ldr emotional rollercoaster
October 25, 2011 12:17 PM   Subscribe

After a six month long distance relationship I finally met my boyfriend for the first time last week. I don’t know what to make of the emotional maelstrom that followed.

We met online six months ago in a common interest forum, grew close very fast, found we had an incredible amount in common and started talking regularly on the phone and exchanging photos for hours a night. Before long we were saying we loved each other and deciding to be exclusive until we met. He lives across the country but was planning on moving to where I live already within a year. His feelings for me were probably even more intense than mine, and they worried me a little because I felt they’d inevitably crash and I wouldn’t live up this expectations in real life. He said stuff like he wanted to live with me when he moved, and he was more sure of that than anything in his life. I also knew he had no previous relationship experience at 25 and that he’d never been in love or serious about any girl before me.

Leading up to the meeting I was incredibly nervous and he calmed my fears by telling me he’d love me in person and I had nothing to worry about, that he wouldn’t hurt me, etc. He knew I had a fear of abandonment from childhood and was constantly volunteering stuff like “I’ll never abandon you” and “you can trust me.” He also told me he expected things to be awkward the first few days and that was fine. I don’t think he was misleading me or leading me on, but he just didn’t know himself that well I guess.

Anyway, he flew down to see me a week ago and our first meeting was a surreal encounter. Originally we were going to meet for dinner but our plans got delayed and it was pouring hard outside so we decided to meet up at his hotel and decide from there. He met me in the lounge, held me for a long time and then took me up to his room. We sat down on his bed and drank a little whiskey. I was extremely nervous, and could barely look him in the eye, so in my awkwardness I reached over to kiss him and we started making out. Then he told me to take my clothes off and get under the covers I did. Within minutes we were having sex. He came after a few seconds inside me. That’s when everything changed.

Suddenly he was obviously distant and I asked him what was up. He told me that something was off and he wasn’t feeling the chemistry in person and he didn’t know why. He said it had nothing to do with the way I looked and that I looked exactly like my photos. And he couldn’t pinpoint anything in my personality either. It was just some vague, undefinable chemistry thing. He said he thought it might be partly because we moved too fast and hardly exchanged any words before jumping into bed. He said he felt this disconnect between our relationship from a distance and in real life, like there were two different girls and he couldn’t marry the two in his head. I asked him if he still wanted to be in a relationship and he said he didn’t know. I asked him if he was in love with me and he said he wasn’t feeling it anymore. He wanted to hang out again and see if his feelings grew or changed. I started crying and he tried to comfort me a bit, but it just made me feel worse. He asked me if we could stay friends and still work together on creative projects (that was one of the things we did before), or if it was all or nothing, and I said it was all or nothing. He wanted us to sleep on it and talk more in the morning, but I left immediately.

The next day we had a long conversation over the phone and he kept pushing for us to meet again for dinner so we could get to know each other better but I told him I was wary. Then that night he sent me a flurry of texts saying he had spoken to his sister and was seeing things more in perspective now. He said he had been an idiot the other night, that he wanted us back, felt we were meant to be, that I meant so much to him, that he had put unnecessary expectations on the first encounter. He urged me to meet him again the next day for dinner and a movie and finally I agreed with much trepidation.

We had a wonderful night, and believe it or not it was the first time we were actually talking face to face. It was obvious we were both feeling it. He smiled at one point while we were eating and I said “what?” and he said “I really like you.” He was very physically affectionate…stopping to hug me and nestle into me as we walked around the city, telling me “this feels right” and that it felt again like it had before we met. We went back to his room and had sex again and this time it was entirely different. He told me he loved me and it was clear he felt much closer to me. We saw each other the next night and had another great time and it seemed like we grew even closer.

The next morning I was totally exhausted because I hadn’t been able to sleep at all the last two nights in his bed out of anxiety. We had plans to go to a museum that day but I asked him that morning if I could stay home and rest. He seemed really annoyed but said fine. Still it seemed like the issue was resolved. But that night when I spoke to him it was obvious he was seething with resentment. We had a long argument on the phone. He felt like he hadn’t seen that much of me during his visit and was angry because we only had one more day together until we left. He said I was being unappreciative of the sacrifice he had made to fly out to see me with work and money. He said that I should have come even if I was tired and that he often went 72 hours without sleep. He seemed to think I was trying to punish him for what he had done last week or that I didn’t want to take our relationship into real life or acknowledge that we were together.

He told me that by shortening our time together I had damaged his trust and that he wasn’t feeling “in love” with me even though he loved me because he hadn’t seen enough of me in person. I asked him if he was still 100% committed to me and he said that now it’s only 95%.

I pointed out to him that he had done more to hurt the trust in our relationship by his behavior the week before and he started to subtly blame me for the sex since I was the first to kiss him.

I couldn’t reason with him. It was really weird. He may have just been tired. We had this conversation really late at night – like at 2 in the morning. By the end of the conversation, he had shifted most of the blame onto me and I was groveling and crying. Finally, we decided to just call it a day and hang out as planned the next day for the last day of his visit.

The next morning I woke up feeling terrible and confused after the argument, but when I met him in the city he was in good spirits. Things went well. He was back to being affectionate, telling me he felt like we were connected again, telling me he loved me, talking about finding an apartment with me in six months when he moves here. I know it all sounds suspect but I didn’t get the vibe he was being consciously insincere. I was feeling sick at the end of the day and he took care of me and was very sweet. At one point he asked me how I was feeling about us and I said that I really liked him but was worried he was emotionally unstable. He indicated that he had sort of acted crazy the night before during our argument but said that doesn’t really come out in person.

Right after he left for the airport he sent me a text that said he had so much fun with me that day and was really excited about our future together.

Today I woke up feeling, again, emotionally exhausted and confused.

Here’s the thing I’m really, really crazy about this guy and we have the sort of emotional/intellectual connection I haven’t felt with anybody else. But he put me through the wringer this week and I don’t know what to think. Is it possible he just made some stupid mistakes because of his lack of experience and ineptitude and because of the extreme pressure of meeting for the first time? Should I give him a chance given how strongly I feel? Unfortunately we may not see each other for a few months until he moves but I could potentially fly across the country and visit him for a week before then (he is for this idea).
posted by timsneezed to Human Relations (152 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request -- jessamyn

 
I think you will find someone else with many or most of those positive qualities and few or none of the negative behavior. Don't put yourself through this. It is not normal or okay to act that way. And don't blame yourself for giving it a shot -- I'm sure he can be quite charming, but that doesn't make up for the drama and unpleasantness (to say the least).
posted by theredpen at 12:20 PM on October 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


Oh, boy. There is a lot of emotional manipulation going on here. Whether or not he's doing it on purpose is up for debate, I guess, but he sounds like quite a lot of work to me. It's no wonder you're confused.

If he lived near you, I might say that it was worth pursuing, but given that in order to see each other you've got to fly across the country and that you have no guarantee he's going to act sane once you get there - well. I personally would let this one go.
posted by something something at 12:22 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


He told me that by shortening our time together I had damaged his trust and that he wasn’t feeling “in love” with me even though he loved me because he hadn’t seen enough of me in person. I asked him if he was still 100% committed to me and he said that now it’s only 95%.

Girl. HE damaged YOUR trust by showing up, getting you into bed, and then telling you he wasn't sure he loved you anymore because of some undefinable "problem" with you that he can't name and you can't fix. Acted "sort of crazy" the night before? How about he acted in a way that was and cruel the entire time. Do not go visit him. Do not let him move in with you. Do not pass go, and move on.
posted by liketitanic at 12:23 PM on October 25, 2011 [84 favorites]


I suggest you go back and read the answers to your previous question which was presumably about this same guy. You were worried about drama then. You're worried about drama now. Is there any reason to suspect that the future of this relationship isn't basically drama, drama, drama, then ultimately an explosion of anger, pain and misery?

I'm thinking not.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


This guy is extremely manipulative. He is only happy when things are done exactly on his terms. Please do not put yourself through this. You deserve so much more than this.
posted by Osrinith at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2011 [22 favorites]


He sounds quite unstable. It was a short visit, but it sounds like you spent half of it miserable because of his mood swings. Whether or not it's because of his relationship ineptitude is irrelevant. It sounds like he was as nervous as you but dealt with it by lashing out. That's not a good sign, no matter how you met.
posted by supercres at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


He said that I should have come even if I was tired and that he often went 72 hours without sleep.

This man is not well. Let him go.
posted by litnerd at 12:25 PM on October 25, 2011 [40 favorites]


oy vey.. drama alert.

Here is classically one of the problems with carrying on a long distance relationship with someone you have never met who seems to always speak in absolutes. You both had every right to feel apprehensive and unsure. He had no right to offer guarantees without meeting you. Thinks like smell affect a relationship immensely.

Lets cut to the chase... if he lived near you, you may have a much easier time gauging just what this person is like.. not what they write that they are like, but what they are actually like. The situation you are in? Untenable. No shame, you gave it a shot, red flags where raised. Now he is trying to manipulate the situation so he is not dumped, or perhaps has a possible future sex partner.. who knows. Walk away.
posted by edgeways at 12:27 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I went through something like this when I was younger (19-20)... it happened almost EXACTLY like that actually. We met on a common interest forum... I spent a lot of money to fly down to see him... everything seemed great for awhile and then he told me that I "pressured" him to have sex with me too quickly and that things felt "off". Needless to say, my self esteem at that point was pretty low (so was his, for that matter) and I tried to work it out. It did for awhile...but eventually he cheated on me and that was the sign that let me see that this wasn't a NORMAL relationship and that it never would be.

Granted, I would take a look back at what you've written... the writing's already on the wall with this one! You know this isn't 'right' and that you obviously deserve better, but you want to hold onto it because of the way you feel. Trust me...the way you feel now will go away.... especially if he continues to act the way he is. Good luck!
posted by camylanded at 12:27 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Back in July, the young rope-rider said, "He sounds like someone with a personality disorder who is studying you and charming you in a very systematic way." His behavior certainly continues to be very strange. I think it sounds like you should break things off.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:27 PM on October 25, 2011 [30 favorites]


After a six month long distance relationship I finally met my boyfriend for the first time last week

You were not in a six-month long-distant relationship. Knowing someone online and not in real life is not a relationship.

Agreeing with everyone else, way too much drama. Break it off.
posted by Melismata at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


By the end of the conversation, he had shifted most of the blame onto me and I was groveling and crying.

This right here is enough for me to say that you should absolutely not pursue any further relationship with this guy. He's manipulative. In this very short period of time you spent together, much of it seems to have been a roller coaster of drama and emotion. Life doesn't have to be that way.
posted by Zophi at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2011 [32 favorites]


Hmm.

It's possible that the whole long-distance made-a-special-trip thing made the whole situation especially heavy or fraught or something for both of you, and that NEITHER of you were acting quite "yourself." That's no one's fault, mind you; that's just what happens.

However, he's already planning on moving to where you are. I think him moving in WITH you is a SUPER bad idea, but him moving to where you are gives you both a chance to see how each other is when you're both living in the same city.

So try that. Don't let him move in with you JUST yet -- but you don't necessarily have to totally write him off either. Try tabling the whole serious part of the relationship until he gets there -- then take your time dating when you're both living in the same city. That way you won't have that weird compression effect when one of you is visiting the other and you feel like you're compmelled to cram Everything! Into! Three! Days! or whatever. He theoretically won't be as stressed if you need time for yourself after a couple days of Constant Contat, and you won't be as fraught because he's not going home to the other side of the country, he's only going home to the next block or whereever. It's possible that fixing the distance thing alone will help, and once you've been dating in same town but separate houses for a while, the truth will out.

Of course, if he's equally as crazypants when he's in your same town, then forget it. That thing he did the night he first showed up was a serious dick move, and if you want to make that the justification for "I don't want to live together JUST yet, but let's date for a while first when you move here" that would be TOTALLY valid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


My number one dating rule: Do not date men who cannot acknowledge their own flaws and/or admit when they are wrong. They will never change b/c they don't see a need to. Everything is always someone else"s fault (usually yours).

This much drama at the very beginning of a relationship is not a good sign. His erratic behavior willl not change. If you are willing to put up with it for the foreseeable future, then stand by your man and stick it out. My guess is that you are not.

I think the reason you felt/feel so strongly for him is because your only interaction was online and you were able to create an idealized version of him in your mind. You loved the concept of him, based on what he presented.

This guy sounds unstable. Please do both of yourselves a favor and DTMFA or, at the very least, have a very real and very frank conversation about your expectations.
posted by chara at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2011 [23 favorites]


So you had a few days with him and spent almost all of that time in a state of misery, confusion and unhappiness, with him behaving irrationally, cruel and selfish? You have to work the percentages here and realize that there's no reason this relationship should continue. It's nice that you have online chemistry but in person the two of you simply don't work.

Unless you're truly a person who thrives on this nonsense and will "enjoy" being locked in a "Does he love me? Does he hate me?" dynamic for weeks, months or years to come. Only you can decide.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:31 PM on October 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


It really sounds like he's screwing with your head. To give him the benefit of the doubt, he might not be doing it on purpose.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:31 PM on October 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


The thing about a relationship with serious long-term potential is (in my mind, at least—and I know that everyone's ideal is going to be different) that there's always a sense of security—there has to be. When you learn to love someone in a genuine way, it's easy to put them (and your relationship with them) before everything else. You don't take back "I love you" if you really meant in in the first place. You deal with any issues that arise in a respectful manner. Yes, there are going to be rough patches, arguments, and stresses in any relationship, but you should never have to feel as if your relationship is in danger just because something is amiss. And you certainly shouldn't have to listen to threats about the relationship ending.

I hate to say it, but from what you've said, he sounds like he has some issues to work out, and I'm not sure it's worth the trouble. It seems like none of this came up before you met in person, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's only an issue when you're together in the same place. Do you want to spend the next six months being pleased with how great things are, while in the back of your mind worrying about if things will go back to being this way when he returns?

Also: Do not move in with him until you've been living in the same place for quite a while and are certain you're compatible under those circumstances. Otherwise, you're just asking for trouble.
posted by divisjm at 12:31 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here is some advice I wish I had really, truly taken to heart a long time ago: Good relationships aren't meant to be painful and anxiety-inducing. Especially not right at the beginning.

If a relationship puts you through this much trauma within the first six months, can you imagine what it's going to be like in a year? Ugh. Your first six months should be full of blissful happiness and amazement and wonder that comes from getting to know someone new and awesome.

Walking away now doesn't make you a quitter, and it doesn't mean you took the easy way out before giving things a chance. Emotionally manipulative people will try to say otherwise because, to them, there is no happiness without pain. That's not normal. Don't buy into it. Walk away NOW.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:31 PM on October 25, 2011 [54 favorites]


Too much pressure, too much drama. You both were probably stressed and anxious. It does sound a bit of drama on both sides, not just his. Groveling and crying, trepidation, wariness. Listen to all that (even though it was hopefully just stress generated, if it is part of your regular personality, you might need to look at that a bit deeper) It sounds like, from the many times you backed away from him, that you don't really like him. Fine, now you know.

Real life is different from online, as we can't project imaginary attributes onto the other person as we can online. I agree, if it was online only, it wasn't an actual relationship in BF/GF terms.

If you want to give it a chance, you both need to back off and start the 'real life' part just the same as any other first date.
posted by Vaike at 12:32 PM on October 25, 2011


Oh, and you should think about how the sunk cost fallacy applies to your relationship. I'm guessing it's (at least part of) the reason you're not breaking things off immediately.
posted by supercres at 12:32 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


He has no relationship experience; he is probably as confused as you are. You both need more maturity and understanding that online relationships do not necessarily translate into Real Life. Just because he is able to type nice words does not mean he can be a good boyfriend in reality.
posted by blargerz at 12:33 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was a statement in a previous relationship askme that I think is wonderful: it's not my job to make guys with training wheels track ready.

This guy you're seeing sounds like he's got a lot of problems. His mood changes on a dime, he holds you responsible for his feelings, he's being emotionally manipulative, he's making demands on your time and personal space, etc, etc. I think a very large part of his problem is that he has no relationship experience to guide his behavior, and that's something he needs to learn in time. The fact that he entered into a long-distance online relationship with someone he had never met instead of dating people in his own town speaks to that.

It's not your responsibility to "fix" him, and if you try, it's only going to result in drama, confusion, and pain for you. If I were in your shoes, I would end the relationship. Maybe, if you're both single and in the same city in a few years, after you both have had some real-life, in-person dating and relationship experience, you can try it out again. But I think that this guy, right now, is not someone you should be in a relationship with.
posted by phunniemee at 12:33 PM on October 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


On (not) preview: forget what I said about the frank discussion. This cat is hella manipulative. Let him know you had a nice time, but you're "just not feeling it" and wish him the best. Then block his crazy ass.
posted by chara at 12:34 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's hard to see how the intervening bits of pleasure can possibly be worth the manipulation and browbeating. "Maybe he will seem less crazy later" is an awful start.
posted by Occula at 12:34 PM on October 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


As soon as you mentioned how much he wanted to live with you before you two had even met, the first thought in my mind was, "Oh, he's crazy." That's probably not a fair term. Perhaps a fairer term would be "unstable." He's swinging from one extreme to the other like a first grader at the helm of an unsupervised swingset, and you're in the seat.

The timeline:

"I LOVE YOU! I'VE NEVER MET YOU BUT I WANT TO LIVE WITH YOU!" --> You meet --> You have sex. --> "Meh. Friends?" --> "Wait. I talked to my sister, and I LOVE YOU!" --> You guys have a great time. --> You need rest. --> "HOW DARE YOU NOT DEVOTE ALL YOUR TIME TO ME? I'M NOT IN LOVE WITH YOU ANYMORE!"

And it worked because you're now convinced you're crazy about him in a way you weren't before he put you through a wringer, and now you're contemplating flying across the country to see him. He's not good news, timsneezed, and you're playing into is manipulations already. It won't stop here.

You will, however, meet someone else and have an emotional connection with them, and they will treat you with respect, even if that means taking more time to decide on their feelings.
posted by katillathehun at 12:34 PM on October 25, 2011 [58 favorites]


All the early intensity and the radical push/pull and manipulation (blame shifting you into tears and groveling) reminds me of an ex. He had a personality disorder.
posted by Pax at 12:35 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are so many things wrong here. SO MANY THINGS WRONG.

We met online

First red flag. Nothing wrong with this in theory, but you NEED to be aware of the pitfalls. People lie, people look different, people get too attached to a fantasy.

six months ago

Second red flag. You waited way too long to meet. Always meet as soon as possible, in a safe place.

grew close very fast

Third red flag. Never allow this to happen again. Always hold back if you meet someone online, until you are able to verify your attraction in person.

He lives across the country but was planning on moving to where I live already within a year.

Fourth red flag! People who are willing to drop everything to be with you don't have a life. People who are willing to move in together right away are dangerous.

His feelings for me were probably even more intense than mine, and they worried me a little because I felt they’d inevitably crash and I wouldn’t live up this expectations in real life.

YES! This is not just you being silly and worried and needing to be soothed. This your rational, sensible brain SCREAMING to be heard. You were 100% right and didn't give yourself enough credit.

I also knew he had no previous relationship experience at 25 and that he’d never been in love or serious about any girl before me.

Danger Will Robinson.

He knew I had a fear of abandonment from childhood and was constantly volunteering stuff like “I’ll never abandon you” and “you can trust me.”

This is classic abuser speak 101. Even if he doesn't realize it.

Then he told me to take my clothes off and get under the covers I did. Within minutes we were having sex.

He was testing you. You were supposed to say no and blush like a virginal maiden, because that's how he wrote your character in his head.

He said he thought it might be partly because we moved too fast and hardly exchanged any words before jumping into bed. He said he felt this disconnect between our relationship from a distance and in real life, like there were two different girls and he couldn’t marry the two in his head.

Madonna/whore complex.

I asked him if he still wanted to be in a relationship and he said he didn’t know. I asked him if he was in love with me and he said he wasn’t feeling it anymore.

Why, why why did you do this?

He wanted to hang out again and see if his feelings grew or changed.

This is where you walk away.

He asked me if we could stay friends and still work together on creative projects (that was one of the things we did before), or if it was all or nothing, and I said it was all or nothing. He wanted us to sleep on it and talk more in the morning, but I left immediately.


YES! You did right again.

But that night when I spoke to him it was obvious he was seething with resentment.

Contempt, one of the four horses of the relationship apocalypse.

I asked him if he was still 100% committed to me and he said that now it’s only 95%.

Wow, again, language from the abuser handbook 101. You see how he's grading you on how well you inspire his devotion? You see how it's all your responsibility?

I pointed out to him that he had done more to hurt the trust in our relationship by his behavior the week before and he started to subtly blame me for the sex since I was the first to kiss him.

Madonna/whore complex.

I couldn’t reason with him. It was really weird. He may have just been tired.


No, he's irrational and holds deep, detrimental beliefs.

Is it possible he just made some stupid mistakes because of his lack of experience and ineptitude and because of the extreme pressure of meeting for the first time?


No. He has core convictions that are dangerously abusive and you probably can't change them. Hard knocks and life experience MIGHT but also might not.

Should I give him a chance given how strongly I feel?


Absolutely not.

I could potentially fly across the country and visit him for a week before then (he is for this idea).


Of course he wants you to drop everything and pay to go see him.
posted by Nixy at 12:35 PM on October 25, 2011 [130 favorites]


Oh my goodness this guy is extremely manipulative, selfish and nasty and you absolutely need to break things off with him before this goes any further. Among all the many, many red flags in your post, I can't believe he got mean about you not being able to go 72 hours without sleeping! And that you would even consider going out with someone who had such little regard for your heath and happiness. Just - no!

If he moves to your town all you will end up with is a pissed-off crazy stalker living locally, not a loving boyfriend. Please end contact with him. You are in for a world of hurt and drama if you don't.
posted by hazyjane at 12:36 PM on October 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I read your whole question. I usually don't even look at long RelationshipFilters (and yours is loooong), or at most skim them, but I read yours. You're a good writer—clear, to-the-point, factual. Good job. I also don't usually answer these things, because it seems silly to psychoanalyze the interpersonal dynamics of two strangers over the Internet based on a partisan, emotionally blurred-vision account. But you're a good writer. You put me there.

Based on what you wrote? It doesn't sound like he's malicious. It sounds like he is letting out a lot of pent-up emotions based on years of waiting for any kind of "relationship" in this life and they're all coming out in a torrent, and he's stumbling over them. Imagine a toddler first learning to walk, and that's the image that your description created in my head. Rushed, bumbling, eager but fumbling... I can't relate to this circumstance personally, but it must be very difficult emotionally to make it to 25 without any romantic experiences. For a guy in a culture where part of male success is measured in the ability to "get a girl," it must be especially difficult. I can understand why someone in that position would want to skip over the learning stages (that most of us experience in middle school, high school, college) and dive right into the deep end. Because hey, a 25-year-old should be in the deep end, right?

Some people are able to learn quickly. Jumping into bed within minutes of meeting does not necessarily doom a relationship, nor does lacking good or any prior experience. (I have anecdotes about both.) But in this particular case, based on what you've written, it doesn't sound like relationship dynamics are going to come easily or quickly to this person. My guess is that the person you described is going to have several failures before finding his way to relationship competence, and my guess is that the actual decision before you is whether you want to be one of those failures. Or at least, whether you want to be more of one than you already are.

I'd cut my losses. I understand you have deep feelings and I sympathize. There are a lot of fish in the sea, and personally I don't believe in the concept of "one, single soulmate." One of the few illuminating lessons of reality television is that under the right circumstances, love and passion will spark easily and even predictably between strangers. I suspect those deep feelings have more to do with you, inside, than with him or anyone or anything else external. You may never recapture exactly what you feel for him (and isn't that the fun of love?) but you'll feel other things, equally deep. He doesn't sound like a bad guy necessarily...it just sounds like a story whose conclusion is foregone and obvious.

But then, that could be because you're a good writer. Good luck with whatever you decide.
posted by red clover at 12:40 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


He told me that by shortening our time together I had damaged his trust and that he wasn’t feeling “in love” with me even though he loved me because he hadn’t seen enough of me in person. I asked him if he was still 100% committed to me and he said that now it’s only 95%.

This is not really something you can blame on him being tired. He pulled the "I don't think I love you anymore" thing on you twice in one week, and the second time it was explicitly because you asked him to make a very reasonable change of plans. That is very manipulative and unfair to you. I remember reading the previous question ThePinkSuperhero linked to above, and given the info from both questions I don't think you'll be able to have a relationship without him pulling a lot of this kind of crap.

The person you thought he was when you were talking online might not be the person he actually is in real life. That's why it can be such a big trainwreck when you get so close to someone online, because you are going into what is in a lot of ways a first date with this huge expectation that you are perfect for each other and will be together forever. Personally I think you should just abandon the relationship, but if you don't you should at least scale back your expectations and dial down the seriousness of how you treat the relationship until you figure out if you can stand interacting with him in real life.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:43 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dude. Duuuuuuude.

This guy is emotionally manipulative- whether it's intentional or not, it doesn't matter. I can't imagine a week of these ups and downs, let alone months or more. Can you?

I understand the difficulty of ending a relationship you've put time into, but I think its time you laid this one to rest. This guy isn't ready to be in a relationship.
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:46 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know nothing about this guy other than what he's told you, plus this one less than optimal experience. He could be telling the exact same lies to any number of other women. He's playing you. Run.
posted by sageleaf at 12:46 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Your well-written narrative has set off warning bells for every respondent so far, and you yourself posted the question. I think you know that this is not right. Your question is, "should I give him a chance?" and I have to agree with the masses saying "no, that's a bad idea." I'm sorry that this answer is sucky.
posted by CaptApollo at 12:49 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


But he put me through the wringer this week and I don’t know what to think.

Well, *I* think he's a jerk. I got through the bit about how the first night was rough but it got patched up after his talk with his sister.....until he started all over again. So does he need to talk to his sister every 45 minutes to keep himself from being a complete ass towards you?

There is some really sketchy stuff going on with this guy. He's blaming you for having had sex with you? And he loves you, then loves you not, then loves you, then isn't feeling it. If this is intentional emotional manipulation, then believe you me that you deserve better.

If it's not intentional....it's still weird, unhealthy and quite frankly, borders on a mental illness that you reeeeallly cannot sort out for him.
posted by motsque at 12:53 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My number one dating rule: Do not date men who cannot acknowledge their own flaws and/or admit when they are wrong. They will never change b/c they don't see a need to. Everything is always someone else"s fault (usually yours).

Yes. This applies to everyone. If they're a emotionally unstable pain in the arse when you first meet them, guess what they'll be like when you're living with them? That's right, an emotionally unstable pain in the arse. The truth is that people rarely change, especially not people who lack the insight to see that they need to admit their own faults and shortcomings. He does sound manipulative, but I'll leave it to others who have more experience to say whether it is intentional or not. In the end it might not matter, what matters is how this affects you.
posted by ob at 12:53 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


This guy is a manipulative rollercoaster...and not a fun one at that. You have this emotional attachment to him from the past 6 months, but I feel like you met the real him in person and he's a total douche.

Think about it, there's no relationship inexperience that makes you a douche if you're not a douche. He blames you for kissing him and leading to sex, he blames you for wanting to take a time out. Blames you for wasting his time.

He wasted your time and is wasting your heart. He doesn't deserve your time and attention let alone your love.
posted by inturnaround at 12:58 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


For the love of god, stay the hell away from him.

I'm willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, but "benefit of the doubt" is like placing error bars on a graph.

On the spectrum of human behavior what he did falls very far into the "complete asshole" range. Applying a bit of 'benefit of the doubt" to that, he's somewhere between manipulative-and-not-self-aware and sociopath. Best case, you're in a relationship with someone who will be way more trouble than they're worth. Worst case, you're in a relationship with someone truly evil.

Run away. Give yourself permission to be really sad, but DO NOT second guess it. You're getting all the confirmation you need in this thread.
posted by pjaust at 12:59 PM on October 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


After reading everyone else's answer and then your full question more carefully, I'm going to amend my own answer too. I suggested waiting until he gets to your city and trying to date for a while that way: I'm now saying that doing that is the MOST you should commit to with this guy now.

But he SCREWED you up BIG TIME, and he needs to know that. You both may have been a little tweaked because of the distance, but that's not an excuse; he DEFINITELY needs to know THAT. You warned him about your fears of abandonment and he basically shat on them when he got there.

If you are still dead-set on giving him a chance, make that chance be "okay, I won't break up with you now, but we need to slow the hell down and wait until we're both in the same city before we have a date again". If that takes any of his awkwardness away, you can re-assess. If it doesn't, though, then run.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:59 PM on October 25, 2011


While reading your post, only one word came to mind with each new paragraph: Nope!

You deserve better than this type of treatment. I would suggest therapy but don't want to imply you are the problem, I think you could work at loving yourself a bit more and to work through the aftereffects of this relationship.
posted by SassHat at 1:02 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


this jag is just screwing with your head - ditch the motherfucker.
posted by facetious at 1:02 PM on October 25, 2011


I have not read your previous post, but I have a slightly different take I think than previous repliers. Based on what you've written here, I think the problem is not all his -- I think neither of you are mentally prepared for a real relationship.

LDRs are tricky things. They are so easy to romanticise into some transcendent thing that will never have to encompass hurt feelings or sadness or even just boredom because it's all magical stories. (I speak from experience, here.) Often the people drawn to them are damaged in some way from previous relationships, whether it's a fear of abandonment or whatever.

And then you meet, and it turns out that you are both "just" normal people and your magical internet pixie relationship is in fact not above the normal range of human emotions.

If you want to fix that, there are things you can do. First: communicate communicate communicate. And do not romanticise it! Talk about stupid things you've both done. Get a webcam and don't be afraid to get on it in the morning to talk with bad hair. You both need to bring reality into your relationship. Second: Hang out together a lot more in person. Talk on voice communication, talk on webcams.

I want to stress that I totally know where you're coming from! But you two need to interject some reality into your relationship quick. You can never be your online "characters" with their flawless internet love in person.
posted by jess at 1:04 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


What would you think if your best friend told you this story?

Run. Now. You can be sad, but don't second-guess yourself. You deserve so much more than what this dude is offering.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 1:08 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's a Drama King. DTMFA.
posted by dgeiser13 at 1:08 PM on October 25, 2011


Dear lord, you weren't kidding about the emotional rollercoaster. You poor thing.

Although I've never been involved with someone who acted quite the way he did, I have been on the receiving end of some epic mindfucks in the past, and oh my did I spent a lot of time agonizing over it and worrying about it and trying to work out why on earth someone would act like that and whether it meant they were a bad person or a good person with problems, like somewhere in all of that was the answer to the question of whether I should stick around and let them keep hurting me. So I understand the impulse to give him another chance, and I don't judge you for thinking it, but I do think it'd be a very bad idea.

If I could go back in time and talk to my past self now, the first thing I'd tell her - after the basic lottery-numbers stuff, anyway - is that it doesn't matter why someone's hurting you, when it comes to the question of whether you should stay with them. It doesn't matter whether they're making you cry and worry yourself sleepless because they're evil, or whether they're good people with serious problems. The only thing that matters, when it comes to "should I stay with this person?" is "what will staying with this person be like"? And all the information this guy's given you about himself suggests the answer is "painful."
posted by Catseye at 1:10 PM on October 25, 2011 [21 favorites]


I am not his doctor (or, you know, one at all) but a lot of his behavior sounds a lot like a borderline personality disorder person I used to know. A lot of 'i love you, I hate you, I dont want to see you, wait, come back, where are you going, I love you...'

Very awkward reactions to very sudden sex? 72 hours w/o sleep? Unreasonable expectations and easily hurt feelings? If you were my sister, I'd tell you H*!! no! Since you met him on the internet....... well, I suppose it was just a weird reaction. However, I... kinda doubt it.
posted by Jacen at 1:17 PM on October 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Holy crap. The cheating alcoholic I dated treated me better than this. Please consider getting therapy to figure out why your confidence in yourself is so low that you'd even think of ever speaking to this man again.
posted by desjardins at 1:17 PM on October 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


One way to think about this is that this was his shot, right? He was coming for a visit to meet you for the first time, to confirm all that you thought about him, and all that he thought about you. It was essentially a kind of job interview for being in a relationship with you.

Sure, that’s a lot of pressure. (It was pressure that you felt as well & and you were able to act like an adult.) Still, it’s hard to think of a way, short of physical abuse, that he could have screwed this up more. He completely bombed. You even gave him a chance to pull it back together, go to the bathroom and rinse off his face, and he was unable to do it. Even taking into account the pressure of this situation, imagine how his inability to hold it together for a short period when the stakes are high might translate into any kind of routine life with him. This is why typos on a resume, or anger or frustration during an interview, are mistakes that cannot be overlooked: sure, they happen to everyone, but if they happen when you should be putting all your effort into presenting a good front, then there is likely an inherent problem that is irremediable.
posted by OmieWise at 1:22 PM on October 25, 2011 [29 favorites]


Is it possible he just made some stupid mistakes because of his lack of experience and ineptitude and because of the extreme pressure of meeting for the first time?

Maybe he's confused and lost. So what? Everything he's done to you so far has been cruel, manipulative, and selfish. Don't excuse his behavior. Don't listen to him when he blames you for doing something you both chose to do. Maybe he's not doing it out of malice, but at the moment, he is not a good person and seems to have no intention of changing.

I've had friendships with a couple of guys like this, and I can't say they've really grown out of this behavior. They put me on a pedestal, twisted the words I said, and blamed me for myriad things I never did or thought. They weren't really friendships, since they didn't care about who I really was. I don't regret having them out of my life for a second.

Should I give him a chance given how strongly I feel?

No. You should only give chances to people who have shown you that they have an active plan and desire for change. What case is he making besides intense feelings and a weekend of bad memories? He doesn't even sound like he thinks he did anything wrong. I wouldn't want anyone I know to be in a relationship like the one you described.

I also agree with jess that you may want to wait a bit before starting a relationship with anyone. How much do you like your life? Whenever I find myself intensely interested in maintaining a drama filled relationship, it's usually a sign that I am dissatisfied with my own life and looking for something, anything, to shake it up and give it meaning.
posted by millions of peaches at 1:24 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I hate to be right in this case but it is still screaming "personality disorder". And abusive.

How does 100% commitment change to 95% commitment? That's the OPPOSITE of the point of commitment!
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:25 PM on October 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Run away now. RUN.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:30 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then he told me to take my clothes off and get under the covers I did.

He didn't ask. He told. And he then "blames" you for the sex... because you'd kissed him before this happened?

This is inexcusable behavior, and it is not even the worst of what you have described here. Making excuses for him, even in your own internal dialogue, is the beginning of a very slippery slope, and it is all downhill from here. Please trust your instincts, as well as the wise counsel of every single one of the other responses in this thread. We are all rooting for you and you deserve a much, much better person with whom to entrust your heart.
posted by argonauta at 1:31 PM on October 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


This guy sure sounds like a creepy manipulative jerkface to me. If you're set on giving him another chance, I suggest you do not expend too much time/energy/resources in doing so.
posted by elizardbits at 1:36 PM on October 25, 2011


Also--and this is advice to everyone--please don't date anyone who makes you cry. Or even anyone who you just happen to somehow always end up crying. You can be happier than that, I promise.

I have abandonment issues too, and guys like this are really tempting because the certainty, the whole 100% commitment, I'll never leave you, kind of things are very black and white. It soothes our anxiety and it feels certain and reliable.

Unfortunately, these kinds of promises sound so great but they are unrealistic in an early relationship. Anyone who really understands the concept of commitment and trust would not make those kinds of promises so early on. It's impossible to know enough to make that kind of statement.

I have made this mistake and gotten wrapped up in someone who quickly left me, with no warning, and did a complete about-face from professing love to obvious contempt. He constantly spouted similar lines--the "you can trust me" etc. kind of stuff was coming fast and hard from the beginning of the relationship. It's a big red flag that they don't really take those kinds of promises seriously.

I know how nice it can feel, though, and I'm sorry that you're losing that feeling. It's just a feeling, though--it's not reality.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:37 PM on October 25, 2011 [23 favorites]


Oh my gosh.

Someday, years from now, when you're in a wonderfully happy long-term relationship with a wonderful, emotionally healthy guy (not this guy), you will be able to look back at these past few months -- which is a pretty short amount of time in the scheme of things -- and laugh at all of this.

Right now you're seeing things through the wrong end of the telescope. Everything feels magnified. You're "really, really crazy about this guy and we have the sort of emotional/intellectual connection I haven’t felt with anybody else." The thing is, there is a whole world of people out there you haven't met yet. We human beings cannot tell fortunes. We cannot predict the future. We can never know who we'll meet. The future hasn't happened yet.

You have not yet met the wonderfully healthy man who will someday be the love of your life. Or maybe you have, but at any rate, this man is not him. You're caught up in body chemistry right now, pheromones, butterflies, all that stuff that draws human beings together, and these perfectly natural chemical reactions are masking all the craziness this guy would bring to your life.

Fortunately, we human beings can be smart. And you, in particular, seem pretty smart. I would urge you to see these biological/pheromonal/biochemical feelings for what they are: just biological/pheromonal/biochemical feelings. A relationship needs more than that.

You deserve SO much better. It does not make this guy a bad person. It only means that he would be terrible for you relationship-wise.

Your future is still out there.
posted by Tin Man at 1:41 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is it possible he just made some stupid mistakes because of his lack of experience and ineptitude and because of the extreme pressure of meeting for the first time?

It's possible, but it's not relevant.

Should I give him a chance given how strongly I feel?

No.

Unfortunately we may not see each other for a few months until he moves but I could potentially fly across the country and visit him for a week before then (he is for this idea).

Yeah, don't.

I spent a while reading this question. By the second paragraph it was blindingly obvious that this guy is fucked up in a way that really really needs to not be your problem, and will unequivocally become your problem if you don't cut and run.

But I kept an open mind, and I kept reading, and I kept waiting for the twist that made the answer a little more muddy, a little less clear. I did this because I am an optimist, deep down.

It didn't come.

Look, here's some truth: Pretty much every single thing this guy has said or done has been so full of red flags, he could be a one-man Communist color guard. He's a shitty guy who does shitty things and if you give him the chance, he'll do shitty things to you. If you stay with him and if he moves to your city then he will promptly entangle himself in your life in ways that will always work out shitty for you. Please don't give him the chance. You're worth more than that.

He's playing games with you. Let him play games with someone else; the world is full of guys who are awesome and who will make you happy and not do crap like this to you. Cut and run.

Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:42 PM on October 25, 2011 [29 favorites]


Some of this I probably would have brushed off, nerves or inexperience or first meeting weirdness. But there's too much to your story to explain away, at least I mean I can't explain it away in any way that keeps him in a positive light. I literally sat here for about 15 minutes trying to construct that narrative and I cannot do it (yes, I'm procrastinating and not doing my actual work, but I gave this serious brain power).

You're right to have red flags. I can't tell you exactly what's wrong here - if he is manipulative on purpose or what - but I can tell you that it feels wrong to me, and it doesn't mesh with a healthy relationship, or even the potential for one. Rollercoaster describes it perfectly - it's so high then so low, and so unexpectedly. My lizard brain says get away, and if you just can't do that then keep some distance, and 2000% do not move in with him right away. If you need additional data points, see how it is when you two live separately in the same city. If he can't understand why you would want that, then there's another red flag.

I completely understand why you wouldn't want to give up, or lose something that seems like it could be so great. But I think you know that this isn't right.
posted by mrs. taters at 1:46 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree with most of what nixy said up to these points.

No, he's irrational and holds deep, detrimental beliefs.
No. He has core convictions that are dangerously abusive and you probably can't change them. Hard knocks and life experience MIGHT but also might not.


He may have some detrimental core convictions... or this may be nerves rattling out over the intensity of the whole situation. He sort of sounds like a bumbling fool in romance with the emotions cranked to HIGH over well smoothly things led to sex when you guys first met. He's probably not aware of how abuser 101 he's coming across as --more reacting in the heat of the moment than plotting your ultimate and demise. He probably did mean what he said about not “I’ll never abandon you” and “you can trust me.” He just wasn't conscious of the fact that he doesn't have the experience or the stones yet to follow through.

That said, if he gets the right feedback that these blackmailing/manipulative strategies work, then perhaps a dangerous, abusive personality may emerge. But that's absolutely not your responsibility to manage. It's his.

redclover makes excellent points: it doesn't sound like relationship dynamics are going to come easily or quickly to this person, and he's probably going to have several failures before finding his way to relationship competence.

Whatever you decide, spend some time thinking about what it was about this guy that genuinely excited you in that deep, pair-bonding, soul-mate epic kind of way. Separate that quality from him and think about what that same quality might look like in a more relationship-seasoned kind of guy. You know, the one who's aware of when he needs to slow things down without passing the buck to you for not reading his mind. It is possible to meet a man with the same awesome interests in common with you, who knows how to communicate his relationship needs without making you responsible for them. If you decide to cut this one loose, aim for *that*. There's a LOT to be said for emotional stability, especially in the heat of romantic developments. Good luck!
posted by human ecologist at 1:49 PM on October 25, 2011


I think 'damaged' people find each other and mirror/ encouraged purposeful dramas. You've got the insight to know that your 'damage' is related to abandonment. Even leaving a fraught, dysfunctional situation is wobbling you - a person that many of us here can see is fairly reasonable (She writes well, is sensitive and sounds very kind.) This is your 'damage' affecting your ability to leave a very unsatisfactory attachment. He can have all the problems in the world and you CAN leave him to deal with them. You are not a bad person for walking away. (I wish someone had told me that it's okay to leave; it doesn't turn you into a monster 'abandoner' - the person who hurt us. Walking away is often the mature and right thing to do.)
posted by honey-barbara at 1:57 PM on October 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


*'encourage purposeful dramas' is not meant in a useful, adult, resolved way - but 'purposeful' in acting out archaic, familiar patterns that are disruptive and hurtful.
posted by honey-barbara at 2:02 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here’s the thing I’m really, really crazy about this guy

Can you sit back and examine this a little? It sounds like you were crazy about the constructed person you knew on the internet/phone, but absolutely weirded out and appalled by the actual person who showed up to meet you (and rightfully so!).

In weighing these different personalities, I'd give 99% of my consideration to the one who showed up to meet you and assume that the online/long-distance version will make brief appearances if you're lucky.

Considering this, why on earth would you devote time and energy to a relationship where you're only going to feel safe, secure, calm, cared for, and loved a small percentage of the time (when he's feeling benevolent/if the stars are properly aligned/if you've pleased him in the last twelve hours)?

Some of the worst and most abusive people I've ever met can keep their shit together enough to act charming for three or four days, so this really is the best he's likely to manage on a longer timeline.

Cut him loose. I promise you will feel this kind of connection with someone again, and that it can be with a person who does not come attached to an entire fleet of unsolvable issues. And even if you don't ever feel this connection again, you will be happier without the constant gnawing panic that this guy is going to scream "TAKEBACK!" on loving you/being committed to you.
posted by ausdemfenster at 2:03 PM on October 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think you should consider the first time you met in person as a starting point, rather than an unfortunate blip six months into a relationship. That doesn't mean the emails were insincere, and or that the past six months were meaningless. But meeting in person was an important step, a step meant to answer the question, can this work in person? And his behavior, and attitude, and statements all say: no. That doesn't mean he's evil, just that this relationship isn't good, for either of you.

Someone upthread wisely mentioned sunk cost theory. Don't get caught in that trap.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:18 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


From my previous answer. I'll high-light the parts that are relevant, the predictions that came true:

"That's funny, because I had the same impression the young rope-rider did!

I think it is a technique called "mirroring," it gives you that feeling that you have, like, just everything in common with each other!! Suuuure you do. Sure. You see, it's easy to get that impression when the other person is drawing out details and then mirroring them back to you to build intimacy. (not saying he is doing this, I don't know him. But yeah, it's something you want to watch out for this in life:))

I don't like his attitude about relationships. It sets up this expectation that you have to be the most flexible, the most open (to his needs), the most accommodating, most intelligent, most beautiful, and most affectionate girl EVER in order to wiin the attentions of this hard to crack guy. By weaving this into your conversations, he's creating a false sense of scarcity where his emotions and affections are concerned. It will keep you forever jumping through hoops to earn his affection. Is that what you want in a relationship?

The first thing I could be wrong about. The second thing, tho, should be a deal breaker for you. You need a two way street for both partners to be happy. If when you meet you find yourself twisting and bending yourself to keep this guy's attention - stop doing that and RUN.

posted by jbenben at 5:39 PM on July 4"
posted by jbenben at 2:18 PM on October 25, 2011 [21 favorites]


Oh. Hey.

That's not an "I told you so" above. It's a, "Hey, there are obvious red flags in your first question that carried through to the face-to face meeting. Learn these red flag patterns in the future so you can consciously avoid them, and you're next relationship will be sweet!"
posted by jbenben at 2:26 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Too. Much. Drama. He's not worth it, you'll find others, run, DTMFA, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

If you continue online dating in the future, I'd seriously consider only talking to people who are say, an hour's drive/bike ride/bus ride/walk away. And meet within a week or so. That way you can see if there is chemistry pretty soon off the bat (you can't really tell these things online, sorry) and decide if you want to continue from there. This 6-month build up of a fantasy is just a bit nuts.

"He said stuff like he wanted to live with me when he moved, and he was more sure of that than anything in his life. "
This is called being fast-forwarded.
posted by foxjacket at 2:28 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh hell no. No no no no. Jesus. No.

Sorry. I have no words. You should not be wasting your time on someone as self centered as this dude. He treated you horribly and ungraciously. Your entire weekend was about his feelings. There are plenty of inexperienced and inept people who are nonetheless very concerned about not hurting the other people in the equation. He doesn't really seem to give a rat's ass about your feelings if he's feeling weird about anything. Add to that the fact that he wanted to move in with you without having met you in person- reality-based people don't do that.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:58 PM on October 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


Also:

He said I was being unappreciative of the sacrifice he had made to fly out to see me with work and money.

The fuck?!?

A loving, equal partner (even an inept one) is earnestly excited to share your company and would eagerly move Hell or high water for the opportunity to do so. When a loving, equal partner DOES have the chance to be with you, entirely of his/her own free will, that person does not act as if he/she has done you some kind of grand one-sided favor and demand that you demonstrate, to his/her satisfaction, your gratitude for their "sacrifice."

A loving, equal partner (even an inept one) would not be able to stand how unhappy he or she was clearly making you, and would not permit -- let alone encourage -- your "groveling and crying" after the events that you have described.

I do not see any evidence in your post that your happiness is a priority in his world, nor that he is even capable of empathy or selflessness. I believe that those are baseline requirements for a mutually beneficial relationship, not luxuries, and there is no amount of chemistry or emotional/intellectual connection that can substitute for them. None.
posted by argonauta at 2:59 PM on October 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


The major thing I kept saying to myself while reading your posting was, "Wow, this dude is crazy, and this whole situation is beyond strange". The way he treated you after you had sex was completely messed up. Not that I think it was appropriate for you guys to have sex right away, but that's another thing all together. His behavior of basically showing completely opposite feelings from one day to the next is pretty disturbing. If I was you, I would end your relationship with this guy immediately. Or be prepared to endure a challenging, and emotionally unstable relationship. Sorry to be so negative but this guys is dangerous. You seem very attached to him, and that's dangerous to. Be strong, end it.
posted by ljs30 at 3:16 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh dear, oh dear. So sorry this has happened.

I know this is going to sound like an "I told you so," and all I can do is ask you to hear me out. A while back, you wrote this, about him needing lots of attention. I thought, "I guess she's referring to this guy," and I fully expected you to be telling us this story once you'd had your first in-person visit. I mean this exact story, practically to the letter.

This is not because I am sooooooo old and wise and you are so young and foolish. It's because I've met this guy and they are, literally, all the same. Now, the guy I met was 30 and not 25; instead of being inexperienced, he had been continuously in relationships since his teenage years; and I never actually dated him let alone shagged him (well he probably did, just I wasn't there when it happened), and the occasion was not a romantic visit but a work event (well I thought it was a work event, not sure he could tell the difference). Minus the failed-to-mediocre shags, I could tell a very similar story to yours. I put a lot of thought into figuring him out, and I'm as convinced as I can be, without a licence, that he is a one-man band of every Cluster B symptom ever.

He's not going to get better with age, he's not going to get better with experience. He's going to get into this exact same drama over and over again, because that's what relating to Cluster B-folk is like. It's not you.

You are not gullible for wanting to ask this question. Of course you're puzzled, you've had positive interactions with him for six months. Now, my Cluster B I had worked with in person for a year and never had a single difficulty with him, and he excused his misbehaviour on the grounds of having just been notified of grievous illness in his family. I'd say mine made a better case for himself than yours did. But really, all this proves is that they have the art of convincingness down pat. A good social presentation is actually part of the disorder, remember.

What I will say is that, to the extent that you have been gullible (a bit, TBH), it's the setting - an online LDR with absolutely no in-person meetings for months - that's where your gullibility lies, not in the fact that you were convinced by this guy and are confused now. They're very good at getting their hooks into you, it's the way they are. And I know a couple of people online that I would classify as bona fide friends; of course, they could be totally misrepresenting themselves, but I'll take that risk. But it's inherently impossible to have a genuine romantic relationship with someone that you only know online for a long period of time. Friendship is a meeting of minds, romance is an event of the body, so even if someone is representing themselves completely truthfully you can't really know until you meet them. And while I think people give themselves away online much more than they realize, it really is possible for a deceptive person to hide major portions of the truth from you. Like, one thing I wonder is whether that was actually his sister he was talking to on the phone, or...?

He was on his best behaviour during his visit, please let that sink in. What you have seen is the honeymoon period. The fairytale romance bit. From here on in, reality is gonna start biting and you will gradually begin to get a look at his less attractive side. Get ready to be disillusioned, for he will not always live up to the dashing romantic who recently graced you with his presence. Am I making my point forcefully enough here?

In the end, it doesn't matter if his behaviour is premeditated or inherent. It could be either. My Cluster B definitely did a number of things that seemed to have been carefully planned and calibrated months in advance. Others - like the moodiness - were most likely inherent, but they still served his purposes so he had no reason not to ride that wave. Overall, his ability to switch it on and off kinda had a flavour more of sociopathy. Of course, I'm saying all this without a licence, it's really nothing more than a parlour-game for the unqualified. But, whatever you call this guy, or however you explain each individual action - narcissists gotta narc. They just do. They're like this. The End.
posted by tel3path at 3:32 PM on October 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Here is some advice I wish I had really, truly taken to heart a long time ago: Good relationships aren't meant to be painful and anxiety-inducing. Especially not right at the beginning.

This a thousand times. Sometimes when you are single, you just want to be in a relationship and have love and support and be done with dating. And you WANT IT SO BAD you try to convince yourself that THIS IS THE ONE(!) and you ignore all sorts of red flags. If this were the right guy, you would have had a wonderful time and you wouldn't be writing this question.

I don't mean to suggest that good, healthy relationships don't have issues and that couples who love each other don't fight -- I just mean that this type of controlling -- you're not living up to my expectations--type of behavior shouldn't happen and certainly not in the beginning of the relationship.

I know you really want to believe that this guy is the one, but he's not. Let him go. And have enough respect for yourself to find someone better.
posted by bananafish at 3:56 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm so sorry it turned out this way. This is heartbreaking to read. Maybe you don't feel how truly hurtful his behavior is towards you on your deeper levels yet. Reading this is like you've been numbed up and you are struggling with the confusion more than feeling the pain.

Get away from him. Cut the contact - you want the promise of what he is, but you're strong enough to be on your own. He is poison. No one who genuinely cared for you would treat you so horribly.
posted by griselda at 4:04 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wrote this in response to one of your older questions presumably about this guy (confession, I started reading it and thought it was on-point to this situation and then saw my name at the bottom - I forgot I wrote it). All of it still applies, in massive spades.
posted by griselda at 4:16 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This dude sounds married.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:22 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of his behavior reminds me terribly of the guy my friend had to nearly get a restraining order against, right down to the not sleeping thing. People who start out this way usually don't improve much.

Let me share a realization that has helped me with all kinds of relationships, romantic or otherwise: if someone is cruel to you or unfairly blames you or takes things out on you, you leave no matter what the reason. You are clearly a very caring person, and like most people, you are wondering if that's the right thing to do because it's partly his lack of experience, partly the pressure of the situation, and so on. You think you should be understanding. You think these are problems that could get better, and you think, well, aren't you supposed to not abandon the people you love when they're having problems? And the brightline is yes, you stick around until/unless they're abusive to you, but when that happens, you leave.

I have been friends with some very depressed people, for example, and having been depressed myself I am patient. Some of these people are depressed without lashing out; they may be inconsolable, or frustrating sometimes, or distant, but they are never mean to me. These people tend to get better. The others lash out. They blame me (and others) for whatever we've failed to do for them, or to their specifications. These people are nowhere NEAR ready to get over their problems. Sometimes people leaving them is a wake-up call, and sometimes they just never get better -- the only sane option, and only hope for them, is to leave and hope they come to understand they cannot operate by abusing others.

But "abuse" sounds like such a harsh term because it tends to imply conscious intent to be horrible, right? So it's hard to accept that a confused, inexperienced, troubled person could be "abusive." The thing is, we don't have any great word that includes lack of intent, and we need a word that hammers home how NOT OKAY it is regardless, so "abuse" will have to do. The truth is, as far as I've ever personally observed, is that most abusive people aren't entirely consciously aware of what they're doing, and all of them have some pitiable past experience that has made them the way they are. Most people aren't sadistic. They don't think "I'm going to tell her I don't love her to make her cry and get her right where I want her" (although yes, some people do) but when things don't meet their expectations they get frustrated and lash out and blame others, and then later they feel bad and lonely and apologize, but wait they're still not happy! rinse and repeat.

If your standard for staying in a relationship is "all this bad behavior is forgiveable because he's troubled in XYZ way" then you will find yourself in some awful situations. My own father beat my mother, for example, and he had many genuinely good qualities and really did love people, he was just really emotionally messed up and had an abusive alcoholic father and handled his depression so, so poorly. My mom should have left but didn't, because she knew he had all these issues and felt bad for him and loved him (she didn't fear leaving, as far as I know, because he had three ex-wives and we would go stat with relatives for months without my dad going nuts). I loved my dad in the end, and I felt bad for him too, but empathy needs to get ignored at the point where it's causing you intense emotional (or physical) harm to be around that person. You take care of other people AFTER your needs are met. A person can be a good support to those with emotional problems when their own situation is okay; you can afford to be strong then. But when an emotionally troubled person ruins those around them, too much damage is being done with too little progress in return. Others upthread are pointing out that inexperienced, confused people do not HAVE to act the way this guy did; one can be in his situation and still care enough to care about your feelings, admit to their faults, and so on.

You are NOT someone's punching bag, even if just emotionally, even if their situation is pitiable, even if they really need someone, even if ANYTHING. You have to draw the line, and you will do well drawing it at people who reward your affection with drama.

Once I established that for myself, and saw that I really was not just cutting off everyone who needed me, I felt much more confident and at peace, instead of guilty. I saw that I was not heartless, I was not impatient, I was not disloyal, I did not have unreasonable expectations, because I could think of all the people in my life that were evidence to the contrary. What I am is someone who stands up for herself and does not tolerate abuse. What I am is someone who will not disrespect herself, and will not value external love greater than my own. Since I have done that, there is a lot more love in my life, including external love, and most importantly, all that love does not have twisted, dramatic, painful associations in my head. You can do that too. You can continue to hope this guy gets better -- I sincerely and not condescendingly hope this of the few people I've cut out of my life; nothing makes you feel ickier than resentment or contempt, or make you second-guess whether you're a decent person -- but he doesn't get to do it with you in his life.
posted by Nattie at 4:26 PM on October 25, 2011 [33 favorites]


Just to clarify what I mean, on your first meet-up he asks you to take off your clothes, fucks you, then is "immediately distant." The next day he pulls another hot-cold. And then, just before he's to leave, he invents justification for distancing himself from you by blaming you for "damaging his trust" (what a load of horseshit). And then when he gets back home, he turns back on the lovey-lovey, with promises of eventually being together happily ever after… sometime in the future.

Maybe I'm just reading it wrong. But the dude sounds married.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:27 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I read all of your question and many of the very good answers here. I don't think there's much left to say but here's my contribution, I hope it helps:

Doubt and discussions are OK in a new relationship, pain and drama are not.
Emotional immaturity can be expected and/or tolerated in a new relationship, emotional manipulation should not.

Relationships should make people happy, if not all of the time, at least most of the time.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:55 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


For a long time I wondered why MeFi takes such a hard line on any and all "drama" whatsoever. Did MeFites all aspire to live lives of complete emotional neutrality at all times, where the most exciting thing that happens all week is that while sitting at their Ikea dinner table they spill blancmange on their Gap khakis and the murmur of dismay momentarily drowns out the Steve Reich they were listening to?

Then I read an article somewhere that explained that "drama" is US teenage jargon for "bullying".

That made sense of it all for me. Try reading every pist that uses the word "drama" and replace it with the word "bullying". See how the situation looks to you then.
posted by tel3path at 5:10 PM on October 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


A few questions.....

Anyway, he flew down to see me a week ago and our first meeting was a surreal encounter. Originally we were going to meet for dinner but our plans got delayed and it was pouring hard outside so we decided to meet up at his hotel and decide from there.
How did he get from the airport to his hotel? How far did you have to travel to meet him at his hotel (in the rain)?

He met me in the lounge, held me for a long time and then took me up to his room.
It sounds like he didn't want to go out into the rain to get dinner. Why didn't you eat in the hotel lounge or restaurant then? Did he buy you a drink or snack or anything in the lounge?

We sat down on his bed and drank a little whiskey.

Where did he get the whiskey from? Hotel room mini-bar? Or did he happen to have some in his carry-on bag? I'm just trying to get a handle on how much effort/expense this guy put into your time together, considering how he made a point of mentioning that you didn't appreciate "the sacrifice he had made to fly out to see me with work and money". And I think he always planned to get you into bed ASP, either as a test (like Nixy mentioned) or just because he was horny, because why adjourn so quickly to his room for whiskey instead of chatting and enjoying cocktails in the lounge for a while?

Also this
He said that I should have come even if I was tired and that he often went 72 hours without sleep. He seemed to think I was trying to punish him for what he had done last week
sounds like the dialog in a Lifetime movie right before the abusive boyfriend/husband smacks the woman around and tells her she's lucky to have him and how wonderful and forgiving he is for staying with her even after she slept with him an hour after meeting him, etc etc. (I'm not disparaging you or your decisions, I'm predicting that it's something a guy like this would make an issue of in the future when he starts listing your "faults".) Please re-read Nixy's reply and consider each point very seriously.
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:23 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here’s the thing I’m really, really crazy about this guy and we have the sort of emotional/intellectual connection I haven’t felt with anybody else.

I want to address this single line because I know that it's still very likely you will get on a plane and fly across the country with the hope that this whole nightmare of a visit was caused by anxiety, nerves, "jitters", your craziness, the weather or ANYTHING other than this guy being emotionally disturbed. Hell, you might even allow him to move across the country to be with you even after you've written here that your nervous system will not even shut off in his presence to allow you to sleep. I know this is likely because you have expressed your misgivings about this relationship in the past here, you have received a lot of good, well-intended advice, and yet you were compelled to see this situation through to an actual meet-up. During that meet-up, you were treated reprehensibly and left traumatized. That he treated you so horrendously is entirely his fault. That said, that you continue to be unable to trust your own instincts or allow the good counsel of others to sway you is something you need to look at with a therapist. You have to look at and try to understand why you feel compelled to make this guy into a knight in shining armor when what he really is is a seriously messed up, desperate, poisonous individual who is going to cause you a lot of pain. I speak from extremely painful, devastating experience here, as do many other posters. Changing him is not an option. Changing yourself is.

I and others here know exactly the feeling you're talking about. I understand, I really do. It really, really, really does feel like love. Well, it feels like some brand of love; not exactly the kind of love you thought you'd end up, but close. Well, really, it feels like a mixture of happiness and pain. Well, maybe more pain than happiness....pain leading to happiness, maybe? Well, whatever it feels like, it's extremely intense and indescribably....necessary, yes? It feels like, even if while I am with this person I feel so anxious and unsafe that I cannot calm down enough to go to sleep, I still AM MEANT TO BE WITH THIS PERSON. I must be with this person, even though they make me feel incredibly bad and frightened sometimes. I know that somehow, somewhere, some way we are going to find exactly the right groove and both fit ourselves into it, together, interlocking perfectly, and rumble on down the track together toward perfect happiness.

But it isn't love. What you are actually experiencing is what is called being in thrall. Thrall is not love; thrall is, by definition, slavery. Healthy, loving relationships thrive on love. Sick, tortured, desperate relationships feed off thrall. If it's difficult to know the difference right now, I want you to think of a person you love with all your heart. A person whom you thrill at the very sight of. A person who makes you feel treasured and joyful and relaxed. Now, compare that feeling - that warm, deeply satisfying, safe, happy feeling - to the sick, exhausted, queasy feeling in your stomach right now after having spent time with this guy.

Please take the advice you've been given here. Do not go see this guy and do not under any circumstances allow him to move here. Get into a therapist's office this week.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:38 PM on October 25, 2011 [32 favorites]


He said I was being unappreciative of the sacrifice he had made to fly out to see me with work and money.

Then tell him you have some good news, you are releasing him from the burden of seeing you again!
posted by dave99 at 5:46 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


timsneezed, there is a secret question hidden inside your post, here. You never actually come out with it, but it's in every line, every doubt, every expression of pain. And this secret question is this: "Is this the best I can do?"

The answer is this: NO!

You can do better. You can. There are men out there who will love you and cuddle you and make you laugh and smile at you and tickle you and annoy you with their dirty dishes and make you happy all-around. I promise you, there are. It doesn't matter what you look like. Seriously. You are lovable. There are men out there who would love to meet you, to love you. You can find them. You will find them.

You know this guy is bad news. You know this guy has troubles. You know this. Look at the question you've written -- it's clear you know the red flags when you see them. You're just trying so very hard to convince yourself that the red flags aren't there because (I believe) you are terrified that this is the one chance at love you'll get. You sound terrified of being alone.

I am worried. I am extremely worried. About you. I have followed your questions, and I am worried that you are going to ignore our advice and stay with this guy, out of that deep yawning fear that this is the best you'll ever do. I'm worried that you'll try to break up with him, but then you will feel lonely and sad and scared, so you'll let him back into your life. I'm worried you will believe him when he promises that he won't make the same mistakes again, because it will be so much easier for you to believe him than it would be to face the pain of walking away. I am worried that there will be a time when you will be alone, and crying, and you will be desperately needing human contact, and you will (mistakenly) believe this guy is the only person who will give that to you.

Don't fall into that trap. Keep in your mind how lonely and sad and terrible you felt when he treated you so poorly: that's what he does to you. That feeling is worse than being alone. It really is. And that's all that you can be sure to get from him: terrible moments of loneliness and sadness. That's not what you want. That's not what you need. Break up with this guy, and think of the loneliness you will feel after that as the pain of removing a band-aid. It will suck for a little bit, but then you will find someone who will treat you better, and your whole life will be far better and happier than anything you could experience with this guy. Stay with him, life will always suck; leave him, and life will suck for a little bit but then it will be so, so much better.

You can do better. If you cannot feel that in your bones, please seek out a therapist. You can find love. This is not it; but you can find it.

And, at any time, if you are struggling to stay away from this guy because it is so hard to be alone, you can MeMail me. I know what it's like to be lonely. I'll be there for you. MeMail me, and talk to me, and we together will help you stay strong. All of Ask.Me is here for you, each and every one of us wants to reach through this computer and give you the biggest bear hug you can imagine. We're all rooting for you to do the hard thing, to walk away, to find someone who will treat you better. We believe in you; you can too.
posted by meese at 6:17 PM on October 25, 2011 [37 favorites]


Crazy guy. Run!
posted by thylacinthine at 6:23 PM on October 25, 2011


Holy shit, no. No, no, NO. Get out of this NOW. This guy is not okay, and if you continue to be involved with him he will convince you to do things that you do not want to do.

Look at it this way -- you can either deal with the uncomfortableness of breaking it off with him now, while he still lives far away... or you can deal with the much more extreme discomfort of having to disentangle your life from his when he's moved in with you, cut you off from all of your friends and family because they're not good enough for him and therefore you, and he's controlling what you do with your free time because you need to be available for what HE wants to do, when HE wants to do it.

Please, please, drop this guy now like the hot potato of manipulative creepiness that he is.
posted by palomar at 6:37 PM on October 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Here’s the thing I’m really, really crazy about this guy

Yeah, no. You are crazy about the pretend boyfriend the two of you created with six months of email and phone calls. He is probably crazy about the girlfriend the two of you created in the same way.

If you still want to pursue a RL relationship with him, shut down the pretend one. When he moves to town, try the in-the-flesh thing out again and see how it goes, but in the meantime, stop creating more of this fantasy couple that doesn't exist.

Or, alternately, continue the online affair and enjoy it, scrap ever doing it in person. I've had a pretend boyfriend before, it's not the worst stopgap in the world.
posted by looli at 6:39 PM on October 25, 2011


Guy here: I am the furthest thing from a violent person, didn't even have little scraps in the school playground, but if you were my niece, I would be tempted to hit this guy in the face with a shovel.

I could not be more serious in hoping you have no further contact with this person.

It is impossible to see how your best interests would be served by continuing to interact or communicate with him in any way.
posted by ambient2 at 6:57 PM on October 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Wow - ambient2 really pretty much nailed it for me. I had a whole long drawn out thing to say, but.....yeah, I'd really like to fucking deck this guy, basically.

Please cut it off and free yourself to be truly happy and truly loved.
posted by tristeza at 7:55 PM on October 25, 2011


Did anyone mention "Madonna/whore complex"? Nixy? Nixy? Anyone?

He's a user, sick, and bad for you. Aside from that, he's perfect...ly awful.

DO NOT EVER TALK TO HIM AGAIN.


Instead, work on trying to figure out why you would let this toxic weirdo into your life. Why are you feeling so lonely that this creep seems appealing, and has some ability to make you feel bad about yourself, when HE was the one who acted so badly?

See a therapist about your self-image issues. I did, and now I only date people who treat me better than that. Wasn't easy. Wasn't quick. Was worth it.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:20 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Within minutes we were having sex. He came after a few seconds inside me.

Everyone's done a great job helping you parse out your feelings and reactions, but just in case you had unprotected sex, please look after your physical health in addition to your emotional health. Do think about getting tested for STDs and/or, if it's an option, consider emergency contraception.
posted by evoque at 8:22 PM on October 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


Stay away from this crazy freak. Never contact him again. I don't believe in violence but ambient2 is on the mark here.

What disturbs me is that your characterization of this "relationship" is pretty well focused on his wants, needs, emotions, and everything and whether or not you can live up to his expectations. How messed up is that? It's all about whether or not you can be good enough for the other person? Start thinking of yourself as an equal, who deserves to be treated as such in a relationship, and go from there. But not with this fool.

Why do you feel like you deserve to be treated so badly? You don't. You sure shouldn't be crazy about a guy who seethes with resentment because you need sleep.
posted by citron at 8:25 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you know that you need to get away from this guy - all the information is there in your question. But something is stopping you from doing it. Something in you posted this question hoping we'd say to give him a shot (and, by the way, the fact that not one single person has do so speaks volumes). I'm not sure what it is, but here are two possibilities.

1 - you want this relationship to work out, and breaking up with him would make that impossible. This is understandable except for one thing: being single is better than being in a relationship with somebody who treats you this way.

2 - shame. You think that it says something bad about you that you spent six months talking to this guy, sharing part of yourself with him, and he turned out to be an asshole. If you stop yourself from recognizing that he's as asshole, you don't have to feel this way. If this is what it is, I totally get it. Here's why: I've done that. I've been totally enamored with someone terrible for me. So has everyone else. I mean that literally, or very close to it. I'd venture to say there are not more than one or two people reading this thread who haven't done this. It really happens to the best of us, and there's no reason to feel ashamed.

It's clear from your post that you acquitted yourself pretty well during this experience. You called him on a lot of his shit, and you didn't let him dodge your questions. If you rip the bandaid off and just drop him, I guarantee you'll be fine.

Good luck!
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:34 PM on October 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Everybody's saying what needs to be said here, but I have to pitch in too - it breaks my heart reading this, because I can see how terribly you are being manipulated, and I know how much it must hurt. The guy you fell for and feel that deep connection to just doesn't exist - he's been telling you what you want to hear to get you involved, and as soon as you met him, he's started playing horrible mindgames with you. It would make me very happy to hear that you've broken off all contact with him - just stop. You are really lucky that he lives far away, because it will be hard for him to continue messing with your life from a distance. It will be difficult - you have spent so much time communicating with him in the last 6 months, you're going to feel lost, trying to figure out how to fill your time without him, but you can do it - and you really need to. This is abuse, this is manipulation. You want to be loved, and valued, and you will never get that from this guy - whether it's because he's a sociopath, or just an immature self-centered jerk, it doesn't matter, there is no excuse for how he has treated you. You deserve much better, and you will find better love than this - you are clearly a caring and understanding person, you dererve someone who shows you the same care and consideration.

seriously. run.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:34 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate to pile on, but just in case everyone hasn't already made it abundantly clear...

After a six month long distance relationship I finally met my boyfriend for the first time last week.

NO YOU DIDN'T.

He wasn't your boyfriend. You didn't meet him until last week. You interacted for six months with a character he created to impress you (and that's just human nature, you did the same thing.)

Pretend all of the online relationship stuff never happened, because on a core emotional level it never did. That turns your question into this:

"I met a guy last week who I really liked at first. We had awkward sex very quickly, then he was emotionally abusive, and then we had two more dates where he treated me like crap half the time and told me he loved me and wanted to move in together the other half."

Last week was the first time you really spent any time with this guy, and this is how it turned out. Run away.
posted by mmoncur at 8:38 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Seems like most everyone in this thread would like to send you a big internet hug. I noticed, when I got to the end of your post, that I had actually clutched my hand to my heart as I read it.

Roller-coaster love is not love. You need to step away from this person, at least for the now and near future. You deserve to be loved, and love is not like this.
posted by applemeat at 8:44 PM on October 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


This will, and can only, get worse. He's either crazy, trying to make your crazy or both. Run.
posted by spaltavian at 9:35 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you've gotten plenty of good advice above, so here's what I have for you:

In college, I was in a relationship that didn't begin like this, but ended up like this. It was manipulative and shitty and awful, and after rather too long (like 2 years and 6 months of crap) I broke up with him. And I felt horrible and guilty, and like a bad person, for a little while (four weeks, maybe) before I realized how badly he had been treating me.

But here's the thing: I don't miss him at all. (And I am friends or at least civil with my other exes.) I hardly think about him, unless I'm swapping asshole-boyfriend stories. Breaking up was really, really hard, but I have zero regret about it now, and even at the time, it took me about a month to realize how awesome it was being out of that situation, and then I never looked back for a second.

Intensity is a really, really seductive thing, and I get the appeal of the online part of the relationship, I really do. But when you met in person, he was mean to you. Not just awkward, or less attractive than you thought, or politically different. Mean. And that is bullshit.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 10:47 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I knew a girl who was once in a similar situation- met a guy online, fell "in love", he flew to another country to move in with her, before they had ever met in person. Things didn't go well- he dumped her and gave her herpes.

You fell in love with a romantic ideal, not a real person. This guy is a manipulative jerk. You spent most of his visit unhappy and plagued with self-doubt because of the way he treated you. End this toxic relationship as soon as possible.
posted by emd3737 at 11:37 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think most of the DTMFA stuff has been covered, and better than I could say. But I wanted to clarify on what I think most people mean in their DTMFA posts.

Consider that there will be other guys in your future, guys who are mature about their feelings and won't try to take back their I-love-yous. They'll value your time and your feelings without question. They'll treat you like you're special without you ever having to prove anything to deserve it. They'll never demand anything from you you are unwilling to give and, give freely. And this strong connected love no matter how rare it feels, is not once in a lifetime. Not by a long shot. With these things in mind, why stay in this relationship and be unhappy?
posted by everyday_naturalist at 5:00 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't worry about there being something wrong with you for being attracted to this guy. If you went back to him, that would be the time to start worrying about what's wrong with you, but you aren't going to do that, are you? So it's moot.

Take a look at this: Why do people go to Dracula's house? Because they didn't know he was a vampire.

But that's how you've got to think of him. You start seeing vampire shows in a new light, like "why do people let them in/do their bidding/stick their necks out like that? It's so obvious how it's going to turn out?" Because they are exceptionally good at the arts of cold reading, seduction, and confusion, that's why. Vampire shows are actually about people like your guy. They also make their victims more like themselves, in addition to draining their energy.

You know the parts in "Red Dragon"/"Manhunter" where Will Graham explains that even after surviving a life-threatening confrontation, he still had Lecter's thoughts going around in his head? That's what's happening to you.

You let the vampire in, but this is how you disinvite him: email him once to tell him, briefly and factually, that it's over and that this is not negotiable, and you never want to see him again or hear from him again, and if he gets in touch with you by any means and for any reason, you are going to treat it as harassment. Then block his phone number, his email, his social media profiles, the works.

It may take a while for your mind to detox, but eventually you'll be clean.

If you go back to him, though, your reward will be your death - quite possibly in the literal sense.
posted by tel3path at 6:20 AM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I should add my standard "so what" to this as well - whether he is mentally ill, just a jerk, or a wonderful but inexperienced and confused guy...so what? His behavior is causing you a lot of stress and heartache and that's all that matters.

There are plenty of men that won't make you feel that way.
posted by Pax at 7:37 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nthing what everyone, especially Nixy, said. I would also highly suggest this book. You deserve so much better than this. I wish you the best.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:51 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to highlight two very specific parts of your question in case all of our answers are starting to run together and you're having a hard time pinpointing what it is exactly that's allowing everyone here to draw the same conclusion:

He knew I had a fear of abandonment from childhood and was constantly volunteering stuff like “I’ll never abandon you” and “you can trust me.”

+

I asked him if he was still 100% committed to me and he said that now it’s only 95%.

This person, to whom you opened up about your fear of abandonment, took three days to use that fear against you in a way that not only placed the burden of earning commitment solely on you, but did it in a way that will keep you constantly on edge and monitoring his emotional state without regard for your own. Who has time to worry about how happy or fulfilled they are in a relationship when they have to spend all their time pushing the "What percent committed is my boyfriend today/how do I get that percentage back to 100?" button?

He said that I should have come even if I was tired and that he often went 72 hours without sleep.

+

We had this conversation really late at night – like at 2 in the morning. By the end of the conversation, he had shifted most of the blame onto me and I was groveling and crying.

Denying someone sleep is a famous method of torture! When you don't sleep, your instincts aren't as sharp, your mind isn't as alert, and you can't quickly access all the reasonable thoughts you'd normally have. Of COURSE he prefers to have these horrible conversations at 2 in the morning when you're unable to function! He is openly admitting that he would prefer you to be uncomfortable, miserable, and exhausted either to suit his whims or to keep you off-balance. Ultimately it doesn't matter why he's brushing aside your need to sleep, because the behavior is inexcusable.

If you asked me to make a list of qualifications a person had to have before I'd date them, "doesn't get angry and resentful at me for sleeping" wouldn't even make it on the list because it is so obviously a prerequisite.

I wish you the absolute best in finding someone truly excellent to share your time with. It is not this guy.
posted by ausdemfenster at 8:12 AM on October 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm just some schmuck on the internet, but know this: there's someone out there who's genuinely worried about you. I know this is hard and awful, but please, please cut things off. It will get worse.

If you need to talk more about this, please memail me. I'm confident that anyone in this thread would say the same.
posted by honeydew at 8:14 AM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oof. I'd prefer that you didn't read this book as suggested by another commenter - it'll just fuel fears and paranoia of the internet, which is not productive. I'd rather you take a hard look at yourself and what you believe about relationships, more than anything.

A lot of people have said, "you will find someone better, there are men out there who will treat you better" etc. which is true. I wonder, when you're reading these comments, what is your reaction? Do you believe these types of statements? If you are like what I used to be (i.e. scoffing at these statements, saying to yourself "That'll never happen" "I don't deserve/believe it" "How is that possible" "Oh yeah, then where are they?") get yourself to a therapist and explore this. I linked to the blog baggagereclaim.co.uk in my earlier comment; I think you'd benefit from reading the whole thing (or at least the last couple of years of posts). I also recommend this book and this book.
posted by foxjacket at 8:42 AM on October 26, 2011


Get out. Now. No matter how much you love him, it's not worth it. He's manipulating you and making it clear that any love he may have for you is not static. Find someone who doesn't waffle, because when you love someone, you know it, and it's not going to change overnight, then magically return, then disappear when you want to sleep instead of sight see.
posted by metaphorik at 10:00 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of people have said, "you will find someone better, there are men out there who will treat you better" etc. which is true. I wonder, when you're reading these comments, what is your reaction? Do you believe these types of statements? If you are like what I used to be (i.e. scoffing at these statements, saying to yourself "That'll never happen" "I don't deserve/believe it" "How is that possible" "Oh yeah, then where are they?") get yourself to a therapist and explore this. I linked to the blog baggagereclaim.co.uk in my earlier comment; I think you'd benefit from reading the whole thing (or at least the last couple of years of posts). I also recommend this book and this book.

Thanks so much for all the responses, guys. I read every one of them. I have to be honest. Although the feedback I've gotten has pushed me much farther in the direction of breaking up, I'm still not totally sure. :( Last night I was determined to break up with him, especially after reading this feedback, but then when we spoke again some of the stuff he told me gave me pause.

I guess the problem is I don't believe that I *can* do better. My self esteem is very low and I've never been with a guy I was very into who treated me well. This guy is also the closest to what I want in other respects. I'm very isolated from other people and as I approach 30 I fear that I'll lose out on any possibility of settling down. Because of my social awkwardness I have a huge amount of trouble making friends and connections. I've also suffered from body dysmorphia for years, and it makes me feel ugly and undesirable even though other people tell me I'm crazy.

Part of me also doesn't believe that his behavior will necessarily continue. This is going to sound nuts but I kind of wish he had made one more really stupid mistake before he left because I think three would have been my breaking point.

As if anticipating my thoughts, he preemptively started begging when we spoke last night. I'm going to paste some of what he wrote during our im conversation. He really did sound genuinely apologetic to me. I'm not sure what to think anymore. Maybe this will give a fuller sense of his personality.

I am missing you so f----g much I can barely describe it.

I talked with my mom on the phone earlier about what happened and she understands the situation. She wants you to know she understands what you're going through, and also that she wanted me to convey to you that she recognizes in me how much you mean to me, and that she can see how different this is from any girl I've met in the past, and that you mean the world to me.

I want to be with you and I'm missing you hard and I regret the way our first night turned out and I know I devastated you and that I'm to blame and I'm so so sorry about it and I want to go forward and repair the trust we had before because I want to be with you more than anything you are the most special girl in the world to me.

My mom really understands the emotional turmoil you went through and in talking to her I'm aware even more of what I did to hurt your trust in me and that's making me feel (rightfully) terrible.

And I want more than anything to repair your trust in me so that we can move forward and be with each other like we planned. I know I f-----d up in a gigantic way. But I want to work at it more than anything and I am here for you.

I will be more understanding from now on when you're feeling this way.

I hadn't seen you and I was confused by your not being together in person more because the gravity of what I did to you hadn't completely set in, and in talking to her I totally got the weight of what I did to you.

I was already feeling awful and regretful and wanting to repair us, but after talking to her especially I have more perspective than before. I hope you can have faith that I mean that.

I feel awful that you're going through this. I know that you coming out even for brief periods the rest of the week was a big show of trust.

I just think that we should go slower and let ourselves evolve in person because obviously when we were together even more was developing and I feel like anything more will put weird expectations on us, even though we're in that anyway. Do you know what I mean? I want our actions to speak for us.

I wasn't sure if you were able to bring what we had online into real life, but the last day with you made me feel confident in that. I wasn't taking into account the gravity of what happened, and I know now that it will be okay.

You seemed walled up, which is expected. I'm glad I saw the crack. And god when we were at the bookstore it felt so natural like every time I saw something and wanted to say something you were there and it was like things when I'm normally out and about I think like "aw I wish XXX was here I would have just made a comment" you know.

I've been more emotional since knowing you and especially in the past week, feeling emotions more in the forefront and more vividly than I have in ages. It's kind of overwhelming. I remember being like this a long time ago. I'm just feeling things very very strongly when they involve you. It's obviously a double edged sword, as you have seen. I definitely felt for you emotionally before we met but I had no idea what a tidal wave of emotion I was suppressing, like in contrast to how numb I felt before I felt really emotional for you before we met, but after we met it became an earthquake.

When I was on the plane ride home I read the rest, the second half, of The Year of Magical Thinking, I finished it, and a lot of pages actually put a big lump in my throat because their connection, where they almost blended and felt bound reminded me so much of us. It was eerie. It was kind of hard being on the plane while reading it. I felt like if I was alone I would have just crumpled.

It's like what was somewhat amorphous before is now solid or like where we were speaking through static earlier it's now clear, but like there was this intense pain involved in the transformation, like giving birth.


I mentioned to him how I had spoken to some friends and they were urging me to break things off and it was leaving me confused about what to do.

His response:

I guess I can see that based on how our relationship would be conveyed without knowing me they could read that, but I also think ours is a unique situation - the whole meeting online thing, the bizarreness of our connection, etc. I'm not saying i'm the most emotionally stable person in the world, but I also think it'd be difficult to take any positive traits from what you could relay about our in-person experience.

posted by timsneezed at 10:23 AM on October 26, 2011


I hate to be flippant but wow that's a lot of I's. Did he actually apologize?
posted by dgeiser13 at 10:41 AM on October 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Bleh. His response is ... grandiose.

I predict nothing but a roller coaster in the future with the highs getting less high and lows getting lower as time goes on.

If I were you I'd end this. Open yourself up to something more... stable.

If you want to give it the last ditch try, talk with his mom or his sister and see how you feel after that. At this point I'm not sure they exist.
posted by mazola at 10:44 AM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess the problem is I don't believe that I *can* do better. My self esteem is very low and I've never been with a guy I was very into who treated me well. This guy is also the closest to what I want in other respects. I'm very isolated from other people and as I approach 30 I fear that I'll lose out on any possibility of settling down. Because of my social awkwardness I have a huge amount of trouble making friends and connections. I've also suffered from body dysmorphia for years, and it makes me feel ugly and undesirable even though other people tell me I'm crazy.

O hai, this was me from about 17-29. I'm here to tell you it's absolutely possible to find a relationship that's not a rollercoaster with a guy who genuinely respects you. I've been with my husband for seven years and we've been married for three. I never would have imagined this possible at age 28. You are not doomed to drama. It's much, MUCH better to be single than to be with someone who's going to make you grovel and cry.
posted by desjardins at 10:50 AM on October 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


I was the same as you, low self-esteem, terribly socially awkward, convinced of my unattractiveness and inability to attract someone decent. So I let myself get into a dysfunctional relationship with a creep who ended up beating me up and stealing from me. Please don't make the same mistake I did.

My story has a happy ending. I met my partner online almost 3 years ago, and in person almost immediately afterward. He's so kind to me, so wonderful to be with, a truly good-hearted and selfless person, and he and I revel in our geeky social awkwardness together.

If I had stayed with mean selfish abusive guy I never would have found my partner. Please give your story the chance to have a happy ending too.

A lot of abusers are able to write beautiful prose about how everything is meant to be, and I've seen it time and time again, but it's their actions that matter, not their words.

The creep you have on your hands is grandiose but also completely unable to function like a reasonable person independently of his mother and his sister telling him how to act. What's up with that? He's grandiose, narcissistic, and completely uninterested in your feelings apart from what you can do for him.

Being alone is way better than putting up with this. Rip the band aid off. It will hurt a lot for a little while and then it will fade. And you'll then at least have a chance of finding happiness. With this guy there's no chance of that at all.
posted by hazyjane at 11:00 AM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am NOT JUDGING you for staying with him or being unsure. I think it is totally fine and normal to be confused and uncertain. This is a confusing situation! Anyone would be WTF about it and have a hard time letting go of something that seemed so good.

What's with him talking to his sister and his mother about this stuff?

Also--as someone who sometimes struggles with a severe lack of impulse control--it can be just as harmful as intentional assholeishness.

I have done things that I did not think about or mean to be harmful, and that sucks for me, but the people I did them to had every right to distance themselves from my impulsive jackassery.

I have also distanced myself from people who had good intentions but who were completely unable to consistently behave themselves. I don't hate those people or anything but realistically I'm not doing them any favors by allowing them to treat me badly, feel horrendously guilty, beat themselves up, treat me badly again...that cycle doesn't benefit anyone.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:09 AM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess the problem is I don't believe that I *can* do better.

So what? Being alone is better than being with this self-absorbed loser.
posted by Melismata at 11:12 AM on October 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yours' is not a unique situation. We are well into the internet age; people meet online every day. There are hundreds of thousands of online relationships going on, but the difference is that when it comes to the healthy ones, people don't treat each other the way that he's treated you. The fact that you met online has no bearing on how he should behave, or what kind of behavior you should find acceptable. His behavior is not acceptable.

Also, kind of creeped out at all the communication via his mother, i.e. "my mother understands how you feel."
posted by litnerd at 11:22 AM on October 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


I started this with an emotive desperate rant. I considered cutting it out and only leaving in the end bit. But hey, it makes me emotive and desperate to see you being treated like this, so I will just let 'er rip:

I am at a loss for what to say to you. You think you have a convincing case for why you don't in fact deserve better, and why being alone is in fact intolerable. He thinks your situation is "unique" (it's absolutely characteristic for the abuser and the abused to believe in their own uniqueness BTW, so nothing unusual there).

And he did apologize. He has always known what to say to make you feel good, and I guess this is another example of that, so maybe it was all worth it. (Abusers usually apologize or go through what is called the "hearts and flowers" phase of the cycle before the abuse starts up again BTW.) It's likely that his behaviour will get worse and worse and the apologies will get fewer and fewer as time goes on, so you can expect major portions of your life to be like that weekend. But he will treat you well some of the time, because if he never treated you well, he wouldn't keep you around. You are currently helping him to figure out how far he can push you, so I guess he has a pretty good idea of that at this point. Don't worry, he'll push you further and further as time goes on.

If living like this seems more appealing to you than being alone, you're in good company. People live with guys like him for decades before finally deciding to get out, either because they believe as you do, or (as is often the case) because they have good reason to fear that they'll be killed and/or their lives/families/careers/children irreparably harmed as a consequence of leaving.

But hey, maybe you are absolutely unique. I know you have a vast sea of people yelling at you "YOU ARE AS VALUABLE AS ANY OTHER HUMAN BEING AND NO HUMAN BEING DESERVES TO BE TREATED LIKE THIS", but, when you look at the facts of your case, it could be that you're so unappealing or so annoying or so inept or such damaged goods that, in fact, maybe it is kinda excusable for him to treat you this way, and maybe the people who are saying otherwise are only saying it because they don't really know you and maybe if we did know you, we'd see how it's pretty much understandable that this is the best you can do and/or that any guy who gets involved with you really has to put up with a lot/etc etc.

I mean, I know what that's like. You should never yell and scream at someone for 45 minutes because the milk was sour, especially not if they offered to go and buy some first thing that morning, but when you consider what an irritating drip tel3path is and how she just makes these mistakes that really can't be justified considering her education and presumed intelligence - well, clearly tel3path has a problem which makes her an outlier, and maybe a good 45 minutes of yelling will teach her the error of her ways. In any case, it's not like somebody with tel3path's faults would be tolerated anywhere else, and you've explained this to her many times. No, if she did this anywhere else, she'd be out the door. She understands that it's not good enough, but she just keeps doing it. Wouldn't that try anybody's patience?

Like, seriously, I don't know what to say to you. Do you think we haven't all been through it all ourselves? Do you think we don't want a better life for you, at your young age, than so many of us have had? Don't you think we all wish we could have learned this lesson at your age, rather than trudging through the wilderness for years on end? Don't you think that all this is so ancient to us we could form a choir and sing it in harmony?

We pretty much knew this was how it would turn out when you posted about it ages ago, before you met him. We are probably right when we say we don't see anything good in your future if you stay with this guy.

I know I should say it's your life and your decision, but if you were about to step off a cliff I'd yell out to you. If you were about to get hit by a truck I'd yell out to you.

We know, okay? I won't lie to you, it's actually not inevitable that you'll meet some gorgeous matinee idol within five minutes as a direct result of breaking up with this guy. It could be ages before you meet anyone new, if you ever do (though you probably will if you look, frankly, even if it takes years). You sound like you're really unhappy in yourself, therefore, getting out of a relationship won't automagically make you happy any more than getting into one would. So, yeah, maybe if you break up with him you'll be single and miserable for ages. Being with him and miserable is STILL GOING TO BE WORSE.

Do you believe in God? Do you think God wants you to be treated the way he treated you? Would you ever treat someone else that way? And if you did, wouldn't you rush to make amends, and in deeds as well as words?

Sigh, wait a minute, he did apologize. Oh, look: I wasn't sure if you were able to bring what we had online into real life, but the last day with you made me feel confident in that.

Oh, so he's gone back to being more than 95% committed? You now have his approval back because you did the requisite begging? Sorry, I really don't feel the slightest bit better about this after reading that.

I wasn't taking into account the gravity of what happened, and I know now that it will be okay.

WTF is all this word salad. He "knows now that it will be okay" because you ran back to him trying to salvage the relationship. You passed his test. He has you where he wants you. It is not good that he apologized.

Look, I'm sorry, but he could come out with the sincerest apology in the world and you could forgive him but the damage would still be done - a relationship started the way this one did is just not repairable. It just isn't.
posted by tel3path at 11:22 AM on October 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


Lemme ask you something, tim:

He says "my mother told me to tell you" all of this stuff. But let me ask you something: how do you know for certain that he even talked to his mother about this in the first place?

And lemme also give you something to think about: every mother of ever son I've ever heard of, if their son told them they'd done the things your guy did to you, every mother would turn around and CHEW THE GUY OUT all, "what? Didn't I raise you to treat people BETTER than that?" Not a ONE of them would say "oh, you poor thing, you tell them that I said THIS." Something sounds awfully fishy about this to me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:23 AM on October 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh My God
Part of me also doesn't believe that his behavior will necessarily continue. This is going to sound nuts but I kind of wish he had made one more really stupid mistake before he left because I think three would have been my breaking point.
The "part of you" you are talking about is the abuse victim you could turn into. It's so tempting to believe, especially when you reach out one time and it's so sweet, and another time it's bitter but maybe it's your fault that time? But NO that is not love, that is ABUSE. Real friends don't blame YOU for their bad moods and bad behaviour.

You've only been exposed for three days and you're wavering. He's a master mind-fucker. How many people have to tell you that you honestly are going to be dancing with a fist or a shotgun sometime in the future if you don't step away now? Everything he said last night is classic abuser mind-fuck. Everything you've told us so far has made us shout "GET THE FUCK AWAY".

You will find your besty-best forever friend someday, and this guy is not him.

Put this bully behind you, get started on that search again right now, and also set some time aside to put yourself together. There's lots of self-esteem tips here on Ask, just search for them.

And ask us for help again in a week.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:24 AM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


He really did sound genuinely apologetic to me. I'm not sure what to think anymore. Maybe this will give a fuller sense of his personality.

It is really tempting to think that the world is divided into Good People Who Won't Hurt You and Evil People Who Will, so all you need to do is work out which category he fits in and then you'll be set. But there is a huge, huge number of Good People Who Will Hurt You, or at least People Who Have Great Qualities And Aren't Irredeemably Evil But Nevertheless Have Such Significant Problems That They'll Make You Very, Very Miserable.

This third category of people often will apologise when they've hurt you, because hurting you isn't what they set out to do, and they are sorry that it happened. But they don't have the ability to stop it happening again, because for whatever reason their own problems are so huge and overwhelming that they can't, or won't, see past them. You don't leave these people because they hurt you and weren't sorry; you leave them because even though they were sorry, they're going to hurt you again.

None of us can predict the future, but I think that if you stay with this guy, he probably will hurt you again. I say this not because I think he's evil and uncaring, but because his actions when you met were so strange and hurtful that they speak to either serious, huge problems in relating to other people, or deliberate manipulation. And neither of those are things that are easily fixed, no matter how sorry he is.

It would bother me further, in your place, that in his message he tells you that he only realised how much he'd messed up and hurt you because his mother (and previously, his sister) explained it to him. He didn't think there was anything wrong with these hurtful things when he was doing them; he didn't think there was anything wrong with his behaviour when you were grovelling and crying, or when you were so anxious you couldn't sleep. I would worry that this meant he had so little ability to control or reflect on his behaviour, and such a strong tendency to project any of his problems outwards onto you, that he would just do that again and again and again. And maybe he'd call his mother afterwards and realise how much he'd messed up, but, well... you kind of need someone who will realise that he shouldn't hurt you before someone else tells him.
posted by Catseye at 11:25 AM on October 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


Ew, ew, EW. It is all about him! How HE feels, what HE needs, what HE wants, what HE thinks about your emotions.

Never ONCE does he even say the words "I'm sorry" to you. NOT ONCE. All he does is tell you how he told his mother all about your reactions, and SHE is the person who had empathy for you. Not him. Notice that he's still laying responsibility on you for the wellbeing of your "relationship" -- "I wasn't sure if you were able to bring what we had online into real life, but the last day with you made me feel confident in that." What the fuck is that?! Why is it solely YOUR responsibility to bring the magic? Why does he expect you to serve him up with whatever he desires?

If you are not currently in therapy, you need to get there pronto. You have a TON of great qualities, you CAN do better than this manipulative cretin, you just need some help in believing your own worth. Please, please, please, PLEASE, cut ties with this guy before he damages you any further. PLEASE.
posted by palomar at 11:37 AM on October 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I've been more emotional since knowing you and especially in the past week, feeling emotions more in the forefront and more vividly than I have in ages. It's kind of overwhelming. I remember being like this a long time ago. I'm just feeling things very very strongly when they involve you. It's obviously a double edged sword, as you have seen. I definitely felt for you emotionally before we met but I had no idea what a tidal wave of emotion I was suppressing, like in contrast to how numb I felt before I felt really emotional for you before we met, but after we met it became an earthquake.

Leaving out every other jaw-dropping part of his response, why not focus on this for a minute: this is a grown-ass person telling you that you are responsible for his wildly swinging moods because he is helpless in the face of how strongly you make him feel human emotions. Human emotions that he (a super-special guy that's really hard to "get") has never felt before in his two and a half decades on earth.

Add that to this part: I want our actions to speak for us.

Great! Our actions totally speak for us! So, what are his actions when he experiences these bewilderingly strong new emotions? A constant stream of manipulative, abusive, and erratic behavior designed to confuse you and make you unsure of yourself. These actions are speaking very clearly, and the message they are conveying is that you can expect more of the same behavior for the duration of this relationship, only it'll probably ratchet up considerably in volume and frequency as he figures out just how far he can push you and still keep you around.

You seemed walled up, which is expected. I'm glad I saw the crack.

If you can read this and not have chills run down your spine at how sinister the implications is, I want you to please, please, please memail me.
posted by ausdemfenster at 11:44 AM on October 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


Hazyjane says it perfectly about the fear of being alone. I (and many of my happily settled friends) spent years in hopeless relationships and still found wonderful people at the end of it. Get away from this toxic situation and learn from it, because the one good thing that can come out of bad entanglements like this is that they can help train you to spot bad news (notice how so many people in this thread have seen the exact same behaviours from abusive jerks).

when we spoke again some of the stuff he told me gave me pause.

It shouldn't. It's exactly what you'd expect from a run-of-the-mill emotional abuser.

He really did sound genuinely apologetic to me.

So what did he specifically identify that he'd done wrong and promise never to do again? Anything at all? Or did he just sound very upset? Because he probably does feel upset that you're starting to call him on his bullshit and I'm sure that's coming through. What isn't coming through, in the text you pasted, is any sort of genuine apology, where someone acknowledges something specific that they did bad.

Let's see.

I talked with my mom on the phone earlier about what happened and she understands the situation. She wants you to know she understands what you're going through, and also that she wanted me to convey to you that she recognizes in me how much you mean to me, and that she can see how different this is from any girl I've met in the past, and that you mean the world to me.

One day you will be old and wiser and stronger and you will read this again and roll your eyes so far back in your head that you won't be able to focus properly for an hour. So he tried the sister line and now he's trying the mom - obviously 'the flash of insight from a female family member' is a favourite of his. It's another way of telling you that you're special so that you'll ignore his behaviour. It's a way of making this into a male/female dynamic rather than about good/bad behaviour. It's about persuading you that he understands you without actually having to understand anything.

My mom really understands the emotional turmoil you went through and in talking to her I'm aware even more of what I did to hurt your trust in me and that's making me feel (rightfully) terrible.

And what exactly was it? Specifics? Notice there's a lot of claims to be sorry, but he's not actually admitting to what he did that was wrong. Maximum effect on you, minimum requirement to change his behaviour.

I will be more understanding from now on when you're feeling this way.

Note the reframing that the cause of the problems is - your feelings. Not his bad behaviour, not the mood swings, there's no admission at all they they were there. And his promise is that he will be more understand, tolerate your weird unreasonableness - what a saint!

I wasn't sure if you were able to bring what we had online into real life, but the last day with you made me feel confident in that. I wasn't taking into account the gravity of what happened, and I know now that it will be okay.

So you passed his test, well done! And look - you're now back in the role of the person who has to make him feel confident, make him know it will be OK. What has this got to do with how he messed up?

You seemed walled up, which is expected. I'm glad I saw the crack.

See - it's you who has the problems! See - only he can save you! Let's forget all that inconvenient stuff about he behaved appallingly and still hasn't owned it.

I'm just feeling things very very strongly when they involve you. It's obviously a double edged sword, as you have seen.

And here we have 'I only hurt you because I love you so much'. I think I just got a line on my abuser-speak bingo card.

like there was this intense pain involved in the transformation, like giving birth.

And here we have 'You know this is real love because it hurts so much'. Utterly untrue, but it works well on people who are lonely.

I also think ours is a unique situation - the whole meeting online thing, the bizarreness of our connection, etc.

'The rules for other people don't apply to us, darling.' The bingo card now has more squares crossed out than blank.

There isn't a glimmer of understanding from him. His message is all about manipulation. He's not 1% of the way towards what he should do to deserve to be in a relationship with you. Sometimes people on AskMetafilter are too quick to tell people to ditch their partners. This is not one of those times.

Please, let your next question be about sprucing up your online dating profile or anything other than how you decided to give him one last chance and now you're wondering if his reasons for cheating on you are reasonable and surely everyone gets angry and screams from time to time, don't they? Two paths. Please choose the one with a chance of happiness.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 11:47 AM on October 26, 2011 [20 favorites]


So....he basically gave you a note from his mother saying that she understands he's a jackass but that you should keep dating him anyway?

Continuing a relationship with him will be going around and around a quick Cycle of Power and Control. He's demonstrated that he can go all the way through this cycle in 72 hours or less. RED FLAG. RED FLAG. RUN.

You definitely deserve (and can find!) way better. It's good that you've identified your feeling that you can't do better as an issue that needs solving. You can try therapy -- I went to therapy for ages until I learned how to draw a boundary with people who treat me poorly. Kicking this guy to the curb will be worth a year of therapy -- you'll feel SO GOOD for taking care of yourself, I promise.

In addition to therapy, and this sounds weird, I also did online dating as a kind of immersion therapy. I can get clingy and anxious at the first hint of rejection, so going on a ton of first dates that ended with a mutual "meh" toughened me up to rejection. And the number of people available made it easier for me to think "Yup, there are definitely more fish, don't have to settle for this stinky rotting one." Not gonna lie, it still sucked at times but overall it made it much easier for me to draw a line or cut off a nascent relationship if I was not being treated like I thought I deserved.
posted by motsque at 11:53 AM on October 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


What would you like your Big Love to be like? Wouldn't it be wonderful to be in a relationship where you can be yourself, where you can laugh, be spontaneous, BREATHE? Don't you think such a relationship is worth waiting for?

It seems you know the truth and you are not allowing yourself to see it, such is your determination to satisfy the longing for closeness.

The thing is, it is not love you're experiencing right now. It is longing, it is pain, it is unrequited desire. Real love does not taste like that.

You deserve love by the sole fact of being alive. You do.

Please give real love a chance to find you. It may take a while but the first step is breaking up contact with this guy.
posted by M. at 11:53 AM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a little hesitant about relaying my inner dialogue on here because I'm kind of embarrassed by how crazyl it'll sound to others. But here are my thoughts:

-I don't understand why everyone else seems to think he's a creep and I can't feel that. Why do I still think well of him for the most part, still think he's a good person, and feel like this might just be a temporary blip? Why am I not feeling in my heart a desire to break it off with him?

-Is it fair for me to judge him based on other people's experiences with similar partners? Isn't everyone unique and worth a shot or do people just fall into predictable patterns and types?

-I actually believe I'd be more unhappy alone than with somebody like him, assuming he didn't become worse than he is now or physically abusive. My biggest fear has always been being alone forever, especially because I'm already so isolated.

-Is it possible I just have a higher tolerance for this kind of behavior than others? It did leave me feeling awful, but I think if he toned it some his moodiness wouldn't bother me that much.

The odd thing is when I write these thoughts down and read them back I see the crazy but they seem to make sense when they're in my head. I'm hoping you guys have some good responses to them. You're helping a lot so far.
posted by timsneezed at 12:03 PM on October 26, 2011


Think very hard about the type of person who wants a partner who has very low self-esteem, is isolated, is afraid to be alone, etc. This person is a predator. You're an easy mark. If you stay with him, you're teaching him that you're willing to be manipulated, and that's why it's guaranteed he will do it in the future. You're not giving him any reason to stop. His own mother admits he's been a jerk but thinks you should still go out with him.

I used to let people roll over me, and as soon as I started standing up for myself, their behavior either "magically" changed, or they left my life. Either way, I was much better off.
posted by desjardins at 12:03 PM on October 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


timsneezed, I read your OP and all the responses are dead-on. This guys is Bad News. And then I read your reply, with his "apologies"...

...and I nearly vomited. I'm not kidding. What he wrote is pure, unadulterated GARBAGE. It's all lies. All of it - it's all posturing and abstract thinking and embellishment. There's no real substance to it.

I've met this guy (or his brother, friend, whatever) and made the mistake of trusting him and getting wrapped up in his lies and feeling bad for him and doubting myself...YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO THERE. You will regret any further interaction with him MORE than the fleeting pain you may feel at cutting him off.

I get that you're nearing 30 and feeling badly, I do. I'm nearing 40 and am divorced and currently single after getting dumped by someone I really had no business being in a relationship with. And I get lonely and doubt whether I'll ever find anyone else. And then I think of all the crap I've been through dealing with other people's nonsense, and I feel better about not rushing the process.

Please, value yourself enough to realize that you CAN do better, much better, than this guy, and just walk away.
posted by noxetlux at 12:04 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read his response and you know, you aren't a real person to him. Because of the writing back and forth, you're more like an intelligent journal, like a captive witness to his sparkly inner nature. You are the audience to his tree falling in the forest. Nothing more.

I say that because reading his letter sounds like the stuff I might write in my livejournal, all flowery and overblown and full of pseudo deep meaning and that's where it should stay. It's an outlet. I wouldn't say those things to a real person because it's extraordinarily self-involved - all about the moment and ME. Journaling is a safe selfish outlet. It's how I learned to get over myself. Sometimes I go back and read old entries and I'm all LOLOLOL because I couldn't see my own blinding narcissism. And then I mentally pat myself on the head and am glad it was a private entry.

This guy is definitely not over himself.

Don't be seduced by this.
posted by griselda at 12:06 PM on October 26, 2011 [22 favorites]


-I don't understand why everyone else seems to think he's a creep and I can't feel that. Why do I still think well of him for the most part, still think he's a good person, and feel like this might just be a temporary blip? Why am I not feeling in my heart a desire to break it off with him?

Why do you think it might be "a temporary blip"? Because it didn't match his carefully-crafted online persona?

A good manipulator is able to make you feel bad for them as they're ruining your life. It's their special skill.

-Is it possible I just have a higher tolerance for this kind of behavior than others? It did leave me feeling awful, but I think if he toned it some his moodiness wouldn't bother me that much.

What makes you think he would be willing to tone his moodiness down, or change at all? What makes you disbelieve that this isn't how he really is? Because he typed and said nicer things to you? It seems to me that all that backpedalling was his attempt to smooth over the flaws he was unable to hide in person. The Truth, that is.
posted by noxetlux at 12:09 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why everyone else seems to think he's a creep and I can't feel that.

Go back up and re-read your first question like I, a total stranger, am telling you. What do you think? Now your best friend is telling you about how this happened to her. What do you think?

I actually believe I'd be more unhappy alone than with somebody like him, assuming he didn't become worse than he is now or physically abusive.

Do. Not. Assume.

Go to therapy for six months. If, at the end of six months, you still want a relationship with this guy, see what your therapist says. Chances are, you won't be bothered to ask.
posted by motsque at 12:10 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


My biggest fear has always been being alone forever, especially because I'm already so isolated.

Put your energies into addressing this fear.
posted by Melismata at 12:10 PM on October 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't think you sound crazy at all.

When you're close to someone, it's harder to see them clearly. There was a study I saw that was really interesting that showed that the closer people were to each other, the more INaccurate they were when asked about interests, feelings, and so on. You're really close to this situation and it's hard to be objective. That's totally normal. Not crazy. Not embarrassing.

It's also really easy for us to say "hey, get out" because we haven't spent six months pouring our hearts out to this guy. In the end, we're just typing stuff and you're the one who has to do the hard work. I'm sorry about that. I wish it were easier for you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:12 PM on October 26, 2011 [15 favorites]


Okay, look. The reason I stayed in some bad situations in the past was partly because, when I tried to get a reality check, people would respond in ways that showed that they weren't hearing me and were dismissing my concerns. Often, they weren't any more respectful than the person about whom I was trying to get a reality check. I hope I haven't done the same to you, timsneezed, I really do, but here is my attempt to do it right:

"Last night I was determined to break up with him, especially after reading this feedback, but then when we spoke again some of the stuff he told me gave me pause."

It's when you talk to him that you start to waver. Is that because he's more right than we are, or is it because he's particularly good at saying things in ways that will appeal to you? (Leaving aside the fact that you aren't in love with us lot, of course - he's already got a compelling argument that we haven't got.) That's not a rhetorical question, I really would like you to think about it. If you think he is more right than we are, tell us - we're open to persuasion from you, if not from him.

"I guess the problem is I don't believe that I *can* do better."

Well, statistically in the Internet age, and in the experience of most of us, you're probably wrong.

"My self esteem is very low"

Okay, so this is why the argument that, even if you never find anyone else, being by yourself would be better than being with him, is not convincing to you. You don't like your own company.

Being treated the way he treated you may be horrible, but perhaps it helps keep your mind off your troubles? I'm not being sarky there. When I was going through a particularly horrible set of circumstances in my life, I had a moment of realisation as to why people get into soap-opera relationships of tempestuous conflict. It helps keep their mind off things. Since you don't like yourself, maybe it helps keep your mind off you, and on him? Yes, no, maybe?

"and I've never been with a guy I was very into who treated me well."

Me neither. This argument does not seem like a winning one to me, though, for reasons I won't rehash.

"This guy is also the closest to what I want in other respects."

Are you sure? He's represented himself as being close to what you want, but for one thing, you've only known the Internet version of him. If he seemed honest, I'd say, well, okay. But he doesn't seem honest, to any of us. We've said we think he's using the Seducer's Mirror on you. Do you understand that when personality-disordered people are looking for targets to seduce, they lurk for a while, search your online history, and spend some time building up a persona that is calculated to appeal to you specifically? Like, if you mention that you donated to a particular charity, they'll go on a message board under the identity they'll use to target you, and they'll donate or say that they've donated to that charity, and they'll have good evidence that they've been active in supporting that charity and they might actually have done those things as witness to the integrity of their claim. Then a few months later, they approach you, you check them out, and oh hey look how he and I support the exact same charities! I'm serious, there are people who do this. Deliberately and systematically. Everything you've told us about this guy tends to convince me that he's created a chameleonic persona to attract you, and I don't think it's real. It may even turn out that the circumstances of his life are nothing like he's told you and you're dealing with an extreme amount of flat-out deception (on the order of, his mother and sister aren't who he says they are). Or maybe the deception is more a matter of literal truths spun in a way that paints a picture that is totally contrary to what's really going on. I do not believe that this guy is an honest person, though, for the record, nor that he has as much in common with you as you think he does.

"I'm very isolated from other people"

That's probably going to get worse, because as we've said, we think he's abusive, and abusive people will isolate you in order to work their will.

"and as I approach 30"

So, you're worried about not having the things in life you're supposed to have at your age. That's understandable. However, I don't think this guy is going to provide you with the needful things for a happy adult life. I think, instead, he's likely to deprive you of them.

"I fear that I'll lose out on any possibility of settling down."

By "settling down", you mean having children, right? Well you have at least 10 more years. Let's say you stay with someone for 2 years before you marry them, and then another 1 year before you have children. Allowing for about 1 year to grow the kid, you have 6 good years left to catch your man. You should be able to pull it off in that time, if you really work at it.

I'd also point out that, if you have a child with this man and he turns out to be abusive, you are going to open up a world of trouble and fear for yourself that you never imagined. Some abusive men tamper with birth control so their partner will get pregnant, not because they want children, but so she can't leave and he can have a lifetime of keeping her under control through visitation, child support, and harassment through the courts. He will also be able to threaten grievous harm to your putative children as a way of controlling you.

But hey, even if he has the best of intentions, would you like him to raise a child with the behaviour problems he has? He's not exactly up to that kind of challenge, is he?

"Because of my social awkwardness I have a huge amount of trouble making friends and connections."

Have you ever acted towards any of your friends the way he's acted towards you? I bet you haven't, and I bet whatever you've done, you did everything you could to make it right. So why do you think you are the socially awkward one here? Supposing this guy is just an innocent bumbler with poor control of his emotions, like you hope - well he still has some of the worst social skills that we on MeFi have ever seen. He still managed to get a girlfriend!

Seriously. I'm not being funny. Think about that.

"I've also suffered from body dysmorphia for years, and it makes me feel ugly and undesirable"

After the weekend you had, do you feel more beautiful and desirable? Or less so?

"even though other people tell me I'm crazy."

Well, if you have body dysmorphia, then by definition you are actually "crazy" about this issue. You are handing over the most vulnerable part of your mind to someone who can't be trusted to take good care of it. I think if you reflect on this for a while, you will realise that it's not a good idea to let this guy be the custodian of your beauty and desirability.

"Part of me also doesn't believe that his behavior will necessarily continue."

Well, it may change for a while, because he doesn't want to push you too far. But the point made above about certain mistakes being deal breakers in certain high-stakes situations - typos on resumes, tantrums in interviews - suggest that the behaviour you've seen is the best that this guy has to offer.

"This is going to sound nuts but I kind of wish he had made one more really stupid mistake before he left because I think three would have been my breaking point."

Can you come up with three examples of what that mistake might have been? If he'd _ed, _ed or _ed it would have been your breaking point? What are those?

"As if anticipating my thoughts,"

He's been doing that for a while.

"he preemptively started begging when we spoke last night. I'm going to paste some of what he wrote during our im conversation. He really did sound genuinely apologetic to me. I'm not sure what to think anymore. Maybe this will give a fuller sense of his personality."

It does. It just sounds like a bunch of obfuscating blather which is calibrated to confuse you and keep you around. It won't have the same effect on us because it's composed for an audience of one person - you - and not for us. By definition, therefore, it is rather hard for a third party to comment on meaningfully.

But the basic question to be answered here is: is this guy actually apologising sincerely in a way that a) mitigates the damage already done and b) provides assurance that he won't inflict more damage in the future?

No, it doesn't. I'm not sure what that kind of apology would look like, exactly, but I know for certain that this isn't it.

As I've already said, the behaviour for the entirety of the time you've spent with him has been appalling. There are non-violent MeFites here who would relish hitting him on your behalf. In general, the guy who has the social and emotional skills to truly repair this kind of damage is the guy who wouldn't have done this kind of damage in the first place. However, I'm not totally closed-minded, I think that an apology may exist, somewhere in the ether, that could demonstrate enough good faith to earn him a second chance, but it would have to be absolutely stellar. This one is not stellar. It's mediocre at best.

I'm sorry but I really do think he's blown this one. Even if we all have him completely wrong, he's had his chance and he's blown it.

Oh and I took so long to write this that you said more things. Okay:

"I'm a little hesitant about relaying my inner dialogue on here because I'm kind of embarrassed by how crazyl it'll sound to others."

I am really sorry because the forceful way I've put things might have made it seem like I'm trying to tell you you're stupid. I'm not trying to tell you that. I am answering you because I've been through the exact same thought processes and they don't fool me and I don't want them to fool you either.

"I don't understand why everyone else seems to think he's a creep and I can't feel that. Why do I still think well of him for the most part, still think he's a good person,"

Because a good social presentation is actually part of the disorder. Also, until you see it with your own eyes, it's unbelievable how dysfunctional some people can actually be. Most people simply aren't this creepy.

"and feel like this might just be a temporary blip?"

Conditioned by previous good experiences with him.

"Why am I not feeling in my heart a desire to break it off with him?"

You've invested so much already.

"Is it fair for me to judge him based on other people's experiences with similar partners? Isn't everyone unique and worth a shot or do people just fall into predictable patterns and types?"

Healthy people are unique and worth a shot, but bad and dysfunctional people are bad and dysfunctional in very stereotyped ways. The nature of their dysfunction means they can only act out a particular subset of scripts in response to any given life situation. Healthy people have more flexibility in the way they respond to things. Your guy is repeating a very stereotyped set of patterns that are very quickly recognisable to anybody who has seen them before. In time, you, too, will be able to spot people who are dysfunctional in the same ways he is.

"I actually believe I'd be more unhappy alone than with somebody like him, assuming he didn't become worse than he is now"

It is virtually guaranteed that he will become worse than he is now. Abuse almost never gets better over time. The norm is for it to get worse.

"or physically abusive."

Maybe not, but it's now recognised that most abusers don't become physically abusive. They can get arrested, and the culture as a whole is on to them. Or maybe he will become physically abusive, a lot of guys like him do. But he doesn't have to.

"My biggest fear has always been being alone forever, especially because I'm already so isolated."

Only you can judge whether being abused forever is going to feel better than being alone forever. Most of us can testify from experience that it doesn't, although the testimony is flawed because none of us has finished living our lives yet. Also, to repeat, abusers tend to isolate their prey and so you are likely to become more isolated, not less, if you stick with him.

"Is it possible I just have a higher tolerance for this kind of behavior than others?"

It is an absolute certainty that you do. That doesn't mean that it will do you any less damage than it would do to others, however.

"It did leave me feeling awful, but I think if he toned it some his moodiness wouldn't bother me that much."

Well, maybe he will tone down his moodiness temporarily if you ask him to, and only gradually turn it back up over a longer period of time. So you would have a window there when his behaviour bothered you only so much, before it got worse.

"The odd thing is when I write these thoughts down and read them back I see the crazy but they seem to make sense when they're in my head."

Keep writing them down and reading them back.
posted by tel3path at 12:23 PM on October 26, 2011 [25 favorites]


Why his response is not valid:

I am missing you so f----g much I can barely describe it.

Don't you feel bad? Don't you feel guilty? See how you HURT him? See how he NEEDS you? It's so DRAMATIC, his PAIN.

I talked with my mom on the phone earlier about what happened and she understands the situation.

LMAO. He pulls the same trick and talks to his mom instead of his sister. What's he going to do next time, talk to his grandmother? He's running out of gracious female relatives. How much do you want to bet that his poor mother is at her wits end and just wants her son to get married? Do you want to be the sacrificial lamb to a family that knows he's nuts?

She wants you to know she understands what you're going through, and also that she wanted me to convey to you that she recognizes in me how much you mean to me, and that she can see how different this is from any girl I've met in the past, and that you mean the world to me.

I HAVE IT ON GOOD AUTHORITY THAT MY MOM SAYS I'M PRINCE CHARMING. YOU'RE SPECIAL BECAUSE YOU'RE MY PRINCESS.

I want to be with you and I'm missing you hard and I regret the way our first night turned out and I know I devastated you and that I'm to blame and I'm so so sorry about it and I want to go forward and repair the trust we had before because I want to be with you more than anything you are the most special girl in the world to me.

Seriously, keep a running tally of how many times this guy uses the words "different" "special" or "unique", mmkay?

My mom really understands the emotional turmoil you went through and in talking to her I'm aware even more of what I did to hurt your trust in me and that's making me feel (rightfully) terrible.

Translation: I don't understand human emotions, because I'm a borderline sociopath. Luckily my mom navigates these things for me.

And I want more than anything to repair your trust in me so that we can move forward and be with each other like we planned. I know I f-----d up in a gigantic way. But I want to work at it more than anything and I am here for you.

Okay, timsneezed, I want you to understand something-this guy is a control freak. The way he puts you down, the way he's so breezy and casual and gets upset when you don't do things his way- it's because his mind is not there the way yours is. You're sitting there, nervous, looking into his eyes for any little sign that he likes you. He's not thinking the same thing when he looks back at you. He's thinking of how he can get reality, including you, to fit the PLAN. He's a planner. He's got a big, romantic plan all in mind and you're ruining it by living in the moment and being an actual person, see?

I will be more understanding from now on when you're feeling this way.

Do you know how EASY it is to say these things? Can you imagine how you'd feel if you accidentally hurt the feelings of say, your ten year old cousin, and then you say in that condescending tone, "Oh, I didn't mean to, let's go get ice cream?" That's the feeling he has for you. It's distant, breezy, so easy to say these things. And so easy for you to think there's more emotion behind the words than there really is.

I hope you can have faith that I mean that.

Just trust me, not reality. Not my actions. Just me.

I just think that we should go slower and let ourselves evolve in person because obviously when we were together even more was developing and I feel like anything more will put weird expectations on us, even though we're in that anyway. Do you know what I mean? I want our actions to speak for us.

I want this for us. We, us, we, us, - it's all a show being guided and directed by him.

You seemed walled up, which is expected. I'm glad I saw the crack.

Oh ho! See this sly little insult tucked in here? You're walled up, aren't you? You're DAMAGED, aren't you? He's so patient with you! Lucky girl!

I have to stop now, because it's seriously going to give me an aneurysm.
posted by Nixy at 12:28 PM on October 26, 2011 [29 favorites]


I was going to say something along the lines of tel3path, so please read it again, for me.

It's crazymaking, I know. To be barraged with what you feel like is one unified message (DTMF!) and yet...you are attached to him. It's not easy. I specifically left the 'A' off of DTMF because it's NOT EASY.

And, depending on your level of attachment and his antics when you do breakup, you aren't going to walk away saying, "phew, glad that's over!" and feel better. It may suck. For a while. That's what being in a relationship with someone who is manipulative, abusive and/or whom you are codependent with.

More specifically:

-I don't understand why everyone else seems to think he's a creep and I can't feel that. Why do I still think well of him for the most part, still think he's a good person, and feel like this might just be a temporary blip? Why am I not feeling in my heart a desire to break it off with him?

Because a manipulative person can be VERY sweet during a honeymoon phase. Because the technique of painting someone black and then white is VERY convincing. Because "I hate you, don't leave me" is VERY confusing.

-Is it fair for me to judge him based on other people's experiences with similar partners? Isn't everyone unique and worth a shot or do people just fall into predictable patterns and types?

How many shots? Until your emotional health is destroyed completely? Until he DOES hit you? So many of us are echoing the same experience and advice. Is it likely that he is different? No. Could he be different? Sure. So what? How have you felt the past few days?

-I actually believe I'd be more unhappy alone than with somebody like him, assuming he didn't become worse than he is now or physically abusive. My biggest fear has always been being alone forever, especially because I'm already so isolated.

Maybe you could tolerate this status quo. Again, how have you felt so far? The likelihood of this behavior staying at this level doesn't strike me as very high.

-Is it possible I just have a higher tolerance for this kind of behavior than others? It did leave me feeling awful, but I think if he toned it some his moodiness wouldn't bother me that much.

Again, it left you feeling awful. I withstood things that I CANNOT believe I endured in the past. Did I have a high tolerance? Maybe, probably not, others have endured much worse. What is the advantage of a higher tolerance? YOU ENDURE IT LONGER and are miserable longer. What you want is a LOW tolerance for abuse and manipulation. These days, for me, if I even have a vague icky feeling about someone, I'm all "see ya," because, you know, YOU DON'T NEED TO JUSTIFY GETTING OUT OF A SITUATION THAT MAKES YOU FEEL BAD. You don't need to analyze how or why it's bad or predict that it might get better.

Sorry if I come off as harsh. Believe me, I understand your confusion and heartache. Things are supposed to work out the way you want them to. You desperately want him to be who you want him to be (or at least not get any worse). But, please, look after yourself first. How are you feeling? Awful? Yeah.
posted by Pax at 12:36 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why everyone else seems to think he's a creep and I can't feel that. Why do I still think well of him for the most part, still think he's a good person, and feel like this might just be a temporary blip? Why am I not feeling in my heart a desire to break it off with him?

You're probably feeling this way because you want him to still be the perfect guy that you imagined he was before you met him. There are dozens of questions on AskMe where people like you really, really want a relationship to work out with someone who has serious flaws and treats them poorly. So don't expect there be a big sign that lights up in your head that says "LEAVE NOW" because that doesn't happen for a lot of people. The reason I don't think it's reasonable to count this as a temporary blip is that one, many of the things he did are not things that normal people just randomly do once in their lives and then never do it again forever, and two your bad experience encompassed the entire time you two have actually been together in real life. I don't care how long you talk to someone online and what you say to each other over the phone, if the first week you spend together in real life is terrible, then the overwhelmingly most likely outcome is that most of the time you spend together in real life will be terrible.

Is it fair for me to judge him based on other people's experiences with similar partners? Isn't everyone unique and worth a shot or do people just fall into predictable patterns and types?

You should judge him based on what he actually did, which was making you feel bad and screwing with your emotions. But in general, the idea that there are some signs that help tip off people who have bad personality traits is a valid thing. You sound like you are a trusting person who gives people the benefit of the doubt. You, more than more cynical people, need to be aware of signs that people are trying to take advantage of your trusting nature to treat you badly. It's the same as recognizing signs that someone is a con artist or any other situation, you have to train yourself to realize that some details are important in figuring out if you are in a bad situation or not.

I actually believe I'd be more unhappy alone than with somebody like him, assuming he didn't become worse than he is now or physically abusive. My biggest fear has always been being alone forever, especially because I'm already so isolated.

I think this is your core problem. If you get to the point where you would put up with someone treating you badly and making you feel like crap all the time just because it's better than being alone, then people you date will be able to walk all you and you won't be able to do anything about it. You need to have respect for yourself and expect a level of behavior from people in any interaction in life, let alone someone who you could be in a serious relationship with. If someone meets some of your needs in life but treats you badly while doing it, you owe it to yourself to stop making excuses for the person and work to get yourself in a better situation.

Is it possible I just have a higher tolerance for this kind of behavior than others? It did leave me feeling awful, but I think if he toned it some his moodiness wouldn't bother me that much.

Imagine that you hadn't known him online at all and all of this happened after you first met. Would you really say "That was awful, but if he was slightly less awful I think I might be able to stand being with him" and continue with the relationship? Sometimes you have to realize that a bad relationship is not a good relationship with a few snags that can be worked out, and the bad parts are not going to just go away.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:41 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]



"This is going to sound nuts but I kind of wish he had made one more really stupid mistake before he left because I think three would have been my breaking point."


I also want to say that this has never worked in my experience or anyone's I've known. I know, in my case, I always kept making exceptions or justifications. It's the trap of drawing some line in the sand, which, if crossed = The End. It's just not necessary - you can walk away without that line - and, the further you get entangled, the less clear that line seems.
posted by Pax at 12:41 PM on October 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't understand why everyone else seems to think he's a creep and I can't feel that. Why do I still think well of him for the most part, still think he's a good person, and feel like this might just be a temporary blip?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I've got a lot of years (and a lot of tears) on you, which helps in spotting this sort of crap. I also haven't had him charming me with mirroring for months. I haven't invested time and emotional energy into this LDR-thing. I'm not scared of being alone. That's why it's easier for me to see he is (and oh boy he is) a creep.

Is it fair for me to judge him based on other people's experiences with similar partners?

No, you should judge him on his actions, which made you feel terrible.

The fact that his behaviour and words turn out to be identical to that of abusers that other people have been in relationships with (and entirely different from the behaviour and words of good partners) is simply a way to get a more in-depth understanding of why he says and does these things, as well as how things will go in the future.

Isn't everyone unique and worth a shot or do people just fall into predictable patterns and types?

Hold on, you gave him a shot. He behaved terribly and that's why you should be walking away from this mess. Sure, everyone's unique, but who do you ask for directions in the street when you're lost? The guy wearing torn sheets ranting about aliens or one of the dozens of normal people in the street? When something important is on the line, it's best not to ignore warning signs.

I actually believe I'd be more unhappy alone than with somebody like him, assuming he didn't become worse than he is now or physically abusive.

If the best you can say at the start of a relationship is that it's marginally less unhappy than crushing loneliness, then you're going to be extremely miserable later on. The start of a relationship is when you should be feeling, in the words of The Crimea, like lottery winners on acid.

Is it possible I just have a higher tolerance for this kind of behavior than others?

You might and, as I notice Pax has said on preview, that's a problem. A tiny example: someone once called me twenty times over two hours late at night when they knew I had to get to work very early the next morning. I tolerated that and didn't cut that person out of my life for another two years. My life (and hers) would have been a lot better if I'd had a lower tolerance of bad behaviour.

The odd thing is when I write these thoughts down and read them back I see the crazy but they seem to make sense when they're in my head.

I got a great big smile reading that. You're starting to internalise that you deserve better, that people who behave badly towards you don't deserve you and although the messed up thoughts about how you're worthless and should take the first idiot you can find are coming to mind first, when you think through things slowly, you are able to see them more clearly. You're breaking out - be proud of yourself.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:52 PM on October 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


This guy actually scares me. Thinking about him makes me feel a pit in my stomach. My recommendation is to run far, far away.

Then he told me to take my clothes off and get under the covers I did.

The above quote really bothers me. It's a bizarre on a first meeting and makes him seem extremely controlling. He should have been concentrating on how you were feeling and taking care of you, not on his needs and what he wanted from you.

It seems the whole meeting was him getting what he wanted from you and treating you cruelly when things didn't go his way. I think he was confused in many cases about what he wanted, so he came off as very frenetic.

I didn't see a single thing in your posts that mentions him doing anything kind for you or even noticing that you have feelings. Even his response to you was focused on himself and what he wanted.

Another weird thing is him telling you exactly what you wanted to hear in terms of your abandonment issues. A healthy guy wouldn't promise you that everything would basically be perfect after you met. He doesn't know how things will go once you meet! He can't promise these things. A healthy guy would realize this and try to help you will your feelings while not promising that he won't abandon you. (For that matter, you shouldn't necessarily be talking about your abandonment issues until you've met the person.) In terms of commitment, words mean almost nothing. Actions are all that matters.

If he was a teenager, some of this would be understandable, but this isn't the way an adult behaves (even one who doesn't have any relationship experience). My creep radar is on high alert with this guy.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:15 PM on October 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sorry if this is a personal question, but are your parents happy together?

Not to speculate, but maybe the reason you don't see the warning signs is because as a child you weren't given an example of a normal relationship between a couple.

(Not saying this is an absolute truth, but in my case it is/was)

I'm seconding the people who are saying you might benefit from therapy, because you don't see yourself worthy of a normal relationship - or, for that matter, you don't seem to know what a normal relationship is like.
posted by revikim at 1:22 PM on October 26, 2011


I can completely understand where you're coming from with the low self-esteem, and the fear of being along forever. And I'm all for giving people second chances, focusing on their good qualities, etc. But even with all that, I wouldn't give this guy another chance. Dealing with emotionally unstable people is no fun. On the best days, you're walking on eggshells trying not to set them off; on bad days, you hide from them. (Been there, done that.) As painful as it may seem, you're better off alone (for now, at least). I know it's incredibly hard, but please don't give up hope for future relationships.

At the very least, I'd break off all contact for a few months, with the possible option of getting back in touch at the end of some designated time. This will let things cool off and give you some perspective. Right now you're too caught up (rightfully so) in all the emotions. You need some distance from this.

Best of luck to you.
posted by phoenix_rising at 1:34 PM on October 26, 2011


Hey timsneezed, so I read over your earlier relationship posts and noticed that they're very articulate, honest and well-written. I hope you can see that too. I also noticed in your posts that you have a pattern of pretty unhealthy relationship behaviour.

Please, please, please take all of your issues to a therapist and work them out - your low self-esteem, not liking guys who treat you well, fears of not settling down, social anxiety, body dismorphia, abandonment issues. It sounds like a lot, but there are so many people who have the same issues (or worse) and they've gotten to a place of loving themselves and putting themselves first. But it takes work. A lot. But it is SO worth it. You really, really need to do that. Being in a relationship is not going to solve these issues for you. You have to. Your low self-esteem puts blinders on you so that you can't see that this guy is a creep; you can't discern unhealthy relationship behaviours and you believe you don't deserve better.

Please make a commitment to yourself and to start loving yourself and start taking care of yourself. This means getting a therapist, getting exercise, eating well, sleeping enough, doing stuff you enjoy. Find an activity that you love and get better at it. We're all rooting for you. So often we choose people who are bad for us, choose people who are super drama, precisely because it takes time and energy from having to deal with our own problems. It's so much easier, and in a way fun (though perverse) to wring our hands over the behaviour of someone else, to wonder what we should do, to plot out our moves, to anticipate the moves they make, and to get totally taken in by emails written like this guy. I know that several years ago, I would have totally fallen for an email like his - it just sounds so good. He talked it out with his female relatives! His mom understands me! He says I mean so much to him! I'm unique and special and he wants me! He's trying to make amends! It takes a lot of self-growth and increase in self-esteem to see this for what it is: crap. And yet, I don't believe he's lying. I think he believes in what he's saying, but he is like you: he doesn't know how to have a healthy relationship. And that does not mean the both of you should try to figure out how to have a healthy relationship together. Do you think two alcoholics in their addictions are going to help each other recover? No, you have to do the loving thing for yourself and say to him, "I'm breaking up with you. Bye." Block email, phone, etc. (Do NOT say to him or yourself that you will contact him in a few months. Just end it. Cut and go.) And go and work on yourself - talk a walk/jog, find a therapist, write our your feelings in a journal, call a friend, cook or eat a favourite food, read a favourite book, take a nap - do these little loving things for yourself and it will really add up.
posted by foxjacket at 1:38 PM on October 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't really have much to add but I just wanted to say that I think its really brave that you've come here to post and have read all the responses and come back to respond in such an articulate and thoughtful manner.

You wrote " Why do I still think well of him for the most part, still think he's a good person, and feel like this might just be a temporary blip? Why am I not feeling in my heart a desire to break it off with him?" and I think this sums up a lot of the problem, there are probably a lot of good things about this guy and the good parts about the relationship are worth something but sometimes you need to step back and think about the fact that some things aren't excusable.

The way he treated you isn't excusable, and I think its perfectly normal to feel scared of giving up the good parts of your relationship but its so amazing that you realize that the way he treated you wasn't right that shows a really tremendous strength of character.

I hope this works out for the best for you and if you ever need to talk feel free to memail me.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 2:35 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


What foxjacket said, so much. He's got some major issues of his own that are causing him to perpetrate this situation.

You seem like a really articulate, caring person, and I think that's why you've hit a nerve and gotten so many kind responses. People see your good qualities and want happiness for you.

I get being lonely - I really do. But trying to win the love you want from someone who enjoys dangling it over your nose is not going to happen. The treat you crave is always going to be an inch away, because he likes depriving you to make himself feel valued. He's the mean guy who taunts puppies, whether he "means" to or not, and then once in a while lets them have a treat so he feels generous. Which makes him the jerkface and you the adorable trusting puppy that everybody wants to rescue and put in a good, loving home. The pattern is right there in your post and replies, set many times over, and that's why everyone is running around like angry squirrels with their tails on fire trying to flag you off the runway.

Unfortunately you aren't a puppy, and you have to do the hard work of rescuing yourself.
posted by griselda at 3:24 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


So much additional good advice has been given, so I just want to touch on one thing you brought up in your follow-ups: the idea that you can't do better, and that you may actually rather be with someone like him than be alone.

Let's look at this another way: would you rather 1) have the same issues that make you unhappy your whole life, and they NEVER go away or 2) would you rather get past those issues and heal? If you stay with him, you're picking option one until you do leave him. If you leave, option two is never ruled out -- and in fact, the very ACT of leaving sets in motion some necessary parts of fulfilling option two.

You cannot get better if you're in a relationship with someone who treats you this way. I have written before on AskMeFi about some reasons why women (or anyone, really) stay in abusive relationships. Do you recognize any of those dynamics in yourself? How are you supposed to love yourself and feel good about yourself when the person who is supposed to love you most treats you as he has? People like to talk about how self-esteem needs to come from within, but the truth of the matter is most people can only take that kind of emotional beating if they already have self-esteem; if you don't already have it, if you have never felt you are worthwhile and valuable, you cannot build that self-respect by keeping people like him around to constantly tear down what you're trying to build.

Your foundation for your self-respect, right now, needs to be cutting off contact with this guy. When you have, you can start building on the foundation with fewer intrusions. Most insecurities are considerably easier to fix when one has the option of removing judgmental, abusive, and harmful people from their life because you get to stop second-guessing yourself for a while. When people say that self-esteem comes from within, they don't mean other people have no effect on it! That would be absurd! What they mean is that you can't control what other people do, so you have to rearrange what you CAN control to build that self-esteem. What you CAN control is not letting this guy anywhere near your life. You already feel shitty about yourself, you don't need other people taking shifts to make sure you never forget to feel bad.

But by the same token, you may think well, if other people affect our self-esteem, he also makes you feel good about yourself sometimes, right? But ask yourself this: when you think about getting better, do you think, "I want self-esteem that can be stripped from me on someone else's whim?" or do you think, "I just wish this stuff would quit mattering so much to me, that it just wouldn't bother me. I wish I didn't hate how I looked, I wish I didn't think I was too messed up to love," etc? Well, when you lean on him for good feelings, or even for a distraction, you're not building real self-esteem; you're getting your bearings maybe, and with someone who wouldn't pull the crap he does, that would actually be okay! Surrounding yourself with people who cheer you on is an important first step! Instead of the world telling you you're crap, the world is telling you you're great, and it gets easier to internalize that yourself. Everyone starts somewhere. But those people must not do the exact opposite and treat you like trash at ANY time. It is NEVER okay for someone to treat someone else like he has treated you. It reinforces all the things you already think are wrong with you. It does not permit healing. Even worse, it gives you discouraging or catastrophic associations for when things are going well, because last time things were going well, look what happened.

So yeah, being with him is MUCH MUCH worse than being alone, because you're going to eventually feel bad not just when things suck, but also when things don't suck right that minute. You'll reach a point where you're having a nice dinner with him, and he's being great... and yet you can't shake a feeling of dread. You're trading "every now and then I have inklings of hope, or accomplishment" that could increase in frequency as you heal, for "I feel awful and scared even when things are going well because he pulls some shit just when I start feeling safe." Safety and self-esteem become illusory. You will feel worse about yourself, more scared, more unable to enjoy the good times. You will work harder and harder to keep him pleased, for less and less pay-off.

You will have a hard time accepting that you are worthy of love when there are people in your life that reinforce the idea that you're not, even if it's just sometimes. These ideas are so hammered into your thought processes that someone could go for months putting on a nice show for you, and the first cruelty would bring it all crashing back, and worse. It's not like you're going to forget life-learned negative thought patterns in between the gaps of his shitty behavior and somehow get better. You must have NO tolerance for anything that reinforces those thought patterns if you want to get better. Fuck how sad he says he is about the break-up, you cannot worry about his feelings. He knew you had abandonment issues and he either willfully manipulated you or was unforgivably insensitive about it -- NOT the kind of person you should have around you while you try to get better. Alone is better. I feel for you, I really do, because my best friend had the "I can't do better and I don't want to be alone" thing for SO LONG and it's only this year where she's buckled down more on being alone and has made huge strides in progress since then. When you cut the people out who echo your most negative thoughts about yourself, when you only associate with those who ALWAYS treat you well, so much gets better.

You don't feel like this guy is awful because you have never had better. When other people tell you relationships can be better than this, you can't quite compute what that would be, or how to recognize it, am I right? This doesn't seem *that* bad, right, like just a clash of weird circumstances that really hurt you but some pain is normal, right? That's because you don't let yourself find better when you get mired down with guys like this. If had better, you WOULD feel that this guy is awful. You would realize that good relationships are almost NEVER painful. Pain, in a good relationship, isn't "my partner is contemptuous of me and blames me and callously stabs me in all my sore spots." Pain, in a good relationship, is more externally sourced, and largely based on concern for things -- like "my husband has cancer" or "our son is in trouble and we're worried for him." And once you ditch this guy and have relationships with less disturbed people, you will realize the difference because of the contrast. You will be able to recognize this guy's disturbances in new people you meet.

But for now, you almost have to take a leap of faith that your emotions are not caught up with what you logically know to be true. I am actually very encouraged by your responses because you seem to be at the state where you could do that. You're able to look at your emotions objectively, to question them, and you wouldn't have asked this question if you did not have an underlying concern for your own well-being and an acceptance that you might not make the best decision if you don't hear outside perspectives. You're able to recognize something is wrong here.

But as you can see, it is VERY hard to fight our patterns of behavior, especially when it comes to taking action. Once you do it it gets easier, but you have to do it! You have to stand up to that pattern and say that's enough. It's giving in to patterns that have served you poorly if you choose to stay with this guy. It's deciding, "Maybe someday... later... I'll get better, somehow, but not right now." Why NOT right now? Why endure all the horrible negative self-talk and harmful patterns any longer? The first step to getting better, RIGHT NOW, is not letting yourself stay with this guy. You may feel apprehensive about leaving because what will your life look like if you leave... but what will your life look like if you stay? And if, god forbid, you have kids with this guy, do you really want them raised by someone like that? It will be considerably easier, psychologically and emotionally, to cut off contact now than if you leave later -- and if it helps, easier not just for you, but for him, too. And the other thing about patterns is the more we give in, the harder they are to break.

I really do believe that, despite how hard it is, despite your fear of being alone, despite your fear that you can't do better, despite how you don't want to hurt this guy, you have the strength to recognize none of that is true, and that how this guy feels is not a bigger concern than whether you get better or not. As the saying goes, the only thing harder than the hard way is the easy way. It would be easier, as a choice, to just stay with this guy, but it's going to dig your hole deeper. He's looking out for himself and what he wants. He's not prioritizing your wellbeing; you must do that. It's only fair.

Your resolve falters when you talk to him, so just stop. Block his e-mail address, block his phone numbers, block his IMs, don't participate in any internet forums where he can talk to you. That might seem cruel, but if it's the only way you can be strong enough to dump him right now, then it's necessary; it's not like he's earned any nicer response. As someone whose ex-boyfriend gave her the silent treatment and thought it was REALLY shitty, I am giving you permission that it's okay in your circumstances. He won't be confused for more than a few days. If you don't feel comfortable doing that, then write him an explanation e-mail first that is absolutely non-negotiable, and explain you're blocking his communications because you feel it's important to your mental health and resolve, and because you don't want to talk to him anymore (whether it's 100% true or not, he needs to THINK you don't want to talk to him anymore so it's less an incentive for him to fine ways to needle you -- which he'll probably do anyway, but you can't leave any doors open). Be direct and to the point: "I can't do this. I do not want to be in a relationship with you any longer. My mind will not be changed. Do not contact me or respond to this. I am blocking all your communications. If you care about me at all, you will respect this and never speak to me again."

If he continues to bother you after that, NEVER respond. Not even once. Not even if he persists for months. It encourages them, and they will bother you MUCH more as soon as they get a response. If it gets bad, you can do what my friend I mentioned in the first comment had to do, and get a lawyer to write him a cease and desist letter. After that would come a restraining order, if necessary, although from what I've read this can escalate things and ignoring them can be a better option in a lot of scenarios. But don't assume it'll go to even the lawyer stage or anything, I'm saying this just to say that every time you respond to him, you are encouraging him. I have an inkling he'll probably try to change your mind at least for a bit, just because even untroubled people will sometimes try that. So once you tell him it's over, that MUST be it. Document but do not respond to anything he may send your way after that. Use AskMeFi again if any problems arise with him if you break up and I and others can help you further.
posted by Nattie at 3:47 PM on October 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


-Is it fair for me to judge him based on other people's experiences with similar partners? Isn't everyone unique and worth a shot or do people just fall into predictable patterns and types?

I was married to someone who acted in a similar way. I met him online, though he was local. Part of the reason that those of us who have been in relationships with similar people are so vocal here is that I can't fathom having someone else go through those years of pain. I always hope that somehow I'll come up with the magical words to get through that I've felt like I couldn't do better and I was wrong, and you can do better too.

I recognized all the red flags, and ignored them because I wanted to believe there was a great person in there. I am paying off 30K in debts accumulated while I was with him. I would pay it all again to be rid of him. Please memail me if you want to talk more. I don't want you to have to repeat my hell. You are worth so much more than you are giving yourself credit for.
posted by Zophi at 3:49 PM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


-Is it fair for me to judge him based on other people's experiences with similar partners? Isn't everyone unique and worth a shot or do people just fall into predictable patterns and types?

These questions led me into a horrendously awful and soul-sucking relationship when I was in my early 20's. That particular guy, and I mean this 100%, could have written virtually word-for-word the stuff that you pasted here from this one. I have mentioned him before on AskMe in questions of this nature - he's the one who is now serving at least 9 more years for armed robbery. I am not kidding about any of this, much as I wish I were. Your question portrayed his behavior as undeniably icky, but that follow-up with his "apology..." just, literally chilling to read.

Anyway, back to the point at hand, I completely and totally understand where you're coming from with the above-quoted question of yours. It IS hard for compassionate, decent people to do what they may perceive as "turning our backs" on someone who just needs a little help and support to be all that they want to be; in other words, to not "give them another shot." And in many cases, that may be true.

It is not true here.

In my above-mentioned robber example, the dude legitimately did have a lot of problems and what you might call a "hard life." He preyed on my sympathy (and not just mine) and everything was about HIM HIM HIM and his problems and how I was selfish and didn't care. But you know what? Looking back, I see now that most, if not all, of his problems were HIS OWN DAMN FAULT! Like, he had financial problems and couldn't pay the rent? Yeah, that wasn't my fault because I was selfish and wouldn't give him the money my parents sent me for car insurance. It was because he spent all his money on beer and weed and the occasional crack rock. His friends "don't understand him" and he has no one who's "there for him?" Yep, not my fault...perhaps he should not have abused their trust and goodwill on countless occasions. And so on.

This dude of yours DOES NOT take responsibility for the problems that he faces, and I do grant you that they are likely legit. But if he doesn't face up to his responsibility, then NO ONE ELSE CAN DO IT FOR HIM. Not you, not his mom or his sister (ehh, or whatever), and you do NOT want to get sucked down that black hole of trying to "fix" a willfully broken person. You will end up in a life situation that will be absolutely appalling, and I wish I didn't speak from experience.

As far as "giving him a shot," listen, he HAD his shot. All he had to do was not act like a sociopath for 72 hours, and he failed miserably at that. "Giving someone another shot" is for when they spill their drink on you accidentally and then act like a dork because they're flustered. It's for if they say something accidentally awkward that truly does not reflect who they really are. Those people? Yep, they get another shot. This one? Let him have his shot far, far away from you. I have met this guy's carbon copy, and he will take your life nowhere good. Please, let my experience and that of the many, many others who've written painfully honest posts here keep you from walking down the same road.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 4:08 PM on October 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Two more things, timsneezed:

1. Do you want to tell your kids this story when they ask how mommy and daddy met?

2. Although his message reeked of insincerity and manipulativeness, especially in the latter half, it's possible that he was just being completely honest and unfiltered. Nevertheless, that's just as bad, because it shows a devastating lack of maturity, extreme emotional instability, and preoccupation with himself (normal people edit themselves in conversation with others). And frankly, limitless stupidity. Whether this guy has a screw loose or is just mindnumbingly DUMB, either way, life with him would be hell. There's no other option. He's stupid or evil. Or both. Don't inflict that on yourself or your future kids.
posted by Nixy at 5:55 PM on October 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm a little hesitant about relaying my inner dialogue on here because I'm kind of embarrassed by how crazyl it'll sound to others. But here are my thoughts:

Your thoughts don't sound crazy at all. I've had the same thoughts before, and I suspect a lot of the other people here have, too, and that's why these questions get so many responses. We're all trying to time travel. If I could have a little chat with my past self, she'd probably say something exactly like this:

I don't understand why everyone else seems to think he's a creep and I can't feel that. Why do I still think well of him for the most part, still think he's a good person, and feel like this might just be a temporary blip? Why am I not feeling in my heart a desire to break it off with him?

This is what I wish someone had told her - told me:

You don't have to hate him before it's okay to move on. Just because you still love him doesn't mean you should stay. You don't have to see him as a creep, the way everyone else does, before it's okay to end it. You don't have to ever see him that way, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have left.

The people who'd tell me to end it would say, essentially, "He's an asshole, therefore you should leave." But I knew he wasn't an asshole (even though he sometimes acted like an asshole); ergo (I thought) I shouldn't leave. I used to think of women who caught their man cheating, dumped his stuff on the lawn, changed the locks, and never spoke another word to him again. But my ex didn't cheat or slap me around or murder my rabbit or anything, and he wasn't a sociopath - he was a genuinely good person with a lot of good qualities, and so I couldn't imagine severing ties with that sort of cruel finality. I thought that in order to be justified in ending it, I shouldn't have any doubts, and I shouldn't miss him, and basically I should be at a point where I could say, "Fuck that douchebasket! Wow, were you ever right about that loser! I hope he dies!" I wasn't, I never was, and I never will be. But thank god we are not together anymore.

And if you do break up with him, and afterwards, it hurts like crazy, and you find yourself doubting and regretting and missing him and still loving him, that doesn't mean you made the wrong decision. Moving on doesn't mean you've realized once and for all that it's hopeless - it's that you've decided that waiting to find out isn't worth what you'll go through in the meantime.
posted by granted at 6:15 PM on October 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


I just got through reading all of this and honestly had a lump in my throat as to how sad I am for you. I get this guy (like many others have too) because we have been there and know the pain that is coming your way if you stay with him.

I started writing my story so you might know how much I truly understand, but no matter what we say, we can't make you really understand this special kind soul-crushing pain you have in your future without first hand experience. But we all know it is coming if you stay with this guy and hope you take our (universal) word for it and dump him.

I am so sorry he treated you so abysmally. Good luck, choose your happiness and be kind to yourself. You are loved.
posted by murrey at 6:18 PM on October 26, 2011


He found this thread, and he's understandably depressed/hurt. :(

I feel pretty guilty about sharing all this detail about my relationship on here and especially posting some of our im conversation.

I really appreciate all the support and advice I've gotten but this will be my last post in this thread. I'll continue to read the responses, though.
posted by timsneezed at 6:20 PM on October 26, 2011


I think you should thank your lucky stars that he has to get on a plane to get anywhere near you instead of in the same city, so he won't be showing up at your door all the time with the crazy.

Having seen more than my share of abusive, manipulative behavior, what I notice from those who put up with it is.. very easily (constantly) making a distinction between the surface of things - the quotidian behavior - and some innate idea about who the person really is, that is completely contradictory. "He (or she) is basically a good person! Sure, I never know if s/he'll do something horrible or violent based on his/her mood today... but at heart s/he's really a good person."

It seems like a way of glossing over the inexcusable things he or she does to you in order to justify sticking with that person, because otherwise you'd have to be crazy, right? But you have to face the fact that someone who does shitty things on a daily basis is, first and foremost, someone who does shitty things on a daily basis! There is nothing more to it than that, unless you want to live your life in a fantasy land where you're spending time with the imaginary good person, instead of the asshole who exists in reality.
posted by citron at 6:21 PM on October 26, 2011


We are all insulting the living snot out of this man, and you love him. This must really be painful for you to read.

We know why you love him. We all did. Some of us still do. We know he is going to make you feel like you are eating glass.

You'll figure it out. You're lucid enough. You know the whole story.
posted by tel3path at 6:30 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


DO NOT feel guilty. Do not. Do not. You were looking out for yourself, and rightly so!

I mean, he's depressed/hurt?

You wrote: Today I woke up feeling, again, emotionally exhausted and confused.

His actions made a bunch of strangers jump all over themselves to roundly condemn his treatment of you. That's no fluke. And he's hurt?

I, uh, have no nice words for that. Wait a day or two and come back and re-read this thread.
posted by griselda at 6:30 PM on October 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


If he's hurt he should think long and hard about how his behavior affects other people. It is an opportunity to grow and change for the better.

Did he apologize for hurting you, which he did, or is it all about his feelings about himself again? He should really think about that and the self-centeredness of it. I'm not trying to sound mean here. Focusing on the actions and things you do on a daily basis may be enlightening. Emotions are transient and you can just observe them and watch them go by, instead of blaming others for causing them. You do not want to be in a relationship with someone who makes YOU responsible for keeping them on an even keel emotionally at all times and judges you accordingly.
posted by citron at 6:32 PM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hi, timsneezed's "boyfriend".

I think it's really low to stalk someone on the internet so that after you mistreat them horribly, you can find out if they're talking about what you did to them and then make them feel like shit for trying to get help when they're scared and confused because of how you treated them.
posted by palomar at 6:35 PM on October 26, 2011 [48 favorites]


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