I am depressed because I lost my girlfriend and I quit my job
December 4, 2012 7:08 AM   Subscribe

Lost my girlfriend (of 18 months) and I quit my job. She thought I was not her first priority since I chose to take up a new job, I am completely depressed.

I am 28, I finished my studies last year (researcher) and I had the option of either continuing with research or try to find an alternative career. However, since I was not completely sure if I wanted to continue in research for the rest of my life and also because that would require me to move to another country away from my live-in girlfriend, I decided to try my hand at the non-traditional careers that people take up after my education. I am not certain which of the two reasons was more important at that time. I did some very heavy networking to get the interviews. However, once the bigger companies that I had applied to didn’t work out, I started losing hope very quickly.

After about 4 months of job-hunting, I landed a couple of offers, one in the same small town that we were living in and another in the capital city two hours away. I decided to take up the one 2 hours away (since it was somewhat in line with the other bigger companies I had applied to earlier). I had a feeling that my girlfriend would have preferred to have me accept the offer in the city that we had been living up until then but I didn’t see much future progression there.

I took up the offer. Drove like crazy between the two cities to allow me to spend as much time with her as I could during the week. Travelled back on the weekends as well. However, the job never really clicked for me. Actually, stupid thing is that I had started having doubts even before I had started the job, since it was not part of my first line of companies and the work didn’t sound as exciting. My plan initially was that if my preferred companies don’t work out, I will continue in research (about 5 hours drive from where we lived) but since I was scared of putting too much strain on the relationship, I had decided to take up this job. Anyways, it was all downhill from that point, panic attacks, anxiety, sudden bursts of crying, you name it! I wasn’t even sure what was going on and I was scared like hell. I was also scared that not only was my job not going to work out but I might also end up losing my girlfriend because of all this stress. I had to do something. She suggested that may be I need help and I should go see a therapist. However, at that point I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation.

After about 3 months of being in this state, I told my girlfriend that I was going to check again if there was any possibility of going back to research in order to save myself and save the relationship. Her immediate reaction was "then I am going to breakup" but she nevertheless asked me to see a therapist, which I did. The therapist saw this as a problem of choice: "choosing between my research career and my girlfriend", and he suggested that I probably wasn’t ready to "sacrifice" my career for a relationship yet, and I should choose my career. Back at home, I kept trying to convince my girlfriend that I was not choosing my career over her and I loved her immensely. She refused to understand, and continued to breakup anyways. I just thought that it was about me having to convince her that I still loved her and would do everything to minimize the effect of 5 hours distance. The only alternative she saw was that if I didn’t like my current job, I should find another but in the neighbourhood, but I somehow was focussed on this one job.

After about a month of back and forth, she told me that was it. She didn’t see me as part of her life. On pushing her a bit more, she told me that she found it hard to convince herself that just a job could make someone so unhappy and there was something severely wrong with me. She also told me of all the little things that I didn’t think were important enough. She just kept repeating that the last 6 months (unemployed part and the new job) haven’t been good and she doesn’t think it won’t happen again in the future. She also told me that I had short attention span and I didn’t really commit myself to anything and that is why I could not continue at the chosen to job long enough. She had apparently been unhappy for some time now. She even held it against me that I was so sad/depressed when I could not get a job. I continued seeing the therapist but he didn’t come up with anything much.

Fast forward to today, we are broke up for two months now, I have quit my job and I am going to start the new job next month in a new country. I have been depressed, anxiety-ridden for the past month, wondering if I made the right decisions. Or have I just made blunder after blunder. Lost my love, my support system. I am now especially anxious about the move to the new country, since I will be alone there with hardly any friends. I have just been torturing myself with "What ifs", how I could so badly lose track of my relationship just because of a job.

I am not sure how I can get over all this guilt and regret. Am I ever going to be happy in a career since I am so unsure? Or in a relationship since I obviously have my priorities mixed up.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The job is just a red herring. Her decision almost certainly was not about the job, it was about the relationship as a whole. She kept in her dissatisfaction for 6 months while pretending to be supportive and that's what killed the relationship. Had she been more open with you about how she felt about things, maybe it would have worked out...maybe she's still have broken up with you, but she wasn't fair to you by being honest and it killed it.

The job situation was just a convenient scapegoat.

Don't put so much pressure on yourself. Things don't work out until they do. You have to be open to failure before you can possibly succeed.
posted by inturnaround at 7:15 AM on December 4, 2012 [12 favorites]

She sounds like a self-centered and somewhat vain person. You probably dodged a bullet here.
posted by thelonius at 7:24 AM on December 4, 2012 [8 favorites]

Honestly, it sounds like you have an incredible opportunity for a clean break, the likes of which most of us never see. Most people who break up are constantly reminded of their ex-partner at home, around town, by mutual friends, etc. It sounds like you have a great career opportunity too. Make the most of it!
posted by supercres at 7:26 AM on December 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

If she really loved you, she would have helped you figure out a way that the two of you could be together and you could be in a job you loved. Your breakup was not about the job, and is a blessing in disguise.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:27 AM on December 4, 2012 [13 favorites]

You don't have your priorities mixed up, necessarily. In many areas of work, you have to make alot of sacrifices early in your career in order to get yourself started. There will be false starts and you'll make mistakes. You may or may not be able to sustain a relationship at the same time, it depends alot on your circumstances and the person you're in the relationship with.

Go to the new country, throw yourself into your work. Find out if it's really what you want to do. Don't feel guilty for doing this!
posted by cabingirl at 7:28 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think you are being given the opportunity to have a fresh start full of potential and free of baggage.

It's natural to be confused and in mourning over such a complex transition - that is a LOT of change and uncertainty in a relatively short period! Allow yourself to acknowledge that and work through it a bit at a time.

But move on to your next stage with a clear heart while you do it. Her "reasons" sound like a hodge-podge of excuses and justifications for a decision she'd made that had more to do with her than you. She's unreasonably holding things against you.

Don't feel guilt. Let go of the regret. It sounds to me like you were trying to take all the right steps and it just wasn't in synch with her path at this time. Travel on to the next part of your adventures and look for all the ways you can invest yourself and thrive now that you have the worry of another person's expectations removed.

Happy travels & good luck!
posted by batmonkey at 7:29 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

On pushing her a bit more, she told me that she found it hard to convince herself that just a job could make someone so unhappy and there was something severely wrong with me.

She is somewhat immature and obviously doesn't have a lot of experience with how much the day-to-day environment of a specific job can affect your well-being.

However. This whole scenario is one of the issues couples have to grapple with when it comes to cohabitation: you have to talk about your future and where you're going to live and what professional and academic decisions you're going to make, and you have to do it together. You two don't sound like you made those decisions together and talked them out and planned out your futures collaboratively. And perhaps that is the reason why you decided to live together rather than get married, but you still confronted the same logistical issues.

You're the one with the less-flexible career in a narrow field that depends on the ability to move. Why didn't she explore the possibility of moving with you? Honestly, this sounds like there is a whole sea of incompatibilities lingering under the surface with her.
posted by deanc at 7:32 AM on December 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I would just like to add, I hope you don't believe all those things she said about you, those things that you remembered enough to post here two months later. Maybe there is a grain of truth to some of it, (and we could all use a little self-reflection now and then), but for the most part she doesn't sound very nice, while you sound like you really tried to make a difficult situation work out. I hope you give yourself credit for trying, because that's all you can do!

Am I ever going to be happy in a career since I am so unsure? Or in a relationship since I obviously have my priorities mixed up.

You do NOT "obviously have your priorities mixed up". You made some decisions, and it didn't work out. Your girlfriend left, but believe us when we tell you she really didn't sound like a keeper. Of course you're going through a rough time, but one day you'll wake up and things will be better and then you'll start dating and your life will go on and some of it will be hard and some of it will be great!
posted by Glinn at 7:42 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

My question to you would be: where were her efforts in this? Seems like you tried very hard to make things work between work and the relationship, but I don't see her reciprocating in any way. In a relationship both partners have to give, it can't be a one way affair, which is what it seems here.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:06 AM on December 4, 2012

Stop worrying about the past; you cannot change it. You have a great opportunity ahead of you. What fun! Go and enjoy yourself at this new job, new location. Live in the moment and your enjoyment of life will increase; I guarantee you.
posted by caddis at 8:08 AM on December 4, 2012

As James Brown once sang, "You got to live for yourself and nobody else." The older I get, the more I see how much that holds true. You've chosen to keep your house in order with respect to your livelihood and life goals. That will be very attractive to potential partners of quality. I can't tell you whether or not those partners will arrive on the scene, but I can tell you that from where I sit, you really did the right thing on all fronts.

One suggestion:

Drove like crazy between the two cities to allow me to spend as much time with her as I could during the week.

This is probably a large part of what induced the emotional extremes. No partner is worth this type of wear and tear on your hide. In future, avoid: I'm speaking from experience here. LDR should be half and half in terms of time and money whereever possible.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:09 AM on December 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

If she was really supportive and cared about the relationship, she would have moved with you. Sounds like you were putting more effort in than she was.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:09 AM on December 4, 2012

You're better off.
posted by empath at 8:23 AM on December 4, 2012

And she couldn't move because...?

It sounds like she expected you to make a lot of really significant sacrifices for her, but was not willing to make any for you. Honestly, I don't think your priorities are mixed up at all. From what you've told us about this person, I think choosing your career over your relationship with her was absolutely the right call.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:25 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think you have to own the fact that you chose your career over your relationship. Without having to consider someone else's preferences, you have the freedom to more fully persue your career and move where you need to be.

Something to work on from here on out is communication with your partners - I'm really surprised by this:

...had a feeling that my girlfriend would have preferred to have me accept the offer in the city that we had been living...

Did you not ask her directly ? Why couldn't she clearly express her desires to you? Was she clear about where she wanted to live, but you dismissed her? You really down played the fact that you made a unilateral decision to move out of your shared home to a different city. Did you suggest that your girlfriend move to the city with you? Did you two have a long term plan that you would eventually be living in the same city? LDRs are tough in the best situations, and are not really feasible long term for most people if there is not an end date.

On pushing her a bit more...
I think people here are actually being really harsh on your ex-girlfriend - in general pushinging for answers in a break up is not going to make you feel any better or even give you closure.

It seems like you and your girlfriend were not meant to be good long term partners. That's okay, and you can take the good things you got out of your relationship, and the learning experiences, and own them and become a fuller, more rounded person. Plus, you have an awesome experience of following your career in a new country, which realistically would not have been possible if you were still in a relationship. Things will feel crappy for a while, that's normal, but remember to be kind to yourself.
posted by fermezporte at 8:27 AM on December 4, 2012 [9 favorites]

On pushing her a bit more...
I think people here are actually being really harsh on your ex-girlfriend - in general pushinging for answers in a break up is not going to make you feel any better or even give you closure.

Pushing for answers is also not going to get you the truth. When a person breaks up with you, they want they conversation over as quickly as possible. When you push for answers in a break-up, they will say whatever they think will end the conversation the fastest.

In this situation, the job was the most obvious recent big thing, so she went with that. That doesn't mean that it was the real problem, or even that there was one real problem. Relationships are very complex. There are no easy single answers to why a break up happens.

The job is just a red herring. Her decision almost certainly was not about the job, it was about the relationship as a whole.

posted by yeolcoatl at 8:45 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

All I have to say is that if you're meant to be with your girlfriend, you'll end up back together. For now, I would concentrate on having a fresh start in a new country.

I do think you should continue therapy. See what options there are for therapy in the new country.
posted by commitment at 9:01 AM on December 4, 2012

It's a little unclear from what you wrote, but it seems like the decision to return to research was essentially or entirely a decision to move either five hours away or overseas.

As I understand it, you chose a job that placed a serious strain on you and her, didn't handle it well, chose another gig that would have involved her making a big move with you or not coming along, depending on visa stuff.

Assuming my grasp of this is accurate, yeah, I wouldn't be real enthused if I was in her shoes.

To address that as it relates to the questions, all you can do is make the best decisions for yourself with the information you have in front of you.

Research could rock, it could take you to another career, you could find that you'd rather shovel shit with a toothpick, etc.

Future-relationship speculation? I'd rather have to pick winning Powerball numbers at gunpoint....
posted by ambient2 at 9:01 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

You have taken on 100% of the responsibility of making your relationship work, relationships are always two-way streets.

It hurts when a relationship breaks up, it hurts more when the person you're breaking up with blames you for everything. It's not true, it couldn't possibly be true.

When you leave school and get your first jobs, it's experimental. You dont' know for sure how things are going to work out. The first one may be a horrible fit, the second one, a bit better, you just don't know. Having a whinging partner and a two hour drive helps nothing.

So accept that your foray into the world of work didn't work out. Simultaneously, neither did your relationship.

So a new country and a new life await you. Embrace it! It's an exciting time and you have a ton to look forward to.

It's sad that you broke up with your girlfriend, but with every passing day, it becomes more and more in the past. Where it belongs.

Look forward. It's a beautiful world full of opportunity and wonderful people.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:37 AM on December 4, 2012

I don't really disagree with the other estimations of this whole episode. But I have two observations just to throw out there:

1. It's hard for you to make decisions. Even when you make them, you're second-guessing yourself; you're still second-guessing moving to a new country, even though you're in the midst of doing it. When you do something, jump in with both feet. Live that commitment. It's stressful to keep torturing yourself with "was this the right decision? What might have been? Did I ruin everything? Should I stay or go?" ad infinitum. The way you describe your back-and-forthing about things reminds me of me, and that reminds me that I do this because I have anxiety. Discuss anxiety with your therapist. Discuss decisionmaking and choice-making. Discuss knowing yourself and being honest with yourself. These are all essential skills, and you can learn them and become better at them.

2. Lost my love, my support system: One person, even a partner, cannot be a support "system." They can give you support sometimes, but there are times they need their own support or otherwise aren't available. If they are always in the role of supporter, especially for a lengthy time, it's easy for them to become emotionally exhausted from that. You need a bigger network of people to help support you. They can be friends, coworkers, family. There's always trouble when one person depends on just one or a few important others - people have many more things they need to do than be 100% supportive of others all the time. By ensuring that you have a robust and healthy friend network, which includes both people to spend time with for fun and distraction and people you can reveal yourself and your deeper concerns to, you will shore up your own ability to handle the difficult moments that happen when you're trying to establish your life and career. Concentrate on building some solid friendships in your new assignment, and keeping in touch and talking to sympathetic people who you know now.
posted by Miko at 10:01 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sounds to me like she was a bit selfish and very immature.

Mature couples can sustain a bit of long distance relationship in order to plan for the future. You can't plan for the future without a job. Why would someone who cares for you want you to be miserable in your work? If she was thinking about you, she would have supported you in your decisions. If she was thinking about your relationship, she would have helped you plan out a course of action that would be the best fit all around as well as what would help support you in maintaining the relationship.

I think you've dodged a bullet. Take up your new job, look for new friends and experiences, and know that there will be someone out there for you that will have your best interests at heart.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:49 AM on December 4, 2012

Honestly, it sounds like she asked you to get help and you didn't, and she wanted out and said so. She's allowed to leave. A lot of people break up with their SO when their SO wants a long-distance situation and that's perfectly acceptable, because they're very hard, and maybe she wasn't feeling serious enough about the relationship to warrant it. I understand that you're suffering, but the way you've written about your relationship here, you'd think that you were 100% victim and she just "held things against you" instead of growing apart from you, which is what a lot of people in relationships with depressed people end up doing. I'm not saying you should feel bad, just that you need to let go of a relationship that was not working out. And you should probably keep working with your therapist and ask what they think about antidepressants.

I agree with Miko's other points as well. You need to improve at decision making; it will make you much happier.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:09 PM on December 4, 2012

Also sounds like your therapist had a strong view and influenced yoir decison. Doesn't soiund like particularly helpful. Suggest you look at that relationship and why you prioritized his view over communication with yoiur GF
posted by zia at 12:26 PM on December 4, 2012

I think people are being too harsh on your girlfriend. I mean, you'd been together for 18 months, you were living together, there's every chance she thought it was a committed relationship leading to marriage. She supported you (emotionally at least) during your unemployment and indecision about where you want your career to go, amidst the uncertainty of where it old lead you and then happy days, you actually land two job offers. One of which means you can stay in the same town and maintain a stable relationship.

Keeping in mind that you didn't even know what you wanted out of a job, at the very least, one would assume you'd choose the one which allows you to stay with your partner. But no. You took the other job, one you already had doubts about, knowing full well it would put additional strain on your relationship. You then start to freak out, so not only does your girlfriend not have her live in partner, she has a depressed wreck she has to continually prop up and reassure that his actions in abandoning her and choosing his career over her are ok (so you don't feel bad about it) that's a lot to put on her, so she suggests therapy for you.

The therapist confirms what the girlfriend can see with her own eyes, yes, you had other options and still chose a job you didn't even know if you wanted, over her. While she tries to comfort and help you through it. Cue breakup. Seriously, I don't blame her either. Sure, you may have made an effort to drive between cities and see her but the thing is, you never needed to put the relationship under that pressure in the first place.

You may not have known what you wanted career wise but you also didn't make the relationship a priority, or simply just thought that she'd put up with endless hand wringing and prevaricating while she was just supposed to stand by and make you feel ok about choosing a job over her. You really took her for granted. Yes, she could have moved with you (had you considered being with her enough of a priority to y'know, ask) but why when you had a job offer in your town?

I say let it go, your actions say you clearly value your indecisive job path over her. Which is fine, it sounds like she's got the message loud and clear anyway. A new country and a new job is the best possible opportunity to put it all behind you and figure out who you are and what you want, because it's pretty clear that you just don't know at this point, and until you figure that out, its probably better to be single anyway.
posted by Jubey at 1:59 PM on December 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

(1) It takes two people to make a relationship, and only one to break it off. Sad, I know. But once a person decides to break-up, that's it.

(2) That being said, it sounds that your break-up is acrimonious when it didn't have to be. If she brought up a laundry list of faults with you, ignore it, unless you can learn something from it.

(3) You both had a failure of communication. There is nothing wrong with your decisions, but how you as a couple could have discussed and managed your decision could have been done way better. As it stands, you two were not compatible, and it's better for you to be no longer together.

(4) It sounds like your last therapist was not helpful. I hope you find a better one that encourages more communication and self-reflection.

(5) It's painful to lose your partner, I know. But you'll develop another support network. It takes time, but it will happen. In the meantime, feel free to MeMail me if you want someone to talk to.
posted by Hawk V at 9:10 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

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