Did this relationship end for the right reasons? IS it even over??
April 2, 2011 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Is he a commitment phobe, or is it me? Does he just not like/want me?

We are both in our 30's- he's divorced with 2 young children. He told me that she (his ex wife) had been having an affair that he discovered via email.... He's a solid citizen, a lawyer, a decent guy generally. Maybe a little paranoid, maybe a little cynical and sarcastic- maybe a little cheap- definitely not one to talk about or share emotions. That's his background.

We met online, on a popular dating site. His profile spoke of a man who wants to a serious relationship- not a player- it said, any one who ultimately spends time with him it's going to be with his kids too. Sounds like a serious guy, adult needs. My type.

We dated for three months- and it was a good three months-we spent almost all his free nights together (nights he didn't have his kids). We cooked, watched videos, went skiing, played music, went out to dinner, and had a really really good sexual relationship.

He's busy with work this month- he's an attorney and he had a big case that was on this month and it was stressing him out in a big way. He felt under alot of stress. Was pulling back. All of a sudden, instead of seeing him on all his free nights- 3x a week, it was one week, once- and another week, none- and I just felt the distance. I tried to hold back and play it calm and slow- but inside I was feeling anxious- sensing that maybe things were at that 3 month mark where I have experienced men pulling back to re-group. SO I took the chance to ask about things...I haven't met his kids and I wanted to- I wanted to spend more time with him and get to know his family. And friends. In all our time together, we hadn't - for timing reasons, either we were away together or mid- week issues- neither of us had met one another's friends...In any case- I asked him if he saw on the horizon- not necessarily now- but sometime on the horizon- my meeting his kids. This is important to me to know he's taking this realtionship seriously and considers me something real in his life. In spite of the time we spent together I needed to know this emotionally for me.

The conversation went really well- it was so mature and unemotional and good back and forth- but he said- he has reservations about us in the long term- because he said- he thinks ultimately that I'd be bored with his life with his children- that I am so busy and do so many things- which is true- but it's because I'm single. If I wasn't, I would be with the kids doing family things which I truthfully, long for.
So he said- if we break up, I really like you- I want you in my life- I want to still play tennis and hang out.

I said if we break up, it has to be a clean break up- because I am not looking for a casual relationship- and I couldn't spent time with him and not want to kiss him. He said he agreed- and that he'd think about what he wanted- but it would have to wait until after the trial was over-

and guess what? In 2 weeks- I never heard from him. Not an email, not a text, not a phone call. While I suffered in silence- not reaching out- giving him time- seeing where nature took it.

In 2 weeks I decided that you know, I have my needs too. It's not a one way relationship. He had time to let me know- and he apparently is choosing to keep me on the shelf- and I can't deal with it. I've been there before and it's a self esteem killer.

So I asked for my stuff back -in an email- and told him I'd be leaving his on his steps at his house, which I did on Thursday. I'm MISERABLE.
I'm so sad, I can't stop crying. Wondering- did I push him to this through this conversation- would the relationship have maybe become committed if I had held off asking....But the thing where he said he had reservations about introducing me to his children- it hurt me. I love kids. I was a little crushed by it. And I thought- well, if I'm not important enough for him to say- yes- not now, but soon, yes- then I'm not importatant at all to him.

Did I do the right thing? I am hurting. I still like him. But I'm trying to avoid the pitfalls of being used.
posted by Fenshwee to Human Relations (65 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You did the right thing. He has the capacity to ignore you and leave you hanging. He doesn't care enough about you.

He's not nice to you.
posted by anniecat at 12:54 PM on April 2, 2011 [16 favorites]

Did he still not contact you after the trial was over? Or has the trial not happened? Speaking as an attorney, a big trial can put EVERYTHING on hold -- and I mean everything -- so if you dumped your stuff on his porch before the trial was over, I'd say you were hugely rash to do so. But if the trial came and went, and a week passed without hearing from him, then it makes sense to cut him out of your life.
posted by jayder at 12:59 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, you should be proud of yourself for remaining committed to being treated well. Of course you feel bad and like crying---you feel like this guy isn't a dick to everyone and you're wondering why he's able to be jerk to you. I can't answer that. He is a jerk. He somehow feels entitled to treat women he doesn't want to be in a relationship with like this--without courtesy and with disrespect because he's a coward. And cowards come in all shapes and personalities---as nice guys who seem generally nice.

You'll get through this. Remember all your girlfriends who have developed feelings for guys who are using them. It happens and modern dating culture lets it happen. This may sound silly, but what really helped a friend of mine was apparently envisioning herself as a ninja and battling those emotions that were trying to bring her down (the "what if it was my fault? What if I could have made it awesome?"). Those are gremlins disguised as real thoughts that feed on self-esteem. So remember: you're a ninja. Stay strong.
posted by anniecat at 1:03 PM on April 2, 2011 [14 favorites]

This sounds rough. I'm sorry you're hurting. You did the right thing. You did nothing wrong.

From your story it seems that he is not interested in a relationship with you.

Responsible parents are going to be super wary of introducing romantic partners to their kids unless it is a very serious relationship. If I were divorced and dating I doubt I would introduce my kids to anybody I wasn't seriously committed to.

My feeling that is if he really liked you enough he would make some effort to contact you or see you. The trial was an excuse to see you less and less and then ultimately not at all. You didn't "push" him into anything. If he wanted to be with you he would have said so. He didn't have the guts to be honest and break up with you. Let it go. Cry a little, don't contact him again, and move on.
posted by Fairchild at 1:08 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Did he still not contact you after the trial was over? Or has the trial not happened? Speaking as an attorney, a big trial can put EVERYTHING on hold -- and I mean everything -- so if you dumped your stuff on his porch before the trial was over, I'd say you were hugely rash to do so.

Whatever. The guy wanted to play tennis and hang out and didn't want to make a commitment. Not worth it. OP, it's not hard to send a quick email from his iPhone or Blackberry while on the toilet, even if he is a really important attorney. He made his arguments that all point to him not being into OP.

OP has minimal needs that ought to be met and this guy, even if it is the fault of his profession, isn't being considerate. He plainly didn't take her seriously and wasn't feeling it so decided to err on the side of being inconsiderate.

You did the right thing, OP. This is a story I've heard over and over again on Metafilter and from friends.
posted by anniecat at 1:10 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

It's a good thing you found out now.

You did not push him. I know crazy work commitments and high pressure, and still, he sidelined you in a pretty selfish way. In fact, if you read over your ask, it's a lot about him, his needs, you catering to his needs, etc. etc.

I know it sucks right now, but please don't go back to this guy. I get the feeling that what he is offering, which you've just experienced, is NOT what you are looking for.

(and while I don't condone affairs, I can kinda see where his wife was coming from if he repeatedly checked out on her emotionally every time a tough case came along. that must be rough to live with 24/7 if you are not prepared for it.)
posted by jbenben at 1:12 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Jayder, the trial had just ended. To clarify and give a little more info- I actually said I wanted to give him his stuff back and get mine back and spoke to him even on the phone about it- I called- and we on Tuesday were supposed to do it. He was going to come over and bring my stuff.
Tuesday night, I was looking so good- :) If it was our make up, then I'd look good. If it was our last time seeing one another- well, at least he'd get me looking good for his memories ;)

But he didn't show up. Jayder- he didn't show up. Or call or text.

I sent an email the next day- a polite one- saying something like- missed you last night- hope everything's okay...a call would have been respectful...I'm leaving your stuff on your porch and i'd like you to do the same. When I'm not at home.

He wrote back that he was really sorry- that he had forgotten. That he had intended to, but forgot. And that he'd do it the next day- and that he's trying to hold onto his sanity this month,- and that again, he's sorry. I think he's sorry for being impolite- but that he has no idea what pain he's caused me.

(he did leave my stuff the next day)
posted by Fenshwee at 1:24 PM on April 2, 2011

You stood up for yourself and he disappeared. You're lucky it happened this fast. In the future, when someone you've just started dating shows himself to be "paranoid,""cynical,""sarcastic" and "cheap," you're entitled to decide you'd like to be with a nicer, saner person. Also, he found about his wife's affair via email--was that when he hacked into her account? Bullet dodged, Fenshwee. Count your blessings.
posted by Scram at 1:25 PM on April 2, 2011 [6 favorites]

I'm unclear about the timeline here but it makes a vital difference. If the trial was over and you didn't hear from him, you did the right thing. If the trial was ongoing and you didn't hear from him, I think you severely jumped the gun. Being the partner (or children) of a trial lawyer is a... thing. You are essentially a trial widow for the duration. You make sure the person going to court has clean dry cleaning and leftovers available in the fridge if they ever come home at all, and otherwise proceed as if they are dead because you will not see them for days or sometimes weeks on end.

This is par for the course and if you cannot hack that, you need to not date (or, God forbid - father children with) a trial lawyer.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:25 PM on April 2, 2011

I can’t see anything that you did wrong, OP, and actually it was an adult thing to ask where this was going after a few months. I doubt that it would have changed the direction that this was going.

I do want to post about this, though, so you don’t feel bad about yourself: “He had reservations about introducing me to his children- it hurt me. I love kids.”

In this case, it is not about you. Nor is it about him. He is respecting his children. What if they got attached to you? Have they dealt with the divorce yet? There are 10 million reasons not to introduce someone to his or her children, especially with a significant other. Although he was a jerk in other aspects of the way he treated you ....at least he thought about the well-being of his kids.
posted by Wolfster at 1:29 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

While that might be true about trial widows, it's irrelevant. If he were into you, he would have told you up front "i'm going to be completely incommunicado for two weeks", he wouldn't have just disappeared and left you to figure it out. you weren't being premature at all. when he told you that bit about his kids, he was breaking up with you. he was out of the game after that point.
posted by facetious at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I hear you Wolfster. I agree. And I think that's what hurts the most. I respect that about him- and I'd do the same- feel the same. It's just that he decided that I wasn't worth it. That's what makes me feel just,...like crap.
posted by Fenshwee at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2011

Facetious- if that's the case- then why not just do it- break up. Why not just end it? Why the bogus- let me think about it bs? Why not just end it there on the phone? Or, if he was too cowardly or afraid to say it to me, send me an email?

Nothing. Hanging.
posted by Fenshwee at 1:34 PM on April 2, 2011

Aside from whether or not you or he did the right thing, it's completely fair to not want to date someone whose job takes over their life. If he is going to be incommunicado during a trial, it's okay for you to not want to deal with that.
posted by desjardins at 1:38 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fenschwee -- thanks for clarifying. Yes, I agree with the others, his behavior is awful.
posted by jayder at 1:39 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

After your follow up, yes, it's clear that it's over.

I don't think a debate about fault is helpful in terms of his need for space, or inability to be a human being, during trial. What's important is that your needs weren't being met, and this would not be a one-shot deal: more, equally stressful moments will pop up down the line.

There's no way to know if he pulled back solely because of the trial or because he was starting to realize that things with you had run their course and he didn't see a long-term future, but my guess is both. He told you he didn't see a long-term future with you, after all -- maybe this wouldn't have come about quite as soon without the stress of trial, but you have to take him at his word.

Bottom line: No, you didn't do anything wrong. Breaking up sucks and I'm sorry for your pain, but it's time to start moving on. You deserve a relationship in which your needs as well as his are being met, and that was not and was not going to be the case here.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:46 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Jesus, I made a bad choice to date this guy. I have a lousy picker it seems- you see it all so clearly when I questioned my intution and gut so often.
posted by Fenshwee at 1:47 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's just that he decided that I wasn't worth it.

Please, please try to wipe these thoughts out of your brain.

What happened is NOT this:

A wonderful man, very mature, with a great career and two fabulous kids, who has excellent judgment, has decided that you are unworthy of being his partner.

What happened is more like this:

A man has decided to handle the end of a relationship poorly.

This is NOT ABOUT YOU. If you were his friend and he were telling you about this, he would say that he felt bad, but wasn't sure you were a match, and he "hoped you got the hint". It is about him handling the end of this relationship badly. He may be good at his job or raising his kids, but he has some significant deficits in this area and it has NOTHING to do with you.

And, the "forgetting" at the end? That's about meeting another woman, most likely.
posted by metametababe at 1:47 PM on April 2, 2011 [21 favorites]

"you see it all so clearly when I questioned my intution and gut so often."

No, we see it clearly because we aren't wracked with emotion as people in your situation usually are. That's always confusing. You need a reality check from people who aren't feeling what you're feeling. There is clearly nothing wrong with your judgement because you've explained it all quite reasonably to us.
posted by tel3path at 1:50 PM on April 2, 2011 [11 favorites]

Uh. I think you are forgetting something pretty significant here.

This guy is a trial lawyer! His entire life is about strategy and keeping the other guy off-balance! It's not even personal - he trained years to do it, he does it, he did it to you, end of story.

So sorry you got caught up in that. Yes. He should have broken up with you sooner and/or directly.
posted by jbenben at 1:52 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

I genuinely admire your honesty and follow-through. You did a good thing and you were respectful. Difficult to do.

I have dated people who were excellent, amazing people, but for whatever reason I couldn't commit. It had nothing to do with their value as a person and they've moved on to choose and date the right people for them. One person I dumped after 3 great months. I recently attended his wedding to someone who is 100% better for him than I would be. It has nothing to do with not valuing him, him being bad at choosing relationships, or anything else.

Right now you're hurting and it's hard to be objective, I know that, but when you're feeling a little better, please do whatever you can to tell yourself that you did nothing wrong and your value is not determined by whether or not a certain man wants to commit to you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:09 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

All too many men, when wronged by one woman will attempt to take revenge on the entire sex, and he seems to me to be one of those men.

In other words, he's hurting you on purpose, and he didn't give you back your stuff because he wants to keep you on the hook and wring as much more pain out of you as possible.

I'd bet you caught him out a little bit by being willing to break things off so soon and so cleanly.

I urge you to continue the ending as you began it.

If you want to make him really uncomfortable, drop by his place unannounced on an evening you know he has his kids and try to collect your things. Be cheery and upbeat, then never contact him again or respond to any attempt to contact you.
posted by jamjam at 2:19 PM on April 2, 2011

Jesus, I made a bad choice to date this guy. I have a lousy picker it seems- you see it all so clearly when I questioned my intution and gut so often.

No, no. Sometimes, when one is right in the middle of a situation, it's very difficult to see things that are glaringly obvious from the outside. You were just entangled with him, and your objectivity suffered as a consequence. I think that a tendency to see the best in those we're close to is just part of human relationships.

There's nothing wrong with your intuition. Remember, you stood up for yourself and recognized that you deserve to be treated well. You knew in your gut that something wasn't right with this dude. Again, there is nothing wrong with your picker.

This situation is really rough. I hope you feel better soon.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 2:21 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Young Rope Rider, I appreciate that. I have never been more honest and respectful- I made a huge effort to keep things cordial- against my inner desire to go out in flames. Taking the high road sucks. I always do it, and I think keeping a semblance of class about it is good in the long run, but really, what I wanted to was take that low road this one time- because I felt so disrespected. I wanted to stick a mean note on his door to embarass him in front of all his neighbors. I fantasized about taking the low road. Wrote out the note on my computer. In large, bold-enough-to-see-from-the-street-when-taped-to-the-door, font. Printed the note out. Put it in my car. All this on the night that he was supposed to come by with my things. And then I slept on the idea. In the morning, over coffee, I chose the mature, cordial email. I went out with the last word- I was mature- and hopefully, at some moment, I hope, he feels like crap about the way he ended it and treated me. I hope.
posted by Fenshwee at 2:35 PM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yes, indeed. Taking the high road and writing the mature email is not something that turns up in a lot of opera plots.

I suppose badly behaved people get some kind of satisfaction out of what they do, but you wouldn't. You'd be just as dissatisfied and you'd be in the wrong too. At least this way you get to be dissatisfied and right.
posted by tel3path at 2:39 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you think that he feels crappy? Is he sad about it? Does he miss me? Does he know on some level he lost a good thing? Or is he just whistling a happy tune and moving right along?
posted by Fenshwee at 2:43 PM on April 2, 2011

I bet you'll say he's already moved onward to the next victim. Who he'll commit to and marry within 6 months. And they'll all live happily ever after.
posted by Fenshwee at 2:44 PM on April 2, 2011

I suspect he is desparately unhappy and looking for anything to distract himself. But of course I have no idea because I don't know him - none of us do. But I'll go out on a limb and say that happy centered people who are grounded don't behave as he did and therefore he's probably not very happy, and that he will likely have continual trouble getting close to women.

I feel your pain, stick to your guns, you did the right thing
posted by zia at 2:47 PM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's difficult to tell if he's happy because we don't even know if he's motivated by the same things that we are. He may not want intimacy of any kind with anyone, he may only want to be in control and possibly gets the same kind of satisfaction out of controlling situations as we would out of close confiding relationships.

My shrink, during my annual checkup, said that some people really don't have human souls and are just sort of animals, as it were. They appear to be doing well, but in reality, they aren't. They may or may not think they're happy, but that's kind of beside the point.
posted by tel3path at 3:01 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

I don't believe that he is devoid of all feeling. I don't believe he's soul-less. He said his divorce was the most difficult time of his life, psychologically. That he wouldn't have gotten through that time without having had pot (don't judge- I didn't and don't). I don't think he smoked regularly and that's beside the point. My point though is that that means he has feeling, feels anxiety. He can't be soul-less. As hurt as I am, I don't think he's evil. Just a jerk. To me. That I dont understand.
posted by Fenshwee at 3:07 PM on April 2, 2011

That said, I do think he had control issues. I saw it in his life. I did feel, toward the end, that it was his way or the highway- mostly because he was in control of when we saw one another.
posted by Fenshwee at 3:09 PM on April 2, 2011

No, all you know is that he's behaved badly and with deliberate disregard for the pain you would feel. You cannot possibly know the state of his soul. Thinking you could would be judging him. It's bad enough that he's mistreated you.
posted by tel3path at 3:11 PM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

You sound like a strong, intelligent woman who knows what she wants. I think he is a coward and is intimidated by having that conversation with you, because you'd ask him questions he doesn't want to answer, so he's just trying to melt away into the shadows. Yes, a cowardly, disrespectful jerk.
posted by Diag at 3:13 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Do you think that he feels crappy? Is he sad about it? Does he miss me? Does he know on some level he lost a good thing? Or is he just whistling a happy tune and moving right along?

Do you want to be with someone who makes you feel crappy? With someone who makes you sad? Rather than torturing yourself with whether or not someone considers losing you a bad thing, rejoice that you are better able now to find yourself a good thing.

You are doing the thing that I have done so many times in the past - you are making this relationship all about him. "Does he like me? Why won't he call me? What did I do wrong? How does he see me? If I do things this way will he like me more? What if I don't text him, will that make me more appealing in his eyes?" In doing so you are prioritizing his wants, his needs, his whims.

It's very hard to do but you need to look at future relationships in terms of YOU. Does this man treat me the way I deserve to be treated? Does this man respect me and my time? When I have concerns can we talk about them in a mature way?

You did that with this gentleman, which is great - you told him what you wanted, like a grown up, and he (obviously) does not want the same things, or at least not with you. That doesn't mean you suck and he finally realized it, it just means that it didn't work out with you two. Happens all the time.

Keep dating. It helps.
posted by amicamentis at 3:17 PM on April 2, 2011 [9 favorites]

I would be careful about making this about him being a bad person who delights in hurting others or who is devoid of all feeling for others. This is extremely unlikely.

Much more likely, he is just human being who is good at some things and bad at others. Ignoring you hurts you a lot more than it costs him. It's easy to put off breaking bad news to someone (and to rationalize that he had already done so by saying that you guys did not have a future) when you have a lot going on in life and the other person likes you more than you like them.

He treated you badly. That's all you know.

The best thing you can do is just accept his humanity, his weaknesses, and that this relationship is O-V-E-R.

Again: the relationship is OVER.

Now, go do something awesome with your life. Take the next 30 days and set a goal for yourself that is amazing. 30 days from now, you could be looking back from the perspective of your vacation plans, your in-shape body, your side business, your repainted apartment, your half-written novel, or whatever, and be really proud of what you've achieved.
posted by metametababe at 3:21 PM on April 2, 2011 [7 favorites]

It's just that he decided that I wasn't worth it. That's what makes me feel just,...like crap.

Don't blame yourself for his crappy behavior. He's got an ex wife who is the mother of his children who ended up cheating on him so either he wasn't great at being in a relationship or he wasn't great at picking a healthy partner. If he's the judge, you don't want to catch his eye in that way, because he essentially wants someone that any healthy person would know isn't worth it. It is precisely because you're worth it that he doesn't want you.
posted by anniecat at 3:28 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Metametababe, I agree, I won't go there in the "he purposely hurt me" thing. I don't think he planned and strategized. I think, like the bright helpful folk have said saliently, he handled it badly. Was jerky. was cowardly. I wonder though if he feels bad. That's it. There's no way to know- for sure- but I am sure that many of the Meta community has been through it, so I ask.
posted by Fenshwee at 3:31 PM on April 2, 2011

So, I've been thinking about this "high road" thing a lot lately. I took the high road, too, even as I was incredibly disappointed and hurt at how things turned out (after 4 years). The thing I continue to have to work on is remembering that taking the high road out is for MY benefit -- not to prove a point or enlighten him (or even, in the very early days of the break-up, as a device to get him to "wake up" and realize what he's losing). The high road sucks because it's your journey only and it can be very lonely. But when you know it's the right thing to do, as I think you know, you just gotta keep to it. The hope is, we'll bring the memory and wisdom of this thing to the next thing, which are tools to help your "picker" pick better. Good luck.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:32 PM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

And yes, to answer your headline, it is over.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:33 PM on April 2, 2011

I appreciate the feedback I am getting on this string, because, as crazy as it may sound, I have been thinking it wouldn't surprise me if he showed up at my door one day within the next few weeks- it wouldn't. He's done it before. And I think, had I not bounced this off of the people here, that I would probably have bent with a heart felt apology. I would have. I have to keep remembering what I already know- but really remember it- for the time if he does come back - that I know in my heart- that I am not getting what I need from this relationship. Even with an apology it would not change the reality.
posted by Fenshwee at 3:39 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Jesus, I made a bad choice to date this guy. I have a lousy picker it seems- you see it all so clearly when I questioned my intution and gut so often.

No no no. How many times have you seen an interview on TV where the local news is interviewing the long-time neighbor of a serial killer and the neighbor says, "Well, that guy didn't seem like a murderer."

There's no way to really be able to tell. If I knew him in person and thought he was a decent person, I too would wonder why a guy who is capable of being nice could be so rude to a woman he's dating.
posted by anniecat at 3:47 PM on April 2, 2011

For whatever it's worth, a friend of mine did meet him over at my house one night as we were getting ready to go out, and when I asked her at a later date, what she thought, the word she used was odd- she said "he seemed nice and all, but a little bitter".

I didn't see that at all. But it stuck with me. Maybe he is bitter about women. It's just an odd choice of adjectives.
posted by Fenshwee at 3:52 PM on April 2, 2011

>I wonder though if he feels bad. That's it. There's no way to know- for sure- but I am sure that many of the Meta community has been through it, so I ask.

Doubt it. Does he in some insignificant, essentially meaningless way wish that he had handled things better? Maybe. Unless he's a sociopath, probably, even.

Is he legitimately hurting over the end of your relationship and the fact that he did not handle the ending with grace? The sad reality of relationships is that the person who no longer wants the relationship does not feel badly about it. Guilt, at most, and not in large doses.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:59 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

For some reason I have come back to this question, wondering if there might be another explanation for his rudeness. This line in your question caught my eye:

he thinks ultimately that I'd be bored with his life with his children- that I am so busy and do so many things- which is true- but it's because I'm single.

When you say you sare "so busy" and "do so many things," what do you mean? I ask because it IS plausible that someone would pre-emptively break up with another person, because that other person's life seems richer and fuller than the first person thinks his life will ever be. Perhaps he doesn't think he can compete with your social calendar. Maybe he thinks that if things get serious with you, ultimately he will bore you like he bored his first wife. Maybe you have a bunch of male friends that he is threatened by.

If he is dutifully going to work and raising his kids, and trying to balance a relationship with you -- maybe he got overwhelmed. No excuse for rudeness, but maybe pulling away was his way of dealing with what felt like a crisis for him.

All indications of your question are that it was a good, substantial relationship you had with this guy. Are you sure there isn't something in your life (not something that is "your fault") that has triggered a self-protective mechanism that's left over from his experience of being cheated on?
posted by jayder at 4:00 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fenshwee, just a quick note: He probably feels a bit bad about it. Have you ever blew off or ignored a guy who really liked you? You probably felt kind of icky about it...

But not nearly as terrible as the person you blew off or ignored. They were really hurt.

That's the nature of rejection. He feels a bit bad at ending the relationship. You feel horrible at being rejected. It's not even, and it's not his fault or yours. You are in a bad position, given that you want a relationship with him and he doesn't. Probably at this very minute, there is someone else in that position with regard to you -- a shy co-worker or a guy on a bus who lusts after you visibly. They want you and can't have you. If you spent three months with them, and then dumped them, they would feel hurt just as you are.

It's no one's fault, but it's not even, and nothing will make it even.
posted by metametababe at 4:03 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

J. Wilson, I have felt guilt at the way I ended a realtionship - that was very difficult to extricate myself from because it was a 7 year relationship- that I should have ended a long time before it. I ended it suddenly and it sucked. And you know what- J. Wilson, I felt guilt and definitely pain. Definitely. I hurt someone who didn't deserve to be hurt. This realtionship ended 5 years ago and though I don't wish I was still in it, I still suffer from the pain I kow I inflicted on him. Even though it was the only way. I stand by it. But, guilt, at least for me, carries with it feelings. Long lasting.
posted by Fenshwee at 4:04 PM on April 2, 2011

Jayder, DEFINITALY. DEFINITELY. I do have a busy social calendar. I think what he liked so much about our spending time together, is that it took him out of for a little while, what he feels is his mundane life. He used that word with me- and you're so smart for figuring that. He said- he thinks I'd be bored in his life with his children. That he leads a very mundane life. That I'm always doing things.

I said in response to that, you can't say how I'd feel- only I can- and I can tell you - I love children, I love family life. I am busy, primarily because I don't have a family to keep me busy at home, but if I did, I'd be happy with the routine. I am a bit of a hausfrau. I like keeping my home, I like cooking. i do homework with my niece and nephew weekly and its some of my favorite time. But what he responded is, with a sort of knowing tone- HIS knowing, not mine- YOU THINK you'd like it, but you wouldn't.

I said, whether I'm with your family, someone else's or a child of my own, I'll still be active. I'll still travel. WITH my family. I'll still go skiing. With my kids. I am a family person at heart.

But I think you're right. My friend said she thought he was jealous of my social life- and a little suspicious about the men I'd meet when I'd go out and do things (which by the way- is ridiculous- I wanted only to be with him-- but there's no way I could and should need to defend something that wasn't the case-)
posted by Fenshwee at 4:12 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why would you care at this point? He was a jerk to you, you two are not a good match and here you are second guessing yourself when the truth is you have a LOT to offer and deserve better than a bitter divorced lawyer on the rebound.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:21 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

[folks, don't want to be too negative here, but this is a thread for answering the OPs question and not continuing a longer discussion into the mind of someone who isn't here. OP, you are welcome to add commentary but this can't just turn into a chatty thread about the demise of your relationship. Sorry.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:24 PM on April 2, 2011

OK I'll keep note. Point taken. However, it's not totally off course for my question.
posted by Fenshwee at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2011

I don't think it would be an explanation for his rudeness.

But sometimes, I think, people break relationships off in ways that are not very kind, but that does not necessarily mean that the person doing this is not a good person.

St. Alia -- I don't think he was totally a jerk here. Yes, freezing her out for two weeks was being a jerk, but other than that, it sounded like a solid, promising relationship. If there had been other hallmarks of jerkishness, I'd be more confident in saying "good riddance," but she says he's a solid citizen, loves his kids, was very giving of his time to her (almost all of his free nights were spent with her), they had great sexual chemistry ... He doesn't sound like a jerk.

Yes, he broke things off in a jerkish way. But what if there's a reason why he did it that way? What if he reconsiders and wants to give it another chance? Is there anything in the question that would lead us to say "you absolutely shouldn't give this man another chance"? I don't see this as quite so absolute.
posted by jayder at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2011

If he wanted another chance he would have put more effort into contacting her. I tend to think people act exactly as they wish to act.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:39 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's correct, he wasn't a jerk. These last 2 weeks he's been a jerk but he was not one throughout. If he came back, comes back, it's cloudy for me. It really is.
posted by Fenshwee at 4:51 PM on April 2, 2011

So sad to read the end of this.

- because he's a control freak, he probably will come back. But deep down it will be for all the wrong reasons. There's really no excuse for how terrible you've been made to feel. He could have behaved well and didn't. Don't teach him it's ok to shit on people's feelings. I'm sad to see you are already talking yourself out of doing right by yourself.

- bitter, jealous, or petty men won't treat you well or be loving partners.

If he shows up on your door, it's because you had the last word - NOT because he wants you back. It's grandstanding and manipulation. Meanwhile, you deserve a sincere and real PARTNER.

If he shows up, ignore him. Choose YOU.
posted by jbenben at 5:25 PM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

You are analyzing this so much because you are hurting. Have you read the new studies that say the pain of heartache behaves in the brain similarly to physical pain? You may be in pain and trying to figure it out in hopes of stopping the pain. Trying to figure out what he is thinking is a way of trying to find escape from the pain.

Also, did you read what you said about him?:

"Maybe a little paranoid, maybe a little cynical and sarcastic- maybe a little cheap- definitely not one to talk about or share emotions." (this was in your FIRST paragraph.)

Once the hurt is gone and you can look with clarity, you might see that he wasn't right for you anyways and find relief in that.
posted by Vaike at 5:33 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sorry, gotta disagree with Jayder. Three months is not enough time to say, Oh, he was ultimately a really good guy, he just broke it off badly. Of course you'll mostly see the good parts in the first 90 days, that doesn't mean he's not a jerk.

Make no mistake, warning you about his boring existence was his way of launching a pre-emptive strike -- pointing out how busy you are and how mundane his life with the kids is and how it ultimately wouldn't suit you -- to set up his exit scenario. Maybe not with malice aforethought, but he was preparing, even if he wasn't aware of it.

One last thing, 90 days is too soon for you to meet his kids if there's even a chance you are not for real. I think when you expressed that interest -- which may have been entirely justified given your level of intimacy (but obviously not HIS) -- he got spooked, plain and simple. He was simply not ready for that and hightailed it out of there.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:15 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thinkpiece, I have do clarify, I didn't talk about wanting to meet his kids now. I asked if he saw it on the horizon- after having clarified that I think it's too early now as well. But if he didn't see that happening in the future...etc... You're painting a different scenario than the conversation. My point was that I'd do the same thing- I wouldn't introduce my children to a new realtionship. But he had to know, if it was heading there. If he saw that happening. If he can't answer that in 3 months- well, I think that's bs.
posted by Fenshwee at 5:47 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

OK, fair enough!
posted by thinkpiece at 5:51 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fenshwee, I agree with anniecat that a lot of this is the dating culture. Like everyone says, we don't know exactly what was going on in the man's mind but, to me, it's likely that he acted this way because he didn't know any better.You start dating, you get into a quasi-monogamous relationship pretty quickly: how are you supposed to break it off? A lot of people seem to feel that phasing the relationship out is simply the best way to do it. But, the way dating seems to do these days, the decision is often made at a point where they're a big part of your life already.

If I were single again, I think I would try to avoid this situation by dating multiple people. But then I'd have to figure out how many of them to sleep with.
posted by BibiRose at 10:04 AM on April 3, 2011

I'm monogomous, I can't be- don't want to be- anything else. I am sure it would probably be hipper and easier if I wasn't. But once I sleep with someone regularly, I just can't, don't want to- be with multiple partners. When I have, I've been racked with the feeling that it wasn't right all through the experience. Maybe next time I hold off sleeping with someone until I know we are committed but how realistic is that in your mid-30's? Wait 2 months, 3 months before you sleep with someone? I don't think that's realistic.
posted by Fenshwee at 10:23 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

BibiRose, I can tell you how you are supposed to break it off- you say, "I'm sorry, I like you, I can't do this. I just don't think we're a good match" No harm, no foul. He could have said it on the phone when we were talking. He could have said it in a 2 sentence email afterwards. Leaving someone hanging after you've spent all your free time together for 3 months- isn't a first date that you can just not call back and they get the message. It deserves a respectful- normal, human, break up. I could have handled it- The hanging there in the wind, that was hurtful.
posted by Fenshwee at 10:27 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I appreciate your feedback and thoughts and I will save this string for the helpful things to remember and focus on. .
posted by Fenshwee at 10:39 AM on April 3, 2011

I think that often when people project relationship concerns on to the other person (i.e. "he thinks ultimately that I'd be bored with his life with his children") they're actually saying how they themselves feel about the relationship without taking responsibility for it. By saying, "I'm worried for you," he gets to be the considerate compassionate one rather than saying, "I don't see a future for us" and being the heartbreaker.
posted by easy_being_green at 11:55 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Jbenben, I agree. Those were my thoughts too.
posted by Fenshwee at 9:27 AM on April 4, 2011

I'm sorry this happened, but you are right to have ended it. Mourn it, really hard, and realize that breakups ARE physically painful because it's actually a biological reaction and you cannot HELP it - but you are worthy of love.

If it didn't hurt, it meant nothing; celebrate the fact that you felt this deeply for someone else and got out before the hurt could be prolonged. Your feelings for him were real; if he'd felt as deeply as you did, he would've found a way to stop hurting you the moment a breakup seemed imminent.

He's not ready to date yet. You are, but should take a break until you feel better. Find someone who respects you - but be alone for awhile, at least until you've accepted that you are not a Bad Person. Hugs.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:15 PM on April 5, 2011

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