About those "reformed" ex-boyfriends and girlfriends..
October 16, 2011 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Reformed exes- "suck it and see", or leave it alone?

LONG story short: dude and I sniff around each other for almost ten years. I was in love with him, but dating never really worked out. Sometimes I wasn't available, or had a boyfriend. More often, he wasn't ready for any sort of relationship. We always slept together anyway, with me pretending to not care. I got fed up eventually and went NC. A years-long period of not-talking led him to realize maybe he was wrong and we should start over. We did, with a ton of talking and a tiny bit of visiting, and he claims to be crazy about me now. Swoon! He's also apologized for our past. I believe he is sincere, however, my anxiety issues might be holding me back from 100% trusting him not to hurt me again. I waffle between feeling elated and feeling terrified; I don't want to go back to feeling like the rejected person I was for so many years. He still has faults, and I'm aware of them. I don't think this person has morphed into the perfect guy, but I do think that we are old enough now to work on things.

I've known from day one that this guy was just, IT for me. I never was able to stop thinking about him. I think he needed to sew his oats for awhile, which he's done. We've both also done a lot of growing up. We're both attractive and have/could have our pick of other sex partners if we wanted. We're both upfront about any 'currents'.

Am I just a sucker? A hopeless romantic? Has anyone had a situation like this actually work out- you get what you always wanted, and it's happily ever after? It seems too good to be true. We are long-distance right now, which makes everything feel a little heavier than it actually is. Please share your thoughts with me below.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
you went NC? north carolina?
posted by ian1977 at 7:23 PM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have a feeling a lot of Mefites are going to go with "don't waste your time", but from my read of the situation, he was always fairly honest about not wanting commitment, and now he's had a change of heart. I'd say barring any hidden shades of fucked-upness that you haven't communicated, give him a chance.

The LDR thing, though-- could be problematic; just use whatever criteria you'd use to determine whether an LDR with any other person would be worthwhile or not.
posted by threeants at 7:23 PM on October 16, 2011

you don't need the permission of internet strangers to date (or dump!) anyone. :)
posted by titanium_geek at 7:25 PM on October 16, 2011 [6 favorites]

you went NC? north carolina?

I think this means "no contact" although I am not totally sure.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:25 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Follow it through! You will find out soon enough.

(yes. absolutely have done this. you really have to follow it all the way through. you don't want to be doing this for another 5 or 10 years, do you?)
posted by jbenben at 7:31 PM on October 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

I'm gonna give you a qualified "maybe." I got back together with a girlfriend 10 years hence and it was awesome, but then we had a blowup over something fundamental and broke up decidedly hastily. We tried again about 3-4 years after that and we bickered like nobody's business, had to see a couples counselor, and imploded. I say try it!
posted by rhizome at 7:34 PM on October 16, 2011

Go for it. You'll only regret not doing it. If you get hurt, that sucks, but at least you won't be left wondering "what if."

From what you've said about him, he doesn't really sound like a horrible person. Usually with respect to relationship questions, I tend to say "forget him!" But this one, you have to go for it.

Personal anecdote. I had a similar situation, followed it through, had a wonderful relationship with my perfect dream guy, and then we broke up and remain friends. If I had never gone for it, I would never had had that experience, and I would constantly be wondering "what if."
posted by katypickle at 7:35 PM on October 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

Committing to any sort of long distance relationship when there are already trust/anxiety issues involved is just too much to deal with. You'll still feel like you are in a purgatorial situation, and you'll constantly be looking for affirmation that you've done the right thingl; meanwhile, anything strange/unexpected/unsatisfying will have all sorts of extra room to echo and freak you out. It's just a matter of time before you begin trying to elicit reactions or spin narratives out of fantasy.

I think it's great that you have gotten some validation from him about your messed up situation in the past, but you need to try and figure out what you're willing to risk. If he turns out not to be IT for you, can/will you accept that outcome?
posted by hermitosis at 7:35 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

You shouldn't be trusting him or yourself 100% anyway, that's a sane response.

But he's willing to give a try, so go for it. It'll be a little bumpy, but if you're clear about the fact you can get off the ride, both to him and yourself, you'll be alright.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:51 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd say give it a go, but set a time limit as to how much (more) time you're going to give it. Three months, six months, something like that. Promise yourself that if things aren't stable and happy between you at that point, you'll move on for real.
posted by orange swan at 7:52 PM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Try it. What's the worst that could happen? It all falls apart and you go NC again and he's out of your life? That's not so different than what you've just been through and apparently it didn't kill you. So do it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:56 PM on October 16, 2011

Try it. The re-visiting of the romance is like the previous romance on fast-forward (or it was for me anyway). The excitement, passion, 'we're meant to be together', followed by bickering, heightened annoyance, reminders of why you broke up in the first place, then...over. But much more quickly. OR you may end up living happily ever after. At least you won't wonder what if...(even though I still do...sometimes!:))
posted by bquarters at 7:57 PM on October 16, 2011

You still think this guy is "it" for you. Of course you need to go for it! It will either work out or not, but at least you'll know.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:15 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you can do this with reasonable expectations, knowing that being long-distance means limited visits, making the most of what time you do have together and (this is the BIG one) open, honest communication to avoid OMGDRAMA, then definitely go for it!

Otherwise you'll always regret not giving it a try. And risks can and do pay off sometimes; you might just end up together.
posted by misha at 8:36 PM on October 16, 2011

When you are old, you'll regret the things you didn't do much more than those you did. There are lots of things that could go wrong if you pursue this, not the least of which is the effect of finding out that he's not 'it' after all could be depressing. But there are lots of things that could well go right. If he is 'it' for you, here's the chance to find out for sure.
posted by dg at 8:40 PM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

You know what you want. Trouble is, he's far away, and so that distance may make you feel bad even if things are working out. But you have to try, because you know what you want. Take it slow and steady, and this time communicate clearly and ask for what you want...and if he won't or can't give it, then try again some other time. No "pretending not to care" this time, to him or to yourself. Good luck!
posted by davejay at 9:03 PM on October 16, 2011

You need to explain to him how you feel, but it will be challenging to do this without scaring the shit out of him. Fundamentally, it boils down to trust. We can't predict the future, so initially it will be difficult for him to commit to you and only you, and not dump you by the side of the road.

But you have to be able to trust that he will communicate with you about the status of the relationship. Try to avoid appearing to be anxious and needy (because what good is a relationship if that is the result). At this stage, you can't really demand commitment, but you should demand trust.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:46 PM on October 16, 2011

Swoon! ... I waffle between feeling elated and feeling terrified; I don't want to go back to feeling like the rejected person I was for so many years

I agree with everyone else and wanted to add that alternating between feelings of elation and terror can be just part of the early stages of falling in love. It's not necessarily unique to your past and doesn't necessarily mean you're making a mistake and can't make it through this phase to a secure and happy relationship. Have fun!

I would check in with yourself about how you'd feel if it doesn't work out and make sure that you won't be mad at yourself for not protecting yourself better. If you can accept that this is an unknown situation that might be wonderful but also might not work out, and if you can pre-forgive yourself in case it goes poorly, then I'd say you are all good to give it a try. If you feel like it's high stakes and you have to keep it from going poorly or else you've failed yourself, then it may not be worth it. Good luck!
posted by salvia at 11:06 PM on October 16, 2011

You guys didn't keep eachother in mind for a DECADE just because. Please follow this through even if it's just to answer the question that's been dangling for ten years.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 2:23 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can't you just talk to him about your fears? He might have apologized for his past actions, but unless you say your piece, you may never feel settled about it... then you can make a decision. Like everyone else said, if you're single now, and you don't try, you'll never know. LDRs are tough though... you didn't really specify where he lives, or how old you are.... the good thing is he's contacted you and things are going well, right?
posted by camylanded at 6:44 AM on October 17, 2011

From your description, there's a sense that you have given him a lot of the control, and feel that the relationship options are his. Nope. They're shared. He does have to be there, be involved, and be good to you if he wants a relationship with you. Reclaim your sense of self.
posted by theora55 at 7:46 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

The only thing tha tgives me pause here is that you are both open about your currents. That to me signifies that you are both into the idea of an open relationship (carry on, now) or that you are not actually in a relationship and have just resumed normal contact (simma down now).

If you or him aren't the open relationship type, then the only way to really know if this will work is to shut down the side relationships and give this a go.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:18 AM on October 17, 2011

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