Were my relationship expectations unrealistic?
October 25, 2013 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Having been in a nigh 4 year relationship, it's ended and I'm left wondering did I just expect too much?

Hello kind folk of meta-filter.

Sat in front of my laptop on a Friday night, the sky's dark and I've just finished work.

It's been almost two months since my relationship ended. To give a brief summary. I met a girl via Chatroulette in late 2009. We dated, it began wonderfully, and continued like that for 18 months. I then developed depression stemming from my Mother's passing and after 4-5 months of arguments she cheated on me and subsequently ended things.

Instead of the usual no contact, we stayed in touch, daily in fact. She tried it with the guy she'd cheated on me with but that failed, then she had two one night stands, before meeting another guy who got her pregnant and bailed. As she underwent a termination I filled the void and stayed by her side (albeit via computer screen) and even sent flowers to her house. Our love rekindled and we gave it another go in January. We started wonderfully, but it turned out she had lied to me about what degree she had cheated.

As I tried to suppress the information, we had little tiffs, but I knew she was the girl I loved. We decided marriage was the best route for us as it made no sense to sit across an ocean any longer, especially given all we'd been through.

The first problem started in May. I went to London for a working weekend, and I told her my schedule would be intense so I could not necessarily talk as often as when I was home. She was really demanding of my time and ultimately very unsupportive during what was a huge weekend for my career. She even tried to break up with me while I was trying to make my way across the city to a train.

I visited in July, and we went on a road trip that I was not entirely behind. I'd had a long year and I just wanted us to get away somewhere near that was just us. Instead she wanted to bring her dog and it took us two solid days to get to our destination. That part of the trip was fine, and upon our return we stopped of in New York (my first time).

I'd scheduled a meeting with someone who could offer me a route to the US and yet on our way she made a big song and dance crying about her bank balance - again she was being selfish. When she had visited me in March I'd made her a small present box, I'd gone out of my way to make her feel loved, yet when I arrived it was a case of "Take these boxes to the car".

My head is a mess basically. A week after our break up she had a brand new boyfriend who she described as feeling like the one and spoke of wanting to move in with. She's since cut all contact and won't return my stuff.

Yet for some fucked up reason my head is saying "Maybe I just expected too much? Maybe I was demanding?" She did a lot of things right, just not this. As you can probably tell from the ping pong like writing style, my head is flitting between different feelings. I've been trying to date, but the girl I'm currently seeing is a potential 10 in terms of what she offers. However she's also a little heavier and I just don't feel attracted to her at all. She's suggestive and overly sexual and in many ways I wish my ex had been that way.

I just need some help really. I don't quite know how to approach things, whether my demands were too high. My family and friends keep telling me I was a good guy who stood by her through thick and thin, and that I've dodged a bullet. Yet part of me still hopes its her calling/emailing etc.
posted by Junghans to Human Relations (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Were your relationship expectations a relationship with someone who cares about you and won't cheat on you? If that's the case, no, your expectations were not unrealistic.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:19 PM on October 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


Woah, lots to unpack here, but it sounds to me like you were in a relationship with someone who wasn't really in a relationship with you.

Therapy, ASAP.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:21 PM on October 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


The first problem started in May.

No, the first problem was when your girlfriend cheated on you while you were grieving and made you feel like it was your fault for being "depressed," then lied about the extent of the cheating.

She sounds like an awful person. Maybe this other girl isn't the one, but neither is the first girl. Keep dating, keep busy, get therapy, and for god's sake, don't talk to her.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:23 PM on October 25, 2013 [25 favorites]


She was a train wreck, you went way above and beyond for her, she ultimately rejected you anyway, and so you're thinking "if she was so terrible, how much worse *I* must be that she rejected me!" which is a normal thing to think, but only long enough to answer yourself: "no, she was selfish and demanding and unreasonable and uncommitted to the relationship, and thank goodness she left because I really should have left her a long time ago, and I'd better think about that before I get into another relationship."
posted by davejay at 1:24 PM on October 25, 2013 [22 favorites]


which is a long way of saying that I think, if anything, you were demanding too little, and for some reason you were sticking around when you weren't even getting that.
posted by davejay at 1:25 PM on October 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


The heart is a funny thing, and it's going to feel what it's going to feel. Don't beat yourself up about where you are inside your head--accept that the pain you're feeling is, in a way, the heart learning something. There's a great book called When Things Fall Apart by a Buddhist nun who writes that we stop dwelling on experiences when they've taught us everything they can--sort of like the heart or mind working on a puzzle. Check it out; it's a good read.

We're you expecting too much? In my book, you expected less of her than I expect of acquaintances. If anything, I'd make my expectations significantly higher next time. Getting this person out of your life earlier would have made your life a lot better a lot sooner.

I've made a pitch for this before, but it's significantly better to be alone than with someone who is not right for you.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:26 PM on October 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


What craven said. The corollary is that your expectations and hope that she contact you again (presumably to rekindle something) are self-destructive. Don't contact her and if she contacts you, ignore it. You need to write off your stuff that she still has.

I second the call for therapy. You allowed yourself to be a doormat, although I think you viewed yourself as some sort of "knight" as you swooped into to "fill the void" after she made a baby with some cad. Don't rescue people anymore.

The more different this new girl is from this other person, the better.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:27 PM on October 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the issue here is that, consciously or not, you don't seem to place enough value on yourself and your own company.

Check it out:

It's been almost two months since my relationship ended. To give a brief summary. I met a girl via Chatroulette in late 2009. We dated, it began wonderfully, and continued like that for 18 months. I then developed depression stemming from my Mother's passing and after 4-5 months of arguments she cheated on me and subsequently ended things (1).

Instead of the usual no contact, we stayed in touch, daily in fact. She tried it with the guy she'd cheated on me (2) with but that failed, then she had two one night stands, before meeting another guy who got her pregnant and bailed (3). As she underwent a termination I filled the void and stayed by her side (albeit via computer screen) and even sent flowers to her house. Our love rekindled and we gave it another go in January. We started wonderfully, but it turned out she had lied to me about what degree she had cheated.


See the boldfaced numbers in the quoted section? These are the points at which you should have just walked the fuck away from this woman without looking back. She did not treat you with respect. She did not value you. She treated you as a last option.

You got taken for a sucker. That is awful and I'm sorry.

You did not expect too much. In fact, you did not expect enough. If you'd had expectations that reflected any degree of self-esteem or value on yourself, she would have run for the hills, because you wouldn't have let her get away with half the shit she did.

If I were in your situation and if I had insurance, I would maybe talk to a therapist every other week or so and see about building, long-term, the ability to love myself and to treat myself as someone I love, and someone who deserves love and respect. That is my advice to you.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:28 PM on October 25, 2013 [15 favorites]


It is fine to miss someone who wasn't any good for you, but that doesn't change the fact that she really, really wasn't any good for you. It sounds like you spent the whole relationship hoping for more than the crumbs she was giving you, and it'll just take you a while to get out of the habit of hoping for a happiness with her that was never on the cards.

Also, don't string along the girl you're currently seeing. If you don't feel all that attracted to her and you spend a lot of time mentally comparing her to your ex, let her go and get your head in a better place before starting a new relationship.
posted by Catseye at 1:30 PM on October 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


You have dodged a bullet. You were trying to re-capture the easy, good relationship that you seemed to have when you first started dating. It's like heroin. Your first hit is amazing and magnificent, and with every subsequent hit you "chase the dragon". All you end up with is an addiction to something very, very bad.

You don't have high expectations. Your expectations are fine. SHE'S the one with issues and you're just too blind to see it. Why would you WANT to be with someone who is only with you when her other terrible options bail on her. She PREFERS to be with men who treat her badly. You are not, and never will be that guy.

You need to heal from this, and given its duration, it will take some time to do.

So block her on every media you can. Get out of the house and do things, when you're sad and upset over a break up, it's super important to concentrate on other things. "When you look back on your life, you don't remember how you feel, you remember what you did." Too true.

So get an MBA, knit a sweater, get a certification, whatever it is that you'd enjoy doing. Soon enough you won't miss the drama, or that weird feeling, or her. And then you'll realize that you were in love with a figment of your imagination, not this mess of a girl who is a cheater.

Do look into getting some therapy because all the signs on this chick were saying DANGER and you missed them all.

You deserve better.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:31 PM on October 25, 2013 [18 favorites]


Oh! One other thing.

I've been trying to date, but the girl I'm currently seeing is a potential 10 in terms of what she offers. However she's also a little heavier and I just don't feel attracted to her at all. She's suggestive and overly sexual and in many ways I wish my ex had been that way.

End things with this woman before she gets too invested. Be kind about it. Explain to her that you're not really in a place where you can date others in a way that's healthy. Be considerate of her feelings. It will be hard, but you will be hurting her terribly if this goes very far.

Don't date people you're not attracted to.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:32 PM on October 25, 2013 [34 favorites]


Do look into getting some therapy because all the signs on this chick were saying DANGER and you missed them all.


YES!! This.... THIS!!!!!!!!
posted by JenThePro at 1:37 PM on October 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


It seems like yes, your expectations were unrealistic. You expected a bad person to be something other than what they blatantly showed you they were, and you just kept keepin' on as if it would all magically get better.

This is like expecting a duck to be a pony just because you want a pony, and now you're upset because of all these eggs.

In all honesty, on the tails of a loss like a parent, sometimes it's better to be alone for a while. It almost seems like you just numbly walked through all this abuse and drama because...it was there. You didn't really care, you just thought about ponies and carried on.

Therapy is a great idea. Being alone for a while is a great idea. Please don't date girls you don't like, including if they're really fabulous but just too fat for you. Let her go find somebody who likes her, she probably deserves that.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:43 PM on October 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is why I can't have long distance relationships. I get all stuck in my own head and build this fairy tale relationship that does not correlate with the actual person on the other side of the computer screen or their actions. I liked to imagine the best in people, and we didn't see each other enough in person to shake me out of that delusion until I was really far into it.
posted by politikitty at 1:55 PM on October 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think anyone wants to beat you up. Please hear, not criticism if your past choices, but that from the first few facts you wrote it was clear to us on the Internet that she was no good and quite happy to be exactly who she is.

Therapy is a great idea. You need and deserve real help.

If you can't afford therapy, try some books.

Also -notice that you tell us the new girl is sexual in a way your ex was not. The ex who cheated?

At this point, the bad you have listed outweighs any possible good the ex might try to fake. Cut it off entirely and don't look back.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:01 PM on October 25, 2013


This is why no contact is the best way to deal with a breakup. Daily, post-breakup contact with someone who cheated on you when you were mourning your mother is a terrible idea. Your run-down of the relationship is filled with red flags that you chose to ignore.

Start no contact now, forget about the stuff your ex has, and consider getting some therapy to examine why you are choosing not to read relationship cues accurately. There's a part of you that's attracted to trainwrecks. Even with lots of evidence that your ex was not a good choice for you, you soldiered on and discussed marriage. Please don't date right now. It's not good for you and it's not good for the poor girl you're dating. No girl wants to date a man who is not attracted to her and compares her good qualities to a wish-list for the ex.
posted by quince at 2:07 PM on October 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


It sounds like your expectations could be higher not lower. It doesn't sound like your gf was supportive when your mom died, she cheated, lied and sounds generally selfish. I think therapy would be good to help you through this time--rather than a new gf--and to figure out why you put up with someone like this and are tending to think you were the one at fault here.
posted by wildflower at 2:15 PM on October 25, 2013


You are better off without her, you just don't realize it yet.

I filled the void

Yes, it sounds like that's all she ever used you for. In this respect, I do think your relationship expectations were unrealistic. They weren't too high for a relationship in general, but it sounds like you expected too much from a long distance situation where you knew your girlfriend had been cheating on you and using you, and where you barely even got along well when you were hanging out in person. The relationship you thought you had was a fantasy made possible by the distance.
posted by wondermouse at 2:29 PM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been trying to date, but the girl I'm currently seeing is a potential 10 in terms of what she offers. However she's also a little heavier and I just don't feel attracted to her at all. She's suggestive and overly sexual and in many ways I wish my ex had been that way.

The rest has been addressed quite well by the AskMe coalition forces, but i wanted to touch on this a bit.

One of the best pieces of advice i've gotten, and that i've regularly seen reposted on here is don't date people because they seem awesome on paper.

The second part there about how you're not actually attracted to her is what matters. Don't feel bad or feel like you should change yourself somehow or you're being "shallow" or something because it just doesn't click with you. Attraction is not some conscious thing that can be gamed by trying to mentally psych yourself up.

Latching on to someone just because they seem like they check all the boxes is a recipe for another disaster, a bunch of unhappiness, and likely hurting someone whose earnestly approaching you and likes you in a straight ahead up-and-up way.

So yea, i think it would be best if you walked away from that one too.
posted by emptythought at 3:19 PM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Girl has issues. She dated (or slept with/cheated on) what, 10 guys in a few years? Some of them seriously enough to get her pregnant? She is so, so bad news. Not to mention the long distance stuff, the possible job sabotage, and emotional abuse. This type of girl, to me, is an endless black hole and will suck everything into her path, ruining it all, trying to meet her need for... something. But the only one who can stop this sucking is her, not guys.
posted by Jacen at 3:31 PM on October 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Were my relationship expectations unrealistic

Yes but not in the way you think. You didn't, at almost any point in this process, consider or prioritize your needs. Subsequently you missed tons of red flags and danger signs.

My family and friends keep telling me I was a good guy who stood by her through thick and thin, and that I've dodged a bullet.

Choose their opinion over your gnawing self doubt.
posted by French Fry at 8:35 PM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I met a girl... We dated... 4-5 months of arguments... she cheated on me and subsequently ended things. She tried it with the guy she'd cheated on me with but that failed... then she had two one night stands... before meeting another guy who got her pregnant and bailed... we gave it another go in January... but it turned out she had lied to me about what degree she had cheated... I tried to suppress the information... we had little tiffs...
We decided marriage was the best route for us
*** ERROR: Does not compute! ***
A week after our break up she had a brand new boyfriend who she described as feeling like the one and spoke of wanting to move in with. She's since cut all contact...
You have dodged possibly the largest bullet of your life, my friend. This is really more like you dodged seventeen Atlas V rockets at once. Good for you--consider yourself exceedingly fortunate!
...[she] won't return my stuff.
Have you ever read AskMe's in the past where some skeevy friend won't pay back the $20 they borrowed last year and everyone says "That $20 was well worth it to be rid of such a dishonorable person"--this is like that times a thousand. I don't care if you left the Hope diamond and King Tut's golden death mask at her place (and that's what she won't return)--you got the far, far, far better deal by being rid of her! Don't give your "stuff" another thought.

Believe me, if you had married this crazy person, you would've been asking a far more disasterous, sad, and "oh dear Jesus, what have I done?!" question about 10 weeks later (if it took that long). You may feel down right now, but your life is on such a (1000x) healthier path!

Take some time to yourself, talk to a good therapist, maybe take up an old hobby that interests you. In some time, when you are feeling better, share your heart again, but this time hold out for someone with a good heart (and good actions to match).
posted by blueberry at 9:34 PM on October 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


Your problem was expecting too little. Would you have ever treated someone the way she treated you? Hopefully, no.

I can't say why there are men and women who do that kind of thing, but ppl like that should not be dating/having romantic relationships with anyone.
posted by discopolo at 8:01 AM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I encourage you (the way I encourage women) not to be Captain Save-a-Broken-Soul, especially one that complicates your life.
posted by discopolo at 8:04 AM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: Wow - I was not expecting such a glut of responses.

Thank you everyone who took the time to give me insight and such like. I think it may help somewhat if I add context to a few things.

My stuff - Normally I'd be in complete agreement, it's just stuff. The only reason I'm even remotely bothered is because there's something in there that was my mother's. I know, I know, I hear you scream, why did I do such a thing. It was naivety.

This was my first relationship. I think honestly that's why I 'avoided' 'ignored' the red flags, because I didn't see them to be red flags. I didn't even know what red flags are in a relationship. I operated on a simple parameter - did I love her - yes was the resounding answer and I gave it unconditionally because that's how I was taught relationships work. It didn't mean I excused her bad behaviour, but I always sought to forgive.

I also sat down last night and did some real soul searching. I put on some good music, and meditated and stopped painting things with a fantasy brush. The simplest way I can put it is, I missed my mother. She was my best friend. We had so many inside jokes, and I was incredibly close to her.

She officially passed a month before we met, but with my Dad a quivering wreck I was forced to the front and dealt with the funeral, the family, and all of that. Please don't judge my Father, he's wonderful, and he didn't ask me to step in, I took the decision to. It meant I was never granted an actual moment of grieving. I cried once in the first year and that was when I took the call to say she'd died.

When I met my ex, she reminded me so much of my mother. She was spunky, independent, caring. I found our dynamic so reminiscent of my parents that I thought wow this is it, this is the one. What I didn't factor is that, she was selfish, ignorant, and still dealing with her own issues of rejection from her biological father and her mother.

So yes, I pushed forward with something that if presented to me by a friend I would tell them to avoid. I think honestly that's because she had been a constant since my mother's passing. When my depression developed at first, she suggested I get therapy and talk to someone and was very supportive. However eventually it took its toll and thus the cheating - which equated to meeting a guy in a bar and kissing him.

So thank you. I would say honestly I do need some form of therapy/counselling. I tend to find my spells of upset are heightened on Friday's/Saturday's. Those were our date nights, if I'd had a bad afternoon at work I could come and we'd talk and laugh.

As you've said there was a lot of bad in that relationship, but there was also a lot of good. And so while I now feel calm in myself in knowing that no this had to end because I deserve more, I also don't want to write my first love as a car crash. Instead it was a learning experience and the first plateau on my journey.
posted by Junghans at 9:02 AM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also don't want to write my first love as a car crash.

I'd guess that at least 75% of us have first loves that end as a car crash.
posted by Melismata at 9:36 AM on October 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am having a hard time believing this woman was like your mother.

You really need some structured help here. Time will help, but you'll heal faster and be better prepared for your future if you do some work - perhaps addressing false beliefs would be a good starting point.

If therapy is not an option, please get in touch with a social services agency or a library or something and find resources.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: She wasn't, but at that time, in that moment, she reminded me of her on a purely superficial level.
posted by Junghans at 11:48 AM on October 26, 2013


People tend to be attracted to people with the same amount of baggage/issues they currently have. So it is no surprise you attracted someone so fraught at that time in your life. But it sounds like you learned a lot and will do a lot better in the future
posted by Jacen at 1:03 AM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


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