I broke up with this guy, but did I do the right thing?
May 24, 2016 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Broke off a short-term relationship, now struggling badly & unsure if I did the right thing. Tell me I have, or haven't.

We were only together for a couple of months, but since breaking it off 4 days ago, I have done an awful lot of crying. I just feel I need some support (but if you read my last thread & are sick of hearing about it, I understand!). This will be my last thread on the topic.

When together, things were great. We talked about anything & everything. He was supportive of me and I of him. He opened up quite easily and I felt we could be vulnerable with each other. The sex & intimacy was fantastic. He asked me to be exclusive. Early on, I told him I preferred to see a guy I'm dating once a week and he said he felt the same.

Since then, he kept in daily contact but postponed our next date because of leisure & work trips. He said we would see one another after he returned from the work trip. I then did not hear from him for 4 days, until he called me. When I asked to see him that weekend? He said he was waiting for confirmation of other plans and would let me know. I expressed that I did not want to wait 3 weeks to see him. Regardless, he went ahead with other weekend plans with friends and said he would prove to me the following week that he was a capable planner! If I had agreed to this, it would have been 3 weeks since we had seen each other.

I was so bummed out & fed up that I broke it off then and there. His reaction was "Well, if this is what you really want". I told him what I had really wanted was for him to plan & when he didn't I concluded he wasn't interested...have not heard from him since. Should I have been more patient? Have I lost out on a good thing?

I am a little bit scared about my mental health. Since breaking it off last Friday, I have been crying like a bereaved person when I am not working/temporarily engaged elsewhere. This does not seem like a normal reaction to have to a short-term thing - I have also been experiencing moments where I feel very short of breath. Yesterday, at the local pool, I had to sit down and compose myself as I suddenly felt unwell. Does this seem normal applied to this situation?
posted by Ariel432 to Human Relations (16 answers total)
If you are a bit worried about your mental health, I would suggest that you make an appointment with a therapist. Also, spend some time doing some self-care here. Be really nice to yourself. You may not enjoy the things that you usually enjoy right now, but if there are things that you do to really indulge yourself - a bubble bath, trashy novel or comic book, cooking a really decadent and fun meal... Do some of those things that you should we'll leave really make you feel comforted and joyful. And just be kind to yourself.

It sounds like this relationship wasn't making you feel very good when you were in it. I personally would not be very happy if I hadn't seen my boyfriend for 3 weeks and then he told me that he didn't want to make plans with me because maybe he would have plans with somebody else. That would make me feel bad. A good relationship doesn't make you feel more bad than it makes you feel good. It sounds to me like you did the right thing. I am just a stranger on the internet, but I always advocate that people do what's best for them.

Take care.
posted by sockermom at 6:59 AM on May 24, 2016 [13 favorites]

I think you did the right thing breaking up with him. He wasn't treating you right and he got what he deserved and you saved yourself pining over someone who wasn't into it. Congrats on sticking up for yourself. You've done nothing wrong it just takes time to get over the feelings you had for him :)

As for the excessive crying.. . I think crying is a healthy thing. Maybe the sadness you feel about the relationship has clicked into some other earlier sadness you experienced and the feelings have compounded. For me.. i just started therapy a few weeks ago and I spend a lot of time sobbing in bed. But it feels necessary. If the intensity of the emotions is making you anxious or overwhelmed, then talk to someone and they can help you figure out what you're feeling. It might be a therapist if you don't have someone smart/empathetic/caring enough in your life to do it. I know I don't.
posted by winterportage at 7:10 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

You did the right thing. It's ok to be sad. It wasn't going to work and some part of you really, really wanted it to. It's ok to feel sad about that.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:11 AM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

I have two thoughts here. First is that I have sympathy for your feelings. Breaking up can be very hard emotionally, especially if it happens during the early "magical period." If you are having an especially difficult time, I echo sockermom's recommendation that you seek time with a therapist. Second is that seeing each other once a week sounds like a fairly light, arms-length relationship to me. If I had been seeing someone around once a week for five or six weeks without any obvious momentum towards deepening the relationship, a three week absence due to other life events and plans wouldn't seem all that extreme to me. I'm guessing he felt the same way. Bottom line is that this was not the relationship for you.
posted by slkinsey at 7:14 AM on May 24, 2016 [12 favorites]

Yes, you did the right thing. it doesn't sound like he truly respected you as a person and that he's not really all that considerate of you. if you stayed any longer you would gave twisted yourself into the most anxious little pretzel trying to be cool in a relationship where he's just maintaining you.

He's not worth it. Don't second guess yourself.
posted by discopolo at 7:24 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think you did the right thing (and should hold out for someone who will prioritize time with you the same way you prioritize time with them!) and I also wonder if there's not other grief or anxiety in your life that you've transferred onto this event. It could be worthwhile to take up meditation or journaling or therapy, some form of processing/externalizing, to get at the root of what's really really causing the pain. Did this guy, in his detached way, recall some past hurt? Or was your attraction to him about something other than his actual self? It really likely could be something else entirely that you're mourning, only you've put his face on it.

Or you can just be sad about a breakup. That's okay too. Hang in there; it will get better.
posted by witchen at 7:29 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Based on your earlier askmes, it sort of honestly sounds like you've been through the romantic wringer and riding rollercoasters at the romance amusement park since at least December: from "was I the OW and having an emotional affair," to a question about how hard it was to stay no contact with the maybe emotional afairee in February, to whether or not you should end a spate of celibacy for a fling in March, to the new problem (now the subject of 3 askmes in his own right). And all of this, if I read your history right, after a big breakup of a LTR in late 2014.

I wonder if you're just grieving all of it all at once right now. Standard askme advice: consider talking to a therapist.

(I think you did the right thing in this case, btw. Whether or not dude was lukewarm, it seems like you had a real mismatch in terms of how you like your partner to express enthusiasm early on in the relationship.)
posted by pinkacademic at 7:35 AM on May 24, 2016 [19 favorites]

You did the right thing. I got an unbelievable amount of flak in your first question about this dude for being one of very few people to say that he probably wasn't that into you. Next time, trust your instincts! Don't even wait the three weeks! Start going on other dates immediately when you even get a hint of "meh" from the other person so you're not pinning all your hopes on one person and become devastated later on.
posted by quincunx at 7:38 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Have not read your other ask mes but suggest that you consider that if someone proposes to go exclusive and you say no, it is not surprising that they start distancing themselves from you. In fact, I would expect any self confident individual to recognize that as a mismatch of goals and values and to start to pull back.
posted by zia at 8:04 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you broke it off impulsively and maybe no, that wasn't the right way to do it and it's left you feeling disoriented. In an ideal world, and knowing you have a degree of anxiety around this type of stuff, you would have planned to break it off rather than just do a last straw, that's it we're done kind of thing. That being said, you were right to break up; it wasn't going to work out.

You didn't specifically ask for advice about avoiding this in the future, but thinking about what went wrong and what could go differently next time might make you feel better in the moment. I think you should probably date more people and see more people and try to avoid getting so intense with any one of them. Try to keep relationships in a place where you can just phase them out if you need to. If you can't sleep with people and still do that, then don't try to. Not until you meet someone you're really interested in. (Nothing wrong at all with sex when you're not serious but only you know what you can handle.)
posted by BibiRose at 8:05 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Well, I'll present the alternative viewpoint. If you miss him this much, you could decide that it's worth being with him even if the frequency of dates and his approach to planning them isn't what you'd prefer.

Breaking up with someone because you're fed up and hurt that you didn't get your way about the timing of your next date -- I could see regretting that. It's a little bit "cutting off your nose to spite your face."

If the guy really wasn't into you, that'd be one thing. But you mention him calling a bunch, staying in touch, etc. If he's into you but has a different approach to dating, maybe you guys could make it work once you got past the awkward early-dating phase.
posted by salvia at 9:34 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


My thought was you were crying a lot because sometimes it is really really hard to break our programming and instead do the right thing. Upon reading some descriptions of past Askme's - yeah - I think you've just turned a major corner and you are processing ALL the relationships/choices you've made.

This is a small breakup, but a significant game changer in terms of your relationship style. You're growing up. What used to be OK is no longer OK. This stuff is hard, yo.

The pay off is that you are heading towards more responsible and fulfilling adult relationships. All the rules are changing (for the better! but it's still hard!!)

Anyway. I'm really happy for you. This is a pretty big milestone. You're different now, welcome to the world of adult relationships. You're learning and exercising a lot of new skills. Your future has just become a lot more stable and fulfilling than you realize. Well done :))
posted by jbenben at 11:11 AM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Thanks everyone. I know some of you will go "NOOO!" but I sent him a final message. I realised much of the gnawing pain came from the horrid ending. pinkacademic gave me courage:

"I think that if you feel that this is your best possible self talking to your ex, that if you feel like you can send this out into the world as a gift without expecting anything in return -- because it just feels like the right thing to do -- then by all means, send it."

This is what it meant for me. I also took responsibility for some of my actions that must have confused him in the final weeks. I laid blame 100% on him during break up & I felt that was unfair. I also told him how I genuinely valued him as a person. In recent time he gave me some of the best, most insightful advice. Although I valued this, I did not tell him at the time. For some Qs at least, he'd probably be a great Askmefite! I would have loved to have had his friendship.

Regardless, I don't regret breaking up. I was at the end of my rope but think I will carry some lessons. I have been journalling, will keep an eye on my mental health and I've been finding swimming theraputic. jbenben thinks I'm growing up...I hope that's true. I think it's mostly about learning the importance of boundaries.
posted by Ariel432 at 2:44 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think it's normal to have a sense of loss when any sort of meaningful relationship or possible relationship comes to an end. 4 months is not forever but it's long enough to have some attachments. Overall I think you did the right thing. 3 weeks is a long time to go without seeing each other. Unless there's a great reason, to me it seems like the guy was either not that into the relationship or was seeing other people. Whatever the case may be...your instincts where to end it. Trust your instincts they're usually correct. You will recover from this and meet someone great!
posted by ljs30 at 10:13 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I felt terrible after a breakup following an even shorter not-even-quite-a-relationship recently because I'd had a string of bad luck and was starting to feel really pessimistic about my odds of meeting someone appropriate. When he left my grief wasn't about him at all, it was about my newly elevated hopes being dashed. If your grief is less about the specific person than about what the breakup symbolizes to you, then there may be different ways of working through it than focusing on your feelings about him. Try in that case to work through the larger impact you're feeling and how best to move forward from it.
posted by metasarah at 8:04 AM on May 25, 2016

LOL - I also told you not to contact him with this :))

Don't backtrack from your very mature position, don't think you must equivocate to be a "Good Person." You're already a good person! You don't require the agreement of someone who back burners your wellbeing to prove this PLUS you're not going to achieve detente with someone you (rightfully) dumped.

Being the "cool girl" or taking the higher road is something internal for you - it does not come from the outside.


I made this EXACT mistake once. He got back together with me, only to dump me about a month later... On purpose, as far as I could tell. This guy doesn't get magically more lovely overnight.

If he wants to try again, tell him nicely No Thank You.

It's OK! I made this mistake, too! It's hard learning adult boundaries. You're still on the right path... just ... Save this type of message for folks who can hear it. This guy? Not so much. Or you would still be dating him... For real.
posted by jbenben at 12:00 AM on May 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

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