it don't break even
September 28, 2010 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Should we break up? But wait, I might be slightly insane with grief right now.

Anonymous because he knows I read this, I think, and I don't want to link my username.

My dad died a few days ago. I have been at my family's home while he was in hospice for about a week.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for about three years, hooking up for four. I am 23. Over the course of this relationship, we graduated from the same college. He is several years older and started law school in Boston a year ago (two years into the relationship). I am about 5 hours away from Boston.

The long distance was wearing on me last year. We visit(ed) each other about twice a month. Then, he lived with me over the summer while he worked, and my depression and lack of energy levels caused a lot of conflict. He still owes me $600 in rent.He only ended up in my city on accident - he only got offered the one job. He wasn't planning on coming here for the summer, but staying in Boston. He left in August.

He has said several times that he hopes that he will get a job in Boston after graduation. We have never talked about marriage.

He still loves me, he says.

My father died Thursday night/Friday morning. The wake was Sunday; the funeral, yesterday. He did not contact me at all. He did not call, or text, or email. He texted me late last night, saying that he loved me and was thinking of me.

There was a lot of support and love from my friends, whether local or faraway, old or new. He did nothing. No cards, no calls, no texts, emails, visits, flowers, whatever. He has been not reliable before; I broke my leg a while back and he did not come to help me despite my asking. It was his midterms.

I don't want this post to be a litany of complaints about him. I still very deeply care about him. But I am deeply grieving, and feel like my entire world is falling apart. His very existence is stressing me out - I just want him to go away, but on the other hand, I want him to be here to support me. But I also really, really just want him to leave me alone. I also don't want to hurt him. I really don't want to hurt him.

I am not really mad at him; I don't really have any feelings. I just want him to go away and to not stress me out any more. Now he knows I am upset and he is apologizing a ton (whenever I show up on gchat) and I am avoiding him and this entire thing makes me want to vomit.

Is breaking up with him a sign of my grief / temporary insanity? Should I really be mad? Should I give him another chance? If not, how can I make him go away?

Mostly: How much more will my life suck if we break up?

Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (47 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You sound kind of high maintenance, and for good reason right now with a death. As you are going through a tough time right now, I'd put things on hold (not something you need to share with him) and go see a therapist.
posted by TheBones at 3:31 PM on September 28, 2010

When my father died, I experienced an almost terrible clarity, during which I could no longer brook any foolishness, including the kind of behavior you describe. You're seeing things clearly and there will be no going back. DTMFA. Or ask for your $600 back and then DTMFA. I am sorry for your loss.

Sometimes when people were behaving in a petty or pointless fashion, I wanted to scream out, "Stop that! It just doesn't matter!" lasted quite a while.
posted by carmicha at 3:35 PM on September 28, 2010 [43 favorites]

He has been not reliable before; I broke my leg a while back and he did not come to help me despite my asking.

Well that's concerning. To not know what to do and make the wrong decision in doing nothing is one thing; to not be there when asked is another. You say he is apologizing now, does he fully understand how his actions hurt you? You don't have to decide anything now, but at some point, you'll have to discuss this habit of not being there for you when you need him. That could be a deal-breaker.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:37 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

He still loves me, he says.

Well, saying it is pretty easy. A lot easier than actually being there for someone or maintaining a healthy relationship.

I thnk you just sound tired of all this. You doubt yourself, but even in grief you are still you. I think you sound ready to break up, but if it makes you feel better, sit on the matter for a few days. Just because people act unpredictably during a period of grief doesn't mean that what they do isn't representative of their true wishes.
posted by hermitosis at 3:39 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

You don't sound high maintenance to me. You sound like someone in the depths of grief who needs her support system. You sound like a person who needs to trust that your spouse will be there for you in times of pain and grief, which is normal (not high maintenance). Your boyfriend doesn't sound like he's been there for you when you needed him.

I think those facts are clear, whether you're grieving or not. You're not being insane. Your relationship doesn't sound particularly compatible. Personally, I would expect my partner to not only be at the funeral with me (if it was physically possible), but to be my main support line through the entire thing. I imagine you feel the same way. You sound like you need a person who makes you feel safe, trusted and loved.

Should you make this decision while you're grieving? That's a tough one. Will these facts and your needs change when you're more level-headed? No. I personally wouldn't stay with a person like this, but are there factors that keep you with him that are more important then being there for you in your times of need? If not, then, grieving or not, I think you know the right answer.
posted by Laura Macbeth at 3:41 PM on September 28, 2010 [8 favorites]

Life is going to be full of stress and strife. If this is how he's acting now, it's usually an indicator of future behavior.
You don't want a partner like this on your journey, do you?
I'm sorry for the loss of your father.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:42 PM on September 28, 2010 [7 favorites]

Deal with your grief now and deal with the guy later. I'm very sorry for your loss.
posted by vincele at 3:44 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry about your dad.

If I might play devil's advocate for a moment: have you considered the idea that he might have made the decision to leave you alone for a little while in order to let you grieve? It's hard to know what's going on in someone else's head, especially when that someone is far away. Maybe he thought you'd appreciate not having to deal with relationship stuff on top of saying goodbye to your father.
posted by fight or flight at 3:45 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow, I have sent rather thoughtful letters to one of my EX-girlfriends after her father died. This is seriously unacceptable.
posted by lattiboy at 3:46 PM on September 28, 2010 [11 favorites]

This is the absolute wrong time to deal with this. Deal with your grief and let things settle and then deal with your boyfriend. If it turns out that he was not the support network you feel you deserve, then that is a good reason to break up. However, this probably isn't the best time to introduce more loss into your life nor is it a time when you should be trying to weigh the pros and cons of this. It's tough to know what's going on -- he might be letting you do this in your own way, he might be at a loss for how to help, or he might be an insensitive jerk.
posted by proj at 3:47 PM on September 28, 2010

Depending on how selfish and/or anxious he is, he may be extremely consumed by his studies to be a good person or act like a human being. This is not unheard of behavior by law students --- my friends who were in law school and are lawyers now (one in particular who was a very good friend in college) went from being a normal person to someone who seemed to not have any ability to connect with the world in a healthy and normal way. This was early in her career as an associate at a BigLaw firm and I'd forgiven her many offenses when she'd been a law student because I thought it was an all consuming endeavor. But she actually got stranger and weirder after she started working. We don't speak anymore despite living three blocks apart in the same city! So they are a weird crowd with their priorities in flux.

Certainly not being there for you at this time is concerning. He also owes you money and that's odd that he hasn't paid you back. You having broken your leg in a city 5 hours away while he is studying, however, might have been asking a bit much, especially if you had friends and family around that could have helped if he was consumed by his studies.

Law school is very stressful and I guess it brings out the worst in people.

I think you should table this particular issue while you grieve. Surround yourself with friends and family who are supportive. You might want him and only him now, but it's obvious that he's unable to fulfill that role for you. Your relationship with him shouldn't be your main concern. Just take care of yourself and do what you need to do.
posted by anniecat at 3:48 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Instead of breaking up with him, call him up and let him have it. Tell him how you feel and how pissed you are at him for not even trying to be there for you. See what he says. Maybe he has a good explanation? Maybe he will try to do better and this will be a wake up call. Maybe he won't answer for his actions satisfactorily and you will break up.

So I guess my advice is get into a fight and see where that gets you. At the very least then you will be talking about something with him instead of pretending not to care that he hasn't called.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:50 PM on September 28, 2010 [9 favorites]

Also, it's hard when the person you've been sleeping with for years and who is your boyfriend won't take that role of "good boyfriend I have a future with" on. It's hurtful on its own, especially when you want a relationship to progress and don't have any control over its progression because you went to girlfriend by default after hooking up with no strings attached. Your confusion and unhappiness with him in that regard is very normal and it does suck. Just forget about him in the meantime and deal with it later.
posted by anniecat at 3:52 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

First, ask him to pay you back. That is a good test of what will come next. If he balks, that's a reason. If he agrees and you bind that in your trust, then you will probably be able to build on that 'credit' to him.

As far as his behavior regarding the death of your father, I don't want to sound crass since I clearly do not know the details. I take from your post that you lived together for a summer and you were pretty depressed at that time. Most times you were traveling to one another. I am taking a leap here to guess that he never met either of your parents. There are clearly reasons for this, no doubt it being the preoccupation you both felt for the nature of your combine circumstances in Boston. I don't think he meant to hurt you by remaining silent. You seem to say you really only lived together and not much more. I don't know if that means you fell into accidentally becoming cohabitants of the same structure of conflict and denial.

Do you feel the love? Do you feel yourself affected by his presence? Is his absence a stabilizer? These are things only you know. I wish you the best.
posted by parmanparman at 3:53 PM on September 28, 2010

I would wait a few weeks no matter what you decide. Making any kind of meaningful decision during this grieving period is a no win situation.
posted by lakerk at 3:55 PM on September 28, 2010

Instead of breaking up with him, call him up and let him have it.

I can't agree with this though I'm tempted to because he deserves a good yelling at from one of your friends. But I think the OP needs to decide what she wants the outcome of further communication with him to be. Does she want to keep him in her life? Does she want to just let him know that she thought it was shockingly unkind? When you yell at someone, you might find out how clueless and helpless they are, and you haven't assessed the situation. Once you yell at someone, you might end up feeling worse about yourself. And this isn't the time for doing anything that makes you feel bad.
posted by anniecat at 3:56 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think you should concentrate on your grief right now, and surround yourself with the people who have supported you and shown you love throughout this tough time. You should be your first priority right now, with your immediate family members who are also hurting a close second. Boyfriend can sit this one out for now, since he seemed to be okay with it to begin with. And you absolutely do not need this on your shoulders aside from everything else. This can wait.

After you are in a better place, you can make this decision. Me, I'd break up with him because I find what he did unacceptable, full stop. I cannot in any way imagine not being there for your SO of 3 years after their parent died. Even if he had been a prince of a guy when he broke your leg. Even if he had paid you back those $600. It is that inconceivable to me. But, the fact is that he was not a prince of a guy when you broke your leg, and he owes you those $600. I say this not to tell you you need to dump him, but to say that I don't think your grief is making you skew this situation against him. He did it all on his own.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 3:57 PM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]

First of all, my condolences on the death of your father.


Now. This tragedy has underscored for you that this guy is not worth having in your life. You would be 300% better off right now not having to worry about this kind of stuff while grieving. You've probably known for a while the relationship was fizzling, but his inability to even TRY to be there for you during this important time is galling. Seriously. Of course you are noticing now. How could you not??

May I suggest something?

Consider yourself broken up with him. Actually tell him whenever it is convenient for you.

You might have to forget the $600 because he sounds like a stinker. He's already sent you the strong message he wants out of the relationship in the most underhanded cowardly way possible (you are WELL rid of someone like this) and I sadly doubt he will pony up the money he owes you... but we could get surprised, I suppose.

You have truly important things to deal with right now, and this person of former importance is not one of them. Give yourself time. Process this relationship when you are feeling up to it.

For now, don't let this guy linger on your conscience. Take care of you.

posted by jbenben at 4:00 PM on September 28, 2010 [18 favorites]

How much more will my life suck if we break up?

Well, you've got a non-supportive boyfriend who has not made himself available to you physically (attending the funeral) or emotionally (calling you). It sounds like you're getting non-support either way. I could see some of this being his awkwardness around death but it sounds in general like he's not very reliable. To use a cliché, a good guy would see you through better and worse.

Big life events, tragic or joyous, show us what people really mean to us, and what we really mean to others. This guy has unfortunately shown you what kind of person he really is.
posted by fontophilic at 4:06 PM on September 28, 2010

My father died Thursday night/Friday morning. The wake was Sunday; the funeral, yesterday. He did not contact me at all. He did not call, or text, or email.

Provided he was aware of this event at sometime prior to the funeral...


Promptly expressing condolences is a Common. Fucking. Courtesy. I would extend to someone I despise.

Your father wanted you to be happy.

Go forth. Be happy.

Yeesh, these dipshit boyfriends I read about. Holy moly.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:11 PM on September 28, 2010 [27 favorites]

I'm so sorry about your father.

Leaving aside whether breaking up with him is ultimately the right thing to do, it sounds like what you want/need right now is to not think about him and not be stressed out about him.

I think it's fairly likely that breaking up with him will, at least in the short-term, make things more stressful for you. The break-up conversation, the possibility of him trying to keep contacting you afterwards to ask why, and (depending on your personality and feelings towards him) feeling badly about hurting him and/or wondering if you made the right choice.

Maybe it would be a good idea for you to just tell him what you need from him. "Look, I know I said before that I wanted to hear from you, and at that time, that is what I wanted. But at this point, the damage has been done and I just feel hurt and stressed out, and hearing from you is making things worse. What I really need is to take a break from being in contact with you for [X time.] This is a really hard time for me and worrying about our relationship is making it harder. I would really, really appreciate if you would give me some space right now. After [X], once the grief isn't quite so intense and I've had some time and space, we can talk again and figure out what's next as far as our relationship."

Ideally he would respect your wishes, you get to have some time where you can put him out of your mind, and you have the chance to make the decision of whether to break up at a time when grief isn't weighing quite as heavily on your mind (to the extent that you say that right now you "don't have any feelings" towards someone who you also say you "very deeply care about"-- totally understandable while grieving, but may lead to making a different decision than you'd make later on.) If he's dramatic about it and keeps trying to get in touch, then you can go ahead and say "Fine, if you're not willing to respect my requests at a time like this, then my decision's made, let's just break up now then," and you're still likely not going to be worse off than if you'd broken up in the first place.

(Unless you are the kind of person who really needs to have closure in a situation, and you think having this "undecided" would be more stressful than knowing it's over with. But just really think through what you would guess would happen if you broke up now and how that would affect your stress and emotions, and make sure you're not just making an unexamined assumption that "If I break up with him, then I won't have to deal with him or think about him anymore.")
posted by EmilyClimbs at 4:27 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mother dropped dead a few years ago. My best friend didn't really know what to do so she didn't do anything (okay, in retrospect, she did send a card, including a donation to the library where my mother worked in her name, but it felt like nothing at the time). A few months later, I kind of flipped out on her. We talked about it later and now things are pretty good.

A few things stuck out for me in this. My future husband pointed out that maybe she wasn't around because she didn't know what to do but also because death is scary. Being around people who have experienced a death means you can also experience a death, which is scary. My best friend has never experienced someone close to her dying. She's never even been to a funeral. So she really didn't know what I needed.

Anyway, as this might indicate, I'm less concerned with his behavior post-death of your father (which, btw, I'm very sorry to hear about) but the not helping you out when you broke your leg. My sister's boyfriend didn't do anything after she had her wisdom teeth taken out. If he hadn't dumped her a week later, I would have beaten him up.

Dealing with something like a death of a family member gives you permission to be selfish. What does that mean to you right now? Eating a ton of ice cream? Not talking to this guy? Figure that out and take care of yourself first. If he's still around and you still want him around, best wishes.
posted by kat518 at 4:29 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Your grief is not making you "insane" - you should break up. Aside from this past week, he sounds pretty terrible. Even if he was an angel up until a week ago, I'd say dump him. But you don't have to bother with him right now, because that would just be annoying to deal with at the moment.

anniecat: Law school is very stressful and I guess it brings out the worst in people.

And now you know the worst is completely unacceptable. I'm sorry, but being in law school is no excuse for being a total asshole. Dude couldn't even make a phone call. He couldn't even send a GD TEXT OR EMAIL. You say you don't want to hurt him. Fuck his feelings. He's just shown how much he cares about yours.

How much more will my life suck if we break up?

In the short term, breakups SUUUUUCK. That's why you shouldn't bother with it right now. But in the long term, you're so much better off. You deserve someone who gives a shit.

I'm really, really sorry about your dad.
posted by AlisonM at 4:29 PM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]

I'm with Dr Girlfriend on this one. I had a similar situation happen to me this summer when my mother's boyfriend died. My ex, whom I had supported emotionally when his father went into cardiac surgery, was seriously MIA. I have a friend in Law School and she was emotionally supportive of me after L's death and she's on the opposite side of the country!-so yeah law school can be rough, but a phone call and some genuine offer of emotional support, not to mention a text, isn't so very much to ask after a death in the family, esp for someone you've been with for 3 years. In the end I decided that withdrawing my energy from him, as much as it hurt, and investing it things that would actually nourish me emotionally was the better choice. I stand by it.

This guy seems to have a pattern of not being there when you really need emotional support and that is NOT going to change. Sure he'll scramble and apologize when he thinks you're going to dump him, but that's not about YOUR needs, that's about him and his needs and his fear. He doesn't seem to consider that his actions (the absence and the apologies) are COMPOUNDING what is already a really difficult situation. And yeah after being with someone for a few years, break ups are difficult. But you have to look at the long term, which is that this break up, if you decide that is what you want, will allow you to pour your energy and love into other things-projects, trips, friendships, and perhaps even someone who can return the emotional commitment you have made to them.

If you just want him to go away for now, and I think some emotional space while you process your feelings about your father and deal with other nec. issues is completely reasonable, just say so. Tell him that you have other things to worry about and you really can't handle the emotional strain he's putting on you right now and then put him out of your mind. Block his email and phone if you have to, but focus on what you need right now and when you are ready, THEN deal with this guy. Maybe you just need to be more assertive or aggressive about your needs or maybe you really do have irreconcilable differences or maybe neither one of you is the place right now for this kind of relationship. Don't worry about that right now. That decision can wait until you are ready to seriously grapple with it. The answer will probably be more clear once you have really spent some time just doing what YOU need to do. I really do wish you the best of luck and feel free to memail if you need talk.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:31 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

"Is breaking up with him a sign of my grief / temporary insanity?"

It's a sign that he is a waste of carbon and you should entirely forget about his existence. Block him on gchat. You don't have to explain why, he'll know.


"Promptly expressing condolences is a Common. Fucking. Courtesy. I would extend to someone I despise."

This, so very hard.

I've been through something similar to this so I know it doesn't feel very good. I could understand why my father wasn't there, I couldn't understand why my supposed friends, who were walking around on this earth hale and hearty somewhere not far away, were not there. There was no good reason for it. It added to my loss.

I am so sorry about your father. I know what it's like. Peace to you.
posted by tel3path at 4:33 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

You sound kind of high maintenance, and for good reason right now with a death.

What the fuck? Since when does expecting someone with whom you're in a committed relationship, who says they love you, to comfort you when you break your leg or your father dies equate with "high maintenance"?! This isn't "I stubbed my toe, honey, please drive three hours to rub my back."

OP, in relationships there's talking the talk and there's walking the walk. You can get a pretty good idea of someone's concern for you--or certainly their level of thoughtfulness--when things like this happen and whether or not they come to help. I would draw back from him and deal with your grief as much as you need to. If he continues to try to get involved, you need to say nothing more except "I am in a lot of pain right now, and the lack of contact from you in the immediate aftermath did not help. I currently need to focus on getting through this and due to your previous inaction your presence is making me feel worse." Or something along those lines.

I think, if after things have calmed down slightly and you're able to process his actions, if you were to decide to break up with him nobody could blame you.
posted by schroedinger at 4:47 PM on September 28, 2010 [19 favorites]

A lot of experts recommend that after the death of a loved one, you wait a while before making big decisions like what to do with your inheritance or whether to quit your job. I think that's sound advice. Granted, many of them advise waiting 6 months or a year, and you don't want to be in purgatory with this relationship for months on end, but I think the general principle is still sound. Your father died less than a week ago. When my mom died, I really wasn't thinking straight at all for several weeks. I wanted to break up with my boyfriend a few times in the months following her death (and eventually, I did, but not for the same reasons that seemed so important to me in the wake of that ordeal).

Wait a few days or a week or however long you need without contacting him. Don't take his calls if you don't want to. Just put him out of your mind. It'll be hard, because thinking about your relationship is a great distraction from thinking about your dad, but really try to be where you are right now with your family and your feelings. Don't let him be a priority when there are more important things going on. Then, whenever you feel up to it, call him and tell him that you're angry and see where that conversation leads you.

I'm not going to advise you about whether to break up with him. I think that a lot of people in this thread have given you really good reasons to believe he's not good enough for you. I suspect that you also have feelings about what you want, but they're hard to access right now. Give yourself some time to decide what you really want. That way, whatever you decide, you won't have to worry that you made the wrong decision just because you made it in grief.

I'm so sorry for your loss, and I hope that you can surround yourself with people who love you and want to care for you at this terrible time. And if you want to talk to someone who has been there, feel free to message me any time.
posted by decathecting at 5:02 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

What a schmuck. I'm glad your friends were there for you when your father passed. They will also be there to help you through the grief after you dump this insensitive fool.
posted by tetralix at 5:08 PM on September 28, 2010

You can take him to small-claims court for the $600 debt. It'll give him some hands-on practice. Then dump him.
posted by Houstonian at 5:09 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

"I am not really mad at him; I don't really have any feelings."

Well, that's not right at all. You do! You named a bunch of them. You're angry, you're lonely, you're upset, you're sad. And not just about your boyfriend.

I'm very sorry to hear about your father.

Sometimes people miscommunicate. Sometimes people mis-not-communicate, by which I mean: sometimes I've given people "space" to deal with things. And I've been wrong! People don't want "space" usually when they're in a long-term relationship.

When you're ready, you have to begin the communication. I would start that, as put pretty well above, by talking about what your experience has been with him.

Gchat is no way to have this conversation. Or really any, right now. "Can we please not use chat for a while" is a good thing to say.

It sounds to me in a number of ways that you don't really have a functioning attentive boyfriend. That's sad too.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:13 PM on September 28, 2010

If I might play devil's advocate for a moment: have you considered the idea that he might have made the decision to leave you alone for a little while in order to let you grieve?

I disagree strongly with this opinion. There is a lot of scope in what is 'normal' human behavior, but not acknowledging the death of a parent is kinda extreme.

Your boyfriend exists on a different planet than the one where you exist. Cut him off.
posted by ovvl at 5:18 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm so sorry you lost your dad. You know he wants you to be happy.

His very existence is stressing me out - I just want him to go away, but on the other hand, I want him to be here to support me.

Unfortunately, he isn't there to support you. He never has been, and probably will never be. That leaves the first part of that sentence - you wanting him to go away - which, despite your grief, is probably your subconscious bottom line with regard to this relationship.

You just lost your dad, and that should be the ONLY grief that you feel right now. The grief your boyfriend is giving you pales in comparison. You're young, and there are men out there who could treat you so much better than this. Square your shoulders, cut this selfish moron loose, mourn your father, and know that there are men out there who can care for you as much as he did - you deserve it.
posted by Everydayville at 5:36 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't fucking believe he didn't go to the funeral. Wow. I'm kind of stunned, frankly.

Just drop contact for a while, don't think about him (if you can) and let your friends and family love and hold you up for now. Let him come to you, and if he doesn't, well...I just mean, don't put effort into him right now, don't try to track him down, don't call him, don't yell at him, don't break up with him, just kind of forget about his existence for a moment and concentrate on you.

I am so, so sorry for your loss. Be well, take care of YOU.
posted by tristeza at 5:53 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I dumped a guy like this in college. After having been together two years. (I told him my parents had decided to divorce and his reponse was basically 'who cares'. real supportive.) It was the single most liberating experience of my life. I thought I would be miserable and guilt-ridden and lonely. I was not. It was one less source of stress for me, and freed my valuable time and energy up for more important things I needed to work on.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:56 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

It doesn't look good. I mean, when my father died I found out right after being dropped off from a date. He called me when he got home to reiterate he'd had a good time and I told him then I had just found out my father had died.

He was back at my place within 30 minutes.

It was maybe the 5th date we'd had & he is now my fiance three years later.

Point is, he came over and was there for me because it was the right thing to do, even though he barely knew me at the time. We've now been together as long as you two have been. Your boyfriend dropped the ball BIG time on this one. I can't imagine my boyfriend even conceiving of responding how yours has.
posted by Windigo at 6:03 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

If I were in your position, I'd reach out to him and tell him that you understand some people don't know how to support others in their grief, but that as your boyfriend you expected him to at least reach out and ask, and his failure to do so was a huge disappointment to you. Then I'd let him know that you're going to let him go, so that you can grieve for your father without also having to deal with being in a relationship with someone who failed to be there when you needed him.

Of course, there's still the rent he owes you, and I'd be careful not to accidentally verbally suggest he doesn't owe it to you -- and once I was feeling better I'd draft a certified letter to him regarding the money owed, and asking when he anticipated being able to pay in full.

I'm sorry for your loss, and I hope you and your family are doing well.
posted by davejay at 6:19 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Now this young man really does sound like either he's got terrible instincts, or he doesn't love you, or I guess he doesn't know what love requires. And maybe he needs to hear that when his lover's parent dies, he needs to stop studying to come be with her.

But you might have to say it out loud. I don't demand what I want much, and I don't think I've trained my guy well at all. In fact, recently, I had the same situation you describe-- my parent dying-- and he said (and we've been married 20 years), "I'll drive you to the airport so you can take a flight to the funeral." And he thought he was being quite generous, not making a fuss about my flying there and spending that much money. And when I said that our daughter had to come, he said, "But you don't want to take her out of school!" Finally even I reached my limit with this cluelessness and said, "Your mother-in-law just died. You are expected to come to the funeral. I expect you to come to the funeral. No arguments." And he said, "Oh, right!" It's like he had to be told to override his instinct for self-preservation or selfishness. He's actually a good guy and I know he loves me, but his first impulse is almost always, "What's best for me." As soon as he remembers I matter too, he does the right thing.

But I don't know if this young man really loves you. I'm just suggesting that maybe he needs you to educate him to go past his instincts-- he might not know what the right thing is. So give it a try. Call him and say, "I really need your support now. Right now. Come here and be with me."
Then, if he doesn't come, you know-- what he thinks of as love doesn't match what you mean by it.
posted by pippin at 7:12 PM on September 28, 2010

I have an ex like this, down to not helping when I hurt my knee and was in a wheelchair, not helping me move out of our (SHARED) apartment, etc. It went from that to this kind of thing within 6 months or so:

Hello, it was my birthday today and I was expecting a hello.

What happened? Are you okay?

and then, 3 days later:

Hey hon. I miss you tons. Go ahead and call. I am kinda sick. BLEEEH.

Anyway I miss you tons! E-mail me or call me okay?

Yeah, his birthday was two days away from mine. He wasn't thinking about it, though, because I wasn't a priority. About a month after that, he broke up with me. Apparently, he had wanted to break up with me for months, but for whatever reason...just didn't get around to it.

I think this kind of thing is easier in long-distance relationships because you're not there to see him not give a shit, you know? You just have to guess based on nothing, and it can make you crazy and think you're misunderstanding, or overreacting, but you're not. You're totally not overreacting at all.

Block him on gchat. You can avoid him all you want, he is obviously cool with going days without talking to you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:14 PM on September 28, 2010

I'm very sorry for your loss.

The first warning you had was when he didn't bother to help you when you broke your leg. (WTF?!) If you had any doubts before, now you know, he's not going to be there for you, ever. I also agree with others who have pointed out that this isn't the time for you to put yourself through a breakup. Grieve for your father, let your true friends and family be there for you. This guy is....not one of those. Address it later, preferably by text, since he prefers that method of communication.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:45 PM on September 28, 2010

I have nothing particularly useful to say, only because these kinds of guys drive me up the wall, but please accept my condolences for the loss of your father. I think you are doing the right thing right now in looking for ways to take care of YOU and to self-soothe in lieu of assistance from your boyfriend. Good luck to you.
posted by patronuscharms at 10:14 PM on September 28, 2010

"Need space to grieve. Please don't contact me, I'll get back to you". And then take your time.

FWIW you sound pretty broken up already.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:38 PM on September 28, 2010

Agree with everyone else (that is, both with the people saying 'dump him now', and with the people saying 'ignore him, dump him later', and with the people saying 'don't make major decisions right now' - those are all perfectly good choices and you have to do what's in your heart).

I also wanted to add, everything you say about the conflicts while you were living together is that it was your fault, your depression, your low energy - and then you reveal that he didn't pay you rent to the tune of $600. People have to make compromises in a relationship - but that's not just you, it's him too. And maybe he does still feel warm fuzzies when he thinks about you, and feel like he "loves" you, but you know, that's not all love should be - love is also doing things for your partner and caring about them and treating them like they're important. And no matter how he thinks he feels, if he doesn't love you in the way that you need to be loved, you have no obligation to take care of him.

It may hurt in the short run, and he will probably try to use guilt and convince you that it's just the grief talking (which is a good reason to wait a while before you make the breakup official - do you really want to be defending your reasons right now?). But in time this could be exactly what he needs to learn how to be in a supportive relationship, or it could be setting him free to find someone who's more compatible with his idea of a relationship. So even though you don't want to hurt him, it may be better to think of it like ripping off the band-aid...
posted by Lady Li at 11:11 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is not how you treat anyone, ever. He's a complete jerk. Consider the $600 an inexpensive lesson. Dump.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:14 PM on September 28, 2010

Give it a little time. You have a lot going on right now, it is completely reasonable to either a) tell him you need him and ask him to come support you or b) tell him you need time alone with your family and won't be in contact with him until you feel better. Breaking up right now may make you feel just that much worse. Just put it on the back burner until you are more yourself.

There's a lot upthread about what a jerk your boyfriend is, how he doesn't love you, that you should break up with him IMMEDIATELY! Obviously he's done some things weren't right. But I want to play devil's advocate for a second.

About your broken leg - you say you live 5 hours away from Boston, and you wanted him to come help you, but he couldn't, because it was mid-terms. That sounds pretty normal to me. Of course you wanted him there for you, but is it reasonable to expect him to be in those circumstances?

The $600 rent - have you asked for it back? It's not a tiny amount of money, but in a LTR I'd think that it's a forgivable offense, unless he is actively refusing to give it to you.

Your current situtation - obviously the worst one. It's inconceivable to a lot of people how he could basically disappear on you at a time you needed him. But everyone deals with death in their own way. Maybe his thinking is that you need time and he doesn't want to bother you while you're dealing with this and your family is around. Maybe he just has absolutely no idea what to say. Maybe he thinks if he doesn't acknowledge it the entire situation will not exist anymore and then he won't have to deal with it. If you deeply care for him, like you say, try your hardest to give him the benefit of the doubt and tell him what you need from him. If he doesn't come through for you after it's been explicitly stated, then you know where you stand.
posted by coupdefoudre at 7:37 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to chip in and say this completely inexcusable behavior would be a deal braker for me. And I'm married.

You didn't attend my dad's funeral? You're not my friend, let alone my boyfriend!
posted by Tarumba at 12:06 PM on September 29, 2010

I completely understand your desire to have him support you, but for whatever reason, he can't. Maybe he hasn't experienced something so serious, and maybe he's a selfish jerk. Who knows? When my mom died, I had friends who were there in a second, and friends who didn't understand the magnitude and didn't know how to deal with it. That's totally normal.

Now is the time, though, to take care of you. Probably you're gonna be numb for a while, and then really raw and honest for a while. It's really legit to say, "Hey, I have nothing against you, but I need some time to myself. I'll let you know when I'm ready for all this again." You can work out later what that means, but for now, he was not there for you when you - in the most clear of possible ways - needed someone to be in your corner. Maybe later he can explain himself and fix things. But for now, you're young and going through some of the Serious Shit, and writing him off would serve both of you for the better.

Write him off. He wasn't a mistake, he just wasn't the right person to have around when life really becomes Life. Maybe he'll be that some other time, but now is not the time. My guess is that when you call it a draw, you'll feel relieved and more focused.

I'm thinking of you and feeling for you, and if you need anything, please feel free to shoot a line. Really.
posted by lauranesson at 4:55 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm really sorry about your dad.

Here's some practical advice. You don't need me to tell you what you already know about your 'boyfriend'. So I won't go piling on him. You know. But you don't wanna deal right now. That's okay.

So avoid him. Full on avoidance. Don't go on gchat for a while. Or go, but go invisible, and email the people you want to talk to and say "I'm going invisible on gchat to avoid some people, but I'm probably there if you're looking for me".

If you can temporarily block his number on your phone, do it. Or delete the texts unread. I learned to do this with an ex who didn't understand the phrase 'don't contact me'. If I was with friends, they would take my phone and delete it for me, but after a while I started to enjoy the freedom I felt from doing it. I enjoyed not letting myself get dragged into any feelings for him.

You can do this too.

I agree with what others say about clarity, but *he's not there* so you don't have to deal with it. Just don't. You can say, "I'm not dealing with this right now". Or, I hate to say this, because I'll get piled on, but sometimes I just say, "Hey, universe, giving this to you right now because I can't carry it, let me know if you come up with anything" which is my version of "giving it to God". It's not avoidance, it's being measured, and healthy.

Your life will not suck if you break up. He is not there for you now. He is causing unneeded stress. I don't want to hear about aww poor baby law school is SOOO HARRDDD that you would ignore your GIRLFRIEND when HER FATHER DIED because that is BULLSHIT.

Your life might get better because you would be single and would be able to meet a guy who would be there for you right now, making you tea and covering you with your grandma's afghan.

Again, I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by micawber at 10:19 AM on October 1, 2010

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