when to hang on, when to bail
January 29, 2013 4:35 PM   Subscribe

when to hang on, and when to bail, when there is a lot of love, but also coldness

Looking for some external advice about my relationship

it#s been a pretty intense ride,

to start from the beginning

we met 7 days before i was to leave the country for 8 months, we both fell head over heels in love, it was blissful, spiritual, incredible, i've been in love before but nothing like this,

i couldnt not leave, that would have burnt all of my career bridges, so i decided to pay for her ticket to come and stay with me,

we spent nearly 3 months apart, on skype every day, talking, checking in, it was hard but also really nice

she arrived, i had a lot of work but we spent another blissful three months together, there were some problems but nothing insurmountable, she suffers from alcoholism and high levels of anxiety, i suffer from depression, despite it being hard we manage pretty well to be understanding of each others struggle through this and supportive of both of our struggles to better understand and even hopefully recover from our conditions, or at least find good ways to deal with them

she had to go back to our home country, she became very distant, was hard to talk to, it didnt help that her house didnt have internet so speaking was very expensive, i got pretty upset about her distance but she wasnt willing to talk about it, insisting everything was ok, patiently waiting for me to come back,

i returned to our home country with the intention to stay, i had a few work opportunities but somehow they all fell through, i had a back up plan of studying and was rejected from my course of study, my close friends here had all gone off oversea's as well to live, so i was pretty lonely without having any support network,

she was still very distant, i became jealous and anxious, she broke up with me, i was heart broken, depressed, im not normally a jealous person

she started seeing someone new,

then the shit hit the fan, she was pregnant, had an abortion, her boyfriend at the time wanted to marry her, start a family, the child was mine.

she broke it off with him and said that she missed me, wants to be with me, we had a few good weeks but now she is distant again, i understand she has gone something incredibly painful, but im also in need of reassurance,

i am very supportive and thoughtful and independent, but she says no she is still unsure if our relationship is a good idea, but she says she loves me, and i absolutely love her, but this situation is not good for me,

we both have support from psychiatrists and psychologists and so on,

i just dont know what to do, i know her distance is her own way of going through this tough time, but its a tough time for me too and i need closeness but she cant offer that, and im not sure if i should wait it out, if i did i know it would be worth it, but its hard to know what to do when someone is like 'i love you' then super distant...

i know most people would just say 'bail' but im not sure i can do that, i spent three years waiting for that teenage feeling, and when it came it was so good, but now who knows...
posted by frequently to Human Relations (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
i know most people would just say 'bail' but im not sure i can do that, i spent three years waiting for that teenage feeling, and when it came it was so good, but now who knows...

That teenage feeling isn't sustainable or healthy. A healthy relationship has ups & downs but not the kind of hot & cold extremes you describe.

Take care of yourself. The next time you meet someone who rocks your world, recognize that the teenage feeling you're getting is limerence, and not love.
posted by headnsouth at 4:51 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

So you say she's pulling back now because she's hurting, but what was her excuse the last time she gave you the cold shoulder? This is a pattern she's showing you, one that there is no reason to assume won't happen again and again through your relationship. A relationship that runs hot and cold with no warning will make you miserable in the long run no matter how much you love her. It's manipulative. You deserve better.
posted by cecic at 4:56 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

You can't make someone love you back, no matter how hard you try. Especially if you have to try hard, actually.

Sounds like you need to move on.
posted by Kololo at 5:22 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

good page on limerence
posted by kmennie at 5:23 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I don't agree with the idea that "limerence" is some kind of false love. Of course, you love the other person, in that you have a connection through shared experience. But, look at the symptoms described above, such as
a remarkable ability to emphasize what is truly admirable in [other] and to avoid dwelling on the negative, even to respond with a compassion for the negative and render it, emotionally if not perceptually, into another positive attribute.
Limerence is just a word for love without self-love, which is not worth anything at all to anyone but the one involved. How can you accept someone breaking up with you and then just get back together with them as if you're a book they put down that they were tired of reading, or a dog that they lent to a friend while they went on vacation? This person is abusing her connection with you to try and make herself happy without treating you with any respect. And, it's half your fault for putting up with it.

I know that when you're depressed it's hard to defend yourself. It can also be tempting to lean on the few people you have in your life, and so drain them of the joy they would normally get from seeing you, which drives them away. But, something to remember is that almost everyone has the basic support network: exercise, books, art, a facility to talk to strangers.

No matter how beautiful the wedding, how wonderful the honeymoon, how great the photographs, a relationship is not built on the past. Have you ever been hungry and been satisfied by the memory of thanksgiving dinner? No: relationship exists in the present because it makes you feel good, now.

I know you said it's been three years, and that is worth something. But, pulling away doesn't mean that you lose those three years. You will always have the memories, and maybe by pulling away, she'll turn around — maybe she won't. But, you'll have your self-love, which worth a lot more than her love or anyone else's.

So, putting it all together: she's pulling away, so she's not making you feel good, and your self-respect is telling you to communicate and pull away. But, you need closeness, and you imagine that you can hang on to the memory to make you feel good.

It's your decision.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 6:55 PM on January 29, 2013 [34 favorites]

Nothing to add to what esprit de l'escalier said. Brilliant.
posted by Salamander at 7:34 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

The combination of her alcoholism, high level of anxiety, and extremely unstable behavior will give you nothing but years of trouble and heartbreak. Is that what you want?
posted by Dansaman at 9:47 PM on January 29, 2013

i absolutely love her, but this situation is not good for me

I don't think anyone can answer your question as well as you already have.
posted by inertia at 6:03 AM on January 30, 2013

that teenage feeling is limerance or infatuation and it's not love. LOVE is getting the closeness you describe yourself craving even though life can throw some really hard stuff your way (and your partner's way) - the closeness comes from being able to trust and rely on that person, not from the infatuation rush.

you know what to do because you understand this is unhealthy now. please take care of yourself. i believe that you will fall in love again. many people get to experience that limerant rush of infatuation several times in life but it doesn't work out with any of those people. consider yourself lucky to have had that falling in love feeling, but if it's not healthy anymore it's time to move on. you can find that feeling again with a different woman, just as unexpectedly as you found it this time with her.
posted by zdravo at 6:31 AM on January 30, 2013

Super favorite for esprit de l'escalier! Wow.
posted by readygo at 10:35 AM on January 30, 2013

i absolutely love her, but this situation is not good for me

I learned the hard way over the years that love doesn't actually conquer all. You can love someone, and they can love you, but sometimes that in itself is not enough to make things work. (Nor should it be in cases of abuse, for example.)

It does indeed sound like you've answered this question for yourself - the situation is not good for you, and it sounds like that isn't going to change in a hurry.

(As an aside, you might find Attachment Theory an interesting model. Emily Nagoski of The Dirty Normal has a good primer here [blog in general is NSFW].)
posted by Someone Else's Story at 1:21 PM on January 30, 2013

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