Need some help with break-up closure!
April 8, 2013 10:51 AM   Subscribe

I'd really like some help in working out whether my ex really liked me at all.

Myself and my ex dated for a very intense 7 weeks. I let him do all of the running, going at his pace etc. We knew he would be leaving the country a few months down the line so were just taking it step by step. He introduced me to his friends, spoke to his mom on the phone, hung out with his friends regularly. We'd see one another almost every day and were growing closer and closer. Her started getting chest pains and bad anxiety attacks - eventually he had to end it as he was in too much pain worrying about the future and all the what ifs (even though I would have gone with him).

So guys - if you''re not serious about a girl why let her speak to your mom, meet your friends, say to your friends you really like her, and state you want to have kids with this girl, you've been waiting all your life for her etc???

He says he finished it as he was scared of getting his heart broken as it had happened in past (gfs cheated, abused as kid, foster care, parents divorce) and he couldn't risk letting his heart be unguarded again. Just BS?
posted by hollygoeslightly to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure. But, you have enough to go on to suggest this isn't a good thing to pursue, I think. I'd get closure on this fact rather than your worth or value in his eyes.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:55 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

It sounds to me like he changed his mind. That's ok, that happens. He thought he was ready, he thought he was serious about you. Or maybe he wasn't sure but he wanted to be so badly that he was willing to convince himself that he was. But in the end, he changed his mind. Or he wasn't ready for a relationship, or he had his own issues to work out and the relationship wasn't helping the way he hoped it would. Or once he got to know you better you weren't the person he had idealized you to be. People are people, and they don't always act in the "best" way, even if they have the best intentions, and people don't always know what they want, and people change their minds. It happens.
posted by brainmouse at 10:55 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

When the only real result to digging into what someone says is you being more miserable about the situation than you were before you started, you should take people at their word. Dude sounds like he's had a rough going in life and an intense two months may have alerted him to the fact that he's not ready for this stuff. Rather than thinking "this guy never liked me," consider that he liked you enough to know that he's not ready to be in a relationship and liked you enough to do the right thing about it.
posted by griphus at 10:59 AM on April 8, 2013 [19 favorites]

if you''re not serious about a girl why let her speak to your mom, meet your friends, say to your friends you really like her, and state you want to have kids with this girl, you've been waiting all your life for her etc???

Because you're new at relationships and have no idea what you're doing?

I'm all for "make your own normal" and all, but the fact that this guy was saying this stuff to you after seven weeks makes me think he's a little bit crazypants, and regardless of his feelings about you, makes me think that you dodged a serious bullet getting out of this relationship.
posted by phunniemee at 11:00 AM on April 8, 2013 [11 favorites]

I had a guy do this to me. I chalked it up to the fact that he had just gotten out of a serious relationship, and didn't really know how to be casual.
posted by politikitty at 11:17 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If he says he was getting chest pains at the anxiety over how your relationship would go, then either:

* He is way too easily stressed-out, or
* He is a major drama llama, or
* He was bullshitting you.

And these are not good things, because:

* If this guy gets stressed out about things that haven't happened yet, then how is he ever going to support you the way a partner should when you need to talk to someone about real problems you're having, or
* If he's that dramatic, how are you ever going to know which are big problems and which are small ones, or
* If he was bullshitting you, fuck him.

But I know how much it smarts when someone tells you all that stuff one minute and then it goes away seemingly out of nowhere. My own circumstances were very different, but something a friend consoled me with when I was feeling that way about an ex helped me a lot - "if he did love you, he clearly couldn't handle it." What you want is someone who not only loves you, but can handle loving you; not that I mean that you personally are hard to handle, but rather, loving another person can be an overwhelming emotion sometimes, and you want someone that can feel that overwhelming emotion and hang in there and stay with it.

I'm sorry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:17 AM on April 8, 2013 [17 favorites]

Can you think of any possible motive for him to have feigned attraction to you for seven weeks while secretly harbouring dislike for you?

Not a rhetorical question.

Maybe you were the unknowing other woman and he was looking for someone to use and dump before he left the country? No, I don't think so, because you met all his friends and family. Even if he were hiding another woman in another country, she would find out about you because everybody knows about you. So we can rule out "using you as a warm body before moving to secret GF abroad".

Okay, remove the secret GF abroad, maybe he was just using you till he moved away? Again, don't think so, not if he introduced you to his whole family.

And in either case, he would have had to have some level of attraction to you, even just as a warm body. Secret GF, no secret GF, if he hadn't liked you on some level he wouldn't have dated you.

What else? Do you have money? Doesn't look like he took any from you, at least, you don't mention it.

Do you have contacts that he wanted to get close to? Doesn't sound like it, and anyway he's moving.

I don't know what the explanation is, but from what you've written here, there is nothing to support the idea that he dated you for seven weeks while secretly disliking you. So I think you can rule that out.

My intuition suggests that unless you get contrary information, you should take his explanation at face value. I can imagine a highly strung person getting into an intense relationship for a few weeks, and then not being able to handle the anxiety. He did seem to be pinning an awful lot of hope on you. I think he just got carried away.

So to answer your second question, it sounds like he meant it at the time and was not BSing you.
posted by tel3path at 11:18 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seven weeks is not nearly long enough to get to know someone as an individual. It sounds as if your ex was "in love with love" rather than in love with you as a person. It happens. It sounds as if you both are quite young, and many (if not most) young folks go through at least one "in love with love" relationship.

It's nothing personal to do with you. You will drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why he changed his mind and what you "did wrong." The short answer is you did nothing. Most likely he was in love with the idea of being in love and being married and having kids, et cetera, and no way was he going to actually get married and have kids with you or with anyone else. He was mentally playing house, so to speak.

Chalk it up to experience and move on. (And if someone says they want to marry you and have children with you after only knowing you a few weeks, take that with several thousand grains of salt! It's hard to know someone well enough to say "I want to marry this person" after knowing them such a short time. Not all whirlwind courtships end badly but it is often a red flag.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:19 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seven weeks, and you'd be all ready to pull up stakes and move with him? No wonder he got anxious.

I preach this all the time on the green, and I'll preach it here: Casual relationships have a way of turning serious, for at least one party.

If you aren't a Casual Relationship person, don't get into a Casual Relationship! ESPECIALLY with someone you KNOW has an expiration date.

Husbunny told me that he was scared of our relationship when we first started dating, but I told him that we should give it more than the one date we had been on. Thankfully, he ended up being cool with it, and that was that. We celebrate our 11th Wedding Anniversary in July.

My point is that people get scared, but if they REALLY like you, they're willing to risk it. This guy saw that it was too much, too fast and he pulled away. Who cares what reasons he gave?

Seven weeks isn't long enough to plan children and to think about moving to ANOTHER COUNTRY.

The good news is that he's miles and time zones away from you. Now you can think about what you really want in a relationship. Write it all down. Then as you meet new people, refer to your list and see how many of the items they actually meet. Don't settle for someone who doesn't tick your boxes. Oh, and make one of your boxes "available to be in a relationship, in my geographic area."

You'll survive this, we all have. Please learn something from it. Don't throw common sense out of the window for love. True love fits well into your life and is not a Rom Com movie, where someone is running through the airport to catch the person before they depart for Rome (or whatever fantasy is was you were having there.)

Don't take it personally, it's not you, it was him.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:22 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

So guys - if you''re not serious about a girl why let her speak to your mom, meet your friends, say to your friends you really like her, and state you want to have kids with this girl, you've been waiting all your life for her etc???

I think it's so you invest more, love him more, and then he gets to feel like the benefit it gives his ego and self concept,"Oh, she is in love with me because I'm amazing." Then he gets to be the romantic lead in his own story.

He's a drama llama, he wants to feel loved because he doesn't have real self-esteem. He used techniques to hook you in so he could feel good about himself and perhaps powerful even. I worked with a guy who broke up with a girl he didn't think was pretty enough to marry (yet he was in a sexual relationship with her for 2 years), and when she got engaged and married two years later, he whined about how he couldn't understand how she could marry someone else after all the sex they'd had and memories they'd shared. I guess he'd called her up to ask if it would be weird if he applied for a job at the place he thought she was still working at and she told him she and her husband were sitting down to dinner and she'd email him later. Then he was all dramatic and devastated, despite having cheated on her and been generally pathetic drama llama.

It's funny, actually. Next time some guy hooks you in and then breaks up with you suddenly, shrug your shoulders and tell him not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. He's not that special. There are lots of drama llamas like him out surreptitiously casting you in their own private feature film going on their heads.
posted by discopolo at 11:46 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

One of the things I did not realize until I grew old...or older anyway:

I had always assumed that "Emotionally I am not ready for a relationship even with someone I really like and so I just can't right now" was twee, emo, romance-novel nonsense. It turns out, though, that if you're going through something rough in your life, you can feel overwhelmed and panicky even about a relationship with someone you like a lot. You can feel hollow and emptied-out emotionally, just like in all the best fan-fiction. This doesn't have anything to do with not liking a person; it really is all about you, what you've been through, etc. Where it differs from romance novels is that the love of the best possible partner, squee-worthy romance against a background of world-historical events, etc do not actually work to make you able to be emotionally present.

I mean seriously, I had someone actually pursue me - which never happens, ever - a smart queer type person with a lot of shared interests...and I was tremendously flattered, and ten years ago I would have been on that like a metaphorical on-that thing....and I just couldn't. I could certainly see that if things had been different, I might have started dating them, liked them a lot in the moment, been all freaked out and exhausted outside of the moment and broken up with them stupidly.

Take the guy at face value! It's not you, it's him, he did like you and he was just, sadly, overwhelmed.
posted by Frowner at 11:53 AM on April 8, 2013 [9 favorites]

He says he finished it as he was scared of getting his heart broken as it had happened in past (gfs cheated, abused as kid, foster care, parents divorce) and he couldn't risk letting his heart be unguarded again. Just BS?

As a man, I can say, Yes - total BS. 99.9 %
For crying out loud... chest pains...
posted by Kruger5 at 12:10 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Anxiety *often* presents as chest pains - people think they're having a heart attack, but get checked out and discover that they are having anxiety instead.

Apart from that, I could easily imagine that the guy was happy, totally into it, loving every moment, and just let it all gather momentum until at some moment it felt like he was traveling 1000 mph down a slope with no way to slow down. It sounds like extreme infatuation time to me.

Next time you might want to slow things down during that magic OMG UR AWESOME time, as this often happens.
posted by jasper411 at 1:25 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a man, I disagree with Kruger. If he has an anxiety disorder, that's totally believable. I used to get panic attacks going to the grocery store. Triggers are individual and the whole thing is that you get anxiety or panic over what others think is normal.

I agree with those who say there is no reason to think he didn't care, he just changed his mind or freaked out, most likely.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

He says he finished it as he was scared of getting his heart broken as it had happened in past (gfs cheated, abused as kid, foster care, parents divorce) and he couldn't risk letting his heart be unguarded again.

Right now, I'm six months out from a pretty lousy breakup that ended a five-year relationship with a person I couldn't trust. If I was in a relationship right now, especially one that was getting serious, this, combined with trust issues from childhood abuse and past relationships, would probably lead me to do much the same thing. Even if this relationship was with someone about whom I care deeply and with whom I would be totally compatible, I do not have that much trust to give, right now.

So, yes, present-day me would likely end a relationship relatively similarly. I'm not saying he necessarily has trust issues -- I can't imagine mine would be the only reason for someone to do this, just saying that his given reason isn't necessarily far-fetched. I'd take his word for it.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:51 PM on April 8, 2013

Sometimes we really want a thing. Sometimes we are afraid of that same thing.
Sometimes we get over that and overcome our fears and embrace it.
Sometimes we don't and/or we get all wrapped up in our own drama, and we blow it.

Maybe it's worth thinking about what other people would do if they overcame their own fears, or what makes them unable to; maybe it's not. But it's certain that no one freaks out over something or someone that they are indifferent to.

I think this one goes in the "X had issues they couldn't get over, I don't think it had anything to do with me. Not my fault, not my problem. -shrug-" column.
posted by bartleby at 2:21 PM on April 8, 2013

It's natural to question your judgment after you get dumped, but important to remember two things:

1) Whether he liked you or not, the end result is still the same: he isn't with you and likely never will be.
2) You're really looking for some kind of "tell" so you can make sure you never get hurt again, and this tell does not exist, and someday you will get hurt again.

It's possible to date, woo, sweep away someone you don't actually give a shit about, but most people haven't got the energy for that. It's a safe assumption that he genuinely liked you for whatever definition of "liked" you want to use. He probably wasn't some kind of sociopath who played a long, intentional, contemptuous game with your emotions.

He was just a messed up dude who liked you but isn't gonna grow old with you. Like pretty much most dudes you'll ever meet.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:01 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

He says he finished it as he was scared of getting his heart broken as it had happened in past (gfs cheated, abused as kid, foster care, parents divorce) and he couldn't risk letting his heart be unguarded again. Just BS?

Why do you think it's BS? You're more likely to get the real answer from him than strangers on the internet. From what you say it was intense, yet you were supposed to be taking it "step by step". Sounds like things moved too fast after all, but that's just speculation. No one here can tell you for sure.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:32 PM on April 9, 2013

Just wanted to say a big thanks for all your responses. A few weeks later I found out that the version of himself he presented to me was far from the truth - more issues than I can list but couldn't control money, wouldn't eat, wouldn't sleep, problems with authority, deadlines....just life generally. 2 weeks after finishing with me, he went on a uni work experience trip to Prague, had a fling with some girl, decides he's now moving there. I totally got swept up with him and all the crazy stuff - mad that I would have moved to be with him. Definite infatuation but he led it all the way and I never pressured him (until we'd split and I said I'd move with him as I had always wanted to travel more).

Thanks for helping me get over this...though he had serious issues and its rubbed off on me a bit so time for me to get some therapy and see what my issues are.
posted by hollygoeslightly at 8:39 AM on May 25, 2013

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