How to work this out with him? I only have a few hours...
January 4, 2010 1:23 PM   Subscribe

How do I work this out? (I am meeting my boyfriend in a few hours and I need an outsiders advice about a recent problem in our relationship)...

Thank you for looking on!

Here's the deal...
we have been dating for a bit over 3 months and recently for the holidays he went back home (out of town) to see his family. Our relationship had been progressing nicely. After mostly texting the first months of dating, we began to call each other more often and we became more expressive with our feelings toward one another.

Before his leaving we talked of spending New Year's eve together. Nothing was certain but we really wanted to see each other because he's never had a very good New Year holiday. Whether it be a bad party or a relative passing.

Unfortunately my best friend has been going through the motions. She just ended a long term relationship and her grandmother passed away. So while he was back home i decided I would spend the New Year with her (I didn't want to get her upset by bringing a boy along with us right after hers just left her around the holidays).

I told him that I wouldn't be able to spend it with him a few nights before New Year's eve (Monday night). He sounded upset but still understanding. He knows that she is a dear friend to me, and I would understand if our roles were reversed.

I asked him to come back as soon as he could and avidly expressed how much I missed him.

I called him the next day and found that he was busy hanging out with friends. He asked me to call him the next day but I felt a little neglected after having a bad day, that he couldn't speak to me for longer. That was silly, but I felt that if he wanted to speak to me- he could call me just as easily as I could call him. I feel that shows a lot.

Of course he didn't.

I called him New Year's eve(the day after I didn't call) and he didnt pick up his phone. He texted me saying that he was driving back to the city with his friends and it was too loud in the car for him to pick up. I asked how he was. I understood, no big deal. It was a normal texting back and forth, only I was the last to send a message.

That night he didn't call or message to wish me a Happy New Year, knowing that this is the one thing I celebrate. He celebrates Christmas and I made sure to contact him that eve and that day.

No message or calls New Year's day either.

I text him a simple 'hi' and his response is lame.

He calls me the next day and I confront him about being pissed off at his strange behaviour.

Instead of apologizing for it he makes excuses and says things that don't make much sense like, 'i am tired of being screwed over' or 'i didn't want to interrupt girl time with your friend on New Year'.

I talk back well, state myself clearly and wait for an apology but still nothing.

He asks to meet the next day because he had a cold and wanted to talk about things, because he is 'not good over the phone' and I told him that this day probably wouldnt work for me.

I texted him the following day (yesterday) saying that tomorrow would work better but there is no response.

We work together, and I forgot about our cross over shift today.

We saw each other for about 20 minutes and didnt exchange hellos.
I was super angry about this, not to mention how much anger and hurt had built up over the past weekend.

I came up to him at the end of my shift and asked him how he was doing. Just in case there really was something going wrong with his health/family etc. He said he was good.
He acted awkward but also like nothing happened.

An hour after leaving I texted him saying that since he wasn't going to say anything, I would. I went ahead to ask if he could meet me after his shift is done.

He replied yes, and that there was no privacy at work- how did i expect him to speak to me about anything?

I replied sarcastically that this must be why he didnt respond to my message the previous night as well as why he hadn't greeted me with a hello at work that day.

He replied that if I was going to be hostile, i should just forget about meeting.

I wrote that even so, he has not been giving me any respect as of lately.

He went on to apologize for his behaviour, saying that he put up a wall for no good reason and that I have been nothing but good to him.

I said that Yea. I guess we'll talk when I see you.

I feel that this may be the end.
Because who puts up a wall after an event like cancelling celebrating New Year together? I was spending time with a friend who needed me. How F*((ed must he be?

I know this all sounds silly, it is a very short-term relationship and the sooner it ends, the better for both of us. But it hurts so much that a person could do that. I had a completely opposite idea of him. Thought he was nice and sensitive, and spoke about his feelings instead of bottled them up. We have known each other for a few years now. You think you know someone, and then they bite you in the ass.

At least he finally apologized, even if it was only through text. But i still feel that even if things work out today, I wont be able to forget about this. and my trust for him is almost completely gone.What would be the point of staying with him?

Thanks for reading and for any advice or compassion.
posted by dentro to Human Relations (76 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
First, stop with the texting and start with the talking.

Seems like something small that he really wasn't happy with (NYE and telling you he was ok with it) and it has snowballed into this drama.

If he can't be honest that it really did bother him and he can't discuss thing and he holds grudges over it, DTMFA.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:29 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you should apologize to him as well.

He did open up to you and told you his feelings:

and says things that don't make much sense like, 'i am tired of being screwed over' or 'i didn't want to interrupt girl time with your friend on New Year'.

They make perfect sense. He put on the strong face but feels like you ditched him for your friend. Good reasons or not, he still feels jilted. And your attitude about the whole thing, instead of looking at it from his perspective, make things ten times worse.

You could have taken a different road with this whole thing by recognizing that he has feelings too.
posted by royalsong at 1:33 PM on January 4, 2010 [35 favorites]

I feel that this may be the end.
I feel you are right. Move on, sister.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:33 PM on January 4, 2010

This sounds painfully familiar. The lack of communication, the "not good on the phone, let's have a text relationship" part, the passive aggressive "punishments," and the games. It left me never knowing whether my actions would be acceptable. He would also talk about his feelings, but only if it involved chastising me. Four years later, my life is full of love and drama free - not with him, obviously. I hate to throw out the old MeFi standard DTMFA, but seriously. You can do better. Healthy relationships aren't based on drama.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:33 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ugh. He was being a baby over New Year's, and you were being a baby not to give him some space and taking it so personally when he got upset. Probably a good thing to break up.
posted by yarly at 1:33 PM on January 4, 2010

Texting when your happy and saying silly things is great, but with actual talking it can really mess things up. Inflection can be confused, and you really don't ever know what the other person means.

Sounds like he's being a dick about everything, but if I was in a relationship with someone and they chose not to spend new years with me, I would definitely would start to take some steps back.
posted by mattsweaters at 1:35 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

He wants to break up but hasn't done it yet.
posted by special-k at 1:36 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

Dude, I just read through all of this, stated from YOUR point of view, and two things hit me in the face:

1) After having read all of that, I have no idea what this poor guy is supposed to be apologising for.

2) STOP TEXTING EACH OTHER. You two are not very good at it. You sent him a "Hi" and his response was "lame"? What did you want, Shalespeare's sonnets by SMS?

3) There is no points system in play here. You seem to think there is, and you seem to be tallying them. The point of conflict in a healthy relationship is resolution, not winning.

You bailed on New Year's. If anybody owes anyone an apology, it's you. Everything that came after that was just teenaged melodrama. Do not walk into this meetup with the attitude that someone owes you something. Try saying "Our communication seems to have gotten really fucked up over Christmas. I'm so sorry. How can we fix this?"
posted by DarlingBri at 1:36 PM on January 4, 2010 [93 favorites]

Nothing was certain but we really wanted to see each other because he's never had a very good New Year holiday. Whether it be a bad party or a

Thought he was nice and sensitive

Being sensitive means he might have been hurt by you canceling plans, even if you had a good reason and he logically understands it. But he's had shitty NYE's before and was probably really looking forward to this one with you. Feelings aren't always rational and he may have gotten in a bad feedback loop of "I'm know I'm being an ass, but I can't help it and I can't express it, so I'll just stay away and that'll make everything better, right?!"

None of this excuses his behavior, but maybe talk to him before you dump him, see if something more is going on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:37 PM on January 4, 2010 [7 favorites]

On the scale of relationship fights, this is pretty small scale. I figure he’s mad about NYE, and most of your issues stem from not talking to each other. Some people hate confrontation – it sounds like your boyfriend is one of them (we are multitudinous). Here’s some advice – the texting is the source of almost all of your problems. It’s great for meeting and cute hellos and goodbyes, TERRIBLE for fighting. It never works. You should call him, apologize for NYE, and meet somewhere.
posted by Think_Long at 1:38 PM on January 4, 2010

He's acknowledged that he put up a wall and shouldn't have. Furthermore, he doesn't seem to have done anything he said he wouldn't or vice versa. He felt hurt after a continued lifetime of sub-par new years celebrations.

He overreacted and now you've been overreacting back. Even though he's acting distant he hasn't done anything wrong. What is this, season 3 of LOST? Have a conversation for chrissakes.
posted by cmoj at 1:38 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

What mattsweaters said. If I'm really, totally into someone, then to hell with my best friend. You don't feel enough for him, and he sensed that.
posted by Melismata at 1:39 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

It really sounds like his maturity level is not up to the point of being ready for a relationship with you. Cheer up! Better that you discovered this now than after investing more time and emotion into your relationship.

This also has very little to do with you and very much to do with his insecurities.
I was spending time with a friend who needed me. How F*((ed must he be?
More than he originally let on, apparently.

If you want to try to salvage it, here's what I'd recommend. When you meet him, try (TRY!) to be warm. Remember what good there was. And just go for broke in a mellow way, "Okay, okay... what happened." And listen to him without blaming or attacking. If you aren't satisfied with how the conversation goes, I'd move on. After all, if he can't handle something like this he's probably unfit to be with.
posted by dualityofmind at 1:39 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

He needed you just as much as your friend. You say at the beginning that he has a history of shitty New Years, and you piled one more on by ditching him for the friend (no matter how honorable your reasons were). He is hurt about it and not emotionally mature enough to express it to you. You also need to apologize, and even if you do, you might need to prepare for the relationship to be over if he isn't mature enough to get over it.
posted by moviehawk at 1:44 PM on January 4, 2010 [11 favorites]

This may not be what you were looking for, but my advice to you is you would get along better in your relationships if you stopped focusing so much on the other person's shortcomings and instead focused that energy on examining yourself.

If you are always looking at things in terms of "I did this, he did this, I expect him to do this but instead he does this WTF" then you will always be finding shortcomings in the other person and things that are wrong in the relationship.

While it may appear to you that he is acting strangely, look what you did in this situation:

You canceled plans on New Year's

You didn't contact him on New Year's Day.

You didn't say hello to him at work.

You respond in a passive-aggressive way when the two of you are trying to discuss delicate relationship matters.

You say because he did some of these same things he must be the one who is "F*((ed"

I think you can still salvage something good from this if you want to. But you will have to approach it from a good-faith angle, instead of assuming that somebody is in the wrong and somebody owes somebody else an apology or respect or something. He might be feeling just as hurt as you are.

Of course, if that all sounds like too much work you can bail.
posted by ekroh at 1:45 PM on January 4, 2010 [30 favorites]

You canceled on him to hang out with your friend, which shows where he falls in your priorities. Then, you expect him to place you higher among his priorities (by choosing to talk with you when he's planned work, hanging out with his friends, etc.). Additionally, you're expecting him to behave the way you'd behave in a given situation (i.e., calling you instead of asking you to call him, interrupting your time with your friend on a holiday, chatting with you when you've both already agreed not to talk that day), and you're getting angry at him for not doing exactly what you would do, even though his way of behaving is equally valid. In some cases, you're holding him to a higher standard than the one to which you hold yourself (you text him "hi," and you expect his response not to be "lame?").

I think you're being unreasonable and that you owe him an apology. As far as I can tell from your description, he's done nothing really wrong, while you've ditched him, snapped at him, and made unreasonable demands on him.

I realize that this may seem harsh, and there may, of course, be other factors that you haven't mentioned here. But two things seem clear to me. The first is that this isn't the right relationship for you, and the two of you should break up. The second is that you should examine your expectations for people you date to determine whether your expectations are reasonable. Whenever you're in a conflict with someone, try to tell the story as they would tell it in order to look at their point of view. Because right now, it seems as though you're being myopic about this, to the detriment of your relationship.
posted by decathecting at 1:46 PM on January 4, 2010 [9 favorites]

Sorry, but I'm with DarlingBri on this one. Even hearing this from your perspective, you're the one who messed up, and you're the one who started this petulant one-upmanship. First you make plans for a New Year's celebration to make up for all of his failed New Year's celebrations past? Then, on the only holiday you celebrate, you cancel on him for someone else (who, I get it, needed you, but what, the three of you couldn't celebrate together)? Then, when he asks you to call him back, you don't, choosing instead to play a teenage game of testing him?

Please. I'd be done with you, too.

So when you see him, hang your head, apologize genuinely for hurting his feelings, and actually listen to what he has to say.
posted by amelioration at 1:46 PM on January 4, 2010 [26 favorites]

I think you should apologize to him as well.
posted by R. Mutt at 1:47 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

If you want it to work, just be very nice and immediately make a joke about texting communication or your kissing and making up, or something. Smile immediately. Say that communication is lousy via text message, and ask for a truce. Try to have the tone be nice and playful. If you get beyond this, once the pressure is off (another day) talk about communication how you guys can avoid these sort of miscommunications in the future.

If you don't want it to work out, still try to be nice. This is way too much drama for a NYE fight, but not worth sabotaging a friendship over.

Also, FWIW, when he asked to talk and all you did was text back and say that day wasn't good... if I were him I would be put off by that. I would feel like I was reaching out, trying to mend fences, and you were standoffish and only said you didn't have time to try to make it work. Texting miscommunication can be a two-way street. It sounds to me like the two of you just lost control of your texting communications.
posted by n'muakolo at 1:49 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

So, he's never ever had a good New Years. You have a fledgling relationship. Your girlfriend is going through a rough patch. You choose your girlfriend over your boyfriend, kind of dashing his hopes for a good new years eve 2010.

You hurt his feelings. Maybe he needed you more than either of you imagined. You just unilaterally decided not to be there.

Sit down. Say you're sorry for not being there for him.
posted by inturnaround at 1:49 PM on January 4, 2010 [8 favorites]

Try saying "Our communication seems to have gotten really fucked up over Christmas. I'm so sorry. How can we fix this?"

I wish I could favorite this a thousand times. It acknowledges the problem and reinforces the idea that you're on the same team together.
posted by jock@law at 1:51 PM on January 4, 2010 [10 favorites]

Sorry but it sounds like you're about to get dumped, unfortunately. Or fortunately, really, since it's early in the relationship and all...
posted by plombir at 1:56 PM on January 4, 2010

I'll drop being Devil's advocate shortly, but it seems like you expect him to be available when you want him to be, not when he can be.

You told him that you were going to spend NYE with your best friend. I don't know if you told him that she was going through a rough patch, but if you did, it's reasonable to think that you'd be spending a lot of time with her. And since you didn't want to "bring a boy along" it's also reasonable to think that he would refrain from interrupting, because what would you do if he called while you were with your friend? I'd imagine you'd tell him that it wasn't the right time to talk?

Since your boyfriend "went home" for the holidays, I figure he must have friends there that he hasn't seen in a while. He probably might not see them for a long while after he leaves to come back to you, so why shouldn't he spend as much time with them as he has available?

What about his parents, siblings, relatives? Doesn't he get family time, too? Holidays are busy periods, and this is particularly true for anyone who's returning to their roots. Maybe his parents wanted to take him out to dinner. Maybe he was bored, and he wanted to call you, but oops, he remembers that you're with your best friend who just went through a breakup and the passing of family.

It sounds like he feels "screwed over" because you expect him to drop his time with friends and family (when he's physically with them, no less), yet he must respect your time with your best friend. At what point will you offer your apology?

And as for not calling you when he's not with his friends or family, it might be that he's just really tired after a long day.

Devil's advocate time over. Your boyfriend may very well be insensitive, as you're describing. Depending on his age, he may or may not have the maturity to see things from different perspectives, to understand that consoling a friend who suffered loss is a bit higher up on the priority scale than hanging out with old buddies.

Of course, family is also important, but I'm sure most people could find the time during events to send off a quick text, even if it's just to say "I miss you, call you later" or something similar. I've made the mistake in my past of taking things for granted, and often ignored opportunities to make contact with significant others. I'm sure many of my failed relationships could have improved with something like "Too tired after long day, call you tomorrow?"

This doesn't absolve you of any responsibility, though. I think the best thing to do would be to start discussions with your own apology, and desire to see if things can be worked out. Relationships are not one-way; there has to be compromise somewhere.
posted by CancerMan at 2:02 PM on January 4, 2010

Too much drama over too little content.

Ya know, I got bent out of shape because we kept mis-connecting. I'm sorry.

Give him a chance to express his feelings. If he is nice, and if you both think things got overblown, then just go have coffee or a drink and let all that mess slide.
posted by theora55 at 2:06 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sorry, I somehow missed this at the end:

But i still feel that even if things work out today, I wont be able to forget about this. and my trust for him is almost completely gone.What would be the point of staying with him?

This is really frustrating to read. He could say the same thing about you (see ekroh's list) and it feels a bit like you're trying on the role of woman who's man done done her wrong. Seriously, in terms of trust issues in a relationship, this chain of events wouldn't even rate if you guys had good communication. You cannot hang your relationship out over the water for low-level conflict - it's a bit like saying "Oh my God, how could you want to see Avatar instead of Sherlock Holmes! Everything I ever thought I knew about you is wrong, how can I ever trust you again?" The response seems hugely out of proportion, in other words. You have to grab some perspective here.

Having said that, I have zero understanding of how this escalated to the two of you blanking each other at work, but this whole thing seems really blown out of proportion and frankly juvenile. But maybe that's actually age-appropriate and you're both very young.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:12 PM on January 4, 2010 [7 favorites]

Thank you for your advice guys. Many of you stated your points ever so gracefully. I have taken it all in.
It really helped me realize that:

1) I need to rewind and take a better look at my expectations for a SO

2) My views of who should be mad/who should step up were a bit lop-sided. Yes, there are some other details I have not mentioned here that may or may not change your opinion of who should be mad at who, but the truth is that I should have considered his feelings more, while the entire time I was just thinking how if I were in his shoes, I would understand the predicament. But really, I have no idea how difficult his NYEs have been, or how even though he may logically understand my need to spend this time with my friend, he may still be feeling hurt. I hope he can share this with me.

3) As much as it may seem unfair of me to "tally up points," sometimes it is just something one must do because it may help one avoid getting hurt, the same way he put up his wall. We all have our defense mechanisms.

4) Some of you clearly have little or no morale if you can so quickly overlook your best friend to go hang with your SO (and one who you've only been with for some 3 months I might add) instead. I am glad I am not you man.
posted by dentro at 2:22 PM on January 4, 2010

Your most recent follow-up shows remarkable insight and understanding. Way to go! However, I did want to follow up on this:

As much as it may seem unfair of me to "tally up points," sometimes it is just something one must do because it may help one avoid getting hurt, the same way he put up his wall. We all have our defense mechanisms.

First of all, I don't think it's true that keeping score will help to prevent you from getting hurt. If anything, it's a recipe for getting more hurt, because you're constantly looking for reasons to feel that your partner has wronged you rather than counting the good things about the relationship to feel happy about. However, even if it were true that tallying points could prevent heartbreak, I'd still think it was a bad idea. If you put yourself out there and try to connect emotionally with people, you're going to get hurt. Keeping score is a way to avoid taking risks with your heart, which means that you're not giving yourself fully to the experience of being in a relationship. You're cutting off opportunities to feel immense joy in order to try to prevent the small hurts that come with human interaction. I think you'd experience more joy overall if you tried to let things go and allow your relationships to develop organically, without adding up points about who cares more.
posted by decathecting at 2:31 PM on January 4, 2010 [13 favorites]

Here's what probably happened on his end: he tried to play ok with the New Years thing, but he really wasn't ok with it, so he complained to his friends. They immediately took his side, and the standard "make him feel better" comments rapidly escalated to far less kind comments -- so he's spent most of the time from then until now being told that he doesn't have to put up with your crap, and quite likely being prodded to ditch you and find someone better. While he may have "only" been hurt initially, he has been egged on into a far angrier state at this point.

Unless he's a doormat, he isn't likely to be the one apologizing. He's already deep into passive-aggressive brush-you-off mode, and no doubt his friends would rag on him if he caved in. You've "shown" him where he rates versus your friends, and unwittingly forced yourself into a break-up or step-up position -- you either "prove" to him right now that he really is important to you, or it's over. Meeting him halfway will not be sufficient, and nothing may be if he's already convinced he's second-class in your world.

If you want to bite the bullet, say you started it, and apologize (frankly, you DID start it, albeit unintentionally), maybe he can save face with his friends and his own ego and get over it. How hurt he was/is does hint that he has more emotional investment in you than you may have realized, after all. It's still a big if, though.
posted by Pufferish at 2:31 PM on January 4, 2010 [7 favorites]

As much as it may seem unfair of me to "tally up points," sometimes it is just something one must do

Ugh. No, it's not. I've done a lot of reading on happiness over the past few months, and this comes up now and then: People who keep score in relationships are almost always less happy than those who don't. My wife keeps score with her friends; I don't. Guess who's able to maintain long-term friendships? (Fortunately, she doesn't keep score in our relationship.)

Dentro, if you're serious about this relationship, think about it as "us", not "me" and "him". As somebody else said earlier, think about how to approach this from a team perspective.

And stop with the texting.
posted by jdroth at 2:31 PM on January 4, 2010 [17 favorites]

Some of you clearly have little or no morale if you can so quickly overlook your best friend to go hang with your SO (and one who you've only been with for some 3 months I might add) instead. I am glad I am not you man.

Consider this: you could have invited him along and explained the situation to him, saying you trying to make both you feel happy and loved. You never considered that, never offered him the chance to hang out and decide for himself. You made a unilateral decision to exclude him, as opposed to thinking as a team.

You made a choice and it's an understandable one. But it wasn't your only choice.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:32 PM on January 4, 2010 [10 favorites]

you clearly have little or no morale if you can so quickly overlook your best friend to go hang with your SO (and one who you've only been with for some 3 months I might add) instead

That's not what the word morale means.

Sometimes grace isn't about who ranks first. Sometimes grace is about sticking to plans you made unless something Very Fucking Important comes up. And while this may very well qualify as Very Fucking Important, the fact remains that it was something you did to your boyfriend and not with your boyfriend.

Your desire to score cheap points against your boyfriend ("How F*((ed must he be?") seems to have translated into scoring cheap points on MeFites ("you clearly have little or no moral[] [sense]"). In both instances, your behavior is inappropriate, and in both instances, you owe apologies.
posted by jock@law at 2:34 PM on January 4, 2010 [15 favorites]

When you're tallying up points to see "who should be mad at who(m)", you're focusing way too much on who is right and not focusing enough on what the both of you can do to resolve the issue and learn to communicate more effectively with the other person in the future. If you want to have meaningful relationships with anybody, especially grown-ups, you need to figure this out.
posted by scarykarrey at 2:35 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

3) As much as it may seem unfair of me to "tally up points," sometimes it is just something one must do because it may help one avoid getting hurt, the same way he put up his wall. We all have our defense mechanisms.

You only need to engage such defense mechanisms if something is seriously wrong -- like a pattern of real hurtfulness and thoughtlessness. Here, you are jumping the gun after a simple case of bad communication and failure to see his perspective (as you admit). Tallying up points is no way to start out a relationship. Forgiveness and assuming the best is the only way to go. Keeping score to avoid getting hurt will fail.

4) Some of you clearly have little or no morale if you can so quickly overlook your best friend to go hang with your SO (and one who you've only been with for some 3 months I might add) instead. I am glad I am not you man.

Yeah, friends are important, but your problem was the failure to see that your boyfriend might be legitimately upset that you somewhat reneged on your commitment to spend NYE with him. Furthermore, you're the one who decide that all three of you couldn't hang out together - so you're the one setting this up as an either/or choice between boyfriend and friend.
posted by yarly at 2:35 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dentro, your previous question had score-keeping elements, too. This might be something you want to address long-term. If it's a deeply-ingrained habit, that'll be tough, but I think you'll be happier if you do this.
posted by jdroth at 2:36 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

if ditching a guy on a holiday you know he has a hard time with after a ramp up of verbal intimacy and playing teenage head games with him is what it takes for you to lose trust in a person, you are not mature enough for a relationship and you should take some time to yourself so you can be a better partner for someone in the future.
posted by nadawi at 2:37 PM on January 4, 2010 [13 favorites]

You were being a baby. What DarlingBri said. Also, you should recognize that you just helped make yet another one of his NYE's drama-filled and crappy. So in addition to apologizing generally, you should apologize for pushing NYE further into the "oh no this holiday is going to suck every year" category.

But also, you two are pushing each others' buttons very hard. This might be b/c it's the holidays, and those are rough on everyone. Or it might be b/c you're wrong for each other. I'd apologize, do something nice for him this coming weekend, like devoting a night to taking him somewhere nice and treating him really well. Then I'd give it a month and see if you two can't even out a little in how you relate. If it's still like this, then cut ties. If you can learn from it and if he likes you enough to pitch in as far as removing the drama from situations (and if you give him the confidence that you won't be offended if he responds to a melodramatic instance with a joke or by calling you out on it, or experimenting with different ways of diffusing the situation), then it might be good that this tendency to be a little melodramatic revealed itself - b/c now it could become a relationship project that you two can work through and bond over.

If you decide to go the "Our communication seems to have gotten really fucked up over Christmas. I'm so sorry. How can we fix this?" route, one word of advice - have a few suggestions lined up for him. In fact, I'd rephrase this as: "Our communication got messed up over New Years. I think most of it, or all of it, was my fault. I'm so sorry. I think I got antsy because I really wanted to be with you, but was torn because my friend needed me too and friends and family obligations are so important to me. But I let that feeling of guilt snowball into a needless communications problem that hurt us both. So I'd love to do two things to make it right. First, I'd like to do something special to make up the evening to you, and I hope we can set aside some time for that. Second, I'd love to chat with you about how you felt over NYE sometime, and how we talked to each other that we might want to change, together."

Then when you have your talk, be prepared to tell him 2-3 specific, doable things you're going to do that you think will change how you approach communication. Let him know he should feel free to call you out on things, too. And do phrase it as something you can both work on as a team - a stumbling block that sucks b/c it's your problem, but you hope that it's something that won't get in the way of what's otherwise been a really fun and happy relationship so far.

On preview, I want to respond to this: "As much as it may seem unfair of me to "tally up points," sometimes it is just something one must do because it may help one avoid getting hurt, the same way he put up his wall. We all have our defense mechanisms."

I did not see, in your description, a wall that he put up. It sounds much more like he was doing what you should be doing -- apologizing more than strictly necessary, in order to ease the flow of communication with you (and the fact that he did this means he might not want the relationship to end, btw). The way you responded to his statement that he put up a wall was nasty and should be apologized for along with everything else.

I'd really examine why you're tracking every little thing so closely. It's important to look out for yourself and make sure you get what you want out of a relationship, but if you're grasping at him so strongly for him to understand you and talk to you perfectly, and then not giving him anything when he apologizes for failing to do that, you're going to strangle the guy.

Incidentally, I agree that after 3 months you do not have to ditch a good friend in distress b/c your boyfriend wants your company. So yeah, don't feel bad (or feel the need to apologize) for that. Focus should be on how you communicated / got snarky etc. and mostly on acknowledging you disrespected him, showing him respect now by apologizing, and working so it happens less down the road. To the extent you let him know at the last minute that your friend needed one-on-one time with you, you can apologize for the last minute notice also.
posted by lorrer at 2:38 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Dating 3mos and he doesn't know your best friend enough to be brought along?

You think you know someone, and then they bite you in the ass.

He could say the same about you, but all in all, it sounds like he's already broken up with you. However, I get the feeling if that's the case then you won't be able to control yourself and will lambaste him with all the "points" you've been collecting.
posted by rhizome at 2:41 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Let's go back to the beginning: he told you he had never had a good New Year's Eve and you promised to be there for him. He was comforted and looking forward to it. Then your friend had her problems. It is good that you wanted to be a good friend for her- but you had already made a committment. You valued your friend's feelings over his. He has every right to be miffed. You were wrong and should apologise. I do not believe he owed you an apology.
posted by srbrunson at 2:41 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

What DarlingBri and Moviehawk and others said about owing him an apology because he needed you too; and nthing to please stop texting, it's immature and doesn't allow for tone or inflection or reading facial expressions and all that important relationship stuff.

Considering your previous question, you probably have a lot to sort out still, with the self-esteem issues and all, and the damage to your relationship with your best friend, and this is a rather new relationship still (and you know about how it's generally considered a tricky to date people with whom you work?). From the previous question, I sense that you're surrounded by other burgeoning relationships, but perhaps you need to seek out more mature couples with good relationships that you admire to model after and learn from? It seems like his behaviour/reaction after your transgression might have threatened your feeling of self-worth and so you escalated it with small, subtle, passive/aggressive counter-attacks.

There are quite a few threads that mention quality books about relationships - if I can check in later and find them, I'll try to link to them. I think, as an old married lady who went through lots of stuff herself in her younger days, in the nicest way possible, that you need help. And time.
posted by peagood at 2:44 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's surprising to me sometimes how bad some people's communication can be when they're in a relationship. This advice goes for the both of you, for either this relationship or the next one:

If you're upset with your partner because they did X, say to them "Hey partner, it upsets me when you do X."

At that point, have a discussion and figure out if there is a way partner can quit doing X, or if there is another way that partner can somehow avoid hurting your feelings. If they're not willing to enter this dialog or avoid hurting your feelings, you have a Bad Partner. That said, occasionally you just need to suck it up, because your partner will never stop putting the dishes in the dishwasher that weird way or somesuch, but at this point at least they will know that it bothers you each time it happens.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:45 PM on January 4, 2010

I'm with DarlingBri, I read that whole thing a couple of times and I'm still not sure what he's supposed to be apologizing for. I can see where you need to apologize to him, though -- you made plans with him for New Year's Eve (knowing he'd never had a good one), and then you bailed on him. Yes, I know, you had another friend who was going through a hard time, and it's nice that you want to be there for your friends, but being there for a friend at the expense of someone else you already made a promise to is uncool.

Regardless of whether or not you and this guy should break up, one thing you really should stop doing right this second is conducting passive-aggressive fights via text message. Having been on both sides of the text message shitfight, I can tell you that absolutely nothing good will come of you continuing to have it out in 140-character bursts. Either respect the person you are arguing with enough to actually speak directly to their face, or don't engage in the argument at all.
posted by palomar at 2:51 PM on January 4, 2010

He was a big baby about you canceling plans on NYE. You were a big baby afterwards when he didn't call/text/pay attention to you as much as you would have liked. Now it's tense and awkward for no real reason, and because you work together, you really do need to resolve the situation.

Are you still interested in dating him? If so, apologize sincerely and nicely for canceling on NYE and ask him if he's willing to give things another shot- new start for the new year and all that. If not, just say something like "hey, I'm sorry everything got so messed up between us but I hope we can still be friends and get along at work." Whatever you do, don't start or get involved in the blame game- you didn't call me back, you ignored me first, you sent a lame message, etc... It won't solve anything and will just continue the drama.

Oh, and I've known my best friend since I was 4. If she needed me, there's no way I would ever choose a guy I'd been seeing for three months over her, so I'm with you on that.
posted by emd3737 at 2:55 PM on January 4, 2010

Another note: Two people you care about have lost relatives around New Years, i.e. they've been in the same situation. They might have been able to help each other get through this New Year's in some way, however small.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:59 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sometimes even when you're right, you need to hug your person and say you're sorry. (You can be vague about what you're sorry about.) You need to be able to recognize when your person is feeling more sad, more vulnerable, more wigged out than you are, and you need to be the big person and make them feel all cuddly and warm and loved and probably even chagrined. I don't know if this is one of those times, or he is one of those people. But it's a good rule of thumb.

Maybe you were right to pick your best friend over your boyfriend on NYE. Maybe not. But he seems to feel hurt by that. If you just unilaterally decided you were ditching him on NYE and you communicated that in a blunt way without explaining why, then he certainly has reason to feel hurt. Even if he weren't your boyfriend - you had talked about spending NYE together, so it is poor form to unilaterally decide to cancel and bluntly tell him so. If it were me, I would have told him the scenario, and told him it was really important that I be with the best friend because she's feeling terrible about X, Y, Z and she needed me, and would he mind terribly if we didn't hang out on NYE? (And I would promise to make it up to him with a super awesome date on Friday or Saturday night.) That way he'd feel respected, part of your effort to cheer up your friend, and happy about the upcoming date.
posted by n'muakolo at 2:59 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Maybe your boyfriend doesn't understand why you cancelled plans to be with him in favor of your friend because you didn't communicate that very well to him.

You didn't communicate it very well to us--"going through the motions" is not a synonym for "going through a hard time" or "going through a lot of trauma." If someone said to me, "I'm cancelling our plans because Jane is going through the motions" I'd think they were an ass, not a caring friend.

And no, nobody "must" keep score. That's not part of doing relationships well. You'd have better luck with relationships if you let that go.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:06 PM on January 4, 2010 [8 favorites]

Stop texting and start talking. You mostly communicated via text the first few months that you dated? Stop doing this. If you end it with him and get into any future relationships, do not continue to use texting as your major form of communication with someone you're trying to get to know.

We saw each other for about 20 minutes and didnt exchange hellos.

He didn't say hello, but neither did you. Your post just reads like so much tit for tat. He did this and then I did this. Both of you need to accept that everyone has faults, and both of you need to learn to stop holding grudges.
posted by iconomy at 3:07 PM on January 4, 2010

He needs to get away as quickly as possible. All the stuff you speak of is childish teenage behavior, and neither of you is mature enough to deal with it, though, in my opinion, he is feeling hurt and doesn't like feeling abused by you. Most mature individuals would deal with the situation better than either of you, but unfortunately , you both seem to have this passive aggressive bullshit happening... and take it from anyone over 18, that kinda stuff does not make for a strong relationship!
posted by newfers at 3:21 PM on January 4, 2010

4) Some of you clearly have little or no morale if you can so quickly overlook your best friend to go hang with your SO (and one who you've only been with for some 3 months I might add) instead. I am glad I am not you man.

It didn't have to be an either/or scenario. You chose to make it one. And if you find yourself, no no, I HAD to go alone or my friend would've freaked out, that's you choosing yet again to make your life more dramarific.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:28 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

You hurt him by messing up HIS new years, and your friend could have put her big girl panties on and either spent them with y'all or taken care of herself for one evening.

Why don't you break up with him, as he is obviously not a priority for you? Seriously.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:31 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

and I would understand if our roles were reversed

This stuck out a bit for me.

I know that I have, many times, felt this very thing about various situations, and probably most of the time I have been proven wrong when the same thing happened to me.

It's easy to say "I'd be OK with that if the situation were reversed"; it's a totally hypothetical situation onto which you can project your best self.
posted by chazlarson at 3:36 PM on January 4, 2010 [11 favorites]

I'd be OK with that if the situation were reversed

Also, and I still have a hard time with this, it's okay for other people to react to situations differently than you. It doesn't make them wrong.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:40 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

The only person keeping score in a relationship is the loser.
posted by nomisxid at 3:52 PM on January 4, 2010 [15 favorites]

As much as it may seem unfair of me to "tally up points," sometimes it is just something one must do because it may help one avoid getting hurt, the same way he put up his wall. We all have our defense mechanisms.

As long as you realize that:

a) He's probably NOT looking at this as a "scorekeeping" kind of situation, and is reacting to things for very different reasons, and

b) even if he IS also keeping his own score, you have no way of knowing whether he is even using the same scoring system you are.

So while you're correct to call it a personal "defense mechanism" you use, you haven't quite yet grasped why it isn't working. And the reason it isn't working is because -- well, to use the "keeping score" metaphor, it's as if you're using the scoring system people use for Bridge, but he's using the scoring system people use for Mah-Jongg. So even if you did try to both compare scores, you'd both get....totally nowhere, because you're not even keeping scores for the same game.

So why do it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

About the tallying and tit-for-tat: you're getting a lot of flack for those things. I wanted to say that (I think) most of us are calling you out for that not because we think you're a bad person, but because we've been there ourselves. We've done that, we've seen the appeal, and we've learned that it doesn't lead to better relationships.

I remember being really worried at one point, just in the abstract, that maybe my boyfriend wasn't treating me fairly. And it wasn't that he was doing anything -- it was that I'd spent so much time reading books and watching movies and reading threads like these that I was hyper-aware of the tendency we have of rationalizing away bad things. If all these people were in horrible relationships and didn't realize it, how could I make sure that didn't happen to me? Well, by being hyper-vigilant, that's how! And keeping track of little slights could be a part of that: maybe I wouldn't feel a pattern, but if I made a point of remembering every little thing, I'd see the pattern.

Eventually I stopped. I stopped when I realized that I trusted myself and my judgement enough. If I felt good, it was probably because I was in a good situation. And you know what? It felt so much better not to have to do that.

I'm not saying that from now on I could never be taken advantage of in a relationship, or treated badly. I am saying that I trust that I'll notice it if it's happening. I won't go looking for it.

Also: about the tit-for-tat: remember there are two things you want in a relationship. You want some amount of equality, and you want the other person to treat you well. (Actually, three things: you want to treat them well, too.) Equality is nice and all, but being treated well trumps it. It's much better to have one partner slightly more nice than the other than to have both partners equally nasty!
posted by wyzewoman at 4:01 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

er, on non-preview: saying "we've been there ourselves" came across much more speaking for everybody else than I intended. Apologies everybody -- I meant to say something like I've been there, and I wouldn't be surprised if many of us have too.
posted by wyzewoman at 4:02 PM on January 4, 2010

You should have kept your promise to celebrate New Years with him, but you didn't, yet you waited for him to call you to wish you a happy new year, because it's the most important holiday to you (yet you chose not to spend it with him).

You should have apologised and made up to him, but you didn't, and things just escalated.

One of you has to back down and offer an olive branch. Who will it be?
posted by KokuRyu at 4:05 PM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

People don't know what you want unless you tell them. Sure, we may all have fantasies about the boyfriend/girlfriend that does just what we were hoping for without ever having to say anything to them, but the real world doesn't work like that.

If you want him to call you, you need to tell him "Hey, call me tomorrow!" If you want to talk to him, you have to talk to him. Instead of saying "This is what I would have done if I were him" just do it yourself.

"If I were him I would have apologized"--do it yourself.
"If I were him I would have called"--do it yourself.
"If I were him I would have said hello"--do it yourself.

People are not psychic. They don't know what you're thinking, they don't know what you want unless you let them know. So let them know! Your life will be totally more awesome.
posted by that girl at 4:13 PM on January 4, 2010 [19 favorites]

You don't get into a relationship to keep scores in order to avoid getting hurt. You get into a relationship because being with someone else is fucking fantastic, all the rest is power games. Then it ends, both parts involved get inevitably hurt, and move on.

Also: toss your cellphones into toilet. Flush. If talking in person is impossible, write each other letters longer than 160 characters.
posted by _dario at 4:24 PM on January 4, 2010

Favoriting darlingbri, so hard.

For what it's worth, I'd have dumped you too; as I'd expect most worthwhile people will continue to do, until you work out that dropping the point-scoring high-school who-is-in-the-right melodrama is indeed both completely unsafe and totally necessary.
posted by flabdablet at 4:26 PM on January 4, 2010

You hurt him by messing up HIS new years, and your friend could have put her big girl panties on and either spent them with y'all or taken care of herself for one evening.

Yeah, I was coming back to post this.

This doesn't mean you (the original AskMe poster) are a bad, tarnished, sullied person. You made a mistake. Own up to it, plead forgiveness, try to learn something from it, and ask for a restart. Sometimes one person has to fall on their sword.

If he doesn't handle your apology gracefully, well, then you can go your separate ways.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:45 PM on January 4, 2010

Something that may help you: replace any procedure involving point-scoring with the simple idea of the dealbreaker. Here's part of my own list, for what it's worth. Yours is up to you.

Threatens or attacks me in a way that makes me fear for my life: dealbreaker.
Is incontrovertibly caught telling me deliberate lies: dealbreaker.
Is mean to those less powerful: dealbreaker.
Attempts to control who else I may associate with: dealbreaker.
Plays jealousy, power or guilt games instead of explicitly identifying needs: dealbreaker.
Becomes hostile when I fail at telepathy: dealbreaker.
posted by flabdablet at 4:50 PM on January 4, 2010 [18 favorites]

So my wife of ten years and I never text each other; she has a blackberry and can type quite a bit quickly, and I have a shitball phone that tends to send text messages before I can finish them. The other day she sends me a long passage about the kids and telling me what she's doing with them for the next few hours, and I text back "k". She responded with "is everything okay?" and I said "yes" -- and when she got home, she was all worried that I was really upset about something, and it was really just me being lazy and hating my phone.

So yes, text messaging sucks as a communication medium for expressing anything beyond basic facts.
posted by davejay at 5:28 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

I do hope you'll let us know how things go!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:09 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't get why you didn't invite both of them out WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER, why does it have to be this big exclusive thing?
posted by smartypantz at 6:22 PM on January 4, 2010

This is way too much drama for a relationship so new. This is the time when you both should be nothing but over the moon happy with one another. On the other hand, finding out these shortcomings in both your personalities so early on might just be a good thing.

I agree with those that said you'd made a commitment to him to spend NYE together. Rather than blow him off altogether the next option should have been to include your friend that needed your support. To do otherwise just wasn't right, IMO.

It just shouldn't be this hard so early into the relationship.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 7:00 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actions speak louder than words.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:19 PM on January 4, 2010

This is one of those questions where really, my first impulse is to come kicking with both feet. The drama, the immaturity, the stupidity! Instead, remembering that the goal here is to be helpful, let's just say that you're not functioning as an adult in this relationship. There's no way to tell whether he is or not, as everything's filtered through you, and he's not reading this advice, so we can let him go for now.

You are not acting like an adult. Adults don't get into pissy back and forth texting "conversations," not when they're acting like adults. Adults don't score points in relationships, because adults realize that relationships are not fucking Cosmo quizzes. Adults communicate their needs and don't expect their partners to be telepathic. Adults are able to realize when they've fucked up and apologize, and realize that the goal is to fix the problem with their partner. Children fume and pout and try to manipulate. I mean, Christ, you've treated him worse than you'd treat a regular friend in the same situation.

What should you do now? Well, you might have already fucked this relationship, or not. The ethical thing, the thing you'd do if you were concerned with this guy being your friend, is to acknowledge the problem, apologize, and make it clear that you're still friends.

The long term is a bit different: This behavior is bullshit and if you want to have healthy relationships, you'll get past it. That means being honest about what you want, how you communicate it and what you expect. I've watched my buddies go through similar relationships, and except for a couple who I would never foist off on my girl friends, they've all gotten over it. They realize how goddamned predictable and boring it is, how much energy it takes away from the core of the relationship, to always have this drama sucking away all the time they might have spent doing things that they both really enjoy together. I realize that it's kind of a mind fuck to apprehend that media depiction of romance, the template set out which does really sanction a lot of this drama, is not how functional relationships work. It's got as much to do with them as Law and Order has to do with actual law, and the sooner you realize that your life is not out there in the mediated sphere, that you can't expect to treat people like this and keep them around you, the better off you'll be.

Or hey, you can keep having relationships like this for the rest of your life. Your call.
posted by klangklangston at 10:14 PM on January 4, 2010 [11 favorites]

When I get bogged down in relationship trouble and focus on whose fault it is, and who has sulked the longest and why don't they just understand, my greatest moments of clarity are when I ask myself the question "What exactly is my goal here? Do I want to resolve this situation, in which case I need to talk to the person and say, 'hey, I think we have a problem. I'm feeling all angry and I sense that you're not 100% happy. What can we do to sort this out?' and then listen carefully to what they say.

If my goal is to act like a drama queen, throw a tanty and act like a teenager, then I will point score, text, and generally assume and presume the very worst of people's actions and expect them to mindread what my problem is.

What's your goal? Do you want an apology? Or do you want to build on this relationship?
posted by b33j at 12:45 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

As much as it may seem unfair of me to "tally up points," sometimes it is just something one must do because it may help one avoid getting hurt...

This is also a good way to have a really shitty relationship.
posted by chunking express at 8:14 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

How did it go?
posted by jock@law at 8:40 AM on January 5, 2010

Boy, that was boring. Really. "And then I texted... and then he texted...."

You know, you'd have a lot better conversations if you did them in bed. Don't be unromantic. You sound like you profoundly don't care about him, and he doesn't care about you.

You don't like to hear that? Well, then, be passionate. Be romantic. Take risks. Don't be boring and high-schoolish and "he texted me". And if you don't want to be wild and scary with him, he's probably not the guy for you-- if you can get so upset at minor things and not want to forgive him for being him, well, then you probably won't ever really love him. That's okay. But accept the relationship for what it is, or move on to someone who makes you less pissy.

In a real relationship, you have to forgive things a whole lot worse than "he sent me a pissy text/she spent NYE with someone else." You might have to forgive him being depressed for a year and neglecting you. You might have to forgive him hooking up with the girl who dumped him in high school that he never got over (but has now that they hooked up). You might have to forgive him suddenly quitting his job because he can't stand to work for his boss. You might have to forgive him saying he doesn't want the child you guys recently conceived. And he's going to have to forgive similar lapses, selfishnesses, misbehavior, stupidity, and craziness from you. That is, alas, what love is. I don't actually think what you have sounds like love-- but if you think it's got potential, do something wild and dangerous. Forgive him, and get past this intensely boring texting argument, and meet with him in person and go up to him and give him a passionate kiss and tell him you missed him.

Don't be trivial about love. Take a risk. Yes, you'll get hurt-- no escaping it. But you won't feel like you have lived your whole life and have never been important or loved anyone passionately. This might not be the guy who inspires that in you-- but let SOMEONE inspire you to be more than just a regular person who texts too much.
posted by pippin at 9:20 AM on January 5, 2010 [6 favorites]

If you Google divorce mediation and noodle around, you will find that studies (no cite) show that successful marriages have the same number of arguments as failed ones, the difference being how you resolve your differences and communicate. I don't care how much you love him or he loves you, until you can learn to communicate and work through your differences, the relationship is doomed to failure.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:39 AM on January 6, 2010

Hey guys,

Months later I'd like to present a big thanks.

Here's what happened.

I was ready to end things, but after seeing the other points of view here, I got a little insecure and changed my mind.
I showed up to speak to him offering my apologies, he told me it wasn't a problem and that he has been a lot out of sorts, that I deserved better. Yet, we both agreed that we wanted to stay together.
Days later, he broke it off with me.

I'll spare the details, but it was quite out of left field. Esp. since he seemed like he didn't want to give up on us. It was a quick, selfish, 'its not you, it's me' type of break-off.

We still work together, and I don't feel like I've gotten the proper closure. I can barely stand being in the room with him. I may need to speak to him to sort out my feelings of anger and guilt.

Anyway, appreciate all of the helpful comments.
posted by dentro at 4:39 PM on April 2, 2010

We still work together, and I don't feel like I've gotten the proper closure.

If he's given you the "it's not you, it's me" speech, that's all the closure you're ever going to get from him. If you want more closure than that, you're going to need to decide to let go of your end of the thing. Seriously. Stop with the point scoring. It didn't work out. Sometimes they don't work out. Let it go. You'll be happier.

I may need to speak to him to sort out my feelings of anger and guilt.

Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad idea.

Did I mention that that's a bad idea?

Your feelings of anger and guilt will dissipate once you commit to letting this thing go. He might, if he's a gentleman, want to help, but the fact is that he will be dealing with quite enough of his own stuff around the dumping to make any attempt to help completely and utterly useless to both of you. You'll end up fighting. Don't go there.

Something that actually might help: Go for a long hard walk to some pleasant and secluded outdoor spot where you won't be disturbed for an hour or two, then picture him sitting there with you, and then dump his imaginary ass.

Rationale: you're apparently saddled with an internal point scoring mechanism that habitually exercises an unhealthy degree of emotional influence. At the moment, he's one-up because he's the one who got to dump you.

Now, you know as well as I do that emotional point scoring is all bullshit, because all it can ever possibly do is cause distress; but simply knowing that doesn't actually seem to be helping you much. In my opinion, this is because the emotional point-scoring parts of us live closer to our crocodile brains than to our thinkami.

So, what you need to do is run a counter-bullshit play against your own point scorer. If you can drum up and act out a sufficiently convincing you-dumped-him scenario - even if your rational part knows it's all just sound and fury signifying nothing - then you have a fair chance of convincing the crocodile mind that you actually won on points, which will make it stay shut the hell up when you're around this guy at work instead of tripping you out with stress chemicals.

Give it a whirl and let us know how you got on.
posted by flabdablet at 2:58 AM on April 3, 2010

Thanks for your response!

Its not so much about tallying anymore, it is just an ego burn.

But I like your idea of the "imaginary break up" scenario. Like drama therapy, it can be super therapeutic.

I was listening to some Buddhist monk teachings on forgiveness, (J. Kornfield, "A Path with Heart) the other week, and there he explains all about the letting go, the release of the anger, hurt and pain from the heart. It was a bit too tiresome for me, I hate to say it but it takes a lot of time and a lot out of you to reach such high spiritual peaks. Your idea is much more hands on. Thanks for the tiip!
posted by dentro at 3:29 PM on April 3, 2010

there he explains all about the letting go, the release of the anger, hurt and pain from the heart. It was a bit too tiresome for me

If straight enlightenment is a little too hardcore and you'd prefer something with a little more pop psychology to give it fizz and sweetness, try this.

I hate to say it but it takes a lot of time and a lot out of you to reach such high spiritual peaks

Well, I suggest that taking a lot out of you is the point. What it takes out of you is the counterproductive stuff that made you miserable enough to post this question in the first place.

In my estimation, choosing mindfulness and regular meditation will cost you less time than you currently devote to feeling terrible. But if you'd rather stay miserable than risk the change of outlook necessary to free yourself of misery, that is of course entirely your right.
posted by flabdablet at 5:09 PM on April 3, 2010

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