Help me get over a three-night stand
May 21, 2015 12:49 PM   Subscribe

I had an unexpectedly emotionally intimate experience with someone impossible about a month ago, and I can't seem to move past it. Help me process the aftermath?

He lives across the country, and will continue to do so for years; he happened to be in town traveling. I'm locked into my life where I am. It's never going to be more than it was.

We spent three days in bed. We were both surprised by the unusual ease and instant comfort we felt together - a first for us both, and neither of us is that young. The most important thing about it was tenderness, a sense of closeness. I felt fundamentally and immediately accepted by him, cared for, fully myself, and I know he felt the same. It just felt like home.

I need to get over it. It's a little hard for me, though. I've been alone for a long time, now, mostly happily. After I broke up with my ex, four years ago, I've been content with ONS and casual dating here and there. Anyway, I haven't felt anything even close to this in over a decade, and haven't expected to. I'm not such a snowflake that there aren't a lot of men I could probably get along with well enough, but I can't help feeling this thing was special. I walked around like I was kicked in the stomach for two full weeks after he left. (It's less bad now.)

We're connected on FB (at his insistence; I didn't want to go there). No contact between us other than a brief and heartfelt exchange, which amounted to a goodbye, shortly after he left, with the implicit understanding that this was a time-limited and otherwise impossible thing. (It is, by the way, no question about that.)

In all, I've tried to take it as a kind of gift. But I notice (and am irrationally hurt, just a little) when he makes a new female friend, or likes a photo of another woman. I'm also, now, weirdly, a little angry at him? I stay away from posting at all - not sure why - but find myself commenting on other male friends' posts; I think (this is such a sick and embarrassing thing for a grown woman to do) in a bid to make him feel a little jealous. Dumb. I know I should at least unfollow him, but there's a stupid part of me that hopes that maybe something could still come out of this. I don't know how that would happen - I haven't contacted him directly since that last exchange (which I'd ended - his turn, right?), and he hasn't reached out to me. I'm not posting anything at all, anyway. And, christ, playing at stupid Facebook as a way of establishing contact is ridiculous and flimsy ground for anything real. Dumb.

So. All this made me think I should at least try to open myself up more to men in general. I did go on a date. Meh. Everyone is meh, the men of the past decade have been meh. The idea of taking on the task of deliberately finding a connection that will approximate this beautiful thing that fell from the sky is daunting. Especially because, as I said, I'm not a spring chicken.

How can I deal with this? Why am I angry at him? Should I try to date right now, or give myself a bit of time? Should I try to communicate with him again? Ok, I know the only answer to that can be no, so how do I find the wherewithal to unfollow him? This was the best thing to happen to me in so long.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Not to get too armchair shrink here, but have you considered that your feeling of connection here was sparked initially by the fact that long term engagement was, as you put, "impossible"? To wit: maybe going in knowing he was just a visitor emboldened you to let your guard down, and he responded in kind, giving you the sense that HE is special. I'm posing to you that perhaps it was the special situation that let you go there. Try reframing it that way so that you can let this particular person go. And yes, unfollow as quickly as your little clicky fingers will let you.
posted by pazazygeek at 12:57 PM on May 21, 2015 [22 favorites]

Unfriend immediately. Start dating right now! Good luck!
posted by Snazzy67 at 1:01 PM on May 21, 2015 [10 favorites]

How to Enjoy a New Relationship. From the title it may not seem relevant to your situation, but watch it until the end.

What you felt was real and valid. But those feelings are also a common feature of many (though not all) new relationships, perhaps especially ones that have some urgency behind them. And those feelings would have ended—always, inevitably, guaranteed, and sooner than you would probably like.

It may be cold comfort, but take it for what it was: a reminder that you can feel a close, intimate, romantic connection with a wonderful person, and a reminder that a wonderful person can feel the same way about you. There are no soul mates. He is not the only person that you will ever be able to feel that way about, and there are people who will feel that way about you. But chasing this person (online or in your daydreams) won't help you find them.
posted by jedicus at 1:01 PM on May 21, 2015 [14 favorites]

You really will get past it, and you're probably closer to that point than you think. I'd suggest hiding him on Facebook (rather than unfollowing, so he'll never know and you can decide to unhide him later) for a while, a month or two. Then decide if you want to make it permanent.

I agree that sometimes that kind of intense instant intimacy is a function of the fleeting nature of the encounter, this was something completely removed from daily life into its own bubble, and that bubble breaks when it's an ongoing thing. It has to, because there's bills to pay and stuff.

I think the anger is kind of an existential roar, not really at him so much as the world. Give yourself the gift of initiating no contact for a bit, try to get busy doing something else for a few weeks, start a craft project or rewatch all of The X-Files or take up power-walking or something. It will pass, and you will be able to think of it as the gift it was.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:02 PM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

this thing was special

It was, it sounds great. But special is not unique.

He may be 1 in 100 or 1 in 10,000 but he's not 1 in 7,100,000,000. Un-friend. Date.
posted by French Fry at 1:04 PM on May 21, 2015 [13 favorites]

I think knowing you wouldn't see each other again allowed you both to let your guards down and that is why you had such a great time for those three days: "Hey, what have I got to lose?" If you knew there was potential for a relationship, would you have spent three days in bed? Or would you have spent three dates getting to know him better - his likes, dislikes, habits, etc?

You really don't know what he would be like to "date", so don't project those things. He could be the guy who is rude to the waitstaff, or always late to pick you up, or stands you up. You don't know - you knew him for three days. If you had stretched things out over three weeks, you'd see a lot more about him that wouldn't make you think he was such a prince charming. If it helps, try to imagine him doing those things the guys you are dating do that you don't dig.

Unfriend him immediately and move on; stalking him on Facebook is a waste of your time - seriously, don't rub salt on your wound. However, keep dating and try to maybe let your guard down a little with the men you are dating - that seemed to help you connect with this guy, maybe it will help you connect with someone else?
Best of luck moving on.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:21 PM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

Man, you sound like you're being super ridiculously hard on yourself. You're not ridiculous or irrational for feeling your feelings - trying to talk yourself out of them is not an awesome idea.

I think a month is still a pretty fresh wound, and it makes sense you would still be thinking about him a lot.

For me, actually blocking the person on Facebook is the best way for me to deal with this - it seems harsh at the moment you're doing it, but I would tend to continually search for them/do some stalking, and that leads to madness. You can always re-friend him later if you're still thinking about him - he will either have noticed that you unfriended/blocked him for a bit and possibly have questions about that, or he will not have noticed (which can be humbling). Good luck, and I'm rooting for you.
posted by superlibby at 1:37 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Why would you let daily Facebook routine ruin something that, while lying in the past, was a beautiful experience? This is a great reminder that real-life experiences are what we're here for. Just pitch the entire FB rig already.

Other than that, yay on you for experiencing this, but I do agree with the 'special isn't unique' comment above. This experience will show you the qualities you have the right to expect from future partners.

(Perhaps it's only me and my optimism but: If there's an opening other than social media for interacting with him over a distance and both are ok with it, you could test if that works. I have fabulous recollections of some great long-term e-mail exchanges; and one shouldn't underestimate the good old telephone either).
posted by Namlit at 1:52 PM on May 21, 2015

It was, it sounds great. But special is not unique.

Bingo. Wash, rinse, repeat.

What you got out of this encounter was a reminder that you are capable of such feelings again. Ain't that something all by itself? Don't waste this new awareness pursuing something you know can't work out. Find the same thing with better circumstances. Special is not unique. It's not even special.
posted by three blind mice at 1:53 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree that sometimes that kind of intense instant intimacy is a function of the fleeting nature of the encounter, this was something completely removed from daily life into its own bubble, and that bubble breaks when it's an ongoing thing. It has to, because there's bills to pay and stuff.

This. Plus, I had (what I am guessing was) a really similar experience with someone in my past. Even down to the three days together thing. Except we actually did wind up dating seriously -- against a lot of odds and long distance -- and you know what? It turned out he wasn't all that wonderful once we got into the actual relationship part of things. In fact, I regret that I ever got involved with him. I look back on it now as how I learned that the "intense, instant intimacy" you can feel for someone can be totally misleading. Fast forward through a handful of years and I have felt a similar rush with a handful of other people. In every case, it took time for real intimacy to develop and in every case but with my current partner, I wound up breaking it off because I figured out it wasn't what I wanted. What I'm trying to say is: the advice you're getting to unfriend this person on social media and get to truly know someone near you (and let them get to truly know you) is sound, in my opinion.
posted by pinetree at 1:54 PM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

Imagine walking onto a basketball court, taking one shot from the three point line, and getting nothing but net. It's an amazing moment, but it's probably not going to happen again on the second try. And that one shot doesn't mean you should play for the NBA, because it's just a small piece of the game.

It's easy to idealize short encounters like this, because it's all sparks and connection and fun. There's just no opportunity for anything boring or bad to happen - no arguments, no getting stuck in traffic, no getting home to find your partner forgot to walk the dog. And because it was so perfect and so intense, you can't help but want to recapture it. It can become an obsession.

The anger and frustration you're feeling are because the memory of this strong connection is fresh in your mind. You want to feel that way again, and you can't, so your mind latches on to another strong feeling - in this case, anger. Distancing yourself will allow the anger to fade; unfriend or mute him, and stop using words like "dumb" and "embarrassing" to describe yourself. Kicking yourself for fixating on this serves no practical purpose and only hurts you, just like the fixation itself.

You can and will experience more beautiful things. They may not be as intensely concentrated as this one was, but that doesn't make them inferior.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:54 PM on May 21, 2015 [10 favorites]

Accept your feelings and verbalize them or write them down somewhere.... But know that you are not going to act on them.

Accepting a feeling instead of trying to ignore or suppress them is a good way to to remove their power.

You can't control your feelings but you can control your actions... Focus on not doing anything due to your feelings ... Just accept and happily experience your feelings.

Know that experiencing an intense feeling is good... Tells you that you are connected with life. Focus on not letting your actions dictate your feelings.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 2:16 PM on May 21, 2015

Dumb...stupid...dumb...ridiculous...not such a special spring chicken...

Sheesh. You do sound angry, but not at him.

The Buddhists (at least according to the American Buddhist podcast lady I listen to on occasion) talk about the second arrow of suffering. The first arrow is your negative emotion (you miss him! you're angry at him!) and the second arrow is the feeling of guilt and failure and worthlessness you feel because you feel that way. ('Grown ladies shouldn't be mooning around over three night stands! It's so humiliating that I keep checking his Facebook. What is wrong with me? DUMB DUMB DUMB.') Once you peel back that layer of guilt, etc., you'll probably be surprised at how manageable the first-order emotions actually are.

Yes, ultimately, this will probably end when you stop checking his Facebook and meet someone else, but you're only going to prolong your suffering if you try and whip yourself into submission by forcing yourself to go on a bunch of dates you resent and then try, and fail, and try again to stop checking his Facebook.

Stop being so mean to yourself and just feel what you feel, for goodness sake. If you want to Facebook stalk him and stomp around feeling like you got kicked in the gut, do it. If you want to stop dating for a while because everybody you've been dating is 'meh', then do it. If you want to lose yourself in daydreams about moving across country to be with him, do it. The downward spiral comes when you add guilt and self-loathing into the cocktail; if you can quiet the negative self-talk and stop telling yourself what you 'should' be doing and feeling in the wake of this (wonderful!) experience, the sadness and anger will pass on their own in no time at all. I swear.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 2:31 PM on May 21, 2015 [32 favorites]

Yes, it was special, wonderful. enjoy the afterglow as long as you can. He's probably special, wonderful, it hurts that you can't have a relationship. You have no choice but to experience and move on from the hurt of not having more. Mark him as no notifications on fb. It's quite possible that he's a very smooth, charming guy who is able to have brief, lovely intimate interactions. Even if he were to live in your town, he might not be at all available. Or not. You can't know. You are now grieving a phantom.

You showed yourself that you can still have sexy fun times, are still attractive. Had you forgotten that? How nice of him to remind you. He's your far away phantom lover. Shelve him. Go forth and find more love. I am reminding myself of this, also.
posted by theora55 at 3:08 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

lock down your social media. Why are you keeping up with this guy??

You'll feel better when you stop torturing yourself with his internet presence.
posted by jbenben at 3:49 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

(this is such a sick and embarrassing thing for a grown woman to do)

Its a human thing to do.

First, you stay friends on facebook, but you unfollow. So you don't see his posts on your timeline. Easier.

Second, go on dates. Don't expect much from any one date. Focus on learning what you like about dating and enjoy that. Its not an audition, its a nice drink at a bar or a dinner. The thing is you need to learn to enjoy being around men you are attracted to and who are available.

Third, up your game. By this I mean work on better appearance. Get a new 'do, new clothes, get as fit as you can. I also think you should learn how to flirt better. Women are often bombarded by maile attention, when all they want is the attention of a guy they are into. To attract a man like that you gotta play to win and that means upping every part of your game.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:35 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised that nobody has suggested you even try long-distance romance, and the assumption here seems to be it's doomed to failure. Why? Seriously, we have phones and emails and texts and even Skype, and apparently he travels. The technology exists now that will make a LDR a lot easier to work than it used to be.

You keep saying it just CAN NOT HAPPEN. But I think you need to take another look at that, and maybe talk to this guy about it. If you felt something deep, and it was mutual, what have you got to lose by seeing if that's something real and lasting? The alternative is to just keep dating and hope something like that happens again with somebody more local. It may. You could pursue something with this guy and maybe waste your time, or you could try to make something happen with other guys and maybe waste your time. There is no sure path here, but you know you and this guy clicked and clicked hard for three days at least.

If you end up madly in love, eventually one or both of you can move, to be together. It is really unlikely that you will both be absolutely stuck where you are now, for the rest of your lives.

In any case, no more passive aggressive Facebook games. That's not good for either of you. You're hurting because you miss him. Don't let that turn you weird and headgame-y.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:15 PM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

I could have written this post nearly two weeks ago - except it would have been "Help me get over a two night stand". My friend brought him over to my house one night and I immediately thought "wow". Then, as the night progressed and we talked more, I realised how much we had in common and how much, if circumstances were different, I could really grow to like him. I remember being sort of hit with this realisation as he talked. Anyway we slept together, had a great time, and that was that.

Then I very unexpectedly met him again and had a repeat. Except this time was different. It didn't have the same shine as the one night stand as it felt more intimate/emotional on both sides. More serious. I didn't want to leave, or for him to leave (he too was just travelling). Afterwards, there was a point when I actually sobbed over missing him. I really felt that in other circumstances we could have dated. But, as some people have said here, I think things unfolded as they did because we knew it was short-term and had to end. Still, I was upset & thought about adding him on Facebook (we've talked there before, but neither of us have added the other). I've decided against it. We both discussed not being built for long distance and I really am not.

Then despite being upset & craving him a funny thing happened. I heard he was back in town for about a week, in fact he's here right now. But I realised that although it would be nice to see him again, I didn't really want to meet up one last time. I am content to look back on the bubble - an ever shiny memory for when I'm old and grey. :D PM me if you want to talk!

Ps. Could how you feel about this situation not only be about the way you clicked with this guy, but also about where you are in your life? Since breaking up with my ex I have been content with ONS and casual stuff. But the fact that this latest casual encounter (that was not so casual) effected me so much makes me think that maybe I am reaching a place where I could consider being with someone more seriously again. I feel like I am arriving at a new place in my life but I also feel like I felt the way I did because this guy was someone I clicked with.
posted by Kat_Dubs at 3:47 PM on May 25, 2015

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