Breakup ambivalence - how to feel out the best choice?
February 7, 2013 4:04 PM   Subscribe

I think my relationship is bad for me but I'm so deeply in love that the notion of ending it seems unbearable. I can't figure out how to decide which way to take it.

Dated this man for close to a year. I am in love with him. At times he acts very loving, shoots these love-filled looks, but neither of us have verbalized it. He can be caring, helpful, attentive, funny, gentlemanly. He has good values, and from what I can tell we share values on almost everything. We don't clash on religion, and in areas where we do clash if I make my case and give him enough time he often comes over to my viewpoint. I'm totally in love, did I mention that?

He can also be lazy, selfish, cheap, inconsistent, secretive, manipulative, and unpredictable. There are large chunks of time where I do 95% of the work to keep the relationship functioning. He runs from conflict (perhaps has some trauma/abuse issues). He doesn't communicate unless I pry it out of him, and even then he may shut down if he isn't perfectly comfortable with everything.

Recently, we spent some time at his good friend's wedding, and were surrounded by mutual friends getting engaged, married, etc. He was okay. I didn't use it as a springboard of any kind, but I did notice that he didn't act skittish at all - and was in fact VERY affectionate, romantic, sweet.

Then at a party one of his friends asks him how long we've been dating. "I'm not good with dates," was the response. It kind of crushed me, that he couldn't estimate or turn to me and ask me in a way that would show he cares even if he doesn't keep track. I got quiet. He tried to guess at what was wrong and fix it. (Normally I will communicate more directly, but I've done that a little too frequently lately so mostly I was just nursing my wounds, and afraid I might totally flip on him if I started to discuss it. When he asked what was wrong I said I didn't want to talk about it and wasn't sure how to articulate it.)

One thing he did to try to fix it was ask me to stay the night. This is something I've brought up before, as an area that confuses me. We've been together a long time but he doesn't ask me to stay over very often. Usually if I stay it's because I suggest it. He knows I want it, I like sleeping by him. It bugged me that he asked me to stay while I was upset when he doesn't ask me otherwise... as if he holds it as some sort of bargaining point or something.

Anyway. So that night I did manage to tell him I was worried that we were not on the same page with things. I cuddled him and we went to bed. A couple days later I told him I need to know where he sees this going. Been dating almost a year, no info from him on that to this point (some generic hints and broaching of subjects like do you want to live in the country, he initiates talk about children, but nothing direct), no L word, and although he's talked marriage in general terms he hasn't been clear about it. So I asked him whether marriage is something he wants for himself at some point. (I didn't ask if he wants it with me, just if he wants it.)

He got the deer in headlights look and said "I don't want to talk about this right now." I told him it's okay if he doesn't want it, and it's okay if he decided I'm too crazy for him, but if he doesn't want marriage and I'm not willing to play house, it's better for both of us to deal with it now because it would just get more painful. "I don't want to talk about this right now" was the answer for that as well. So I dropped it and left.

Before I dated this man I wasn't really interested in settling down. Dating him has changed that somehow; now I want it, and if he isn't looking for that we need to go our separate ways. Also we just clash sometimes. He can be difficult for me. He is the worst communicator I've ever known, and he chuckles about it. Sometimes I feel like he holds back (attention, affection, emotion) on purpose so he can feel like he's in control of the relationship. [Bottom line that's probably my biggest issue with him. This nagging sense that he tries to control everything, and if he would stop doing that he'd be doing things to meet my needs more naturally because I know he feels it, I can see he feels it, but he's constipated in expressing it.] We've been fighting a bit too much lately. So it sounds like the relationship is over and I need to accept that. Then what is the problem?

The problem is that I will tell myself the rational thing to do is end it - and then the next time I'm in his proximity I'm flooded with all this love and happiness and I forget why I'm looking to end it. It's really frustrating. He doesn't even DO anything, just being near him has this effect. It isn't infatuation because I see his flaws. But regardless, because of the chemistry...I can't do it. Not just the chemistry, also the positive traits and the way he does seem to change and work hard for me if I ask for it and give him enough time. I'm so torn - I don't think the RL is good for me, but I feel so much love for him. More than I've felt for anyone. The way I feel is also very different from how I've felt in any other relationship. (I don't mean that in the sense of a chemical trick. I mean really I was pretty detached in previous relationships, and in this one I'm actually invested emotionally.) I don't know what to do.

TL; DR How do you decide whether to end a relationship that has some kinks, a relationship that is HARD, where you're also so head over heels for the person? I'll muster up my inner determination like "yes, this is what needs to happen" and then have this huge visceral wave of "oh God this is a HUGE MISTAKE I CAN'T LEAVE HIM"... and the latter makes me think I would do lots of what-iffing if I don't play this out until it's impossible.

Have you been through this sort of thing before? How did you decide what to do? If you decided to break up, how did you go through with it when you felt so strongly for them?
posted by hungry hippo to Human Relations (47 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
It's been a year and he refuses to communicate with you like an adult about your relationship. That and he also seems to show no affection for you whatsoever, judging by his comment at the wedding and that, after a year, he doesn't really want you to stay over. I mean...what?

You might be in love with him, but he is not in love with you. And you deserve to be with someone who loves you like you love them. Everyone does. It's time to go. Really.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:10 PM on February 7, 2013 [33 favorites]

If you decided to break up, how did you go through with it when you felt so strongly for them?

I pretty much cried for three months and I was emotionally hurting for many of my waking and sleeping hours during that time. Then for another couple months I went strictly no-contact and was kind of numb but still mentally convinced that I would never meet anyone else that I felt that way about. Then I made it my goal to start meeting new guys and I started meeting a crazy number of guys. And yes, to my surprise I eventually met someone else that I felt that strongly about. And that relationship did not work out in the end, and then I went through another cycle and met someone else that I felt strongly about. I really think the key part is going no-contact with the person you are in love with, and maintaining it long enough until you can feel your emotions change, you can tell that you do not feel as strongly as you used to.
posted by cairdeas at 4:16 PM on February 7, 2013 [12 favorites]

Sadly, it doesn't really seem like there's too much here to end. I mean, you don't stay the night and he won't even acknowledge there's a relationship at all, so why would he talk marriage? He sounds like a commitment phobe who doesn't deserve you. I'd tell you to break up but according to him you're not dating, so just stop returning phone calls. The douche may not even notice...
posted by Jubey at 4:18 PM on February 7, 2013 [11 favorites]

Maybe he's not as in to you as you are into him. Maybe he is but he's emotionally immature and afraid. Maybe he's an asshole and he's using you. It pretty much doesn't matter because whichever of those things it is, you are not going to change that for him. This relationship is not going to go where you want it to go, regardless of how much you love him. Your love is not a predictor for his behaviour.

I broke up a seven year relationship with a man I was madly in love with because I had gotten older and wanted to get married and have kids. The man I was dating was not on the same page and I literally did not have time to waste because, biology.

Like cairdeas, I went no contact, cried uncontrollably for weeks solid, despaired of ever being happy or in love again, and then went back to dating and met someone else.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [7 favorites]

I've been there. The thing is, a good, functional relationship involves having positive feelings about the relationship when you are together and apart, at least the vast majority of the time. I think in this case, what you're feeling about it when you're apart is the healthiest choice for you. I know what it's like to be in someone's presence and not be able to imagine being without them. This doesn't mean they're right for you. You can't be in love with his potential. If things never got any better than they are right now, would you stay?
posted by dysh at 4:23 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

Any time you start to feel doubt about breaking up with him, take a look over what you wrote here:

"He can also be lazy, selfish, cheap, inconsistent, secretive, manipulative, and unpredictable. There are large chunks of time where I do 95% of the work to keep the relationship functioning."

This is not someone that you want to settle down and build a life with. What you've described isn't even someone I'd want to have in my life at all. You deserve and CAN FIND someone who is the exact opposite of these things.

Like cairdeas and DarlingBri, I've often been so heartbroken that I believed I would never find anyone else like the person I just left. What always ends up happening is that I find someone better.

Try to see this as a learning experience that shows you what you want and need in a relationship and the kind of person you want to be with. This experience will only make you better at this the next time around.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 4:28 PM on February 7, 2013 [12 favorites]

It might be worth thinking about whether your investment in him and the relationship is actually because he's unreliable. He's giving you intermittent reinforcement, which is pretty much geared to keep you hooked into the dysfunctional dynamic.
posted by jaguar at 4:43 PM on February 7, 2013 [31 favorites]

You're kidding yourself;

where we do clash if I make my case and give him enough time he often comes over to my viewpoint

must be about minutiae like which way to hang the toilet roll. Or else you would have been able to effect enough change in

lazy, selfish, cheap, inconsistent, secretive, manipulative, and unpredictable

stuff to not still want to call him lazy, selfish, cheap, inconsistent, secretive, manipulative, and unpredictable. This doesn't read as 'I want us to help each other live better lives and here are the areas we agree need help' -- it's straight-out 'He's a bastard and here's why' contempt.

I can't say I see the flaking on the length as a big indicator of anything, but it doesn't sound like you have a great thing going. Nobody would be envious of what you've laid out here; no reasonable person would seek out a relationship like the one you're describing.

"It isn't infatuation because I see his flaws" is an odd way to look at it; those things are not mutually exclusive. This is a great little write-up on limerence. "Limerence is what is sometimes referred to as ``being in love'' with someone, as opposed to ``loving'' someone."

Rather unfortunately what previous experience I have with something comparable involved sticking around for long enough for things to go so far to hell that the end was (1) unavoidable (2) a considerable relief. You could drag it out for another year and be miserable and have an easy break-up, but I would pick the 'dump him now' option.
posted by kmennie at 4:44 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Some really good advice in a recent thread: whenever you hear "right now", just pretend he didn't say those words, as they don't really mean anything.

"I don't want to talk about this right now" --> "I don't want to talk about this"

You can even subtitute other phrases which are more accurate:
"I don't want to talk about this right now" --> "I don't want to talk about this AT ALL"
"I don't want to talk about this right now" --> "I don't want to talk about this WITH YOU"

Makes sense, right?
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:46 PM on February 7, 2013 [13 favorites]

Looking at your past questions, just dump him. You're doing all the work and not getting what you need in return. That doesn't make him a bad person, but it makes this a bad relationship.
posted by jaguar at 4:53 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

I feel so much love for him. More than I've felt for anyone.

So? How many times have you been in love before? It doesn't mean anything. People feel that way about the person who eventually kills them. People feel that way about the person who molests their children. Having that feeling does not dictate that you have to act on it. I love cake, but I have to make choices in my life that are diametrically opposed to my love of cake, because I have to take my pancreas into consideration.

If you care for him so much, consider freeing him up for a person who either wants to be in the kind of relationship he wants to be in OR is the person he actually wants to live with and marry and remember anniversaries with. You guys are a poor fit, and what you're reading as love is probably something closer to stubbornness and delicious drama and a fear of being alone.

You cannot make a person act the way you want them to act. You seem like you're okay with just manipulating and manipulating until you get a scrap of what you want, but that's not actually how people who love each other treat each other. That's what's making your relationship so HARD, and that's not how it's supposed to be.

Instead of making him fit into the mold you want, go find someone who will leap joyfully into your mold and very nearly fit perfectly right out of the box.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2013 [27 favorites]

Best answer: Nobody should feel like they're doing 95% of the relationship work (especially after a year!). You're right that his dangling "treats" like getting to stay over is controlling and mean. I believe you that you love him, but love isn't enough - you deserve someone who can love you wholeheartedly in return. He's not it.

Metafilter is right - good relationships are Easy compared to this. Steel your reserve, break up, then go find a great, easy, fun relationship.
posted by ldthomps at 5:02 PM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]

Lovey dovey chemicals in our brain feel amazing and they can be addictive, as you're discovering. But they are not the basis for any kind of functional or successful relationship. Remember that as you let this guy go.
posted by zug at 5:09 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dump him and go no contact until you feel differently. It will hurt, it will take time, it is the only way out of this. He doesn't feel the way about you the way you feel about him. Sorry.
posted by zdravo at 5:13 PM on February 7, 2013

We've said dump him before in your previous questions. The advice isn't going to change here. Dump him, move on, and find someone oh so much better.
posted by quodlibet at 5:16 PM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]

Best answer: how did you go through with it?

Here's how you do it: by thinking about his lazy, selfish, cheap, inconsistent, secretive, manipulative, and unpredictable aspects. Cut off contact - this should be easy, I kind of doubt that a guy who has to be cajoled into letting you stay the night after a year's dating (!!!) is going to muster the energy to chase you -- and then play the Reality Check reel in your head. The reel is all the stuff that he's done that is azy, selfish, cheap, inconsistent, secretive, manipulative; that has made you feel jerked around and heartsick.

Come on. A year and you need to beg for sleepover rights?? This guy does not love you, and does not deserve to be treated like a precious baby bird with his super special not-love feelings, and once you brush away the magic veil he's got wrapped over your eyes, you'll see it and be glad you are done with it.

That emptiness you feel is a space that you are opening in your life for self-love and, ultimately, someone who loves you back.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:29 PM on February 7, 2013 [14 favorites]

Jesus wept, this dude is bad news for you. Seriously, are you going to stick around for another three or four years to see if he ever says "I love you" or invites you to sleep over on a regular basis?

posted by Sidhedevil at 6:00 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

There is something deeply wrong with this guy. You definitely should dump him and go no contact.
posted by discopolo at 6:18 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Here's how you do it: by thinking about his lazy, selfish, cheap, inconsistent, secretive, manipulative, and unpredictable aspects.

Yes, yes, yes. You do it by reflecting hard on the things he does that Are Not Okay. And then you get yourself as far away from him as possible -- go visit your parents. Take a trip to see old friends from college. Hell, go backpacking in Cambodia! -- and you call him from your distant, distant locale and say, "This is not working. I'm sorry, we need to end this."

Then you sit there in disbelief about what you've done, and then you cry. And then you feel better. And then you cry, A LOT. What you do NOT do is answer his calls, read his emails, or contact him in any way.

And in a month, you'll have this flickering moment: "Wait. He was an asshole." But it will be blotted out by an overwhelming loneliness, because you will miss being part of a couple, of having the *dream* (if not the reality) of a good relationship.

And then you will oscillate between sadness and okay-ness for a while. And then one day you will wake up BLAZINGLY ANGRY AT HIM for being a dickbag. And that, my dear, is when you will really be on the mend. Give the anger a couple of months, and then start hitting the dating scene hard -- with a clear idea of what you require this time of a partner (enthusiasm and honesty and vulnerability to equal your own).

Do this, and report back in a year to tell us about your amazing new boyfriend who - you're pinching yourself - would have you stay over every night, if you could. Who treats you exactly as you once wished THIS guy would treat you (but somehow managed to convince yourself was an "unrealistic standard" to have for a guy). A year from now, you will be so glad you listened to your own better self -- and so will your new, awesome boyfriend.
posted by artemisia at 6:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [16 favorites]

One more thing: you say you've never felt this way about anyone else. Thing is, that isn't proof that this guy is worth sticking around for. It's just a sign that you've learned something from this relationship: the fact that you're capable of feeling this way about someone. With this knowledge under your belt, you won't settle for feeling less, ever again. (And you WILL find someone else you can feel this way about.)

Even bad relationships teach us valuable things that make for a better, more awesome relationship with our future lover/s. Never think this was a waste of your time. It laid a big old brick in the foundation for your future happiness with someone else. But now that brick is set square, you really do need to move on,
posted by artemisia at 6:23 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

I agree with fingersandtoes and artemisia. In fact, this AskMe could be the thing you look at every time you need a reminder of why you need/ed to dump him. Because no one has told you to stay with him, and I've got a strong hunch that no one will.

My experience is that "I can't break up with him because I love him so much" is your way of telling yourself "I can't break up with him because I'm afraid to be alone". It's a sign of low self esteem. Think about why you don't think you deserve better than this guy. Consider... yes, I'm going to say it... therapy to get you on the path to loving yourself, which will help you immensely in finding true love in a new relationship that is far more kind to you than this one.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:26 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

Sometimes I feel like he holds back (attention, affection, emotion) on purpose so he can feel like he's in control of the relationship

Hmm this reminds me of a post I read on the Hipster INTJ tumblr. Here's the quote I'm thinking of:

"Which type adores the INTJ most? In my experience, that’s ISFJs. This rarely works out well, though (not that it can’t. One of my best friends is an ISFJ.) ISFJs get a major case of hero worship around INTJs, and INTJs are just narcissistic enough to let the ISFJ stroke their ego. INTJs have a certain intensity that draws the ISFJ in. To the ISFJ, the INTJ is that smooth, debonair, I-wear-my-sunglasses-at-night action hero. They have a quiet confidence and control over their emotions that certain, less secure ISFJs envy.

The problem is, INTJs are not masters over their emotions; they just don’t experience emotion the same way Feeling types do. The ISFJ will enter the relationship thinking that if they just stick around long enough, if they just try hard enough, then they’ll eventually break through to the INTJs warm, gooey center.

Now, INTJs are many things, but warm and gooey are not among them. Underneath their cool, calm exterior is simply a cool, calm interior. Their emotions are just a small chip on their massive hard drive. ISFJs will get frustrated and think that the INTJ is stubbornly refusing to open up to them. They will take this personally."

I have no idea what either of your personalities are (and you may not buy into MBTI, which is dubiously scientific), but you may be asking for something that does not exist.
posted by tooloudinhere at 6:42 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

You can take it as, good relationships are not this hard. The problem is that you are trying to hedge your bets because the relationship isn't awful. Maybe you both are.

I don't think he's necessarily a commitment-phobe, emotionally unavailable, whatever. If it makes you feel better to slap a label on it, then by all means you are free to, but it doesn't seem like it's helping you to extricate yourself... most likely because as long as it's a label/set of behaviors, it seems like something might change. I think you need to really ask yourself how likely it is you'll be on the same page and how much time you want to spend waiting and working on that potential outcome.

But more directly:
If you decided to break up, how did you go through with it when you felt so strongly for them?
I kept telling myself that nothing that was good for me would be as difficult or painful or meh as what we had and that we would both find better fits. It took several frogs to find my prince, but I did (and he moved on, as well).

Or, alternatively, I was deeply infatuated with a guy (after the one above) who couldn't meet my emotional needs, but we got along okay and I wanted to continue the relationship and see what happened. He didn't. He dumped me while I was in the hospital. So... yeah.
posted by sm1tten at 6:44 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I predict that, if you stay, within 1-3 years you will be writing an AskMe about 'How do I leave my emotionally abusive partner?'

Nope nope nope. Time to go. Make a mental note to think some meta thoughts in 1-3 years about what you've achieved as a result of avoiding becoming enmeshed with an emotional vampire.
posted by (F)utility at 6:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: How do you decide whether to end a relationship that has some kinks, a relationship that is HARD, where you're also so head over heels for the person?

Answer: When you've felt compelled to write long, detailed outpourings asking the internet about whether or not to break up with this guy 4 separate times - that is one sign. Go back and read over the good advice you got in those threads when you feel your confidence shaking. In your next relationship when you realize there is nothing you need the internet to tell you, you will feel relieved.
posted by bleep at 7:27 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]

Enlist the help of a close, trusted friend, to accompany you on the breakup, in a public place. Break up with him, and if you falter, your friend should remind you why you're there. THat way you won't feel alone and unsupported, and so you're more likely to go through with it.
posted by davejay at 7:36 PM on February 7, 2013

Response by poster: To clarify, I do stay over there but rarely is it at his suggestion. The lack of initiative has been a complaint.

We see each other four times a week for a few hours, and usually at least once on weekends.

But I've been the one doing most of the "hey let's do this and that". When I stop he will reach out, but rarely chases. I think he doesn't want to do something wrong so he doesn't try. And he's lazy.

Saw him tonight and I might have fixed my ambivalence because I didn't have that same zomg reaction. Still really hard to do this, especially since we have several mutual friends and the thing that happens four times a week makes it impossible to go no contact unless one of us bails on it.

Thank you everyone.
posted by hungry hippo at 7:46 PM on February 7, 2013

Oh wow, I'm getting déjà vu.

My ex boyfriend was eerily similar. I was so in love with him that I ignored the fact that I did most of the planning, that he pulled away when things got serious or difficult, and that he was lazy and unmotivated and undisciplined in some areas of his life, because he was so funny! And cute! And extroverted! He took me out on the town and I felt alive.

He also told me two years in that he "hadnt been stuck by the urge" to take our relationship further. I should have left but I was too scared to let go. Surely he'd see what a catch I was and come around.

He dumped me a few months later. I was devastated for a good long while.

And now I couldn't be happier. Because you know why? I deserve, as do you, someone with NO hesitation.
posted by thank you silence at 8:04 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

One concrete tip to deal with the roller coaster of emotions that you get with him: write down how you feel when you are upset or feeling empty. Write it all out, really spend some time with it, write pages. Then read those things when you are feeling zomg. The things you wrote? They are real. They happened. The zomg doesn't make them go away.
posted by (F)utility at 8:09 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

>What quodlibet says. Just look back over your own posts over the course of this relationship. You've known all along that this relationship isn't right for you. You can keep dragging it out, but the sooner you end it the easier and healthier it will be for you in the long run.
posted by gubenuj at 8:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Every day you pass tons of guys on the street who would have broken your heart had fate thrown you together. They are everywhere -- sitting across from you on the train, standing in line with you at the coffee shop, holding the door for you at the bank.

Do you feel that it would do you any good to waste your life agonizing over any of these strangers? Then why agonize over leaving your ex? He is just one of them.
posted by timsneezed at 8:20 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

We see each other four times a week for a few hours, and usually at least once on weekends... the thing that happens four times a week makes it impossible to go no contact unless one of us bails on it.

It sounds like you're saying that if you were not both in the same bowling league or comedy troupe or rock climbing club or whatever this gig is, you'd.... hardly see him. And that he wouldn't take any initiative to substantively change that.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:14 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

There's a lot in your post that can be commented on, but one detail really stands out to me. If I could go back in time in order to counsel my much younger self, I would say: If your guy isn't sleeping over, y'all are just fucking. The end.*

That is a truth that turned out to be so, so true.**

*Yes, of course there are exceptions here: someone who is a parent may not want, or cannot, have overnight sleepovers. No biggie. Maybe someone who is a nurse or doctor with a crazy night-shift, or on-call, schedule can't do sleepovers. Ain't no thang. But, these exceptions are always very specific, and have an easily identifiable explanation. If you aren't sleeping over after a year of dating, y'all are just fucking. Sorry.

** The truth is that I've done this to others, as well. I've done the early morning/weird scheduling/vague-reasons-not-to-thing with dudes I've dated. I'm really not proud of how I handled that, honestly. But the truth was: we weren't in a relationship. Regardless of how we were getting on, to me, it was just...nothing. Nothing with a future, I mean.

posted by vivid postcard at 9:17 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

So, to more directly answer your question: I've been in your situation before, and I wish I had realized that I wasn't in a real relationship much sooner, so I could have broken up with him earlier than I did. So...just do it.
posted by vivid postcard at 9:22 PM on February 7, 2013

Maybe part of the reason you're finding it difficult to leave what sounds like a very frustrating semi-relationship is that you feel you've put in so much effort already that leaving would be like giving up. Try reading up on "sunk costs"' and realize that to live well you need to focus on looking forward rather than backwards.

Also, he sounds pretty awful, and your ZOMG feelings probably have more to do with his controlling attitude causing you to strive for more rather than your own, natural feelings about how you want your life to be and who you want to share it with.
posted by hazyjane at 10:28 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Good lord, judging from your previous questions this relationship isn't even 9 months old and you've doubted it for most of that time period. Time to cut your losses and move on.
posted by Sal and Richard at 11:04 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Show this bum the door pronto.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:43 AM on February 8, 2013

I'm going to go against the grain here: I think you should continue the relationship exactly on his terms, and more. If you currently do 95% of the work, start doing 97%. If he says he doesn't want to talk about a topic "right now", defer to him and never bring it up again.

If you do this long enough, you will eventually be rewarded with security. You will finally have the publicly-acknowledged, secure love of a lazy, selfish, cheap, inconsistent, secretive, manipulative, and unpredictable man that you can be stuck with for the rest of your life.

Do you believe that? Or do you believe you probably won't even get that much?
posted by tel3path at 3:47 AM on February 8, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'm sorry... I think I came across as snarky towards you, when I really meant it against him.

I think he's manipulating your emotions so you'll feel massively attracted to him even though he's lazy, selfish, cheap, etc.

Unfortunately, even knowing he's manipulating your emotions, you still feel them.

The only solution there is to just tough it out. Success depends on whether or not you ignore what you know, and what you know is that he is fool's gold. Sorry, it sucks.
posted by tel3path at 4:15 AM on February 8, 2013

See, you stay because you don't think you have the strength to leave. You do! You're hurting now, but that can end! He may tell you that he needs you, be stong! Don't believe him. You're not mad because you love him, the consensus here is will never appreciate you and he is never going to change.

Believe in yourself x
posted by krisb1701d at 6:44 AM on February 8, 2013

Best answer: So what you love him? Big deal. People love serial killers in jail. Sometimes our heart is really, really stupid. That is why you have a brain.

Here are some exercises:

1. Write down the world's most comprehensive list of what you want in a partner. Don't think about your boyfriend/fuckbuddy. Think about Partner-Charming. Think about the qualities you want your partner to have: Generosity, Compassion, Kindness, etc. If there are physical qualities you want, write those down: Nice Head of Hair, Fit, Chubby Thighs for me to nibble on (whatever it is you like). Then write down all the things monitarily you want: Has a job that allows for vacations and dinners out, lives alone, has a cat, etc.

Really get your juices flowing. This should be a VERY long list!

2. Now make a copy of it. Circle the items on your list that your current boyfriend has. You may be surprised at how few of the things you can circle. Let your brain concentrate on that.

3. Now, we're going to do a Ben Franklin exercise. On one side of a paper, write down all the good things about your boyfriend and your relationship. On another side, write down all the bad things. Which side of the paper has more items on it?

Intellectually you know you've got to cut this off. Luckily you won't have to do too much, since your boyfriend it too inconsiderate and lazy.

1. Don't call him.

2. Block his calls, email, social networking. Unfriend him.

Send him one email:

It's become obvious to me that we want different things from a relationship. You're not able to give me what I need. I am moving on and I would appreciate it if you would respect my desire for no contact from you. I wish you well in finding who and what it is you want in this world.

And that's it. You don't live together, so there's no need for drama. If he has shit at your house or vice versa, have a friend take it to him and retrieve yours.

You will hurt, valentine's day will suck, and you will question yourself a gazillion times. I always recommend jumping into a project that will divert your attention. It will take you months to get over this relationship. Accept it and figure out what you want to accomplish in that time. Perhaps training in the gym to develop strength or a certification program, or learning a new skill at the learning annex. Get out, get moving.

When you look back on your life, you don't remember how you felt, you remember what you did.

Don't waste any of your precious life spending time with people who aren't right for you.

Hand in there!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:48 AM on February 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

Do exactly, exactly what Ruthless Bunny advises. We're all rooting for you! You deserve someone who makes your heart sing and respects and adores you.
posted by Specklet at 9:27 AM on February 8, 2013

Best answer: Something you said really struck me: That he might not want to marry you because YOU WERE TOO CRAZY FOR HIM. Think about that carefully. Why do you think *you* are crazy? What secret shame are you carrying that makes you feel unfit for love?

I ask because I was a person who would have said I was "too crazy for someone to marry" until quite recently. I had a really tough family background and a lot of crappy relationships and had just decided that I was completely unlovable. I was really sad about it, but had accepted it as a fact about me, like my eye color or height. Maybe I'm projecting here, but maybe you feel the same thing?

You saying that *your* craziness might be the reason he doesn't want to get closer to you shows me that you feel some kind of fundamental lack -- because otherwise, you'd just say that this guy has intimacy issues or communication issues or you're just not a match or whatever.

So... I would dig deeper into that. In my case, I thought I was too crazy to love because no one had ever loved me and not being loved made me crazy with pain, fear, and loneliness. A lot of your craziness (if there is any) may come from being around someone who doesn't give you love and having nowhere else to turn.

And that's not your fault. It's not your fault at all.

(This beautiful post by Nattie, that I've read about 100 times really captures it. If this describes you too, know that it's not your fault, and that you can do better. I know people say that all the time, from their position of privilege, with all those people who love them and not feeling the intense inner pain and desire you feel. But I've been where you are, in that terrible relationship, and I hope you believe me, that at some point in your life, this situation will change and you will be where I am now instead of where I was.)
posted by 3491again at 3:11 PM on February 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Yes. And, intermittent reinforcement is calculated to provoke you to act like Bitches Be Crazy from time to time. If in fact you are doing this - maybe you just *feel* that you are crazy. You don't actually sound crazy. You sound like you're enduring crazymaking behaviour.
posted by tel3path at 3:26 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

And to pick up on what Ruthless Bunny said, and belabour a point I made: I think you know you have to break up with him, and it'll really hurt. For a long time. It will be very, very nasty for you and that's just how it has to be.

The thing is, if you stay with him, it'll really hurt. For a long time. It will be very, very nasty for you.

So what's the difference? The difference between enduring toothache, and going to the dentist. A toothache untreated can spread infection through your body and kill you. The worst thing a dentist can do to you is probably a root canal, which is intense but finite pain that comes as a necessary part of your healing.
posted by tel3path at 3:31 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hey, I've read your questions over the last few months with interest, because they've touched on a lot of things that upset me about my previous relationship. Having come out the other side, all I can say is that I am surprised how quickly I got over it and how much better I feel. Honestly, it does suck for a while, but it feels so much lighter to live without the weight of unrealised expectation. Being in a difficult or disappointing relationship is really draining, and it skews your perception of what you can ensure. You will survive ending this relationship, and you will find someone who loves you just as much as you love them. In the meantime, keep loving yourself - because a whole bunch of people on the Internets think you're awesome and special, and the hive mind is good at being accurate on that. Good luck.
posted by rockpaperdynamite at 12:25 AM on February 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Have you been through this sort of thing before? How did you decide what to do? If you decided to break up, how did you go through with it when you felt so strongly for them?

Yes, I have. I never made the decision, although I did agonize about it in the same way you are doing here. He eventually broke up with me when it became clear to him that I was not what he wanted in the long term.

The truth is, he wasn't what I wanted in a long term relationship, either. It was hard for me to admit that to myself, because I loved him and because I wasn't ready to leave him. It's been two years since we broke up. My life changed a lot in that time, mostly for the better. I have also changed. If I met him now, I don't think I would be attracted to him enough to date him. I loved him deeply and learned a lot from being with him, but the relationship only worked while we were both in that particular phase of our lives.

If I could go back in time, knowing that the relationship wasn't going to last and that eventually we would both not want to be in it? I would stop agonizing over it and just enjoy what I had, while making steps toward becoming the person I wanted to be. When you become the person you want to be, it will be easy to let this relationship go. So work on that, instead of torturing yourself over a decision you don't want to make. Good luck.
posted by rhythm and booze at 2:05 AM on February 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

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