How do I get past this?
February 11, 2017 9:37 PM   Subscribe

I am dealing with a confusing breakup and feel like I am going through an unexpected existential crisis.

This is me.

Since then, I've seen her a few times. Every time we leave each other a little bit sadder and more confused. She has an attitude of "I don't need to convince you to be with me, and I'm upset you broke up with me" and I try to raise why I felt upset - with an aim to reconcile, but she doesn't respond to my specific concerns with ways she can work on things, or even understand. For example, I bring up that she sometimes ignored me for days, and she responds with that she was busy at work, etc. I don't feel acknowledged and see her being defensive.

Nothing gets resolved. I am at my wit's end because if she wants to get back together but we can't have a productive conversation. We're still broken up, and have decided to cease contact for the time being.

The distance has been awful. I'm not sure if this is normal but I feel a sudden depressive layer over everything - and I have these existential questions where I really question about my life's deeper meaning and purpose. I am doing all the right things - being with friends, exercise, therapy, etc. But when I am at parties or even with a friend, I find myself distracted and lonely even when I am with them. And then this sudden feeling comes to me where I just want to be back with her.

I've felt sad before but not this existential kind. And I find her entering my thoughts all the time.

Where do I go from here? Do I just drop all pride and make it super clear to her that I want to be with her? Do I just force myself through this and stay the course of extracting myself from her? And I also feel an urgency to resolve things as I am getting worried as I am 28 and I really want a family and have children and I feel like I am running out of time -- and I am afraid that I will look back at this and really regret not getting her back.
posted by treetop89 to Human Relations (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't feel acknowledged and see her being defensive.

Nothing gets resolved. I am at my wit's end because if she wants to get back together but we can't have a productive conversation. We're still broken up, and have decided to cease contact for the time being.

This is resolved. You are broken up. Keep up the no contact - it will be hard, but so much less hard than being in limbo with someone who can't or won't acknowledge your concerns, your pain, your feelings. These are Basic Relationship Things, and she can't or won't step up. I know it's hard and I know you feel like shit, and I'm so sorry you're going through this. But it will pass - it will be easier for now (by which I mean for a minimum of six months) if you don't talk to her or see her, and if you block her on social media - and you will begin to feel better. You are 28. You are not running out of time. Be kind to yourself, because she is not being kind to you.
posted by rtha at 9:46 PM on February 11, 2017 [18 favorites]

This is a very, very normal way to feel. Sticking with no contact WILL help it get better over time, and you will feel that "depressive layer" lift. Maybe just for short moments in the beginning, but they will get longer and more stable as time goes on.

I dealt with the breakup of my marriage last year, and in the immediate aftermath of our "this is what we really want to do" conversation, I felt gutted. It was hard to be out in public for a couple months after that, because basically anything made me cry uncontrollably. It felt like I would never feel better, but I'm here on the other side and can report that I got through it and it really is better to have moved on. Keep doing those right things - being with friends, exercise, going to therapy - and know that for the time being it's okay to do those things and just feel like you're going through the motions. It will get better and you will get your enjoyment of those things and others back! You can do this.
posted by augustimagination at 9:55 PM on February 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry that you're in so much pain.

I'm in a similar boat in that I posted just a week ago asking if I'd EVER get over breaking up with my bf, and I've been having all those feelings of feeling lonely even with others, wondering whether I'll regret not having compromised when I look back, worrying that I'll be foreveralone, crying in toilets at parties etc. Then last night I went to the first party in 6 months where I didn't feel like I was being swallowed up by the abyss (and it was a hens night where everyone in attendance besides me was married and had children!) and actually enjoyed myself and my own company when I got home and I realized that even though I still have some healing to do, the process is actually moving along. I've finally made a little headway, so I can trust that over time I will heal far more And I don't have to rush myself into feeling ready to get back out there, I just need to ride this like the slow boat it is and make the most of everything else in this time of healing. And I deserve to give myself the gift of time to heal.

It's been 6 months for me, with 3 months of no contact. I am 33. I think breaking up at this age feels different because the hopes and dreams we're breaking up with feel bigger too.
posted by Chrysalis at 10:01 PM on February 11, 2017 [23 favorites]

It'll pass. It'll pass faster if you a) let go of fantasies of getting back together b) maintain no contact. She doesn't like you enough to be with you, accept that and get angry and use it as fuel.

You've got another decade-plus to meet someone and create a family with them. Hold out for someone who wants to do the work.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:31 PM on February 11, 2017 [8 favorites]

Where do I go from here?

You stop communicating with her and move on with your life, step by step, as difficult as that will be. It will get easier with time.

Do I just drop all pride and make it super clear to her that I want to be with her?

This isn't about pride -- it's about compatibility. You're confusing "wanting to be with someone" with "being able to be with someone". You want to be with her. You tried to be with her. You were unable to be with her because you two are not compatible. If you can't even have a productive conversation with someone this soon, after repeated attempts, then it is simply not working. I gently suggest that you fully accept the reality that you two are not a good match.

I know how it is to date someone and get invested after a few months and then things start to go haywire and then you try really hard to repair The Broken Thing and you're confused about whether/how to proceed.. but after going down that road more than a few times, I am here to tell you that when things shatter so early in a relationship, you should take this as a clear indication that you are not a good fit for each other. If it could have been fixed, it would have been fixed. If you two had the minimum requirements for compatibility, you would have made it through that rough patch. But you didn't. You should trust that the reasons you left are very good reasons.

Do I just force myself through this and stay the course of extracting myself from her?


And I also feel an urgency to resolve things as I am getting worried as I am 28 and I really want a family and have children and I feel like I am running out of time -- and I am afraid that I will look back at this and really regret not getting her back.

Fear is a very bad reason to stay with someone. 28 is SO young! Forget resolving this relationship -- the relationship brought to surface some existential issues you should look deeply into resolving.. Why are you so keen on trying to force a relationship with someone who can't even have a productive relationship with you? Do you truly believe that you deserve a happy, stable, loving relationship with someone who values you? Why do you feel so desperate to start a family before the age of 30? Why do you feel so frightened about not finding a suitable partner? Even if you want a family and kids -- are you able to imagine being happy while you're single? It's a good idea to spend some time mulling over these questions .. but don't waste another second trying to save this relationship.
posted by Gray Skies at 10:38 PM on February 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Where do I go from here? Do I just drop all pride and make it super clear to her that I want to be with her? Do I just force myself through this and stay the course of extracting myself from her? And I also feel an urgency to resolve things as I am getting worried as I am 28 and I really want a family and have children and I feel like I am running out of time -- and I am afraid that I will look back at this and really regret not getting her back.

Stick with the no contact. The fact that your attempts at resolution are going nowhere and that her answers are so unsatisfactory *is* the resolution. Commit to moving on, and the less you see of her the easier it will get. It may still take some time and that's okay.

You're 28 ... assuming you are a man, you have *decades* ahead of you for having a family. Even if you are a woman, you have 10+ years and more if you strategize. Regardless, this woman does *not* sound like the kind of person you would have a happy family with.

You know that old joke about the guy who's lost his keys and is looking for them under the streetlight. A cop comes by and helps the guy look for his keys for a while, and finally asks where he lost them. He replies that he lost them in the park. The cop says well, we should look there. The guy says "but the light is better here."

You could look for your relationship keys with this woman for years, because she is familiar and you have the streetlight feelings for her, but she doesn't have the keys. Go look somewhere else. But give yourself some time.

Good luck.
posted by bunderful at 11:10 PM on February 11, 2017 [9 favorites]

Hey, when you're with someone for a few months, it shouldn't feel this hard or this awful. You guys have baggage upon baggage where there shouldn't be any, already.

I know you miss her and have strong feelings for her, and I'm sure she has strong feelings for you, too-- but being with someone who can't even let go of their pride to say, 'I'm sorry I hurt your feelings when I ignored you,' the entire time she's been hurting your feelings-- doesn't bode well. It doesn't matter if it was intentional or not, or if she was legitimately busy. It's not about that; it's about finding common ground and compromising because you care about the other person more than you care about being blamed. The fact she's always on the defensive isn't going to get any better if you get back together-- you broke up with her partially for it and she still hasn't addressed her hostility and defensiveness. When you try to bring it up, she doubles down. If you forgive her, you're saying, 'its okay you're hot and cold and flaky to me, since you were busy, I give you permission to keep treating me this way,' and that's the thing, it's not ok. Love is about compromise; and she's shown she is unwilling to do so. She's shown you who she is.

I think you know this deep down, which is why you've stuck on your guns and not gotten back together. In your heart you kind of hope she'll change, see the light, be better, say the right things. That's the hope you hold on to, but it's not reality. No good will come of it if you stay this course. As I said before, a relationship shouldn't feel this burdensome this quickly; when it does, its generally a glaring sign of incompatibility. As for the future? Man, you're young and you have time to settle down. You could make a life with her, and then realize in five years it was a huge mistake and then you're back where you started, except you wasted five years with someone incompatible, being hurt and feeling dismissed the entire way. Lastly, 'time is running out' is never a good reason to stay with anybody.

Besides, she's not the end all and be all. You have tunnel vision right now, but that's because she's familiar and you had invested hope in her. It's hard to swallow dashed hopes. But get more distance, start exploring options, and you'll realize she really isn't 'it' -- that there are compatible women out there on your wavelength. You feel like there's no one, but have you even seriously tried to look since you ended things with her? But you won't get to that unless you close that door and cut her out. It's ok to mourn what 'could have' been. But this is all it is.

Sometimes, the worse someone is for us, they more we get addicted to their brand of bullshit. Because when things work? Oh man, they're so amazing. Those beautiful moments are heady, and they are addictive. When we're in those highs, we forget all the times they made us feel small, or belittled, or ignored. We live for those moments. But those moments are few and far between, and when we're not in those perfect moments, we realize we're actually freaking miserable most of the time. It's awful. And believe me, that's not what good relationships are supposed to feel like.

Good luck
posted by Dimes at 12:36 AM on February 12, 2017

While pushing through with this - sticking with no contact and considering the relationship to be over - is absolutely a legitimate option, judging by your previous ask and this question, I think you really do like this person. Not all relationships are easy at the beginning. Yes, you do have some very good reasons to question your compatibility with her, and her capacity to be self-aware and apologize if needed. And it's important to ask these questions, confront them, and you're doing that. But if you still feel you want this to work, it's important that she knows that everything you say now - and have said - comes from that place of caring for her and what you are/were building. Does she really realize that?

However, it is really important that she does here part of the work too. While she clearly feels hurt because she has been broken up with, I feel the ball is mostly in her court now. If she knows you want to be with her, and if she knows what has hurt you, it's important that she acknowledges this and shows a genuine desire to move ahead together. If that doesn't happen, then yes, you'll have to let this go.
posted by Desertshore at 12:37 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

The fact that she is not being open to the conversation and acknowledging any role in making you feel hurt is a terrible sign. It could be that you are communicating to her very poorly and she's being defensive because she feels like you're just meeting up for you to criticise her for no purpose. Or (more likely I would say) you could be being thoughtful and reasonably balanced and clearly caring in these conversations with her and she is just plain refusing to recognise her role in hurting you.

No person, even the most wonderful person, can take existential suffering away. Make it easier sometimes, sure, if you're lucky. Certainly not take it away. She is not the most wonderful person at this point- you have not known her long, and she has behaved in a way that hurts you and refused to acknowledge your hurt and rectify that. The break up has triggered this feeling but getting back with her (whether you do or not) isn't the solution - it will get better, and it's a great catalyst for self understanding, as much as it sucks right now. You both were very serious about the relationship early on you said in your last post- could it be that this relationship has somehow become a fuzzy symbol of all your personal goals for your 30s and that's why it hurts so much right now?

It's super tough, but no contact, getting through each day, keep up the good work and you will learn and grow from this experience and use it for a better relationship down the track and to grow into a more self aware person. If you do talk and get back together be super careful- you still need to work through all this stuff that's come up either way.

If you're a guy 28 is SO young! If you're a woman, it's also pretty damn young. Best of luck!
posted by hotcoroner at 3:34 AM on February 12, 2017

How do I get past this?

The shortest, truest answer is you give it time. That's it; it's all you can do. I know it seems impossible to believe, but people have terrible tragedies in their lives; they lose spouses, children, pets -- any and all manner of heart-wrenching events, but people are resilient. They eventually feel more positive and clear-headed and are able to move on and have happier lives.

This WILL happen to you -- it just takes time. From your other question it seemed you were dealing with a person who obviously had very nice qualities but they didn't seem to know how to be an adult. This was a person who was doing things that made you unhappy and anxious, and then they put it all back on you. This person didn't apologize or take responsibility for their actions. It was never going to get better with them.

You need to stop contacting them and block them. They're not going to suddenly grow a remarkable level of self-awareness and turn into the person you need them to be.

Lastly, think of it this way. In the short time you were together, you became anxious and unhappy. Now that it's over, they're still causing you anxiety.

You don't need that. Let it go. You're worth so much more than this person can toss at you.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:59 AM on February 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

She wants to get back together but only on her terms, and those terms are that she will never admit fault or bear responsibility for harm. The reason nothing gets resolved is because she is giving you a bright line example of what a relationship with her looks like. If I read your posts correctly, this was your first disagreement. This is giving you some very valuable information about her and about what a relationship with her requires.

It's hard to wrap your head around because everything was so great for a few months and this came out of nowhere. Staying with her will always feel topsy turvy bevause this isn't how you think disagreements are meant to be resolved.

She's giving you a choice. "My way or the highway." I know which I would choose.
posted by janey47 at 7:09 AM on February 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

And speaking from experience, the longer you're in a situation in which your very normal expectations of being heard and acknowledged by your partner are presented to you as unreasonable or unnecessary or unimportant, the more your brain gets patterned into that mode of thinking and the harder it is to decathect. It's like the Stockholm syndrome. In my experience, it can be very helpful to keep lists of things that are easier or more comfortable or enjoyable absent the other person.
posted by janey47 at 7:14 AM on February 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

I try to raise why I felt upset - with an aim to reconcile

You can't use a breakup as a tool to extract an apology. It doesn't matter if she was wrong in the first place; she's not wrong now. She is teaching you something extremely important about apologies, which is: you can threaten to break up if a partner doesn't seem sorry for not calling you when she's busy, I guess. And it might work, because if you think she doesn't understand how serious you are, that will show her. but you can't do it the other way around, because you have no leverage anymore.

it is not a sign of anything but very good boundaries that this woman is refusing to have an excruciating boyfriend conversation with a person who is no longer her boyfriend, by his own free choice.

the person who does the unilateral breaking up has to be the person who grovels to get the other one back, if anybody's going to do it, or the doormat dynamic is just unspeakable. she clearly knows this. and if you have no intention of groveling because you didn't do anything wrong, then there you go. it's over.

(read "her" for "his" if I am mistaken. doesn't matter to the answer though.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:18 AM on February 12, 2017

That existential feeling is super common with breakups. It's normal. One way to handle it is to embrace the idea that this feeling of existential loneliness is the truth about life (e.g., read When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron). Another is to find that sense of intense togetherness via books that bare the soul of their characters. Another is to read books or watch shows about togetherness and remind yourself that you just haven't met your family yet.
posted by salvia at 10:50 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

You're 28, you haven't even started running out of time yet. You've got time to have a family, wait for them to leave home, split up, and then start a second family. Stop worrying about time.

"Every time we leave each other a little sadder...". Go no contact, find someone who makes you happy.
posted by tillsbury at 11:32 AM on February 12, 2017

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