Help me stay sane and functioning this weekend, please?
February 7, 2014 6:02 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I are scheduled to have a talk on Monday that may very well lead to us breaking up. How do I manage until then?

This is about the same boyfriend from one of my previous questions. We had some communication issues in our LDR when he'd not contact me for almost a week and then explained he was "busy" (I know he had exams etc., but I also saw him online playing games, which would be fine if he had just told me he needed some time to relax) until I told him he'd either be better at contacting me or I'd have to reconsider whether I want to still consider what we have a relationship. (Don't know if that was an okay thing to do...)
He texted me a little something almost every day since then, and on Sunday we finally skyped again after his exams were over. I felt weird when we did, and I'm assuming it was because probably, some part of me had already detached itself from him while we had very little contact, while another big part of me still loves him and misses him a lot.
As I've mentioned in the previous question, we have different ideas of the future, with me being a family-type girl and him being a (self-diagnosed somewhat Aspie) loner. This has been giving me anxiety for a while now, and I have brought it up before. He usually says things like "I have no intention of breaking up with you" (does that mean now??) or "I feel like my ideals are slowly changing" or "the possibility of changing my mind about marriage is low, but it's not zero" (way to dangle a carrot!), which don't really help to ease my confusion and anxiety.

I talked to my therapist about it and we agree that maybe breaking up is the best thing to do if these maybes turn out to be definite no's. My boyfriend asked for some time to think, so we're not Skyping today, but on Monday. He's at his parents for the weekend, and I am scheduled to play tourist guide for a group of students from Japan (from the university I left last year, and with the professor whose class I TA'd for and met him, which she doesn't know about...)

Last night, I cried while thinking about all the things I still wanted to do together. Like, I bought a red dress because he loves red, but he's never even seen me wear it outside of Skype, and if we break up he never will and I'll never wear it again etc. etc. I also still have things I wanted to send him, and recipes I wanted to make for him, and it's all just so sad. I'm considering the scheduled breakup someone mentioned in my previous question so that we could still spend the summer together and do all these things we wanted, but I'm not sure it's a good idea...

So, to cut a long story short: How do I deal now? I will have two very stressful days tomorrow and on Sunday where I need to function, and also things to do next Tuesday after the possible breakup. Argh. :(
posted by LoonyLovegood to Human Relations (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You definitely don't sound like someone made for a scheduled breakup. You sound like me--you want to cut to the chase and get the pain over with so you can move on. You are unhappy in this relationship because your future is so uncertain. End it, and your unhappiness will eventually lessen when you realize what a long list of things you don't have to worry about anymore.

Edit: by which I mean, try to keep in mind that your suffering is almost over. That's the best way to get through the next couple of days.
posted by chaiminda at 6:06 AM on February 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

Why are you waiting to talk until Monday? I know you said that he wanted time to think, but I don't think it will do any good because you aren't going to change your mind. Him thinking about things isn't going to suddenly fundamentally change him or your relationship. You aren't getting what you need. Seriously, it sounds like you are done and that you know it will be for the best. Just pull the bandaid off, break up today, now. Seriously. Get it over with.

And then you get through this weekend knowing that you were strong enough to make the choices that were right for you, that you were strong enough not to settle for a relationship that clearly wasn't working, and that you were strong enough to take control. You're going to be sad and that is okay, but you will know that you did the right thing.

You can do this. You absolutely can.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:08 AM on February 7, 2014 [12 favorites]

If you have his mobile number call him now and get it over with. He'll be with his family, and you'll have two days of tasks scheduled to keep your mind busy.

Do it right now. In an hour, you'll have that awful task behind you. This thread will still be going, and based on your previous question, you'll have people here telling you that you did the right thing. Including me.
posted by kimberussell at 6:13 AM on February 7, 2014 [10 favorites]

Lying is helpful. Every time you start to think about this, tell yourself that you will think about this in an hour and fifteen minutes or at 10:30 - some arbitrary time that is at least an hour away. When the time comes, reset the clock.

You can also remind yourself that there's no point in reacting until you have something to react to.

What are the odds you'll have new ideas between now and Monday. I'm guessing zero - especially because you have discussed this with a therapist.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:16 AM on February 7, 2014

I'm like you. When a Big Conversation needs to happen, I want it now so it can be resolved and everyone can move on.

It sounds to me like you've basically done the 'move on' part already. Honestly I'd do what kimberussel said: call him now, say "I'm sorry but I can't wait for this conversation. This isn't working for me because XYZ. You're still a great person but this just isn't going to work. I'm sorry. Do you have any questions for me?" (Cribbed from Miko's excellent advice elsewhere).

Then get on with your life. And, I mean this in the gentlest way possible, reallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly think reallllllllllllllllllllllllllllly hard before getting involved in another LDR. They suck, hard.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:26 AM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Either get it over with now or fill your weekend with activities with friends or family or anything other than sitting at home. You have a life and it will continue to go on so why not start it now and give yourself a bit of a buffer? Even if all you do is go to see some movies, that's something to take your mind off what you're dreading. Or go and see some live theatre if that's not something you do often. Something out of the ordinary might be just the thing for this weekend.
posted by h00py at 6:27 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

What would he have to do to make this a good relationship for you? If you don't have a clear path to that, and know he can and wants to walk that path, then don't spend the weekend in limbo. The anticipation is so much worse, the waiting is just hell. I think you would do yourself a service by calling him today and breaking it off.

We have all been there where we put something off and hope that things will change. Or try to give someone every benefit of the doubt.

Either way, whatever you choose, you can and *will* get through this weekend, and Tuesday, and every other day. You have to put it out of your mind and get your shit done and done well - you owe it to yourself and to the people to whom you have committed your time.

If you have downtime, then keep yourself busy - get out and go window shopping or to a museum or to anywhere that you might enjoy.
posted by mrs. taters at 6:29 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Talk to him as soon as possible. With things like this, people usually don't need a weekend to make up their mind. If they need time to think, it's time to figure out what it is they already think but don't realise.

If he won't talk to you until Monday, I would proceed as if the relationship had already ended and start recovering from that. I know you don't want to be broken up but you're not happy in this relationship. Even if you weren't to break up you might be relieved at first, a bit, but you still would not suddenly become happy--for that to happen, your boyfriend would need to permanently change but it doesn't sound like he wants to or can.

And if you do ask to talk to him sooner and he gets upset and says you pushed him or anything like that, don't take it personally and don't take the blame for whatever happens. If that happens, he's using your request to talk as an excuse for his behavior. You didn't actually cause the behavior, you cannot "make" him do anything, if he breaks up with you it is because that is what he wants to do and probably has wanted to do for awhile and you could not have changed that.
posted by Polychrome at 6:48 AM on February 7, 2014

I talked to my therapist about it and we agree that maybe breaking up is the best thing to do if these maybes turn out to be definite no's.

I think your therapist is softballing a little here. These aren't "maybe," they're "almost certainly not."

If I were in your situation, I would just get this over with; I'd call the guy today and tell him I'm sorry but this just isn't working for me and I think it's best if we end things. An argument will ensue. Remain steadfast. Then you'll have the weekend to do some crying and mood-swinging and be closer to an even keel come Monday.

I bought a red dress because he loves red, but he's never even seen me wear it outside of Skype, and if we break up he never will and I'll never wear it again

Breaking up often feels like the end of the world. My advice to you is to keep your head down and charge forward into it. Let the apocalypse come, because only after it comes can it pass. Eventually you will wear a lovely red dress for someone who lives nearby and appreciates it, but you're allowed to spend a little while catastrophizing. Everything you see and hear and think of will remind you of him for a little while. Cry when it's time to cry and let yourself be angry and overall, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with love.

I'm considering the scheduled breakup someone mentioned in my previous question so that we could still spend the summer together and do all these things we wanted, but I'm not sure it's a good idea...

Terrible idea. Don't do it.

Just get it over with now. Suffer a little now, so you can get on with your life. It will be briefly awful but it's the best thing for everyone involved. You can do this. Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:48 AM on February 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

Do it now, like others have said. You have a full weekend to keep you occupied so you can begin healing asap. Wallowing in yucky feelings for a weekend isn't going to help anyone. We're here for you--you deserve better!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:51 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Break up now - no drama, you just want different things - and then rock that red dress twice: first on a girls' night out with your friends, and then sometime down the line when you're out with someone who actually wants to be in your life.
posted by headnsouth at 6:53 AM on February 7, 2014

I'm a little confused here. While I appreciate the answers, some of you seem to have missed a lot of my question. I won't spend the weekend at home watching movies, I will be out all weekend playing tourist guide. While this will certainly keep me busy, I'm not sure what to do if, say, I'm out with these people I barely know and suddenly start welling up?

Also, as to the "break up now!" comments: Apart from the fact that it's midnight in Japan now and I can't reach him anyway, I do want to give him time to think. I know it may be be foolish, but we are young and he has changed his mind on things before. Some of the things that bother me, he may even be saying because he thinks they're cool and not because he really wants them. If it turns out that I was wrong and that we really won't be on the same page about this, then I will break up with him on Monday. But otherwise, I'll always ask myself "what if...?"
posted by LoonyLovegood at 6:55 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're out playing tourist guide, it'll still be on your mind regardless of whether you actually break up with him before Monday or not. Pull off that Band-Aid. For me, at least, uncertainty is soooooo much worse than at least being able to have a path forward (in whatever direction).

And who's to say that if you tell him you want to break up, he won't have time to think? If it's meant to be, it's meant to be; he'll think and then proceed (again, as I said above in relation to you) whether you officially say you want to break up or not. YOU'RE going to be thinking about it, so give him the courtesy of imagining that he might do the same.

Whether or not you say the words "I want to break up with you," this will be on your mind the whole time and he will be thinking about it. So do it. Move ahead on your own terms and see if he follows. (Don't do it just because you want to see if he follows. Do it for you.)

One more thing: lots of people love red. Lots of people love red dresses. Wear it and revel in yourself. For you.
posted by Madamina at 7:08 AM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's up to you, but:

I will be out all weekend playing tourist guide. While this will certainly keep me busy, I'm not sure what to do if, say, I'm out with these people I barely know and suddenly start welling up?

It sounds like you're in a pretty emotionally charged place right now anyway; I don't know that I'd put money on you not welling up anyway, even if you do let it wait until Monday. But you know yourself better than I do.

Basically, where I'm coming from is that I've been where you are before, more than once, and I've always found that the time spent hanging on a hook before the moment is always, always worse than the moment itself.

The other thing is that I'm at a loss in terms of what to tell you about how to deal with the upcoming weekend. The obvious answer would be to tell you to stay busy - make sure you're always out and doing something, don't stay still, etc - but I'm already fairly certain that your brain is just going to keep returning to this one place. Distraction will be basically impossible.

Some of the things that bother me, he may even be saying because he thinks they're cool and not because he really wants them.

This would not make me less inclined to break up with someone. If he's that out of touch with himself, why would I want to fight to stay with him? All I'd be doing is signing up for more of the same.

But, again, it's your call. Like I say, I've been where you are and I know this is something you need to go through yourself. I wouldn't have listened to other people when I was in your shoes. That may sound catty of me but I promise it's not - I just remember what it's like.

If you decide to let this go until Monday then my advice is that there is no secret to dealing with it. There is no special mental technique that can get your mind to stop showing the same damn rerun. You just sort it. You put one foot in front of the other and put on your Having a Good Time Face and run out the clock until it's time to do this. It will be kind of a shitty time and you will not be remembering this among the best weekends of your life, but it'll pass.

Good luck to you.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:08 AM on February 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

I don't think everyone missed the part where you are busy this weekend. I think people were saying that BECAUSE you are going to be busy this weekend it will serve as a good distractor following the breakup. It would force you to keep busy, keep going. And I would argue that it is possible that you could well up and be visibly upset even if you don't break up with him because it is still a tough situation to be in.

It sounds like you are really hoping he changes his mind on everything he has been telling you for the past 6 months and I am worried you are setting yourself up for pain and upset. :( He knows you're upset and on the brink of breaking up, so who's to say that he won't tell you what he knows you want to hear so that you don't? He has been saying all along that he does not want to get married, does not want kids. For the entire history of your relationship that is what he has communicated. If on monday he suddenly does a 180 flip on that you can be pretty sure that it won't be because he actually changed his mind. It will be because he knows that is what he needs to say to avoid a breakup. It may not be a deliberate manipulation on his part, he may say it because he really wished it were true, but it sounds like he knows what he wants and doesn't want. If it was something he wanted (vs. saying he didn't want to get married to "be cool") he would have copped to it by now, hearing how upset it was making you.

I sincerely hope you do choose to end this relationship as it clearly isn't giving you what you need and it isn't a positive thing for you. This relationship is causing you more pain/upset than it is giving you pleasure/joy. It shouldn't be that way. Relationships should be fun, happy-making things. The things you are not getting in this relationship? They aren't hard things to find. There is absolutely someone out there that you could love just as much (if not more) who will share your values.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:12 AM on February 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

So if I have this right, you are both under 25, the relationship is less than a year old, and you have been long distance for about four or five months of it?

You want shared goals like marriage and children, he sees himself as being forever alone (even though you have been dating for a while). I'm not sure if you are applying an aspie lable to him or if he has been diagnosed officially.

You expressed that some of your needs were not being met and he changed his behaviour. That is a good thing. But you still want a definate answer about marriage and kids. Honestly, at his age and the length of your relationship (and the fact you are LDR) I think that is still early for that kind of commitment. I feel like your anxiety is radiating off the page about him and this relationship; but really there should be so much else going on in your life that focusing so hard on your LDR isn't possible. Are you in a healthy place to have a relationship right now? Do you have concrete plans to be back in the same physical space (you left him, I thought?) You seem to be putting a lot of pressure on him and this relationship when it should be fun for both of you.

I think you should honour your commitment to giving him the weekend to think and give yourself time to think about your personal goals and how this relationship fits into it. He doesn't sound like he is jerking you around, more that life kinda sucks right now and you don't have a concrete plan to get back together physically and you want a verbal commitment to make up for the lack of action (on both your parts).
posted by saucysault at 7:13 AM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ugh. Breakups suck, no matter how they are done. It's good that you are really busy this weekend. My advice would be that as long as you are in public, stay in the moment. Push thoughts of your boyfriend to the edges of your consciousness, and focus on the task at hand. Let yourself mourn when you're alone/with close friends.

I would not believe him if he totally changes his mind on marriages and kids and everything on Monday once he's faced with an ultimatum (I don't think there's any thing at all wrong with asking for what you need in a relationship. You are being healthy and mature). He has had the entirety of your relationship to tell you and show you how he is and what he wants. I would believe that over a tiny chance of marriage he dangles over you but doesn't make concrete motions to achieve.
posted by fermezporte at 7:40 AM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

saucysalt: I'm not saying he has Aspergers, he said that he has many Aspie-like character traits. Personally, I don't really see it, but I thought in case I'm missing something, I should mention it. Whether he is an Aspie or not doesn't change much, of course.

I have made it very clear to him that I do not want to get married or have kids RIGHT NOW and that I wouldn't even have brought it up (probably because I was kind of brought up to believe that men get "scared away" easily by things like commitment requests, which I realise is not always true or good), but he has made off-handed comments about seeing himself as a perpetual bachelor. Then again, he IS dating me, he was great when I went through my depressive phase in Japan, and I do think he really loves me, or at least loved me back then. He sometimes says things that don't seem very self-aware, like he told me he wasn't a very emotional person, but he cried for me when I was really upset once. It's the contradictory things he says and does sometimes that make me want to wait it out a little longer (even though waiting sucks) and which are why I think he may need this weekend to reflect on a lot of things, including himself. If it wasn't for that, I guess I would have broken up sooner.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:49 AM on February 7, 2014

Your last comment reveals you are really overanalyzing this, and fishing for the answers you want to hear. It really isn't that complicated. This is your first relationship, and this will be your first break-up. It will suck, but then you will get through it and find someone who is a better match for you.

How do you get through your busy weekend, and what if you tear up? Tell people, "I'm a little emotional right now. I just broke up with my boyfriend. I hope you'll understand." Or just discreetly wipe the tear away and hope they don't notice.

The pattern you're in is a really, REALLY common one, of women not getting what they need from men and deciding deep down inside he really is someone different than who he appears to be, it's just that he's so hurt/his feelings are so intense/he's not self-aware/fill-in-the-blank.

It sounds like he's pretty immature and you are in a different place from him. He doesn't have to be a horrible guy for you to break up with him. Call him now, just leave a message if he doesn't pick up. No need for drama -- it's clearly just not working out.
posted by ravioli at 7:59 AM on February 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

OP, listen to me:

You do not want a boyfriend who was "really nice to me during that period when I was feeling down." That's called being a decent person.

You need a PARTNER. You need a COMPANION. You need a LOVER. You need someone who surprises you with little tidbits every day -- not by going out of their way to do things for you, but simply by being who they are.

You need someone who magnifies the best parts of you and helps you understand and manage your least favorite parts.

Most importantly, you need someone who will let you do the same for them, and will let you love them in small, large, unexpected and familiar ways.


on her second marriage and waking up every day in nauseating bliss because she is so grateful that things ain't what they used to be
posted by Madamina at 8:13 AM on February 7, 2014 [38 favorites]

I can absolutely see why this has been so confusing for you and why you are left feeling so unsure. It feels like he is giving you a mixed message but I don't think that he is. His not wanting to get married or have kids does not mean he also cannot care about you and be supportive. They aren't mutually exclusive. He can be a good person but still not be a good boyfriend for you. He can be supportive and care but still not be able to give you what you need. I know you feel he is being contradictory but he really isn't. He is saying he cares about you but that he never wants to get married. That isn't contradiction. Both can be true. And it sucks.

Don't beat yourself up over this, what you are going through happens to a lot of people. Falling in love with who you know the other person has the capacity to be happens very easily. And then breaking up is hard because you don't like the relationship with the NOW them, but you don't want to miss out on a relationship with the FUTURE them that they could possible grow to be. I absolutely get it. I've done it. Most people have done it. I think a lot of us are strongly encouraging you to end this because we have been there and we know, first hand, that the future them we're hoping they'll turn in to never happens, and the unsatisfactory now them is all we get. He can be a good guy, he can have a lot of potential, but you can spend (waste) your entire life waiting for them to realize their potential and turn in to the partner you wish they were. You need to be in a relationship with who they are, not who you "know" they could be.

Also, wow.. having the person you're dating/love describe themselves as a "perpetual bachelor" must have really hurt. That alone would have stopped me in my tracks and made me wonder who I was dating and what sort of future I had with them.

Here is the rule of my dating world:
You can't decide to be in a relationship based upon who you THINK the other person could be, or based upon what you HOPE they will change. You can only base your decision on who that person is now, today.

Right now I hear you saying that you THINK he doesn't mean everything he has been saying that goes against what you want. I hear you saying that you HOPE he will change his mind and step up. I also hear that right now, today, you are not happy in this relationship, you aren't getting what you need out of it, it is causing you more upset than it is giving you joy, and that you and he have a huge disconnect on some core values.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:14 AM on February 7, 2014 [9 favorites]

You need a PARTNER. You need a COMPANION. You need a LOVER. You need someone who surprises you with little tidbits every day -- not by going out of their way to do things for you, but simply by being who they are.

In so very, very many ways, this. I've lucked into finding this recently and it is such an improvement over the last time I was involved with someone.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:27 AM on February 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you absolutely can't break up now, then put it out of your head, denial-style.

lalala it's all ok....

The end is coming so it's not like you're fooling yourself, you're just not indulging in needless ruminations for the next two days.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:46 AM on February 7, 2014

Honey, I think he should break up with you. Or do it yourself if you can't wait and don't look back. You have so much riding on a relationship that you are not coming to as a whole person. Work on yourself for a while without a partner. You can do it. You need to develop a stronger sense of self so you can weather hard times without dissolving into what you've been doing for the past few months. Let him go and take this as a sign from the universe that you need to take a step back and figure yourself out for while. Don't fight for this at all. Just let go and start over. It's seriously what you need to do so your future relationships can be stronger.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:42 AM on February 7, 2014

Pretend you're already broken up. Make a list of everything you won't miss about him. I know it sounds awful but admit to yourself everything you wish he weren't and by doing that, you're staying realistic rather than wasting your time.
posted by discopolo at 5:16 PM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

So, to cut a long story short: How do I deal now? I will have two very stressful days tomorrow and on Sunday where I need to function, and also things to do next Tuesday after the possible breakup. Argh. :(

I could be wrong so disregard this if I am- you kind of sound like a person who like to know precisely where you stand most of the time, if not all the time. When its coming from the other person, its super-normal to feel this way. So just categorize relationship as a non-relationship for now, if not put up the break-up sign on it just yet.

You seem to have enough things to take care of- so focus on that. Prioritize every day with the professional work on top and make a list you can check off to get through the day. Put off all relationship type things for the next weekend (or when you dont need to concentrate on work as much; if you need to discuss anything with the partner, postpone that to this time as well). You also put off all the thinking and feelings that come after the breakup to that weekend. The only feeling you want now is the discomfort of not knowing where you stand right now.

Just a thing that may or may not help but worth trying...
posted by xm at 10:49 AM on February 9, 2014

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