Boyfrend broke up with me, now he's in contact. What's happening?
April 2, 2014 12:05 PM   Subscribe

After almost a year of planning to move abroad together my boyfriend dumped me suddenly after a tough couple of months. Can you help me diagnose what's going on here?

Nearly a year ago my (ex) boyfriend and I got together. At the time my grandfather who had been much like a father after my parents split, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I warned my not-yet boyfriend of the turbulent time that might come with this and he said “I want to be there for you. I can be your haven when things get rough” and so we entered into a relationship. After a couple of months of dating, he told me he loved me. I was surprised/slightly freaked out, but he assured me he had never met anyone he felt this free to express himself with.

Before we met, it turns out we had both wanted to go travelling to the same country. And, over dinner one night, he said “In a year from now, once things have settled we can go to Spain, travel together, get a little place and *insert further dreamy plans here*.” I did think it was fast, but it also gave me something to look forward to. And the fact he was postponing travelling to be with me meant a lot.

Life got harder. My once strong grandad deteriorated before my eyes, and my mother and myself pulled together to look after him. My time with my boyfriend did provide the ‘haven’ he had spoken of; we spent time learning recipes of the cuisine of the country we were going to move to, even went to the country for a short break to check out the location + started learning the language together.

But after my granddad died my boyfriend exploded one night. Said everything had been about my needs all this time while I felt aghast at his lack of empathy (his mother died from cancer years prior). He brought up a list of little chores & things had forgotten to do when I was emotionally weak and void.

Then I got promoted at work and started to feel gradually better – I resumed driving lessons + occasionally wrote for a magazine. Meanwhile he stayed underemployed working part time and bragged about how many books he read at work because the days were so slow.

But things got better again. We ramped up planning for the future and he said he thought we should move in together before we moved abroad as a trial run. I wasn’t ready yet (grieving) and suggested we try around Autumn time. His response? “It sounds like you want to break up with me.” He began nitpicking at things like ‘you don’t always thank the cashier in the shop’ (not true!) and ‘you seem to just think about yourself a lot’ (again, I had spent a year sacrificing my own dream, which had always been to go travelling, to look after my family the best way I could! Wtf).

Grief, my family’s grief, being overloaded at work because we are understaffed, chronic pain had made things almost unbearable at times…but I decided to take action + do something about it. I started yoga, eating better + trying to become more mindful. Last week I tried to encourage him that while things had been hard, patience and time would heal the situation and we were so close to reaching our travel destination. We were almost there. Then he came to a family event with me, played nice with my parents and broke it off a few hours later. Cited lots of reasons: we seem incompatible (one part of this was that he always said he’d stop smoking before we moved in together – he didn’t in the end), “I really wanted us to move in for that trial period”, “you don’t seem to have room for me in your life” + finally breaking down in tears with “I don’t deserve to be with you.”

I had a missed call from him the next day, didn’t return it and haven’t heard since. I am struggling because I was building a future with this man and feel the rug has been pulled from under me. One of the things I am struggling more than anything though, is the assassination that begun on my character in the last few weeks. How could he change his mind about us so quickly? Why stay with me for that length of time then leave suddenly?

Update: just before I posted this he text me asking how I was. He said he was sorry about everything, that his head had been muddled. recently and that he hoped I was okay. This comes after I said I did not want to remain in contact/friends - I feel more messed with now!
posted by Kat_Dubs to Human Relations (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry, dear. This can how it goes with breakups- things are fine, until they aren't. You're in love, until you aren't. You want to be with someone, until you don't. I wouldn't take it too personally. You have a lot on your plate right now. Ignore any attempts he makes to reach out to you and focus on yourself. You'll get through it, I promise!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:13 PM on April 2, 2014 [9 favorites]

He is messing with you, whether he realizes it or not. Block, block, block. Do not allow him to contact you. Stick to your guns. No contact, and he is not your friend.
posted by Dolley at 12:14 PM on April 2, 2014 [16 favorites]

Can you help me diagnose what's going on here?

If it's the same guy from this question, yes I believe I can help: He's an immature little shit who has no idea how to handle any kind of conflict between adults, so he's sort of throwing a prolonged tantrum because he doesn't particularly see your feelings as valid or worth considering.

What happened here is that he found himself getting turned off for whatever dumb reason and he could not figure out healthy way to address that so he just kind of nitpicked you to death.

I don't think he's messing with you on purpose - I think he is just kind of taking a lot of shit out on you and it may be kind of confusing for you as a result. My advice is to stay out of contact with him and start the process of moving on. This guy did you a favor, whether you realize it or not.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:17 PM on April 2, 2014 [23 favorites]

It hurts so much, and I'm sorry, but this man is not ready to do any of the things you're working so hard to accomplish!

As much as you want to, you can't keep him for a pet. The kindest thing to do is release him, so he can get a job, get a place, quit smoking and do the things he needs to do in his life. Being with you has stunted his growth, and he knows it. He's not trying to hurt you intentionally, it's just that he's a mess and he doesn't know what he wants!

Keep on keeping on, you're doing fine. Take a break from social media, block him from text and call, basically, become WAY too busy to deal with his bullshit.

This man is not a good person, if he's the guy from previous questions, and you're well rid of him. You can't see it now, because you miss having a boyfriend. I'm telling you, that you can do, much, much better.

Don't try to understand his motivations. Even HE doesn't understand them! For now, concentrate on work, family, and learning Spanish, because you've got a trip to plan for!

Hang in there sweetie.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:25 PM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

So he can't even respect you enough to stop texting after you said you did not want to remain in contact?

The boy just wants what he can't have. Hardcore no-contact his ass.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:25 PM on April 2, 2014 [8 favorites]

Sounds like a lot of the things you connected about were about dreams and plans, not reality now. The relationship he's having is with some ideal in his head, which is not really you, but he doesn't realize that yet. He sounds very confused and he should leave you alone so he can sort that out. You should focus on yourself and what you need. Good luck.
posted by Riverine at 12:32 PM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

When you say he wanted to move in with you: do you mean he wanted to move into your current place? That basically, he wanted to live rent-free on your dime? That, plus his underemployment (is he even looking for something better, or is he happy to merely snipe at you because he's underemployed and you got a promotion), plus dumping you without warning like that and now, just days later, he's all regretful and lovely and caring, says to me that hell yes, he's playing you like a yo-yo.

Let me guess: anytime he gets his way, everything is rainbows & unicorns; anytime you don't blindly go along with what he wants, you are uncaring and self-centered..... example: if he wants to go to the zoo but you want to see a movie, if you agree to go with him to the zoo he's happy; if you insist on seeing your movie because you went to the zoo with him three times last week, he says things like that "you don't seem to have room for me in your life". If you spend any time with your friends or family instead of focusing 100% on him, you're self-centered. He wanted to move in with you, you did not: he didn't get what he wanted, so you must not care about his feelings.

Okay. He dumped you, which may just be the kindest thing he's ever done for you. If you let him, he'll reel you back in, dump you again, haul you back for another round, then dump you again, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Go the full no-contact: inform him once (and only once) that you do not want him to contact you in any way; do not accept or read his texts, delete and block his number from your phone, unfriend him on facebook, delete his emails.
posted by easily confused at 12:33 PM on April 2, 2014 [15 favorites]

"When a fantasy bond is broken, we are more likely to mourn the end of our false sense of security than the end of real, loving relating." Lisa Firestone
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 12:33 PM on April 2, 2014 [9 favorites]

Leave him alone and go no contact. He sounds quite emotionally immature and only is supportive and decent to you when he's getting his fantasy self reflected back at him by you. It sounds like you've made a lot of good decisions for yourself during a difficult time. Don't let him undermine them with his tantrums and manipulations.
posted by quince at 12:55 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of the things I am struggling more than anything though, is the assassination that begun on my character in the last few weeks.

Frequently people aren't good at being honest with themselves about why they want to break up. Breaking up seems like such a big and drastic decision and is one that they know will hurt the other person. They can't admit to themselves that they are taking that step "merely" because things just aren't quite working out. So, they demonize the other person in order to justify the breakup and get themselves pysched up to actually take that drastic step.

Try not to give weight to his attacks on his character. As he said, his head was "muddled." He wasn't mature enough to handle his own emotions.
posted by Area Man at 12:59 PM on April 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Every ex I've ever had has contacted me after our break-up. Hell, I just expect it now. I mean, it usually eventually tapers off, with the very occasional "years later hello."

Just hang in there, this part is the bullshittiest part. It will pass.
posted by quincunx at 1:12 PM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Every one of your questions on Ask has been entirely or mostly about the problems in this relationship. He may have seen the same problems you did, but unlike you, did not think them worth working through. He may be regretting it now, but it really seems like you are better off without him. None of your questions describe him in a very positive light.
posted by chaiminda at 1:50 PM on April 2, 2014

This guy treated you poorly, argued with you constantly and refuses to respect your boundaries.

You are well rid of him. Maintain "no contact" and soon he will go away.

(Trust me from experience - if you respond *at all*, it will begin another deluge. Regardless of the provocation, do not respond to him.)
posted by dotgirl at 2:04 PM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Congratulations on taking the road away from a lifetime of doing things HIS WAY. Ignore any attempts he makes to insert himself back into your life. Guess what OP? There are plenty of guys out there who don't behave this way. Guys who are in it for the long haul, who don't pressure you to make big life decisions too quickly, guys who would never insult or belittle you. They're out there and this dude is so not one of them. No texting, no phone calls, no coffee dates, no Facebook messages. None of it. End this here, for your own sake.

And know that many people reading this question have been in similar situations and in many of those cases, everything turned out for the better. Take care.
posted by futureisunwritten at 2:44 PM on April 2, 2014

Yeah, you're better off without this guy. You have very vividly described the way that he keeps putting you in the wrong and projecting his issues onto you. This has undermined your sense of yourself at a time when you already had a lot of stress. You don't need this crap.
posted by BibiRose at 2:57 PM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Five questions in four months about generally the same issues with your (now-ex) boyfriend; I diagnose that the relationship is not helping you and dwelling on it is making things worse. Close it up, go no contact, stop caring what he thinks/why you broke up. Life is awesome and waiting for you out there without him.
posted by saucysault at 5:02 PM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Please tell this guy to fuck off already.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but asking about this guy five different ways isn't going to magically mature him and turn a relationship with him into a Good Thing.

I get the angst over whyyyyy and howwww -- I really do. I've turned on a dime in relationships, or at least I know I've appeared to, and those were relationships where communication wasn't the greatest or I was in the relationship for some weird reason of my own that had nothing to do with truly loving the other person. And it's been done to me -- one time, I went and had a family planning appointment with my live-in boyfriend's blessing and transitioned over to the Fertility Planning Method, only he couldn't make the appointment at the last minute because he had to drive an hour out of town to fuck his new girlfriend who thought he lived in her town, then three weeks later he dumped me for my birthday. Why? Who the hell knows? Would knowing this change what actually happened and the steps that I had to take to put my life back together? Nope. Closure comes from within.

I'm not saying that men, even men who do weird shit like this, are inherently evil, but they are certainly people with flaws and confusion and motivations they probably don't fully understand. Please do yourself a huge favor and block his number.

After your last question about this guy -- seriously, this is a blessing. I married a guy who sounds so similar to his description and it was a disaster. Don't be me, go spend your 20s loving yourself.
posted by mibo at 5:47 PM on April 2, 2014 [10 favorites]

I think your ex had an idea of himself as the kind of person who would help a partner though a death in the family... but that kind of support is really hard, especially if he was more invested in the idea/prestige of being supportive, instead of it just being the right thing to do. So the little resentments just built up until they exploded, but a lot of that's on him, for insisting everything was fine when it wasn't.

Also... it sounds like he started being really critical around the time you started feeling better and getting back on track. Is that what happened? Again, it sounds like he was invested in the role of "perfect supportive boyfriend!" for reasons to do with his own ego, and as you made positive changes and emerged from the stress/depression of the past year, he felt threatened and inadequate, because that role wasn't available anymore. I think he cooled on you because you're doing better. It's a hallmark of crappy partners everywhere to be threatened when the other person improves their life, or surpasses them in some way.

I just read some of your other questions, and I think you're well rid of this guy. Truly. I'm sure he has good qualities, but he really upset you a lot, and at the worst possible times. You put your whole life on hold to take care of your granddad, which was a really decent, grownup thing to do... and now it's time to get back to your plans and dreams. I would delete your ex's message. And go to Spain by yourself.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:00 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

This doesn't strike me as a sudden break up. Based on your previous questions, you and your bf have been unhappy due to unmet needs pretty much since the relationship began - things seemed rocky from the get-go. The fact that you don't believe you were selfish in this relationship is very telling. The relationship was always one-sided - you were too invested in your grief/family to really offer any kind of attention/focus to your partner. His needs (and the relationship) were secondary to you and your family (which isn't necessarily a bad thing - but surely you didn't expect him to be 2nd in your life forever, when he clearly wanted more). Your bf also seemed too desperate to move the relationship forward - probably in some hope that you guys would stop talking about future plans and actually take action.

The problem is that he does (did?) like you and you are (were?) simply unavailable, emotionally. His reaching out after the break-up may be because he's worried about you - you spent the majority of your relationship grieving, being depressed and otherwise despondent. He may be worried about the additional grief the break-up has caused.

FWIW, I don't think he's a bad guy for breaking up with you. I think he simply got tired of being your support, while rarely getting his own needs met. Clearly he placed a lot of importance on moving in together (and I think his idea of a trial run was a very good suggestion), so your refusal/reluctance told him everything he needed to know: everything about the relationship was/is on your terms and he's had enough of being 2nd fiddle in your life.
posted by stubbehtail at 12:39 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Block his number and resolve to never communicate with him again.

In the meantime, get a good therapist who can explain why his behavior was destructive and help you understand why you wanted a future with a man who treated you so poorly.
posted by Gray Skies at 9:06 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: He's now begging for me to take him back in a massive email. Said he thought it was the relationship that was making him unhappy, but, after some reflection realises it was more to do with other issues in his life than me.

He says he loves me and still wants us to have that future together in Spain; that was he too hasty, took me for granted and is basically sorry. He's come to realisations about things in the relationship that I already possessed weeks ago.

He said he's sorry he didn't support me more and sorry he took me for granted. And I feel really really sad. Because I was really sure we had a great future ahead of us. Until he left me. So, in that time period of a week, I have moved myself into a different frame of mind where I'm starting to look at what life be like without him. I'm so angry that he did this. Thanks everyone.
posted by Kat_Dubs at 3:11 PM on April 4, 2014

I agree with him that it sounds like it is him. Except he can't be happy with you - or without you - until he figures out who he is. There is NO point to you allowing yourself to be dragged along his "journey of self discovery". Because, 100% of the time, the person has made themselves and their partner completely miserable, they "find themselves", and immediately hop into a healthier relationship with someone else.
posted by saucysault at 4:28 PM on April 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

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