How do I feel better about this?
November 17, 2009 5:28 AM   Subscribe

I just ended a budding relationship with a really nice girl, for a number of reasons. I feel like shit about it, what do I do?


So we started chatting online a while ago, because she's a friend of a relative. It progressed into talkin on the phone, and we spoke almost every singly night for 3 months straight.

She lives in another country, and came here for a wedding, so we met up. We hung out one day together, and this evening and things did get physical both times, though not all the way. At the end of tonight, we had a long talk, and I ended it.

I ended it because I don't think it would've worked out eventually for a number of reasons, e.g. she doesn't read while I love reading, career goals, other things. I just feel that there is more I want in a partner. Although I had seen pictures of her, the physical thing wasn't clicking entirely either. I'll also be moving to her city in a month, and also felt like I was entering into the relationship also to make that transition easier (tropics to North America in winter). I don't think that would be fair. I also don't think someone should stay with someone else just because they feel obligated.

I told her that I hoped she would appreciate my honesty. I feel really bad about it, but I don't think it would work out. If I were in her situation I'd rather know, than be strung along indefinitely, until something better came along. I'd like us to remain friends if she wanted to.

She said she's really disappointed, didn't expect this at all, how could I talk for 3 months with her and now just end it like this. She's just blindsided. She asked if we'd see each other before she leaves, and I said if she wanted to. She came for her sister's wedding, to which I was going to go of course, and asked if I was still going, and I said if she wanted me to.

I feel like so much shit about all of this, really guilty that I hurt her. What do I do? To be clear I don't think I made a mistake, I just feel really bad about hurting someone who doesn't deserve it.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
She asked if we'd see each other before she leaves, and I said if she wanted to. She came for her sister's wedding, to which I was going to go of course, and asked if I was still going, and I said if she wanted me to.

Honestly, this isn't helping. Take responsibility for how you feel. I think it would be less humiliating for her to hear, "No, I'd rather not," than be responsible for parsing your indifference and being counted on to make the "right" choice.

What do I do?

Get out (and keep out) of the picture. If you don't care about her romantically, nothing you can do or say would help, and your total absence is the only thing that will hasten her recovery. Anything else and you risk confusing or agitating her.
posted by hermitosis at 5:53 AM on November 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


To be clear I don't think I made a mistake, I just feel really bad about hurting someone who doesn't deserve it.

It doesn't sound to me like you made a mistake either. And you've behaved as well as you could under the circumstances: you were direct and honest and told this girl how it was as soon as you knew rather than string her along or use her as a security blanket until you felt comfortable living in a new city. You could teach many of the AskMe question askers a few things.

It always makes one feel terrible to have to hurt someone, but unfortunately that's just part of the wear and tear of the dating world. Know that she will get over it. And if she's anything like me, once she does get over the disappointment she won't blame you, because you behaved honourably on the whole and no one really chooses who they are attracted to. I know I think of the guys like you from my past with respect and good wishes.
posted by orange swan at 5:54 AM on November 17, 2009


Don't go to the sister's wedding. It will be full of people asking all kinds of nosy questions about when you are getting married and telling you what a lovely couple you are.

If you do see her, make it brief (have an appointment afterwards) and in a public place.

There is nothing you can do about the fact that she is hurt, and it's no longer your job to comfort her. She has to sort this out on her own and you have to give her the space to do it.

You did the right thing. The right thing isn't always all fluffy bunnies and unicorns.
posted by emilyw at 5:54 AM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Seconding you did the right thing. I've been there (once, luckily, only once). It hurts to hurt people, but it would have hurt more and for a longer time to have hurt yourself (and her) by trying to make it work and failing. I mean, nobody would deserve that either.

It took me a while to disentangle my mind after my experience, so be prepared for that, but try not to whack yourself too hard about it.
posted by Namlit at 6:10 AM on November 17, 2009


I suspect you really know why you feel bad. You talk to this girl for 3 months and then the moment she gets here, you're suddenly putting on the brakes. Put yourself in her shoes. I suspect you know why that's extra hurtful.

So while it certainly wasn't the wrong thing to break things off with her, your timing and execution were wrong. The only real things you can do to feel better about what you did is to tell yourself that this is a time to learn something and that you'll strive to be empathetic in the future.
posted by inturnaround at 6:15 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


While I have trouble with the stated reasons being a big enough deal to end a relationship (how picky are you planning to be, going forward?) it doesn't sound from your question as if you did anything wrong in actually breaking up.

Maybe your question is skipping over some things, or maybe you could have noticed these deal-breakers earlier, I suppose. Like, after talking for three months, why did you have to make out twice to realize that she doesn't read books?

But other than that, she's just surprised. She'll get over it.
posted by rokusan at 6:32 AM on November 17, 2009


I feel like so much shit about all of this, really guilty that I hurt her. What do I do? To be clear I don't think I made a mistake, I just feel really bad about hurting someone who doesn't deserve it.

Okay, I am reading between the lines of your question here, but I still want to give you good advice (instead of judging you).

There's two things that you can do to help yourself get over feeling really bad about this. The first is don't go to the wedding, and cut off all future contact with her. What you said was honest and straightforward, and to continue talking to her or having plans to see her would send mixed messages that will only be confusing for her, which might end up making you feel even worse.

The second thing to do is evaluate what you did here and identify the things that you could've prevented, and those that you couldn't have prevented. I doubt you'd feel this bad if you only talked to her like once a week and she never sent you a pic of herself. (I think that) your reason for feeling so bad isn't because you're hurting someone who doesn't deserve it, but rather because you're hurting someone who doesn't deserve it and you probably could've done a lot of things differently to prevent that.

The big one is talking to someone every day for 3 months who has big red flags for you, like "Doesn't read" or "Has different life goals". It doesn't seem likely to me that you found out about these things yesterday, so why keep talking to her on the daily? Similarly, it seems unlikely that you juuust figured out at the wedding that you'd be entering into a relationship as a means to help transition to a new city. Why not tell her these things before you meet with her in person? Not that people are constantly starting up prerelationships with people who live in other cities than them, but I think if you evaluate how you went about this, you say "Hey, next time I don't think I'll do 'x' again" and that will start to help you feel less shitty now.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:37 AM on November 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


the moment she gets here, you're suddenly putting on the brakes

And there is nothing wrong with that. Please don't let people guilt-trip you over this decision any more than you've already done to yourself. Though you're describing this as a "relationship," the fact is that you don't know someone you haven't met. And you haven't met someone you haven't been face to face with. No matter how intense the phone conversations were, they represented only a theoretical possibility of a relationship. (I'm assuming you had never met in person before, though I don't think this is explicit in your post.) Once you finally experienced what things were actually like between the two of you in real life, you made a judgment that it wasn't going to work out. That's a perfectly respectable thing to do and nothing to be ashamed of. If you had dragged it out, knowing that you didn't see long-term potential here, out of a sense of obligation or pity, that would have been the shameful course of action.

The fact that some people in this forum might stand in judgment of you for not articulating convincing enough reasons is totally beside the point. It's your life, and you seem to have correctly realized that you shouldn't go forward with a relationship that's not clicking.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:40 AM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


So yeah, you made the right decision, but it seems pretty clear that you put the brakes on this because she wasn't up to your standards physically. That's completely OK, but I humbly suggest that feeling guilty for leading her on in in the first place isn't a bad thing. Guilt isn't always something we need to find a way to get over, so much as learn a lesson from while it lasts. Guilt has a way of going away on its own a lot faster than most negative emotions.

That said, don't go to the wedding or meet her again, that'd just be cruel.
posted by cj_ at 7:24 AM on November 17, 2009


follow-up from the OP
We had not met before a few days ago, only spoke on the phone.

Another reason that made me do what I did is because when she came she revealed to me that she is a virgin. I felt that it was even more important that I put a halt to things if I wasn't sure since she had never had sex with anyone before. I don't want to mess up anyone's first time, and give them bad memories. If at 27 she hasn't done it before, it obviously means a lot to her.

I do think that a part of why I feel so terribly is because we did talk for 3 months very often, and those of you who said that I didn't just find out about our different ideas and so on are correct. I guess it also has quite a bit to do with the physical interactions that you only experience with someone in person, and I'm not sure how it would have been possible for me to mitigate that.

I have learnt quite a few lessons about this situation, and should have taken things slower. While I was interested in her before we met, which I won't deny, she did seem to come across much stronger. But again, that's my fault and I could have stopped it, or slowed things down.

I should also be a lot less blunt and be more sensitive. Before, I used to get taken advantage of, and I guess in trying to be more assertive this time I over compensated. Thank you for your advice.
posted by jessamyn at 7:28 AM on November 17, 2009


Back off and let her forget you.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:18 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another reason that made me do what I did is because when she came she revealed to me that she is a virgin.

Damn. I'm not saying you did anything terribly wrong - it sounds like you made the right choice for yourself - but as someone who remained a virgin for a while after her peers... well, to be dumped for it would pretty much break my heart. For people who remain virgins from lack of opportunity, not from lack of desire - what you're describing is pretty much the nightmare scenario.

If at 27 she hasn't done it before, it obviously means a lot to her.

Did she tell you it means a lot to her? Please don't just assume you know what's going on inside her head. Maybe she never got an opportunity. Maybe it used to mean a lot to her, but it no longer does. Virginity has a ton of cultural baggage that can be shit to deal with, you don't need to add on to the pile.

Again, not saying you were wrong to dump her, but I hope that her virginity wasn't your prime motivating factor (which it sounds like it might have been, since you knew all the stuff you say was your motivation well before you dumped her).
posted by shaun uh at 8:22 AM on November 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I fell in love with my best friend, and it didn't work out. I wanted to talk to him, I wanted to understand why, but more than anything, of course, I wanted things not to be the way they were. He refused to engage or argue, but just kept saying, with infinite patience and kindness, until I heard it, "I can't help you with this."

You can't. While I honor you for taking seriously the virginity thing in light of your feelings for her -- I think you're kind, and right about that -- that is not how it would sound to her, now.
posted by Methylviolet at 8:27 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess it also has quite a bit to do with the physical interactions that you only experience with someone in person, and I'm not sure how it would have been possible for me to mitigate that.

The way to mitigate this is to not get too invested in a relationships before you have any physical interactions.

Talking on the phone every day for months brings a relationship to higher emotional level, and that level of emotional connection comes with an implicit expectation that the relationship will not end the day that you meet in person. If you had, for example, just talked a few times and casually decided to meet, then deciding not to pursue the relationship any further probably wouldn't have been a big deal for either or you.

Although she shares half of the blame for building it up so much herself, it's not hard to understand why she would feel devastated when someone who seemed to be into her for months would suddenly pull a 180 once the two of you met in person.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:27 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


You shouldn't feel bad for ending it, but maybe you feel bad because now she feels bad. It's natural for her to feel bad because her expectations (hey, I talk to this guy every night and we met and got along, it looks like this is going somewhere) and yours (well, it was nice to talk to you, but I don't think the in-person part went so well) don't meet. So there will be some disappointment on her part.

Maybe your delivery and follow-through could be a little different, which would mitigate how hurt she is. Ending it quickly after you meet in person may make her feel like you think there's something wrong with her in person (her experience level, her physical appearance, her personality). The "I hope you appreciate my honesty" is kind of a crummy note to strike when what you've told her is going to be hurtful under the best of circumstances. I suspect that no, she does not appreciate your honesty at that moment and is not in a congratulatory mood. One idea, cribbed from a friend of mine is to tell the person some things you like about them (good conversationalist, sweet, smart, etc.) and to convey that it's not that there's something wrong with them, just that you're not a good fit. And then (as others suggested) not to confuse that message by continuing to hang out with her.
posted by *s at 10:12 AM on November 17, 2009


Oh god. With a little tweaking, this is the relationship that I just .... I got dumped.

And I'm ok.
Things he did right: no contact after the dumping, no blaming,

Things I wish were different (aside from not getting dumped): he waited 2 months after his feelings had changed, I sense that his issues were things that he knows I've been struggling with (ADHD, organization, I'm underemployed in a crappy job market), and actually among the few relationship hurdles that can be overcome because I'm working on them.

Why getting dumped was positive for me: gives me space to work on the stuff mentioned above, and makes a space in my life for the right partner when that right partner shows up.

That is to say, the ex wasn't the right guy for me, so I'm glad to know it now and not later. That's not to say I didn't envision a future with him. I cried, but I'll be fine.

So, with all that background, I suggest you give her some credit. She may not me completely devastated. And even if she is, you can't fix that. In fact, any attempts at conciliation will likely be considered 'leading her on.'

I understand that it's tempting to feel like you can and should help, but you probably can't, and I definitely think you should not try.
posted by bilabial at 10:17 AM on November 17, 2009


Seconding everyone who said "The right thing to do is continue to be broken up with her" even if it means she's angry with you. It sucks to have people angry with you, but anger is, for most people, a healthy part of the healing process after having been dumped.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:20 AM on November 17, 2009


She said she's really disappointed, didn't expect this at all, how could I talk for 3 months with her and now just end it like this.

It is incredibly naive of her to assume she would have an ongoing, face-to-face relationship with someone she had never met. On the other hand, if you made promises that she was your girlfriend, that you would live together, etc. when you had not met her -- you are partly at fault here.

She came for her sister's wedding, to which I was going to go of course


Everyone is telling you not to go to the wedding, but I think it depends on the circumstances. You say you met her through a family friend, so possibly you were invited to the wedding other than as her date. If that's the case, you will need to consider your family/social obligations, what her duties during her sister's wedding are, and if your presence would be disruptive. If she asked you to go as her date and you otherwise would not be attending, don't go.
posted by yohko at 11:36 AM on November 17, 2009


The best thing you can do is let her be. She'll be just fine once she gets over it. I was similarly blindsided once and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened because I met my husband three months later. He had also been recently blindsided.
posted by bananafish at 1:22 PM on November 17, 2009


You feel bad because you broke a nice girl's heart and you're a nice guy. These are normal feelings when you hurt someone nice.

That said, she'll get over you. You should get over it as well.
posted by like_neon at 5:06 AM on November 18, 2009


« Older "Don't hire her, she's pregnant. You will need to...   |   Looking for Outlook setting. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.