How do I shake my fixation on this guy?
March 23, 2011 8:30 PM   Subscribe

How do I shake my fixation on this guy?

Sorry for the length, but I whittled it down as best I could.

I am mid twenties, finally finishing my undergrad after many mishaps. I’m not in a good place. I’m depressed and lonely, and unfortunately there isn’t much I feel I can do about it right now because my time is so limited.

Last summer I met this guy through a friend. He was 27, about my age. I was attracted to him, but thought he didn’t like me because guys like him never do. He was smart and good looking, but his narcissism provided the convenient flaw for me to reject him in my mind before he could reject me first.

Our first interactions were battles of the wits laden with sexual tension. It wasn’t long before he came onto me at a party and we were lying drunk and naked on my apartment floor. I was thrilled and a little shocked that he actually liked me. The next morning to stretch it past a one night stand I asked him if he wanted to hang out again. He said, “you mean, like on a date?” To my surprise he called promptly the next day and asked me out on an actual date, which he planned. We had our date, he paid, and we returned to my place for more sex.

At this point it finally dawned on me that things might not be heading in the right direction. I asked him what he was looking for. He said he had just gotten out of his first serious relationship a month ago, and before meeting me he wasn’t looking for anything serious, but why not go on more dates and see where things lead? Unfortunately, this was exactly the tattered shred of hope I needed to charge full speed ahead. I sound cynical now, but at the time I was very smitten and couldn’t believe how wrong my first impression had been.

On our next date we had one of those deep, long talks into the night that should have signaled the start of something wonderful, but instead he seemed to pull back. After much hand wringing, I sent him a short email the next day asking him if he could be more specific about what he was looking for and whether he saw any potential between us.

He wrote back that he thought we have a lot of potential for something serious, that he was extremely attracted to me and liked me quite a bit, but he was still emotionally invested in his ex, and right now wanted to keep himself open to seeing other people. He said meanwhile he’d like to keep dating me, if I was OK with that, and if I wasn’t he would understand.

I wrote back that I didn’t feel right about continuing to date him. He said he understood and that he’s usually the same when it comes to sex, but he had promised himself after his last relationship ended badly that he’d endure a long period of solitude, with only the odd fling, in order to figure out the source of his problems. (I found out later that he couldn’t commit to his last gf, and she finally dumped him after six months.) Anyway, he ended by asking if we could still hang out as friends. It wasn’t just an afterthought, as I read it. He sounded genuinely worried about losing me as a friend. I agreed.

Of course a week later I changed my mind and decided to keep dating him. Mostly I missed him, and I don't have great self control when it comes to guys I really like. We continued to casually date for the remainder of the fall. But because he was trying to maintain emotional distance, our dates usually went like intense conversation between two smart friends followed by drunken, hot sex. He was far less affectionate than he had been on those first few dates before we defined things. Still, we had a good time, and discovered lots of shared interests and ideas.

Quite suddenly he decided to move to NYC at the end of the next month (December) to start his career in earnest. (We live a couple of hours from the city.) At this point he became more affectionate, and even confessed he was starting to get attached. Things looked more promising, despite the move. I plan on moving to NYC over the summer, so to me it didn’t seem far fetched that we could pick up our romance where it left off if we were both still single.

But things soured when he blew off our next date, claiming he forgot it because he was so wrapped up in a friend who was visiting town.He apologized profusely and suggested we might hang out as friends for the time being, because, knowing himself, he’d probably act crazier as his move drew closer.

We decided to try the friends thing. We met up, and over a bottle of wine he confessed to me that he had already slept with another girl. I teasingly responded, “why are you so slutty?” He flipped out and told me to go home. He said my comment really hurt him, and even asked me for a hug. I calmed him down a bit. Despite our "platonic" rule we ended up kissing and he kept saying, "I really like you. I'm sorry I'm so fcked up."

He told me the next day the slut comment had gotten to him so much that he needed some alone time, and basically made it sound as if he wasn’t sure he even wanted to say goodbye before his move in a few weeks. I couldn’t understand, as he had always presented himself as thick-skinned. Reading between the lines I wonder if he used this as an excuse to distance himself.

Right before he left for NY, we met up briefly to say goodbye. I gave him a combined birthday/farewell present: a favorite book of mine that had come up in many of our conversations, and he had expressed a keen interest in reading. He said he wanted to stay in touch, and asked me if I wanted to. I said, of course I do. He said when I move to NY he was sure we’d run into each other all the time.

Our goodbye felt awkward and incomplete. With my tendency to overanalyze and express, I couldn't resist sending him an email that night apologizing again for the slut comment, and also wishing him well in NY. He responded with a lengthy email that was surprisingly warm and sweet. He said that he cared about me, and that’s why my opinion of him had hurt. He continued on an odd tagent about how he’s been “assembling his identity” since he was 17, and that “slut” is a tag that wouldn't have fazed him in the past but now represents a chapter of his life he wants to close.

I had really wanted to leave all thoughts of him in 2010, but it hasn't been working. We've emailed a bit, of course initiated by me, but he seems kind of cold in his emails even though the content has remained light on both ends. I had a hunch that the correspondence would die if I stopped initiating, so I did, and it's been a few weeks now since we've written each other.

He has a dating profile up on a popular website, which I'd known about since we started dating because I once had a profile on there too. In a masochistic moment of curiosity I looked at his profile the other day and noticed that he had changed his looking for from something casual to include something serious. He also came back to town a couple of weeks ago for a few days, and lied to me and told me he was in another part of the state. I didn't bother confronting him on the lie, so he doesn't know I know. It's now fully obvious to me that he has no interest in me, probably never did. I guess I'm a little surprised, because I had believed that he genuinely at least valued our friendship.

I can't seem to stop thinking of him, and seeing him as some sort of goal to aspire to. Like maybe one day if I work really hard and become the best version of myself I'll earn his affection. I don't know how to kick him off this pedestal. I really miss him.

It doesn't help that I'm on a self-imposed dating strike, taking some time to work on myself and improve my confidence. Not that I get asked out much anyway. I'm extremely shy, and don't get out much in general. I also know that dating right now would derail me in other aspects of my life, as it tends to consume me whenever I'm doing it.

Should I stop initiating any correspondence altogether, or is worth keeping the connection up since it’s only one of two I’ll have when I move to NY? I guess I’m feeling a little desperate right now, because I’m low on friends and it’s so rare that I find someone I click with like I thought that we did. Is it worth maintaining a connection that I have to do 70% of the initiating to sustain on the hope that eventually it will build into something more balanced? And if it’s not worth it, how do I move on?
posted by timsneezed to Human Relations (32 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I guess I’m feeling a little desperate right now, because I’m low on friends

This is your real problem, I knew it even before you said it. You are lonely and bored right now, and it has left a vacuum in your head that is being filled with this drama. It is time to move on; you made the right decision when you stopped contacting him. You need to, and I say this nicely, get a life, and once you do, you'll find this whole silly thing will fade into the background. I think you might even consider dating again- meeting other guys you get along with might help you remember that this guy is not the only one out there.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:39 PM on March 23, 2011 [16 favorites]

He has shown you what he's like. He's even told you: he's "fucked up." Believe him! You know he's not really right for you.

But you're fixated on him because (among other things) he represents the most recent time you've been passionate/romantic/sexual with someone. Depression and loneliness are obviously playing a role, as I think you know. There's no shame if he continues to be a harmless crush. But I recommend keeping this as a playful, nonserious thing in your head that you don't act on.

No matter how hard it might be to develop a social life once you move to NY, the downsides of reconnecting with him would not be worth the possible advantage of having one more "connection" in town.
posted by John Cohen at 8:44 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ditto what the Pink Superhero said. Make a point to go out each day and do something new, even if you don't feel like it. Do something to help others where you can share your skills and eventually meet people you might like to be friendly with. I personally find tutoring to be very rewarding, and a lot of people feel rejuvenated (and sometimes exhausted) by working with kids. Busy your hands and mind, and your heart will move on.
posted by ladypants at 8:48 PM on March 23, 2011

The pink superhero has it.

Fill your life with other things and people, and this drama will fade.
posted by TheBones at 8:51 PM on March 23, 2011

Date other people. I mean a dating strike is well and good, but I had a similarish experience (dude maybe not as into me as he liked to indicate, weirdness, etc.) and found that I kept fixating on the guy until I started seeing other people that made me realize more the flaws of the original guy.
posted by elpea at 8:54 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think this is partly the curse of having a sexual fling/relationship with someone you consider a bit out of your league (and forgive me if I've mis-read your post along this line, but you mention feeling that if you just improved yourself a little bit you'd be worthy of him).

I once had a relationship with a woman I considered way, way out of my league, which lasted six months but haunted me for half a decade. I misjudged that episode and i want to save you the trouble of doing the same. Instead of chalking it up to good luck, and feeling grateful for the experience, I judged subsequent partners according to her standard, and myself for failing to 'win' someone similarly worthy. I ended up passing up some opportunities to date other women because of this, which I regret now.

He sounds like someone who can get a lot of action, and he's in a place in his life where he seems not ready to settle down. So, you're not going to win him, no matter what you do. Move on, be grateful for this, don't judge yourself harshly, be kind to yourself, be kind to yourself, be kind to yourself.....
posted by Philemon at 8:59 PM on March 23, 2011 [9 favorites]

There seem to be people in the world with a talent for finding other people with just the right combination of willingness to please, naivety, intelligence, passion, and sensuality, and then feed them the right material to string them along for their own uses to be discarded at a moments notice.

I call them assholes. It doesn't matter if its a guy, girl, or in between, to do that is to be an asshole.

It sounds like he knew you were falling for him, he gave you some vague half truths knowing you would take the positive intepretation. He manipulated you into being a good conversation buddy for him, and a bed partner, but can deny that he led you on.

Don't you want a guy who would just die to be with you? Who loves to see you, spend time with you, not just for dinner and sex, but to share experiences, travel, support you? Please listen to me - you deserve that.
posted by Admira at 9:01 PM on March 23, 2011 [26 favorites]

Nthing Admira, ThePinkSuperHero, and John Cohen.

There is nothing else to say. Good for you on writing and asking for help, tho!
posted by jbenben at 9:05 PM on March 23, 2011

I had a reaction similar to Admira about this guy. Among other things, his reaction to your "slut" joke sounds like absolutely no guy I've ever heard of on planet Earth, making me suspect his reaction was ginned up to get a reaction out of you.
posted by Philemon at 9:07 PM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I don't think this guy is an asshole, it sounds like he was pretty honest with you throughout about his state of mind and how he felt about you. I think you cast him in the role of asshole and yourself in the role of seduced-and-abandoned when you first met and it became a self fulfilling prophecy. Calling someone who likes you slutty is hurtful, I'd have been hurt if someone said that to me.

I think you need to figure out why you couldn't just be honest and straightforward about what you wanted throughout the relationship. You can say what you want or say its not working without having to tear the other person down.
posted by fshgrl at 9:23 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

You were looking for confirmation that he dislikes you, and reasons to preemptively dislike him, from Day One. All along you kept expecting him not to reciprocate your feelings, and all along he kept caring about you more than expected. So with all due respect, you're not an entirely reliable narrator, and I can't fully tell what's going on.

It does sound possible that he's somewhat emotionally unavailable, like he wants closeness but can't quite tolerate it. The mixed signals suggest to me that he likes you but gets upset or anxious, or for other reasons needs a lot of space sometimes. That trouble with closeness and commitment seems to be something he is (at least somewhat) aware of about himself and trying to change.

The signals from him have been mixed the entire time. You've been expecting him not to like you the entire time. So now, I kinda suspect you're declaring yourself dumped prematurely. You may very well be able to keep riding this mixed-signals seesaw when you move to NYC, at least as far as he's concerned. Whether that's a good idea for you is a second question (to which the answer is probably "no," but who knows). Not long before he left, you guys "ended up kissing and he kept saying, 'I really like you. I'm sorry I'm so fcked up.'" So he likely feels the same mix of feelings towards you, including many that make him want to be with you. You may never get the security you want from him, if he keeps having this hot/cold style. But maybe his efforts to stop being "slutty" and embrace a serious relationship will work; that's his business. While he's doing that, you can focus on yourself and your own issues that create distance in relationships, including assuming he'll dump you.

I would advise you to (a) chill, (b) cut out black-and-white comments like this "It's now fully obvious to me that he has no interest in me, probably never did," (c) go easy on judging the guy and interpreting his behavior (e.g., some people just suck at being penpals and are weird long-distance), (d) read The Feeling Good Handbook or otherwise learn to see things more realistically, particularly your own value, and either (e1) keep an open mind about dating him when you move rather than forcing things to a head over email, or (e2) decide you don't want to date someone who sends such mixed signals and mentally break up with HIM.
posted by salvia at 10:13 PM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's now fully obvious to me that he has no interest in me, probably never did. I guess I'm a little surprised, because I had believed that he genuinely at least valued our friendship.

I'm not really sure why you think that. Whatever was going on between you sounds like it involved you both more, emotionally, than either of you thought it would or thought you wanted it to, at times. Even if you'd openly dated, the mere fact that you broke up wouldn't mean he never liked you, just that he liked you but it didn't work out. You seem to have been waiting to have your heart stomped on the whole time and now that he's calmly handed it back to you you're sitting around examining the thing with a microscope for footprints. I'm not saying you don't have a right to be hurt --- you cared for him, and he could have been a lot more considerate. But he does seem to have been frank the whole time that you were demi-together that he wasn't looking for/didn't want something serious, and everytime he began to feel like it might be, that's when he pulled away. He's fucked up, you're fucked up, and it prevented you from staying together, but that doesn't mean the experience meant nothing or that what either of you felt was false. It sucks is all. You deserve someone who won't jerk you around like that.
posted by Diablevert at 10:29 PM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

To your credit, you started off with a great stance: I don't want something unless it's serious. That's a great attitude to go into the next phase with (particularly if you pick up with him again!). With this guy, there were various ups and downs, but for various reasons, the downs seemed more real and true to you.

I hope your next partner is steadfast, loyal, and constantly offering demonstrations of his/her care for you, without the downs.
posted by salvia at 10:42 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

FWIW, I've been through it where someone lead me on while covering their bases by making similar statements about themselves. It does give you just enough to keep you hooked, while keeping the other party ostensibly "blameless." It can be very very powerful. It's no wonder you are so fixated.

It helps to recognize that technique (whether it's used on you consciously or not) as being supremely unattractive. It's in your best interest to never ever make excuses for that type of behavior whenever you encounter it, because you now know it leads no where good for you.

From now on when someone tells you they are hooked on an ex, or don't want to be serious, or tells you they are "fucked up" -- see those statemens as the Red Flags they are and RUN.

(looky there. turns out there was something to add.)
posted by jbenben at 11:47 PM on March 23, 2011 [12 favorites]

When someone shows you who they are, don't second-guess them.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:41 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

At this point it finally dawned on me that things might not be heading in the right direction.

Just want to point out: there is no one right direction. Some people date many people before honing in on one. Some only date one person at a time, and wait a few weeks before deciding if it's working. Some people might date exclusively for a month before one calls it quits. There's no one "right" approach to dating.

Your expectations seemed to go from 2-3 dates to solid relationship. Which is okay, if that's your pace. Recognize that it's definitely not going to be everyone's pace. It's possible that if you would have given things more time to develop (and for him to get comfortable with finding a happy relationship so quickly after ending one), this could have still worked. But I think you are beating yourself up too much for being "fooled". You were ready; he wasn't. He wanted to take things more slowly; you were ready for relationship NOW (and justifiably so, since it sounds like all the right hormones were there for you).

Honestly, your post reminds me a little of me ~5-10 years ago. I was eager for an awesome relationship, but bogged down in some negative self-talk. When a relationship opportunity flickered, I came with FLAMETHROWER to make sure it got a good start... Part of growing up for me was learning to SLOW DOWN. It's great if the relationship is developing, but a man wants to be able to take the lead when he's ready too. This is part of the great anxiety we all feel in dating: letting go of our control so that we can learn whether or not we can trust the other person to care about us like we [are ready to] care about them.

You may agree that you understand how important it is not to focus on ONE source of future happiness (e.g. a relationship), but from the sounds of it this is how you're operating. Diversify your efforts. Pour some good energy into meeting people, start with clubs, hobby classes, or anything that gets you doing things around other people. Because quite honestly, a great relationship is a lot like a great friendship. If you don't feel confident in how to recognize and make great friends, how can you be confident that you can see it while you're attracted to somebody at the same time?
posted by human ecologist at 6:07 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Check your memail in a couple minutes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on March 24, 2011

Relationships should be simple and should flow spontenously. It they dont, it means it's not the one. Build up you social life first.
posted by martinmartin at 6:39 AM on March 24, 2011

Should I stop initiating any correspondence altogether


I'd suggest cutting this guy out of your life completely. There have been a couple of guys in my life who I completely put up on a pedestal, was fixated with for ages and ages, etc. Very similar to your situation. When I deleted their phone number, stopped reading their emails, removed them from social networking sites if we were "friends" there, got rid of any reminders of them that were in my living space, stopped listening to music that reminded me of them (temporarily), THEN I was able to move on. If I left any sort of small pathway by which they could get back to me, it didn't work. I found myself fixating again.

I get the whole loneliness thing too, big time. As other people have suggested, filling your life with activities and making new friends helps tremendously. You need distraction, but more importantly, you need better quality people in your life.
posted by medeine at 9:45 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Don't be in touch with him at all. Don't look at his profile on dating websites or stalk him online (I use the word "stalk" very gently, not in the creepy way), don't email him, don't feed the friendship (or whatever it is.)

Go find a group on or craigslist's activities section to find some friends, or just some people to hang out with.

It doesn't feel like it now, but it will get better and you'll stop obsessing about him. Really. But (if you're like me, at least) you need to give yourself total complete distance from him.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:04 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't seem to stop thinking of him, and seeing him as some sort of goal to aspire to. Like maybe one day if I work really hard and become the best version of myself I'll earn his affection.

Please, please believe me: you cannot MAKE someone love and respect you. Take it from someone who has learned the hard way in the past: you will only feel worse about yourself if you do not cut off contact with this guy and get on with your life.

Don't listen to what he says, look at what he does! He slept with another girl, doesn't contact you unless you initiate contact every time, didn't tell you when he was in the area, and doesn't treat you as if you are significant in his life. Sure, when you are out together or about to have sex he tells you what you want to hear because he's an emotionally unavailable commitment-phobe that has learned how to parlay this into leading women like you on.
posted by misha at 10:24 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I strongly suggest no contact. Don't email him. Don't respond to his messages.

However, talk about how you feel to someone OTHER than him as often as you feel the need. Talk to your friends and family. Find someone who won't mind you blathering on about him. Write about him, but not to him.

This also really jumps out at me: He flipped out and told me to go home. He said my comment really hurt him, and even asked me for a hug. I calmed him down a bit. Despite our "platonic" rule we ended up kissing and he kept saying, "I really like you. I'm sorry I'm so fcked up."

He does not sound like a stable person. A small comment like the one you made shouldn't make a healthy person flip out. It also disturbs me that his emotions so violatile. I'm not saying he is an abuser, but lashing out followed by affection is reminiscent to me of an abuser.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:22 PM on March 24, 2011

I'm in a similar place right now after a psuedo-relationship with a guy also unable to commit. We met over the summer; I was shocked that he liked me (I also consider myself shy); we saw each other after both of us insisted we weren't looking for anything serious; he was dating other people, though he didn't tell me himself. I got too attached, and looking back, I can't help but think that I scared him off.

Even though I was the one who broke things off, I also couldn't help but think of seriously dating him as a long-term goal. Maybe one day we'll be perfect together. But the thought prolonged the pain, and only last month, when he missed my birthday party, could I think, "Damn, he treated me like shit." I could never depend on him to remember our agreed meeting times; he was often late; I was the one who usually initiated contact. All signs of fading interest. He promised we could remain friends, but now I realize I'm not sure if I even want that friendship from him -- he's so unreliable.

Anyway, not sure if I have any real advice; I'm a couple years younger and still haven't gotten over this yet. I can relate, however -- it hurts when someone doesn't find you as intriguing as you find them (and here I am concluding from his actions or lack thereof, not his words, which sound like they were said to assure you for that moment only). But I agree with ThePinkSuperhero: it's probably best to move on, block him from your Facebook feed, get a life, perhaps start thinking of your guy as an asshole (though he doesn't sound like it, just extremely thoughtless), start dating other people; it might help your confidence if you start confronting other challenges, instead of trying to avoid romantic situations altogether.
posted by myntu at 1:44 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses, guys. A lot of good insight and suggestions.

I guess I should elaborate on why I'm in self imposed solitude, which makes it that much harder to move on from this last intense connection.

In order to earn my degree I have a couple incompletes to finish and a thesis project to do. Although I'm not enrolled in classes, this will take a few months of intense work to finish. Between my academic stuff and looking for a temporary job to pay the bills, I'm stretched pretty thin.

I am concerned that trying to make new friends/connections right now would derail me from my work. See, I'm really shy and suffer from some social anxiety. Because friends don't come easily to me at all, whenever I try make any connections it sort of becomes a consuming project that causes a lot of stress. I don't know how/if I can take it on in a more relaxed, back-burner way. Also, I will probably be leaving the place where I'm now living before the fall, so I don't even know if it makes sense to form connections here that will soon be broken.

But maybe my conclusions here are misguided. I don't really know.

But being lonely obviously makes it that much harder to move on from this guy. I only have one sort of friend here, one of my housemates, but we're not that close.
posted by timsneezed at 2:21 PM on March 24, 2011

Response by poster: Just a quick addition...

I kind of promised myself that as I completed my graduation work I'd either a) focus entirely on my work and put off all social concerns until later, or b) put real effort into making connections instead of wasting mental energy worrying about it. But instead I've fallen into that dangerous in-between where I'm letting it intrude on my focus, but I'm not doing anything about it.
posted by timsneezed at 2:26 PM on March 24, 2011

Response by poster: Another important point I left out of the OP for the sake of brevity.

This guy has become wrapped up in my mind with my ego and all kinds of other crap. I've started to see him as some embodiment of who I want to be, and as a standard of success to measure my own against. It doesn't help that he's chosen the same career as I have, so thoughts of him naturally come up whenever I think about my academic work, about moving to the city or my future. I also worry about losing him as a professional connection when I move to the city if I cut him off completely, since he's pretty much the only one I have there.

In other words, the scaffolding supporting his memory has infested my entire brain. I feel like seeking out new connections and doing good things for myself aren't enough. I need to somehow control my mind in order to kill this giant weed.
posted by timsneezed at 2:45 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've definitely been in some similar situations - I was hung up on a friend of mine for over a year, I dated a guy I felt was "out of my league" who I allowed to treat me poorly in an effort to please, and I just recently (with the help of antidepressants) got out of a difficult depressive period during which I felt completely certain that I was unlovable.

My thoughts on your situation:

- I think you were moving a little fast. People just out of relationships (and a month is really nothing) tend to have some baggage they need to unpack. It's a good idea to proceed with extreme caution and take it very slowly with folks like that. Just out of a relationship or no, however, I think that two dates is a little early to say that things need to be serious. It's a good idea to be upfront about ultimately wanting a relationship over a casual fling, but it's a lot of pressure to ask someone to adopt the girlfriend/boyfriend label after a couple of dates.

- It seems that you have some issues with negative self image that you need to work through. I suspect part of the reason you're stuck on this guy is that he instilled a certain amount of self worth, and now that he's not available, you take it as a negative reflection on you. I've definitely had that problem (so maybe I'm just projecting) but it seems to me that digging deeper into your insecurities and anxieties would help you get to the root of your attachment. I've found that therapy has been super helpful to this effect - it might be a worthwhile endeavor to find a counselor to work out these feelings with. I think addressing your insecurities is the key to "controlling your mind".

- It seems like not contacting him is the way to go for now. This isn't to say that you should never speak to him ever again, but that you have some unresolved feelings about him and keeping in touch seems more like a way to hang on instead of move forward. You say you're worried about losing him as a friend or professional contact, but I'd posit that trying to keep a connection with him is probably a more likely way to do that than focusing on yourself for a while and then (if you're ready) asking him out for coffee once you're in the city. He's not giving you the kind of attention you want/need right now, so keeping in touch is more likely to reinforce negative feelings than maintain the relationship.

- Nothing good will come from checking out his dating/social media profiles (been there!). Resist the temptation. Block him on Gchat, hide his Facebook feed, don't follow him on Twitter... again, this is not to say that you should never speak again, just give yourself a break from having to explicit reminders of him at your disposal. You can make yourself crazy speculating about his thoughts via the Internet - just don't do it.

- While I can appreciate the dating strike, I can tell you I wouldn't have survived my last breakup without having friends to talk to. Your current academic vocation sounds a bit lonely and isolating as well, and it's important to strike a balance between the work you have to do and getting the human connection that anyone needs. I'd definitely recommend finding events/parties/volunteering opportunities to give yourself an outlet. It's definitely easy to remain stuck on someone when you feel like they were your only option, so working on finding ways to interact with people can help with that.

Best of luck! This is a tough thing to deal with.
posted by ktpetals at 5:25 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

This guy has become wrapped up in my mind with my ego and all kinds of other crap. I've started to see him as some embodiment of who I want to be, and as a standard of success to measure my own against. It doesn't help that he's chosen the same career as I have, so thoughts of him naturally come up whenever I think about my academic work, about moving to the city or my future. I also worry about losing him as a professional connection

Oh ouch. This would make it harder. If it helps, I'm sure there are hundreds of [graphic designers] in NY. Each of them found their own path. You will develop your own stile of graphic design and take your own approach to pursuing a graphic design career. You don't need this guy's help, seriously.
posted by salvia at 12:02 AM on March 25, 2011

posted by salvia at 12:02 AM on March 25, 2011

Response by poster: Heh, I'm not a graphic designer. I guess one of my past questions might suggest that, though.
posted by timsneezed at 12:23 AM on March 25, 2011

Ha, no, sorry to be confusing. I put it in brackets because it was just a shorthand stand-in for doctor, lawyer, investment banker, web designer, or whatever.
posted by salvia at 8:29 AM on March 25, 2011

What you went through sounds awful. It seems to me, and i could be wrong, like he was using you for companionship and sex. He seemed to have misled you by stating that he went through an awful breakup and needed some time "uncoupled" to work things out and that he didn't want anything serious however then you found out that HE was the one who ended the relationship which only lasted 6 months. He's just using it as an excuse to keep you at a distance and never fully give you a fair chance. I think that he probably saw that he wouldn't be interested in you for a serious relationship but kept stringing you along.

When you teasingly called him a slut and he reacted the way he did by becoming mad at you and making you feel like you had to apologize to him, that's a classic manipulation technique. The truth is that he hurt you by sleeping with another girl, even though you guys never had an exclusive relationship, I bet it still hurt you to know that he found intimacy with someone else b/c you seem to genuinely care for this guy. And yet, you tried to play it light by teasing him and he actually tried to turn it around and make you apologize and feel guilty for making a casual teasing comment, I'm sure he knows you didn't mean it maliciously. This guy sounds like he's really good at manipulation.

I'm sorry for being so brutally honest but I think you should realize that he is NOT a good friend to you; he does not seem like he respects the friendship and relationships should NEVER be like a one way street, it requires effort from both sides. Please do not give him any more time or thought. You deserve way better.

In the future, i think you should really get to know and trust someone and take time for both of you to develop mutual feelings for each other before sleeping with someone, that is if you're interested in a meaningful relationship.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 9:44 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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