Do you think I can get this book ("Marie Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout") for my ex?
December 23, 2011 9:53 AM   Subscribe

For the Mefites who have read Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout: could you tell me if it would be okay for me to get my ex this book as a Christmas present?

(Some background to why I have to ask)
When we were still together last Christmas, I got her some really loving gifts that she loved, and I was really happy to see her happy. It was a happy, and now painful, memory. But I had to break up with her not long after in the new year, when I came to the realisation that though we were mostly happy and good at the time, there were too many things that meant I could not see us being happy together in the long run, and I could not bear the thought of being the one who would make her unhappy. So I had to get out of the way so that she could have time to recover, and find someone better for her.

It was painful as you can imagine. Since then we have had the break in and subsequent tentative reestablishing of contact (I very much hope we can be friends, as the kind of trust we built is very rarely found in a lifetime, but only if it doesn't get in the way of her happiness). She has found a new boyfriend during that time. And though we have been slowly recovering (I think and hope) I don't know if either of us is fully there yet at the point where we have completely moved on and don't have to worry that something like this may hurt and bring back unhappy feelings.

I know that under normal circumstances this is a book she would really love, especially for the art. But a few months ago, her anger and hurt and loss would still come out in places in our conversation. So when it was her birthday, I got her a present that was deliberately low-key and possibly not very interesting to her, and which she probably didn't like all that much, (even though I had in mind something else that she would have loved), because I didn't want to bring up any painful feelings for her. Now she seems better than she was. And I would like to give her something that I know she would (normally) love. But it is coming to that time of year, and I'm remembering, and I worry that she might be too. I have asked her if she is okay with me getting her a Christmas present or if she would rather I didn't this year, and she said it was okay, but for those of you who have read it, is the book likely to be painful for someone who may be still recovering and moving on from a breakup? I read from a review mentioning something about them biking on their honeymoon, and it already triggers one of those painful good memories for me, as it was something we used to love doing together. But if it is just a minor detail, and the rest of the book is not all about happy romantic relationships and more about Marie Curie's life and scientific achievements, maybe it is still something I can get for her? Because I have two other ideas for presents for her, but they are both books I know even less about, and not sure she would necessarily like. For those of you who have read it, what do you think? What would you advise me to do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Man, I wouldn't. You do not get your ex something with the word "love" in the title if you are still in a complicated place with them no matter what the plot is about, to my mind. I think the first holiday season after a breakup is a really good time to be letter-and-spirit of the breakup appropriate and if you guys are still in a "this was painful recently" place, this is not a good gift choice. This is especially true if you were the leaver. Do not do this. This seems to be more about you ["I want to give her this even though the fact that it is me giving it to her might be potentially painful"] than about her; let her move on even if it's at the expense of you not being able to give he a perfect present. Give her something that can't be interpreted in a weird way contextually.
posted by jessamyn at 10:01 AM on December 23, 2011 [8 favorites]

What would you advise me to do?

Get her something consumable that she would like; a good bottle of wine or liquor, a small basket from Harry & David or similar, etc. That's enough to express your hope that she enjoys the holidays without leaving her with something that will sit around and provoke nostalgia or whatever.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:07 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please don't. This is a girl that you dumped and are now trying your hardest to send mixed signals to. Give her (and yourself) more space to move on -- you can't always have your cake and eat it to, as it were. Don't get her any gift and really, back off for a while, at least until you are 100% there. If that never happens, then, well, that never happens, but you're being really unfair to her right now.
posted by brainmouse at 10:08 AM on December 23, 2011 [10 favorites]

I don't know if either of us is fully there yet at the point where we have completely moved on

Although she has a new boyfriend, you're still thinking in terms of "we" and "us". Not cool, man.

Part of what you lose at the ending of a relationship is the right to give the "perfect most thoughtful" gift. At some point, she will have changed and you won't have any idea what the "perfect most thoughtful gift" would even be.

I'd even go so far as to say that you are dealing in fantasy now. All the thought you're putting in to these gifts, hoping to strike the right note : deliberately lowkey...ugh. I hope she's thanking you politely and throwing them in a drawer until she can regift them.

Let her go..let it go...
posted by vitabellosi at 10:18 AM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Don't get your ex anything for Christmas. Stop allowing her to take up so much mental space and time. Stop telling yourself you "had" to break up with her for reasons outside your control, because that's bullshit. You are not a tragic hero heroically sacrificing your happiness so she can find hers with a better man. You're actually just being a mopey putz with no self-awareness. Re-read The Great Gatsby, and take care not to misinterpret the ending.
posted by stockpuppet at 10:25 AM on December 23, 2011 [10 favorites]

Ex-girlfriend has boyfriend and bitterness towards you. Now is not the time for sentiment or grand gestures. I'd say don't get her anything, but if you have to, make it small and simple. Anything else is going to complicate both your lives and prevent you from moving on.
posted by Turkey Glue at 10:39 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Leave this woman alone. If you run into, hug her hello. Stop trying so hard to be her friend. She's moved on, you should do the same.
posted by shoesietart at 10:40 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

You broke up with her. She moved on and has a new boyfriend. You are still fanning some sort of embers of god-knows-what under the guise of platonic love and trust and whatever. Cut it out. Don't get her a book about a happy, loving couple, if, for anyone's sake, her boyfriend's. Get her a card, don't sign it "love" and let her be.
posted by griphus at 10:42 AM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Stop giving your ex presents.
posted by crankylex at 10:55 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mod note: From the OP:
I won't get her this book. I was blind, and thank you for giving me some perspective. She is expecting to receive something now, so I will try to find something that will not trigger any painful feelings, and be much more reserved and careful about my interactions with her in the near future.

If I can ask the mods to close this thread now I would. I don't know if it's the way I put things or the Askme/internet tendency to assume the worst of a poster, but can I just say, if I thought for one second that my getting out of her life would make her happier or her life better, I would do it right away. Some of you are reading the absolute worst into my words. Don't you think I have turned over in my head over and over, whether my being in her life at her is hurting her or getting in the way? I assume most of you have been in my position (and I have been in hers) - I understand that in this situation I am blind and lack perspective, and I thank you again for showing me, but please bear in mind that I may be actually just desperately trying to do the right thing for someone I still care about. She has told me more than once than she feels abandoned, even though that was the last thing I wanted to do to her - do relationships not sometimes just not have a future, despite people loving each other? I was abandoned in my relationship before this one, she disappeared from my life without a word or explanation, and it hurt like hell for years and I kept needing to know why someone who seemed to care so much about me suddenly just stopped. I totally understand that I may be doing the wrong thing in the other direction, and again, I thank you and appreciate the perspective. But I really am trying for her. And I'm not thinking of us as a "we". At all. I am trying to do the right thing for her. How much easier would it be for me to just cut everything off, if nothing else for myself to heal? I want to do whatever is the right thing for her, and I am trying to do that based on the limited information and signals that she is giving me. If I were "trying my hardest to send mixed signals" to her, I wouldn't have asked this question in the first place.

Regardless, thank you for your help and perspective, and no need for more pile-on. Message received loud and clear.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:11 AM on December 23, 2011

It's ok. Your friendship with your ex can be defined by you and your ex. Don't worry too much if strangers from the Internet don't understand it. Everyone is just trying to do their best, including you.


You know, you could always mention the book to her, maybe in a card with the gift that you're giving to her now that is consumable and is more lowkey. Say, "I heard about this book and I thought you'd love it, but didn't get a chance to buy it," and just give her the author's name and the title "Marie Curie" -- she'll be able to find it with that much.

I haven't read the book myself but I think this might be a great way to tell her about the book without giving her a book with "Love and Fallout" in the title, because that probably isn't a good idea.
posted by k8lin at 3:37 PM on December 23, 2011

The vehemence you hear in people's responses is not so much because they're reading horrible motives into your behavior or your ex's, but because many people have had break-up experiences that taught them the quickest, cleanest way for both people to heal is not to try to force the let's-be-friends stage before its natural time. If you've lived through something that felt like scraping off a scab again and again, you tend to be a bit emphatic in advising someone else seriously, don't do this! don't waste your time and cause yourself misery!

Since a gift is apparently necessary, something consumable and non-romantic (no wine, no chocolate, no gift certificates for massage, etc.) might be good. Fancy preserves? An assortment of olives? Hot sauce sampler? Something along those lines.
posted by Lexica at 10:46 PM on December 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

« Older Is Patti right?   |   Help my old man enjoy his golden years... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.