Do I give up on love?
April 29, 2005 6:19 PM   Subscribe

Three months ago, my then-girlfriend and I broke off a 2.5-year relationship. We were doing it long-distance for the entirety of it, though that never hurt us. Two summers we lived together, too. We had started to fight a lot later—usually about stupid things—and basically just started to drive each other nuts while we were apart. When we were together in person, things were wonderful, but we had to support each other across the hundreds of miles, too. It was a mutual break-up for the most part: she wanted to take a month off, but I said it was inappropriate for us to pretend to be with each other when we're really trying to get away. This may have been the biggest mistake of my life.

Looking back now, I realize it was mostly my fault for what happened. I've done a lot of introspection in the last three months, and realized a few things: one, that I started taking her for granted. I stopped making her feel loved. I stopped doing the "little things" that keep a relationship going, especially when it's long-distance. Two, I realized that I got cold feet. I realized that we were approaching this very serious "long-term" point, and I did a very male thing to do—I got nervous. And as a result, I started picking stupid fights, started letting my eyes wander, and basically started fucking us up.

Most significantly, I've realized now that she was no ordinary girl. She was something really special, really unique, and someone that I really want to spend my life with, and now I am absolutely miserable—I feel like I've lost that forever. We still talk occasionally, and started to analyze our past. She's seeing another guy now, and I've been dating, and as early as two days ago she said, "yes, I want to be with you. But I am really scared. I don't want to be hurt again." And she pushed me away.

I can't pressure her, because I know it will just push her farther away. She knows my feelings, and about the soul-searching that I've been doing. But now I am scared: I know I can't just wait for her forever, because she may never want to come back. So I know that I need to find a way to move on. But more than anything, I want her back in my arms, back in my life, and want to make her feel loved and like the most beautiful girl in town. I know she loves me, but will she ever come back?

I'm sorry for the long-winded post, but I have no idea what to do, and I can't think rationally because I'm scared. How do I know what she wants, how do I know what's healthy for me, and how do I get back the love of my life?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (46 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Bottom line: It's over. Move on.
posted by Doohickie at 6:23 PM on April 29, 2005

I don't have your answer, but I think you should ignore Doohickie's. You sound really sure of yourself, I don't suggest giving up, especially since she indicated she's not 100% over you.
posted by knave at 6:29 PM on April 29, 2005

Ask someone who knows you both?
posted by ludwig_van at 6:32 PM on April 29, 2005

Is this your loneliness speaking? is this your fear speaking? Or do you really want to reunite with her?

Only one way to find out.

Fly over there, talk with her. Really talk, openly, honestly. See if you guys can work it out.

And listen. Quietly, without judgement. I hope you can work things out with her - 2.5 years is a long time with lots of emotions, including negative ones. If you both want to resume your relationship, you already have 2.5 years that you have built on. You will need to reassure her... good luck to you Anon, I hope it works out for you both.
posted by seawallrunner at 6:38 PM on April 29, 2005

Hey are we doppelgangers? My girlfriend and I broke up a 1.5 year relationship 3 months ago, it was long distance, and the distance really put a stress on the relationship. Eventually, she broke it off with me, it was just too much to have a serious relationship with that much distance.

But it hurts, there's no getting around that. Give her her space, but continue letting her know your feelings. And prepare yourself for your life without her.

The last point is the most salient, you HAVE to prepare yourself for life without her. Meet other people, be honest with her, and maybe it will work out. But deal with the possibility in your mind that it won't.

Good luck, these past months have been the darkest of my life.
posted by patrickje at 6:49 PM on April 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

What seawallrunner said. I might also point her toward this thread after you get there and talk to her, assuming things go well. BUT, before you do anything like that, you need to be really certain that this is what you want, because getting her back with reassurances and then turning around and pushing her away again is not allowed. I'm not saying you have to be 100% certain that you want to spend the rest of your life with her, but you'd better be pretty damn certain that you're ready to have a serious and committed relationship with her. I have done the long distance thing and it most certainly can be done successfully. Good luck.
posted by biscotti at 6:53 PM on April 29, 2005

Ignore knave's answer. Move on. Really. It hurts now, but the sooner you accept it, the better off you'll be.
posted by Doohickie at 6:55 PM on April 29, 2005

I'm sure that this is a very difficult situation for you, but you don't really expect good advice from people who don't know you or your ex-girlfriend or the intricacies of the situation, do you? Clearly, only you can decide what to do, and I suspect that what you're really looking for is encouragement, so, go for it.
posted by anapestic at 7:08 PM on April 29, 2005

I think the main thing is never to chase. If you really love someone, what you want most is their happiness. If it's about loneliness, then you'll want to chase, to conquer. My feeling in a very general way is that you have to loosen your grasp. If you grip, or chase, you make sure you won't ever be together again. If you loosen your grasp and try to live your best life for you, then you leave the door open if she eventually decides to come back. Life does funny things, and you never know how the next chapter will unfold.

I read a book once, after my husband and partner of 10 years left me quite out of the blue. It's called Divorce Remedy. It offers strategy to get your spouse back when they leave you. And it basically asks you to stop begging, to sort yourself out, to take care of you, and to leave that other person alone. If you're calling every 5 minutes, you leave no space for the other person to decide what they really want. In a way, it used the motivation of me wanting my husband back to get me to take care of myself and move on, to create a new life without him, one where I was independent. And after a few months of faking it, it became real. And in that time, I didn't contact him. I didn't chase. At the time, it was a strategy to leave a space for him to return, but in reality, it was a strategy that helped me to move on.

If you want to know how my story ends, it probably isn't what you want to hear... or maybe it is. After the divorce was final, he actually decided he wanted me back, and we reconciled for a few months, but in the end, he was going through too much, and we eventually parted ways, but we are still close, and I will always know him and care about him, and he will always know and care about me.

You can't make her want to come back. You can only do things to make her NOT want to come back.

OMG. Here's what you do... Right now... Go rent Swingers. Watch the first 5 minutes like 10 times and think about what they are talking about in the diner. Then watch the rest of the film. You're going to love it. If you've seen it before, watch it again now. You won't be sorry!
posted by abbyladybug at 7:20 PM on April 29, 2005 [5 favorites]

Move on. If you fucked things up, then you fucked them up. Take some time to learn why you fucked things up, and address those parts of who you are before entering another relationship.

If you really love her, then you know you shouldn't be with her until you've bettered yourself. You spent three months figuring shit out, it'll be a while yet before you've done the work you need to do.
posted by Jairus at 7:21 PM on April 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

I've been meaning to ask a question like this for months now. The only reason I haven't is because the people who truly know me have already given me the best advice; I just refused to listen to it. Take your friends' and family's advice seriously, and make the best decision you can. Life's a crap shoot, and even if it doesn't work out now, who is to say that it won't work in the future.

If you feel like you've truly changed and learned something, and only you can know that for sure, go for it. But remember that our society is based upon instant-gratification, even though life has shown that good things come to those who wait, who think things through, and are pragmatic. I think that the heart often wants things that it isn't ready for.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:26 PM on April 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

I concur that you need to move on. Getting over heartbreak takes time- nobody's disputing that- but if you put all your energy into wishing for and working for something that's over, you're going to miss out on a lot.

3 years ago I got dumped by the guy I really thought I would spend the rest of my life with. Initially I thought there was something cosmically wrong with the world- how could this have happened? what else could explain it?- but eventually, I just realized hey, everything happens for a reason and furthermore, even if it felt totally wrong that we weren't together, it doesn't change the fact that it was reality.

on preview: abbyladybug, what a GREAT response. you rock!

Just concentrate on yourself. Be good to yourself- be as selfish as possible- get used to being alone and not being afraid to rely on yourself and only yourself. I hope you will find it's liberating and makes you like yourself way more than you ever thought you could- that's been my experience.

But yeah. What you're going through absolutely sucks. Allow yourself to feel bitter and depressed. But don't dwell in the past for long- time is passing you by.
posted by elisabeth r at 7:27 PM on April 29, 2005

I have no idea what to do

Feel the pain (which you are doing).

Don't internalize this as the "biggest mistake of your life."

Mentally separate the concepts "really special girl" and "perfect for you."

Realize that it's over.

Be her friend, but look out for yourself.

Go out and have some sex.

Learn from it all.

Boy I have sure felt exactly the way you do. Exactly. Maybe you did screw up the relationship. Maybe it just failed. It sounds like there was a lot against it. Distance and fighting are not to be sneezed at. Maybe it needed to end. Maybe you need to move on.

If she was really that special, just be appreciative that she loved you and will always be a part of you. Don't do another typically male thing and treat her like a valuable posession which you have now lost (or sold cheap).

You can't always fix everything by making no mistakes. You have to go through many changes in this life. You can feel love more than once - in fact you probably can't avoid it.

Be strong. Be yourself. Learn, survive, grow.

Don't mope around forever, crying into your beer over that awesome girl you let slip through your fingers.

I know that much of this sounds insensitive, but trust me, friend, I do know exactly how you feel, and I am speaking not only from experience, but with the benefit of not being smack in the midst of it. You will find your feet. You will re-enter life and realize that you've actually been missing out on quite a lot of it all this time. You will not close in on yourself and become a sexless, heartless hermit. And you will not feel regret forever.

The only question is whether you want to spend 6 agonizing months going over this shit, or if you can find a way to get used to the idea of her fucking someone else, and you doing the same, sooner than that.

Human brains aren't easy to rewire, though. Good luck. Just don't shut down because of the pain. That's the worst fate of all - to lose the ability to feel because you don't want to feel something bad.
posted by scarabic at 7:43 PM on April 29, 2005 [3 favorites]

If you really think you love her and you're not just lonely. If you really think you can work things out now. If you really think she'd be open to it and you just need to proove to her that you're serious and are going to make it work... Fly over there, whatever the cost, get a cheap hotel room somewhere so you have that just in case, rent a car, get a bunch of flowers, make sure she's available, and work it. She will not know how serious you are at making her know you love her until you show her. Pour your heart out and tell her how you feel. Telling her over the phone just will not do it if you're serious about this.
posted by pwb503 at 7:48 PM on April 29, 2005

There's this expression that might help you:

Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.

Chalk this one up to experience, learn from it, but don't expect it to bring her back.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:01 PM on April 29, 2005 [3 favorites]

I say give it another shot. What's the use of being aloof? You have to go for what you want, even if it's only what you want right now. Mistakes are easier to live with than regrets; at least that's how I approach things.
posted by lilboo at 8:02 PM on April 29, 2005

You know, after being hurt and confused her pushing away could just as easily be because she's scared and needs proof you really mean it. If you don't try to get her back, you'll always wonder - I say go see her, tell her what you're feeling, that you understand she's scared and will understand if she won't get back with you but that you had to tell her or you'd never be able to live with yourself. Let her know exactly what you're feeling & what you want to do about it - without putting pressure on her for a decision now. You better mean it though, & be prepared to back up your words with action
posted by Pressed Rat at 8:08 PM on April 29, 2005

I second (third? fourth?) the advice to go see her in person. Tell her what you've learned since the break-up -- not just that you miss her (though that's good, too) but also what you've realized were your mistakes, and what you're now doing to fix the part of yourself that made those mistakes.

I just went through a horrific break-up with a guy I never want to speak to again. If he came to me saying, "You were right, I screwed up, this is how, and this is what I've done to ensure it doesn't happen again" in a *real* way, I'd be willing to open a dialogue. (This is not to say that I didn't make any mistakes, but I've admitted those to him and was working on them while we were still involved.)

After that, give her space (without pressure) to decide what she wants to do.

As everyone else has said, it's worth a shot. Better to know you tried everything you could than to always wonder.
posted by occhiblu at 8:29 PM on April 29, 2005

Don't give up hope but, like AbbyLadyBug said, don't chase.

I'm all about the honesty. It's never wrong to tell someone what you are feeling. She may not feel the same way and may never come back but that's it. Your worst case scenario is exactly what you already have.

Give her all the information you can to let her make the decisions she needs to best live her life. It may include you, it may not. Live your life the best you can and trust that she is doing the same.

You only get so many days to breathe. Why spend that time being afraid of what might happen? Stop worrying and find out for sure.
posted by aaronh at 8:46 PM on April 29, 2005

I gotta say that if this is the one--the person you're meant to be with--then wtf are you doing doing anything long distance? MOVE!

The fact that you haven't, in 2.5 years, says to me that she's not the one. Sure, there are probably circumstances the keep you apart (school, work, family, whatever). But, in my experience, those are excuses. If you MUST be with her, you would be. If you should be with her, and weren't, well, as others have said, it's over. Move on.
posted by dobbs at 8:47 PM on April 29, 2005

Just because she's amazing, smart, beautiful, and a great partner, and just because you've learned your lesson and want to make this work, doesn't mean that it will or that it should. I think you're looking for encouragement, because those are all the things that I say when I want someone to say, "Go for it! Hell with rules! Follow your heart! You're doing the right thing!" Without knowing your circumstances, or the distance, or how likely it will be to close the gap, or what you're really prepared to do to make this work, it's hard to give you advice either way. It's hard to see the flinch of someone's eyebrows, the crinkle of their nose, the tears clouding their eyes, the breaking of their voice ever so slightly over the phone. It's also easy to forget the fighting that got you to this place. It's an almost impossible situation to figure out over the phone, even if you're great communicators, loving people and otherwise in good moods. If you want to SEE if this is possible, one of you has to go see the other. Stay in a hotel, so there is no pressure of having to figure it out while laying in the same bed, unless you're really going for that approach. Go up with the intention of figuring it out, not the intention of getting back together; perhaps either way, it will become clearer and more real for you in person.

I feel for you, I really do, because this distance stuff sucks, and breaking up across the miles really sucks, and I can't imagine that getting back together across the miles is really that much better. If you're looking for this much justification and encouragement, there might be some doubts that you're trying to bury with "oh my god, I've changed so much, I'm so much better let's give it another go, pleeeease?" This is called the bargaining stage. It happens: sometimes for a reason, sometimes to just get you to the next stage, which is acceptance. Only you two can figure out which way it will go right now, and I can only suggest that a conversation in person can help in both circumstances.
posted by fionab at 8:56 PM on April 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

I have no idea whether or not you should chase or forget, but I would urge you to consider this: NO ONE is blameless in a relationship, each party contributes things to it that the other reacts to. So you made some mistakes, huh? No doubt she did too - and I point it out just in case you have the same tendency that I do, to relentlessly kick the shit out of yourself while glorifying the very ground that she walks on.

I think one of the things that makes relationships work is the mutual ability to see past annoyances, to keep the big picture in mind, no matter where the annoyances originate. I think this requires a great deal of patience and self-awareness. If it is indeed to late for this one, you'll be in much better shape next time 'round. And there most certainly WILL be a next time 'round.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:02 PM on April 29, 2005 [3 favorites]

And one more thing, something that I tell myself only partly in jest - a lesson that is made apparent to me almost daily while walking the streets of my particular metropolitan area: given the number of absolute freaks - complete horror-show people - who find love in this life, if you are even remotely sensitive and intelligent, you'll be fine.

Just in case you decide to move on. Remember, the glass is more than half full.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:06 PM on April 29, 2005

scarabic gets it. Where the hell are your homies? I hate to get all bro on you, but you need to call some of the guys guys, go out, get wasted, shamelessly hit on some girls, make out with a couple of them, or none of them, go to a strip club, cry it out, and then go back for more...while being surrounded by your crew who will watch over you. Eventually you will stabilize with a clearer perspective on what comes next for you.

Maybe this relationship is done, maybe it isn't. What's clear is that neither of you will know for sure until you both do your own thing for awhile. You'd best get out there and do just that. What if she calls you in a month and says she wants to try again? Make damn sure you're as prepared for that as possible. That is your mission. I been there buddy, and it hurt like hell, but I'm a happy man now. I know you can do it too.
posted by samh23 at 9:11 PM on April 29, 2005

Like a lot of others here, I've done the long-distance relationship. And the long-distance breakup. It sucks. You have a lot of company.

Are you willing, in order to rekindle the relationship, to move to be with her? Right now? I mean put everything on hold, pack up and move, just go *now*, (or at the end of the semester if you're on an academic calendar.) I'm not saying you should- but the answer to that question will tell you a lot. If you're not willing to move, now, then move on where you are.

Amor de lejos, amor de pendejos.
posted by ambrosia at 9:15 PM on April 29, 2005

Yeah, I'm pretty much in this same situation right about now, and you need your buds around you. They're the ones who tell you when you're being ridiculous and the ones to take you out to work out the pain. Call 'em up, go out, bitch all night, drink, listen to music, whatever. You'll sort it out - good luck!
posted by fionab at 9:24 PM on April 29, 2005

Ignore pretty much all of the responses listed so far. Anyone who thinks there's a pat, universal answer to these kind of questions is wrong. This is a very specific circumstance involving specific people that we have no knowledge about. AskMetafilter can't help you here. You just have to figure things out for yourself and do what feels right.
posted by painquale at 9:28 PM on April 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

I generally agree with painquale, but I want to say that, IMHO: "if you are even remotely sensitive and intelligent, you'll be fine." dangerous advice. Don't take relationships for granted, or you'll end up old, lonely, depressed, drunk, and with a gun in your hand.
posted by aramaic at 9:31 PM on April 29, 2005

As everyone else has said, it's worth a shot. Better to know you tried everything you could than to always wonder.

This is true. I'm drunk and god knows I'm in no position to give advice even when I'm sober, but for fuck's sake, if you're as serious as you say you are, try. What have you got to lose? You'll kick yourself for decades if you do nothing.

I was one of the lucky ones: I lost the person I loved, we didn't speak for two years, and then I sent her a birthday present at random because I saw it in the comic book store and knew she'd like it. We started talking and got back together, which was pretty fucking amazing, after going our seperate ways for such a length of time and moving several states apart.

Of course, then I fucked it up and lost her again. And haven't dated anyone since. And am a fucked-up wreck to this day, years later. So maybe you should listen to everyone else and get over it. dangerous advice. Don't take relationships for granted, or you'll end up old, lonely, depressed, drunk, and with a gun in your hand.

Or young, lonely, depressed, drunk, and with a gun in your hand.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:11 PM on April 29, 2005

If there is a reason to "give it a shot" it's not bringing her back. The only real reason you should do that is to bring the situation to a head so you can get more clarity on it. My guess is that it's truly over. But if the waters are murky, then by all means go clarify the situation. Just don't lead with your chin and rush in hoping for just one outcome: getting back together. You have to recognize that a clear break would also be better than this nether-realm of self-doubt, half-hopes, and uncertainty. By all means go to her and put it on the table. I think this will likely bring you pain and shame, but that's better than where you are now.

Sometimes you have to fall down the well in order to see which direction is up.
posted by scarabic at 10:28 PM on April 29, 2005

Oh and I would like to state for the record that I never said get your homies together and hit a strip club. That's likely the worst thing you can do. Nothing's worse when your heart is aching for someone you love than hanging around some soulless bar with a bunch of hot women you can't have. It will only make you pine for her more.

Some personal advice? Pick someone you noticed while you were in the relationship, but couldn't pursue because of it. Ask her out. With the long-distance thing, there's got to be someone.
posted by scarabic at 10:32 PM on April 29, 2005

Here's your answer, in convenient webcomic format.
posted by Eamon at 10:38 PM on April 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

I don't really have any advice for you, mainly because your situation sounds so similar to the one I was in a year and a half ago-- breaking up with a girl who I cared a lot for, but I got scared and ran away. So I don't know what to tell you-- a year and a half later, and I still have thoughts that I threw my one chance at relationship happiness away (and I've dated a bit since).

It is comforting, to me, to see that I am not the only one this happens to.
posted by synecdoche at 10:41 PM on April 29, 2005

In defense of "if you are even remotely sensitive and intelligent, you'll be fine":

I most certainly didn't mean to suggest that anyone can kick back and relax, confident in the knowledge that everything will be okay and all you have to do is wait for love, companionship, and happiness to come to you. On the contrary, I think that the sensitivity and intelligence will lead one to recognize the need to WORK at yourself and at life and relationships. And to hope for some luck, that you meet the right person at the right time. It's not a call for apathy, just an attempt at encouragement. Or maybe I'm missing a bigger picture. Elaborate, mefites!
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:47 PM on April 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

There's already a bunch of good advice here. What scarabic said, and this from earlier:

In a way, it used the motivation of me wanting my husband back to get me to take care of myself and move on, to create a new life without him, one where I was independent. And after a few months of faking it, it became real. And in that time, I didn't contact him. I didn't chase. At the time, it was a strategy to leave a space for him to return, but in reality, it was a strategy that helped me to move on.

Take care of yourself. It's so easy to get lost in a relationship. Take advantage of this time to regroup and figure out what direction is best for you. In the future, it might work out, and if it doesn't, you'll still be ahead of the game.

Believe me, I know what you're going through. But there comes a point when there is NOTHING you can do that will bring her back. I know. But you can bring positive out of this.

Also realize that what you think now (ex. she was the only girl for were the perfect couple) will change in the future. You lose something important, you romanticize it and forget about the problems you had. All you can think about is getting it back, no matter what it takes. Those feelings won't be around forever.
posted by justgary at 1:39 AM on April 30, 2005 [1 favorite]

I have no idea whether or not you should chase or forget, but I would urge you to consider this: NO ONE is blameless in a relationship, each party contributes things to it that the other reacts to. So you made some mistakes, huh? No doubt she did too - and I point it out just in case you have the same tendency that I do, to relentlessly kick the shit out of yourself while glorifying the very ground that she walks on.

That paragraph alone is worth a year of therapy.

By all means go to her and put it on the table. I think this will likely bring you pain and shame, but that's better than where you are now.

More good advice. If you have any doubt, lay it on the line. Begging for the next 6 months will do nothing but make you miserable. Bring some closure if you must, then prepare to move on. There's a whole nother world you've been missing.
posted by justgary at 1:48 AM on April 30, 2005

I agree with the 'take care of yourself' advice. I'm not sure if this has been said before, but, if your relationship has not worked long-distance so far, it probably will not begin to work long-distance. I think the bottom line is that long-distance relationships take incredible amounts of work, quantities of work that for many people cannot be sustained over the long term. Before you get mad at yourself for this, you should remember that you two set an incredibly ambitious goal in staying together over a vast distance.

If you're really serious about the relationship, and you make an overture about getting back together, I think you should set a deadline--six months from now, say--at which one of you will begin the process of moving cities.
posted by josh at 6:04 AM on April 30, 2005

This may be difficult for you to picture right now, but some day you may be lucky enough to have a child, and you will grow to love them more than you have loved anyone--even yourself. And one day, as you look at them, you will realize that if it were not for all the bad times and broken hearts and accidents and asshole administrators that have changed the course of your life, that child would not exist. It’s not enough to say that you would have had a different child, and it would make no difference. You don’t think that. You would never trade; you would never do it differently.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:12 AM on April 30, 2005

It seems to me you're listening carefully to her words but not at all to her actions. She's just not that interested in you any more. That may be changing or possibly change in the future, but it doesn't sound that way now. Let's look at the evidence:

She wanted to "take a month off" -- this is thinly veiled code for "I want to see someone else." Lo and behold, it happened! And quickly!

She's "scared" of getting back together with you -- Fright is a very, very poor precursor to a healthy relationship.

She says she wants to get back together with you, and then doesn't do that. Her actions have spoken louder than her words. In fact, she "pushed you away," the polar opposite of reinstating your relationship.

None of this sounds like the behavior of someone interested in a long term romantic relationship with you. Perhaps that will change over time if you maintain a friendship; experience tells me otherwise, though.
posted by majick at 6:33 AM on April 30, 2005 [1 favorite]

I would say this, as someone who still feels twingy aftereffects of a poor separation now probably five or six years in my past: try to resolve it. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to deal with the "what if" ghosts which would plague you for quite some time to come.
posted by WCityMike at 9:59 AM on April 30, 2005

Everything is far
and long gone by.
I think that the star
glittering above me
has been dead for a million years.
I think there were tears
in the car I heard pass
and something terrible was said.
A clock has stopped striking in the house
across the road . . .
When did it start? . . .
I would like to step out of my heart
an go walking beneath the enormous sky.
I would like to pray.
And surely of all the stars that perished
long ago,
one still exists.
I think that I know
which one it is—
which one, at the end of its beam in the sky,
stands like a white city . . .
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:16 AM on April 30, 2005

I have done the long distance thing and it most certainly can be done successfully.

Well, I would like think so--but one thing to remember in regards to long range relationships is that, drinking + brooding + email = trouble. But then, so does drinking + brooding + leaving messages on answering machines. Say it face to face, mouth to ear or write a thoughtful letter to be re-read twenty-fours later before you mail it. If you live apart, email is not your friend.
posted by y2karl at 10:33 AM on April 30, 2005

Sort of what weapons-grade said but minus the creepy assumption that a child is inevitable and that it is the only thing that will make you feel that way.

You will do lots of stupid things you regret. Sometimes you will be right in your regret and sometimes you will be wrong. But then, something utterly worthy will happen and you'll realize that if you undid one thing you will undo that great thing. I would work this in as part of a general remaking your life plan if you think that you wouldn't move or she decides she doesn't want you to.
posted by dame at 12:27 PM on April 30, 2005

Sometimes deciding that "you know what went wrong and you can fix it if you try again" is the wrong answer. Breakups happen for a reason, and they're almost never the fault of only one of the members in the relationship. It may be easier [for now] to internalize everything and say "it's all my fault, really." But if you go back into the relationship, it's important to realize that that's not the case. Relationships where one person takes all the blame and makes all the sacrifices tend to fail. You may find yourself a few years on nursing a lot of resentment because the "perfect girl" you found expects you to do all of the work in the relationship, etc. Furthermore, when she's not actively fighting with you/etc, it's easy to romanticize the whole thing, forgetting just how _bad_ things got.

Hindsight is easy. Foresight... not so much. It's simple enough to go through the post-mortem of a relationship and say "here I could have done better", but it tends not to be quite as easy to figure out how to do things right when you're actually living in the present. Additionally, there's something very different about visits and actually physically seeing / living with someone, on a pretty permanent basis. It's a lot easier to ignore their quirks, the tiny things about the way they live their life that annoy you. And it's a lot easier to be on your best behaviour, to make temporary sacrifices in order to make things work. For you, your daily exposure to her was more over the phone or email or whatever - and unsurprisingly, it's there that you had problems. Basing the viability of the relationship off of your visits, where you were both trying to make things go well, may not be realistic.

If you need to talk to her to get closure, do so. But don't go back into the relationship expecting her to be the One Perfect Girl who can provide you with a Happily Ever After ending. Maybe she can, maybe she can't - and maybe, in her heart of hearts, she doesn't want to end up with you forever. Go in saying "this is what I think I did wrong; I think you could have done better in these other situations too. But I think we might be able to make things work, and I'd like it if that were possible." Don't go in saying "you're the one, let's live together forever." At this point, employing words like "perfect", "best", or "the one" can only put too much pressure on things. Go into your talk with her with modest expectations, and don't make her the center of all your hopes and dreams yet. There _is_ a world beyond her, after all.

Personally, I haven't been in this situation. But I have a friend who has - and going back [and back again and back again] didn't make things any better. If anything, things kept on getting worse, Sort out your feelings, by all means, but try to be as rational in that endeavor as possible. It may sound like cold-blooded advice, but romance alone couldn't make the relationship work the first time, and that's going to be even more true now that you have a troubled history together.
posted by ubersturm at 1:18 PM on April 30, 2005

We were doing it long-distance for the entirety of it, though that never hurt us.

Bullshit. You may not have realized that it hurt you, but of course it did. (Like others, I speak from experience.) y2karl is doubtless right that the long distance thing can be done successfully, but it takes work and luck, and it certainly hurts the relationship. I can't tell you whether your relationship is worth pursuing, but if it is, if you manage to get her back on board and get another chance, do what you have to to make it stop being long-distance. There's really no substitute for being there, day in and day out.
posted by languagehat at 2:55 PM on April 30, 2005

Whether you think the goal of the moment is to get her back, or to move on, the action item is the same: take care of yourself. Don't pine and pursue.

But it seems that if you didn't address the distance issue by moving, and if you created issues to screw things up, then something wasn't right about it all. I've had to come to that realization in the past myself.

One thing I've learned is that sometimes when we're alone we idealize a person as if they are the human embodiment of everything we hope for. We can be so in love with that vision, we think we're in love with a person who represents it. When we have the actual person, though, she might not live up to all that. In the clash of hope and disappointment we begin to end the relationship, even if reluctantly -- even if subconsciously.
posted by Tubes at 10:05 PM on April 30, 2005 [2 favorites]

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