Moving on from a bad relationship.
July 30, 2010 9:36 PM   Subscribe

Relationship has ended, and it's probably for the best, but why do I keep remembering only the good times, and keep feeling sad and like I've made a mess of it?

(This is long, sorry. I tried to be fair and pain the entire picture)

So I recently moved to a big city, and was dating someone for the last 6/7 months, since I got here. From the beginning I was as clear as possible that I was not looking for a very serious relationship, and marriage wasn't something that was on the cards for me and probably wouldn't be for another 3-4 years as I was going through many life changes, starting a new career, new country etc.

She said ok, and we started going out. Pretty soon into I realized it's wasn't exactly clicking, and I tried to talk to her about it, explained it wasn't exactly what I wanted, it was moving too quickly, and we should try to see less of each other.

I felt that she was too insecure, possessive and clingy. For example, every single night she wanted to talk on the phone, and although we used to do that before we started actually dating exclusively, I told her that sometimes I just wanted to come home from work and go to bed. I didn't want to feel like I have to call in and report before I go to sleep.

Also, when I'm out with other friends, she'd text me, and continue to text me even though I'd say I'm out and can't text right now. When I get home and I don't call right away, she'd text and ask if I've forgotten about her. This eventually resulted in my hardly hanging out with my other friends, and just her.

Even though I suggested we see less of each other, that didn't happen, because she would keep calling, there would be a LOT of crying, when I'd want to come off the phone she'd insist that I stay, and would pick fights with me when I wanted to leave just so I'd stay on the phone. She would also bring up how much she did for me when I got here, and ask if anyone else did that, and how could I treat her that way.

We ended up arguing and having a stressful relationship for 6/7 months. I must admit that when we did spend time together, she was very attentive, took really good care of me, introduced me to many new things about the city and generally did a lot more than anyone else did for me. However, when we weren't physically together it was a constant battle to stay on the phone, constant text messages, when are we going to see each other again.

I have to admit that on many of those nights when I'd be up way too late for my own good arguing with her just to get off the phone, that I would end up saying some very mean things. I tried everything, I tried reasoning with her, explaining it's just been a few months we were seeing each other, it's ok for people not to be compatible, etc. etc.

Eventually one day she asked me what I wanted in the relationship, and I said I still maintain that I think it's too soon for me to get married, and I don't know if I want to spend the rest of my life with her. She said she wanted to get married, and what am I doing with her if that's not what I want, that she essentially thought she could've changed my mind. This immediately began a 2 week period where she didn't eat well, didn't sleep well etc. culminating in an argument (over when would our next phone conversation be) when I told her I don't care that she's stressed out because she stresses me out so much.

Soon after she says she needs time to think about things. I gave her 3 days without contacting her, she said she needed more time, to see if she can deal with me not wanting to get married. I said maybe we can compromise on some things, she said she can't change anything, she doesn't want to wait a whole year to get married, and she wants someone who will spend all their time with her.

I gave it another 10 days and called her, she said not to ever call her again, never text her, she's moved on with her life and she's happy, and never wants to see or hear from me again.

Now I'm all alone in this city (I do have a family member that I live with, and we get along well) with a lot of free time, and sometimes it's depressing.

Now I know in my head that this has probably been for the best. I don't entertain any thoughts of calling her up, because I'm sure she's over me, plus it's not like I can offer her anything. But why do I feel so lonely, and keep thinking to myself that maybe I messed up the relationship? I tried to be honest all along, and tried to do things the right way. I feel really guilty about this. I keep remembering only the good times, and keep feeling sad.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: But why do I feel so lonely

Probably because you need to form new and satisfying relationships with more people.

... and keep thinking to myself that maybe I messed up the relationship?

Because this girl was seriously manipulative and demanding, and people like that can do a number on you. I bet you keep having the arguments you had with her in your head. Do the best you can to forget about her, and to find other people to be with. Honestly, it sounds like she would have been the wrong person for you even if you had felt it was the right time in your life to really commit to someone.
posted by orange swan at 9:51 PM on July 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

I can't believe I'm linking to "Power of Now," but here goes. I just want to say I've been in your shoes before, and I hope this puts you at ease, in terms of what a real, loving relationship could look like for you. Stay positive. The universe takes things away from you so that they can be replaced with better things.
posted by phaedon at 9:52 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't entertain any thoughts of calling her up, because I'm sure she's over me, plus it's not like I can offer her anything. But why do I feel so lonely, and keep thinking to myself that maybe I messed up the relationship?

Well, because you *are* lonely. If you spent practically all your time with her, and spent most of your city-exploring time with her, and now that's gone, of course there is going to be a void there. I think when you fill up your time again with your other friends, and find someone else to explore the city and do things with, you will feel like yourself again.

I tried to be honest all along, and tried to do things the right way.

I definitely agree that you did. My only piece of advice is -- if you tell someone that you don't want marriage and you know they do ... or you tell someone that you aren't that into them/don't love them, but you know they love you ... even if they are willing to stay with you despite your honesty about these things, it's a kindness not to let them.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:29 PM on July 30, 2010 [7 favorites]

From what I can perceive, you did the right thing by not jerking her around. Pat yourself on the back for that.
What do you do now? Shit, I don't know, man. Welcome to the show. From what I've learned, this is pretty much the way adulthood goes.
If you don't have someone you can talk to about this stuff (ie a therapist or a very patient friend), you need to get yourself set up with that soonest.
The sadness is good, because it shows that you care. But don't take it all on yourself. Concentrate on the next phase. Plan for the future.
posted by Gilbert at 11:46 PM on July 30, 2010

Because this girl was seriously manipulative and demanding, and people like that can do a number on you.

oh how this is true
posted by the noob at 2:24 AM on July 31, 2010

Because we remember the good times always more than the bad times. If the bad times sat on our minds like the good no one would ever go through child birth again or go to war.
posted by zzazazz at 5:04 AM on July 31, 2010

Just for perspective and some thought: You can be alone without being lonely just as you can feel lonely when you're not alone.

Credit Townes Van Zandt for saying it better: "...But loneliness, anyway is a state of feeling, whereas aloneness is a state of being -- like the difference between bein' broke and bein' poor."

From: Link (middle of the page)
posted by eatcake at 5:40 AM on July 31, 2010 [4 favorites]

Relationship has ended, and it's probably for the best, but why do I keep remembering only the good times, and keep feeling sad and like I've made a mess of it?

Because you're human and humans are social beings, and now your primary source of social contact in your new city is absent from your life. It's nothing more complicated than that.
posted by modernnomad at 6:10 AM on July 31, 2010

Best answer: You feel lonely because you are lonely. You just spent 7 months in a relationship where someone demanded so much of your time and attention that by your own admission, you isolated yourself from your friends to spend time with her.

Why do you currently only remember the good parts? So that you'll stay motivated to go out and couple with someone else. (Nature really likes it when you do that.) Remembering the benefits of relationships encourages you to go form new ones when old ones end. Almost all of us are programmed that way.

You did not mess up, you just don't want the same things. That makes the two of you fundamentally incompatible and that's not anyone's fault. So, now you're single. Go make (or re-make) some friends to fill your time, and you'll be less lonely.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:03 PM on July 31, 2010

Sometimes we need to grieve the good parts even though it was a good decision to let go of the relationship.
posted by heatherann at 1:34 PM on July 31, 2010

tl;dr but your main question is pretty much the story of any break-up. Or any life change, for that matter. For example: Remember how AWESOME college was?

OK now... remember the loud dirty roommates and awful hangovers and all-nighters before exams? Did you think of that... or the wild parties, the crazy girls, the up-till-sunrise bullshitting?

Everything is better in hindsight. Give it some time. Make a list of everything you HATED about her to look at when you're sad, that always worked for me.

Another thing that always worked for me is figuring I did screw up and getting back together with the ex. Repeat this until you're both so irreparably shattered and full of hate you can't be in the same city.

There's an easy way and a hard way.
posted by ista at 5:22 PM on July 31, 2010

Best answer: She was an anchor, for sure, and she was determined to nail you down before you had time to think about anything or anyone else. Manipulative? Man. To say the least. People like her rock you, if/when you spend any time with them, they're jarring, they take away pieces of us so we'll be dependant upon them supplying those pieces. I have walked this road. Gawd.

But the way she was does tell us that you've got a lot of good going on for you, whether it's wealth (or prospects of it) or maybe you're in a city that doesn't have a lot of keeper guys in it, or just whatever it is that she saw; this woman saw you and wanted to shut you in before you got a chance to take in the sights, and before the, um, sights got the chance to take you in.

So get on out there, and take the sights in, and let the sights take you in. Count yourself really lucky that she's totally nailed the door shut; after spending time with a person like her it can be really difficult to keep your head clear, and it'd be easier to call her back.

Last. I've this sneaking suspicion -- you may hear from her again; people displaying the patterns you described don't often let you off the hook as easy as she did. Be on your guard.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:12 PM on July 31, 2010

Of course you're sad. You're sad because you were using her, and now you're missing all the things you were using her for.

You were taking things from her, but not giving her what she needed in the relationship. As soon as it became clear that you wanted different things, you should have broken up with her. Be glad that she was smart enough to break things off with you.

I've been on your side of the equation multiple times. They want instant couplehood, and I want...something else. In every case I've enjoyed something. Sometimes it's the sex, sometimes the companionship, sometimes the fact that they mesh well with my buddies, or someone to call when I want to go do hit that new restaurant. But I've never let that go on more than a few weeks after I've hit the realization that they want something more than I can give.

It hurts to break things off. I was having fun! Which is, in fact, why it generally takes me a few weeks after the realization. The selfish part of me wants to have my cake and eat it too.

So, make this a life lesson, and don't be a dick.
posted by tejolote at 12:07 AM on August 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Maybe she was feeling insecure because you made her feel that way. I think you stayed with her because you needed someone in the new city (a tour guide) not because you were into her and probably she had felt it. it is totally not fair. And now you feel terrible because you are lonely not because you miss her.
posted by simba at 12:19 AM on August 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

althanis, Your query---"why do I remember only the good things?" is such a good question. Not many have addressed your specific question..and I won't do any better, except to tell you that I have noticed this phenomenon too.

When a relationship is over it is a lot like a death. We grieve death and finality. Have you noticed how when someone dies, even if you didn't like them all that much, they are elevated to sainthood in your own mind? My brother was a bastard (I do not exaggerate) but when he died I could not remember one bad thing about him! Seriously! Even now, typing this...all that comes back to me is how handsome and smart he was. I wish I loved him like I do now while he was alive. I have had the same problem with my ex husband. In my mind he continually alternated between saint and sinner throughout the 30 plus years I have known him. When our relationship became extremely final (death-like) suddenly none of the bad things were accessible in my head! Now he is a saint! WTF?

Is this some sort of evolutionary thing that humans are somehow wired to elevate the status of the dead (gone)---for some good purpose? Is it some form of what we can't have we continually want? Someone answer me and althanis....we want to know!

Although I am not clear why this deeper looooovvve takes us over when things are kaput (and hey! we instigated the kaput-ness in many cases) I do know that we are in danger of thinking ourselves into a depression. You did not want a marriage and she did. Don't forget that and move on to a more freedom-loving partner. You have about 6 or 7 billion people on the planet to choose from.
posted by naplesyellow at 10:34 AM on August 1, 2010

Other people have said it: you feel lonely because she basically forced you to make her the entirety of your social life. She isolated you from all of the rest of your friends using guilt and manipulation. If the genders were reversed, everyone would be calling that emotional abuse and a huge red flag for physical abuse down the line. But this sort of thing works on men just as well as it does on women, so it's not surprising that you're feeling this way. Give yourself some time (with no contact with her, obviously), forget dating for a little bit, and focus on making some friends (there are a lot of other AskMes here about how to do that). Then the next time you're dating someone, remember this feeling and be sure not to throw your friendships overboard for the sake of the relationship.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:44 AM on August 4, 2010

Wait, she's already engaged? People are going to tell you you dodged a bullet, but they're wrong; you dodged a firing squad.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:04 PM on August 8, 2010

Sorry you are hurting if you still are, but take this as a lesson and be wiser and kinder to women who are really into you.
posted by zulo at 3:39 PM on September 3, 2010

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