Proposals/Marriage: Does the subsuming feeling of "I'm lying to myself" mean something's wrong?
May 18, 2010 2:48 PM   Subscribe

Proposals/Marriage: Does the subsuming feeling of "I'm lying to myself" mean something's wrong?

OK team. I really need a straight answer because I don’t have enough life experience to call this.

So you’re going out with someone you respect. Admire. Who is loving. Supportive. You share the same general outlook with.

But after seven years you break up.

Why? Because something, something intangible, but utterly impossible to ignore, simply is not computing. Your heart is not igniting. You don't miss them, even though you know you should.

The dealbreaker is this: “Everytime I picture the wedding or being married it’s like my heart just seizes up and every fragment of my being says ‘You’re not being authentic’. ‘You are lying to yourself.’ 'This isn't real'. 'This isn't going to last'.”

Now, given how much I’ve ruminated over this decision in the last six months, my question is this:

Is this definitely a sign that this person was not the one?
OR Is there something wrong with me, and will I incur this with anyone I ever go out with?
OR am I just suffering from some strange form of OCD?


(PS - First I'm getting therapy. Second, this is not so much about reliquishing the old relationship - it's more about if I ever experience this reaction with someone again, should I just call it quits rather than keeping it going in the hope that it will work?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am a big fan of the "when it's right, you'll know" philosophy. Mostly because I was in a very similar situation to you. Was with a great guy, had a good relationship for a long time, but it wasn't right. Broke up with him. Three weeks later, went out for the first time with another man.

I knew immediately that this was who I was supposed to be with. We're celebrating two years on Saturday, and couldn't be more in love.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:51 PM on May 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


There's definitely an ebb and flow to long-term relationships, but if you don't miss them and can't picture yourself with that person in a committed way it sounds like the right decision to end it. The unfortunate part was that it lasted so long with you feeling that way.

When I first started dating my husband, I didn't think there was long-term potential. I just wanted to have fun. But then something really strong and good grew between us. If that "something" is not present in your relationship after a while (how long? I don't know. I can tell you it took about 6 months for everything to get squared away for my husband and me.), you really should move on.

It's good that you're in therapy so someone can give you tips on how to be authentic in relationships and recognize the real thing. And if you did make the wrong choice, it is ok too. You can learn from it and be better as you go forward.
posted by Kimberly at 2:53 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this definitely a sign that this person was not the one?

There is no such thing as 'the one', but it is a sign that you weren't happy, and that's all that really matters. I don't think you need therapy, and I don't think you need to overthink this. It's ok to be not happy in a relationship even if on the outside the other person seems to tick all the boxes they should. A relationship with a person is not like purchasing a car.
posted by modernnomad at 2:54 PM on May 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not to be overly flip, but there's a guy a few questions down from this one who's pretty much the alternate-universe version of you. I think there's less wrong with you than you think there is-- inertia can be both powerful and destructive in relationships.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:55 PM on May 18, 2010


Really, you should just trust yourself. Be there if you want to be there. The right person will ignite your heart. If they aren't, and it feels wrong then be honest, and get out. There's nothing wrong with you just because you don't feel how you imagine someone else would in your situation.
posted by jardinier at 2:56 PM on May 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


If you're not feeling it, then it's not right. Loving, respecting and supporting someone is the foundation of a great relationship...but it's not everything. You kind of still have to feel that this is the person you want to spend every day waking up next to. You have to be able to tell them about all your fears...even this one.

The fact that you're asking us instead of them screams "Not ready!".
posted by inturnaround at 2:56 PM on May 18, 2010


Love isn't fair. People can be great and you can still be better off single.

If you don't miss someone that is a huge big sign that it wasn't working. Even bad relationships tend to give weird withdrawal hormones. So there was something missing big time.

Best of luck.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:58 PM on May 18, 2010


But after seven years you break up... You don't miss them, even though you know you should.

With one caveat, this definitely sounds like the relationship was one that needed to end. The caveat is: how long has it been since the breakup? Have you really allowed a few weeks to pass and still felt nothing, no remorse, no nostalgia, nothing?

If you can answer yes, and you didn't just break up yesterday (so you have really had time to process all this), then I think you did the right thing.

As to your future relationships and whether they will work out, or lead to marriage (and those two aren't the same thing, btw, not every relationship has to lead to marraige), I think you really need to explore why you stayed with this last partner for 7 years if you felt nothing? Did you originally feel like you were in love, or at least lust? Or did you just kinda let things happen because it was easy and your partner took all the initiative?

To be a real partner to someone, you have to be willing to make concessions and sacrifices and put at least as much effort into your partnership as you want your SO to give back to you. You can't just float and flitter through life.

Adults make conscious decisions about their lives. Every day, they opt to take a step, from dating to marriage to what-have-you. When they make the decision to commit to someone, every day they stick to that commitment and put forth the effort it takes to make it work--or they realize they can't, end it and move on.

If you can do these things, I suspect you will be just fine the next time around.
posted by misha at 3:01 PM on May 18, 2010


This is only my experience, but the best and most meaningful experiences in my life initially weirded me out -- getting married, the idea of being a father, etc. I think life can sometimes warn you when things aren't right, but sometimes things don't feel right because we don't always know what we need, until we get them, and we have a tendency to fight it initially.

The only thing that I can suggest is that as life goes on, we get better at identifying which feelings are warnings, and which are those things that we are simply uncomfortable embracing, but may be good for us.

So what do you do? I think you take the time that you need to figure it out, and don't feel hurried. Talk to people you can trust who know you well, and see what they think. It's not always a clean and comfortable process, but if you are involved with someone who cares for you, hopefully they care enough to give you the space that you need to figure it out.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:02 PM on May 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anything you sleepwalk through you will eventually wake up from.
posted by Pliskie at 3:06 PM on May 18, 2010 [28 favorites]


If you doubt, stay out...if it's right, ain't no fright.
posted by Postroad at 3:12 PM on May 18, 2010


You might also want to listen to this fascinating philosophy radio show that was an FPP yesterday. Philosopher Amelie Rorty talks about self-deception and how it's actually necessary for us to get into relationships.
posted by jardinier at 3:25 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


roomthreeseventeen is right.

Is there something wrong with me, and will I incur this with anyone I ever go out with?

The only way to answer this question is to have a LTR with more than one person. But maybe you'll find the answer is that you don't want to get married. To anyone. And that is okay.
posted by Brittanie at 3:47 PM on May 18, 2010


My brother dated a lovely girl in college, after college, after moving in together, etc. for seven years. The entire time he knew he didn't want to get married to her, didn't want kids, etc. He was always honest with her about it. He loved her and cared for her but he knew marrying her would be a mistake.

Finally he broke up with her, met someone through work who lit his fire, and they were married within a year, have three kids, and just happily celebrated their 10th anniversary. (/datapoint)

if I ever experience this reaction with someone again, should I just call it quits rather than keeping it going in the hope that it will work?

A lot of people believe that when it's right, you just know. I'm not sure about that, but I do believe that you do know when it's not right. Trust your gut and move on before wasting years of your life (and someone else's), but if it does happen again, consider whether your hesitation is about the person/relationship or about the idea of settling down in general.
posted by headnsouth at 3:57 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look at it this way: If you did miss them like crazy and it hurt a ton, that wouldn't be a sign that it was a good relationship.

I've been heartsick for trainwrecks and nonchalant about real love gone amiss.

You felt the signs that this relationship was wrong. that's why you ended it.

Also the time spent in a relationship is not not directly proportional to it's quality. Next to my current marriage, my best relationship lasted 3 amazing months. I've had much longer ones, but only one better.
posted by French Fry at 4:02 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shorter everyone else: in answer to your quest? Yep, almost always.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:53 PM on May 18, 2010


I knew immediately that this was who I was supposed to be with. We're celebrating two years on Saturday, and couldn't be more in love.

This is more like survivorship bias.

I wouldn't trust your gut. I would wait and see if there is something fundamentally wrong with the way you approach life and the way you interpret what people say and your expectations based on how you measure yourself against others.

I almost didn't get married to a great person. I tried to damage the relationship shortly before we got married. I was sure that my relationship was all wrong because I was nagged inside about how it wasn't exactly like what I daydreamed about as a teenager, and I wanted it to be perfect and just know inside. I basically just didn't want anything that didn't appear picture perfect. It was childish.

I see on the green all the time how people are like, "Oh, I was in this and this imperfect relationship and then I met so and so and it's been so perfect and we're so happy." Honestly, watch out for that. I learned the hard way that in the West everyone is always talking about how sublimely happy they are and how amazing everything is. It's just rhetoric. I took it all really literally and felt totally inferior and almost just let nothing happen to me instead of actually participating in it like a real person.
posted by anniecat at 4:54 PM on May 18, 2010 [22 favorites]


Also, if it's after the fact, you have to simply decide if you want to be depressed about it or if you want to believe it was the right decision. You'll never know, so maybe you should just think that it was the right decision and own it, because nothing good will come of thinking it's the wrong decision.

You might have broken up with someone you could have had a good life with. It doesn't mean it's a mistake and you have no chance of being happy with someone else. You're in control. Not being able to picture a wedding could be because of a lot of things. So next time, don't waste time for 7 years. When it gets serious, cut your losses and move on if you don't feel right about it.
posted by anniecat at 4:58 PM on May 18, 2010


I see on the green all the time how people are like, "Oh, I was in this and this imperfect relationship and then I met so and so and it's been so perfect and we're so happy." Honestly, watch out for that. I learned the hard way that in the West everyone is always talking about how sublimely happy they are and how amazing everything is. It's just rhetoric.

I disagree with this. To me, the perfection isn't in the relationship itself, or in the person you're involved with, but how it makes you feel. You just know and feel like you're with the right person. When it clicks, it's wonderful, and that's the feeling that gets described here. I've been in both types of long-term relationships - the ones where the guy was objectively great but something was missing, and the ones where the guy sure does have his flaws, but yet the relationship manages to be fulfilling.

My relationship isn't perfect. We argue, and sometimes those arguments are really annoying. We have vastly differing abilities when it comes to managing money. But the key difference between this relationship and all the other ones I've been in is that this is one I actually want to put work and effort into sustaining. Why that is, I don't know, but it is.

Just keep in mind that when people say their relationship is "perfect," that might not mean what you think it does.
posted by wondermouse at 5:13 PM on May 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


It almost sounds like ROCD... Relationship OCD. I've had this once. I'm not in a relationship now but it can strike anyone who is involved with any relationship. Healthy or not. Sparky or lifeless. It just sucks bottom line. If you are constantly thinking about this day in and out... it might very well be ROCD.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 5:38 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you may have lacked chemistry with that person. I believe that is physically based. It sounds like you were probably compatible with the person in a platonic way but not a romantic way. In your list of things you liked about them, you didn't mention sex.

Our genes cry out for certain traits in a partner and we are pretty much at their mercy. When you get more relationship experience, you'll know more about what qualities you're attracted to.

When you find someone you are both physically and emotionally compatible with, you will know. Your mind and body will be in harmony. It doesn't sound like this was the case with your partner.

That's the feeling people describe when they talk about someone being "the one." Although, luckily for all of us, there are many potential lifemates out there. The "soulmate" idea is a cultural construct.
posted by xenophile at 5:58 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Listen to your gut and walk away. You're not doing him a favor by marrying him when it's not right.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:09 PM on May 18, 2010


Every day you live, and every day you feel. The way you feel, every day, is the way you live, and the life you have.

Which is a pithy way of saying, if you don't feel like there's something you want and need in this relationship, and there's nothing binding the two of you together, don't try to force it -- because that need, that desire, even though it ebbs and flows, is the thing that binds people together. If you don't have it, what is it you're together for?

note: sometimes "the one" and "the soulmate" does not last forever, and we mourn its loss, but we are also grateful for having had it. meanwhile, why move forward with something we're already mourning?
posted by davejay at 6:31 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


My mom told me that she knew my dad was the one because everything was "easy." I think that's the word she uses for the feeling that you're making a series of good decisions. I didn't really know what that meant until I started dating my husband. It wasn't so much that fireworks of love were exploding and the universe was guiding me to the altar with a giant blinking arrow, but that I felt like things were just falling into place.

My wedding day? I was calm as can be. Walking down the aisle to the altar? Relaxed and happy. Saying the vows, making deep eye contact, all that stuff? No anxiety.

"Easy" isn't perfect, as others have already said. Nor is it a numb feeling of just gliding though. For me it was the relief of knowing that I was going in the right direction. And I'm still going there.

For me it was the right time and the right person. I think you deserve that too.
posted by woot at 7:55 PM on May 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


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