Should I wait for him to breakup with me?
December 20, 2010 7:31 AM   Subscribe

I am in limbo because all signs point toward a breakup. Though I love him and want to be with him, I can't stand being the only one committed to this relationship. Is there a way to make him realize that he has already made up his mind?

Having read a lot of other posts that are similar in ways to my situation, I've been able to recognize that this may really be the end of our relationship. However, we're stuck being at the "nearing the end" phase with the end nowhere in sight.

Why not end it myself? Well... Maybe this isn't a valid reason not to... but please read on.

We met each other in college. We were good friends for the first two, and dated for the next three. Then we moved in together after graduation (his idea and he was insistent, giving me an ultimatum). I haven't been able to secure a full time job since graduation, and while temping here and there, spent most of my savings on rent and food. As a result, I gradually became more and more reliant on him financially.

Then a month or more ago, he told me that he wanted out of the relationship by telling me that he loved me so much but thought I should go home. I did not see this coming. He tried to articulate his reasons why, only to come up with 'needing space' and 'confused about how he felt about me.'

I was devastated. He instantly regretted it and said that he just needed some room. We agreed that I would extend my stay at home over the holidays to one month while he figured things out. Things deteriorated between then and before I left for home. He was irritable, and I was depressed. Before I left, I asked if I should book a one way ticket home and pack all my things to send home. He told me to get a return flight. I love him and wanted it to work so badly, I did just that. I booked a return flight and left most of my possessions in the apartment.

Now I'm home and an ocean away from him. He e-mailed me frequently at first, then not so frequently, and now: almost a week since he's proactively contacted me. I've been consistent in calling every few days because I can't help myself. Finally, two or three days ago I asked him whether or not he missed me (I know. I know. I regretted the question the minute I asked). He answered that he didn't know and that he needed more time to himself. (I didn't agree to changing my ticket for an even later date.)

I would point out to him that he was happy to see me leave, and now he is dreading my return... if I had the means to fly there and gather my stuff and fly back. But to do so, I would need to either ask my parents for help, or stay there a few months in hopes of getting any job to save up enough to get the hell out of there. Neither option seems appealing.

He's told me that if he realizes that he is no longer in love with me while I am gone, he would let me know before I headed back and that he would pack my things and ship them to me.

I don't know what to do, wait it out because I agreed to give him a month to think things through? Because I don't want it to end despite that it hurts like hell knowing that he probably doesn't hold anymore romantic feelings for me anymore? Because I have belongings that I have sentimental value for over there?

I apologize if this has been insufferably long. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!
posted by sapolskyfan to Human Relations (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You can't convince someone to love you again. If he doesn't even miss you and was relieved to have you leave, it sounds like he's fallen out of love.

It's sadly over. I know it hurts, but make it official. He's made his feelings clear by not being clear.
posted by inturnaround at 7:34 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

It sounds like it's already over. It's time for you to accept that fact, go back there, get your stuff, and move out. Asking your parents for a one-time gift so you can fly back home is a lot more dignified then living with someone who doesn't love you because you can't afford to move out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:39 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm sure you are a cool, awesome, wonderful and you sound like a very devoted, loving individual. Lots of lonesome doves out there who are looking for someone exactly like you and would be thrilled to have you in their arms.

Why waste your time with someone who doesn't think you are The Shit? Because you sure sound like you are.
posted by Dukat at 7:40 AM on December 20, 2010 [18 favorites]

He's told me that if he realizes that he is no longer in love with me while I am gone, he would let me know before I headed back and that he would pack my things and ship them to me.

You don't say this to people you love. You say this to people you are going to break up with. Or if you're cowardly, you say it to people you want to break up with but won't. OP, sounds like he's made the decision but won't commit to it.

Is there a way to make him realize that he has already made up his mind?

Tell him to ship your belongings back.
posted by anti social order at 7:42 AM on December 20, 2010 [16 favorites]

Don't contact him for a set period of time (say, a week or two). If he doesn't contact you at all during that time, then you'll have your answer. I know that's going to be the most motherf'ing difficult thing you could do, but giving him space will allow him to either miss you, or not. Have him ship your things.

What a wuss he is for not just being honest and up front.
posted by Melismata at 7:45 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's over, and this 'man' is not mature enough to put on his big boy trousers and tell you that explicitly. It doesn't matter if he's great in x number of other ways, he sucks at breaking up fairly and cleanly, and here is what you should do:

Tell him to pack your things and ship them to you. You don't need the expense of the bullshit he's putting you through, financially or emotionally.

And don't reimburse him for shipping. You offered to pack up and ship out before you left. He knew your financial situation and your general situation in life, and that he wanted out. Yet he waffled and basically acted like a giant candy-ass...and told you to buy a return ticket.

What a pusillanimous man-child. Fuck that noise.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 7:48 AM on December 20, 2010 [22 favorites]

Is there a way to make him realize that he has already made up his mind?

Clearly he already does realize this; he just can't bring himself to say it out loud (which is really unkind of him.) It's over; you both have been dragging the worst part of the breakup out for a month, that's all.

Cancel your ticket, get him to pack your things, and find somebody better on your own side of the ocean. You don't need to "make him realize" anything, you just need to move on.
posted by ook at 7:59 AM on December 20, 2010

It's over. He just lacks the guts to tell you this straight out, so he took the cowardly way and let you book a return trip. He's doing everything he can to tell you it's over without actually saying it. He's waiting for you to come to that realization and cut the cord yourself, because he's too much of a wuss, as Melismata says, to do it himself.

Gather up your dignity and tell him to ship back your things. Write out a list of what you've got there and tell him to please send it as soon as possible. Don't spend any extra time and money to have one final unpleasant scene with this dude. Don't hash anything out, don't have any more conversations about the relationship. You deserve so much better than to be sitting an ocean away from him, waiting for him to allegedly make up his mind on whether you two will continue. He doesn't get to decide about your life; YOU do. This is NOT how you're going to let someone treat you. Hold your head up high and leave him in your dust.

Do you have a friend back where he lives who could help with rounding up your stuff and getting it to you?

Send him an email saying: "I won't be returning so I'll take you up on your offer to ship my things back. 'Susan' has offered to help gather everything up and she'll be calling you later today to set up a time. Here's the list of my stuff that you and Sue will send back. Thanks. "

And then don't talk to him any more. There are a lot of great guys who would love to have a girlfriend like you, and will treat you with respect. I'm so sorry you're going through this. It hurts a lot but it will get better.
posted by Kangaroo at 8:06 AM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]

You're just delaying the inevitable. One way or another, you're going to break up. Just get it over with and start moving on with your life. I know it's hard and I've been in a similar situation, but do yourself a huge favor and break it off for good.
posted by ACN09 at 8:09 AM on December 20, 2010

OP, sounds like he's made the decision but won't commit to it.


Is there a way to make him realize that he has already made up his mind?

Dump him already.
posted by General Tonic at 8:10 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

The situation is crummy and he's being a jerk. You deserve better than this, and you also deserve all your stuff back. Don't fly back. Tell him to pack your things and send them to you - if he balks at footing the bill, remind him that you bought a return ticket at his insistence, even though he knew your financial situation full well.

Ask him to email you a tracking number and after he does, don't contact him again. It'll be tough (that's an understatement, by the way) but you'll be glad you took a hard line when the dust has settled and you're looking back on this.

There are ways to comport yourself while breaking up will someone that are honorable. What he's doing ain't it.
posted by superfluousm at 8:10 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

What Dukat said x1000.
posted by facetious at 8:48 AM on December 20, 2010

You don't have to be in limbo. You don't have to wait for him to tell you what you already know. Make the decision and end this relationship, already. He's dragging his feet because he's a wimp, but if you ask he'd probably say it's because he doesn't want to hurt you by formally breaking up. Respect your own dignity and be the bigger person here.
posted by something something at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's time for you to stop letting him control this situation. So he gets to tell you when to leave, tell you when to come back and then not tell you very clearly at any point in the middle if, upon your return, you will be greeted with all of your possessions in boxes? I think you should start nursing a healthy dose of what the fuck.

I know that after 5 years the lines are blurry and situations like this get less clear cut, but this sounds like a month of protracted misery. Start making some decisions. Start getting pissed, hurt, whatever it is you are avoiding feeling by thinking about what might happen so much. Start moving this in some sort of direction, because sitting around refreshing your inbox is doing nothing for you.

He's already opened pandora's box. There is no way that he could turn around and say nevermind and you two could resume what you had without pause. He needs to man up and make a decision and I think you should make it clear that you aren't the kind of woman who will sit around waiting for him.
posted by amycup at 8:54 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd like to add that asking if he missed you was the only way for you to get information you needed! Don't beat yourself up for asking that question. The only reason to do that is if you were worried the question was "clingy" and would drive him away--and fuck that. I see no reason for you to tiptoe around these issues just because he's a baby and is only thinking of himself. Acting aloof may be a way to keep someone for a time, but not forever, so it was smart of you to ask. Now you have more info to factor into your decision.
posted by pineappleheart at 9:01 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Needing space + confused about how he feels about you + irritable = met someone else.

I'm sorry. It hurts.

I waited for someone in this position to break up with me but he continued to waffle around, hurting everyone involved, until I broke down and ended things.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:03 AM on December 20, 2010

amycup has it, exactly. Retrieve your dignity and your life. Dump him, and trust that in time you will find someone much better--because you will.
posted by uans at 9:57 AM on December 20, 2010

Some people just won't pull the trigger. Won't, won't, won't. Could be some sort of cowardice, or desire to make you the "bad guy," or refusal to take responsibility for doing difficult things, or whatever... it doesn't matter; they will hang on and make you (and themselves!) miserable until you get the guts to dump them.

So this means it's on you. And know this: the fact that he's put this burden solely on your shoulders, rather than doing the honorable thing and behaving forthrightly, shows you something very important about who he is. Remember this when you start missing him after you break up with him -- which is really the only self-respecting, healthy choice for you to make here.

Good luck. I know this is painful. Hang in there, be good to yourself and proud that you're reclaiming your dignity, and give it time.
posted by scody at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry, this sucks. It's no fun to go through, and I feel bad for you right now. But I'm really happy for you in six months, because you are going to feel amazing once you're past this. Really. I know you love this guy and it's hard to imagine life without him. I've been there - I'm sure most of us have. But think, for a little while, about how this relationship is making you feel. Don't worry about what's causing the feeling, or how he's feeling, or what he's thinking, or any of that. For the last month or so, on the whole, have you been happy to have this guy in your life? Or has he been a constant source of misery? If it' the second option, it's time to do the hard thing and get the source of misery out of your life. It will suck at the time. But seriously, right now, you're carrying around a backpack full of rocks and you don't know it. Once you take a deep breath an put down the backpack, you might miss its comforting weight for a little while. But you're going to feel so much better once you realize how different life is when you aren't lugging it around. Good luck!
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:30 PM on December 20, 2010

I'm so sorry this is happening to you. It sounds incredibly painful. It might not seem so now, but you will get through it. I thought I would never survive one bad break up of mine and I did and I'm happier for it.

Here's my idea - wait a week before contacting him. During this week, break up with him in your mind. Tell yourself that you've already broken up with him and the relationship is over. Thinking this way might help you ease into the reality of being broken up. After a week, contact him and tell him you want to end it. Tell him to send your stuff back. If he scoffs at the cost, remind him that he was the one who told you to buy a return ticket, which cost you extra money.

Avoid going back to where he lives at all costs. If he acts like a jerk and refuses to return your items, then you might have to go back to retrieve them. Think about whether you absolutely need your items before going back. Do you have friends there that can get your things for you? Basically, I think you should only return unless you absolutely have to and if only after you have tried several ways to get your things back unsuccessfully. Going back will just serve to cause you a world of hurt that you don't need.

Lastly, don't feel bad about relying on him financially. You were working, even if it didn't pay enough for you to afford luxuries. You were a couple and couples help each other when the other it out of a job...especially considering you were diligently trying to find a full time job.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:33 PM on December 20, 2010

You definitely do sound super awesome, so you know what? If this sort of thing ever happens again, you be the one to walk at the first sign of serious indecision. No maybe's, no we'll see what happens - just walk.

I'll talk this all one step further, I think your ex is putting you in the shittiest position possible because he is just that selfish, or lame, or 'effed up. You have every right to be white hot angry with this person for pushing you into a break-up under the worst possible circumstances, when in fact, you were willing to walk away gracefully and with all of your belongings much much earlier if only he had been straightforward. I don't buy it for a second that he was honestly feeling indecisive when you left for the holidays. Fear? Maybe. But screwing you emotionally, logistically, and financially over a little teeny tiny bit of fear, ESPECIALLY WHEN HE GETS THE APARTMENT AND DOESN"T HAVE TO MOVE ACROSS A FREAKIN" OCEAN -- well, that's pretty dirty.

I don't think he's thought about what is best for you once since the first break-up conversation.

Ahem. *gets off soapbox.*

I just wanted to say, again, that you sound really really awesome. Sometimes I write these types of answers, because as we grow into adults, I often marvel how no one in our personal lives tells us practical stuff regarding to read others or best insure our own well-being. That goes ditto for treating others with care and dignity, which thankfully is a Life Skill you already have under control.

You're obviously way to cool to be in this position ever again. The next time someone stops treating you as well as you treat them, graciously withdraw your support, and then re-focus on yourself and others in your life that share your values.
posted by jbenben at 12:40 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This sorta happened to me and I take a lot of pride in the fact that I kept my word and followed through on my promises. I called him on his birthday and Christmas, acted completely 100% kind and generous to him. When he broke up with me I knew I'd given it my best shot and walked away with no regrets (but I definitely walked away.)

I suggest that you do that, and take the month to mentally prepare for the breakup, get support from family (including financial help if needed), and enjoy the holidays.

There is nothing wrong with calling, asking him about his feelings, and generally interacting wih him in whatever way feels comfortable. I've had relationships that needed to end but right at that moment I wasn't able to do it, and if that's where you're at, that's okay. You aren't a robot and you can't just shut your feelings off.

Best of luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:51 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe he hasn't admitted to himself yet that it's over, but it is. Breaking up can be hard on both ends. Maybe he's a coward and all the other things people are calling him, but I don't see the relevance -- or the point in deciding that someone you cared about is crap. Point is, it's over, and this break is making things worse for you.

Tell him to send you your things. He both offered to and ought to take care of that step.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:40 PM on December 20, 2010

It feels really good to take control of being rejected. It sucks to get broken up with, especially when you still really love and care for a person, and it is easy to want to engage with them in all kinds of ways (hoping they'll change their mind, expressing your anger, wanting to further discuss what went wrong, etc).
Deciding not to engage them at all, deciding to fully recognize and accept that they are moving on and deciding to move on yourself is the best thing you can do. It will feel really good if you can resist calling them or prolonging the inevitable, and make a clean break now, letting yourself grieve and then helping yourself recover.
Don't go back there. Don't wait for him to break up with you. Get him to ship your things, and maybe use any money you do have to take a little road trip with a friend, or sign up for a new class or something.
posted by whalebreath at 5:42 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much to everyone for all the comments and advice. :) Not only have the comments made me feel better (they made me laugh while crying, in a good way, esp the bit about him being a pusillanimous man-child), it's also done a lot to help me build my resolution to follow through with the breakup sooner rather than later!
posted by sapolskyfan at 11:21 PM on December 20, 2010

Needing space + confused about how he feels about you + irritable = met someone else.

You (the OP) might want to take a hard look at this thread.
posted by endless_forms at 7:34 AM on December 21, 2010

I agree with the consensus to DTMFA and have him ship your stuff. Also, call the airline and see if they'll give you a voucher for your return ticket. You can then put that toward a fabulous trip somewhere else instead of letting the money go to waste.
posted by spinto at 11:31 AM on December 21, 2010

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