Did I make the right decision to breakup?
January 17, 2017 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Ended things with someone. Wondering if I made the right choice.

I was in a relationship that was going super well until it suddenly wasn't. We had only been together for a few months. Things moved very quickly, as we are in our thirties and knew what we wanted. We met each other's families, had a great time together, traveled together.

Then we got into a fight. It was because she did something unintentionally mean and flaked on me last minute for a family gathering I invited her to. I was super excited to bring her and I was very hurt by her sudden reaction and how she didn't even seem that sorry. She said it was a work thing. The fight escalated and I got more and more upset.

Since then, we couldn't seem to move past it. She didn't seem to want to take responsibility for how it was hurtful, even when I identified things I could and would work on. She also suddenly went from someone who was super excited about me to hot and cold - ignoring me some days, super nice the other days. This stressed me out, and I rapidly went into a mental and physical decline by not being able to sleep or focus at work for a few weeks.

I finally addressed it and she said she was feeling uncertain about us but wanted to see where things would go. I knew I couldn't continue in a fugue state and it was too hurtful to have someone continue to ignore me. I broke things off mostly for mental health reasons.

But then she suddenly became hot again - and begged me to get back together with her and said I was being stupid for breaking things off now. I got more and more confused. I held firm and since then, I've been wondering if I've made a big mistake. Some mutual friends say that we seem to be a great match. But I worry about being with someone who is so all over the map with me and doesn't seem to be treating me well. I am also not usually an anxious person and I was very anxious in our last few weeks together.

I haven't been in a relationship for a few years. Am I someone who needs to be more patient and work things out? Should I have done a better job working on things?
posted by treetop89 to Human Relations (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry you're in this place.

This does not sound like a person who treats you politely or with consideration. This does sound like someone who is playing games and has poor conflict resolution skills. I don't think you need to be more patient. I do think that you need to understand that almost all relationships are great at the start; it's where you are in a few months that tells you a lot about one another.

Where you were was anxious, ignored and in conflict.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:15 AM on January 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

Yes, you made the right choice by breaking up.

You don't have to date someone who makes you feel bad, who doesn't apologize or take responsibility for making you feel bad, or who ignores you when you need them.

You're allowed to break up with anyone for any reason.

Only being together "a few months" is not enough time for anyone outside of the relationship to decide whether or not you're a great match. Please, that's like romcom level fantasy nonsense.
posted by phunniemee at 10:15 AM on January 17, 2017 [17 favorites]

Personally, I think the first few months of a new relationship should be the "honeymoon phase" to a certain extent. If things are already stressful and anxious during that period, it's a bad sign. As a general rule, obviously you can't expect relationships to never have bumps or problems, and at some point you'll have to be patient and work things out. But I don't necessarily think the first few months are that time. It sounds like this was more than just the fact that you guys had a disagreement about the event -- it would be one thing if your girlfriend had a legitimate work conflict that she couldn't escape, but was apologetic about it and communicated that she wished she could have been there. Or, it would be fine if you guys both had an agreement that work comes first and you both had your jobs as your top priority. But here it sounds like there was a real mismatch in expectations and you weren't able to communicate about it well.

I also tend to think, honestly, that especially in that early period, if you like someone enough you will find a way to work it out. In this case, it sounds like you're just not all that crazy about her. "Good on paper" isn't really enough.
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:16 AM on January 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

You gave a relationship that is only a few months long 'a few weeks' to try to work out issues that flared up (which, yes, may have been resolved with better communication), and they didn't get better. Instead, you were anxious, distracted, and upset by your ex's behaviour, and things got worse. That's the opposite direction you want to see things go.

So yeah, seems reasonable. You deserve a partner who is considerate and works with you, instead of getting weird and hot/cold during 'conflict'.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:18 AM on January 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Her behavior sounds like hallmark controlling and abusive behavior to me. Unfortunately, leaving someone and then getting back together with them is also hallmark controlling behavior. It sounds like you two are a bad match.
posted by pazazygeek at 10:19 AM on January 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

You might have. If you feel better for ending things, you definitely did.

But AskMe has taught me to think "what would the other person's askme look like" (is that a sign I've been here too long?!) and I'm wondering if hers might be along the lines of:

"Dear AskMe, I was seeing this awesome guy, but things were moving quite fast and I suddenly got an attack of the cold feet and backed out of a big family event. In retrospect, I could have dealt with it a lot better, but I got really anxious about it. He was really hurt by it, and I backed away for a while because I wasn't sure how to deal with it and I was worried he was putting too much weight onto it. Then he broke up with me because he said he'd been really stressed out over it. I didn't want to break up over it, but he isn't receptive to my suggestions to try again".

I mean, I think people would give her the same response - move on, you guys aren't right for each other. But it's interesting to think about. If you guys had a coffee and agreed to try again with a blank slate and better communication, do you think you could? With no bitterness or resentment from previous events? If not - move on and be firm with yourself about not getting held back by "what ifs".
posted by greenish at 10:26 AM on January 17, 2017 [39 favorites]

Is this the kind of behavior from a partner that you would want or expect to continue for another few months? Years? Decades? It doesn't sound like it, and no one could blame you for feeling that way.

If this person is treating you this way after only a few months, I wouldn't expect things to get better over time unless there is some external force (personal issues, mental or physical illness) that is causing it. Since the person has given you no reason to believe that this is the case, you can probably call a spade a spade and come to the determination that while someone else might be compatible with this person, it seems like you are not.

You only live once! Don't saddle yourself with a relationship that's going to make you unhappy.
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:27 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

You didn't do the wrong thing. It's always food to follow your gut and look out for your own well being.


This is also a case where it would be reasonable to give it another shot if YOU really want to.

A few months in is a tenuous time where someone can teeter on the edge of committed or not. While her erratic hot/cold behavior really is a flag to be wary of, it also might be a one-time thing specific to this stage in your relationship.

If, for your own potential happiness (not the approval of your friends), you want to resume a relationship with this woman, I don't think you're stupid to give it another chance. But for certain have a low tolerance for the behaviors that drove you apart the first time. Not so tight a grip that you are walking on eggshells around each other, but don't let stonewalling you become a pattern.

Also, if you get back with her, keep an eye on your overall relationship, and don't let the sunk cost fallacy keep you invested through big incompatibilities just because you got through one fight. (Something I always have to remind myself when a relationship gets very intense very quickly.)

In short: if your heart is in it, proceed, but proceed with caution.
posted by itesser at 10:29 AM on January 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

I finally addressed it and she said she was feeling uncertain about us but wanted to see where things would go.

When you have a conversation with someone about the future of your relationship - and if they want there to be a future - there are only two possible options. An enthusiastic YES or a whole bunch of bullshit that means no. "Uncertain" falls into the second category.
posted by sacrifix at 10:34 AM on January 17, 2017 [9 favorites]

she ... said I was being stupid for breaking things off now. I got more and more confused.

This to me sounds like you have had a narrow escape.
posted by feral_goldfish at 10:36 AM on January 17, 2017 [19 favorites]

She was hurtful, she stone walled you, she was emotionally manipulative, and then she called you stupid for having a problem with those things?

No. you made the right call. This person has not treated you well, and will not treat you well, and in truth sounds like she would get kind of scary.

I'm sounds like you're in a place where you really wanted things to work with the person you thought she was for the first month or so. I've been there. And I think the longer you're out there dating and knowing what you want but not finding it, the harder it can sometimes be to let go when you think, even for just a moment, that you've found it.

But this isn't that person. This isn't life interfering or bad luck or bad timing. She did things that any reasonable person would know were hurtful, and she won't take responsibility for them, and instead she abuses you. This is who she really is.

You made the right call, and you should be proud of yourself for getting away.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:08 AM on January 17, 2017 [9 favorites]

My guess is that whatever happened during your fight is what caused her to go hot and cold on you. It sounds like you were both excited and on the same page mostly but the conflict over your family thing brought out some differences. She didn't think it was a big deal, you had really psyched yourself up about it so it was a bigger deal to you, and the fight escalated--possibly because you kept making it a bigger deal because she failed to understand or acknowledge why it was such a big deal it was to you. And you both didn't like how the other behaved during the fight so now she's uncertain.

Something like this could get better if you both really worked on it and were very clear about what the problems were and how they could be addressed and then totally committed to that. You do sound anxious though and she seems a bit nonchalant so based on that fight it sounds like you two just might not be very well matched.
posted by Polychrome at 11:27 AM on January 17, 2017 [9 favorites]

In answer to your main question - Yes, YOU made the right choice. But as with all choices you can spend your life second guessing the options. Don't waste your time working those options thru, pick it up, pack it in, and move forward.
posted by ptm at 11:58 AM on January 17, 2017

I think you made the right choice. If a relationship starts affecting your mental health -- especially if it brings on negative mental health that wouldn't be there naturally -- you need to step back. And, I think, any person who's worth your time would respect that. It sounds to me like she became evasive, refused to compromise (something mature people do in a relationship), and was not respectful of your feelings and needs. Nobody needs that, even if good times preceded the bad. Unless she's willing to admit her mistakes and work on the way she treats you and your relationship, you'll just experience more of the same hot and cold once her sudden need for you wears off.
posted by Mael Oui at 12:40 PM on January 17, 2017

My current relationship had some huge bumps at the beginning (first two months, on month three now) but we ironed them out with a lot of communication and work. We were both being big idiots. Needless to say, we both fluctuated from hot to cold to back again in that period, because we're both super sensitive types. Now things are fairly stable.

For some reason people have this idea that relationships should be "easy" early on, but you know what? People are complicated. We do things and behave in ways that sometimes don't make much sense. We get scared when things go fast. We sabotage ourselves. We get upset. We fall in and out of love. Having complex and confusing emotions and reactions to situations in a relationship early on is not necessarily an indication that something is wrong or that you're wrong or she's wrong (or crazy, or emotionally manipulative, or flaky, or inconsiderate). You seemed to be really into her and that was causing you a LOT of anxiety which can be overbearing and make people back off a little if it manifests in things like...a fight. Coping with a fight this early on is tough simply because we haven't really established how we feel (at least not 100%) about someone and/or worked out our conflict styles in this context. Why not ask what happened? Maybe she won't have a clear answer, and sometimes we don't. But if she's willing to try again maybe be open to that and clear the slate until you can establish some sort of untoward pattern in her behavior toward you.
posted by Young Kullervo at 2:11 PM on January 17, 2017 [11 favorites]

I agree that it sounds as though she was cool towards you because of the fight. I don't think this makes her (or you) a terrible person, though if it was me I think I would have seen your response as quite intense and dramatic, from what you e written here. That would make me pause, which in turn made you like her less, which led to your break up in a way that seems quite straightforward and normal, no? Those are different approaches to relationships that aren't well matched.

TBH I would differ from a few people here and say that it sounds to me that you were a bit full on about it all- the incident itself and her response to it. I think it is wise to avoid placing so much emotional responsibility on a person you don't know that well in an early relationship. Having said that, you might just be better with someone who is a bit more like that.

In conclusion, if you wanted to try to work it out I don't think you sound like bad people on either side, but also this is a totally legit reason to break up if you want to, also.
posted by jojobobo at 5:47 PM on January 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Did she straight up flake on you or did she legitimately have a work thing to go to? That's the part that stood out the most to me. You had this big blowup and to me it sounds like she probably really did have to go do a work thing, and work is SUPER important. If she had a legitimate reason to not go to a family function (and also, seeing your family might not be fun for her--can you elaborate on how they get along?), I can see why she went hot and cold on you.

I think people get too hung up on, "when it's new it should be the honeymoon phase" because for me, the newest part of the relationship is the most stressful and difficult. You're not totally comfortable and familiar with each other yet and things can be awkward even though you love to bone 24/7 and can't wait to see each other. The wife I am to my husband now, after 10 years since our first date, is like a totally different person from the girlfriend-of-two-months me. That version of me was a total fucking drama-filled trainwreck and now I'm super easygoing because we have such a solid foundation. Relationships are hard. If you like her, you should try to get back together.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:24 PM on January 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

"begged me to get back together with her and said I was stupid for breaking things off with her" - wow, that's STILL hot and cold. And manipulative and weird and not self-aware at all.

I mean, if she were writing the askme that greenish speculated, it would imply a certain level of self-awareness about why she acted that way and why that was a problem and what she was going to change in her behavior in the future. I don't see any of that in your description of her response to your breakup - no sincere thoughtful apology or plan to change or explanation for why this was an aberration, just brow-beating and emotional force. No no no no no.
posted by Lady Li at 10:49 PM on January 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

begged me to get back together with her and said I was being stupid for breaking things off now.

So she does something that turns out to be a dealbreaker for you, fails to apologize for it or even really acknowledge that that's what she's done, but somehow now you're stupid for breaking things off?

Bullet well dodged IMO.
posted by flabdablet at 2:41 AM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's possible you showed an intensity in your fight about her not attending the family event that frightened her in some way, hence the cool treatment afterwards. You say she flaked but was unintentionally mean, and I think this is quite important as she didn't do it to piss you off. Sometimes these bust ups can rumble on for quite a while afterwards even when you think they have been resolved as resentments can set in over thing said and not forgotten.
If she has persisted in being hot and cold that is a bad sign. I talk from bitter experience and you can read my previous posts to learn why. My ex displayed this behaviour regularly and often dumped me only to get back in touch months later. It was toxic but I enabled it by basically giving her permission to do it because I was in love with her.
It's tough and if you love her maybe you should give things another chance. But it can be hard to extricate yourself from a relationship the longer it goes on and this kind of behaviour can be quite subtle and insidious and before you know it you're doubting yourself over your partner's bad behaviour ( i.e am I causing it in some way) and suffering anxiety.
Someone up thread said that if it this relationship affects your metal health its not good for you.
Those were very wise words.
My only piece of advice would be to tread very carefully.
posted by blokefromipanema at 3:52 AM on January 18, 2017

If she actually used the word "stupid," it's a black-and-white situation.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 4:40 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Video of my grandfather's birthday announcement on...   |   Working with the elderly. A life for me? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.