Seriously confused by recent breakup.
July 28, 2012 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Why am I hopeful with this ex-girlfriend ?

This is a bit of a story, but I'll try to keep it concise. I dated my ex (as of last week) for 9 months. For the first time in my life I was the one who was unsure about my feelings in the relationship. I didn't fall hard, or fast like I tend to. I was happy, and I was not constantly anxious about her.

I felt like these were all healthy feelings in the relationship. She was quite head over heals with me from the beginning and confessed that she loved me at about 6 months. For the first time I was confident that I had found someone who wasn't going to burn me.

Fast forward to 8 months. I finally decide to take the plunge and say I love her back. She's pretty happy. First time I've not said this first in a relationship.

Two or three weeks pass. We're talking and she starts to tell me that she's "falling so in love with me" I reciprocate appropriately with the level of feeling I can give at this point in my progression and she's satisfied.

Two weeks later we break up. She says she's not sure if I'm the right person. She is 19 and I am 24. For the moment lets forget the reasons she gives me about breaking up.

From everyone I've spoken too, she just doesn't know what she wants because: a) she says this, b) she contradicts the reasons why I'm not right with other reasons, c) She backtracks in the same conversation and says "but your perfect and please don't change cause you're not doing anything wrong".

Okay so she's seriously confused as to what she wants and who she is. No surprise. What I'm concerned about is this final message I got from her that I have been racking my brains on about for a week. I send one last message apologizing for trying to talk things out and make it work, and basically say good luck and I wish her nothing but happiness in the future. I specifically say in the message I don't require a response, but alas she sends...

I'm sorry I couldn't tell you what you wanted to hear tonight. I forgive you. Of course I forgive you. You don't have to apologize for being yourself. I know I probably am coming across as heartless and not understanding. I want you to know how much I love you and how hard this has been on me, too. Please don't think it's easy for me. All I can do is wake up, cry my eyes out until I go to work, come home from work and then cry until I fall asleep. I don't want you to think that I don't want to come running back. I just think this is what's best right now.

If we are meant to be together, it will happen again for us one day. We will find each other again if we're supposed to. But right now, I need space. I can not figure out who I am and what I want if you're asking me to go running back to you.

I wish I could tell you what you need to hear and make all of your pain go away. It kills me to know that I am hurting you.

I'm sorry.

I love you.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSE TO DO WITH THAT?! This girl is the sweetest more caring loveable girl in the world. I swear to God, she's like constantly sunshine and rays even at the darkest times and genuinely feels guilty with the most minor variation from the truth. SO, I know that message is as sincere as it gets.

What I don't get is why... Why say something like that and why confess your love again and again? Ugh it's torture.
posted by Atlantic to Human Relations (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You are supposed to say, "OK. Good luck and best wishes."
Then let her go.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:15 PM on July 28, 2012 [15 favorites]

Response by poster: Ps. I feel like I must mention that she's a child development major in school (aka preschool teaching) and seriously believes in things like "true love" "marriage" "the importance if quality sex of quantity" "hope" and the universe giving people signs ect.

This description is mostly for character information
posted by Atlantic at 7:16 PM on July 28, 2012

Why say something like that and why confess your love again and again?

Because you're a teenager who has basically no clue as to how to do any of this? Which is totally okay? Seriously, expecting anything but the most conflicted, confusing behavior out of a 19-year-old is wishing for the moon.
posted by griphus at 7:16 PM on July 28, 2012 [38 favorites]

Move on, homie, move on. Those are all textbook break-up phrases (doesn't mean they're not genuine, breaking up is hard) used to navigate feelings of guilt over hurting someone you respect, and giving them a justification/out that doesn't revolve around "they broke up with me because I'm an unloveable arsehole."

She does not want to be with you at the moment and likely into the future; that is all ye know on Earth and all ye need to know. The rest is just background I'm afraid. Stop communicating with her for a while, it's nothing but exquisite pain for both of you right now, prolonging the misery and confusion that will eventually pass.
posted by smoke at 7:17 PM on July 28, 2012 [6 favorites]

(Also, yes, this is over and done. Move on.)
posted by griphus at 7:18 PM on July 28, 2012

Response by poster: ... I'm not a teenager. I'm almost 25. she's almost 20. she is the teenager. I just don't understand the "if it's meant to be crap". I didn't ask for that??? I just said good luck
posted by Atlantic at 7:19 PM on July 28, 2012

She sounds very young. Perhaps he really does need time to find herself? Maybe find someone more mature; I'm sure it would be a breath of fresh air at this point (or at the point when you are ready for something new). But you need to walk away from this.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:19 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I meant she's a teenager who has basically etc. etc.
posted by griphus at 7:20 PM on July 28, 2012

Response by poster: She is very young, something I deeply considered at the beginning. Unfortunately until now, she proved herself to be very mature and quite an old sole on the contrary... apparently this is not always so :(
posted by Atlantic at 7:22 PM on July 28, 2012

There isn't a reason, at least not one that any of us is going to be able to tell you. Move on. There's no simple answer as to how to do that, or what will happen if you do or what will happen if you don't. Find a new hobby or reconnect with an old high school buddy or increase your workout schedule. Fill the time, distract your mind.

And don't threadsit.
posted by Etrigan at 7:23 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sweetie, she is confusing you because she is confused.

Let it go and move on. She'll learn more about herself, you'll learn more about how to navigate adult relationships. If you leave the door open, not hound her and not become bitter, maybe you can reconnect when you are both at a place to build something.

You obsessing isn't going to make her less confused.
posted by Blisterlips at 7:26 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

From everyone I've spoken too, she just doesn't know what she wants because: a) she says this, b) she contradicts the reasons why I'm not right with other reasons, c) She backtracks in the same conversation and says "but your perfect and please don't change cause you're not doing anything wrong".

Hey Atlantic, with c) it sounds like she is trying to reassure you that there is nothing wrong with you and none of this is your fault, and doesn't make you a bad person, unattractive, unlovable, etc.

With b), it's very possible to just know something is "off" and not be able to explain why in a way that would make sense to anyone else. Like pheromones. Someone could be your dream person on paper, and very good-looking. But if your body was just not attracted to their pheromone you would find yourself inexplicably turned off by them. And you might be extremely confused by that.

There are a lot of things in life that are like that.

I just don't understand the "if it's meant to be crap". I didn't ask for that??? Again, it sounds like she is trying to reassure you with that. Trying to make sure you know that she cares about you and you didn't do anything wrong. At the same time, that also seemed to me to be a very gentle way of asking you to back off. Like, trying to say that picking at this anymore will not get either of you what you want.
posted by cairdeas at 7:32 PM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

The line "if it's meant to be, it will happen" is another line that people use to make themselves feel better about difficult situations.

I find the phrase "if it's meant to be, you wouldn't have broken up in the first place" more realistic.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:33 PM on July 28, 2012 [10 favorites]

I think "I love you" in this context means "Our time together has meant a lot to me, I think you are a very special person, and I truly hope you have a happy life." And "if we are meant to be" = "for all I know, we could end up in rooms on the same hall in a nursing home together in 70 years and maybe that would be the right time for us, but that time is not now. Or in six months. Or probably ever. So please don't pine for me, or think that this breakup is negotiable. Let's both be glad we had warm relationship together, and move on."

I think she does know what she wants. I don't think she is confused. I think you will start to feel better, and less confused, when you stop trying to find hidden reasons why you should stay mentally attached to her, or why (or your friends) know better than she does about what she says she wants.

I know this is hard. But I am sure you can (and will) fall in love again. Good luck.
posted by argonauta at 7:51 PM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Focus on this, "right now, I need space. I can not figure out who I am and what I want if you're asking me to go running back to you.." She's 19, she has strong feelings for you, but she's still figuring out who she is. As for all the "I love you," "someday maybe," & "I don't want to hurt you" talk, she doesn't want to be the bad guy because she honestly bears you no ill will, but for now, she is done. Also, I think it's important to keep in mind that the age difference, while not insurmountable, is not insignificant. She's 19 and you're 24. Those are two very different worlds and a lot of emotional growth and development happens in those five years. If you were 28 and 33, the gap wouldn't be as wide, but the younger we are, the more those years matter.

I have to say that, "for the moment lets forget the reasons she gives me about breaking up," made me raise an eyebrow. You insist she keeps contradicting herself but you never tell us how. I think the initial reasons she gave for breaking up are probably a huge part of this. She also mentions forgiving you, so, I could be wrong, but it sounds like you did something to precipitate all of this and are trying to gloss over it in this question. Regardless, I think her wishes are pretty clear. She doesn't want this relationship right now. As hard as it is, let her go and move on. Best of luck.
posted by katemcd at 7:54 PM on July 28, 2012 [9 favorites]

This is one of those cases where I feel like the age difference, in and of itself, is the big problem. She is way too young for everything you're placing on her shoulders.

When I was nineteen I dated a 22 year old. In hindsight, it was a bad idea, mainly because of the exact issue between the two of you guys -- in the three years we were together I gave up my opportunity time to find myself and figure out my own identity as an adult, not to mention making huge life changes for him that I shouldn't have made and that changed my life in irrevocable ways.

Let her go.
posted by Sara C. at 8:17 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

From everyone I've spoken too, she just doesn't know what she wants because...

She may not know what she wants, but it sounds like she knows she doesn't want to be in this relationship. She may not know why, she may feel guilty about it, she may be confused by her feelings, and she may care about you very much. But she's got a gut feeling that she doesn't want to be in this relationship.

A 19-year-old, even one who's almost 20, likely doesn't have the experience, confidence, and wisdom to know that she can just say, "This relationship isn't working for me." So she's giving reasons that she thinks sound better than, "I don't want this," and then backtracking and then giving other reasons, and feeling guilty because she likes you well enough that she doesn't want to cause you pain.

So, focus on what she wants--space and time. Don't try to guess what she really wants deep down. Respect what's she's actually told you: that whatever other feelings she has for you, she knows she needs space. She knows how to reach you if she changes her mind.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:18 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry, but have no hope. There are two things going on here: she's nice and thus feeling guilty, and she's young and thus clueless. She doesn't want to hurt you, and she doesn't yet have confidence in her instincts nor the ability to articulate what she wants in a relationship. And she does feel sad about ending the relationship, but she also does still want to do it.

1. She's nice and thus feeling guilty. Like all nice people, she feels bad when she hurts people. She wants to break up with you, but she wants to hurt you as little as possible while doing so. So, she's making it sound like 51% of herself wants to break up, and the other 49% is sad and wishes you could stay together -- as though the breakup side won by the slimmest possible margin. And she doesn't want to insult anyone. She hopes nothing she's said has insulted you. She wants to take back anything that may have seemed like an insult. You are perfect just the way you are. But she still wants to break up.

2. She's young and thus clueless. She is 19. She has no idea what she wants. She doesn't know what she wants from a partner, and so she's not ready to say she wants to be with you. (It's kind of like when you first arrive to the food court and want to see what restaurant options there are before you pick one to eat at, except if you'd never eaten food before so you had little idea what food you even liked.) And because she's so clueless, she even leaves open the possibility that once she's done figuring this out, like in 10 years or something, she might realize you two should be together. I think that's unlikely, sorry to say, because I think she'll only learn to trust her instincts more in the future, including the instincts that led her to break up with you.

Don't let any of this distract you from the fact that it's over, because the only path out of this is accepting that it's over and moving on. Sorry. Breakups really suck.
posted by salvia at 8:19 PM on July 28, 2012 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: No she seriously contradicted herself. If you must know she said she didn't always like how logical "life planny" I was. And then proceeded to say "but I wish you were sometimes more serious in conversations instead of being so light hearted when we spoke about our future". I seriously wasn't glossing over the contradictions. It was that convoluted. Thats why I said it's not important because I understand she's confused with what she wants. I understand people have flaws. I'm not perfect, but I know relationships our about compromise and sacrifice. No one will ever completely fulfills your "checklist". I accepted her flaws, and I opted to leave the information about the "reasons" out because they were contradictory and more so a product of her mind racing because she felt like she needed to give me a reason as to why we aren't together

And the apology was legitimately because I really forced the conversation regarding our breakup and I felt bad for extending it as long as it was. Honestly nothing more.

But Yes I do understand what you're getting at otherwise, unfortunately... Maybe I'm just upset with myself for not taking more consideration regarding her age when I decided to engage in a serious relationship.
posted by Atlantic at 8:23 PM on July 28, 2012

Why am I hopeful with this ex-girlfriend ?

Because you're young.

It's still not going to work out. Walk away from it.
posted by mhoye at 8:26 PM on July 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is not someone who wants to get back together.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:29 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

she said she didn't always like how logical "life planny" I was

Yeah, dude, she's basically telling you she's too young for you, right here.

It's not about a "checklist" and whether you are truly the person she wants to be with. She's nineteen. She's not there yet. Go find a grownup who is ready to find who she really wants to be with.
posted by Sara C. at 8:32 PM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Here's the deal. You are looking for someone to tell you this is going to work out and you are rejecting other answers. That's natural when your heart is broken.

She told you how she feels. She doesn't want to be with you.

I'm sorry. It sucks when relationships end this way.
posted by 26.2 at 8:59 PM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: OK, I know you just got burned and are heartbroken, but in the future I hope you will not chalk this up to her being young and stupid. Frankly, I'm 27 and I think it's mature and brave to break up with someone that you love but you just know it's not working right now and you want to have the space to figure stuff out. I wish I had done that at 19 instead of being in multiple several-year relationships that got more and more frustrating as I realized this was not the person I wanted to marry but there wasn't any other easy "endpoint" besides breaking it off.

I know that's not what you want to hear right now. But this really isn't because she's fickle, or a girl, or only 19, or etc. I think it will poison you more to go down that path than to accept what she's saying - this isn't meant to be right now because one of you wasn't happy. Maybe she will figure things out in the next few years and you'll get back together. (But you won't if you stay angry at her instead of, eventually, accepting that you can't MAKE her want to be with you.)

She's trying to tell you that she loves you and breaking up really sucks even though she knows she needs it right now. She's trying to apologize for hurting you. And I know that's really hard to hear. I don't think I would have or could have written this advice at 19, or 24. For a really long time I was sure that if I loved someone hard enough surely I could make them want to be with me.

So be mad and upset for now, but learn from it long-term. You can't make a relationship be right if one person isn't happy. She's not trying to screw you - she's trying to be honest about what she needs. Again, that's actually pretty intelligent for relationships in general.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:59 PM on July 28, 2012 [17 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks Nakedmolerats... All the answers were good. Albeit blunt at times. I appreciated this one the most. It was different. I was never asking for reassurance, even though it sounded that way. I'm a big boy and I've had several long term relationships over the years. Everyone one of them I have had to except the inevitability and eventuality of the end. This just happens to be the only one where the girl still loves me. That hit me pretty hard.

But nakedmolerats really got to the question. I needed an explanation of what had happened. And honestly this makes the most sense and it was hopeful. Not in the sense that I truly believe we'll ever be together, but in the sense that I have some answer to our demise that doesn't involve anything but chalking it up to sometimes it not being right for no particular reason at all.

And yes, I'm sad about it. She was truly my best friend. More so than any of the others.
posted by Atlantic at 9:19 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe you've heard this famous saying by George Bernard Shaw: There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.

Obviously these two tragedies are the same tragedy, because once you've gained your heart's desire, you lose your desire for it. You only want what you can't have. In your ex's case, her heart's desire was for her love to be reciprocated. But you were unsure and ambivalent, and this only made her desire stronger. She probably loved the excitement of not really knowing how you felt about her, it made the whole relationship fascinating and mysterious.

Now that you've spoken your feelings, that mystery is gone. She can't explain why, because she got what she wanted -- shouldn't she be happy now? All she knows is that something has changed. Thinking of your ambivalence as the obstacle to her getting what she wants, the way she talks about breaking up with you is not so much "I don't want to be with you", but more "I want to be with you, but I can't." In other words, there is some new obstacle that prevents her from getting what she desires, so in a way she is continuing to have the old relationship by breaking up with you. Here again, ambivalence is the tragic obstacle to a fulfilling relationship, only this time it is hers, not yours.
posted by AlsoMike at 10:13 PM on July 28, 2012 [7 favorites]

She loves you but she's not in love with. Take "I love you" in this context as her saying that she cares about you. This really isn't complicated: she wants to reassure you that you're great, she doesn't have any ill will toward you, etc., but for whatever reason she doesn't want to be in a relationship with you.

The fact that you tried so hard to pin her down on this strengthens this interpretation. She probably doesn't have a reason; she just isn't feeling it. I understand why you would be confused, because it sounds like you didn't see this coming, but she both doesn't want to hurt you and doesn't want to be with you, and that's what she's attempting to communicate.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:49 PM on July 28, 2012

"For the moment lets forget the reasons she gives me about breaking up. "

Is there a reason you don't want to talk about this?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:03 AM on July 29, 2012

No she seriously contradicted herself.

You're expecting people to be logical and rational?

Arguments, reasoning, and rhetoric very often aren't about logic, so much as about emotion and feeling.

Mood, tone, nuance, and context often mean more to us than more abstract reasoning when we're making a decision, let alone rationalizing one we've already made.

And in this particular case she's not thinking her way through a knotty rental contract, she's trying to explain why she's not comfortable being in a relationship with you right now.

In relationships in general, listen to the mood and tone of your partner as much as if not more than the factual chunks of speech. Or try to make decisions and have important discussions when H.ungry, A.ngry, L.onely, T.ired. etc.

If it was "I'm breaking up with you because you ran over my dog", you might get a clear and reasoned response. If it was some existential "I suddenly realized I'm mortal and have only six decades left to live" or her body saying "I went on the pill and now I don't think you smell sexy any more, I like my men to smell different now" or something she doesn't even realize herself, you may not ever get a clear answer.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:53 AM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

She's very young and she feels everything contradictory she wrote-- but primarily she feels she needs to move on. It's awful when something you feel so strongly and which feels so right is just cut short, I know. Now the really hard work starts because you have to move on too.
posted by idest at 5:50 AM on July 29, 2012

She's 19. She hasn't had much experience at breaking up, and she's inclined to tell you everything she's feeling in the moment.

Don't spend too much time analyzing this stuff or expecting it to follow some consistent internal logic -- breakups are a roller coaster of emotions and she's taking you along for the ride.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:57 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

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