Help me get over being dumped for the first time.
September 10, 2011 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Help me get over being dumped for the first time.

Hello. I'm 21 years old. At the end of my junior year in college, I got into my first ever relationship with someone. I had been a pretty shy, non-agressive dude in high school, so all friendships w/the opposite sex never got into anything remotely serious.

Anyways, when the school year was over, we both went back home, agreeing that we would resume our growing relationship once school started back up again. Over the summer, we kept in touch. We had some great interactions and a lot of fun just talking online. It was a pretty lonely summer for me, so whenever we got to talk I got more excited and subsequently more attached to this person. In a couple months time, I was really looking forward to going back. The reasons for that being of course to get out of the lonely, depressing suburban drudgery of my hometown, and also to reconnect with friends and most importantly, this special friend of mine. A few weeks before school starts, she stops contacting me. This goes on for about a week, which is definitely out of the ordinary. I try to initiate conversations, but it's like talking to a brick wall. When I tell her that I was coming back to school shortly, its met with "I'm going to be pretty busy. I'm sure we'll see each other around." I didn't know how to take that. I kept assuring myself I was just being a needy wimp, and that she probably was indeed very busy/exhausted. Fast forward about four weeks, and it's pretty clear that she is completely ignoring me. We've been in the same town after being separated for months, and nothing. Text messages are met with a cold unresponsiveness. It's like she completely forgot I existed.

I know that people say the first breakup is the worst, and I hope they're right, because it's taken a pretty big emotional toll on me. I guess the fact that she was my one of my only confidants through the last couple months makes the dagger dig a little deeper. Seeing/experiencing anything that resembles our past days tears up my insides, and sometimes I just want to cry.

It has occurred to me that I'm taking this way too hard. Our relationship was sort of in a premature stage when we both left. We still had a lot to learn about one another. I think I just became too attached. I unfriended her on Facebook, which I thought of at the time as some defiant act of moving on and letting her go from my life, but I think in reality I think it was a desperate plea for attention. I'm trying to move on, but it's really hard. I really don't want the first couple months of my last year of college saturated with loneliness and depression.

I just wanted to ask you, MeFi, how have you moved on in the past? Is there anything I can say to this girl to possible get more closure and make the bad feelings not so prolonged? Thanks.
posted by staticscreen to Human Relations (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Time will heal all wounds. Give it time. Be kind to yourself in the meantime.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 2:26 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's truly horrible, but you will get over it.
My only advice is to hang out with your friends more, keep busy and slowly the moments you can forget about her will get longer and longer.

I still think about my first girlfriend occasionally, and if I think hard it's still painful (she ran off with a bass player) - but it all fades and blurs into the past eventually.
posted by dickasso at 2:31 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I remember in the midst of the sturm und drang of my first major breakup, an older girlfriend of mine said, in an offhand way, " you know, in 5 years, you won't even remember what his face looked like." I was a little offended at the time, ans did not believe it at the time, but I came to hold onto the (then) slim hope that it would be true. I find well more than 5 years later that it is totally true.
posted by oflinkey at 2:32 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Block her on everything. Delete her number from your phone. Do not get drunk and decide to talk to her.

Don't be too critical of yourself. Getting attached is normal. The way she broke up with you was incredibly rude and uncool and has prolonged the process making it more difficult to move on. This sucks.

Time will make everything better. In the meantime, be out with friends as much as possible.

It's okay to be sad. It's okay to cry.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:35 PM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

I guess the fact that she was my one of my only confidants through the last couple months makes the dagger dig a little deeper.

Recognizing this can help you move on from this relationship, and it can also help you with future relationships. Make more friends, do more things, have more plans, be more busy, etc., and you will not put so much pressure on a single relationship to meet all your needs.
posted by headnsouth at 2:37 PM on September 10, 2011

Oh, 21 year-old me, crying face down on the pillow, thinking your life is over and meaningless and you'll never connect with anyone ever now that (insert ex-bf's name) is gone. I'm going to tell you a few things. You'll never believe them, but you need to trust me. This is the cycle of life, and this is how it goes.

Time marches on and as things change he will fade away, bit by bit, until you no longer think of him. I know that right now that prospect is actually painful. He means so much to you now, and the idea that he will someday mean virtually nothing to you and be gone from your life forever makes you sad rather than comforts you. I know. But that's why it's important to go forward full-force and not look back. You can never have the past back, so you need to create a wonderful future for yourself. Get extremely active, so active you crawl into bed exhausted every night. Go to everything everyone invites you to. Join groups. Talk to people. Travel. Try new hobbies. I'm not saying it won't still hurt sometimes, maybe for a very long time, late at night when it's quiet, but if you're filling your life with other positive things and new people the hole won't seem so big. And heck, you won't just be filling a'll be fucking enjoying life! The world is huge and wonderful! I know you don't believe me, but you have some awesome experiences ahead of you -- trips to new places, fun-filled nights with new friends, a book that you never want to end, a night full of stars so beautiful it takes your breath away. Don't drop out of life now. You'll miss those things. And here's another secret. When you're happy and engaged in life and meeting new people, this is when you're more likely to meet another romantic partner. 21 year-old self, you are going to meet some fantastic new people, even more fantastic than (insert ex-bf here). And some of the best people you'll ever date in the next ten years are the people you met when you were out enjoying your life. But don't do those things just to find a date. Do them because life is fucking wonderful and you are fucking wonderful. These break-ups can wreck havoc on your self-esteem (Why wasn't I good enough?) so say it again: You are fucking wonderful.
posted by unannihilated at 2:49 PM on September 10, 2011 [17 favorites]

Yeah, it sucks. But you'll live. It's probably that much more acute because you spent all summer looking forward to seeing her again and not enjoying life.

Which leads to the next bit of advice: enjoy life. Don't wait for things to happen to you, make them happen for yourself. You'll be a more attractive person for it.
posted by adamrice at 3:29 PM on September 10, 2011

Is there anything I can say to this girl to possible get more closure and make the bad feelings not so prolonged?

Well, you could tell her she acted really abominably, because she did. But it's unlikely to give you any closure or make the bad feelings go away any quicker, and when you're still going through this emotional turmoil, you'll have to end up fighting the urge to text her all "no no no I didn't mean it!" two hours later, which will just make you feel worse. Best route for your own peace of mind here is to block/delete her on everything, cut off all contact, and occasionally let yourself rehearse the withering look you'll give her on the day she bounces up to you like nothing happened and suggests being friends again.

Meanwhile, it's just... going to hurt for a while. There isn't much you can do to get beyond that other than just power through it: the I-will-cry-forever phase, the every-song-on-the-radio-is-about-the-two-of-us phase, the why-am-I-still-sad-something-must-be-deeply-wrong-with-me, phase, the well-fine-I'll-go-out-and-have-fun-but-she'll-always-live-in-my-heart phase. Power through.

Because you won't cry forever. Nobody does. And the music thing gets easier when you start making up your own breakup playlist, because you might start off with the saddest mopiest 'Don't They Know It's The End Of The World' stuff out there, but there will come a point when you find yourself sitting on the couch singing along to 'I Will Survive' and punching the air. Getting over someone always takes longer than you expect it to, and you'll get to the other side, just like the rest of us did. And as for the future? Your heart will move on.
posted by Catseye at 3:33 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

The most important thing I've learned about relationships is that there's no such thing as closure, and if there is such a thing you can only provide it for yourself.

There is nothing she can say to make you feel better. If she lists your good traits you'll feel patronized, if she lists your bad traits you'll feel angry. You have to internalize the idea that this didn't work out and that sucks, but I'm a good person and things will work out for the best.

Otherwise stay as busy as you can, don't initiate contact, and if she gets in touch with you be polite but distant. Punching a pillow a few times might be good too.
posted by auto-correct at 4:29 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

She probably knew and knows her behavior was shitty and isn't going to apologize for it. She stopped caring a long time ago.

It really does take time. It might or might not help you to remind yourself, when you miss her, that she totally sucks.

But hey, good news! You had your first girlfriend! You learned some things about yourself and about girls, and before you know it if you hang in there you'll have your second.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:36 PM on September 10, 2011

Try not to take it personally; at that age, you're learning more about yourself, for better or worse. This lends itself to acting selfishly (like her behaviour demonstrates).

Stay calm and carry on.
posted by stef0knee at 5:08 PM on September 10, 2011

It has occurred to me that I'm taking this way too hard.

I'm going to go a touch against the grain here and say that you should be wise about how you treat yourself during this mourning period. I truly think you're going through a great deal of pain and whether you're 21 or 41, that hurts man. The age it happens at doesn't change the level of the pain or how legitimate that pain is. A tonne has gone on in my life but nothing matched the brutal smack of rejection from that first real girlfriend walking away from a relationship in almost the identical manner as what you've described here. On a fundamental level you have not been treated with dignity by not having the relationship acknowledged in its ending. This was too hard for her because this would require her to admit that she almost certainly had already met someone else but didn't want to admit to cheating on you. It's a total douche move.

There's so many things that could be said here man, but I think the absolute best advice I could give you is to give yourself a deadline for how long you're going to carry that broken heart around with you...because the next girl is not going to be attracted at all to you if you're still walking around torn in half. So, sit down and wallow in that feeling because only you and you alone are the arbiter for how long the pain will last inside. But it's a burning black hole like someone sucked your lungs out and pushed you down the stairs and for sure you should have the self-respect to admit to yourself that you've been burned here before you try and brush it off as nothing else.

Once that deadline passes though, stick to that promise of letting go of that pain and putting a moratorium on any more analysis of what happened. Go to the gym, read some books, and eat healthily. Next time round, you might consider going easy on going all in with your feelings before getting a real good sense of the other person...because yes, you probably are taking this too hard in part because you invested too much too soon and this more than likely scared her off.

Peace and love.
posted by fantasticninety at 5:27 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

There is no such thing as "closure." Talking to her more will just make you feel worse. Just cut off contact for a while. Maybe you can be friends later, but honestly it doesn't sound like she's worth it, since she didn't even have the courtesy to tell you that she wanted to end your relationship.

Just take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, get lots of sleep, work hard, get immersed in a hobby, go to concerts, whatever floats your boat. None of that should involve said girl.
posted by number9dream at 5:54 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was in your shoes- attached to this boy, away over a summer, had great emails, looked forward to seeing him. Talked about him as my 'someone special- well, someone who might be special one day'.

He wasn't into me, and let me down through a conversation. It sucked. He was the first guy who I was REALLY into- not just a crush, but real feelings, you know?

Anyway, my counsellor suggested this: Print out a photo of him on a sheet of paper, and write a letter to the person. Do not send it. Burn it, hide it, bury it- do what you need to, but do not send it. The act of writing what *I* was feeling in a way that wasn't creepy or trying to get the relationship back really helped me.

And getting out and having a stupid little crush on someone else was a great victory sign that I was finally over him.
posted by titanium_geek at 6:47 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't call her, text her email her. Closure is up to you, not to her.

Pick a time every day to feel bad, then cut it down to 1x a week. Listen to sad music, feel bad, but only at the allotted time.

The best advice I ever got "Be a grownup--take the hit" was harsh but true. You heart is stronger when the broken places. Now, you're a man with a past. Far most interesting than a guy without one.

Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:56 PM on September 10, 2011

Is there anything I can say to this girl to possible get more closure and make the bad feelings not so prolonged?


There just isn't. Not when you're drunk, not when you're sober, not when you're sad, not when you're angry, not when you're happy. In fact, go back up and read the young rope-rider's comment again.

I'm really, really sorry that you're going through this. I've been there, believe me. And you must also believe me that there is no magic remedy that can take the pain away. But you know what? If there were one, I don't think most people would be as kind, sympathetic, loving and generally decent as they are.

*I'm about to sound like my own mother, but.....* You will get through this. You are still the same person, remember, as you were before! You still have the same talents, goals, dreams, and work ethic! No romantic partner, no matter how shittily they treat you (and she did treat you badly, I will say), can take away the best parts of you. And sometimes, even though this sounds weird, they can do you a favor by making you turn back to your best self. I promise. The best way you can come out of this is by learning some self-reliance, by leaning on your real friends, by leaning on yourself and developing/discovering the strengths that you have. *My mom rocks.*

In closing, I will say this. Out of all the happily married and/or partnered people on this site, I am willing to bet you my next paycheck that AT LEAST 80% of us are not with their first lover/partner/crush ever. I will happily provide my own self as exhibit 1, and I wasn't kidding when I said "I've been there." You are a good, loving, intelligent, articulate and caring person, and you will get over this.

I'm really sorry for your pain. We're here for you, and you can MeMail me if you want to. I leave you with this: You will get through this and come out the other side even better.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 8:01 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

My best learning experience from breakups is to completely cut myself off from them. Otherwise you only prolong the misery and the faint hope that you'll get back together.

Also, (and maybe not right now, but eventually) look at what you learned from the relationship. All relationships are a learning experience that you can use to make your next one better.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:22 PM on September 10, 2011

I kept assuring myself I was just being a needy wimp, and that she probably was indeed very busy/exhausted.

You've learned something important from this experience, which is that you should go ahead and ask for what you want in a relationship. If you want more attention than the other person is giving you, go ahead and ask for it, because if you ask and she freaks out and breaks up with you then she wasn't for you, and it wasn't going to work out anyway. Ask early on for the kind of relationship you want, so you can end things early if it's not going to work, before you get too invested.

That aside, this is probably going to hurt. I'll say some things that won't really make you feel better, but once you do feel better, you'll look back at them and realize that they were true. A person who breaks up with you by just going cold all of a sudden and not answering your calls is a shitty person, or at least is acting like a child, and you're better off without her. When my first girlfriend broke up with me, it hurt like hell, but eventually I asked myself this: "what were you going to do, marry the first girl who went out with you?" It had to end sometime, and it's better to get that first breakup under your belt, so you know that, yes, it stings, but it's also survivable.

Here's what you do for now. Don't try to stay friends with her. Don't try to be nice to her and keep her in your life. Don't try to understand her perspective on anything. Fuck her, she's gone. Don't listen to sad songs - listen to angry songs or happy songs. There's a reason everybody loves Cee Lo's "Fuck You."
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:01 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ok, um, I have to ask this since it seems no one else has: Are you absolutely sure she believed you two were in a relationship? That she was your girlfriend? Yes, her behaviour may mean she's just a jerk. But it also may mean she felt much more casually about you than you did her. Given your lack of romantic history and your "shy, non-aggressive" personality, I am wondering if it might not be the case that you assumed she felt about you the same way you did about her, rather than having a conversation about your status and where you two were headed.
posted by parrot_person at 9:22 PM on September 10, 2011

Parrot_person, you may as well be right. Her being in relationships before, and me, not, it's fair to assume that I overshot our commitments. Like I said before: I perhaps did get too emotionally involved in this. While we never clearly branded it as a relationship, we had been getting intimate, exchanging messages every day, with plenty of "I miss you's" while on break. She may or may not have wanted a long-term relationship. Yet, given the physical and verbal contact that was going on, I don't think it was out-of-line for me to become emotionally invested in this person on a deeper level.

Even if she never wanted to resume a relationship, I still think it's a bit cold just to give me the silent treatment and completely move on like I was never even apart of her life.

Anyways, I want to say how much these responses have been helping me so far. I'm feeling better about the near-future already. I thank you all for dealing with such a tired, clichéd, snowflake-y issue with consideration and kindness.
posted by staticscreen at 9:48 PM on September 10, 2011

The first time I was dumped, it hurt pretty badly. It was the first relationship I had been in and I was in shock, because I thought things were going pretty well. I am a very shy person and it was difficult for me to ask this person out in the first place.

The break-up hurt for a long time, and I was pretty bitter with him for dumping me. My self-esteem has never been very high, but that was a pretty low point in my life.

Upon reflection, I wasn't a very interesting or fun boyfriend, mostly because I still hadn't come out of the closet and there were a lot of issues around this that progressively made my first bf (a somewhat older, worldly man) understandably unwilling to continue the relationship.

While my first break-up was mostly my fault, I'm not writing this to say that the break-up is your fault, but to say that break-ups happen all the time, and that people don't always fit together — often for reasons that seem unclear at the time, but which resolve in time.

What I can also say is that you will find someone for you. Time does heals wounds, and it gives you the ability to look back on what worked and what didn't. Be strong. Move on. You'll be a better partner for it, when you do find the Right One.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:11 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

To quote the bard:

"And I've never gotten used to it, I've just learned to turn it off"
posted by Chekhovian at 10:41 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dunno if this is useful for you, but obviously pain and joy follow each other all through life - nothing lasts. Nothing. Suffering comes from non-acceptance of pain. Learning to accept pain only comes through experience of pain. This is one of those experiences. Greet it with a tender acceptance of yourself and your needs (not your wants), and it will enrich you. It will enrich you anyway, but will do that sooner with acceptance.
posted by nickji at 1:22 AM on September 11, 2011

Wow, that's a shitty-ass way to break up with someone. Fuck that piece of shit for making you give a damn.

Sorry if that isn't terribly constructive.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:38 AM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

fantasticninety nails it regarding taking care of yourself. Eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, start a new exercise regiment, and try to get 7-9 hours of sleep/night.

Don't let this bummer define your senior year. Is there a club or activity on campus you've been curious about? This is the year to do it.

I'm sorry your first relationship ended like this. People can really suck at this stuff. This too shall pass.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 9:31 AM on September 12, 2011

I'm actually going through exactly this thing now, except without the summer break: just the suddenly, one day, she's busy, she doesn't return calls or texts, etc., after about a year of dating. I was considering posting an AskMe of my own, so I think I'll just privately co-opt yours. I'm not enjoying it very much at all, and this isn't my first relationship. I can only imagine how much worse it must feel to think that this might be how all relationships go.

It's not, though. It's just how relationships with jerks go, even jerks you never thought would be that jerkish. It does get better, eventually, but you kind of have to go through the pain of it to get to the other side, because denial doesn't help. But I don't think you're going to get closure on this from her, because the thing you really want closure on is, "How could you treat me this way like I'm nothing?" And she won't have an answer that isn't a shrug, because she's a jerk.

There is closure, though. Realize that you fell for the best version of this person, and that's because you're a caring person yourself who wants to see the best in other people. Realize that you didn't do anything wrong, she did. You calling yourself needy or wimpy or whatever is you speaking with what you perceive to be her voice, in an attempt to discard your own feelings and play by her rules. Her rules are shit. You're not needy, or wimpy; you're a person with feelings who deserves respect. You're better off without someone who is so passive-aggressive that she'll let you stew in uncertainty and pain for a month, just so she doesn't have to "actually" break up with you or put herself out for five seconds.

So now I'll try to take my own advice. But, yeah, the only thing you can really do is give it time. It feels for a while like it's just going to be this painful forever, until you start to feel it lessen, and it does lessen. In far less time than you think, this will be an amusing relationship horror story to drop during complain sessions with your friends, and it will have little to no power anymore. Give yourself permission to feel bad, and then permission to feel better. It'll be ok.
posted by Errant at 6:04 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't contact her. Play videogames, bitch to your friends, start exercising, but whatever you do do not contact her.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:38 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

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