It didn't end the way I thought it would end.
August 4, 2012 2:29 AM   Subscribe

I am terrified that I'm repeatedly sabotaging my relationships with my trust issues. Please help me get a grip or perspective. I don't know what to do. I turned 28 a month ago, and the prospect of hitting the reset button this time--I had joked before about getting old, but this was the first time I truly felt the weight of it.

The Breakup:
My long distance boyfriend of eight months (he lives in SF, I live in LA) broke up with me on Tuesday. He texted me,"Am I going to get to see you tonight after dinner? I miss you." Instead of an affectionate chat with him, he dumped me. I was blindsided. He had never discussed any of these issues with me before.

The trips were taking too much out of him. They were becoming a burden. It was taking time away from and harming his career (he's a web developer at a startup--SF). Our relationship was taking away from his life instead of adding to it. I tried to figure out what was going on, where this was coming from, hoping it wasn't too late. He had just visited me less than two weeks ago, and things seemed great-- not enough couple downtime, but certainly not anything that made me think we were heading for a breakup. But it was too late. He had already come to this decision on his own--he said it was the best decision for him. It stung. I was an animal, repeating "It isn't fair", "we need more time" and, ultimately, "please don't do this". He was crying, I was crying. He said that he couldn't see a way where our situation would end happily without one of us making a life-changing sacrifice. We had discussed this before; it was understood that I'd eventually move up to SF if I found the right job or opportunity, but that I wouldn't move exclusively for him. But I had no idea this vague timeline had suddenly run out. Only last week he said that he wanted me to move up to SF.

We talked from midnight to 4am, and agreed to speak again. On Wednesday, after having had some time to consider, I told him that I accepted his decision, but that he handled it terribly, like a coward, and didn't accord me the same benefit of the doubt and chance that I gave him (see below). If he had told me when he was first experiencing these doubts then we could have addressed them as a couple, and perhaps grown closer together in the process. Or if I came to the same conclusion, at least it would have been a mutual one. He let me talk, and said that I was right--that it was entirely selfish on his part and that he felt sad and ashamed, and said that I had given the relationship my all. For some reason I held out hope if I explained how I felt, he would realize I had valid points, re-evaluate his concerns and consider trying again. Yes, I was going to logic my way out of the decision I thought he had logicked himself into. But no. He didn't want to try. After listening to me, he said I deserved better than excuses. And it was hard to hear, but they certainly rang more true than the things he was saying the previous night. He had never said he loved me because...he didn't. Our relationship never felt real to him. After 8 months, he said people begin to have expectations that a relationship is going somewhere, and that he didn't think we were strong enough to keep going until that undefined day I would move to SF. Love is in the everyday, I cried. Something that we had never had, because we started long distance. He said to call him or talk to him whenever I needed, but I am still reeling. I want him back.

How we started:

He was moving in as a new roommate of a college friend of mine, whom I regularly stayed with when I was in SF. In November we chatted for about an hour before I left for the airport, and I happened to be visiting again for New Year's Eve. My friend was working, and he happened to be at the house, so we got some takeout and started watching a travel series. I genuinely enjoyed it, had a great time talking with him, and I guess he became interested, because he texted me after midnight on New Year's Eve, saying that he wanted to see me that night. And we did see each other, went back to his place, and in the morning, he made me breakfast. And since I had a plane to catch in a few hours, I asked if he to leave this as it was--I would be fine with it, or if he wanted to explore it. And he wanted to--at which point I unloaded my entire relationship history on him because I wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting into, and because long distance relationships are (say it with me) HARD. I told him about every major relationship I had, some good, spanning 3-4 years, and some bad, where I had been cheated on and now I now have severe trust and paranoia issues. SF and LAX aren't that far apart, he said, and he thought we were mature enough to communicate well. And so we parted, and in the ride to the airport, I told my friend (who I spent part of NYE with before breaking off with a different group of friends) that I was going to pursue a relationship with his roommate. My friend became incredibly angry, angrier than I had ever seen him, and subsequently cut me out of his life, because he explained that he felt it was unacceptable that I had slept with his roommate, and that I was using my friend as a free hotel. To this day, he has not returned any of my phone calls or emails. He also eventually asked my ex to move out of the apartment in June, saying that he felt he couldn't trust my ex because my ex never explicitly mentioned that he was continuing a relationship with me.

How those issues played out:

Initially the first few months were great, as they always are--late night talks until 3am discovering each other, a week in Costa Rica that was fantastic. We also talked quite a bit about my friend and how to make amends, but my friend never returned any of my attempts at clearing the air. Otherwise I was so happy--I joked that I couldn't find anything wrong with this guy, and my girlfriends were all thrilled that I was finally dating someone who made me happy, who was intelligent, ambitious, had a steady job--a marked change from the men I had been involved with before.

But as things progressed, and we dealt with the realities of being long distance (awkward, banal Skype talks where I prattled on about inane shit because I felt like I had to fill the air or be entertaining, since I couldn't just curl up next to him with a book or computer). And there were times when I would hang up after a Skype chat, feeling depressed because of an uninspiring conversation, wondering if he was just tired (he's an early bird, I'm a night owl) or whether he was losing interest in me.

For July 4th I visited him, and while he was working I worked from his apartment, and I read his journal. I honestly wasn't expecting to find anything. He had done nothing to arouse suspicion--but by then I was compulsively checking his Facebook and Twitter for no good reason. It wouldn't have mattered how good the partner was, I would have still felt the same need to know. I found pretty frightening stuff--in April he visited a sister in NY, and there was a mutual friend who he hadn't seen for a few years. He wrote that he became obsessed with her over the weekend and forgot about me, instead ignoring his sister to pay attention to this girl, fantasizing about her. And he wrote that he and I were not going to last forever, and that he wasn't looking forward to breaking up with me because he didn't want to break my heart.
I fled the apartment and wandered around SF before landing in a cafe to drink several glasses of wine. That night when he came home I was a nervous wreck, and started questioning him about our relationship and whether it was serious, and whether he was truly committed to making this work with me. He was understanably taken aback, but it became a conversation that we both agreed we needed to have, and he assured me that he wanted to make it work, and that he too was frustrated by the distance and the limitations of Skype. That he had not said "I love you" (and neither had I when sober; drunk I had told him a few times that I loved him) because in his first, and major relationship, he had said it and been badly hurt (it was a year, he was 23 and she was older and wanted children. He admitted that she wore the pants in that relationship, and pressured him into getting engaged. She left him for the man she would eventually marry).

The next day, I confessed that I had read his journal, fully expecting him to break up with me, but he handled it very differently than I feared. He said it was clear that I was punishing myself for it, and that what he wrote was what he was feeling at the time, but that he was choosing to be with me, and that he wanted to make it work with me, and that he would give me as long as I needed to work on these issues. He said he would be there waiting for me. I was amazed, and I made the conscious decision to trust him about not cheating on me, and I was so glad that it looked like I had found someone who was accepting me for who I was, and was willing to work with me on my issues. We both said that it felt like we had made a huge step forward as a couple, and he said that he felt much closer to me, and that he thought this openess was a good foundation to build on.

That was a month ago. I'm left reeling even more because I thought this was a real chance to have a healthy relationship. I'm exhausted, so sad, so weary. And I feel so broken. I feel like I set in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy by being so frank about my fears. I'm angry because I feel like we were defeated by distance, and afraid that it wasn't distance at all, but compatability issues that I was too blind to see, or didn't know him well enough to perceive. I'm afraid that he met someone else, and that the prospect of dating someone in person (and a person who is NOT crazy) is much more attractive than putting time and effort into just maintaining a relationship that is stuck, unable to grow closer because of long distance.

Summary: I screwed up a potentially great relationship because of my pattern of self-sabotage due to my past relationships ending in cheating? He's a great guy, a wonderful guy did everything right, who handled the end of a relationship poorly. It's his right to decide that it's time for him to move on, as much right as I have if I had decided to do so. But I wanted this one to work out so badly--he was so good to me, and I feel so cheated that we never were able to be a couple in the same place, and experience the everyday.
posted by blue rare to Human Relations (30 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Long distance relationships are hard, even with a fixed end point and a solid plan for when the couple are going to be together in the same place. LDRs without a clear end point in sight are an order of magnitude harder than that.

So I'm not sure you screwed up the relationship, although sure reading his journal and obsessive fb/twitter checking didn't help things. But from everything you've written it sounds like the stress of the LDR, without that clear and timely plan for when you'd be moving to SF, precipitated the end. I don't see that either you or he really did anything wrong beyond not having your end-of-LDR plan in place.

I can imagine the former friend/roommate situation and being kicked out of the apartment only added to that stress.

As an aside, your former friend sounds like a real asshat and he needs to be making amends if you are to ever be friends again. Doesn't matter if he was always secretly in love with you or whatever, his actions were way out of line.

If you do truly feel you've somehow sabotaged things with your bf or see recurring negative patterns in your relationships maybe consider finding a therapist to help you work through some issues re: cheating, trust, etc. Or perhaps some other mefites can recommend some relevant books. But try not to beat yourself too much about it. You're not a bad person.
posted by 6550 at 3:04 AM on August 4, 2012

I screwed up a potentially great relationship because of my pattern of self-sabotage due to my past relationships ending in cheating?

What exactly is it you think you did to screw this up? Being open about your past and your fears? That's not self-sabotage, that's communication. The only thing you did that really does count as wrong is reading his journal, but it doesn't sound like he considered that a relationship-ending offense by itself - and plus, what you found there does not in fact make him sound like the ultra-committed guy he told you he was.

by then I was compulsively checking his Facebook and Twitter for no good reason. It wouldn't have mattered how good the partner was, I would have still felt the same need to know.

Mmm. I wouldn't be so sure, unless you know for a fact that you have done this in relationships where there really wasn't a problem. It sounds like you did this because you felt uneasy about the stability of this relationship, and you felt that because you were picking up on some ambivalence on his part. (I mean, I don't recommend obsessive FB and twitter checking as a good means of dealing with that, let alone reading someone's private journal, but don't be so keen to berate yourself over how you acted on your instincts that you forget to listen to those instincts altogether.)

I'm really sorry it didn't work out, but it doesn't sound like it was ever going to - not with this guy, not in this situation. You didn't ruin it because you're 'broken' and 'crazy'. 28 is not old and there are better things for you in the future, I promise.
posted by Catseye at 3:32 AM on August 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

I don't see you sabotaging the relationship that much; it probably went the way a lot of LDRs do. Except maybe this part: And he wanted to--at which point I unloaded my entire relationship history on him because I wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting into, and because long distance relationships are (say it with me) HARD. I told him about every major relationship I had, some good, spanning 3-4 years, and some bad, where I had been cheated on and now I now have severe trust and paranoia issues. I don't know; it may be that this is getting to be, or could be, a self-fulfilling prophecy with you on some level, even the level where you chose this guy and this type of relationship.

Oh, and the roommate/friend guy does sound like a total jerk; has he always been like that?
posted by BibiRose at 5:09 AM on August 4, 2012

(A digression in case you are worrying about age and marriage instead of just age and still-not-being-grown-up: the issue isn't when most American women marry, it's when people in your social circle, people of your general background and aspirations, marry. In my social circle, for example, people marry late - early thirties is the average, and late thirties isn't impossible. If your entire peer group is married, yes, that drops your odds - but if all your friends are still in that grad school/early career/living-with-housemates thing, it does not.)
posted by Frowner at 5:48 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

the current median age of first-time marriage for American women is 26. This means that you have a less than 50% chance to marry.

What? I don't think you can derive chance of lifetime marriage from the average age of first marriage.
posted by fructose at 5:49 AM on August 4, 2012 [24 favorites]

Sent my comment too soon. Generally, I would not worry at 28 about whether you'll be able to get married because this didn't work out. This relationship was sort of doomed to fail, sorry. Like someone mentioned above, LDRs mostly tend to work out if they have one or both of the following (and both is way better) (based on my experience of having friends do them, and I'm in one now) if 1) the couple was together in the same place for a significant amount of time before going long-distance, 2) if the long distance is at a fixed time or is short. I'm at the beginning of the LD time of a relationship and it's been really, really hard and we were together in person for a long time before the distance started. Don't beat yourself up for this relationship, which had an astounding number of confounding factors (the distance, the not knowing each other well before distance, the shitty roommate thing, etc.).
posted by fructose at 5:53 AM on August 4, 2012

To expand a bit on the point about the guys you choose: you don't give much of a picture of your boyfriend but your summary of what he wrote in his journal makes him sound a bit self-involved and dramatic. Although, that's the problem with reading people's journals; people feel free to indulge their worst sides in them. Then again I am surprised he wasn't horrified by having those sentiments be seen by you, and that he was willing to go on after that. Maybe he likes participating in drama. The friend/roommate guy absolutely sounds self-involved and dramatic. Maybe your whole circle of friends is that way but it sounds really unhealthy to me.
posted by BibiRose at 5:57 AM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

We women tend to blame ourselves when relationships don't work out. I've definitely done my share of that, as you can see from my question history.

So I'll just say that IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.

He wasn't the right guy. He didn't want it to happen.

Working on your trust issues is a good idea because it will make your life happier -- you can spend your energy curing cancer or watching bad TV instead of obsessing over his FB and Twitter feeds. But it's not your fault that this relationship ended.

Your life is going to get better from this point forward. This is going to be a turning point. Not just in your trust issues, but in the rest of your life.
posted by 3491again at 6:08 AM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some people are built to be able to handle long distance relationships. Others aren't. For a third, more limited subset, it's negotiable as long as you're getting a good enough deal.

From what I'm reading here, it sounds like you simply aren't one of those LDR people - and that's entirely fine. Personally I don't see the appeal of it myself, and I'd never get into one without a hard fixed end date (a problem you yourself identified here).

I also don't see anything wrong with you reading his Twitter/Facebook/Livejournal or whatever. This is not paranoid behavior on your part. He posted it out there, making it public domain - he WANTED somebody to read it. How odd would it be to write something that was accessible to the whole world but not to your own girlfriend? And your "trust issues" aren't a problem unless you find yourself with irrational doubts and fears. From what you've written, it sounds like your doubts and fears were quite justified.

I think right now you're simply in the "OMG, I'm such a terrible person, what could I have done differently?" phase of the breakup. We've all been there. The main lesson that I believe you should try to take away from all this is that you're not built for LDRs and should try to avoid them in the future.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:20 AM on August 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

You didn't sabotage this relationship with trust issues.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:36 AM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is not your fault. Feeling old at 28 is understandable, but absurd. Try to forgive this guy, he obviously cared about you and was therefore a wuss about hurting you.

Stop defining yourself to yourself and to boys as "having issues". If you've dated, then you have history, sure. This does not mean you are damaged and fragile, it means you know what to look out for and you know what you want.

In the future - skip the unloading. The next time you start seeing someone (which you will of course), make sure to match their pace exactly. Invite for invite, call for call, conversation starter topic for topic. It is not your job to make the relationship work, and if you follow this pattern it will help you identify when there is a mismatch in investment sooner.

Also, no journal reading (!). Hide people on social networks as soon as you start dating. Our feeble human brains have not quite evolved the self control required to handle having access to that much information about the people we are banging.
posted by skrozidile at 6:47 AM on August 4, 2012 [11 favorites]

I don't see any reason to believe that you sabotaged this relationship. I sounds like it just didn't work out, mostly because, as you say, it's hard to start a relationship long distance. You seem to be reacting to the difficulty of the LDR by trying to make more allowances, while he's reacting by deciding not to be in a long distance relationship. These are both valid choices.

Finally, as a data point, almost none of my friends married before 30, and the ones who did were seen as a little odd. So I understand that you're hurting right now, but you haven't run out of time the way you seem to think.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:01 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you started obsessively following him on social media and then reading his private journal because you were not getting what you wanted out of the relationship. You mention the frustrating Skype calls, the distance between you.

In the future if you recognize these feelings or even the obsessive patterns, finding yourself going back and reading every tweet and FB post (or whatever) consider that these may be symptoms and that you are unhappy about the relationship.

This sort of thing is not healthy and at its worst continues until you find or manufacture something bad enough to use as a vehicle for expressing the upset you already feel.

If you see yourself there stop what you are doing and think about the underlying sources of your unease. Speak with your partner about these concerns directly rather than through the proxy of a journal entry, etc. Express your feelings and explore solutions.

Good luck!
posted by mountmccabe at 7:17 AM on August 4, 2012 [9 favorites]

I screwed up a potentially great relationship because of my pattern of self-sabotage due to my past relationships ending in cheating?

This is the only thing approaching a question, so I'll take a shot.

Sometimes relationships don't work out even if you do everything right. Sometimes it doesn't work even if you both do everything right.

It sounds to me that he liked you a lot, but not enough to continue long distance. That sucks. You feel like shit, and I'd feel like shit too if I were in your position.

You're trying to develop a theory that will make sense of this situation, because if you can understand it then maybe you can fix it. I think you need to accept the fact that this didn't happen to you because of your past, it happened because you're human and relationships ending badly is something that happens to humans.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 8:38 AM on August 4, 2012 [8 favorites]

Or if I came to the same conclusion, at least it would have been a mutual one. He let me talk, and said that I was right--that it was entirely selfish on his part

By this yardstick, the only breakups that would happen are mutual ones because if they're not mutual, the departing party is "selfish." Breakups are selfish. You want to be with him. He doesn't want to be with you. He's been clear he's making the best decision for himself. That is his job when dating and un-dating.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:47 AM on August 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

Only musing to offer is that perhaps since there's always been "a reason" in the past (cheating, etc.), it's throwing you for a loop that things sometimes naturally end because it's a poor fit between the two people.
posted by nickrussell at 9:42 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

How would you have felt if you moved to San Francisco and then he dumped you?

Sometimes it happens that one person is just not as into it as the other. You were blindsided because in LDR you don't see the small, daily signs that things aren't hunky-dory.

Working for a start up in San Franciso is shorthand for: "I'm wanting to devote my life to my work, I might as well become a monk."

This probably has so much less to do with you than it has to do with your ex-boyfriend's priorities.

Long Distance can't go on forever, as some point there has to be a plan for you to get together in one place.

Stop blaming yourself, it has so much less to do with you than it does with what your boyfriend wants for his life right now.

So you're sad, disappointed and angry. You have a right to feel that way. Be good to yourself. Give yourself the breakup prescription:

1. Get rid of EVERYTHING that he left at your place,

2. Don't pig out on garbage, but eat lovely, lovingly prepared meals that nourish you.

3. Get together with your friends for a commisseration evening. Cocktails and dinner in a quiet setting. Even better, a movie night with action movies and pizza.

4. Sleep more.

5. Exercise.

6. If you can, a short road trip to clear your head is in order.

Block his number on your cell and landline, direct his emails to a dump file, defriend him on social media. No contact is the best contact.

It's going to suck, especially when you're alone, so stay busy. Take a class, do some volunteer work, work on your novel. Whatever it takes to keep the gears in your head from grinding over every little detail of your relationship.

There was nothing you could have done to change this outcome. Nothing.

Accept it and move on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:00 AM on August 4, 2012 [10 favorites]

I agree with other commenters: you didn't sabotage this relationship.

This is the crux of the matter: He had never said he loved me because...he didn't. Our relationship never felt real to him.

I know that must have been really tough to hear, but this is what you need to listen to. It wasn't going to work, and I think the long-distance part of the relationship didn't have much to do with why it didn't work.

Understandably, you are over-thinking, over-processing right now. I encourage you to do what you need to let go of him; Ruthless Bunny's advice is spot on.
posted by Specklet at 11:06 AM on August 4, 2012

Hi folks, I realized that I didn't actually formulate a question for this post--or this epic brain dump in an attempt to make sense or gain control, in a way. What I'm hoping to gain is a sense of what to do in my next relationship, or what should I should be mindful of concerning my own behavior. What is tripping me up the most is that I thought I had found someone who was communicating with me and willing to work on building a healthy relationship with me, but ultimately slipped the rug out from my feet without any communication at all.

For context, my first two boyfriends lasted for 3 and 4 years, respectively. The second did cheat on me at a particularly bad time in my life, but I've made my peace with that and am friends with both of these exes, particularly the first. However, I feel that the cheating did leave me vulnerable and needy, and I ended up plunging into relationships with people that I would have normally never considered because they were bad for me. Every single person (3 or 4 people) afterwards cheated on me, and I found out or confirmed through snooping, and I am desperate to break this snooping behavior. I feel compelled to research my partners as much as possible, most likely to gain a false sense of control. My last breakup saw me resort to therapy and anti depressants and therapy sessions where I used up multiple boxes of tissues--all over relationships with people who I knew rationally didn't deserve me. I just want to break this cycle--I've given my fb password to a friend and had her change it, because the prospect of compulsively refreshing his page for months on end made me sick.

What can I do to avoid that rabbit hole thinking that I wasn't good enough, or that the end of the relationship was my fault? How do I become a more confident, mentally healthier person?

Thank you all who have responded already--I appreciate it very much. A few points to clarify:

BibiRose: My circle of friends and I are baffled by my former friend's behavior and believe he is overreacting. My college friends who knew him think perhaps my friend was angry at seeing me walking into another bad relationship, or perhaps my drama was now hitting too close to home. My friends who don't know him think that he had feelings for me and never told me. I always viewed him as a platonic friend, someone who I discussed my personal life with many a time. Regardless, I'm sad that he is still angry at me, and that he felt the need to ask my ex to leave.

Wolfdreams01: I did indeed read a private, paper journal--not something that was posted to the internet.

And as for having just turned 28--I feel like I've been subjected to the same lesson several times but have not actually taken the lesson to heart. I feel like I should be a bit more hip to the game, at this point in my life--I want to be more savvy and able to protect myself, because I don't want to be this insecure, needy person into my 30s.
posted by blue rare at 11:34 AM on August 4, 2012

most likely to gain a false sense of control.

This is at the root of all these problems. You're trying to control something that can't be controlled, and you're making yourself miserable in the process. Because if you believe that it's possible to enure that a relationship won't fail, then it follows that, when it or fail, it's your fault. The first step toward being able to exit a relationship in a healthy way is understanding, really understanding, that a lot of what happens in a relationship is going to be out of your hands.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:12 PM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

My guess is that he didn't communicate his doubts about the relationship with you because they were based on not being in love with you, rather than the distance or any other factor. He eventually just decided he wasn't that into you and didn't want to be in a relationship with you.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:26 PM on August 4, 2012

You didn't screw up a committed relationship. What he wrote in his journal was what he really felt, what he said to you after was a lie to keep you around at the time because he wasn't comfortable with letting you go yet, & being alone. Your reaction of being shocked with his explanation to you about what you saw was right- you should have been shocked, because it made no logical sense. 2nding the feeling that he possibly likes being the center of romantic drama. I would have found it weird that he didn't seemed concerned when presented with the information that you indeed saw what he wrote, & then calmly told you the story that the opposite was true & he'd give you time to work out your issues (what??). Sounds like someone who has some experience at being smooth at lying, & not much empathy for who it will hurt.
That should have been your cue right there to believe what he wrote & not the smooth (& confusing) talk that happened afterwards.

You deserve better. Someone who's going to be honest about their feelings, & not be careless with yours. I can speak from experience.

For future relationships, when things don't seem to make logical sense, pay attention to it, hopefully it will save you from stringing along into more heartache down the line.

In all, his lacking of qualities you need will be beneficial (unfortunately though it won't seem so at this time). Now you can find someone who truly loves you, and enough to be honest with his feelings and protective of yours. He wasn't the one for you- the void he left has opened up that space for someone else to come in & give you the kind of relationship you want, one where you feel safe & secure. Don't put a time limit on it, it will happen when it does. In the meantime try to enjoy your life, & know what a wonderful person you are. Because you are, truly wonderful. Don't let anyone treat you other than that, in their words or their actions. Be kind to yourself, & know that you deserve to be happy- we all do, & you're no exception.
posted by readygo at 1:44 PM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

It kind of sounds like you're doing some good things.

It sounds like you met a decent guy, set appropriate boundaries with your (former) friend, and pursued a relationship that was fun and affirming while it lasted. It ended not because he cheated on you but because he just wasn't that into it, and it ended not after years of dragged out mediocrity but in fairly short order after things began to feel like they were going south.

Things to learn from it might be to be more sensitive to what it means when you're tempted to do things that are bad for you, and maybe more willing to end a relationship yourself when something doesn't feel right, and to not pry. But if therapy was what got you to the point of having this relationship that seems relatively much better than your past ones, maybe just keep at it. And, of course at building other non-romantic loving and affirming relationships.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:57 PM on August 4, 2012

What I'm hoping to gain is a sense of what to do in my next relationship, or what should I should be mindful of concerning my own behavior.

Don't read your partner's journal. When/if you have kids, don't read their journals. That's the "screwing up" you did.

The other stuff was a long distance relationship that didn't work out, and a friend who was weird about you dating his housemate. Both of those things happen all the time.

And you don't have to have figured out how to do relationships properly in every detail by age 28. Or by age 30. Or by age whatever.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:08 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really applaud your efforts to change your Harriet the Spy behaviors. You can change them. And your relationships--all of your relationships, not just your romances--will be better for the change.

Best to you. Sorry things didn't work out with this guy, but that happens.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:09 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wolfdreams01: I did indeed read a private, paper journal--not something that was posted to the internet.

Oh geez - really? I misinterpreted that and thought it was a blog or something. Yeah, that's pretty bad - you should definitely stop doing that.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:58 AM on August 5, 2012

OP, are you still in therapy?

I think it might help if you stopped trying to rationalize everything. I don't think you sabotaged this relationship with your trust issues, although I certainly don't think they helped -- to me, your relationship doesn't sound like it had a solid foundation to start with. This isn't about you not being good enough for him, so much as it is that you were not right for him, and vice versa.
posted by sm1tten at 1:45 PM on August 5, 2012

smi1tten, I only went to two sessions, as I didn't feel very comfortable with the therapist. I am considering finding a new therapist, as I'm getting caught in some unhealthy and circular thinking that I realize will not get me anywhere. I'm reluctant to admit that that we were so incompatible with each other, to this degree, and it's easier on my ego to blame the distance--rationally I know that there's nothing wrong with me, but I'm still equivocating this breakup with something lacking in me.
posted by blue rare at 4:52 PM on August 5, 2012

If this relationship had blossomed into something that thrived, would you think it was all because of you? Likewise, you are not responsible for it coming to an end.

I think life is for learning, not staying protected. You cannot think your way into insight. You can give yourself the love you need. Then everything else will not feel so dangerous.

Best wishes.
posted by macinchik at 11:29 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

One of the differences I have noticed between the younger me (20's) and the older me (30's) is that the older me understands that stories do not end. The younger me would write things off as DONE OVER FINITO and the older me understands that I may come back to it, or it might cross paths with me, or something even better might come into that empty space. So while the younger me might hold on desperately trying to make it work and avoid that end, the older me would relax and accept the bad timing or whatnot that put a pause on something. Maybe it's trust that lets me do this - trust in myself rather than trust in a relationship or whatever.

I'm not saying you and he will get back together, but I am saying to cherish all the good moments for what they were and be aware that there are more very good moments in your future to come. This is not the end. It is a paragraph in your story, and it may haunt you a while, but what you learn will serve you well in the future.

I don't see that anything deliberately bad caused this split. I think it was just mismatched timing and someone who did not want to put in the effort and commitment (as is his choice). Maybe, because of his nature that led him to make that choice, he would have been a bad match for you even if you'd been living in the same city and the situation was perfect. Maybe it just says something about him wasn't right. Trying to peer into your past for where it went wrong will not do you any good. It is what it is.
posted by griselda at 10:44 AM on August 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

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