How to deal with intense feelings after a very short fling?
July 24, 2013 8:58 AM   Subscribe

How to deal with intense feelings after a very short fling?

I recently met someone incredible, someone who lives a very unusual and exciting life, who looks like he stepped out of Rebel Without a Cause. It was only for a couple days and we did sleep together, which was pretty much the best sex I've had in my life. It will never work between us, he's way too far away in terms of emotional and practical distance. He lives a rock star life basically, lots of half-naked big-boobed girls around. He asked for my number, was pretty insistent on us talking until I can see him again, but it's been a few days, he hasn't called. He still might though....But I know I couldn't handle him, his lifestyle, and I'm already jealous of some of the pictures I've found of him online, grinning next to hot naked girls.

So...I know this is just infatuation and I could easily romanticize the hell out of this, which I'm really trying not to. But I'm waking up feeling like I was hit by a truck, that sick horrible feeling. I haven't left my bed in three days. The only other time I've felt this particular brand of horribleness was when a longterm and real relationship ended. A relationship with someone I actually knew and loved and who loved me back at one point. That was miserable for a good year I think.

I think part of me doesn't want to let go because it would be losing the last remnant of him that I have, like it never happened, or as if it was a mistake. Because I still don't think it was a mistake. I feel like I'm going through a breakup. Should I make these feelings go away? If so, how?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I've had this same sort of thing, and the terrible answer is that it just sucks until it doesn't. You'll just realize one day that you're not feeling totally awful anymore. It's only been a couple days. Give it a couple weeks.

Until then: right this moment, get up, take a shower, put on something you love, and go buy an iced coffee and a stupidly expensive pastry. Or, you know, whatever treat you're into. Just get up, get clean, go out in the sunshine and do something nice for yourself. Staying in bed is like picking at a scab.

And when he calls again, reread your post and IGNORE! Remember the wisdom of Gordon Lightfoot: "Now there you go you're cryin' again/But then someday when your poor heart/Is on the mend/I just might pass this way again"...
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:07 AM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

Sounds like you are incredibly lonely and then The Rebel stepped in. Perfect storm.
How did you even meet this dude? I'm guessing chance.

You need to immerse yourself with friends. They offer stable, human interaction and comfort without the devastating effects of rebellion (usually).
posted by Kruger5 at 9:09 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

You're blaming yourself for someone else's actions. You did nothing to screw this proto-relationship up. If he's more attracted to the bevy of half-naked big-boobed girls, then that's his problem, not yours.

For now, get up and make your bed. Then look at it and repeat to yourself, "I have done this thing. My day has begun." And then do the next thing you need to do.
posted by Etrigan at 9:14 AM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

It will pass. You can't make it pass, but it will. It will pass faster if you get out of bed and get on with it.

It won't un-happen no matter what you do. Feel free to write it all down (this might help on several levels). Feel free to reminisce on the good bits later when the pain is gone. Let this little upheaval be a springboard to take on something scary or exciting you've wanted to do for yourself, like take a professional or creative leap. Being shaken up isn't necessarily a bad thing. That's your decision to make.

Get up, take a shower, get some real food in you. Open the curtains. You just climbed Mount Rebel, go out there and do something else impossible.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:17 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've been there. A couple of times. And I know how intensely the feeling can hurt and how, at the same time, you can't make sense of it because it has only been a relationship (or whatever) of, like, mere days. You are on feelings overload.

When this happened to me (whilst I was in a previous long-term relationship), I spoke with my then-therapist about it. I must have been going on and on about this whirlwind-man. She advised me to not focus so much on him, but rather to consider what it was that he represented to me that, perhaps, I was missing in my LTR.

So what does this 'rebel' represent in the grander scheme of things? What is it that you want in your life, but don't currently have (or, alternatively, what is it that you have in your life that you don't actually want)? How can you get (or get rid of) those things?

Hang in there. The stomach-churning will pass eventually.
posted by Halo in reverse at 9:20 AM on July 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

Everything that you felt was real and belongs to you. None of it can be taken away, except by insisting on trying to make it into something it probably wasn't meant to be. Put it in your life's curio cabinet of neat things to take down and look at sometimes.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:25 AM on July 24, 2013 [12 favorites]

You know, enjoy it for what it was.

FWIW, there is a type of guy who is very sexually aggressive and who will say whatever you want to get you into bed. These guys are typically sex addicts and to get their high, they'll do whatever it is they have to do, and they are VERY good at it.

We turn on like light bulbs for them because this is how it is in our fantasies, some guy is so into us that he has to have us RIGHT NOW! And it's great, until they leave.

I'm so sorry you're hurting, but if you recognize this for what it is, and not what you think it could be if the stars had alligned, I think it will help you put it in perspective.

The sex was awesome because it was so free and "zipless".

Soon, you'll be able to relegate this to "experiences I'm glad I had, and that I don't want to repeat."

Take care.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:27 AM on July 24, 2013 [10 favorites]

Been there. Try re-framing the experience.

Would you be upset with Cancun if you'd vacationed there, had a great time, come home. and then saw photographs of other people vacationing there having a great time?

I doubt it.

Would you drop everything to move to Cancun just because you had a good time there?

I also doubt it.

So think of him as a nice vacation, be grateful for the break he gave you, and look forward to meeting the next vacation... or more permanent relocation ;)
posted by haplesschild at 9:57 AM on July 24, 2013 [22 favorites]

Maybe it's my catholic upbringing, but I always sort of enjoyed that letdown after a 1-nighter or other short, intense, relationship. To me, it's sorta like that ache you have the day after a good workout, or the hangover you get from a night of partying, or that letdown after you return from an awesome vacation. Just a bit of pain to make you take note of how good things are and how resilient you can be.

Yeah, it sucks it can't be awesome forever. But, you had fun and now have something that is yours to daydream about years from now. Remember, all relationships end - it doesn't much matter of it's after 12 hours, 12 days, or 12 decades if it was meaningful to you.

So, go do something nice for yourself and let yourself mourn. Let yourself feel bad - acknowledge it and own it - but don't be judgmental. You didn't make a mistake, and you are not a bad person.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:21 AM on July 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

Halo has it, or at least has a big piece of the puzzle. When you have a very strong reaction to a person or their absence; that is, feelings that seem way too intense compared to the duration and depth of the connection, then in my experience those feelings are usually about someone or something else. Some of those instances in my own life made so much sense to me once I realized that transference doesn't just occur in a therapist-client relationship, but in day-to-day life as well. This person has touched something deep in you and it may be helpful for you to figure out what it is. In the meantime, don't blame yourself, but also try not to torment yourself by looking at his Facebook pics. (That is a 21st century circle of hell that I'm glad wasn't available to me when I was single and crushing, let me tell you.) The feelings will grow less, especially if you can bring the old stuff into awareness and make some connections with your present. For now, please be good to yourself, and that means maybe blocking him on FB and definitely occupying yourself with things you like to do. Take care.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 10:25 AM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

Ugh, I've been there. Pick one or two examples for why it would never work to mentally ping yourself with every time you start to feel melancholy.

Or imagine that he swoops back into your life, you have amazing sex again and you get knocked up. Walk yourself step-by-step through all the realistic scenarios that would play out (none of that fantasy crap!). Boom, that knocked my Mr. Rebel right out of the park when I imagined having his nightmare kids and bitching about how to install a car seat.

Mr. (and Ms.) Rebels are for a very particular niche in our lives when we're lonely, bored, or whatever. (This is super shallow and simplistic, please don't castigate me, it's just a mental trick -- ) Mr. Rebel has fulfilled this narrow need in your life, so it's like completing a step to move along in your life.
posted by mibo at 10:30 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I think of men who are truly doing exciting things with their lives, they aren't the ones draped in half-naked chippies. Consider yourself lucky you didn't get sucked into the rock-star lifestyle. ESPECIALLY in the role of girlfriend to the rockstar. You are definitely romanticizing it. Don't let the photos fool you. There's a lot of boredom, interpersonal drama, addiction, blah conversations, stupid parties with people behaving badly. Yuuuuck.

Think it through. Ever seen how those guys age? Yeah, maybe he's hot shit right now, but give it a few years, and he'll be the next bloated alcoholic tearfully confessing his secret shame on a tabloid show. You don't want to be along for that ride.

No need to feel jealous of the chippies. Feel sorry for those women who have nothing better to do than plump up their bosoms and make googoo eyes at this guy for photo ops. Bor-ing!

There are plenty of men who are out there living quietly exciting lives, making a difference in the world, doing life's work that is impressive. Those are the ones who age well, who are the real stars. You don't see them posting party photos.

As to how to get over this guy? Go have a big adventure. Rock your own world. Make a memory that will make you grin years from now. Doesn't matter if you cry the whole way...just do something that makes you think, "I rock."
posted by nacho fries at 10:41 AM on July 24, 2013 [21 favorites]

A lot of the responses above describe different ways you can frame this situation, and different emotional perspectives you can take to soothe you when you're questioning yourself in the future.

I will tell you what you should do right now. Cut off contact with this person, 100% and immediately, and forever, and don't look back. Your brain will be full of "what if"s until it's not anymore, probably a few months from now. But if you pursue the situation, you'll waste a lot of time and get caught up for much, much, much longer. It will detract from your ability to enjoy normal relationships for much, much, much longer than you would expect and than is worthwhile in the least.

You just had a shot of heroin. Heroin is nice. Oh dear sweet jesus is it nice (I know from experience). When you have had heroin, you need to simply ignore every single excuse your brain is making and not have it anymore. That is the only thing to do.

The big question in everyone's mind after they try heroin is the same. It's not foolish addictive ramblings but actually a deep philosophical question: "How is it possible, in this universe, on this planet, in this world, that something can feel so right, nice, beautiful, appropriate, fulfilling, necessary and good, and still be something I can't pursue?" There is no answer to that question. It doesn't make sense. It is a question without an answer. There is no perspective that explains this. And, your brain will come up with a gazillion rationalizations, counterexamples, and falsehoods of logic to push you in the direction of more opiates. They're all wrong, though, not because of a "reason," but because the universe sucks and beautiful things in certain categories just can't be sustained.

In this case, the guy made it somewhat easy on you because of this:

He asked for my number, was pretty insistent on us talking until I can see him again, but it's been a few days, he hasn't called.

He failed you immediately. It's not about him being a tortured soul, but about how he immediately inexcusably failed you in what he should do, in an obvious way. This isn't an ambiguous situation. This isn't something that you can excuse, and you know it. This isn't someone you can have a relationship with. This is a guy you have to get away from right now.

In summary, there isn't a magic emotional perspective that you can use to get yourself out of this. There are questions with no answers. There is only one solution, though, which is that this person has to be out of your life immediately. No contact. Pretend it was heroin and white knuckle the withdrawal until it's over. Pretend he is a bag of pills and literally throw it into a faraway trash can where it's impossible to get back.

Your mom

posted by htid at 8:21 AM on July 25, 2013 [11 favorites]

Seconding htid. This is wisdom. People like this are heroin -- a wonderful short term high and the illusion that it can go on forever. It can't.

In my experience, the best way to get over this kind of heroin is to find another high that isn't bad for you. Travel to a very different place, go mountain biking, climb a mountain, throw a wild party, start a very public activism campaign...

This isn't about romantic possibilities but about having a peak experience. The only way to get over that is to have another peak experience. (Google that phrase to learn more.) Preferably one that is not bad for you.
posted by 3491again at 1:38 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

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