Why is my ex girlfriend acting this way?
July 26, 2012 1:56 AM   Subscribe

Help me understand my ex girlfriend's recent behavior. VERY LONG

I'm 30 years old, and my ex girlfriend is about to turn 30.

She's Japanese, which may make some difference, but I don't want people to read too much into that, as I think this has more to do with her as a person and our relationship than any cultural issues.

First some background: We had a 2 year relationship, where we lived together for over a year. I wasn't fully engaged in the relationship for most of it, being freaked out about lack of career and life direction. We spent almost all of our time together, but I was often distant, and not super affectionate. I ended up moving away to do a grad program, a decision I made on my own, and I'm pretty sure this really hurt her. It was not a healthy relationship, mostly because she was super affectionate, super caring to me, and I was mostly a self absorbed selfish ass. We broke up about 3 months after I went away for the grad program, almost right after I'd come back to see her for Christmas.

After the break up, we had some contact for a bit. I bought a ticket to come see her over spring break, but she told me she was with another guy already and head over heels for him. I cancelled, she told me she wished I would have come, I got angry, she told me she said that because she’d just had a fight with her new boyfriend. After that, we didn’t talk for a few months.

Fast forward to now: I'm back in Japan for an internship, in line with my original plan for when I started grad school, except we aren't together any more. About a month before I came back, I wrote her a mail telling her that I'd be around, just in case she wanted to meet up for coffee one last time. She wrote back shortly after, telling me that she wanted to get rid of the cat that we'd owned together, and wondering if I might be able to take it when I graduated next year.

I said I wasn't sure what my situation would be like next year, but that we could talk about it when I got here.

Here's where we start to get to the most recent weird behavior. Our correspondence leading up to me arriving had been very friendly. But right before I got here, I got a mail saying that, even if I wanted to take the cat, she didn't think I would be responsible enough to take care of it, that I was a selfish person, and that I wouldn't even be responsible enough to do things like clean his litter box, take him to the vet, etc. (this is baseless, because I did all of these things when we lived together) I got a bit angry, and told her as much in an email, but again suggested meeting to talk things over. She agreed to meet the first weekend after I arrived in Japan. Just a few days before we were supposed to meet, she cancelled on me, telling me that she didn't think it would be fair to her new boyfriend for her to meet with her ex boyfriend, even to just talk about a cat, so we should just figure things out by email. I was a little peeved, because I wanted to see her one last time, and because figuring out this kind of thing by email seems prone to misunderstandings but said, ok, no problem.

We tried to figure things out by email, but quickly got into an argument, with things getting nastier by the mail. I felt bad, told her I was sorry for all of the vitriol, and to give me a week to try and figure things out, at which time I'd contact her.

A couple days later, she writes to me that it would be better for us to just calm down, meet, talk things over and figure everything out.

I said, either way, either meeting or by mail, but let's just try to be friendly. The next day, she sends me a friendly, almost flirty mail, saying it'd be a good idea to meet, but that if there's any chance that I still have feelings for her, that it wouldn't be a good idea for me, because, "after all, she's beautiful and it might get me all riled up." This was kind of a joke I think. I told her, no, it was ok, I'm already seeing other people too, so nothing to worry about, let's just meet and figure things out.

She responds in surprise that I'm seeing other people, asking for details about who they are, how long we've been dating, etc. Again, very friendly, but I don’t ask to meet, and just leave things there.

The next day, another mail, asking me if I’m going to go visit our old apartment, and if I do, could I pick up any mail of hers to give it to her WHEN we meet. I say, sure, ok.

Next day, another mail, saying it would be easier to meet on the weekdays than the weekend. I say ok, how about Thursday.

Next day, she says, Thursday is ok, but if you haven’t figured out anything about the cat, then what is the point of meeting. I tell her, I’ve figured things out, let’s meet and talk about it. She writes back late that night to say that it would be better to talk about it by email!

I reply and say, ok, no problem. Tell her I would love to take the cat, but probably shouldn’t promise to because I don’t know what my housing and job situation will be next year. (all things she told me were earlier were reasons why I shouldn’t even be allowed to take the cat ever.)

She responds with a long email, telling me that this proves I haven’t changed, that she doesn’t care about me at all, that she regrets ever dating me, that I am selfish and irresponsible, that she’s disappointed in herself for ever choosing to be with someone like me, that the only reason she’s glad she met me is that she learned to avoid people like me in the future, and that I’m just telling her a bunch of lies and this proves I’ll never change. She tells me that it doesn't matter what I say or do, that she will always think this way about me. Also, that she’s not criticizing me, but that this is just who I am so that’s why she’s saying this. She tells me she can never imagine ever meeting me, and that as much as she regrets ever being with me, or ever knowing me, she is equally as grateful to be loved by her new boyfriend as much as she is now. Also some more stuff similar to this, but you get the idea.

What is going on here? Our relationship wasn't a great one, and I wasn't a great boyfriend, but there have certainly been much, much worse, and we actually did have a lot of great times together as well. Our breakup happened long distance, and she found a nice new guy almost right away. I don’t have any hard feelings about the break up, totally understand why she left, and have told her as much many, many times. I’ve apologized profusely for being a poor boyfriend, told her I feel terrible about not treating her better, and told her I’m happy she’s found someone who treats her well. I’ve gotten angry a little bit, when she tells me I don’t deserve to even take care of my own cat, but for the most part I’ve been polite, friendly, and as civil and as flexible as I can be.

She has been at times friendly, flirty, cold, distant, angry, bitter, and everything in between. She is in what appears to be a very happy new relationship, I am trying to work with her on the cat thing, and I just don’t understand the wild swings in mood, and especially the really bitter last email she sent me. To me, it seems like, she’s already in a happy new relationship, I’ve apologized, and this should all be water under the bridge. Instead, she seems to be getting progressively more bitter, and her image of me has gone from, right after the breakup, a decent guy who wasn’t very affectionate and had some issues, to now, a self centered monster who doesn’t care about anyone or anything and can’t even take care of a cat. This is despite me being as polite and friendly as I can, her sometimes being friendly to me, and me telling her a million times I'm sorry, I'm glad she's happy now, and that I think she's a great person. I’ve been bitter at exes before, but it usually gets better with time, and especially after I’ve happily moved on, all is forgiven. I’m sorry that this is so long, but any idea what is going on here?
posted by tokaidanshi to Human Relations (43 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hm. Well, no one can really know, obviously, but she sounds pretty confused. There is one thing that stands out: she quickly entered into a relationship after the two of you ended things. There is a good chance she never dealt with the breakup properly and being back in contact, with the possibility of seeing you in person, has brought up a lot of unresolved feelings that have festered and built up over time. She may be recognizing and dealing with a lot of hurt over the breakup for the first time. My suggestion is to just drop the whole cat issue and stop contacting her. Save yourself some grief and frustration. It sounds like you have moved on but she hasn't, and she needs some time.

Good luck.
posted by peacrow at 2:07 AM on July 26, 2012

It sounds like you want to meet up to rehash the relationship and she really just wants you to take the cat.

You keep saying you want to meet and that its fine but you don't even know if you can take the cat in the end which is the main reason she actually wants to meet, hence her frustration.

Maybe she is also processing some old feelings via the email but it definitely sounds like the relationship has run its course.

She keeps saying there's no point meeting if you can't take the cat but she is open to discussing arrangements via email.
posted by bquarters at 2:12 AM on July 26, 2012 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Dude, just leave her alone. I don't know what exactly is going on with her, but it's obvious that the continuing contact isn't doing her, or you, any favors.
posted by 6550 at 2:14 AM on July 26, 2012 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Understanding the situation here is probably less important than moving on.
posted by heyjude at 2:16 AM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Hi, thanks for the answers! Maybe I was unclear, actually I wanted to meet to talk things over at first, but when she said email was better, I was totally fine with that. I tried to do everything by email, and then she told me it would be better to meet, so I said ok. I haven't pushed the meeting thing since, it's been all her, until she canceled. I haven't been trying to contact her either, it's been all coming from her, I've just been responding and trying to help her out with the cat thing. She suggests email, ok. She suggests meeting, ok. I tell her I can't take the cat, which was what she originally suggested, and she sends me this long, angry email.... after being very friendly earlier.

I should say, I'm not trying to date her again at all. This relationship is dead, I'd just like to be cordial and friendly, I just don't understand the conflicting friendliness/bitterness
posted by tokaidanshi at 2:18 AM on July 26, 2012

you can't expect to get a rational explanation for what she is saying or doing. She's obviously confused and hurt because of unresolved feelings. So there's no use in trying to make any sense of what she is saying. The best way to get clarity would be to separate yourself and involve yourself in other activities. At some point in the future, you'll get some clarity naturally about what was going on with this relationship. That clarity is not going to come from continuing to interact with her or try to analyze her behavior at this time.
posted by bearette at 2:41 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: Here's what it sounds like to me:

Having you come back to Japan dredged up a whole bunch of unresolved feelings for her. And as is the case with many people post-breakup, they're not especially coherent feelings.

She still has some tattered bits of affection for you, and she hasn't quite disengaged enough to let all the reflexive jealousy go-- but she's also still kind of angry and hurt. (Being with her new boyfriend can help her mask that a bit, but time's the only thing that will make those feelings really go away.) She wants to see you, but she doesn't want to want to see you, so she's using the cat as an excuse. At the same time, all the unresolved crud is making her really scared about what seeing you will be like, so she's doing an kind of odd push-me/pull-you thing.

Don't take any of the specific things she says too personally. It sounds like it's mostly just pain+leftover fondness+anxiety talking. Obviously, she could be handling it better-- but by your own admission, you could have handled the whole relationship better. So IMO, the whole thing's a wash. (Which is completely okay! Nobody's born knowing how to do this stuff, and everyone screws up sometimes.)

I don't think that either of you are going to get much out of meeting at this point. She's still way too jangly. If you really want the cat, give her very specific instructions for a neutral handoff, along the lines of: "Please come to Address_A and give Mr. Tunapants to Mutual_Friend_X, at Time_Q on Date_A. Make sure you also bring his [Toys, food, vaccination records]. I will pick him up later that day." Let her change the arrangements exactly once. If she keeps pushing back the meeting time or otherwise arguing about it, then consider that she may not be completely resolved about rehoming the cat, and drop the issue.

It may be a year or more before she can sit down with you and have a neutral conversation. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do about that. Emotions have their own weird timetables.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:46 AM on July 26, 2012 [10 favorites]

"I'd just like to be cordial and friendly, I just don't understand the conflicting friendliness/bitterness"

Maybe it just feels odd to her that while she was right there, right in front of you, being "super affectionate, super caring" you didn't really care and now that it is convenient for you to have someone for coffee and chats you keep contacting her. It just can look like a continuation of selfish behavior.

My advice: offer to chip in for the cat care (vet&food cost money, and it sounds like she was the primary caregiver lately). Let her know you are there if she needs help or wants to keep in touch. Make a plan who/how to keep the cat (if you don't want to take it, offer to share costs or to find a new home for it). Quit contacting her and only respond if she contacts you.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:56 AM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

I just don't understand the conflicting friendliness/bitterness

You realise she might be thinking exactly the same about you? I mean, if you look at it this way:

"I ended up moving away to do a grad program, a decision I made on my own, and I'm pretty sure this really hurt her [...] I bought a ticket to come see her over spring break, but she told me she was with another guy already and head over heels for him. I cancelled, she told me she wished I would have come, I got angry [...] I wrote her a mail telling her that I'd be around, just in case she wanted to meet up for coffee one last time [...] We tried to figure things out by email, but quickly got into an argument, with things getting nastier by the mail. I felt bad, told her I was sorry for all of the vitriol [...] I said, either way, either meeting or by mail, but let's just try to be friendly."

Obviously that's a very boiled-down version of what happened, missing out on a lot of the context. But from her point of view, your behaviour is probably not as justified and reasonable as it might seem to you - and just as you're acting that way in response to her behaviour, she's acting that way in response to yours. You give us a pretty much blow-by-blow account of her latest angry outburst, but describe your own as just "I got angry" and "things [got] nastier by the mail", so who knows how your behaviour looks to her? And after all these emails and arguments, you still haven't given her a conclusive answer about the cat.

I'm not saying she's in the right here, or even more in the right than you are. It sounds like she's got pretty conflicted feelings about you and still has a lot of anger stored up from the end of your relationship (hence the "you are FAR too selfish to look after a cat" stuff), and that part of the issue earlier was that she wasn't sure whether or not you were angling to get back into a relationship with her (or whether or not that's what she wanted).

But, look, these things happen sometimes after the end of relationships, especially ones that ended with a bitter and painful breakup. You say you'd "just like to be cordial and friendly", and that's totally fair - but it's not always a call you can make for another person, and often it's not even possible until a lot more time has passed. The reason that "no contact" is such common advice after a breakup isn't because nobody approves of being on good terms with exes, but rather because in many many situations, the only way you can to good terms in the end is to leave each other the hell alone for a while.

If you can't take the cat, then you have no reason to be even trying to make plans to meet up or discuss things by email or whatever. Just give her a conclusive answer - conclusive as in "I cannot take the cat," not "well I'd like to but I don't know if I should promise to" - wish her well in life, and move on.
posted by Catseye at 2:56 AM on July 26, 2012 [14 favorites]

You can't take the cat so what's the point of getting together to talk about it? If you want to start being a better person in this relationship then leave her alone from here on out.
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:58 AM on July 26, 2012 [25 favorites]

- You made the mistake of stirring drama up by notifying her you were back in Japan. That's on you.

- The cat thing? Meh. It's her problem, not yours. It is her cat now. Why are you inserting yourself back into things?? You are in no position to care for the cat or find it a new home. You should have stated that instead of flip flopping.

- I remember you and this relationship from other questions.

- You would be wise to delete all emails, block her in the future, block on social media, etc.. Cease all contact immediately. Spare both of you the agony and drama.

- There is no perfect or "right" way of signing off "one last time." I mean, if you could manage a one sentence email and then do the delete/block - great. But that doesn't seem to be who you are in this situation.

Interacting brings out the worst in both of you. Cease contact, get on with your life.

*If I had to guess, it seems like she was trying to sweet talk/bully you into taking on the problem of the cat. I don't think she is pining for you.

It's ALL none of your business, either way. Pay attention to school and your internship. Forget this ever happened. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 3:33 AM on July 26, 2012 [9 favorites]

You two are playing emotional tag. She's got a lot of emotions and hurt still wrapped up in this and is not capable of giving you what you want right now, which is a friendly, amicable exchange that translates to "Hey, all is forgiven, evidenced by our friendly exchanges." You can't push that outcome. It's ok to let things be a mess. Forever, even. Just go.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:59 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

It sounds like she loved you and your feelings for her are/were no stronger than you'd have for a friend. That alone will have made her feel jerked around by you long-term.

And yes, she is responding to your escalation too, even though it seems to you that her agitation is happening in a vacuum. You're talking about this as though you asked to meet a friend for coffee and she reacted by trying to boil your bunny, but to her it probably seemed like you possibly were trying to get back with her in a plausibly deniable way, or at least reinitiate contact for no sufficient reason. Doesn't matter if you meant that or not, that's how a reasonable person in her position would be likely to see it. Since she was in love with you, that's a crazy-making conundrum to her whereas, to you, in the absence of strong feelings on your part, it just seems like coffee.
posted by tel3path at 4:09 AM on July 26, 2012 [8 favorites]

If you can't take the cat, stop bothering her. It sounds to me like a) she's not over you, or at least the potential she saw in the relationship and the hurt you caused her, and b) you're looking for some kind of forgiveness/validation that you're a nice guy. You're both being a bit silly, in my opinion.

She's pissed because you acted like a dickhead, and she's allowed to be pissed for as long as it takes - for forever - and you don't get to assuage any guilty feelings/bemusement/resentment you might have over that by forcing her to be cordial, nice, consistent etc.

Thus: If you aren't gonna take the cat, stop contacting her. She's had the cat for a long time now, I think she's okay with looking after it, and you're in no position to take any cat.
posted by smoke at 4:17 AM on July 26, 2012 [14 favorites]

Others have spoken to her emotional state, but I'm curious about this:

she’s already in a happy new relationship

Do you have any independent confirmation of this? The happiness or even the existence of the relationship? From what you've described it doesn't sound like she's too certain about her romantic footing right now and is afraid that seeing you will open up a can of worms that she just doesn't need.

You didn't ask for advice but I would say that if you want to spare this woman (and yourself) a good deal of pain this would be a good time to back off for a year or two.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:31 AM on July 26, 2012

This relationship is dead, I'd just like to be cordial and friendly, I just don't understand the conflicting friendliness/bitterness

I'm sorry, but you don't get to decide what her feelings should be. If you want this to stop, stop emailing her.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:43 AM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes, I guess I have been a bit unclear. Asking to meet in the first place was obviously a bad idea. I shouldn't have done that. I probably wanted to do that because I feel guilty about being such an ass, and would like her to forgive me, and as has been pointed out, I don't have any right to that, if it happens, it's on her own time and of her own volition.

But... yeah, throwing this up here, it all looks pretty childish doesn't it. Christ, I am, at least in theory, and adult, and this is all silly. Beauty of askmefi is that it is a great resource to get some sense knocked into you.

I'm going to go with no contact, and hopefully stop causing her any more problems.
posted by tokaidanshi at 5:34 AM on July 26, 2012

Response by poster: and no, to respond to tell me no lies, I don't have any independent verification of her being in a happy relationship. just what she's told me.
posted by tokaidanshi at 5:36 AM on July 26, 2012

1. My money says her relationship's not stable: Either she's breaking up & getting back together (which makes you look attractive, even though she KNOWS you were an ass last time), or she's fighting with the guy & is trying to hurt him by talking to her ex.

2. Does she drink? Because this TOTALLY sounds like the sober/drunk behavior I get from my ex: Sober, he wants to fix, drunk he freakin' hates me & just wants to let me know what an awful person I am and how I've ruined his life.

I doubt you'll ever get the cat: It's just a placeholder that's giving her an excuse to talk to you.
posted by Ys at 5:37 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The problem is that this discussion is like a mini-replay of your relationship problems, namely you are stringing her along horribly about this cat.
She wrote back shortly after, telling me that she wanted to get rid of the cat that we'd owned together, and wondering if I might be able to take it when I graduated next year.

I said I wasn't sure what my situation would be like next year, but that we could talk about it when I got here. [...] Next day, she says, Thursday is ok, but if you haven’t figured out anything about the cat, then what is the point of meeting. I tell her, I’ve figured things out, let’s meet and talk about it. [...] Tell her I would love to take the cat, but probably shouldn’t promise to because I don’t know what my housing and job situation will be next year. (all things she told me were earlier were reasons why I shouldn’t even be allowed to take the cat ever.) 
Yeah, if you can't promise, it means you haven't figured anything out. That's not a plan she can rely on in any way whatsoever, just like she couldn't rely on you in any way whatsoever. However instead of just saying "you're right, I have no idea what I'm doing so you should find the cat a plan that is reliable and solid" you're claiming that you do have things figured out for the cat when you absolutely don't. That is why she's upset. Your unwillingness to say yes OR no leaves her in a state of waiting around for you to make decisions without her, just like your relationship.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:38 AM on July 26, 2012 [28 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, I should also say, she really doesn't want the cat. If I don't take it, she's giving it away to the next random person who will take it. I never asked for it. When we broke up, I thought she really liked it, so I didn't even think about asking for him back. She just told me she was going to get rid of it, and that if I would pay for all of his costs of living and vet fees if he had to go, then she'd give him to me next year. Otherwise, she wants to give him away. I would like to take it, because he's awesome, and I agreed to pay for him this year while I'm still in school, regardless of whether or not she gave him to me later, but I said I wasn't sure what my living situation would be like, didn't know if I would have enough time to play with him and keep him company (he is a super social cat) so it might be better to give him to someone else, if she didn't want him. And that's when I got the, "you are the worst person who doesn't care about anyone or anything, etc, etc," mail.
posted by tokaidanshi at 5:42 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: The cat is a symbol for her heart. You want it but not enough to accommodate it in your plans. However you do expect her to keep it for you on the off chance that you want it, but then maybe you'd be fine with not getting it after all...so you are putting the decision about it onto her, just like she was the one who had to make the decision to break up with her. That is what is upsetting to her.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:45 AM on July 26, 2012 [33 favorites]

Also, in case I was harsh, I don't think this is a huge personality flaw or anything, but because of the way your relationship and breakup went, indecision on your part is going to trigger this kind of intense emotion and hurt for her. If you can make a decision and apologize for the delay, that would be best. Asking her to wait a year while wondering and thinking about what you're going to decide the whole time isn't a decision, but a kind of slow emotional torment for her because it's a reflection of the relationship.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:49 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Either take the cat or don't, but make a decision, and otherwise leave her alone. Your excuses about the cat are weak, btw. Her headspace shouldn't be your concern, but it sounds like you're jerking her around with this cat thing and that is likely pissing her off.

But really, whatever's going on in her mind is none of your concern. She's your ex. She doesn't owe it to you to make you feel less guilty about having been a shitty boyfriend. Her conflicted feelings or personal issues or whatever aren't your business because you're not a person in her life and vice versa.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:05 AM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

What sticks out to me is asking your ex to meet "one last time" under these circumstances. If you look at questions here about relationships ending, people are always cautioning against trying to have a "last meeting" or otherwise achieve closure because it's likely to prolong the angst. In this case it seems like the angst is largely on her side. Asking her to meet that way, while not intentionally cruel, was pretty cruel in effect, I think. Unless I missed some details, she's clearly tried to make a clean break-- she may have even invented a new boyfriend for that purpose?-- and you haven't been helping any. Leave her be.
posted by BibiRose at 6:11 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

You do realize that, even in the confines of this AskMe question, you're waffling about the cat. It's enough to ruffle my feathers, and I don't even know you.

Either say, "I will take the cat," full stop, or say, "I can't take the cat." Either way, her response should be either, "Here you go, have a good life," or "Nope, giving it to someone else, have a good life," and you two should break contact.
posted by xingcat at 6:12 AM on July 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: thanks. just in case you're wondering, i'm taking the cat. Gave her a firm answer, promised to pay for it, just paid the first bill on paypal. Going to go no contact, except for getting a bill every month and paying it, from here on out. Thanks for all of the advice and setting my head straight.
posted by tokaidanshi at 6:19 AM on July 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

One big reason to break contact altogether, and likely a big reason for her anger, is that by reinjecting yourself into her life, even with the excuse of cat-care, you're being a total dick to her boyfriend, and he's the one guy in this situation who is presumably trying to make her happy and presumably willing to commit in ways that you were never willing to try. If that's not the case, and he isn't doing any of that, it's none of your business anyway. Show him some respect, show her some respect, leave her alone.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:22 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take the cat. Find a way and just have the cat live with you. Having this arrangement where she bills you for the cat's expenses is still a channel of communication (and potential drama) that does nothing to resolve the situation. Even if you aren't home all day to play with the cat, it's better for everyone if the cat becomes your sole responsibility. You may not know what your living situation will be, but accommodating one pet in your plans isn't impossible. People do it all the time. It does make you seem like you're shirking responsibility by having your Ex continue to do the day-to-day cat maintenance because your future plans are undecided. I know people who have moved their pets overseas with them.

Take the cat and leave your Ex alone.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:38 AM on July 26, 2012 [7 favorites]

A side note to be aware of if you're not already: in general, Japanese people don't stay friends with exes.

I live in Japan, am married to a Japanese wife, and our wedding was in the US. A few of my ex-girlfriends who I'm still friends with came to the wedding. My wife did not tell her family these friends were my exes because as she explained to me, when Japanese couples break up they usually sever all ties and never speak again. I've confirmed as much talking to other Japanese friends since then, who were all very surprised that I invited exes to my wedding.

So you may have the best intentions in trying to salvage a platonic friendship, but she might be getting other signals and/or not believe your stated intentions.
posted by p3t3 at 6:39 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It sounds like previous answers have helped you understand how your own behavior is escalating this situation and now you've made a plan to reduce contact and take responsibility for the cat. That's great.

But your question was about the meaning behind her behavior. I'll take a go at it. I'm not suggesting that the description below is in anyway rational. I won't pretend for even a second that it is.

I've been in your girlfriend's shoes. Here's how I saw it then:

I was in love. I extended that love and convinced myself I was loved in returned (even if he was distant and less affectionate than I was). Then suddenly (!) he decides to leave. But he tells me he loves me. But he leaves anyway. What the fuck! You can't love someone AND decide to leave them at the same time. It doesn't compute. Loving someone means you want to be with them. Love is the most important, powerful thing in the world. Therefore: Leaving = NOT LOVING ME!

Not being loved hurts. Finding out that you weren't loved the whole time you loved someone else hurts even more.

She never processed the pain of all this because she jumped into a rebound relationship right away. I'd imagine that she's probably lashing out at you now because you've presented yourself to her and she hasn't forgiven you. Sometimes you just want to make someone hurt when you've been hurt.

My advice: STOP APOLOGIZING to her! She's not going to forgive you just because you say you're sorry.

Good luck with the cat. xo
posted by dchrssyr at 6:52 AM on July 26, 2012

Response by poster: yeah. I have another japanese ex who I am actually quite good friends with, so that may have shaded my perception of how common this was.

As for paying the bills, I know this is another channel for potential drama. I'm locked into a contract at a no pet apartment for another year, have gone to almost every one I know to see if they could take the cat for a year, and have had no takers so far. I don't have the funds to get another apartment or pay for a place to take care of him.

This is one reason I thought it would be better to give the cat away. But when I suggested this, she got really angry, said I'm a terrible person, etc. When I told her I'd pay for him, and take him in a year, she almost instantly calmed down. I guess I still don't know, but it would seem that, she actually just wanted me to take responsibility for the cat. At least for now. I realize that this billing thing is treading on thin ice, and so I'm going to keep looking for someone to take him off of her hands as quickly as possible.
posted by tokaidanshi at 6:57 AM on July 26, 2012

You are being selfish. You want to meet with her so she'll accept your apology.

As others have said you need to have NO contact. Don't meet with her for coffee, don't discuss your mutual cat (although I'm super concerned for him, poor kitty.)

Stop obsessing about all of this.

You had a relationship where you weren't all that invested, and now that she's moved on, you want something from her, whether it's forgiveness or to know that she's still into you, or the damn cat.

Don't get into an arrangement where you have to transact business on a regular basis. You want to be in a position where you go your way and she goes her way. The. End.

Stop making excuses for reasons to see her. That ship sailed, let it dock in a better port.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:03 AM on July 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

" Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" she is hurt ,bitter, and not over you. I'd move on, life is to short.
posted by brittaincrowe at 3:28 PM on July 26, 2012

You keep engaging with her, and it's driving her crazy. Why are you driving her crazy?

If you want the bloody cat, either go get it, or better yet, have someone else pick it up NOW. Even if you pay for the expenses, you're still engaging with her. If you can't find another person to take on the cat for a while, then you need to make arrangements NOW to find another home for it, without involving your ex at all in the the process. Don't tell her. Do not engage. Be fair to the ex and be fair to the cat.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:59 PM on July 26, 2012

All relationship drama aside, thank you for taking the cat.
posted by Vaike at 12:26 AM on July 29, 2012

Response by poster: Just as a follow up for anyone who's interested and happens to check this later, I agreed to take the cat when I finish school, or as soon as I can find someone else to look after him until I finish school, and I also told her that at any point, if she decided she couldn't take care of the cat any longer and I still hadn't finished school/found someone else, I was totally ok with her finding someone else to take him. I sent her a payment through paypal for the stuff she recently bought, and she seemed very satisfied with the arrangement. She buys his supplies in bulk, so only needs to send me a bill every 3 months or so, which isn't ideal but it's fairly minimal contact. I told her she didn't need to write me any sort of message with the bill, just send me a number, and I'd pay it. After that, I didn't contact her again, or have any intention of contacting her again.

Then, about a little over a week later, she sends me another mail saying she'd like to meet to talk over the particulars of the arrangement and make sure I'm really serious about all of this.

Not really sure what to think about this at this point.
posted by tokaidanshi at 10:10 PM on August 6, 2012

Take the cat now or tell her you will not be able to take the cat at any point. Then stop contacting her or responding to her. This when-you're-finished-school-thing seems like more unnecessary dragging things out.
posted by 6550 at 11:55 PM on August 6, 2012

Oh, ridiculous. Write her back as soon as possible and say "Thanks, but I'm perfectly ok with how things are. We don't need to discuss this any further." And that's it. Do not open this back up; do not change plan; and DO NOT MEET (or discuss further)! You need to leave her alone and unfortunately she's hell bent on making that very hard for you. She's going to force you to "be mean" to her. And then later, she'll call you on it. Break this cycle before it begins.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:57 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I agree that telling her we shouldn't meet is probably the best course of action. I'm going to get back to her today and tell her as much, but any ideas as to what would even be behind this? I know she doesn't have any interest in trying to rekindle things, and there isn't anything to discuss about the cat.
posted by tokaidanshi at 1:55 AM on August 7, 2012

The meaning behind this? Whether she realizes this consciously or not, she's feeling hurt and wants to feel better. This isn't about the cat, or the details, or the money. It isn't even about your relationship anymore.

One of the hardest lessons to learn about relationships is that they can end badly and leave a big mess and sometimes there's nothing anybody can do about it.

As long as there's a way in, perhaps there's a way to feel better about it all, rather than to sit and hurt and grieve and eventually heal. YOU CAN'T MAKE HER FEEL BETTER. You can't help her grieve or heal. But you CAN help her not be a train wreck or make a bigger mess. By leaving her alone, cutting off all contact, sticking to the plan -- even if it's not the most optimal plan. It's what you've both committed to and changing it in any way requires communication, which is clearly what she's looking for, and in person no less. Close down any and all opportunities for communication. The negotiation ship has sailed. So has the feeling-better-about-all-this one. She doesn't realize that she missed it and you can't show that to her without causing more hurt.

You might want to set aside some energy into thinking about what you get out of all this sustained contact and negotiation. Your ship has sailed too and there's nothing you can do. I'm sorry. I know it sucks.

I'd be shocked if that first bag of cat food lasted more than 2 months.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:44 AM on August 7, 2012

Response by poster: So just in the interest of full disclosure for anyone who happens to stumble across this thread at a later date.... and now that I think about it the details of all of this are so particular that this probably wouldn't be very relevant to anyone else anyways, but, be that as it may, I did end up meeting up with her. The meeting itself was actually fine, more or less. Still not entirely sure why she set it up in the first place, because when she showed up her guard was way up, she didn't have a lot to say and seemed very uncomfortable sitting across the table from me. We talked for a couple of hours though, just barely about the poor cat, mostly about her job, and then about how things had been going for me, how I'd handled the immediate aftermath of the breakup (poorly)... and by the end of the meeting her demeanor had done a complete 180, much friendlier, and she remarked several times that it seemed like I'd changed quite a bit since she last saw me. I don't think she thinks I'm a monster any more, and whatever it was that she was looking for out of the meeting, I think she got.

For me on the other hand, this was probably a bad idea. Despite having been fairly cavalier and careless with our relationship, I took the break up hard, missed her intensely, and even though the breakup was about 6 months ago, had only recently gotten to a point where I felt like I'd started to pick up the pieces and was starting to feel better about the future. I honestly wasn't all that worried about meeting her, because I'd convinced myself that I'd more or less accepted all of this, but almost as soon as we met that started to crumble. I'm totally bummed out right now, missing her like crazy, and back at a point that I'd worked months for months to get past. So, long story short, for many reasons, it's better to just leave things in the past and avoid meeting (and contact in general) with exes, as a lot of the advice on this thread has suggested.
posted by tokaidanshi at 6:16 PM on August 11, 2012

Response by poster: Ok, and update to the update. It's now 5 days after we last met, and she sends me ANOTHER email, telling me that she is actually thinking about moving in with her new boyfriend soon, that she can't actually hold on to the cat and that I need to either get it off of her hands now or she's going to give it away. Which... fair enough, if she can't keep him and I can't take him, it's totally within her rights, but I'm not sure why she didn't bring it up when we met to supposedly talk about the cat, and I can't help but feel that she's using this, to either subconsciously or consciously try and twist the knife a little. Told her if that's the case, I can't take the cat, plain and simple. Hopefully this will be the end of all of this.
posted by tokaidanshi at 4:30 PM on August 14, 2012

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