December 11, 2012 4:30 PM   Subscribe

How do I deal with not knowing if my relationship is over or not? If it is, how do I heal from losing the love of my life?

Note: I'm female.

Our relationship started out great, then we both went through some horrible things at the same time and treated each other poorly. We had a heart-to-heart and decided that we never had a chance to grow as a couple due to us having outside difficulties so soon into the relationship and taking it out on each other. We thought we'd gotten comfortable in the wrong dynamic and agreed to work to change things.

It's been two weeks and her certainty about us is dwindling. She loves me, she wants to be with me and wants a future with me, doesn't want to break up, has hope for us but (long story short) worries that there is no coming back from our past. She told me this today and I reminded her that she said she wanted to try two weeks ago and that wasn't very much time. She said she will give it more time.

I'm terrified. I can barely get out of bed. I have a constant pain in my chest. I have important things going on in my life and I fear that she's just waiting for that to be over so she can leave me without me fucking up my life.

The thing that gets to me is that this isn't my first relationship. It's my fifth. And my second love. It doesn't help me to think that I'll heal and find someone else because I don't think I will. I told myself that the first four times, and I only met one other person I fell in love with. And she's eerily similar to the first person I fell in love with only better. I feel like I'm losing the love of my life for stupid mistakes I made. I mention my mistakes alone because she hasn't lost me over hers. I'm feeling like I met this wonderful person after so long of searching and I messed it up. I love everything about her, she makes me so happy. We make each other laugh, we cry in each other's arms, I love all the little silly things she does and her ambition and her caring and just everything about her. We talked about marriage, kids, our life together, even while the bad things she's telling me she isn't sure we can overcome were happening.

How do you deal with feeling like someone's a perfect fit for you and if you had made an effort to fix things sooner you wouldn't be losing them right now?

How do you go on with your regular life knowing that your partner is probably going to come to you any minute and tell you they've been thinking and it's over?

I don't know how to live. She wants to spend time with me and every time she comes over I'm going to worry she's coming over to break up with me. I can barely spend time with her without second guessing everything she does, if she really wants to kiss me, if she's thinking of leaving me, if I show any pain if that'll be a bad thing, if we talk about the relationship if she'll leave me, if our happy times together are just facades and she's really hurting inside.

If I don't see her, she's going to conclude that I'm happier without her and leave me. I can't talk to her about how I feel because she's going to see it as her still hurting me and leave. Of course I'm hurting, she's talking about leaving!

My friends don't like her and I can't talk to them without hearing good riddance. I understand why, but they've told me things about their relationships that are far worse than what I've been through and they're still with the person! I feel so frustrated and alone. I can't go on a rebound (the way I normally heal) because we're still together. I feel like I'm in a suspended state where we're already over but I can't begin to heal. I don't want to leave her preemptively because if she is going to give it time and isn't just waiting for certain things to be over I don't want to ruin that.

In case this counts she said she wanted to work things out as friends and that maybe we could have our future together when we were in better places in our lives. But we both talked about a "break" in the past and both agreed that it does more harm than good so I think she was just trying to let me down easy.

I don't have hard feelings for her. I know she's human and she's struggling with wanting to be with me and being in love with me but wanting to make the decision that will make us both happy in the future. I don't feel like she's stringing me along, I can walk away at any time. I don't disagree with her decision to leave with the relationship the way it is now. Without making this too much longer, I'll just say that there's a lot of factors in the relationship that make me feel that things can get better that have nothing to do with me being in love with her. And I'm only pushing her to keep trying because she just told me two weeks ago that that's what she wanted.

I would love to hear from people who have been in a similar situation. It would be nice to know that I'm not alone, that it does get better, no matter how your relationship turned out. I've tried to sift through the breakup askmes but they're either posted by the dumper (painful!) or it was a first love type situation.
posted by Pericardium to Human Relations (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Time is the thing here.

First, if I could talk to your partner I would suggest that two weeks might not be enough time to evaluate your relationship after such events.

Second, if things do fall apart, time is the true healer. Coping is what you do in the mean time.

I found that keeping busy helps, especially where I can focus my attention on others. The more I turned inward, the worse I felt.

Exercise will burn off some of that emotional energy. Sleep, but not to excess, is also beneficial.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:41 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

You accept that in an adult relationship, the fact that you love someone is not enough. Based on your previous questions, your girlfriend is not ready to be in a relationship, because she's not out, she's being controlled by her family, she's treating you like crap, and by your own admission you are destroying your life over her. This is not a healthy relationship with a good future.

You deal with not knowing if your relationship is over or not by declaring it over and cutting off contact. This woman is not your last hope of love and even if she was, frankly, you are better off alone forever than with this kind of gut-kicking drama. The fact that you love her is trumped by the fact that this woman is toxic.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:43 PM on December 11, 2012 [27 favorites]

There's a few things to address here.

First, there are plenty of people with more relationships than you then found their lifelong pairing. It's not "keep this one or you'll be FOREVER ALONE." Chill. And the fear of being all FOREVER ALONE makes you more anxious, which makes this part of your relationship more high stress than it should be, which makes this relationship less fun and probably grates on your partner a little. It will do you good to relax. Stop thinking about the "what-ifs" of the future and concentrate on the near future, like, one month from now, or three months from now. Manage your anxiety by exercise, meditation, or keeping busy. Stop worrying about things that you do not have the power to change.

Second, your fears of forever alone aside, talk to your partner (even though it's gut-wrenching!) and set a re-evaluation date. Of "We are guaranteed to be together until X_date, where we re-evaluate. Until then, we just enjoy our time together." Maybe in one month? Three months? I know the theory is much more easy than the practice, but having a specific date to be nervous about is better than being anxious every day.

Third, looking at your last Ask Me, it seems like you really love your partner but she's just not in a place in her life where she capable of sharing a stable and healthy relationship. She doesn't have the right boundaries with her anti-queer mom, and that's *her* priority to sort out first before she can partake in a healthy relationship. I'm sorry but, if the situation has not changed that much since your last Ask Me, it is unlikely that you can be in a healthy relationship in the near future.

If I was in your shoes, I'd cut the ties, heal for six months or more, then look for potential partners who have (a) appropriate boundaries with their parents (especially if the parents are anti-queer) (b) are financially secure enough to focus on having a great relationship rather than fighting for survival. If a relationship is tearing you apart and it's unlikely to become healthy in the next 3 months, I don't think it's worth it anymore. But that's your choice to make.
posted by Hawk V at 4:58 PM on December 11, 2012

I totally sympathize with the pain in the chest feeling, not being able to get out of bed. I'm right there with you. When I lost my love (or what I thought was) it hurt like nothing else I've ever felt. In fact I never knew I could ever feel such pain. In my situation there was a massive amount of betrayal thrown on top of it, which made everything even harder to handle.

I went through the worst emotional pain of my life, that I thought would never ever end or get better. It didn't, for a very long time. Maybe if I had supportive friends at the time that would have helped, but at least I had a family member that never left my side, without this, it would have been unbearable. Then after a while, it hurt less. The pain in my chest I felt every day, very slowly started going away. As more time past, the things I thought I would never be able to bear, I was capable of taking, emotionally. It didn't hurt as much.

I'm not saying it's easy. Whatever happens know that you will be okay. If it heads down the path of parting ways, make sure you find a good friend or family member to lean on. Try and take your mind off of things as much as possible by doing activities, anything to get you out of the house and not dwelling on things. It's not your fault, things happen. As you start to feel better you'll find your heart open again, and love will be able to coming back into your life, in whatever form. This will start to help you feel alive again, and realize that this person wasn't the end all, be all, to your existence. You deserve to be loved, really loved. This is not the only person who can love you.

I truly hope things work out, but don't walk on eggshells just because you don't want to lose somebody. I don't know if that will help the pain in your chest if you just feel like you're trying to "keep" someone around. In my experience, that kept the pain in my chest going. Talk to your partner and let her know what you feel your heart really needs to say. Be honest and courageous, this is all you can do. You feel better in the long run from expressing what you have in your heart.

All my best, I hope it works out for you, and either way end up getting the relationship you want. Feel free to memail me anytime :)
posted by readygo at 5:02 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think you should consider couples counseling. If a relationship is worth it, both parties should be willing to put in the work and effort. If she isn't willing, then it doesn't sound like she's the right person for you. You deserve someone that's willing to fight for you.

I don't know your situation other than what you've said here, but I think that if you love her and want to be with her, fight for her. But don't forget that she should fight for you too.

And in the end, if it doesn't work out, they say the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. So a rebound doesn't sound like a bad idea necessarily.
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 5:05 PM on December 11, 2012

The best part of a this really bad situation is that when you finally break up there is actually a tiny bit of relief that the 'anticipation of the worst' part is finally over.
posted by bquarters at 5:22 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are not alone, and it does get better. I've sooo been here and done this, friend.

How do you deal with feeling like someone's a perfect fit for you and if you had made an effort to fix things sooner you wouldn't be losing them right now?

First of all, my opinion is that there is no such thing as a perfect fit. There are great fits. Is this person really a great fit for you? The person who will fit you best will be the person who wants to be with you at the same time and in the same way that you want to be with them. This is not the case here. That person might be out there and you might be wasting time trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Perhaps more helpful, for me I had to really grasp that I couldn't change the past, but I could learn from it and move forward. And I did.

Secondly, relationships don't ride-or-die based off of the actions of one person alone. You couldn't have fixed this relationship without her. You can't fix this relationship without her. She doesn't sound like she wants to, either. Ignore what she said two weeks ago. Listen to what she's saying now.

How do you go on with your regular life knowing that your partner is probably going to come to you any minute and tell you they've been thinking and it's over?

Personally, I'd make the decision for myself that this is not how I want to live my life, and end it. I've come to realise that being the one sitting around wallowing, waiting, and walking on eggshells was both extremely unfun for me and extremely unattractive to others.
posted by sm1tten at 5:27 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

It doesn't help me to think that I'll heal and find someone else because I don't think I will.

Pull the other one. You 're what, about 22? The odds that you've already met and dated the only two people you could ever possibly fall in love with are just ridiculously low, so low that seriously considering it is a sign of irrational thinking. You've met what percentage of people that you will come into contact with? And you think that oh no, the only 2 people in the world you could ever love happen to be in that tiny group? Yea, whatever. You seem to be planning to head to college soon, right? There's hundreds of people your own age with similar goals right there.

Seriously, you are catastrophising. It's ok, everyone does it. But you're here for advice on how to stop worrying and freaking out, and the answer is that really, you're vastly inflating the individual importance of these two people, and the rarity of amazing people that you could fall in love with.

I'm terrified. I can barely get out of bed. I have a constant pain in my chest.
Get counselling: not couples counselling, you counselling. It sounds like you're experiencing overwhelming anxiety, and you have nobody to talk to (because your friends won't have this conversation). Get counselling so you can talk to somebody else and get out of the circles in your head. Just call a youth help line, if nothing else. Talk to someone.
posted by jacalata at 5:49 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

How do you deal with feeling like someone's a perfect fit for you and if you had made an effort to fix things sooner you wouldn't be losing them right now?

How is it that you are losing her now because of efforts you didn't make when she was the one who decided to move out of your shared home?

How do you go on with your regular life knowing that your partner is probably going to come to you any minute and tell you they've been thinking and it's over?

Honestly, I have a more general, philosophical answer to this question, but in your particular case: why are you spending your time fretting that, any minute, she could come and tell you that it's over, when she moved out your shared house, and, effectively, already ended your relationship?

I don't mean to be harsh. Really. Especially because you seem like such a kind and good-hearted person.

But I would suggest that you are viewing the issue in this relationship in the wrong direction. From my perspective, she should be the one wondering whether or not you are going to end things, or take her back, because she was the one who told you, essentially, that cash (and not making her mom mad) is more important that her relationship with you, and walked out.
posted by vivid postcard at 5:52 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: This might seem stupid but to those suggesting I distract myself, I don't know how. Everything reminds me of her. I'm with a friend and I'm wishing she was in the conversation. I'm on Facebook and it's all love and heartbreak and relationships. I'm at my new place and I'm wishing it was ours. I'm doing whatever and I'm wishing she was there. I'm on Metafilter and it's marriage and kids and break ups. To top it off I'm afraid that if I stop thinking about it I won't figure out how to fix it and I won't be prepared when she leaves. I'm terrified.
posted by Pericardium at 6:06 PM on December 11, 2012

I'm 45 and when I face a painful breakup, I remind myself that life is certainly worth living and indeed sometimes even very satisfying alone. I remind myself to feel and accept the pain as it comes up, because each time I do it, it's a bit of pain I don't have to feel again. I remember to breathe, and cry, and go on.
posted by b33j at 6:35 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

What you said is understandable. I couldn't think of anything else while I was going through my experience. You're so used to associating everything with your partner, because your brain is so trained to do it that it's a natural reflex. Your brain is conditioned by repetition and association- pleasure= my partner.

Right now you're consumed with your situation and all energy and thought is going towards your girlfriend. Things don't seem as enjoyable without her there, because you feel she's the one who's supposed to be there. What I found to be helpful was doing physical activities or games and such (with other people), as quite a relief to take my mind off of things. In that instance, you become engulfed in what you're doing, because physically it is required. I would find myself having fun and totally forgetting my troubles, even though it only lasted the short duration of the activity. I do remember realizing that in this instance I was still capable of feeling joy, so I knew deep down that feeling better was possible, and still in me.

You also might be noticing a lot of threads about marriage, hearing songs about love and seeing it around you everywhere, because right now your body and mind is so attuned to the subject. I never realized how many breakup songs were on the radio until I was in that situation! I also never really fully comprehended the depth of what those songs meant, until I could relate to them.

If I think back to who I was attracted to and fell in love with through my life, it's so completely different from who I would want now. My ex who I was so in love with and caused me so much pain, isn't even someone I would consider being with now, much less friends with. I've grown, and changed so much. I know I deserve better treatment, and know that anything else is a dead end. I've been down that road before, I know that story by heart. You might be growing, and this person isn't the right fit for you anymore, though you're still quite attached. That's why it hurts. Believe me, I never thought I'd be able to say the majority of these words, or be anywhere near ok with having my ex out of my life. I'm more than ok, my thoughts don't ever even go there. Ever. Funny to go from one extreme to the other. It just shows that anything and everything is possible, even what you don't think could ever happen. It might possibly be a door opening to the right person, who will really love and fit you, even better than what you have now. Even though you might not be able to imagine it- but what you can't imagine right now, is a lot.

I would definitely suggest finding a therapist to talk to as well, as your friends don't seem to be very supportive in your time of need (it sounds like they're friendship is one sided, which makes me very sad to hear this for you). A therapist will help you through, and won't make you feel bad for talking about your love life. It will really help you through your current struggle, and help you identify what "you" really want, instead of waiting around for someone else to figure out if you're good enough for "them" to keep around.
posted by readygo at 4:26 AM on December 12, 2012

Here's a question I posted four years ago when I got dumped by the second true love of my life. It was, indeed, harder than the breakup of my first true love relationship, and I did indeed feel like everything was done for and nothing in my life would ever be good again. Four years later, while I haven't found a relationship like that again yet, I have dated, and, while I'm now single, things are... good. So I just wanted to pass on the good advice I got in that thread and echo what people said to me: it does end and you do get over it. (I know your situation isn't an actual breakup yet, but the emotions you're going through are exactly what I felt when I was mourning my relationship.)
posted by MsMolly at 9:08 AM on December 12, 2012

How do you deal with feeling like someone's a perfect fit for you and if you had made an effort to fix things sooner you wouldn't be losing them right now?

The truth is, she isn't a perfect fit for you right now. She may be a great personality that fits you well, but her life does not fit into your life. I know it's hard to see this right now, but it's not your fault. And to some extent, it's not her fault either. She's just not at a point in her life where she could be a good partner to anyone. No amount of suppressing your needs and blaming yourself is going to make things better. People change slowly, and only when they want to. That means you, and your need for an equitable partnership, don't fundamentally change because you want them to change right now. You can suppress them, but it will come out later as an argument or resentment or low self-esteem. That also means she can't change who she is quickly enough to meet your needs either.

How do you go on with your regular life knowing that your partner is probably going to come to you any minute and tell you they've been thinking and it's over?

When I hung on to an old relationship like this, life was agony. Eventually, as we spent time apart, I got more interested in my new life and told them that they had to either shit or get off the pot. They chose to get off the pot, and we went our separate ways. If I had the chance to do it over again? I'd make the break up stick and cut off contact for at least a year. Because I stayed in relationship no-man's land with them, I can only associate being with them with that feeling of pain and intense fear. I don't want to date them again because I feel bad every time I think about them. You might be good for each other later in life, but you need to spend time apart now. Cut her off and give yourself room to grow away from her before all the good memories turn into bad memories. I think she needs boundaries as much as you do; do the right thing for both of you and cut her off.

I'm sorry; it's just going to hurt like crazy for a while and you just have to keep yourself together as best you can. Lean on your friends for comfort and love. There's no immediate fix for this. You're going to hurt for a while, and then eventually as she takes up less and less of your life, you will hurt less.

You won't find the same exact love again. This is true and this is what you are mourning. But, I promise you: happiness is happiness. If you value your own happiness, you will find someone who makes you happy in a different way, or you will find a way to shape your life in such a way that you can be happy. And when you are happy again you won't feel like this anymore.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:54 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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