Try as I might I cannot escape the sound of suffering
December 24, 2010 12:09 AM   Subscribe

Dear metafilter, I know this has probably been asked millions of times but it's been a rough night. I broke up with him because I feel like I'm not in love with him, but why do I miss him so much? Why does it hurt this much?

As the title says.
He's my best friend. But I can't decide if I love him and I've already broken his heart by saying so. Right now we're keeping the no contact rule but damnit I miss him so much. I'm so afraid of never getting to hear from him again, talk to him, hold him again and I can't stand it.
I'm so confused because I miss him, yet when I'm with him I don't know what my feelings for him are.
It's 2am and it hurts so much metafilter. I know he's sitting up right now hurting and it's taking all my willpower not to run to him and make everything normal again.

posted by pyrom to Human Relations (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You had good times with him. You had cosy, affectionate intimacy with him. You had companionship with him. You had fun with him.

We miss those things when they're gone, no matter who sent them away. If you do not love him and you (and he) need that in a relationship, it is right to end it. But that does not mean you will not feel the pain of the loss of all those good things. It takes strength, and time.
posted by Decani at 12:23 AM on December 24, 2010 [4 favorites]

the more you go back, the harder it is on everyone when you actually leave for good. regaining that comfort isn't enough to sustain you or him forever. it's just a stop gap. this was hard to do, don't make it all for nothing.
posted by nadawi at 12:27 AM on December 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've been on both ends of this about thirty times this year. We keep running back to each other and we're both miserable.
posted by doublehappy at 1:03 AM on December 24, 2010 [4 favorites]

Trust the feelings you had when you weren't hurting--or those that you will have tomorrow or the next day--more than those you have now. In the meantime, lose yourself in something healthy but mindless: sleep, if you can, or exercise or cleaning or a hot, hot shower or TV or music or anything that doesn't involve thinking about this. This isn't the right time for decisions that will affect you both so much. If the relationship is bad, you won't want this moment to have put you back into it, and if it is good, it can survive a few nights of anguish.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:54 AM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

He loved you, yes? Or at least you had a good friend to hold you, talk to you. You don't have these things in your life right now, so it hurts.

If you've agreed to a no-contact period, you should respect him enough to hold to that agreement. Aren't there other things you've had to make yourself get through in the short run because you knew it would be better in the long run -- studying, or something at work -- where you just had to buckle down and do it? Do that now.
posted by yohko at 3:16 AM on December 24, 2010

You've set things in motion which you can't undo, and it's time to hang back and let things play out. The worst thing you can do right now is to mess with his head and go back on your own terms. Leave him his dignity, and own up to your actions. The ball's not really in your court anymore.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 3:33 AM on December 24, 2010

Have the circumstances under which you broke up/has he/have you changed? If not, don't go back to him to comfort him/yourself or get back together. Keep yourself busy for the next few days to take your mind off of things and get to feeling better.
posted by Mouse Army at 3:46 AM on December 24, 2010

We're used to thinking of love as a single emotion. It isn't.

It's a big complicated ball of desire, affection, comfort, happiness, joy, companionship, attachment, and need. Some of it's emotional, some of it's intellectual.

When we end a relationship, it's usually because most of those bits aren't working for us. But often enough, some still are.

And for those bits, we grieve.

You've suffered a loss. Acknowledge that, and let yourself grieve. Give it time, feel whatever you need to feel, be kind to yourself.
posted by Ahab at 6:29 AM on December 24, 2010 [32 favorites]

Change sucks. The hardest breakups are the non-essential ones because it doesn't instantly feel better to have it over with. You've chosen the right thing over the good/known/easy thing, and just because it's the right thing doesn't mean there won't be any grief.

It passes. Focus on eating and sleeping and getting some exercise for a few days, the best you can, and after you break that early gravitational pull you'll start to get some perspective, and you may still be sad for a while but you will not hurt so much.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:17 AM on December 24, 2010

As artificial as this can be when it comes to feelings, can you break things down to a more granular level?

- are you physically attracted to him?

- do you feel the need to take care of him when he's sick?

- do you and he have a lot to talk about?

- do you enjoy being with him most of the time?

- do you feel he's replaceable?

I don't mean that in an insulting way. No one is replaceable. What I mean is this: if you met someone else who was fun to hang out with, cared about you, had the things in common with you that he does, would that person be a reasonable substitute for you? I ask, because when I've been in love, the answer would be an immediate and resounding "NO WAY!" If you replaced my wife with a woman who had everything she has to offer, it wouldn't be the same. She wouldn't be my wife.

But I've had other people in my life, people that I really cared for, but I mostly cared for them because they fulfilled certain roles that I needed fulfilled. It's not very comfortable to think about, but, in a sense, those people were replaceable.

- does he have the right level of "thrill" for you? This is often an issue. If you are a thrill-seeker and he isn't, you might really like him but feel that being with him is not exciting enough for you. If you're a homebody and he's a wild man, the same issue might be at play.

- do you have incompatible fighting styles? Are you a rough-and-tumble person while he's easily hurt (or vice versa)?

-How is your life apart from him? Are you happy with your career? Do you have other friends? What is your relationship like with your parents? Is he giving you something you're not getting elsewhere?

- What's your relationship history? Do you enjoy setting down or are you a rover? Some people get antsy being tied down at all, so most of their relationships end like this. Not because the other person is deficient in some way. Just because the other person can't transform himself into a new and shiny object. Many, but not all, rovers learn to play past it when they get older. But young rovers break a lot of hearts, including their own.
posted by grumblebee at 8:15 AM on December 24, 2010 [17 favorites]

It's attachment.

Love and attachment are not the same. You can be attached to someone while recognizing you are not in love with them.

That can be the harder part of a breakup - the getting used to them not being around. He fills some of your needs, which is really really nice and addicting, but it sounds like you aren't in it 100%. If you don't think you can be with him fully, do him a favor and let him find someone who is without complicating his grieving process by coming back for the comfort, all the while knowing that once that need is fulfilled you will be ambivalent again.

This will ultimately be better for both of you.
posted by amycup at 10:39 AM on December 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think you're probably making this situation more stressful/upsetting than it has to be.

While it may be true that you "can't figure out your feelings for him"... Why are you cutting off all contact?... Seems like that's only something you do to people who've overtly wronged you. (which it doesn't seem like he has?)

There are going to be times, in any relationship, when your moods/feelings/interaction with each other change and flux. That's normal.

I guess what I'm saying is:... if you two are still friends, still respect each other,. and still want to (at a minimum) remain friends afterwards.. then you have to maintain open and honest communication. Even if it's just awkward and rambling conversations about how you're feeling and trying to understand the change that's happening.

The trick is:... having those conversations WITHOUT expectations of "getting back together" or "making it normal again". You have to be able to face the reality that something is changing, neither of you know what the end result will be... but you respect and admire each other enough to help each other through it and become better people (no matter how it works out).

Good luck !
posted by jmnugent at 12:15 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

jmnugent, I think that taking time away from someone for a while after a breakup is generally a good thing. It gives both parties a space to mourn the loss of the old relationship and to adjust to the new state of affairs.

Without space after a breakup, I think it's much harder for people to create a new relationship as friends or friendly acquaintances.

OP, I think you're doing everything right. Of course it hurts--you miss the relationship, even though you chose to end it for what seem to me like quite reasonable reasons.

Running to him won't "make everything normal again." It will just initiate a cycle of back-and-forths that will drag out the breakup process even longer, and undermine the chances of the two of you building a new relationship as friends or friendquaintances.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:17 PM on December 24, 2010

Ask Metafilter leans towards "there are other fish," "fish don't need bicycles," and other fishy advice. This is alright, because most of the time that's good advice, but it's not entirely clear to me that whether or not this is the right advice for you.

As unhealthy as most on-again, off-again relationships are, I'm not entirely sure that a preemptively ended relationship is very healthy, either. To be sure, suffering is the unavoidable consequence of loving. All relationships end, if only in death.

I do believe that mindfulness is possible even in dire emotional circumstances if you're willing to do the work. It sounds like these feelings of suffering are really, really surprising to you. Not everyone is surprised by their emotions and there are ways to learn better emotional control. Meditation, talking to friends, counseling, journaling, and trying new, out-of-comfort-zone experiences are all tools that I've used to become more mindful about my emotions, have better control, and better predictions of how certain decisions will make me feel as they play out in the future.

Your duty to your ex now is to respect the no-contact period and sort out your emotions about him. You have my permission to break the no-contact if and only if you discover that there is love there after all and you decide you can grow to embrace it without doubt or fear and you're totally sure. There are many types of love, of course, it sounds like you do have loving feelings for him, the question is whether or not you were getting everything that you needed.
posted by Skwirl at 2:19 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm with Skwirl on this. Love is a complicated thing, and it changes over time. No one should expect that the fireworks you have in the beginning will be the same annual display forever. It's not clear whether you're sure that you've made the right decision or whether you're trying to cope with changes in a relationship over time. If you sort it, and decide you really do love this guy, then break the no-contact period and have a talk with him. If you don't want the relationship to really continue, then you ought to leave it alone and wait for some healing before you try to build a different (friend) relationship with him.
posted by Hylas at 3:26 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

he's your best friend? I say stick with him. I you running away because you are afraid? that's why it hurts so much. The happiest married people I know say they married their best friend.
posted by chinabound at 6:20 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

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