Is it worth crossing an ocean just to say goodbye?
February 11, 2010 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Relationshipfilter. My long-distance boyfriend broke up with me earlier this week. I'm supposed to be flying out to see him at the end of the month. Should I still use them, or swallow the loss and move on?

Background: he's 22, I'm 21. He lives in Kansas and I'm in the UK. We met at university and we've been dating for a year. He was my first proper boyfriend and the best thing to happen to me in a long time. We talked about a future together, and we both said the L word. Until this week, I thought it was going great.

On Tuesday night, after a few days of We Need To Talk and going back and forth about whether or not he loves me enough to continue, he finished it over Skype. He doesn't feel like he loves me "in the right way" to keep a relationship going, and thinks that I deserve better than a guy who doesn't feel what he's supposed to feel (possibly relevant note: he was diagnosed with clinical depression when he was a teenager, and is currently taking Effexor to combat this. He's also swamped with work and preparation for grad school). To say the least, I was absolutely devastated. I still am. But I am willing to accept that this is what he wants and support his need to move on.

However, before it all collapsed, I blew £500 on non-refundable plane tickets to Kansas (I know, I know, but how was I to know this was going to happen?). I was supposed to stay with him all the way until May, so I could see him graduate and we could spend some significant time together. I miss him so much and all I want is to see him again, but (so far as I know) he doesn't want me to come visit if it means that we'll both end up hurting each other more. However, he has expressed a desire to see me again, if possible. I'd ask him for money towards the tickets, but he can barely afford to keep himself right now. My mother has also offered to pay for a ticket home to the UK at any point, should I need it, so I can stay for as much or as little time as I want.

I've read through a few other AskMe questions relating to similar issues, and the advice seems to be that closure is important when relationships come to an end. I don't have any relationship experience beyond this one, so I would like to know if the hivemind thinks it's worth trying to convince him that I need to see him one last time, or whether I should just take the hit to my bank account and try to move on alone.
posted by fight or flight to Human Relations (49 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do not fly out to see him. Write the tickets off, keep your distance, and let it go. He can want to see you if he likes, but it won't make the breakup easier for either of you, and really won't be worth the drama.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:03 PM on February 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

The important question is: what do you see that "one more time" accomplishing? Is it going to help any of you move forward? Do you expect it to be a positive experience?

Looking back on money spent on a dead-end relationship (or not yet spent but still gone) can be a bummer - I've had expensive gifts return to me by mail horribly broken, for example. But hey, you've hopefully had a good time while it lasted, learned a bit about yourself in the process, and will not attempt to dwell on the past.

I suggest you avoid poking at an open wound, and skip the visit. I think you realize this is the better choice.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:05 PM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

You know, I've done just that and it was awful.

I've also been the receiving end; a girlfriend that came to visit and broke up with me on the second day. Of ten.

Closure doesn't need to occur in person. No it does not.
posted by chrillsicka at 3:06 PM on February 11, 2010 [13 favorites]

I don't think you should go see this guy. In my experience "seeing someone one more time for closure" usually makes things more complicated.

Use your ticket to visit the US and see the sights on your own, or stay home and lose the money. Either is preferable to dragging it out with this guy who just dumped you.
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:06 PM on February 11, 2010

Definitely don't go to see him. It's over. Don't prolong the pain. Only go if you think you would enjoy being a single tourist in Kansas in February.
posted by Dasein at 3:06 PM on February 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

I am sorry to hear your relationship has ended. However, I would agree with restless_nomad: if it is truly over, let it go. There is no magical "closure" that will result from seeing him in person; a much more likely outcome is that visiting him again will make it more difficult to move on, prolong the period of the initial post break-up pain, and so on.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 3:07 PM on February 11, 2010

It occurs to me that you are probably not flying direct to Kansas. Are you connecting through a fun city? Ask that they check your bags only to that city, then spend the time seeing the sights. Find a cheap-ish hotel online (read online reviews to avoid bedbugs). Avoid Kansas altogether.
posted by Dasein at 3:08 PM on February 11, 2010 [31 favorites]

I'm so sorry. I hope for a better relationship for you in the future.

Have you called the airline? They might be able to give you a partial credit toward future plane tickets even though yours are non-refundable. It can't hurt to ask.
posted by Knowyournuts at 3:10 PM on February 11, 2010

Check the fine print. Non-Refundable usually means there is a change fee involved in changing the ticket.

Go somewhere else.
posted by politikitty at 3:15 PM on February 11, 2010 [15 favorites]

Change the flights to spend a few days visiting NYC instead to take your mind off the situation. You'll have fun in NYC. There is tons to do there! The change fee should be 50-100 quid.
posted by xotis at 3:25 PM on February 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

Don't go see him. I'm not sure it would help with closure - would probably make it messier and more complicated. But if it's over it's over, and seeing each other one last time usually doesn't end up being such a good idea. In any event, you don't need a face to face visit for closure.

I've never been to Kansas, let alone in February, but it doesn't sound like a fun place to hang out by yourself - and since you wouldn't be able to stay with him you'd be burning money on lodging, food, etc.

Take the hit to your wallet and move on. I hate to say this, because I am genuinely sorry you are going through this, but I think it's better that he told you now and not partway into your visit.
posted by KAS at 3:25 PM on February 11, 2010

Change the flights to spend a few days visiting NYC instead to take your mind off the situation. You'll have fun in NYC. There is tons to do there! The change fee should be 50-100 quid.

I concur!!! Get thee to a fun city, pronto.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:27 PM on February 11, 2010

If it were me, I'd fly out and then catch a bus or train to somewhere in the US that is a) interesting to you and b) not the same city as my ex. Check into a traveller's hostel, meet fellow travellers, have fun, expand your horizons in whatever way you feel comfortable. Rinse. Repeat until you want to go back. It's a fun way to forget about someone actually.
posted by Kurichina at 3:28 PM on February 11, 2010

one of the best pieces of advice i've seen on this site is "listen to what they are telling you".

He doesn't feel like he loves me "in the right way" to keep a relationship going, and thinks that I deserve better than a guy who doesn't feel what he's supposed to feel --- this is what he's telling you.

(possibly relevant note: he was diagnosed with clinical depression when he was a teenager, and is currently taking Effexor to combat this. He's also swamped with work and preparation for grad school) ---this is what you're telling yourself to remove power from what he told you.

for your happiness and health, listen to what he's telling you and don't go and see him.
posted by nadawi at 3:31 PM on February 11, 2010 [11 favorites]

I like Dasein's advise, providing that you can still catch your return flight if you didn't complete your outgoing flight. Check with airline regulations on that one. If it were me, I would couchsurf my connecting city, provided that it's one of the likely ones like Atlanta, NYC, etc.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:32 PM on February 11, 2010

Be careful with Dasein's advice. If you don't catch your last inbound flight, you may lose your ticket home. Also, Immigration may take an avid interest in your activities. If you want to cancel the last leg, you should speak to the airline well ahead of time.

I don't think closure in the sense of "try to confront the other person in some way that will make you feel better" is common advice. It doesn't work, and it doesn't make you feel better. It sounds like a recipe for awfulness to me.

See what you can do about your tickets to take a shorter vacation somewhere else.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:34 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Don't throw good money after bad" is a cliche for a reason.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:35 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Closure, when it happens, is not something that someone else can give you -- and certainly not at this stage of a breakup. It's something you can only find yourself, after a while, possibly in a way that you least expect. Chasing after it only shoves it further away.

Which is all a fancy way of saying that I agree with the suggestion that you change your tickets to NYC or someplace else fun. Have a little adventure. Suggest a Metafilter meetup! You'll have infinitely more fun, even if you find yourself sad and missing your ex.
posted by scody at 3:35 PM on February 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

It occurs to me that you are probably not flying direct to Kansas. Are you connecting through a fun city? Ask that they check your bags only to that city, then spend the time seeing the sights. Find a cheap-ish hotel online (read online reviews to avoid bedbugs). Avoid Kansas altogether.

Came here to say exactly this. There's no way there's any non-stops from the UK to anywhere in Kansas, so stay in your connecting city, suggest a mefi meetup, and have fun.

Was this purchase a surprise to your ex? Because if he knew you were gonna buy it let you buy it, and THEN broke up with you, then he's a jerk. If you'd just as soon stay home, I'd say you have a moral case to demand he reimburse you over time, regardless of how long it'd take.
posted by mreleganza at 3:37 PM on February 11, 2010

Oh, also, "closure" is cheap 90's pop-psychology everybody-needs-a-therapist Oprah-Winfrey let's-all-weep--in-public-for-Diana gobbledygook. You need to get drunk with some girlfriends and have meaningless sex; and you need time. That is all. Closure is bullshit. Just get on with your life.
posted by Dasein at 3:41 PM on February 11, 2010 [12 favorites]

Agree with everyone who suggested traveling elsewhere. Another option would be for you to call the airline and ask if they will let you use this ticket at a later date (they cancel this flight but hold the funds) for a fee.

That way you can take a nice vacation elsewhere in the future but not lose the entire amount.
posted by special-k at 3:43 PM on February 11, 2010

Assuming you can't change your destination, I'll wholeheartedly second those who suggest you use these tickets to give yourself a vacation that doesn't include you ex.

If your tickets are direct to Kansas or don't involve a transfer in a city that interests you, I'd suggest looking around the website for Southwest Airlines, which flies out of Kansas City. (Assuming that's the airport you'd be arriving at.) It's an excellent and reasonably priced airline, and there's even a page where you can search for special offers that fly out of specific cities.

Use this as an opportunity to have an adventure.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:46 PM on February 11, 2010

If you come to NYC I'll buy you a dirink!

I would be tempted to go if he weren't in Kansas but...ugh...Kansas. Dullsville. Maybe you could rent a car and head to Colorado or something. The hotels will be costly, though.
posted by kathrineg at 3:47 PM on February 11, 2010

The ticket is for the US, not for meeting this guy. This is your opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons and have an awesome trip.
posted by xm at 3:51 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you end up not using the ticket, and your ex suddenly decides that he wants to get back together after your departure date has come and gone, make sure he knows that the next ticket is on HIM.
posted by elizardbits at 3:53 PM on February 11, 2010

Skip the visit, but use the tickets anyway and couchsurf. It's the perfect opportunity to do so. No strings, needing an emotional break or distraction, and the tickets will be wasted otherwise. Why not?
posted by theraflu at 4:05 PM on February 11, 2010

nthing changing your ticket. fly to New York or Miami or somewhere awesome and have a good time of it.
posted by phredgreen at 4:07 PM on February 11, 2010

Not even reading other comments, just Do. Not. Go.
posted by anaelith at 4:22 PM on February 11, 2010

Thirding changing your ticket and arranging a MeFi meetup in advance. I am sure you will be well treated.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:39 PM on February 11, 2010

If you do end up in Kansas, don't miss The World's Largest Ball Of Twine in Cawker City. However, I nth the Big Apple.
posted by partner at 4:46 PM on February 11, 2010

There's no such thing as closure. I learned this the hard way. Just make a clean break and end it. Don't talk to him, don't try to work things out, don't reminisce. It will be hard, I know. You care about him, he was your first love, you had something special. It's best to end it on a relatively good note. If you go visit him, it will only makes things messy. Perhaps irreparably so. Forget what you see in films: it *will* end poorly in real life, mark my words.

So enjoy your visit to the states. Go to Chicago or NYC or Shreveport, Louisiana, anywhere but Kansas*!

* I'd like to vouch for my homeland and say that, contrary to popular opinion, Kansas does have some redeeming qualities...just not in the middle of February. Stay away!
posted by chara at 4:55 PM on February 11, 2010

What Lyn Never is saying is that if you use the UK to NYC ticket, but not the NYC to KC leg, your return ticket WILL most likely be cancelled unless you arrange it with the airline in advance. We once missed the first flight of a trip, drove like hell to DFW to make our flight to Mexico City, were somehow allowed to board and made the trip. But when we got ready to come home, we had to pay big bucks for a new ticket to get home because our old ticket had been cancelled due to missing the first leg. All that said, don't go see the ex.
posted by tamitang at 5:02 PM on February 11, 2010

Feels like shit right now, I am sure. Been there before -- break up over e-mail, while I was out of the country for work. As tough as it is, you are better off moving on.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 5:02 PM on February 11, 2010

A mefi meetup at a big city sounds ideal. Change your ticket and have a good time. I'm even excited and there is no way I can go (west coastie).
posted by chairface at 5:04 PM on February 11, 2010

Nthing changing your ticket, or hopping on a bus in Kansas. Look at is this way -- you have paid-for airfare to the states, and enough free time to enjoy it! It's the absolute perfect way to get over a breakup -- doing what you want to do, how you want to do it, getting your mind off of things, and experiencing awesome things!

But do not see him. If he really really really feels like he wants to see you, make him come to you while you're living it up in [that-US-city-you've-always-wanted-to-see-here]. (All are a lot closer than the UK) But I wouldn't do this either - i'm just throwing it out there as an option.
posted by cgg at 5:33 PM on February 11, 2010

Breaking up is right there near the top of the list of the most fucking unpleasant things ever, and having someone you just broke up with as your host/guest on a trip ranks fairly high as well.

Unless you love winter and walking on ice, visiting Kansas in the middle of winter is on that list too. Fairly far down, like maybe below having a sinus infection, but still on there.

Either change your ticket or eat the expense, but definitely don't go to Kansas. My vote's for somewhere sunny, maybe Miami.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:51 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

When were you supposed to leave? I don't see from the post where it says February. At any rate, I concur with people that if you go (and I think you should) then DO not get off at the first point of entry (NY or Chicago) because they will cancel the rest of your tickets. Assuming you can't arrange something beforehand, and assuming you're going into KC, then well bus it to cool places. Colorado, New Mexico, Austin, New Orleans, all lo-o-o-o-ng bus trips but you know doable. While I gues Kansas is no NY or LA, it might be at least for a week pretty interesting from a culture-clash anthropological perspective. Very different from the UK, that is for sure. If you're the storm chasing type and there in about April, well....

Oh yeah, and DO NOT go see him. I think the Italians call it "cavoli riscaldati" - reheated cabbage, and a reheated relationship is about as appealing.
posted by xetere at 6:21 PM on February 11, 2010

Do NOT fly to Kansas in the winter to have an awkward visit with the guy who just broke up with you. Everything about that plan is horrible.

Either eat the 500 or pay the change fee to go somewhere else for a week or two, or see if you can get a credit for a future trip.
posted by emd3737 at 7:42 PM on February 11, 2010

At best it will be awkward, at worst it will be a total disaster.


See if you can get the tickets changed and go away somewhere by yourself. Reconnect with who you are and gain closure that way. Otherwise just eat the cost.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:46 PM on February 11, 2010

I strongly suggest you use your ticket to visit some other US destination if it can be economically changed. If not, I strongly suggest you go enjoy Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Denver, and any other place in the middle of the US you might otherwise never have the chance to see.

If you're not in a hurry or on a hard-and-fast schedule, Amtrak is a pretty nice way to see the country. You could take a train out to California (or back East) if that's your preference.

Maybe even stop by Tulsa. I know several folks with spare bedrooms. ;)

Or more likely, you could cross into Canada and see more of the frozen wasteland that is the plains this time of year. (I mean that in a good way)

As far as seeing this douche, I recommend against it. In my experience, it doesn't make a difference. It would just detract from the awesomeness of your trip. (or the awesomeness of hanging out at home, if that's your thing, as it is mine!)
posted by wierdo at 10:57 PM on February 11, 2010

Only heartbreak and pain can come of visiting him. Can you use your ticket to go someplace fun (pretty much anywhere is better than Kansas!) Get your heartbroken really sucks, but the good news is that it will get better from here.
posted by bananafish at 11:30 PM on February 11, 2010

Stuff to think about if you end up changing your ticket/busing it: Are there any friends or acquaintances who are fun that will play host for you? Would you be comfortable couchsurfing? Are any of your favorite bands playing in the US at that time? Any other shows/etc that you want to see?

In other words: Nah, not worth crossing an ocean to see goodbye. Totally worth crossing the ocean for the sake of crossing the ocean, though.
posted by NoraReed at 12:23 AM on February 12, 2010

If I were you I'd go to Kansas and hop on a greyhound bus that would take you through the desert and into California, staying in youth hostels along the way, seeing the sites and having a great time.

But your question is all about him rather than about the trip - so if you can't change your mental state into making this about the trip then definitely don't go.

This guy is a jerk to have waited until you had bought the plane tickets and then broken up with you. My guess is he's seeing someone else and was stringing you both along, then realized that wouldn't be possible anymore if you were visiting. He's not worth your time and energy so please don't go just to see him.

Also, although it would be great if you could just go to your stopover city but seriously most airlines aren't going to let you get your return flight from the stopover city so do be sure to check with them in advance. But if your mother is paying for you to return anyway then maybe it's not so much of a problem. Definitely don't just disappear off the flight and into your stopover city and try to clear immigration there because you never know what homeland security may decide to think of that idea.
posted by hazyjane at 12:30 AM on February 12, 2010

closure is over exaggerated.. I've known friends that found closure with dead relatives. Closure is something you can do on your own.
posted by bam at 1:31 AM on February 12, 2010

Oh, you're so lucky this guy broke up with you before you left your home and your support group. When I was your age, about 15 years ago, this happened to me Day 1 overseas and it SUCKED. I was stuck, didn't know anyone, couldn't speak the language and had 3 weeks left. It was crazy unhealthy and, since that caustic relationship blowout, I've had to work really hard on myself and my relationships (mostly with trust and communication).

I know the money seems like a lot right now. And you're young so it seems like your world has ended. If you can swing it, change the ticket to a sunny, warm place and spend a week there with a friend, if you can. If you do decide to go, be prepared for a lot of heart ache, stuck in a place where you're dependent on him and far away from your friends and family to help you.

Good luck.
posted by KathyK at 6:12 AM on February 12, 2010

You can bus it into Denver and crash at my place. We have mountains.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:42 AM on February 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you should go and get closure. It sucks to break over telephone/email. So go, and plan that you may do a roadtrip, or go to boulder or ask your mom to come meet you, do a mother/daughter bonding roadtrip and take you home.
posted by zia at 10:19 AM on February 13, 2010

I thoroughly understand the feeling of wanting to see him again. You just broke up on Skype, for the love of crap. But please, do yourself an epic favor and use that ticket on yourself. Go to New York (I, too, will buy you a drink), go to San Francisco, go ANYWHERE in the US you've been wanting to see, and have an adventure. In the face of heartbreak, opportunity has presented itself. Take it. You won't regret it. But you will regret wasting your money and time on him.

And when you call the airline to change your ticket, don't be afraid to tell your sob story. You might come across a ticket agent who is sympathetic to your situation. Happened to a friend of mine - got all her fees waived as a "one time courtesy." It can't hurt!
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 11:50 AM on February 13, 2010

$500 isn't all that much to pay for sanity. Not that anyone's sane right after a breakup, but at least you'll be less destroyed. Closure right after a breakup is an excuse people make to talk to someone they shouldn't - believe me, this is something I just did and regret. Go someplace nice or eat the cost.
posted by wonnage at 2:54 AM on February 14, 2010

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