He doesn't love me, and almost certainly never will.
April 29, 2012 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm falling in love with my boyfriend, but he doesn't think he'll fall in love with me. Should I end it?

Shortly (not even a month) before he asked me out, his fiancee left him (they had not been together very long at all--a year, year and a half tops). It took us awhile to actually set up a date, but it was still very soon.

He is also significantly older than I am. These two factors made me uneasy, but friends counseled me to look past it.

It's been 5-ish months since we started dating, and I'm head over heels for him. I am definitely falling in love. We recently had the "where are we?" talk, and he's stated that he's "having fun" but he doesn't see it lasting more than a year, "but we'll stay friends, I think." (We're both good at staying friends with exes). He doesn't feel the same rush of infatuation with me as he did with his ex-fiancee, he doesn't see us lasting in a long-term relationship, he's still wounded, etc. etc.

I'm devastated but kept it to myself because I wanted to consider my options (he made the 'mistake' of staying with someone who loved him but he didn't love her once before, so I didn't want to force a decision right there and then by saying that I love him). He has no idea that I'm in love with him, but unless he was blind he probably noticed me tearing up during the talk.

Complicating matters, he's at a significant point, career-wise, if he wanted to move to the (very distant) tech center, and an immediate family member was recently diagnosed with cancer (also far away). He has nothing much tying him to this country, let alone city.

-Totally unequal level of affection/commitment
-He needs time to heal from his breakup
-Things are rough for him, generally, so he won't suddenly feel a surge of emotion for me

-He is very good for me and brings out the best in me.
-(when I don't think about 'love') he makes me astonishingly happy and calm. He's the only thing bringing down my stress levels these days.
-The amount of happiness he brings me might make the "he doesn't love me" pain worth it.
-I have some unique physical hurdles that he has been astonishingly patient with, and that is very hard to find. He makes me feel almost normal, even.
-He is very affectionate (why I thought we might be on the same level, emotionally) and incredibly sweet.
-He just started getting treatment for depression.
-Things are rough for him, generally, so I should be there

Do I tough it out for the good and make the best of it all, do I tough it out so I can be there for him, or do I lose the person who makes me the happiest?

I'm so deeply confused about what to do. I'm devastated but I don't want to dump someone because I love them (or am coming to love them, or what-the-fuck-ever).

This isn't "should I wait it out and hope he comes to love me." This is "should I make the best of whatever time he thinks we have, or cut my losses and cry my heart out for the rest of the summer, thinking of what could have been?"
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Cut your losses. It will tear you apart to be with someone who can never feel the same way about you. Get on with your life and find somebody who wants to be with you.
posted by 200burritos at 10:01 AM on April 29, 2012 [16 favorites]

It is almost never a good idea to maintain a relationship with someone who cannot love you the way you love them. I don't think any amount of happiness you may feel with him during day-to-day interactions can mitigate that nagging, overarching pain of knowing he doesn't think of you as anything other than a fun fling. You deserve to be with someone who's emotionally ready to love you.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:02 AM on April 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Five months? Oh my, just move on with your life. Really, it will be ok. Life is too short to spend with someone who is not as invested as you are.

I am really sorry that he's not in the same place with you emotionally. That sucks. You sound lovely and I'm sure you'll find many other lovely people to date and form that one special attachment.
posted by stowaway at 10:03 AM on April 29, 2012 [10 favorites]

It doesn't sound like he's said anything about breaking up with you and you are reading a lot into his emotional state without actually talking to him. That doesn't mean you should go into it though, it's probably too early and he's got too much on his mind to be really concerned about where things are going.

If you want him to fall in love with you, be there for him! You should find ways to relax and stop stressing out. Try taking up new friends or activities that have nothing to do with him, and maybe you'll enjoy your time with him more. Perhaps it will work out and he will fall in love with you. Perhaps you will break up after a long, mostly happy relationship for the reasons you stated. But why jinx it ahead of time by worrying about something you can't control? You're like the kid who is so afraid of being pushed into the pool that you jump in with all your clothes on and ruin your phone.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:05 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, somehow in my previous answer I missed the part where he said he doesn't see it lasting for more than a year. I still think my advice is good if you want to stay with him, but yeah, that is a much stronger reason for you to cut your losses now and move on.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2012

Agreed. Break up with him now. Let him heal. Let him process. If you sit around waiting for his feelings to change, it's just going to make it worse. If you walk away and move on the pain will be less, and it allows you to possibly meet up with him in the future, when he can really see you and be present with you (staying with him now will kill that). But odds are you will have met someone new by then and won't give two hoots, which is the best thing of all.

(also, it would never cross my mind to be in a relationship with someone when the love isn't mutual. You tell me you love me, I tell you I love you, THEN we can talk about being boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.)
posted by Vaike at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get out now. This ends poorly for you.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:12 AM on April 29, 2012 [13 favorites]

he's stated that he's "having fun" but he doesn't see it lasting more than a year, "but we'll stay friends, I think."

The man is TELLING you flat out how it is. Please listen to him.

Shortly (not even a month) before he asked me out, his fiancee left him (they had not been together very long at all--a year, year and a half tops) ... He is also significantly older than I am. These two factors made me uneasy, but friends counseled me to look past it.

You were right and your friends were wrong. I think you have very, very good instincts. Your friends not so much. Next time when your instinct conflicts with their instinct, I think you should go with yours.

-He is very good for me and brings out the best in me.

You just said, "I'm devastated." No matter what you are working on about yourself that he seems to help with and bring out,feeling devastated all the time is going to mess all of that up. It would be much better, if there are things you really need help with, for a therapist to be the one helping you. Relying on a BF for that is so often the path to disaster.

-(when I don't think about 'love') he makes me astonishingly happy and calm. He's the only thing bringing down my stress levels these days.

But only when you don't think about love,? That's like saying, I'm in no pain at all, except for when I think about this big thorn in my foot. Being with someone you are in love with who doesn't love you back is one of the most stressful situations there is for many people.

-The amount of happiness he brings me might make the "he doesn't love me" pain worth it.

Usually not for most people.

-I have some unique physical hurdles that he has been astonishingly patient with, and that is very hard to find. He makes me feel almost normal, even.

This makes it sound like you have extremely low self esteem like you would be willing to accept terrible, painful situations and severe emotional pain because you think it would be so hard to find anyone so "patient" with you. Well, what's going to happen in a year when he breaks up with you like he said he would? Better for you to work on this now, without him.

-He just started getting treatment for depression.

That's not going to change what he clearly said to you about this not lasting.

-Things are rough for him, generally, so I should be there

No. This is incorrect thinking. You should not endure a situation of major emotional pain and being devastated, and stay in a relationship with someone who quite clearly said they are not that into you and don't see you staying together very long, just because times are "rough" for them and you should "be there" for them. No, you shouldn't. That's inappropriate to give. It is way too much for you to give. It is edging into self harm, being willing to harm yourself in order to "help" someone you care for the slightest bit. I am worried about you with this way of thinking.
posted by cairdeas at 10:12 AM on April 29, 2012 [62 favorites]

If what you want is to be in a loving relationship with the potential for mutual love and a lasting commitment (of whatever kind), do not stay in a relationship with someone who tells you, explicitly, that he thinks of his relationship with you as fun but temporary.

Whatever he's going through does not merit sacrificing your emotional well-being and mental health. You can be kind to him without staying in a relationship that you know will be painful for you.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:20 AM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Been there, done that and here's what I've learnt.

Rip the bandage off now.
posted by infini at 10:23 AM on April 29, 2012 [12 favorites]

Get out. The 'CONS' you mention are for the most part the basis for any future relationship you have. Except there should be more. Here's just a small basis for the actual relationship you want to be in:

• He is very good for me and brings out the best in me.
• He makes me feel astonishingly happy and calm.
• He brings me a huge amount of happiness, for happiness sake (not as a mitigator of a downside).
• He is patient with my unique physical hurdles. He makes me feel normal.
• He is very affectionate, is on the same level emotionally, and is incredibly sweet.
• We have an equal level of affection/commitment.

Go find that one; start now.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:24 AM on April 29, 2012 [10 favorites]

I just also want to say:

He makes me feel almost normal, even.

I would wager that if you stay in this relationship you will feel abnormal in a whole new extra way. What is wrong with me that he doesn't love me? I must be just unlovable. I must be too ugly. I must be too annoying. And of course my physical hurdles must play their part. Why are other women lovable but I am not? And why can I only attract guys who just want "fun" with me? There must be something fundamentally wrong with me, that that's all I can attract.

Please avoid the fate of feeling this way, Anon. Because it's not irreversible, but it leads to a lot more pain and many more bad choices.
posted by cairdeas at 10:27 AM on April 29, 2012 [19 favorites]

He has been honest with you. If you love him, do him the favour of believing him. End it now and find someone who will love you as you want to be loved.

Your situation is almost identical to one I was in some 15 years ago. Being young and stupid, I stayed with the guy a couple of years. The only result was that I kept getting hurt again and again, and I wasted time that could have been spent on someone else - or on myself.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 10:38 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

In my experience, unequal relationships where you're waiting for the other person's feelings to shift are fine* until they're suddenly NOT. Sounds like you've reached that point.

* Not fine, in fact, exquisitely painful and angst-provoking, but oh-so-compelling.
posted by salvia at 10:39 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

One of the great rules of life that I learned only through painful trial and error is this: believe someone when they're telling you bad (for you) news about themselves; trust but verify when they're telling you good (for you) news about themselves.

He's been very clear. If you feel like you can readjust your own attitude enough so that you can enjoy a year (or less) of a casual relationship with him, that's one thing, but it doesn't sound like that's going to work for you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:44 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Regarding the last two items on your cons list, you need to operate in your own best interest, not his. He has made it clear he is doing what works for him, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it is not in sync with what you want or need. I feel for you, because I have been there, but choosing to live in limbo or to content yourself with a temporary but ultimately unfulfilling relationship is heartbreaking in its own way, and when it ends, you will have to start grieving the relationship all over again. You deserve happiness sooner rather than later. Take care of yourself & best of luck to you.
posted by katemcd at 11:02 AM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

I guess I'll pipe up as the minority voice in this thread saying that ending this relationship now could be putting the cart before the horse. The way I read it, you're only five months into a relationship and asking for a de facto long-term commitment based on projections that he doesn't feel that he can make. If you can be happy right now, why not be happy right now?
posted by desuetude at 11:06 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Get out NOW. Dating someone who doesn't reciprocate your feeling is one of the most heartbreaking things you can do to yourself.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:09 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

That's a really inconsiderate response from someone you've been dating. End it now.
posted by Jurbano at 11:17 AM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

The first two of your "pros" for me would be enough to break up, and only two of your cons would make me want to stay. If this was a different kind of relationship, perhaps with less baggage, expectations, and with different timing, I would think that you were putting the cart before the horse and that he was insensitively, but honestly, telling you how he feels right now. However, the fact that he was engaged a month prior to your getting together, compares you to his ex, and that you are already in love with him makes me feel like you should either cut your losses. I highly doubt you could re-calibrate your emotions to be happy with what he is offering you.

FWIW I have done the long-term, committed, but we-are-not-in-love thing and it was good for aw hile and then I wanted more, which I was never going to get with that person. But I was never in love with him in the first place - I don't think you can go backwards.
posted by sm1tten at 11:23 AM on April 29, 2012

Drop him and move on. There are no PROs. It is only in your mind. You are rebound, plain and simple. The sooner you accept that and leave the better it will be for you. The emotional rollercoaster ride has just begun. It is your choice to get off or keep going till it messes you up a bit more at every stop.
posted by pakora1 at 11:32 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Taking him at his word that it will last about a year, your choices are break up now, break up later, break up in about a year. "Later" could be, say, a week or two from now. As a thought experiment, what would those two week feel like (during which you know and plan on breaking up, but he doesn't?) Not sure? It would only take you two weeks to know exactly what it would feel like. If that feeling is OK to you, you could hang in there, but I imagine it won't be (but that's merely MY thought experiment.)

Also, I'd think seriously about what someone said above that you don't feel you deserve better. I doubt your "unique physical hurdles" are either unique or something no one else would accept. The hurdle of him not loving you that you're considering taking on is a much bigger one.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:39 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you have the ability to trust your warning-senses and the advice of strangers, and can stick to decisions made for your own wellbeing, then leave now and be thankful he told you how much pain he was going to cause you.

If you're a doubting, curious, self-assured glutton for punishment like many of us have been, stay and learn the lesson the most painful way. Be prepared to lose an extra year or two of your life digesting that pain.
posted by ead at 12:02 PM on April 29, 2012 [42 favorites]

He just started getting treatment for depression.
-Things are rough for him, generally, so I should be there

Those are never good reasons to stay with people romantically.

Are you enjoying your time with him? Then stay and enjoy it while it lasts. If you're not happy, or if your happiness depends on him reciprocating, emotionally, then just break up with him now.
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on April 29, 2012

Other commenters have pretty much covered the reasons to break up, so I don't have much to add. I'd just like to point out that your "cons" of breaking up don't seem very compelling. They seem to be less about "Here's why it would be a really bad thing to break up," and more about "Here's why the relationship is enjoyable enough for the time being that it would be hard to make the decision to break up." I can definitely sympathize and I'm not trying to dismiss those points, but they don't seem strong enough to outweigh his blatant lack of interest in the relationship.

-Things are rough for him, generally, so I should be there

Don't stay with him out of charity, especially when he himself isn't too enthusiastic about the idea. If you want to do selfless acts of good, there are much more efficient ways to be charitable than by staying in a moribund relationship.
posted by John Cohen at 12:13 PM on April 29, 2012

Huh. This thread is a lot like this other thread. Since you sound like a very compassionate person, I recommend you read it, substituting "my love for X" for "Kepler the unwell cat".
posted by feral_goldfish at 12:17 PM on April 29, 2012


ead just hooked you up.

That was one of the best AskMe answers I've ever read!

Please choose yourself.

PS - you will NOT cry all summer if you get out now. Promise!
posted by jbenben at 12:32 PM on April 29, 2012

Another vote for break up now. Think about this: Maybe once he recovers from his recent failed near-marriage, and once he has gotten beyond his current depression, he will be ready to fall in love with you. However, that possibility does not justify staying in an unbalanced relationship in the interim. You have a life to live now. If his feelings change in the future, that's great, but there's no sense putting your happiness on hold until then.
posted by me3dia at 1:03 PM on April 29, 2012

I was in similar situation with my college boyfriend. Looking back, I think he loved me, but not in the way that I loved him, and neither of us were in the right place in our lives for a long term relationship. The break up was really hard - for both of us - but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Seriously. Just break up with him, and you'll look back and wonder why you dated him in the first place.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:29 PM on April 29, 2012

Call me crazy, but I'm having a hard time understanding how he is very good for me and staying with him might make the "he doesn't love me" pain worth it match up.

My general rule of thumb is that people who cause me pain are not good for me.
posted by space_cookie at 1:51 PM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

In my world, it's an extremely bad sign when someone has an idea of how long the relationship will last. How and when and why would a person derive that figure? Perplexing.
posted by rhizome at 2:07 PM on April 29, 2012 [16 favorites]

Cut your losses. Future you will thank you for it.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:18 PM on April 29, 2012

Yes move on, heartbreaking though it may be, it will only get worse the longer you stay.
posted by mleigh at 2:49 PM on April 29, 2012

Get out; the sooner you do, the sooner you will find someone who shares your level of affection.
posted by smirkette at 2:53 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's a way of thinking about it: think of all of the respect and support and care you've shown to him by being by him through his rough times. Now, think of all the "respect" and "support" and "care" he has shown to you by putting an end date on your relationship.

Please get out as quickly as you can. When you have healed, you will be so grateful to yourself (and that's really the longest-term relationship you will have).
posted by houndsoflove at 2:55 PM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've noticed it seems like it's a lot easier for older men to date than it is for older women to date (in part because of societal norms). Do you really want to waste your youth on somebody whom you know has no long term potential? Even factoring out the emotional aspect, I see no long-term upside to this arrangement.

The only way staying with him could be calculated as a good deal would be if you have no desire to EVER get in a relationship, in which case you might as well kill time in a fun way by sticking with him. But that really doesn't seem like your goal or personality type.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2012

Please end it. I was in this situation, and it's terrible. If he's telling you he doesn't love you and isn't going to, then just believe him. Trust me, several years from now you'll be glad you ended it when you did and didn't let him destroy your pride any more than he already has.
posted by McPuppington the Third at 2:57 PM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

End it. Go date other folk. Try and find happiness. Free him up to get the help he needs. Stay friends, after a fairly long no-contact break.

If you love him, you'll let him go. If you love yourself, you'll let him go.

(Also, I would like to offer you a massive meta-hug.)
posted by taff at 3:01 PM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Try to imagine the pain of being at the, say, 10 or 11 month mark and constantly wondering if the next date is going to be the one where he does what he says he is going to do and breaks up with you. That sounds like a slow torture to me.

Delaying the inevitable and suffering in the meantime seems like a recipe for deeper pain than you will feel by initiating the break now.
posted by murrey at 3:19 PM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

He says this to you after 5 months of the two of you dating exclusively?

Yes, I'm really sorry, but you should end this. At the very least, consider dating other people. In fact, maybe the healthiest thing to do right now is to bring this idea up.

If he's already said the two of you are 'just having fun', then he is either already consciously putting you in the good buddies, sex with benefits column in his head, or he is in denial about how he feels (which I only bring up because, having so recently been hurt, he might just be protecting himself by not allowing himself to invest in this relationship (or admit that he has).

So obviously, if this isn't going anywhere, he'd be fine with the two of you not being exclusive, right? Yes, I know you don't really want to date anyone else because you're in love with him. But I think he is taking you for granted and needs a big wake-up call, because by conti uing this relationship with you without any desire to move forward, he is showing you he's either callous or clueless. If clueless, telling him you want to date other people might just shake him out of his relationship myopia.

And if he is callous enough to be fine with you dating others and has been stringing you along like this? Well, I think you should thank your lucky stars you found this out after 5 months, and walk away. Maybe it will be easier to do that, knowing he was never going to be the guy you need him to be, too.

Whatever you do, DON'T keep things the way they are now! You deserve better than a guy who doesn't see how loveable you are, and there are plenty of guys out there who will.
posted by misha at 3:28 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also just want to say something specifically about this because I didn't directly address it before:

This is "should I make the best of whatever time he thinks we have, or cut my losses and cry my heart out for the rest of the summer, thinking of what could have been?"

-Say for the sake of argument you really would cry your heart out for the rest of the summer after breaking up. So 4 months. Isn't it true that you're going to be crying your heart out for the same amount of time no matter WHEN you break up? The only difference is if you stay in this relationship I think you will be crying your heart out for as long as it lasts, as well. So 4 months of post-breakup crying plus 12, 6, 4, 1, or however many additional months of crying. Wouldn't it be better to avoid all that extra crying time?

-IMHO, spring is the BEST time of all to break up. You have the whole summer ahead of you. The weather is great and very mood-lifting. People are out and about more often, in better moods and it's easier to meet them. Friends make plans to do lots of fun things like going to the beach or river rafting or camping, and there are more parties and you just meet more people. It is just a time that feels really full of possibility. Fall/winter is gloomy, the weather is getting cold and crappy, days are short and dark, everyone just wants to sit at home and watch TV alone. I don't know if it is the case for you but for a lot of people fall/winter weather just amplifies any unhappiness they have.

-I think the longer you stay with this guy the more attached you will be. I think the more memories you make with him the worse it will feel WHEN you break up. Do you really think it is a good idea to make summer memories with someone you KNOW is going to break up with you? To be ruminating on that when you are single again in the middle of the winter?

-If you break up with him you will be the one with the control - at least you will have control over how and when to end it. Rather than a horrible helpless feeling of no control at all. And possibly a circumstance where he is breaking up with you because he met someone else.

-Even when we give to someone out of the goodness of our heart there can be a subconscious feeling that we expect something in return even if it is just a bit more consideration of us and our feelings. Imagine how you would feel if you sacrificed your whole summer for him to be there for him in his rough time -- and say he successfully started feeling really great -- and once he was feeling really great he ended things with you and took up with someone else.

-When you say he just started treatment for depression that actually makes me think he may break things off with you sooner rather than later. He may have started dating you out of being emotionally devastated himself and using you as a crutch. Once he doesn't need a crutch anymore he may just drop you and move on quicker than you even thought. What if you give up all your summer possibilities to squeeze the last bit of juice out of this and he leaves anyway?
posted by cairdeas at 3:29 PM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

It doesn't matter how great the day-to-day is--knowing this will pummel your self-esteem, and make it much harder to date in the future. Take care of Future You.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:43 PM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

I can relate. I wish I hadn't let myself let things go so far, but sometimes you have to make your own mistakes.

If he's really going to break up with you after a year, it's not so bad. The real risk is that he doesn't break with you but doesn't fall properly in low with you either, and years pass and you still don't know any more than you do today and feel even more invested, making it feel devastating to walk away but absurd to stay.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:56 PM on April 29, 2012

Speaking as someone who recently emerged from a somewhat similar situation, it will ultimately cause you less pain to leave now.

In my case, he said up front that he wasn't ready for a committed relationship, but I stayed anyway because he was clearly very much into me. I thought that if he fell for me, he would decide that he was ready.

Well, I was wrong. He did eventually confess that he had fallen in love with me, and we had a couple of blissful months.

Then he decided, again, that he wasn't ready, and broke things off.

Tl,dr: being in love doesn't neccessarily translate to being ready.

I'm so sorry.
posted by chicainthecity at 4:03 PM on April 29, 2012 [9 favorites]

Run. Please.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:34 PM on April 29, 2012

You know the answer to this question. Nobody can tell you whether you should accept it or not. You must make a decision either way and then accept the result. Given what has been on display above, I would say you will find good company either way.

If you stay and it falls apart, there are lots of people who have been through that and will help you through when it happens to you. If you leave and have to say good bye to someone you love deeply, there are lots of people who have been through that and will help you through when it happens to you.

But I would again say, you already know the answer. Perhaps it's that good old trickery where sometimes to be strong, one must be weak. To have a better tomorrow, sometimes we must make decisions that make today quite shit.
posted by nickrussell at 5:14 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

All (all! god.) of my adult relationships have been about being with guys when they decided they had time for me, and about me realizing the emotional balance was unequal but thinking, "I'll take what I can get - better this than nothing." God, was I wrong, every single time. As someone currently trying to heal from yet another one of these relationships, please get out now and find someone who can be as devoted to you as you are to them. This man's damage will turn into your damage, which may be permanent - nothing is worth that.
posted by AthenaPolias at 5:30 PM on April 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

Please show him the door. You deserve better than somebody who has put an expiry date on the relationship.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:42 PM on April 29, 2012

Oh honey, before you do anything or read any more comments in this thread, go to your kitchen and fix yourself some hot cocoa with extra whip and marshmallows. After you take a few sips of chocolatey goodness, read the following.

Realize that the dude isn't going to be over his ex for a really long time. He's going to need a lot of space and a lot of time before his feelings for her go away and his positive outlook is restored. The fact that you're one in what I'm sure is going to be a long line of his rebounds DOES NOT REFLECT ON YOU in any way, shape, or form. Guys who are serial monogamists and who don't appreciate or respect the post-breakup mourning period are generally emotionally damaged goods who lack both empathy and tact. Acknowledge that he's a loser, that you'd be much better off without him, and that you're a great gal who is going to be the Best Wife Ever for your dream guy one day.

Never settle for a wishy-washy, "let's see where this goes," relationship; a man that loves and respects you will move heaven and earth to bring a smile on your face. You deserve much, much better than him viewing you as some kind of warm body/consolation prize.

That said, the reason you were initially attracted to a very emotionally unavailable man is because you yourself are emotionally unavailable. Figure out why you don't respect your awesome, groovy, gorgeous self and then work on building up your confidence so that you can project an emotionally available signal to attract better quality guys. This means that you need to take a break from dating to work on healing yourself. You need to love yourself before others can love you. (Read other threads to learn how to do that.)
posted by lotusmish at 6:24 PM on April 29, 2012 [19 favorites]

Rebound Ace is something they make tennis courts out of, not something you should aspire to be. Go find somebody wonderful who will fall in love with you.
posted by flabdablet at 6:53 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mr. “Oh, I suppose you’ll do for now” is having fun. He doesn’t expect this to last more than a year. The rush he felt with his ex isn’t there with you. He can’t see being your long term relationship.

So now what – you just make the best of it while you sit around and wait to be dismissed?

Oh, hell no!

He’s made it perfectly clear (rather cruelly, it sounds like) that your needs are not going to be met here. There is no what could have been. Dump his hateful ass not because you love him, but because you have standards. You’re not looking for short time fun, and he’s made it abundantly clear he hasn’t got anything else to offer.
It already sucks, it already hurts, you already think you're lucky to be feeling 'almost normal' – this is not the time to torture yourself and hope he eventually sees he'd be lucky to have you.

Cut your losses and let him cry his heart out for the rest of the summer. You'll be too busy moving on to better things.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:52 PM on April 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

Anon, I find myself rather emotionally affected and compelled by your question so I hope you don't mind if I say a last thing.

"thinking of what could have been"

When you think about "what could have been," I am wondering what could have been in your opinion? Is it along the lines of the two of you having meaningful and important experiences together?

If so-- I know this really hurts to realize and trust me, I have been on the receiving end of this myself. But those meaningful and important experiences will only be meaningful and important to you. Say the two of you take a trip to the beach. To you it might end up being a memory that is emotionally charged in the EXTREME. And you might think about it for months or years as the time you walked along the beach at night, threw stones in the water, talked about your dreams, and felt so emotionally bonded and so in love, and he really seems for a moment to feel the same way you do.

But to him, while you are in this emotional whirlwind, he's thinking, "Great walk, but man I'm hungry now. I think there was a burger place a quarter mile from here. Hmm or maybe I would rather have nachos." And the next day he wakes up and thinks about the day ahead of him, and he doesn't really think about that night again. Six months later he doesn't even remember it. Meanwhile you are thinking about it again and again.

There is nothing that "could have been" with him. Anything that seems to be, is a mirage. It's not really there. He just doesn't feel the same way.

I have also been on the flip side of this too. I had a year where I was extremely miserable in life overall. I was dating someone I liked well enough, but I knew we were never going to be LTR partners. And I didn't even like him THAT much, he was perfectly nice but I wouldn't have even been friends with him. When I broke up with him he said "this has been the best year of my whole life." I was stunned. I could not even wrap my mind around that. That "best year" he was having, I definitely were not sharing it. It was not an experience that we were mutually sharing at all.
posted by cairdeas at 8:10 PM on April 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

Another Mefite, Hawk V, introduced me to the term emotional airbag. I'm sorry, he is being honest in saying you are just a rebound but that only works if -you- are also just looking for a no strings fling.

I was always taught to leave the people you leave in a better state than you found them; it sounds like you will be doing that for him but he is incapable of doing anything but hurt your self-esteem further.
posted by saucysault at 8:20 PM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

He couldn't love his ex-fiancée and now he says he can't love you. He's an older guy; if he hasn't learned how to open his heart by now, he probably never will. He has very little to offer you. You have youth and love, a good heart, and healing wisdom. Don't let him use you for these things.

Despite what Meat Loaf would say, two out of three is a bum deal.
posted by gentian at 9:22 PM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks to saucysault for linking to Baggage Reclaim. Here's another one--"Are you selling yourself short in dating, relationships and life?" The blogger writes relationship advice from her own experience, and I think that the OP should recognize some of these behaviours in her.

OP, I think you're selling yourself short. He's not good enough for you, he's not ready for a real relationship, regardless of his feelings for you. Casual relationships only work if they're mutual, if you're devastated because you'll never have the relationship that you want, then this will be nothing but unhealthy.

Break up, seek emotional support from friends while building a healthy social network, and you'll eventually find a guy who'll be at your level. The longer you stay with this guy, the less time you'll have to meet better people. You have more options than you think, so choose wisely.
posted by Hawk V at 9:29 PM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Resentment is waiting around the corner if you stay with him. Leave now.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:45 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


You should.
posted by windykites at 1:06 AM on April 30, 2012

Two bits from me:
1. If you find yourself having to make a "pros vs. cons" list about your relationship it's already too late. Move on.

2. Dude's a weiner. aolgoodbye.wav
posted by TomMelee at 9:09 AM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

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