dumped for vague reason
March 19, 2012 7:02 AM   Subscribe

What do you do when you are dumped, because even though everything is going well, "something is not there" and "things are not progressing"?

The answer is probably obvious but please bear with me, because I'm sure we've all been dumped before and grasping to that last bit of hope. We've been dating about 6 months, and things have been going well. Suddenly, they told me that they've been struggling with feeling confused for awhile, feeling that the relationship was not moving forward as it should be, and that despite the fact that it seems that everything is going well, they enjoy talking to me, are attracted to me, and respect me, something is just not there and they don't know what. They said it wasn't another person, and that their feelings for me haven't changed, but nothing has progressed.

I didn't try to fight it or press for more answers, and just sadly said goodbye. I am of course distraught and typically apply the no contact rule. But the more I think about it, the more this is driving me crazy. What did they mean? Was this just a gentle way of saying they're just not that into me? Or was it because I show my love and commitment enough and they felt that the relationship was stagnant? I want to ask for clarification and see if this is fixable, but I'm wary because 1. contacting them would possibly mean reopening the wound and make it more hurtful for myself, 2. maybe it is already painfully clear and I'm just too blind to see it, and 3. I don't want to be the desperate crazy person and embarrass myself.

What do you think about their explanation? Is it a load of hand wavy crap and I'm right in feeling like I deserve a better reason? Or is this very common and I should just accept it as that I'm not what he's looking for?

(I know I sound like a sad teenager... a broken heart does that to you I suppose... please be kind but also brutally honest if necessary)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
What did they mean? Was this just a gentle way of saying they're just not that into me?


I want to ask for clarification


and see if this is fixable

It isn't.

They don't want to be with you. You're not going to be able to convince them to want to, and any further explanation will only hurt more. Stay out of contact and be kind to yourself.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:06 AM on March 19, 2012 [41 favorites]

I think the explanation sounds pretty good, actually. "Something is not there" is the "I'm just not that into you" after 6 months of dating; he doesn't hate you, he just doesn't feel like there's a future beyond this point. Sorry, dear. Take good care of yourself.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:06 AM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Was this just a gentle way of saying they're just not that into me?

Yes, I think so.

Is it a load of hand wavy crap and I'm right in feeling like I deserve a better reason?

You don't deserve anything beyond "I'm not interested in dating any more, and I wish you well." Maybe not even that last bit.

I know it's hard but there is nothing to solve or fix.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:07 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry, that sucks. Time will help, you'll see. Just be patient and wait for time to do its healing thing.

There's a difference between "not into you" and "not quite into you enough to be long term partners." Long term relationships need a particularly precise match to be worth it. And after all, most relationships do end eventually, right?

You'll be ok. It's ok to be sad, but don't let it eat you up.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:08 AM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Was this just a gentle way of saying they're just not that into me?


Is it a load of hand wavy crap and I'm right in feeling like I deserve a better reason?

It's dating, not a inquest. You don't have a right to know why you're being broken up with. Sure, it's nice to know a specific reason, but if you're not getting one off the bat, trying to suss one out is just not behavior you should ever encourage in yourself.
posted by griphus at 7:09 AM on March 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

Also, yeah, "not feeling it" is so common I can't actually think of a more common reason for relationships to fail to thrive.
posted by griphus at 7:11 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is the kind of thing that's not personal. Strange as it may sound.

There's nothing about you that you could change to fix this.

I don't know what I would do about it other than block them on all possible media, and pace my room in anguish, biting chunks out of walls. Eventually the pain will go away, but you'll feel terrible for a while.

Sorry, it sucks.
posted by tel3path at 7:12 AM on March 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'm sympathetic with the idea that you deserve more. Vague comments like this can be very frustrating, and often conceal something considerably more specific. It's hard to say that you don't deserve the truth, and it may be that the person's doing this for some terribly shallow or inappropriate reason (e.g., on the basis of something he always knew).

However, consider that it may be just this vague and confusing (that is, no specifics are really available), or that the person may be dissembling and will keep dissembling, and that in the end you're not likely to get good data for the future or turn this relationship around. So I would leave it be.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:13 AM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think you should gracefully let it be and move on. It could be how they were dumped in the past, how they read dumping should be done, because you're not into something odd they wanted you to be, you're too submissive/dominant/tall/fond of wearing blue/remind them of a parent when you smile... People are strange and love is stranger, trying to understand why when they might not even know puts you on the road to insanity and unhappiness.
posted by meepmeow at 7:14 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you've ever read the advice column on the web site Tomato Nation -- she said something really wise once, about how relationships tend to have this sort of "reckoning" about six-seven months into things; it's when people start thinking that "well, this has been fun and all, but is this thing....real? I mean, really real?" It's about the time when people start to evaluate whether they think the relationship can withstand some really serious deep-down....relationship stuff.

And a lot of times - most of the time, actually - people realize that, unfortunately, it can't. You may be great when it comes to having a lot of fun, and leaning on each other a little now and then, but the really long haul calls for a much higher level of vulnerability with each other, and a much different level of compatability. And most of the time, people realize they don't have that with this particular relationship. It's not really anyone's fault, it's just a realization that "this is pretty close to what I'm looking for, but it ain't....it."

It's hard and it sucks, but...it's pretty common. It's not "I'm not that into you," it's "I'm into you, but this would take a deeper level of 'into you' and I don't think we have that."

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on March 19, 2012 [34 favorites]

Requiring a Reason to break up only means that relationships suffer and struggle until a Reason presents itself, which it always does. The interim is usually spent ... unpleasantly.

Honestly, six months in, if they're not electrified by you yet, they never will be. If anything it probably should have ended sooner, but you were probably given the benefit of the doubt so that you weren't dumped prematurely, before they were sure. That much more time for your heart to be that much more broken: an unfortunate side effect, to be sure.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:20 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think she just didn't see a future with you even though she liked you and enjoyed the time with you.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:35 AM on March 19, 2012

Well, that sucks.

Nope, really, it sucks.

You need to know though that it's not you. No, really - it's not you. The other party involved made the realization that he/she it's into the relationship 100% and is being honest. It hurts, but honesty isn't always known for being the gentlest of traits. However, if it were me, I'd much prefer honesty than being with someone who is NOT 100%. You deserve 100%, as does everyone.
posted by floweredfish at 7:39 AM on March 19, 2012

It doesn't seem that vague to me. It sounds like they were looking for a long-term serious relationship to develop relatively rapidly (thus the focus on "progress"), and that they liked you but didn't see that happening fast enough, or didn't think you were right in that role, for one or many of a billion reasons.

Maybe your long-term life plans diverged more than they wanted, or their parents would only accept someone of X nationality and they finally decided that was important, or somewhere along the line they got the ridiculous notion that by 6 months couples should move in together, or they're thinking about kids and think that your parenting styles would be too different. All those things might take time to decide, none of them are your fault, and in none of those cases would contacting them again asking for more details do anyone any good.

It sucks, I'm sorry. But I agree with the folks above who said that you don't want a partner who's wishywashy on staying with you.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:51 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is common, and it's not you. The good side of that is there's nothing you did wrong; the bad side is there's nothing you can do to fix it.

Feelings don't always have reasons. There is probably nothing more to his feelings than "I don't know, something's just not there."

You could spend a similar six months with someone else, and do exactly the same things you did with this person, and end up with the new person gaga over you. You will, eventually. There's just no telling how it ends up.

Your gut is right. No contact. Time. Let yourself mourn the relationship. And don't interpret this breakup as any sort of statement about your dateability.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:58 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not just being that into you is a very very valid reason. Imagine being with that person- and knowing that they are only with you because well, you aren't that bad. Being in a relationship with someone who doesn't actively want to be with you isn't a good thing- it's the kind of thing that makes people bitter, sad, and incredibly insecure.

Maybe a case could be made for trying to revitalize a relationship that has waned- if there are years of good times, children, a shared life built together. At six months you just don't have anything to fix- it just never happened in the first place.

The other possibility is that there is something that you can't change that makes them actively want to break up with you- If you knew that the reason that they don't want to continue was that they think they could find a more attractive partner- it's not going to make you feel any better and it's not going to prove that they are an ass.

it's best to leave things alone and concentrate on healing up. Then you'll be able to find a partner that DOES actively want to be with you.
posted by Blisterlips at 8:01 AM on March 19, 2012

I realized that I might have come across wrong. When I say you don't deserve a reason, I don't mean that to disparage you. It is just that, in my experience, this thinking leads to a lot of anger and then re-contacting the person, and it doesn't go well. Even if there is a reason that you aren't being told about, it's not going to benefit you to know it. You can't convince someone out of their feelings, and honestly, I think it's wrong to try. If someone doesn't want to be with you, that is their right. That doesn't mean you can't be sad about it--breakups can be devastating. Hang in there.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:11 AM on March 19, 2012

Sorry for your pain - but the best thing you can do is just move on.
posted by Flood at 8:12 AM on March 19, 2012

Not sure why we're playing the pronoun game in an anonymous AskMe. Are either one of you closeted? Maybe that is what they mean by progress? I don't know.

But really if they wanted to be with you, they'd be with you. The answer why doesn't matter, but it is pretty shitty if they knew for awhile that they didn't want to be with you and just sprung it on you with the blindside.

Sometimes things just don't feel right and you can't put your finger on it, but you just don't want to be in the same place with the same person anymore. And that's just as valid a reason as any to break up with someone.
posted by inturnaround at 8:14 AM on March 19, 2012

This is one of the reasons I am so skeptical about the idea of "closure" in relationships. You got "closure"--your partner gave a set of reasons that felt adequate to them--and yet you feel like you have unanswered questions.

Every relationship that ends, ends with at least one party having unanswered questions. There is no such thing as perfect closure.

As others have said, it's not you, it's your partner. For whatever reason, your partner wasn't feeling it. That happens. You probably don't have to do anything different in your next relationship, just hope for someone with whom you have a more lasting connection.

Best of luck to you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:15 AM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Not sure why we're playing the pronoun game in an anonymous AskMe

I don't know the OP's motive, but if I were asking a relationships question anonymously, I would pose it in a gender-neutral way simply to avoid the "Guys are like this" and "Women are like that" static.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:16 AM on March 19, 2012 [15 favorites]

Not every break up is because someone did something wrong. You didn't do anything wrong. You just weren't the right one for your partner. You want something tangible to point to or blame or fix, because that is human nature, but you are searching for something that isn't there.

Instead of focusing on what went wrong, remember that you deserve more from a relationship. You deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you for the long haul, someone who doesn't see something missing in your relationship, someone who thinks things are progressing just as they should be.

It sounds like you handled yourself really well during the breakup. Now it's time to let it go.
posted by cecic at 9:01 AM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

What do you do when you are dumped, because even though everything is going well, "something is not there" and "things are not progressing"?

Get over it?

Not trying to be harsh, but that is literally your only option, as everyone else has said. I mean get over it in the kindest possible way, which means being nice to yourself, feeling your feelings, and then moving on.
posted by pupstocks at 9:02 AM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do not contact him. Your legitimate feeling of powerlessness about the end of this relationship is causing you to grasp for something you think you can control, like dedicating your energy to sleuthing out "the reason," which will then tell you what concrete thing(s) to "fix," yada yada.

There is nothing you did wrong. There is nothing wrong with you. His deciding that this isn't the right relationship for him right now is not a referendum on your desirability or lovableness. He has an entire inner life that is completely his and has absolutely nothing to do with you. Do not expend any more energy on this not-right-for-you guy or analyzing this rightfully ended relationship.

If you like, here are some non-vague reasons why he might have ended things:

1. He has developed a fetish for wearing rubber boots filled with live baby octopuses and can't bear confessing this to anyone.
2. He only saw the first half of "Up in the Air" and believes that his hero George Clooney really thinks that relationships weigh people down.
3. He is struggling with depression and realized that he needs to fix himself before he can really give to another person.
4. He's gay.
5. He's Batman.
6. He wants to marry for money (like, 1% money) and be someone's kept boytoy.
7. He has a pet peeve about anyone who sneezes in threes (or whatever) like you do.
8. After a freak accident, he now wants to dedicate all his free time to publicizing the risks of wearing rubber boots filled with live baby octopuses.

You'll be fine. There's somebody out there who's a great match for you and you'll both know it when you see it. Keep moving forward. We're all rooting for you!
posted by argonauta at 9:08 AM on March 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

I suspect what you're really reeling from is the suddenness of the ending. Sudden, jarring stops hurt, like colliding in an automobile accident, like a fall on a patch of ice you barely noticed on the path. It's not under your control and there's no way to reverse it once it's done, but the damage and pain from the fall seem to make you move a lot slower and more wary until you recover.

In the end, what this person actually took from you is your ability to love freely, but that's temporary. It takes time to build back up that faith, and once you do, the reasons you're looking for won't seem all that important or interesting to you. In the short term, treat it like an injury: get rest, fresh air, exercise, friends.
posted by mochapickle at 9:33 AM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

What do you do when you are dumped


Seriously, as the old saying goes, when people tell you about themselves, you should believe them. "Suddenly, they told me that they've been struggling with feeling confused for awhile." That means the person was confused, period. That's not your fault. Only you know how to be you.

Take this opportunity to make a clean break and move on to something else. Bonfire party!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:40 AM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

I am not always a fan of the typical Mefi "No one owes you anything!" line. I generally believe that once you spend a certain amout of time and money on a person and are intimate and vulnerable with them, it is not unreasonable to expect some truth and communication.

I'm not saying that it should be an hour long conversation about "feelings", but a quick one or two lines of absolute truth can really help a person's recovery.

I was dumped out of the blue once, and had no idea why. That was the most difficult breakup I ever had to overcome as I was never able to resove the events in my mind. I never forgot that incident, and immeditly started giving every guy I rejected the honest truth. Even if it was "mean" or "unkind" I found that they were much happier to know the cold truth then a cliché.

See your breakup as a learning experiance, and remember this for when you are in their shoes.
posted by Shouraku at 10:10 AM on March 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

Well, sometimes the truth is "something's not there" or "I'm just not feeling it" or "things aren't progressing."

I once had an acquaintance push me really hard over why I didn't want to go out with her. She wanted a specific reason, like I was interested in someone else, or I didn't like her hair, or whatever. But the only reason I had was I just didn't want to. She was a perfectly nice person and she was attractive. But not to me. She couldn't take "I just don't want to" as an answer, and insisted that there must be some other reason. There wasn't.
posted by rtha at 10:28 AM on March 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

You sound mature and considerate. The people you date wasn't. However, there is the logical and the emotional aspect of a relationship. Right now, you are still struggling with the emotional fall-out of a recent heart break. That can't be helped, especially not by the person who initiate it. You should use time, distance, and any support available to get over the sadness and depression, so that you can get to a place where it's more hopeful and joyous. That is the first step.

After (and only after) you have taken care of the emotion and attachment of the past relationship can you start approaching the problem logically. It'd be entirely fair to contact your ex then to ask for analysis and constructive input to help you understand that part of your past better. Of course, it's possible that your ex won't comply; but it's more likely that he/she will help.

What should you do with that information? Do with it what you will. Some will see that as validation of their own righteousness and correct action, other may see it as a list of personal improvement to change one's thinking or approaches, still others may simply turn it into a list of red flags to avoid in their future relationship. You are free to choose a method that fit you. The ultimate goal for all this, is to find and have better future relationships. He who does not know history is bound to repeat it. Knowing and understanding your own history will allow you to guide your future. That is empowerment.

So, the short of it is: right now, you shouldn't wonder too much about the what and why you broke up. Work on your emotions, so you can arrive at a neutral, hopeful state. Then, you can proactively seek closure to better your chance at long lasting happiness (with someone else). Good luck.
posted by curiousZ at 12:42 PM on March 19, 2012

I think the thing is that people have this expectation that there is a concrete, finite answer to "why" and that knowing it will make them feel better. I suspect that many of them think (but often won't admit) if they can change that thing, they can fix the relationship, like the OP. Both of those are based in not-quite-reality - I mean sure, there's an outside chance that not only is it worth fighting for, but that it can be won - but not when it's something so intangible as emotions. Which is why I always advise people to look for the closure within themselves. Just because you feel you need it externally, doesn't mean you are going to get it/it's owed to you/it will help. It's a waste of time, IMO, to dwell on the fact that you aren't getting it instead of moving on and closing the thing yourself.

I have felt the way the OP's ex has. I have been in the OP's shoes. I hate the expression, but frankly, it is what it is. Things were only going well for you; to the other person, something was wrong. If they felt it was something that could or should be fixed, they would have brought it to you in those terms. They didn't.

I don't think that it's helpful to think of this in terms of what kind of answer you "deserve," but that you don't want the same things - you want a relationship with this other person, this other person doesn't want a relationship with you.
posted by sm1tten at 1:26 PM on March 19, 2012

Is this something you can put on hold -- like for six months, a year?
Because after that time you may:
a) Have a greater perspective as to the relationship -- even if it seems impossible now, you may be able to think, oh, okay, maybe we weren't well matched
b) Not give a shit so if the answer is 'you ate bread with your shirt off and got crumbs in your navel' you will, well, not give a shit.
c) Be happily ensconced with the person who is so so happy to give you all the love you could ever ask for.

Hang in there, sweetie.
posted by angrycat at 4:36 PM on March 19, 2012

They wouldn't have been with you at all if they weren't attracted to you and didn't like you. As hard as it is to understand, I'm guessing your ex was actually brutally honest with you. They just weren't into you enough to want to continue progressing in this relationship. There was no reason why other than they just weren't feeling it.

How do you explain that? Exactly as your ex did, I think. It's a bummer from both perspectives, but it is what it is (and it's hard to understand until you're on the other party's side of a breakup like this).

There is no better reason. There's nothing wrong with you. There's nothing they can clarify and there's nothing y'all can fix. Feelings are weird and complicated and sometimes they aren't what you want or think they should be.

Do not try to talk this out with your ex. You'll wind up exactly where you are now as well as regretting that conversation in hindsight.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:45 PM on March 19, 2012

Alright, I'll provide the counterpoint. If you really REALLY wanted to do something, you could send an email that said something like, "I respect your sense that's something is missing, and I'm ready to defer to it and begin working to move on, but I just want you to know that if there's something I could do differently here, or if you think there's a chance that together we could figure out how to keep this moving forward, I'm flexible and willing to put in some work." The really painful bit here will be waiting to hear back, so maybe add "if you wouldn't mind giving me a quick answer, at least about whether or not this is something you'd even give some thought to, I'd appreciate it."

Then, they'll most likely quickly write back, "no, I honestly don't think there's anything you or we can do. It's just how it is." If the benefit (the sense of having really offered to "try," say) outweighs the costs of waiting and of hearing that, then I don't think it's a horribly awful idea. Hearing how sad you sound, it might not be worth it. The worst case scenario would be if they said "okay, let's work on it," and then break up with you again in a few months or years, like, "I thought things might change but they didn't." Yeah, so, considering that worst case scenario, it might be worth not trying and moving on to someone who is deeply into you and stays deeply into you. I'm sorry, I know this sucks.

What I wouldn't do is ask why they're breaking up with you. We're all on our own journey through life, and nobody has the answers about you. The judgments of your old loves are the worst kind of baggage: they are deeply hurtful, and often not that useful or accurate (in my experience). They'll have some truth about you, but it'll be filtered through the "why I'm leaving you" lens, and not the "I love you so I'm concerned that..." lens, and it'll also be filtered through their own personal peculiarities. Therefore it'll hurt, and still not necessarily apply to your next relationship. Develop in the ways that you want to grow. Sorry again about your loss here.
posted by salvia at 7:57 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

You have a lot of excellent advice here but I want to add that someday you'll be the person who "just isn't feeling it," and you'll understand that there's nothing the other party could have done.

Sometimes you just don't feel it. And you move on.

Please treat yourself gently here, get out and enjoy the sunshine, find something fun to do. It'll get better.
posted by kinetic at 3:16 AM on March 20, 2012

i've been the dumper a bunch of times at the six month point in the relationship (not proud or happy about this fact at all) and the reason usually is a multitude of things, some kind of superficial, some important, that i saw unfold over the course of probably the first three months...but...the sex was good, kind of addicting, hoped that we'd build intimacy and grow closer and would be able to overlook the previously mentioned incompatibilities, but at the end of six months they still existed. ultimately you'll face challenges in a relationship that require sacrifice and if you're not that into that person, you'll have a harder time sacrificing. at six months, the novelty of the good sex may wane enough to reduce attraction and free that person to end the relationship and move on (and avoid potential relationship challenge/sacrifice). time will heal; good luck.
posted by BlueMartini7 at 2:42 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

In case it adds any useful perspective — I once got back together with an ex. Wow, was that a mistake. There were good reasons we'd broken up in the first place, and I wish I'd used my energy on moving on instead of on trying to make it work again.

My mother used to say, "You deserve someone who makes your heart sing when you look at them. And you deserve to know that their heart sings when they look at you."

The person who'll make your heart sing and whose own heart will be singing is out there. The more you're able to let your ex go and be happy with yourself, the more likely you are to encounter them, I think.
posted by Lexica at 7:27 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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