Short relationship and he asked for space to think about things
May 10, 2016 3:12 PM   Subscribe

I feel pretty upset that this guy I've been dating for 1.5 months (and known for longer) has suddenly decided he needs space while I was away. He has every right to choose to stop seeing me but we see each other frequently in our social circle and where he works/works out at and will continue to for another 3 months, so I told him I would like to talk to him about it in person.

We started talking about 3+ months ago and I developed a crush on him. I thought it was mutual but he seemed as shy as I was and a tad bit more awkward so I wasn’t certain. Finally after nearly 3 months he asked me out and we spent 4 hours just talking and sharing our histories, goals, etc., but I still wasn’t sure it was a date. The second time he invited me over to watch a game we kissed goodbye and from there started dating regularly about 2 days a week, talking whenever we saw each other in person, and texting daily.

Before we started dating I found out he was looking to going to back to school in another city for 5 years and was bummed but didn’t want to regret not knowing what would happen so I went along with dating him anyway. Early on he apologized if he was acting weird and wanted to take it slow physically since he was moving soon and didn’t know what he was looking for. I was 4 months out of a 1+ year relationship and didn’t know either, but thought maybe since it potentially had an expiration date on it it could be fun to date him for a bit and see where it goes.

About a month in we start sleeping together on most of our 2-3 dates and enjoying each other’s company. I never doubted his interest in me and we got to know a lot of deeper and personal questions about our interests, ideas, family, etc. We were supportive of each other's pursuits and wanted to know what was going on in each others' lives. He's terrible at time management but when he was late to a date due to circumstances out of his control he'd rush and take an uber to make it on time and another time showed up to my place with flowers and wine. I was one of the few he invited to his birthday dinner with friends who already know me, and he didn't hide that we were together, which sort of making things a little more official. The day before I left for my trip we spent the night together and he complimented me and seemed to really enjoy our time together.

About a month in I learned about his last relationship (6 years off and on while they were in school, long distance mostly, ended 1+ years ago) and found out that she moved to another city while he planned to join her. Then he changed his mind without talking to her about it to pursue his own career goals which hurt her and led to them breaking up. It freaked me out a little because I could relate to his ex a bit and figured our idea of relationships and commitment maybe wouldn’t align. On our 3rd date he said he actually got a phone call from her (but didn’t answer), which was their first contact since they broke up. He later told me that he called back to see why and said she was still upset with him, which he seemed surprised by. A week later I sorta forgot about it though and tried to just enjoy our time together, still thinking it wasn’t going to last anyway and that’d we’d soon talk about what we’re doing.

So last week I was gone for an 8 day vacation. I didn’t think he’d keep in touch that much since he wasn’t the best texter but seemed to do a good job at first and seemed interested in what I was doing. However, towards the end of the trip, some days he started not replying for the first time or texting way less while other days texting like normal. It made me anxious but I tried my best to control my feelings and not let him know it affected me and stayed busy on my trip. My friend back at home who saw him said he was super busy, exhausted, and a little down because his goals for his final and biggest season of his sport (he does semi-professionally and the reason he didn’t leave the city to join his ex-gf at first) were starting to fall apart (in his mind) because of a recent bad performance and ongoing injury. He told her (and me later) that he needed to get more serious about his training, though I don't see how he wasn't before, but maybe it's played into his reasoning to stop seeing me.

When I was about to make it back home I had a bad gut feeling and a lot of anxiety since I was starting to get attached and have a fear of abandonment. I invited him to join me for dinner after work the day I got home to see if he was any different in person and potentially have a conversation about what was going on, but he said he already had plans and said "maybe tomorrow though?". I didn’t hear from the rest of the day until later the next morning when he confirmed he could come after work that afternoon.

I texted him briefly to see how he was doing and he didn’t respond till the end of work. 20 minutes before he got off work he finally texted me that he wasn’t going to come. He said he needed some time to think some stuff over and that he needs space to do it. He mentioned that a lot of it has to do with him “moving, etc.” I was frustrated that he waited all day to cancel on me, but thankfully I was out with friends already since I sort of expected it but hoped it wouldn’t happen. I really don't like that he agreed to come and then backed out since I also bought food for dinner for us. I texted back telling him that I was wanting to have a conversation about that exact topic with him in person and he apologized for having texted me about it and said we can talk soon since I “deserve more than that”.

I was really looking forward to catching up and having a relaxing dinner and evening with him since I knew he was tired and stressed :( It hurts to think he suddenly lost interest when I did nothing to cause it. This has already happened to me at the 6/7 weeks mark exactly and I think it was because the guy met someone else, even though we spent a ton of time together. It still hurts a little 2 years later (because of the situation, not the guy).

It’s been two days and I saw him briefly yesterday and he just exchanged a few words but looked a little awkward. He didn’t come over to talk to me after a class I always go to like he usually does and so neither did I.

I know whatever we were doing is over now and I do plan to talk to him but I’m trying not to get too upset over this or mad at him, but every time I think about it (which is often right now), I am overwhelmed with hurt and confusion. I feel like it is totally unnecessary and hurtful that he just started avoiding me out of nowhere, especially when it’s not like he can just vanish from my life since we see each other and were sort of friends. I am certain I would have felt much better about this if we both got a chance to talk about it and came to a mutual conclusion to part ways amicably since I was on the fence about him as a long term partner anyway.

What’s the best way to go about this conversation with him whenever it happens? And if he keeps putting it off, when should I ask him to meet up briefly to talk? How do I let go of this resentment? And what could possibly have happened? It's the second time it's happened to me now and I already had some paranoia "waiting for the other shoe to drop."
posted by korrasamus to Human Relations (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't see why you're trying to meet up with this man again to have a conversation about why your relationship ended. It won't give you the closure you're hoping for -- it'll just delay the process of moving on. On the contrary, I would try to avoid him.

I do think you should give yourself permission to feel upset and mad. This man has been selfish and has not been very kind to you. I don't see why you should deny those feelings.
posted by crazy with stars at 3:19 PM on May 10, 2016 [19 favorites]

Let it go. Breakups are rarely bilateral and each person gets to decide when to end it without consulting the other.

You want closure and there's no such thing. What could he tell you that would make his not wanting to continue to date you okay? What if you talk to him and he doesn't say that thing?

Best thing to do is to block him, go to the gym when he's not likely to be there and if you see him out and about, pretend you didn't.

Feel your feels, bitch to your friends, but close this chapter. Soon he'll be gone and in a year you won't remember his last name.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:21 PM on May 10, 2016 [15 favorites]

6-7 weeks of dating someone is, in my experience, usually when a lot of fledgling relationships stop working. You're just moving out of the full-on limerence OMG THEY'RE SO AWESOME phase and into truly getting to know each other. Sometimes that solidifies something; more often that's just when a lot of people go "hmm, nope, that felt great for a while but isn't really what I want."

He asked for space. Give him space. That's all you can do, plus what Ruthless Bunny said.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:26 PM on May 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

So he ghosted a 6 year relationship and is now ghosting you. Sounds like he didn't give her much explanation, so I bet he really thinks he can get away with not giving "1.5 month" you any. It may have happened to you once before, but I think that is more about the disposable, casual environment we live in these days rather than you or any other person. The world is riddled with ill-mannered people who fear owning up to their actions and/or confrontation. You sadly found one of them.

This is one of those moments where you need to write him off as having character flaws you're better off knowing about sooner rather than later and leave it at that.
posted by cecic at 3:26 PM on May 10, 2016 [13 favorites]

This all sounds like "he's getting back together with his ex and feels bad about hurting you."
posted by corb at 3:44 PM on May 10, 2016 [15 favorites]

And what could possibly have happened?

Ah, ok... I think, he probably is figuring things out for himself. Sounds to me like maybe some inertia or passivity might have been keeping that LDR going on his end, and that he had some kind of awakening about what direction he wanted his life to take (re the academic program).

I think that he responded positively to the opportunity you were presenting, because he liked you... but mostly (ah, sorry to say it like this) - because you made it easy for him to do that and (sounds like) kind of drove the bus. He was lukewarm in the beginning.... I think his own feelings became clearer to him when you were away, when you weren't right there in front of him and making things happen. I think he probably wanted to be fair to you in breaking up, but dragged his feet on it a bit, because he probably doesn't have a lot of experience in being direct - or even knowing what he wants, necessarily. So he pulled away, because that's easy, and because he didn't want to hurt you, or be a "bad guy".

Pushing for a(nother) conversation about this would be more of the same, more of you trying to control the dynamic / his response. It sucks, but he said he isn't able to be into this relationship. He has his reasons, whatever they are, his choice should (has to) be respected.

I think going no-contact would be best at this point... maybe put a hold on that membership and get a month-to-month at another gym for a bit. Or go at a time when he's not there, for a while.

Attraction is arbitrary in a way, though. He can't help what he feels, and neither can you. So it is deeply personal in one way (you feel that you are being rejected) but also really not (his preferences just are what they are). It will just hurt for a while, until it doesn't :/

If this sort of thing happens a lot, where you are the one mostly making things happen and ending up confused by people not responding, maybe, pass on those people, and focus on people who are enthusiastic about being with you.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:07 PM on May 10, 2016 [8 favorites]

Woah, this is way too much investment for a six week relationship. Breakups happen. Treat yourself to something nice and stay optimistic. Someone great is coming.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:09 PM on May 10, 2016 [10 favorites]

I don't think we can say you're too invested. People can fall head over heels in love a lot faster than six weeks. (Not to say that you did necessarily, just that six weeks is plenty of time for some people to develop serious feelings.) It's not impossible he's gotten back together with the ex, but I'd be surprised. I think you two are both disgruntled exes he ghosted, and there are probably more out there.

It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong. I think this guy probably has a history of being wishy-washy and avoid-y about ending relationships, and he ghosted you. If you encounter him again, I think you can ask, "So, do you want to talk this out?" But that's about it. Don't press this.

I got ghosted when I'd been with somebody for a couple of years. (It all went south when I was away on a trip too.) So be glad you got out in just a few weeks! Go find somebody who will treat you better.

Even if he changes his mind and comes around saying he wants to get back together, I'd say don't do it unless you want to be with a guy who avoids problems, rationalizes his behavior and ghosts people.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:36 PM on May 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

He's a gross human being that doesn't have respect for others.

YEP - he ghosted a 6 yr relationship and he's ghosting you because this is who he is.

Block his number and forget you know him. You might want to change your routines a bit so you stop running into him.

He's probably only mindfucking his poor ex girlfriend because you were in the picture and gave his dramatic tendencies some fuel. His poor poor ex. You dodged a bullet.

In the future... That story he told about his non-communication tendencies was a neon flashing red flag and you would have been smart to put your attention elsewhere at that point. He's a child, not an adult. Good riddance.
posted by jbenben at 4:42 PM on May 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

I mean - obviously all of the other normal stuff about just basic incompatibility, moving on with ease and grace, etc, etc....

But that whole narrative was super transparent, the ghosting text book. He's actually a boy, and kinda awful because he's showing a lack of respect for himself and others. I have no problem trashing his actions. He's a lame drama llama.
posted by jbenben at 4:47 PM on May 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

You were worried when you heard about how he dealt with his ex and then put it out of your mind. He has now done the same thing. A tiger doesn't change its stripes. Chalk this one up as a lesson and move on. The closure you want isn't going to come from him. And next time, when you have that feeling about how he treated his last relationship? Listen to it. Unless someone has gone to therapy or done a ton of work on themselves via some other avenue, they're still the same person and are likely to do the same to you. I'm so sorry about this; be gentle with yourself.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:56 PM on May 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

You had all the warning signs about this guy, his situation, and (later) his past - my advice would be to maybe not let a crush override logic in the future if possible. Yeah, he did you wrong and didn't communicate, but luckily you'd only been dating for a few weeks. If you'd like to salvage the friendship, go ahead and push for a meeting with that in mind. Otherwise, be happy that you're out of that not-fun-sounding limbo!
posted by destructive cactus at 5:26 PM on May 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Most of your questions I can't answer but this "How do I let go of my resentment?" - Don't.

Wait for it to shrink down to a manageable size, which will take time. Then have it put on your keychain. Anytime you are tempted to think of or spend time with him again, take a good luck at your (small, not overwhelming, not taking-over-your-life, but not erased) resentment and remember why not.

Sometimes it helps me to remember that people are the way they are because of the circumstances of their live. Maybe he has some shitty crap in his past, maybe his family of origin created a home where honestly talking about feelings was an absolute no-go, who knows. You can both acknowledge that he's being a dick to you and also acknowledge that his dickishness isn't personal to you and represents something kinda broken/messed-up about him. You dodged a bullet here - better luck next time.
posted by bunderful at 7:11 PM on May 10, 2016 [11 favorites]

I guarantee there is no conversation you can have with him that will make things better for you or give you closure. Neither will confronting him, or giving him a piece of your mind, change anything, nor make him realize what he's missing out on or lead him to have some epiphany. You're probably thinking you don't want to talk because you want him back, anyway. Okay, then why reach out at all, then? What are you hoping to get out of it?

My mom is a proponent of the, 'I'm awesome, I'll show him' mentality-- when a guy ghosts her, she often calls them out on it, or gives them a piece of her mind about it, and that's fine. Sometimes, people do need to be called out on bad behavior.

But it doesn't change anything in them. It doesn't make them more thoughtful, it doesn't make them suddenly see your merit, often it just is uncomfortable and aggravating for them; it cements their thoughts on you. And on your side, it doesn't actually help you. It just makes you angrier and more emotionally invested. Moreover, running back to say something to someone is still running back.

So get busy, get forgetful (about him) and try and let go. Nthing people who said you dodged a bullet. You want someone who is on the same level as you and this guy never was. You deserve more than a lukewarm love, always.

Lastly, I know from experience the best thing you can do is to ghost them back. Move on, forget them. Part of the reason it's so hurtful is because it's such a rejecting thing. Indifference speaks more volumes than anger. 'You're not worth contacting' is more damming to someone than getting into a fight with them about their absence. I've been in this situation, and when I stopped pulling when they pushed? Suddenly it made them start to pull me back; but by then I was done and they'd shown their true colors.

As for 'why' .. who knows. A lot of people don't want to be the 'villain' to the point where they become one with their passivity and cowardice. They think they're being kind, but they aren't. This is his issue and you're lucky he did it sooner rather than later, when you'd wasted more time on him. You're also lucky you're smart enough to understand that it's BS and it's time to move on; would that I could have been as cluey as you when the same happened to me ages ago.

Best of luck to you.
posted by Dimes at 12:33 AM on May 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yeah he basically told you the story about his ex so he could tell himself "well she had fair warning" when he did the same to you. Sorry, he's a child, and you're best quit of him.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:22 AM on May 11, 2016

I'm truly amazed no one has said it yet, but holy crap is that way too many paragraphs for a month and a half relationship.

I mean i read the whole thing, but still, yea.

This all sounds like "he's getting back together with his ex and feels bad about hurting you."

It also, to me, says he's going to call you in like a month and be like "oh hey haha sorry got called away for some zany family emergency/work/phone melted in a volcano new number whats up?" likely when that fizzles out but even if that truly wasn't the case, just, regardless that will probably happen.

Are you ok with that? Spend some introspective time on what to do if he comes back.
posted by emptythought at 9:10 PM on May 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

In my experience, these post-breakup explanations from your ex involve being shouted at and a whole bunch of bizarre accusations and blame about everything from how you sneeze too often to how you have some huge personality flaw because you asked for help carrying something to demanding you apologize for asking them to lunch.

I'd skip it. Yes, you might see him around from time to time. Just think of him as a person you've learned isn't very nice, that you don't want to get to know better.

Behave towards him however is best for you in your life, this doesn't always mean avoiding someone completely. I don't change how I want to live my life and what I want to do based on maybe seeing someone like this, but from the other answers not everyone feels that way.
posted by yohko at 12:22 PM on May 13, 2016

emptythought, I just write too much regardless of the content ;) I'm always afraid of leaving out necessary details.

Thanks for the wide array of experiences! A lot of it has been extremely helpful, especially the ones that validate my hurt and resentment and remind me it's ok to have those feelings based on what happened.

I was on the fence about this guy from the beginning and yet his pulling away triggered my deeply ingrained abandonment fears and hurt my ego and self-esteem too easily. I learned that I do get attached when I spend the night with someone and talk to them every day because it feels like the kind of relationship that I crave. When I have no guy on my mind, I am happy and do not have this craving. Something to work on hopefully with a new therapist in the near future.

After a few days I actually stopped caring about him and was almost back to my happy self. I almost didn't really even want to talk to him anymore and may not have. However, I saw him on Thursday and he asked if I was free to meet up for a drink to talk. So we met Friday after work. We got a drink, caught up on stuff. After a drink and some broken down defenses he brought up how he was feeling. He said there was no "maybe" to his moving and that while I was gone and he had time to think he realized that if he came over to my place that evening we would just carry on as we were, grow more attached and then he still has to leave. I told him fair enough, that he was probably being smart about it. I told him politely and gently that I thought the way he handled it was not respectful or nice and that I believe in communicating.

We actually spent 4 hours together that evening just talking like friends besides that short conversation. We connect on an intellectual level and have fun talking about anything and everything and I find that connection rather rare, but it doesn't have to be romantic for me to be satisfied. Neither of us seemed really ready to leave and kept stalling/going to another place to hang out (in public). I do think/hope that I proved to him that communication doesn't have to be painful or bad, but quite the opposite. We did kiss and hold hands for a few minutes at the end but finally I decided it was time to go and we parted ways saying "see you around". I dunno, I found that closure did help. It did also peel open some feelings that I was recovering from since now I'm obviously still thinking about him, but I think this was helpful information for me to store away.

He's still immature, sucks at communicating, possibly avoidant in his attachments (can detach easily), etc. and I dodged a bullet but got over invested. A great lesson learned and he did spare me from becoming even more attached. And hopefully after the feelings die down completely we can be friends.
posted by korrasamus at 11:41 AM on May 15, 2016

« Older Tiny black sand falling from old wooden ceiling -...   |   Self-publishing an ebook for fun Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.