Was this (ex)relationship problem properly handled?
December 18, 2011 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Recently, I said some harsh things to an ex whom until recently I had remained very good friends with. These things had been boiling inside me for months and I had to say them at this point. However, ever since I said them, she has disappeared from her online profiles (which she updated multiple times every day), I have no way of contacting her, and I'm worried. Obviously there's a lot going on, and some of it may be serious.

Backstory: Two years ago, I met a girl online whom I was instantly drawn to (we'll call her S). She was two years older than me (at the time I was 15, nearly 16, and she was 18) and 6000 miles away, but we developed a friendship. We meshed very well together. For several months we remained friends, contacting each other via Facebook every so often, but after those few months we sort of faded out. In summer of 2010, we started talking again. At the time I was questioning my sexuality heavily (I found myself attracted to other girls and wasn't sure what to make of it) and I realized that I'd always had a bit of an unrealized crush on S. We talked online for hours every day - at least four, and as much as 14. After a couple of weeks she revealed that she had feelings for me, and I for her, and we decided to get together.
Distance was the biggest issue. I was 16 and starting college, so I had a decent amount of financial aid money, and I had no hesitations about buying S a $700 plane ticket to come and visit me. But her circumstances changed unexpectedly. Her mother got divorced, packed up, and moved to the other side of the country, leaving S as good as homeless. After talking to my mother and reasoning it out, I changed the ticket to a one-way trip. S was going to move in with me in November 2010, just before I turned 17.
As that date approached, S became more and more hesitant. Three weeks before she was scheduled to arrive, she decided not to come. I was absolutely devastated. I sunk so rapidly into depression that a therapist had to make house calls to see me. I cried every moment I was awake. My mom was furious because of the hurt S had caused me, but also because I had spent $700 on a plane ticket for her that she was not going to use. S changed her mind several times within those three weeks and her ultimate decision was that she was not going to come, that she was breaking up with me, and that she would not reimburse me for the plane ticket.
I became suicidal and was hospitalized and forced to drop out of college. A month after I got out, after having little to no correspondence with S at all, she texted me saying she missed me and she wanted to try again. I gave in and agreed. She and I began talking again. We decided that we would not be in a relationship until we were physically together, but that we would still be allowed to express romantic feelings towards one another.
In January, S was looking up plane tickets from her home in Ohio to my home in Hawaii, and found one for $300. The flight was in February. We both wanted it, but I had so many reservations. I talked to my mom and she reluctantly approved the plan, provided that I did not pay for any travel. I lied and paid for half anyway. It was the stupidest decision I ever made.
S got here in February, and it was wonderful. She bought a car, applied for jobs, and we were finally able to communicate without being on edge. It was the time of my life. Ten nights into her stay, I was in a foul mood because I was worried about our finances. We had blown a lot of money really quickly and I was scared. This set S off really badly. She wouldn't talk to me or look at me, and checked into a hotel for the night because my bad mood was "giving her panic attacks" and "making her want to go back to Ohio" and "making her wish she hadn't come". That night in the hotel, she actually had a panic attack and went to the hospital. I wanted to be there but couldn't get there. It was two in the morning, I couldn't drive, and my parents wouldn't wake up. On the phone, S said that her uncle was buying her a plane ticket back to Ohio, and that the flight was leaving that very morning. When she got back to my house, she just packed her things, not looking at me but trying to convince me that it "wasn't anything I did". I didn't believe her. She told me that nothing would change, that we were still together and that she still loved me, and then she left and I was a wreck. It tore my family apart as well. We had all really liked her and then she was gone.
We stayed in the relationship for another month and a half before she broke it off. She didn't tell me; I found out by reading on her Twitter that she was going out with another girl back in Ohio. I sent her a few messages basically consisting of "why did this happen" and "what did I do" and that was it.
For months we didn't talk. She removed me from her Facebook. But in September, she messaged me. She had moved to North Dakota and was in need of $300 to pay her rent. I was shocked that she had messaged me at all, and even more shocked that our first communication in months was her begging for money. I shouldn't have said yes. But I was still in love with the stupid girl, so I sent her $300 the next day. She swore she would pay me back when she got her financial aid check. I asked her every other week for her to pay me back, and got no response. I fucked up, big time.
Our family fell into hardship and kept falling. Prices are high in Hawaii, and most weeks we didn't have food every day. I asked S for the $300 back and got no reply. Our only car broke down and I asked S for the $300. No reply. She messaged me a week later asking to borrow $100. I told her no, I didn't have $100, sorry. She didn't message me for weeks, and her next correspondence with me was a link to a funny picture she liked.

Current situation: Several days ago, our car broke down again, and we are already dangerously close to not making rent this month. I asked S one more time to give me back the $300. This time she replied, saying that she was moving (she moves every month, it seems) and instead offering me "advice" on how to make money (donate plasma! pawn things! payday loan!). I had had it. I told her that I didn't want to hear any sobstory of hers anymore, that I was tired of being screwed over by her, and that she should've either kept her word or not bothered me at all. I told her that she needs help, that she's so unstable that it worries me night and day, and finally, what I'd wanted to say to her for months: that she'd really messed me and my family up emotionally and mentally, and that I was tired of it and that I would never speak to her or help her again.
She didn't reply, and since then she's disappeared from her online presence. Normally she would update her Tumblr hundreds of times a day. Five days ago I sent the message, and since then not one post has appeared on her Tumblr. There has been nothing on her Twitter. I called her and there was no answer.
I'm (despite myself) extremely worried. She has a history of suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, self-harm, and dangerous behavior. I have this absolute nagging feeling that I may have triggered that. I don't want to care about her anymore, but I do, and I am incredibly afraid that what I said set her off. I want to tell myself that I did the right thing by telling her that her behavior towards me both in and out of our romantic relationship was unacceptable, but I'm having a hard time believing it.

So my ultimate questions: did I do the right thing by telling her what I felt and not letting her charm me over? And how do I stop worrying about what my words may or may not have triggered in her? I have to wait until next week to talk to my therapist, but the anxiety is killing me and I just don't know whether I did the right thing or not.
posted by marriedtotacos to Human Relations (32 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This chick bilked you out of three hundred bucks and you're worried about whether you hurt HER feelings?

Honey, seriously, if you need the money badly sue her in small claims court; but otherwise tell her to light the $300 on fire, stick it up her ass, and never talk to you again. Because she is a manipulative user.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:49 AM on December 18, 2011 [23 favorites]

She may be truly upset by what you said, but she may also be trying to manipulate you. You can't hold yourself responsible for someone else's responses to the honest truth. This girl sounds majorly unstable, and I know that you care about her, but you have to take care of yourself first. That's what you're doing. Defriend her on all social media sites so you don't have to notice if she's updated or not.
posted by chaiminda at 5:53 AM on December 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

As far as the money, this is a life lesson - only lend money that you can afford to lose. There is always a good chance it won't be paid back.
posted by k8t at 5:55 AM on December 18, 2011 [9 favorites]

This girl is playing you. She's hoping you'll be so worried that when she does show up again, you'll be so relieved she's okay, you'll give her more money.

Honestly, the only thing you did wrong was to not cut off contact after the initial $700 ripoff. You need to stop thinking about her, and take care of you. She will be fine: she's a master manipulator and will find someone else to play her games.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:05 AM on December 18, 2011 [12 favorites]

did I do the right thing by telling her what I felt and not letting her charm me over?

You did the right thing.

And how do I stop worrying about what my words may or may not have triggered in her?

Give it time. Do not under any circumstances contact her. This person is bad for you, and might be playing games with you. You are not responsible for her, nor are you responsible what actions she might take to harm herself. You are not responsible for her emotions.

That anger and hurt that you had when you finally let go and told her what you think? Hold onto it. Use it as your anchor to having the strength to not contact her. Whenever you feel guilty, remind yourself of how angry she made you.

And I agree with chaiminda, defriend and unfollow her. Completely cut her out of your social media browsing.
posted by royalsong at 6:07 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah, my ex owes me $3000 that I'm never going to see but could really use.

As far as her current drama... I understand your concern. I had a bf that I worried for years I had driven to suicide. Then social networking came around and I saw he was fine. I was truly relieved. But, despite my concern for him at the time, I focused on what I needed and cut off all contact with him.

What you and your family need is what's important here. This girl has family to help her. You have your own family, and they are much more important than some manipulative bitch who has caused a ton of crap and messed with your head.

You really should cut off all contact with her - delete her number, block her FB, block the URL for her tumblr, etc. Get her out of your life and focus on your own problems.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:10 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also: you are not ever responsible for someone else's state of mind. Does she feel guilty for your state of mind right now? It doesn't appear so.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:12 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

For future knowledge: nobody's ex EVER pays them back money. Any time you give someone money anyway, you should know that the odds of getting it back are slim to none, but especially if they USED to date you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:58 AM on December 18, 2011 [12 favorites]

You've listed the money you spent having S some to Hawaii. She seems to have spent quite a bit as well. A car, an emergency room visit when you were in a foul mood, and a last-minute ticket back to Ohio. You're both pretty young, and pretty impulsive. You sent her money when she asked. What were you expecting in return?

It's unlikely you'll get any money back from someone whose life is in so much turmoil. It's not possible to tell if she scammed you or is in over her head. You are too far away, and too emotionally enmeshed to deal with her drama. Either way, there's no relationship here. Move on.

Far more important than $300 and more immediate than her emotional state is yours. You became suicidal and was hospitalized and forced to drop out of college because someone you met on the Internet didn't come to visit. You spent financial aid money on a potential girlfriend. You loaned money to someone who is clearly not in a stable position. You haven't really let go of this young woman, and you really have to. Get whatever therapy and support you need. Build a sustainable emotional life for yourself so that the failure of a potential relationship doesn't derail you.

on preview, quoted for truth: nobody's ex EVER pays them back money.
posted by theora55 at 7:06 AM on December 18, 2011 [48 favorites]

There are times when people are responsible for someone else's emotional state. This is not one of them. She's burned you multiple times, used you and when you reasonably asked for money back was rude to you. Cut her off, stop following her on social media and let it go. Stop worrying about her because she does not worry about you.

This is one of those things that you learn when you get into relationships. Some people are jerks who think only of themselves. She didn't pay you back the $150 for half the plane ticket when you were dating so I don't know why you'd expect her to pay you back for stuff once you were broken up. Break ups get messy and its okay to feel bad about saying harsh things to her because the emotions involved are complicated, but you've done nothing wrong based on your description.
posted by GilvearSt at 7:06 AM on December 18, 2011

Best answer: I told her that she needs help, that she's so unstable that it worries me night and day, and finally, what I'd wanted to say to her for months: that she'd really messed me and my family up emotionally and mentally, and that I was tired of it and that I would never speak to her or help her again.

These are totally reasonable things to say. Seriously, 100% reasonable and well overdue. Block her on all your social networks, do not post or tweet about your concerns, and basically ignore this turn of affairs. Stick to your no contact guns.

Now, let's be realistic here. 90% or higher probability is that she's withdrawn to worry and punish you because she's a narcissist and a manipulator. Not feeding into that is the best way to deal with people like that, ie by not dealing with them at all. There's a 10% or less probability that she's attempted suicide, but Jesus Christ, look at the history you've laid out here. When that's someone's reaction to drawing totally normal healthy boundaries, the problem is not with you the boundary drawer. You are, to put it plainly, not that powerful. Don't fuck yourself up by thinking you are.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:10 AM on December 18, 2011 [29 favorites]

You did the right thing not to give her money.

I don't think you did "the" right thing by telling her how you feel. Or at least, not the smart thing.

Harriet Lerner writes that people are often tempted into big confrontation scenes where they finally "clear the air," "speak their mind," etc, but that they basically never lead to a meaningful change in the relationship patterns, and are in fact much more likely to protect and maintain the status quo.

Which is what happened in this case. You let loose, and now you're just as emotionally embroiled in her as before, if not more. Speaking up hasn't freed you from her emotional hold on you. You're still looking to her for your emotional cues, depending on her behavior and responses to tell you whether you're okay or not, and obsessing about her from thousands of miles away while paying no attention to taking care of yourself and your own life.

You (and it sounds like, your family) are in a dire situation yourselves, yet all your energy is pouring out into her instead of focusing on how to help yourself.

You've already given this young woman way too much power over your life. No one can force you to drop out of school or make you sick unless you've moved to the back seat and handed over your keys. It's time to get your eyes onto the road instead of onto her.

I actually think that focusing on yourself and your own life will do more to help you deal with your anxiety about her than anything else.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:17 AM on December 18, 2011 [15 favorites]

I get the sense that you're worried about her but that's a guise to pull her back to you to you can berate her and make her feel like she's not capable of change. You're angry at her over money, when she made some pretty scary decisions---like moving to Hawaii for someone she met on the Internet who was not in a position to help her and then was mean to her.

She definitely shouldn't have asked you for $300 but you shouldn't have lent it to her. Don't lend people money if you want to see it come back to you.

You're bad for her and she's bad for you. End of story. She may have found a healthier existence and life. You really have to move on.
posted by anniecat at 7:20 AM on December 18, 2011

You didn't say anything unreasonable/mean/awful.

You're also not as important as you think you are. Your words (in this case, attempting to draw boundaries and end a relationship) don't have the ability to make her harm herself.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:37 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have this absolute nagging feeling that I may have triggered that.

You're a budding young drama queen and emotional caretaker. But you're being played by a far more advanced type.

Stop, breathe and disengage.

She's messing with you to hurt you, like she has before. (She moved across the country and then took off immediately? I mean, come on.) You finally told her how you felt and she took off. Good for you! Lesson learned.

No contact. No searching for her. No sitting around tearing out your hair in your room. You'll learn how to write this off with peace and good feelings towards her eventually.

Spend some quiet time with yourself. You're fine; don't sweat it all so much. You have the right to feel and act and to express those feelings with words however and whenever you like.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:39 AM on December 18, 2011 [7 favorites]

What RJ Reynolds said.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:43 AM on December 18, 2011

Response by poster: I know I'll never see that money again, and I've definitely come to realize that as much as I used to enjoy her company, she just causes me more stress than happiness and that's why I'm trying my damndest to get her out of my life again.
I guess what this is is the final vestiges of the relationship - not necessarily the romantic one, but the friendship one as well. There were times months ago when I'd pine for her all night, but those are long gone, and now it's very rarely that I miss her at all.
She was my first relationship, so moving on is something I'm still trying to get the hang of. My concern now isn't that I want her back, or anything like that. I've learned not to trust her, and I've learned it the hard way. The two of us fucked each other up and it wasn't good for anybody. My concern was more of "was what I did ethical, considering what I knew about her past?" It seems to be mostly unanimous that the answer was yes. I hadn't considered that this might be her way of manipulating me - that brings a whole new light to it.
I do need to worry about myself right now and not her, and I've just deleted her from every social site and from my phone. Having never really cared for any one person before, making myself stop caring about someone I cared deeply about is hard for me. I'm still figuring it out, but I guess it's a matter of time and focus.

anniecat: I don't disagree that she made scary decisions, but I don't see how I was mean to her? The night we argued, I wasn't attacking her financial decisions. I was trying to organize our budget and figure out how we were going to manage our money. As for the message I sent her, there were no mean intentions. I did not want to hurt her. I wanted her to know how I felt and what effects she'd had on my life, because I hadn't ever voiced those before and I was tired of letting her push me over. I don't want to play "coulda woulda shoulda" because that's in the past and that wasn't the point of my question.

RJ: Don't really see the drama queen angle (although that denial may be proving your point; it's hard to tell from inside my head). I'll concede that I tried maybe too hard to take on her negative emotions and problems as my own, like a surrogate sufferer. And I'll definitely concede that there were subconscious feelings of self-importance in my belief that I may have triggered dangerous behavior in her. That probably stems from the small, stupid part of me that wants to believe that I am still in any way important to her, which I know deep down I'm not and may not have ever really been. I know that there was a time when, if she had said anything like that to me, I definitely would've been so distraught as to probably harm myself (actually, that kind of happened) and I really need to let go of that belief of reciprocation.

Overall it's on me. I went through a long period where I blamed everything on her, but I fucked up too. I made a ton of stupid decisions and now I get to fix them all up. But your responses have given me a lot of prompts for introspection and I'm thankful for that.
posted by marriedtotacos at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2011

Response by poster: And it's worth noting that if there's one thing I've taken out of this, it's that a mentally unstable 16 year old should not get involved with anybody, much less a mentally unstable 19 year old.

(for the record, some of y'all's tough love sucks, but I think it's probably what I need, so thanks)
posted by marriedtotacos at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: making myself stop caring about someone I cared deeply about is hard for me.

That's not really what you need to do; you can't shut off feelings like a faucet. What you can do is cut off contact and refuse to re-engage, which you've already started to do and will have to continue for some time. You may never entirely stop caring, but you will gain enough emotional distance that the feelings you have for her will no longer be able to drive you to make irrational, destructive choices.
posted by jon1270 at 8:05 AM on December 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: jon: That makes sense. So now it's just staying strong, I suppose. I've gained a lot of emotional distance love-wise but in turn I've lost a lot of it anger-wise. I guess I can look at this total absence from her as a gift rather than a stressor. I'm hopefully going to school next fall far away from here and from her, and in the meantime I'm working and making art and going to therapy. I just need to do more of those things and do them well enough that there's no opportunity to get lost in thinking about her and letting that build up.

Man relationships are something else. Keeping away from them for a while.
posted by marriedtotacos at 8:16 AM on December 18, 2011

"And it's worth noting that if there's one thing I've taken out of this, it's that a mentally unstable 16 year old should not get involved with anybody, much less a mentally unstable 19 year old."

If you take away anything from this thread, that should be it.

The money is gone. Let it go. You will never see it. I forbid you from writing a check to anyone except a landlord or merchant until you are 26. You are obviously very bright, but super naive and itching to prove that you are a mature adult even though you are neither. This is why this woman preyed on you. Stop having relationships with people on the Internet. Go to school and be a normalish teenager. You are in no way ready, emotionally or intellectually, for the hazards of adult relationships and responsibilities.

To answer your question, her disappearing act is no longer your problem. Block this person from your life and be glad it only cost you a few grand.
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:23 AM on December 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

Both of you need help, and both of you need to be far away from each other for your own good. Please stay true to your word of never contacting her or speaking to her again. If she comes back to you, sweet as pie and all better now? Or in need of urgent help, this time for real? Not even then. It's the only way you can get out of this. It's time to start the process of getting over her.

It's very likely, almost certain, that she will be fine. But if she's not? It's not your fault. You can't save her with love and kind thoughts. You can't destroy her with one outburst.

As for getting the cash back: you threw a lot of money after her. She knew that you'd give her money and that she could get out of paying it back. She knew that from the first $700. I'm sorry to say it, but you're never getting a dime back from her. You could try small-claims court, but in truth I have no idea how long that would take or how much you'd be likely to get back (IANAL, but from my very limited legal knowledge, I understand the process can take years) and it would just keep her in your mind and in your life for that much longer - which, given your story, is really not worth the money you might recoup.

Forgive yourself, and work on making yourself better and healthier and happier. Wash your hands of her. Move on.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:49 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was trying to organize our budget and figure out how we were going to manage our money.
For me, having a shared budget is not something you do until you're already in a long-term committed relationship. And I'd not attempt to enter into such a relationship until I've spent a lot of time with them, in person. Not just a few days.
posted by Hither at 9:22 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

MeMail me if you want to talk about how to extricate yourself from a relationship like this. I went through something eerily similar when I was a couple years older than you. Internet, long distance, financial grifting, codependency, the whole nine yards. (Oh and I'm a lesbian, and she was older.)

I'll give you the upshot here, though. You need to learn how to take care of yourself and develop a sense of self preservation, better boundaries, and probably self esteem, too. She absolutely took advantage of you, but you were in a state that made it easy and attractive for her to do so. What she did to you, stable, kind, healthy people with a conscience would never even consider.
posted by Lieber Frau at 9:28 AM on December 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

You got scammed by someone who is either a major drama addict or maybe just wanted a trip to Hawaii. Stop worrying about that and re-orient your priorities toward a) paying rent and buying food, b) working on yourself.

It's really unlikely that most of the story you know is true, and that's probably why she's gone dark on the social media accounts that you know about. But it doesn't matter either way: You need to leave her to it and focus on your own situation. It's humiliating and violating to be treated like that, and it's easy to perseverate on it to the exclusion of more boring daily problems, but this is what you absolutely must do now.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

You absolutely did the right thing. And you should consider the possibility that she hasn't disappeared, but is just blocking you. You should go ahead and return the favor.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:36 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yikes, this question is a fucking disaster.

Look, I get being lonely, or meeting someone online, etc.


1) Talking to someone online for up to 14 hours per day is not healthy. Especially having never met them. Why did you become suicidal? Because you spent all day every day talking to this chick; then when she cancels the trip, you feel like you have nothing left. You have to set some realistic boundaries and not tie your entire existence into one person.

2) If I'm reading this question right, this girl flew to Hawaii in order to meet you for the first time AND move in with you? A girl whose mother had just abandoned her and basically left her homeless? Obviously that's going to be a disaster.

3) I don't meant to sound like a dick. I've been there with psycho exes, and being worried they would kill themselves. You did nothing wrong. If this girl is dramatic/suicidal just stay away; all she will do is suck you into it and endanger your own emotional well-being.

In the future, I'd strongly suggest not getting tied up with someone so fast, so far, so unknowable. If you meet people online fine. Then meet them in person. Take it slow. Know what you are getting into. Don't lend them money.
posted by User7 at 4:53 PM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Reading this question, I kept thinking that the only way she could come off more as more scammy was if she tried to tell you that she was a Nigerian prince.

She was in contact with you as long as there was a possibility of money/travel for her. She was happy to fly out to Hawaii (who wouldn't?), but once there was a question of budgeting/money-trouble, she told you an un-witnessed story about her having to rush to the hospital and then she sulkily packed and bailed for greener pastures. (I'm actually wondering if she did fly back to Ohio "that morning" or instead scammed her way into couch-surfing around Hawaii for a couple of weeks first)

My impression is that this is her standard behavior.
People will eventually get tired of her BS and karma will catch up with her. When it does, you might get an email from her (eg: "Hey marriedtotacos, long time no hear... :) I need bail!"), but you should mark it as spam and ignore it

Please take care of yourself. You deserve much, much better than anything this user could pretend to give you.

posted by blueberry at 5:54 PM on December 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

You need to step back and grow up. Everyone here is right in that this person is a user, don't be concerned about her, blah, blah, blah. That's more than obvious and should be to you too.

I became suicidal and was hospitalized and forced to drop out of college. THIS. Over a someone that you'd only talked to on the phone. This is not normal or healthy. This is not normal or healthy for people you know and see everyday.

I know that you are really young, but your coping skills are extraordinarily poor. Please, please continue with therapy, stay away from people who thrive on drama, and do some growing up before getting involved with anyone else. You don't seem equipped right now to gauge healthy actions, appropriate boundaries and sensible behavior.

You spent your limited resources on a stranger to your own detriment. You gave money three times to someone who showed repeated disregard for you (and your family) and now you are worried about her online absence. Your family sounds financially unstable and if that's your background, you should already know that it doesn't take much for financial problems to snowball.

Remove all social media connections with this person. Focus on yourself, school and your finances and think about consequences before you act.
posted by shoesietart at 8:04 PM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

uh. wow.

This was hard to read. The first thing that surprised me is that you discussed your internet girlfriend with your mother- including the plans to use student aid to pay for a plane ticket to bring your internet girlfriend across an ocean to live with you. And you were sixteen. And she seemed to be ok with this?

what. the. fuck.

Your ass needs to get yourself some basic life skills- apparently you have no one to run things by, at least no one responsible enough to stop you from doing incredibly irresponsible, risky things.

I hope you're seeing a therapist, and I hope they are helping you learn some basic boundaries.

As for this girl- she found you and clung to you because you are vulnerable. She will not be the only one if you don't get your head straight. People who are healthy will be turned off because your boundaries are screwy, and the people that will indulge you will be doing it because they can use it to abuse you. Manipulators will find you again and again. You need to be cautious in new relationships, especially because the stuff that you see as good (the talking for many hours a day, combining finances really early) are the kinds of things that manipulators and abusers look for, and healthy people run away from.
posted by Blisterlips at 7:04 AM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

You're pretty hard on yourself.

"When she got back to my house, she just packed her things, not looking at me but trying to convince me that it "wasn't anything I did". I didn't believe her."

It really wasn't anything you did. I had to get this lesson through my own head the hard way, but if someone loves you, you can say/do the wrong thing (within in reason) sometimes and they will forgive you. You have your own example in that she seems to have messed up pretty badly a couple of times and YOU were willing to forgive HER. So don't shame yourself with, "Oh, I said this or I was upset about x or I didn't answer the phone on the first ring, so it's my fault." Unless you were incredibly hateful or something, you didn't say or do anything that caused her to leave.

I think it is great that you set boundaries with her. You have needs and they should be important to people who care for you. You deserve to be treated well.
posted by amodelcitizen at 12:56 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have to say, the people who are flipping out because a TEENAGER did something foolish are a bit unreasonable...

As for the OP, no you are not responsible for her choices or actions. You had every right to make it clear to her how much her actions have hurt you, and that you would not let her continue to use you as she has clearly done. No matter how she chose to deal with the situation, it is her choice and hers alone. She may do something self destructive, but from the way you talk about her... its as likely she'd be doing those things anyway.

I wouldn't contact her again, though I might peek in on her social networking sites now and then just to see if she pops up in another week or two, just for your own peace of mind.

What you need to do at this point is focus on learning from the mistakes that have been made, learn to recognize the warning signs so that if you run into a similar situation you'll know when its time to cut and run.

First relationships are intense and almost always leave lingering scars. Internet relationships as well, even for those well past the teen years. I've found its so much easier to get attached to someone I chat with regularly, as I feel that there is more communication going on, and a stronger connection built in just sitting and talking for hours than, say, going out to dinner and a movie. People who have never done it usually don't understand how easy it is to build someone up into an image in your head, based on the way you percieve them. It doesn't happen as easily in face-to-face relationships. The connections I've formed with people I've known in real life and spent time with have never been as intense as those that existed with people who I was able to chat or text with regularly (in fact, I like being able to chat with my face to face friends, mixing the two types of interactions so that I can benefit from both types of connection.

There's something about words on a screen... In those conversations, its just you and the other person and it can become a very intimate feeling of sharing, even without any kind of sexual content. A lot of people are more open online than in person, and will have conversations about their hopes and dreams, desires, fears, etc... that they would never have in person. Its not an intentional choice, its just... typing out how I feel about something removes the awkwardness, and potential for rejection, of telling someone to their face.

Its also easy to romanticize these interactions and forget that the person on the other side of the screen has qualities that I may not be aware of... Beyond the possibility of intentional or unintentional misrepresentation, I sometimes forget that my chat partners have real lives out there in the world. They might be rude to waiters and grocery cashiers, they might pick their nose in public, they might not be as dedicated to bathing as I might hope... those are things that I won't know until we've spent time together in the real world. I try to remind myself of these things, especially once I realize i'm getting attached.

of course, after several negative experiences that involved falling for someone's online presence.. I've settled on a rule that I won't do long distance... if they're too far away to drive out for a weekend visit, I won't even consider going beyond friendship, and avoid topics of conversations that might encourage an emotional attachment.
posted by myShanon at 11:02 PM on January 2, 2012

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