Serious doubts about breaking up
March 3, 2012 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Just broke up with girlfriend. Absolutely consumed with remorse, second thoughts, doubts, guilt, sadness. I don't know what to do; I don't know what's normal to feel.

After the question I posted a couple weeks ago here:

I broke up with my girlfriend today. I decided to do what I thought must be done.

It was absolutely devastating for the both of us. Still is. I still love her so much, and I already miss her and feel terribly lonely without her. I am terrified that I am making--that I have made--a tremendous mistake. For the first couple hours into our conversation, I was sure breaking up was the right decision for me. But after so much sadness, so many tears and gasps, after seeing the look of shock on her face, after hearing her cry in utter disbelief, and seeing all the love she really has for me... I cannot be sure what I did was right. What am I throwing away? Someone who loves me more than anyone else in the world. And I love her just as much. But the passion has been gone for a while.

I know nobody here can tell me what I did was right or wrong. But I want to hear how other people have approached these emotions, and these doubts, if they experienced them after breaking up with someone.

I have to say that my... now... ex-girlfriend is the most important person in my life. Yet the attraction has gone, the fun has gone, and the intimacy has gone. But could it have been salvaged? Has anyone else been able to jump-start a fading relationship back into life? My philosophy has always been, if I'm not 100% into it, or close to 100%, then the relationship needs to end. I'm not talking about external "issues" like one another's behavior, or lifestyle factors, which can be articulated and worked out with communication and patience. I mean, the deep love feelings. They've been gone for me. But now, after breaking up, I wonder if they could have been recaptured. I wonder if what I did is premature.

I know this question is not very unique and not written in the best way. I'm desperate here, though. I'm throwing myself on you guys, because none of my friends can relate, and I am simply panic-stricken with doubt and sadness. Please forgive me for asking a redundant question.
posted by Sine_Agraphia to Human Relations (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You broke up today. Even if it's something you wanted it (and you did; you said things had been bad for awhile in your last question), it's emotional and really hard. Give yourself some time to heal from the initial wound. I bet you'll know that you made the right decision.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:05 PM on March 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

Give it some time to sink in. Calm your thoughts and don't panic. You are broken up, but she's still there and you're still here. I think that you made the right decision for now, but only you (and she) can know if it is the right decision for the future. Maybe you just need some time alone and apart to really see the state of your relationship. So relax, take your time, and meditate on it.
posted by DeltaForce at 7:05 PM on March 3, 2012

Step 1: Take a deep breath.
Step 2: Make no sudden moves. What you're feeling is normal. All of this panicky feeling will pass.
Step 3: Remember that you will be fine.

For you, this isn't a redundant question. It's your question. We're not going to judge you. (That's what MeTa's for. ;) )
posted by msamye at 7:13 PM on March 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is totally normal. You are a really empathetic person, but just because something is right for her doesn't mean it's right for you (or right at all). You are going to experience this a lot in life, and it really sucks. In time, she'll she that what happened was the right thing. She's the most important part of your life because she was your partner in life, which is a huge, huge thing. And now she's not, but since the attraction has gone, the fun has gone, and the intimacy has gone, it's going to be easy for you to deal with this ending. It's going to be harder for her if she feels differently, but you can't let that change your decision. It's your life, and you need to spend it with the person who is the most... tolerable person. That's really what love, marriage, and lifelong relationships are founded on. Of course, it's nice to think there's more romance to it, and most of the time there is.

I'm sorry this happened to you. Good luck, and be strong.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:16 PM on March 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

My ex-fiance was you. Now (2 years later, ish), I am so incredibly happy that he ended it. Even though he was a close friend of mine for years, and the person I considered my life partner, he wasn't feeling it anymore. It hurt. It shocked me. I desperately wanted him to realize he was making a huge mistake. But he was right, and thank god he didn't cave. It allowed me to move on, to get over it, to figure out the kind of relationship I needed. Now I'm with a great guy who can give me everything I need in a relationship -- not just some of it. If my ex hadn't broken up with me when he did, I would have ended up spending my life with someone who just wasn't that into me, even though he still felt platonic love for me.

My advice is to spend some time with no contact with your ex. Yes, this will be hard, but it will help in the long run. That is the one thing I wish I had done differently with my ex -- because we went from engagement straight to friendship (actually, he insisted on this because he didn't want to lose me as a friend), and I couldn't deal with that friendship, I drove him away (on purpose) and now I'm out of contact with him. If he'd given me a few months to myself, I think we would have been able to be friends.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:21 PM on March 3, 2012 [13 favorites]

I don't know you, but I'm going to try to address your question, about how to bring back loving feelings. Do you think it's possible you reached a level of sexual satiety with her, which carried over into general negative feelings about her and your relationship? If you abstained from all sexual release for, say, 2 weeks, do you think that would reignite your passion for her?
posted by blargerz at 7:29 PM on March 3, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah, we both agreed on no contact for a while. With much remorse and sadness. But we both know that friendship will be impossible for a while to come.

Thank you so much for the reassuring words, coming from the other side. I've got no one here to tell me that I did the right thing--all of my friends fall into at least one of three categories: 1. They have only been dumped, rather than dumped someone else; 2. They have no experience in a serious relationship; 3. They themselves are still stuck, in denial, in an unsatisfying relationship, and cannot bring themselves to honestly sympathize with me.
posted by Sine_Agraphia at 7:30 PM on March 3, 2012

Response by poster: (Specifically in response to DoubleLune, but a Thank You extends out to all)
posted by Sine_Agraphia at 7:31 PM on March 3, 2012

Response by poster: In response to blargerz:

I actually tried to do just that. I kind of worked. Temporarily.

Thing is though, I feel like my sexual attraction declined when the emotional intimacy declined, not the other way around.
posted by Sine_Agraphia at 7:33 PM on March 3, 2012

Without emotional intimacy, there is nothing, and you made the right choice.
posted by blargerz at 7:37 PM on March 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

You have to give yourself time to grieve the loss of the relationship as it stands.

None of us - not even you - can see what form that relationship will take in the future. But right now you've made a decision based on what you needed to do.

You just need time. Give yourself time.
posted by mleigh at 7:41 PM on March 3, 2012

Give it some time to sink in.

I recommend 1-2 years. I wish I was joking.

You'll be fine after that unless you meet someone new before then. But try not to do that for a few months to a year or you might get a false positive. Sorry, bud. Based on your last question it was time to let it go. It happens. A lot. That's why everyone has such good answers for you!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:49 PM on March 3, 2012

Asking whether things could have been salvaged is a lot like asking yourself whether you remembered your car keys when you're at the office (assuming you drove).

That is, there is no way you could have possibly gotten here if you were wrong about the thing you're now second-guessing. You would have caught it earlier. There's no way you would have missed it. You're too smart and too caring for that.

You're feeling the shock of being in a place you haven't been in awhile, not having the security of this relationship. But people go through worse than what you're going through and turn out okay.

Like so many things in life, putting one foot in front of the other right now will make the path ahead of you increasingly clear, and you'll start to see things you couldn't possibly have seen when you took that first step.

Just keep doing that and be good to yourself.
posted by alphanerd at 8:02 PM on March 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's totally normal to feel devastated, resmorseful and scared to fucking death that you've done the wrong thing and will be alone for the rest of your life when you breakup with someone you love. In no way does this mean it was the wrong thing to do. It just means it hurts.

And I don't mean to underplay that at all. I very, very clearly remember breaking up with the first person I was ever in love with, and in addition to the relentless crying I couldn't stop for days and days, just being floored by the sensation "Surely nothing is supposed to hurt this much; this just cannot be right because nobody can survive this."

But you do, and it's not that it hurts less the next time, it's that you have the experience to know you will survive because you've already done it once. It gets easier; give it a few weeks.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:24 PM on March 3, 2012

Change is always hard - and our instincts are always to second guess it.
Only the coldest of people can walk away from intimacy without looking back.

People in the worst of all situations look back in regret - and sometimes go back to the bad thing.
People often can not walk away from abusive and addiction relationships.

What you are feeling now is throbbing of your instinctive emotional self. You know it is wrong.
The intellectual, thoughtful self knows it is wrong.

Stick with your reason. Don't go back to a broken relationship on instinct.
posted by Flood at 8:26 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I recommend 1-2 years. I wish I was joking.

Ironically, this question made me think about the ex I mentioned above. It seems that I'm now ready to be friends. It's been... 2 1/2 years, I think.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:39 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

You've made the right choice.

It's possible that you guys might be right for each other some years down the road but it's clear that right now you need some time to find yourself and figure out what you want.

It's OK to take things slow and let the feelings of regret and fear wash over you without making any rash decisions. Ultimately, time will give you clarity.
posted by timsneezed at 8:05 AM on March 4, 2012

One thing I noticed in your update that I'm curious about -- you mention that the emotional intimacy in your relationship declined. Do you have any idea what caused that?
posted by timsneezed at 8:09 AM on March 4, 2012

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