I love someone who can't show up. Ouch.
April 17, 2012 11:25 AM   Subscribe

I love someone who can't show up for me now. Any insight?

I was dating someone earlier this year and we both really, deeply liked and saw tremendous potential in each other.

He had to end things a little over a month ago due to reasons in his own life that had nothing to do with me (his health). The last day we saw each other, he told me before he left that he was still very attracted to me and that I was an exceptional and beautiful person. We are deeply compatible in longer term ways, and in the immediate sense, it isn't a good match.

I *know* that we aren't good for each other right now -- I can't take on being with someone who isn't ready to meet me as an equal and he has a lot of healing to do on his own.

Still, I find myself thinking about him every day, missing him, talking myself through it and writing to get more comfortable with the reality of how things are now, crying when I need to, and looking at his facebook account like a creep (we aren't friends on facebook). He has told me that he doesn't want us to contact each other any more because he is overwhelmed with his own stuff and couldn't support me with mine.

I have a few guys who have asked me on dates and I find that I just miss this one fellow and want him still, am uninterested in anyone else.

It could literally be years before he is ready to be with me. I don't want to sacrifice myself during this time, whether he comes back or not... and a part of me feels that there is something worth honoring between us. I find myself wondering if he feels the same way, if any part of him is holding on to the hope that we could some day be together after he has gotten better.

Any words of wisdom on this?
posted by dolce_voce to Human Relations (25 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
ps. I have been making art with my feelings and this has been helping. This is the foundation for some great work, no? :-)

Still hurting and smiling,
posted by dolce_voce at 11:30 AM on April 17, 2012

How do you know that, once the healing he has to do is over, he will still be the same person you are so compatible with right now?....

What I mean is, it's possible that the healing and changes he goes through will come with some fundamental changes to his personality - not major ones, but some qualities will be different; and for all you know, those may be the very qualities that won't suit you any more.

See other people, and then wait to meet who he is when he's ready and start fresh then.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:31 AM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

This isn't an easy situation with an easy "fix." I think you need to keep moving forward, taking his word to be true that he had to end things to focus on himself. And eventually there will come a time and place where his emotional/physical tethering to you loosens its grip and you move on in terms of relationship - even though that seems impossible right now. Or there will come a time when he turns a page and realizes that he is interested in building with you again - and you will get to evaluate your options based on where you are in that moment. Your feelings are completely honest and real. Taking someone's word about their own needs/boundaries, especially someone you care about, however challenging, I believe, is the bravest and most authentic way to live. And the most respectful of his wishes and your freedom to live and grow.
posted by anya32 at 11:32 AM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

Try to cherish the times that you had, and move on. That may be difficult, as you may want to compare other guys to him, but waiting isn't a guarantee that he'll be able to meet you where you want him to, and you may be passing up terrific opportunities while you cling to the past.
posted by xingcat at 11:33 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't take what people say too literally when they tell you their reasons for breaking up (except for that part about not wanting contact). I'm sorry this happened to you, but the only thing to do is move on.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:33 AM on April 17, 2012 [16 favorites]

Oh, and I have so been there and I know it sucks from where you are now, but believe me, it's better this way. One of my personal-best relationships ended because he wasn't really in a place where he could commit to anything really serious, but we stayed in touch as friends; he's now finally come around to a point where he CAN commit to a long-term thing, but some other changes happened along the way, to both of us, that render us incompatible as a couple. If we'd tried staying together it would have been way worse, and we would probably not even be speaking to each other today.

You can't know he'll be the same person. Wait until he becomes that person and see how you feel then; in the meantime, that option is closed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:34 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a few guys who have asked me on dates and I find that I just miss this one fellow and want him still, am uninterested in anyone else.

That's fine if you're still grieving the loss of the relationship. Don't start dating until you're ready.

But if you're still having the relationship, only without him, I would strongly encourage you to move on. The relationship is over.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:37 AM on April 17, 2012 [11 favorites]

If he's as good a person as you say he is, he wants you to be as happy as you can without him. And not dating other people and instead pining away for a dude who is trying to get his shit together (with no guarantee of success) is not going to make you happy. No one is going to force you to date anyone, but if you're not happy being single, waiting for him to come around isn't the way to change that.
posted by griphus at 11:38 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

In a way, I'm in your boat. Having problems moving on. But, slowly, I'm doing it.

It just takes time, and allowing yourself to believe that, as great as that one was, another will come. Maybe not the next one I date. But someone that great will happen again.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:39 AM on April 17, 2012

"Waiting" for someone only works when you're both still committed to keeping the relationship going despite not being able to spend time together (if someone is deployed in the military or going on a multi-year scientific expedition or something).

He isn't in the relationship anymore, and it seems to me that he made that very clear with the "let's not contact each other" request. You need to recognize on your end that the relationship is over.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:39 AM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

Is this the same person your December question was about? If so, that's all the more reason to move on, as you seemed to recognize based on the answers you marked as "best answer." If not, then it seems like you might have a pattern of being intensely attracted to men who are somehow distant or unavailable. (I'm not trying to give you any kind of definitive diagnosis here, just suggesting it as something to consider.)

Either way, my only advice is very simple: date other people. Even if you feel like your heart wouldn't be in it, give yourself permission to do it anyway. Fake it till you make it. You don't have to make any big new commitment to someone else, but you do have to realize that the person you were dating is clearly unable to be there for you at all. So, he's old news. All you can do is move into the future and see what else is out there.

Of course, you don't have to date at all, and you'll ultimately have to do what you're comfortable with, not what internet commenters say to do. However, you seem like you do want to be dating someone. Have you seen the (great) Woody Allen movie Manhattan? There's a line in that movie: "You're throwing away an enormous amount of real affection on the wrong person." Yeah.
posted by John Cohen at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

If he wanted to keep the option of "waiting until you're both able to be in a relationship" open, he would have brought that up. He would not have asked that you have no contact.

I'm sorry, you need to accept that he does not want to be with you. He tried to sugar coat that and call it a honey bun. But the bottom line is that he doesn't want to be with you, and sugar coating it has just succeeded in tormenting you.
posted by jayder at 12:07 PM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

While you're still grieving the loss of this relationship, your perspective is going to be kind of skewed and a little weird. That's normal. It also means you're going to see hope in tiny crumbs of encouragement, and ignore huge blaring klaxons warning you away from something.

The dude dumped you. He did it in a way that is kind of cowardly, specifically in that he tried to give you a few crumbs of hope because he's not really able to be honest with you, or himself, or whatever - who knows? Who cares? What matters is that it's over.

If he wanted to be with you, he'd be with you. If he wanted to be with you and there were Big Things in his life causing complications in the early going, he'd tell you about them and explain the ramifications and with any luck you'd take that information and decide it was worth it and then you'd tackle this thing together.

I was once dating someone in the extremely early going - we hadn't had an actual Date or even kissed yet but we were definitely into each other - and they then told me that one of their parents was in the late stages of dying of cancer and they were going to have to return home (in another state) to bring that parent into hospice and then care for them for an indefinite period of time - days, weeks, they did not know. And I said, okay. I'll be here when you get back, and we should talk while you're gone. We emailed back and forth and sent each other long, long messages and silly little jokes and it brought us closer together. When this person came back, we had our date and we stayed together for a couple years.

Right now you're telling yourself it's his health, you're believing one part of his story, you're looking for that hope. I could write this out for a long, long time but what you need to know is he doesn't want to be with you and that this relationship is over, and it's not going to start up again.

I know that sounds harsh, and I'm sorry, but it's kind of holding back your healing process to be stuck on that hope. Abandon it, and take some time to yourself, and then start dating when you're ready. The sooner you accept that it's truly over (as terrifying as that will be to think about), the sooner you can start moving on and eventually find someone awesome who deserves your time and affection.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:14 PM on April 17, 2012 [13 favorites]

I'm not sure if he's stringing you on, or if you're stringing yourself on. You will find love with someone who will make the choice to be there for you because you are worthy of that love. Try your best to consider this relationship dead and gone because it is, and you need to move on.

Good luck. This sounds like a really tough situation.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't want to sacrifice myself during this time, whether he comes back or not... and a part of me feels that there is something worth honoring between us. I find myself wondering if he feels the same way, if any part of him is holding on to the hope that we could some day be together after he has gotten better.

Honor what? You got, excuse the harsh word here, dumped. Sure it was for a perfectly understandable reason, but you got dumped, you broke up and you're understandably grieving the loss of the relationship. I'd say part of you is in the denial or bargaining stage now. But h0e even made it plain that he doesn't even want to talk to you. It's over.

There's nothing to honor. You had something and, if the situation were different, might still have something, but it's not different. You have to live your life and you know that. And your life won't contain him.
posted by inturnaround at 12:32 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

He has told me that he doesn't want us to contact each other any more

You've been dumped and he's trying to distance himself. Sorry to say that, but if he insists on no contact, this means "I want you out of my life, period." I know this sounds harsh, but keep in mind, it has nothing to do with you as a person, and nothing you could do or say could change his mind. If he doesn't even want to be friends or exchange the occasional "hi, how are you, seen any good movies lately?" text or email, he means business. If he has his own health issues, it could be that he doesn't want contact with many people at all right now - not just you.

It's okay to mourn and it's okay to not go out on dates for a little while as you heal. But put this guy firmly out of your mind.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:39 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh man! First, I know how painful this is.
Second, because someone breaks up with you because they're not healthy does not, I repeat, not mean, "wait for them."

I got sucked into this once. Longterm boyfriend said he needed to break up with me, it wasn't fair to me to be with me while he was unhealthy. I asked him, "Do you still love me?" He said yes, but the relationship had to end.

Man, did I hang on for the longest time! Because he was unhealthy, and maybe he would take care of himself and come back, and he obviously still cared! I was all wrapped up in the tragedy of it, of the Grand Romance, blah blah.

Turns out, what he meant to say was, "I'm not healthy, and I'm not going to be with you. I want to, because I love you, but my life is way too screwed up. However, I want you to still love me, so I'm not going to say this up front."

You need to not hang on to the possibility it will all work out with this guy. It is poison. If he wanted to get healthy and then be with you, he would have said so.

I don't think no contact means he doesn't like you, though-it may just be easier to have a clean break. But you need to respect that.
posted by corb at 12:41 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

If anyone says something like this to you, you need to assume that you probably never, ever will get back together again. "Waiting for him to get better" usually doesn't work out. As other folks in this thread have pointed out, people move on from you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:42 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

looking at his facebook account

you are making things a lot harder for yourself by doing this. The longer that you are properly out of contact with him, the easier it will be for you to move on. For your own happiness, stop looking at it, and try to distract yourself when you find yourself thinking about him.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:47 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Everyone telling you this is totally over is spot-on. Shame on this guy for leaving you with shreds of hope where this is actually none.

What he should have said is, "Although our connection is compelling, this relationship is not what I want or need. I'm breaking up with you so that we may both move on."

You should move past this guy. This experience wasn't exactly what you thought it was at the time. That's OK.

Whatever you thought was happening between you and this guy IS out there. For real.

Let go of this and go get what you are really looking for in a relationship.
posted by jbenben at 1:03 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's okay. This is part of it. Not the pleasant part, but a part of it none the less. If it helps, the difficulty you are having at the moment in part is out of your control -- it's biochemical. When we fall in love, we become, in essence, addicted to how we feel about the other person. When you first saw him after a day or a week, there is a squirt of warm chemicals that reinforces the connection. Regardless of the reasons, that addiction lingers on for some time. Point being, don't fight the sadness. It will only prolong it.

As will believing in a false future. Often times, I think we believe in false futures because it allows us to only experience part of the pain today; those futures allow us to grieve to a certain point but perhaps tell ourselves that, in time, we will be reunited. In preventing full grieving, the false futures also prevent us from accepting the reality. It's akin to slowly pulling off a band-aid, to prevent what we perceive as an intense pain. Only instead of a flash of intense pain, we find ourselves endurring a more constant, droning pain.

In a way, you are fighting with yourself. You are at the bargaining phase of grieving -- "if not now, then another day. In the meantime…" And in some ways, your mind is preparing for the next phase, which is the presence of depression. The realisation that there is no further bargaining to be done. Without the false future, there will just be the sadness.

That is not the abscence of hope, rather it is the search for a new place for hope. The sadness is brief, and then there is acceptance, where this time will take it's place in the museum of your own history -- an exhibit frozen in time, that you can visit from time to time. Now, the memories have no power, and you will see this time for what it truly is, part of the journey to whevever you will go next.

For now, you can best honour him by honouring yourself. If you were in the same situation as you describe for him, would you ask him to wait for you? No, you would not. For you would not be able to assure an outcome, and thus you would be dishonouring him in this request. As he has chosen not to dishonour you now.

Your lack of interest in anyone is healthy -- believe it or not -- for you are in mourning and grieving a significant relationship. In essance, you are coming back home to yourself, and finding centre, and when you have found it, the next journey will begin.

So for the moment, if it helps, just know that there is no problem here. Nobody is guilty, nothing is wrong. This is the way it should be right now, and you can feel sadness for that. Express the sadness, either to yourself in a little journal, or to those you trust to listen.

And know that you are never alone. This is a fundamental part of the human experience, and through this process, you will discover both yourself and your companions. And one day, you may find a singular companion, and look back on this time with fondness and appreciation.

What I say I true, for it has already been said above, in different words, many times. Really, we are saying 'welcome, we are here for you, and this is okay.'
posted by nickrussell at 1:37 PM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

Just to supplement my previous answer:

Sorry, I call bullshit on this: "He had to end things a little over a month ago due to reasons in his own life that had nothing to do with me (his health)." I agree with everyone else who says this was a weak and cowardly way of ending his relationship with you.

If this were meant to be, if there were anything worth "honoring" between you, he would not end it and decree that there's to be no contact between you. People endure all kinds of hardships to be with ones they want to be with. The other commenter who said that they had a situation where the relationship was put on hold, but they e-mailed and send each other jokes, demonstrates how this sort of thing would be dealt with if he wanted to be with you. He just doesn't want to be with you. You should take that and make your peace with it.

His way of ending it was a super insensitive way of cutting off a relationship that he just wasn't into.
posted by jayder at 1:43 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know what his motive was for breaking up, but the signs (to me) point to him trying to be nice about breaking it off.

You need to move on, and you know it. If he's not making any effort to be with you, and actually is making effort not to be with you (no contact), then you need to treat this as a permanent breakup.

Go out on other dates - that's how you start getting back into the swing of things. You may not think you're ready, but the most awesome guy could be right there for you and you won't know unless you start getting out there.

And yay for you getting it out through your art!!
posted by mrs. taters at 3:17 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, he was being nice about breaking up. It's the "it's not you, it's me" wrapped up nicely. On the one hand, it's infuriating, because it does give you hope where there is none, on the other hand, he's not wanting there to be bad feelings between the two of you.

Let some time pass. Feel like crap for a bit. No one will replace him immediately. Eventually you'll find yourself thinking about him less and you'll be able to move on.
posted by mleigh at 7:00 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't waste any more of your time pining over this asshole: it's over, he isn't into you, and he doesn't want to have anything to do with you either now or in the future.

The reason you have oneitis is because you don't have any other backup options. If other guys are approaching you for dates, take them up on their offer! If your girlfriends invite you to parties where you'll meet other single, emotionally available men, go with them! If your mother wants to set you up with a nice guy, let her! Go out there, work on restoring your broken ego, take up a new hobby, and--most importantly--build up a coterie of 5-6 guy friends. (Definitely check out Hooking Up or Holding Out for more specific advice on how to do the latter.)

Good luck, chica! You can do this.
posted by lotusmish at 8:26 AM on April 28, 2012

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