Relationship fallout. Its like high school all over again.
March 12, 2013 11:16 PM   Subscribe

Help a gal get some perspective on a relationship that ended as quickly as it began. Things were going very well, I thought we'd spend V'day together, then was disappointed when he was very wishy-washy with plans. It ended up in a huge, unnecessary fight. I'm still having lots of trouble getting past the fallout. Where do I go from here? Wall of text inside.

31 y/o female here, on and off OkCupid for the last few years. I've had a couple of 3-6 month relationships and made a great friend on the site, but keep ending up back on after things don't work out. I met a man who I knew I had incredible chemistry with before we met in person. He first messaged me about two weeks before he was making a big move into a new house and simultaneously finishing up a huge project at work. We met in person about a week later and the chemistry was equally crazy in person. For the first time in my life, I had that feeling that I just "knew" things were right (hehe…clearly I need to hone this instinct a little more). We jumped into an exclusive relationship immediately. Despite the chaos going on in his life, we saw each other a LOT during the first couple weeks. Understandably, this was all due to me driving to his place (about an hour away) and in some cases, further so I could pick him up from work. I helped where I could; carrying boxes, unpacking, getting groceries, having his pets stay at my house during the move, and lugging stuff from multiple ikea trips. We stayed up ridiculously late talking and eating takeout on the floor of the freezing cold new house and generally having a great time together. I learned that he had been engaged up until late last year to a woman he had been with over 10 years. She ended things in a hurtful way and he had been to therapy and said he was ready to move on. Also, we admitted to each other that we were falling hard.

In what turned out to be an unfortunate twist of timing, Valentine's Day was the following week and since things had been going so swimmingly, I expected that we would spend it together. We mentioned it in passing and he said he'd been doing some research and thinking about a picnic/long drive we'd talked about. This thrilled me to pieces because in past relationships, I've felt like I'm the only one who put any effort into planning fun stuff to do together. We spent the (somewhat rough, chaotic) weekend together, made worse by the fact that we were spending it in a house with a broken heater, no furniture, towels, etc. In hindsight, I have no clue why either of us thought this was a good idea.

A couple days later, he asked me to go to a hockey game (he's the fan, not me) with him the day after Valentine's Day and had mentioned coming to my neck of the woods that weekend, but said he didn't want to do anything on Valentine's Day itself. I told him it would have meant a lot to me to spend a couple hours after work that day with the guy I was crazy about (and who was, by admission, crazy about me as well), but that I now felt like it was a one sided desire and I definitely didn't want that to be the case. Now, I am a fully grown, intelligent woman and understand that this day is technically no different from any other day, but I totally admit that I was disappointed. I felt like I had accepted it, but the following day it came up again (yes, I know…it was completely ridiculous) and we settled on trying to meet up for dinner after he was done with work on Valentine's Day night. The next day when we talked (two days before V-day), our conversation went something like this:

Him: "I'm going to leave work early on Thursday and go with my friend to pick up the rest of my stuff from a storage unit that night. I have to be out of it by the 26th."

Me: "Oh, that'll be good to get done…wait, what day did you say you're doing that?"

Him: "Thursday. Oh shit."

He then went on to say that he was not thinking clearly due to all of the stress but that he was going to go to the storage unit anyway. I told him that this upset me. I then felt that he got very mad at me and was insistent that he "couldn't win". I tried to explain that I had really just wanted to spend time with him and needed to know what was going on, but I felt like there wasn't really a concrete plan. In short, it was a horrible fight and I nearly just walked away right then, but wanted so badly to salvage what we had started. The next day he texted me and told me that his friend had cancelled the storage unit plans when he realized it was Valentine's Day and that maybe we could get together after all. By this time, I was just sad and disgusted by the whole thing but felt like I had unintentionally turned it into such a big deal that I better go.

I drove up to his work that night, waited over an hour in my car for him, drove all over the city looking for somewhere to eat, anded up not eating anything because we were so disgusted with each other, and then sat in the car talking about what had happened until 3AM. He told me he had seen a huge red flag in the fact that I had not been understanding about his chaotic situation that week. I told him that I was mildly horrified by this as I had been trying so hard to help him and I felt like I had been completely blown off. We agreed to spend the weekend apart and didn't see each other until the following Sunday, which happened to be his birthday. He nearly cancelled on me at the last minute, but made it to my house and I took him out for the day. We had a good time but things had definitely cooled off a lot. That night, I told him that I didn't feel like there was a place in his life for me right now and that he needed to concentrate on himself for awhile. We agreed to be friends and said that if we had met at a different time, things might be very different. We were both very sad but felt this was a mature decision. Over the following week, the constant texting slowed, then stopped completely. I understand that this is normal for the decision we made, but it is making me sad.

So, here's the problem. I miss him a ridiculous amount for someone I didn't know very long at all. Every time I think about it I get emotional. I feel terrible about the whole thing and have this insane urge to try to talk to him and salvage what we had in the beginning. Is this something I attempt to salvage, or how do I move on when I feel so beat down by this? Also, how do I keep my (apparently) sky high expectations from coming back to haunt me again in future relationships?

Thanks so much to anyone who made it all the way through that. I'm feeling really blue and it always helps me to read the reasonings of helpful mefites. You guys are the best.
posted by couchtater to Human Relations (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This will likely be unpopular, but I suggest that you reach out to him and see what he thinks of exactly what you said:

[I] have this insane urge to try to talk to him and salvage what we had in the beginning


Maybe he'll want the same thing, maybe he won't. But there's only one way to find out. A lot of Mefites will tell you to drop this, but why not give it a shot and see what he says? You can always drop it later.

Also, when he said you were not understanding of his chaotic situation, and you replied that you were mildly horrified -- did he then apologize for his part of the fight? It seems you had a big expectation gap, and it would be a good sign if he apologized as well.
posted by 3491again at 11:26 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


You probably need to consider that a guy who gets out of a 10 year relationship is probably going to be relishing his new found freedom, and that as soon as you try and start tying him down with commitments, he's going to rebel against that. You were probably a rebound for him, and he really is going to need some alone time. The timing is just wrong here, for him, I'm going to guess.
posted by empath at 11:32 PM on March 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Best answer: I think for most relationships to work, the amount of effort put in by both sides needs to be about equivalent. While I realize his moving temporarily impacted his ability to put in effort, the beginning of a relationship sets the foundation and your beginning had you driving all over the place and chauffeuring him about and waiting on him and helping him run errands.

That inequality would lead 1) if I were the helper to my feeling a teensy bit resentful/rightfully-owed or to 2) if I were the helpee to my feeling in the back of my mind possibly concerned the other person doesn't have great boundaries or has a bit of neediness. Neither of these are great starting-off points in a relationship.

If he (or anyone else) in the beginning stages is busy with major life events, my advice is to agree to rain checks or meeting very intermittently until your schedules align. Diving in too quickly isn't great even without the major life events, so it'd kind of be win win anyway.

If you do attempt to salvage, I'd drop him a line ONCE saying that you'd be open to trying again, from scratch, when he's done with the major life events.
posted by vegartanipla at 11:39 PM on March 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Best answer: Um. No.

It's too soon after the break up of his engagement. He's not ready. And anyway, he let you do waaay too much for him, and ah, I just don't like that part at all. And neither should you.

Try to re-frame this, because despite how it feels, I don't think you lost a great guy or anything. Really, I don't.
posted by jbenben at 11:51 PM on March 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Best answer: My take on this is that after the "rough, chaotic" weekend, he decided to bail, but in a very passive way where you were going to be the bad guy. Who knows why he was not just up front about it, maybe he is invested in seeing himself as a "good guy" or a perpetual victim of mean women, or maybe he just felt guilty about ditching you after all the help he had accepted from you to that point.

(Or maybe he had actually decided to bail *before* that weekend and passively led that weekend to be rough and chaotic. You tell me.)

So I think after that weekend, when he specifically said he didn't want to do anything with you on Valentine's Day itself, that was supposed to be a message to you. An "I don't want you to assume that you are my girlfriend" message.

When you said it was important to you he "agreed" to do something with you. Then conveniently "forgot" and made other plans. The kind of plans where if you objected to them he could say (to you, to himself) that showed what a selfish unsupportive bitch you really are.

Then he's cleanly out, with his feeling of being the "good guy" or the "victim" still intact.

I dunno, this is harsh, but I just think this behavior is so classic. It's weird how passive-aggressive people do the exact same things over, over and over.

This book has the corniest, dumbest title ever IMO, but it is actually about guys who act super committed, boyfriend-y and in love with you right up front, only to suddenly ditch you after a few weeks. Baggage Reclaim calls those guys "fast forwarders." You might want to check them out and see if they say anything that sheds some light on this for you.

About this --

So, here's the problem. I miss him a ridiculous amount for someone I didn't know very long at all.

I don't think it's ridiculous. Is it possible that what you are missing or grieving is not only him but what he might have represented to you - finally being able to settle down, not having to keep getting back out there and keep trying to meet strangers, finally being able to start the next chapter, etc. etc.

I think the only way out of this is to decide right now that it is over, period. Go strictly no-contact. Very very strictly no contact. Then it just takes time. I think in two months or so you will be feeling way better.
posted by cairdeas at 12:03 AM on March 13, 2013 [23 favorites]


Honestly it sounds like you came down on him really unnecessarily hard. My reading on this story is his only crime seems to be he's bad at planning, and may like living more spontaneously, whereas you are more of a planner, which is certainly a conflict but not a relationship shatterer. I think your life would be a lot happier if you worried less about intuiting the meaning and intention behind everything and just enjoyed the moment a bit more.
posted by spatula at 12:07 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Best answer: You did an awful lot for him, didn't you? Even went to a hockey game when that's not your thing. You did a lot towards helping him set up home.

Then you weren't understanding enough. Bad, naughty OP!

Bit one-sided, though, wasn't it?
posted by tel3path at 12:43 AM on March 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is a tough one. Life was a bit crazy for him when you met, and you had the added stress of a lovey-dovey holiday that can take on artificial meaning when you're in a new relationship.

I don't totally understand this, though:
We spent the (somewhat rough, chaotic) weekend together, made worse by the fact that we were spending it in a house with a broken heater, no furniture, towels, etc. In hindsight, I have no clue why either of us thought this was a good idea.

Was your time together okay or was it stressful? Was it the kind of situation where you probably should have left and gone home instead of staying? Where maybe you weren't having a great time but you stayed anyway?

Aside from that, I don't know that this is good advice, but here's what I would think about doing: sending some kind of email or text or something saying something like, "Hey, I really miss you, and I'd like to give us another try, if you're open to the idea." (Except I would actually spend several hours trying to come up with the best wording possible.)

And then just wait. Don't get in touch again and let him respond. Of course, this is really putting yourself out there, and you might not hear from him, and you might get rejected, which could hurt. Would being hurt again be better than not knowing and wondering?

I do think you need to ask yourself how much you can hold back. It sounds like you all spent a lot of time together. Maybe a bit of breathing room, even at first when it's so new and exciting, would keep some of the pressure off?

Good luck. I know you're in a tough place.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:49 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


In what turned out to be an unfortunate twist of timing, Valentine's Day was the following week

I don't think this was an unfortunate twist of timing. I think this was life letting you know sooner rather than later what this guy's deal was. I would guess that after coming out of a 10 year relationship, in which he may have celebrated many wonderful Valentine's Days with his ex, a relationship-geared anniversary probably signaled a lot of unconscious anxiety that he wasn't aware of. Plus you sort of rail-roaded him here:

he said he didn't want to do anything on Valentine's Day itself. I told him it would have meant a lot to me to spend a couple hours after work that day with the guy I was crazy about (and who was, by admission, crazy about me as well), but that I now felt like it was a one sided desire and I definitely didn't want that to be the case.

Not saying that his passive-aggressive attempt to bail the very next day wasn't a dick move, but I would wager that was a pretty big assumption to make (no V-Day = attraction has become one-sided). You basically said you'll assume he doesn't desire you anymore if he doesn't celebrate this day with you, and didn't ask at all (according to your post) as to why he specifically wanted to avoid doing anything on V-Day itself. My guess is that he found himself still very uncomfortable with the idea of celebrating V-Day with an exciting new girlfriend while still battling off old memories of his ex. Unfortunately he could not rationalize it such that he could better explain/assert it to you, and probably ended up feeling like his feelings were being ignored. The passive-aggressive move was a less-than-transcendent way of trying to reconcile it from there.

Is this something I attempt to salvage, or how do I move on when I feel so beat down by this?

I'd say you've already done what you can to salvage the potential, by ending on friendly terms before you both dug yourselves deeper. I think you did him a very kind respect to point out that, in fact, there wasn't a place for you in his life right now, and that he clearly still needs to concentrate on himself. It sounds to me like you left the ball in his court. Best bet is probably to leave it alone without the expectation that it will come back to you, even though it still may. I would guess that he is not happy with how it played out either; whether he takes the time to critically process that is entirely on him.

Also, how do I keep my (apparently) sky high expectations from coming back to haunt me again in future relationships?

Hard to say --maybe don't? Certain qualities in him were making you aware of certain qualities in you. Spend some time considering what it was about this guy that set the bar higher. Write down some concrete statements if you can. Then endeavor to not settle for less than these in a future relationship. Even though he hasn't turned out to be "the one", you can honor the potential he awoke for you in that way.
posted by human ecologist at 1:44 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry, but it sound like he got a lot more out of this short relationship than you did, but you were FAR more emotionally invested...... i.e., he was using you. Move on and forget this guy.

He got: moving help, pet sitting, and a relationship totally on his own terms. He didn't even have to go out of his way: all the inconvience and bother of driving an hour each way was absorbed by you. And then he dropped you, rather than bother with going on a picnic. (By the way, that ex he was with for ten years: it COULD be true, but it could also be a lie. Maybe he's still with her, and pulling that old "my wife doesn't understand me" line. Maybe she never even existed!)

You: I hate to have to say this, but you got WAY too involved, too fast. You can't really count "knowing" him for two whole weeks online before you met in person, because anyone can say anything and present themselves in whatever way they want on the internet. And it sounds like your meatspace relationship --- the REAL relationship --- lasted what, maybe two weeks? Perhaps this is one reason why previous relationships haven't lasted very long: do you come on too hard too fast, and your partners feel pressured? Try to take it easier and go slower next time.
posted by easily confused at 2:44 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Best answer: how do I keep my (apparently) sky high expectations from coming back to haunt me again in future relationships?

These are not sky-high expectations. He went from "yeah, let's go on a long drive and a picnic" to "I don't want to do anything at all" to "let's try to meet up for dinner" to "oops, no, I have other plans" to "other plans are off, let's meet up after all" to "you aren't understanding enough about my situation" - and you're blaming yourself for messing this up?

I think you already realise you weren't the unreasonable one here - you laid our your preferences pretty well, you didn't insist on Valentine's-day-picnic-or-else-your-cat-is-homeless or anything, plus you called him out on that "you aren't understanding enough" line when you'd helped him out so much - but this has knocked you for a loop so much that now you're doubting yourself. Understandable, but still something you should get a handle on if you want to process this situation. You can't salvage it, because you didn't wreck it. It's fine and normal to feel sad and mixed-up after a short-lived intense whirlwind relationship like this. It'll pass.

Also... I don't want to malign the guy unnecessarily, since I'm sure many of us have behaved less well than we could have done at stressful times of our lives. Still, this does not speak well of him:

I told him that this upset me. I then felt that he got very mad at me and was insistent that he "couldn't win".

Okay, maybe that's the only possible day his friend could take him to the storage unit, maybe he was already up to his eyeballs in stress, whatever. But still, in this relationship, you had:

- carried boxes for his move
- got groceries
- done multiple Ikea trips
- helped him unpack
- looked after his pets
- done all the driving to to his place
- happily agreed to go along to things he wanted to do (hockey game)
- picked him up from work multiple times
- been prepared to wait outside his work for an hour when you'd arranged to meet

and while none of this means he owes you a Valentine's dinner exactly, it sure as hell means he owes you better than this "telling me you are upset over me cancelling the one thing you wanted to do means you are not understanding enough of my situation and that is a red flag!" nonsense. I suspect you are well out of this one.
posted by Catseye at 3:24 AM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


He's messed up. You're basically a stand in for the ex-fiancée.

Have you thought of not dating for awhile? I ask this because you're going way overboard for a relationship and too emotionally invested too soon. You're basically going to end up getting emotionally abused by guys who go hot and cold and send mixed signals. If you look at the recent human relations AskMes, you'll see that this is really common.

These dudes don't know what they want. And instant attraction doesn't always mean it's a good thing, especially if you let yourself get swept away in it.

This guy is being a jerk. He's not your friend. You don't have to be taken advantage of in a relationship. You'll be happier without him and being single than in a relationship that isn't consistent where the partner has problems.
posted by discopolo at 4:30 AM on March 13, 2013


I'm going to go against the grain here, and point out this:
A couple days later, he asked me to go to a hockey game (he's the fan, not me) with him the day after Valentine's Day and had mentioned coming to my neck of the woods that weekend, but said he didn't want to do anything on Valentine's Day itself.
He told you he didn't want to do anything on Valentine's Day. You admit that you didn't know each other for that long, and when you finally convinced him to get together with you after work on the day, his response seems tepid, at best.

After he forgets about the day and you and he got into a fight about it and you broke it off, and then wondered why he isn't texting you as much.

I think you got way too wrapped up with this guy way too early, that everything you did for him was nice (but unnecessary) and that Valentine's Day was a big red flag for you both. I think the fact that you want to get back together with him after all that is another red flag that you're just not in the right mindset to approach this guy as an equal partner, and even if he does take you back, he's not going to be the guy you want him to be, and you'll wind up breaking up again and feeling like crap.
posted by xingcat at 4:43 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish it were possible to get this guy's interpretation of the event and following fight because he doesn't seem like a giant asshole to me. I mean, yeah, get your shit together man and don't make/break/remake/rebreak plans but dude, he's was going through a stressful situation with his move and when you throw in a romantic holiday with a girl who obviously wants (nay, needs!) to see him that day when he's not as into it, well. That's just a recipe for bad feelings, methinks.

I suck at relationships so take this with a vat of salt but can't you just call this guy and say, "Hey man, soooo, that escalated quickly, eh?" I mean, maybe he thinks the whole situation got out of hand too and just wants to move on from the silly fight. My read could be all wrong but I don't think this is the worst thing in the world and I'm not sure I think this is a DTMFA situation nor do I think the dude is an ass for his part in the whole thing.

And if it doesn't work out, don't beat yourself up. YOU wanted to help so you did. That was incredibly nice of you, whether he appreciates it or not. You sound like a stellar, giving partner and that's something to be proud of, whether this particular guy thinks so or not.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:31 AM on March 13, 2013


Is this something I attempt to salvage, or how do I move on when I feel so beat down by this? Also, how do I keep my (apparently) sky high expectations from coming back to haunt me again in future relationships?

He was turned off and his ardor cooled. This is not something you did wrong. It's not a test you can fail. It's not about being best but about being right for the situation; the best pie in the world is useless if you want cake. The thing is, you can't really salvage this - you can't talk someone into not being turned off. If it's going to happen, it won't be because of anything you do.

Remember this when considering your expectations. Any expectations are too high for someone who doesn't care to meet them. Sooner or later you'll meet someone who does.

That's not to say there aren't high-maintenance people out there, but I really think it's more a function of who's a good fit, more often than not.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:58 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Yeah, sounds like this guy is just not relationship material at the moment, and might never be. Wanting to spend some time with a guy who says he's crazy about you on Valentine's Day is not a ridiculous expectation. He lives in the same society you do and so he knows this, too. Acting otherwise is a bit unfair. I don't think you lost a lot here.

Re avoiding such disappointments in the future, I would suggest not letting the give-and-take get so far out of whack so soon. I realize that his circumstances made it seem easy and logical for you to be the one going out of your way, but that set you up for feeling used on top of everything else. Next time, give a little bit if you want to, but wait and she how, when, and if the guy reciprocates. If that slows things down a little, it is not the end of the world.
posted by rpfields at 8:30 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Before I met Mrs. _DB_ I was this guy.

I'm not going to try to justify or condemn this guy's actions but I do think there is one thing worth talking about. OKC has changed the way people date. In the past, people met as total strangers; part of the process was getting to know the person before you decided if you wanted to date. OKC has removed that part of the equation for many people - we know way too much about the other people before we truly meet them. Instead of first dates being a getting-to-know-you in the most general sense, we are usually trying to confirm those details. Typically, I think this results in one or both parties being disappointed; the classic "This isn't the person they represented themselves as online."

It was really hard for me to simply tell a girl, "You aren't the one for me" after protracted online messaging, emotional connection, etc. I expected something, and when I didn't get it I felt disappointed. Conversely, I felt like I was disappointing them because I wasn't as in to them as they were (supposedly) into me. This is all absurd when you consider it had only been seven to ten days, typically. I didn't owe them anything, I had no obligation to continue dating them and they had no obligation to me. This resulted in a lot of very passive breakups on my part - something I've acknowledged was uncool on my part.

The bottom line is that we've gone from a dating model where things grew slowly and there was always a chance to cut things off early if you didn't feel right about it - it is much easier to be honest and direct when you have a low investment in something. On OKC, we've often put in a huge mental or emotional effort into a person and it's much harder to just cut it off. My best success in using OKC came when I purposely didn't learn too much about the person before our first date - I read enough to know that I was interested in dating them and to send a legitimate first message, and after that my focus was on being able to meet them in person. On these dates I always felt like there was more of an exploration of the other person, not some connection that was somehow expected or owed to me. I think this approach helped me refine what I was looking for and brought me back to a better way of dating. For what it's worth, I met Mrs. _DB_ on OKC during this time.

TL;DR OKC has changed the way people date. Emotional over-investment can create all kinds of weird things.
posted by _DB_ at 8:47 AM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Best answer: It sounds like this guy's breaker tripped. He's overloaded with the end of a relationship, the beginning of a new one, a move and a huge work project. Your expectations tripped his overloaded circuit and he fried. This is understandable...but.

Are you ready to be with someone who's stressed out all the time? On paper, this all sounds like circumstantial stuff, but think of the thinking that went into it:

1. He didn't schedule his work load around his move. There aren't a lot of jobs that are so damn important that he couldn't take a few days off to get this move done. Despite what a lot of people may think, a few days isn't going to destroy the world. He didn't think it was ok to take that time.

2. He didn't really take you on dates - he had you help him move. You watched his pets. You ate dinner on the floor. This is only romantic when you are first together. To me this speaks of wretched planning and a general refusal to accommodate you in his life. Will you like this type of all out emergency mode a year in?

3. He doesn't leave enough energy for the good things in life. Sure, people have baggage, and I'm sure that V-day has generated more dread than almost any other day other than Xmas, but, really - he's had you shuffling boxes and watching fluffy and he couldn't find an iota of energy to at least take you to dinner? Bad sign.

People like this always have an excuse. They always sound like good excuses too. The only problem is that they never stop. I think your gut decision in this was a good one. Don't let your brain trump you on this - go distract yourself and move on.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:07 AM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Another thing to think about is that coming out of such a long relationship, he might not remember how to do dating very well.

I dated a man who was in the process of moving and I did none of the things you did, which were really nice, but to me represent the kinds of things you do with someone you are in a serious relationship with rather than the beginning of a romance. Instead, he took a few hours off from moving chores to take me out, not involving me in his chores or stress, which certainly made it easier for us to develop a romantic relationship. And also playing house can make you dangerously attached really quickly, way before you determine whether or not the person is long term material. That's why you miss him so much. I've been in this situation before and it was no fun.

And I'm sorry, but if you have that kind of a job, you probably have enough money to pay professional movers instead of mooching off the good will of other people. If you don't have the money, which was the situation with the guy I dated, good long-term friends and family should be helping you out.
posted by melissam at 11:22 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best answer: The right guy for you will work to impress you. I don't mean he'll buy every dinner and make all the compromises; I mean he will constantly be looking for ways to demonstrate that he is a good guy who will meet you halfway or more every time. This guy wasn't that person. Y'all had chemistry, and that is wonderful in itself, and it looks like you've discovered that chemistry is really really important to you (so, good! you learned something!). But he made no effort to transcend his circumstances (moving, etc.) to impress you. Instead, YOU did all the transcending (driving an hour each way, pet sitting, etc. etc.). In future, let that be a red flag to you.

To put it slightly differently: your question here lists several behaviors on his part that should have displeased you while you were still dating. But you're still focused on wanting back that early period when the thrill of being liked (and liking back) overshadowed the behaviors. That's the side of infatuation you want to resist. Unfortunately, so many women (I think we must be socialized to do this) find it so intoxicating to be liked that they forget about the need to gauge whether they themselves like the behaviors of the person who's showing interest.

Try this experiment when you hit the dating market again: stop hoping HE will like YOU. Stop placing much import on that at all. Instead, consciously cultivate an attitude of friendly skepticism, and approach every date with this in mind: "My only task here is to decide if I like him." Work on maintaining this attitude during the early days of dating. While being kind, open, friendly, sincere, and available, simultaneously keep asking yourself: "Is he still being wonderful to me? Is he still intriguing me (or is he just making me obsess)? Is he still treating me as I'd want my best friend/my sister to be treated?"

Consciously cultivating this kind of evaluative distance will prevent you from falling head-over-heels into the other mindset, the one that starts with, "I think I really like you," and then switches entirely into, "Do you like me? How can I make sure you like me? What else can I do to show you I'm awesome?"

It's the second part of that equation that should not crop up, and won't, once you find the right guy for you. Instead, your feedback loop will look like this: "Wow, you really like me; I can tell by everything you do, NOT just what you say. And you're right and wise to like me, because I'm awesome. And I like you, because you're awesome; just look at what you do, in addition to what you say. Hey, I'm glad to do awesome things for you, too, because together, we are even more awesome than we are apart. We do awesome things for each other all the time."

THAT is the dynamic you want. This guy was not offering it to you. You learned something from this relationship (the kind of chemistry you want), so don't count it a waste. But do let it go.
posted by artemisia at 11:50 AM on March 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


2. He didn't really take you on dates - he had you help him move. You watched his pets. You ate dinner on the floor. This is only romantic when you are first together. To me this speaks of wretched planning and a general refusal to accommodate you in his life. Will you like this type of all out emergency mode a year in?

highlighting that from The Light Fantastic. so true. sometimes the beginnings of relationships can mask all sorts of weird signs in a rosy, romantic glow.

it really does sound to me like this guy, though he probably liked you, also probably liked having someone extra to help him manage moving in to a new place, which is a shitty activity to tackle solo. especially since he was used to having a LT girlfriend to help with that kind of stuff.
posted by euphoria066 at 12:51 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


He told me he had seen a huge red flag in the fact that I had not been understanding about his chaotic situation that week.

I don't like that he said this. Yeah people talk about "red flags" all the time when analyzing relationships but this is using it as a threat.
posted by BibiRose at 1:08 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: These are all FANTASTIC and much appreciated. I've marked some of them that really resonated with me, but I'm taking something from each and every one. For what its worth, I wish he were here to tell his version of the story too, since he is truly *not* an asshole and I could have definitely handled parts of it better, myself. I think what led to our downfall is that we were BOTH over-invested emotionally, and neither of us took a step back, looked at the situation, and tried to slow things down. I'm trying to look at the bright side and learn something from all of this, and this is super helpful to me. Thank you all so much :).
posted by couchtater at 1:22 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best answer: It seems weird to me that within weeks of meeting him you were helping him move? That seems like a very personal thing. Your best friends help you move... siblings, parents, college buddies... But a girl that you just met on the Internet?

So yeah, I think there was a lot of over investment on both sides. Probably more on your side than his. It's all about boundaries. When I was much younger, I would drive an hour each way to see my bf at the time. It creates an imbalance of effort.

When I was dating a few years later, i set some rules for myself. I would never drive an hour away more than twice in a row without the guy extending the effort back. Yeah, there are always reasons why the other person couldn't make it out... Work gets out late, the traffic sucks going in his direction, my car is old, blah blah. I wasn't mean about it. I just stuck to my guns. There were other opportunities. I did stop seeing a guy because he never wanted to come to my area because I lived in a suburb and it was 'boring.'

Another rule that I set for myself while dating a guy is to only "do fun things." Going to the grocery store to buy snacks for an afternoon picnic is a fun thing. Going to the grocery store to buy groceries for the week (running errands) is not a fun thing. I read the list of things you did for him and its sounds like a bunch of chores on his to-do list. You're nice for helping him out but it sounds like you guys didn't do a lot of fun things that you wanted to do. Like the picnic...

You don't have to set these same 'rules' as I do... But you might want to consider thinking of your boundaries so that you can define who you are, the kind of person you are so you can protect yourself and your happiness.
posted by p1nkdaisy at 1:59 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


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