke up, I called up other guy, said "hey, guess what, I'm single, wanna be friends?". He said "well, you sure can keep a promise". We became close friends again, though not romantic, and I actually ended up as a 'groomsmaid' in his wedding this summer.

So yeah, take the time you need, and revisit the relationship when you are able and if she is willing. It may or may not end up romantic, but there's no harm in trying to keep in contact with people you care about (unless, of course, she's not interested, which should be respected).
posted by greta simone at 2:51 PM on October 20, 2009

Breaking up but staying friends with an option to get back together later does not usually end well.

That said, talk to her and tell her how you're feeling. It's part her decision too.
posted by KAS at 3:00 PM on October 20, 2009

I dont have an "in the end we were happily-ever-story" but I had a very passionate relationship that ended kinda "meh" and we met again almost 10 years later, each of us much older, hopefully wiser, and we are now the best of friends and much much closer than we ever were as lovers. Maybe it will move that way again. Maybe it wont.

Be patient and respectful. These things tend to work themselves out.
posted by elendil71 at 3:12 PM on October 20, 2009

2a. I've successfully put a relationship on hold after a messy breakup and it worked out fine. There's always the possibility of "losing" the person but that's always an issue. Once you gain some distance and options open up they won't seem like as much of a lifeline, and your perspective will let you see them as a person, warts and all.
posted by benzenedream at 3:19 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Whenever I wanted to say "goodbye, talk to you in a couple years," four out of five times it was because I instinctively knew I needed to grow beyond the issue we were bonding around, and after those years, I didn't really want to talk to them.
posted by salvia at 7:12 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Hmmm. My girlfriend dumped me when we were twenty. Didn't see her or hear from her for, oh, sixteen years? We've been together now for something like eight years, married for five. Does that help?
posted by musofire at 8:30 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another data point, but my boyfriend and I dated for a few weeks before I moved across the country. We weren't really in a relationship, so there was no long-distance thing. A few years later, I moved back to the city where he lived and we ran into each other and started dating again. We've been together for three years, live together, and things are great. I think timing is a huge part of why relationships work out. I would talk to her about it rather than just break up and let her wonder why.
posted by OLechat at 8:50 PM on October 20, 2009

I had a friend that asked me out in college, told him I didn't like him "like that", I started dating someone new, I changed schools, I got married, we stayed in touch via email once a month or so about movies. There were times where we didn't talk for a long spell, but mostly stayed in small talk contact or via my LiveJournal. After I got divorced, we talked more and more. There was still a lot of emotional baggage around our past and all that, but we actively worked through it. We got married 13 years to the day we met. Just had our third anniversary.

It can happen, but at least in my case, if we just hoped we'd somehow work out our separate issues and get back together once we were "done", it might not have happened. That's OK. I'm not a cake. I may never be fully done. But I hope we both get something out of working through it together.
posted by Gucky at 10:08 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

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