Panic-regretting break up, how do I make it through this?
August 14, 2017 2:11 AM   Subscribe

I decided to break up with him after finding out that he had been lying for months into our relationship. I feel heart broken and I'm regretting the decision and all his pleading started getting to me and sounded plausible the moment I saw him walk out the door.

My rational brain and conventional wisdom tell me that if I did not do it now, I would just be delaying the inevitable and this would occur again under different circumstances. But rationality has left me at the moment and I feel like my heart has broken into a million pieces.

When we first met it was an instant click and things were progressing naturally towards what was shaping to be a great relationship. There was a small bump in the first few weeks where he admitted, after some awkward ignored phone calls in front of me, that he had just recently broken up with his gf of many years, the last of which was long distance.

I told him I didn't want to get involved in anything like that, and it's best we remain friends and take it really slow until enough time has passed for this to not be uncomfortable. He was adamant that it had ended a while ago but because they were together since high school, it was one of those dragged out situations where you officially break up long after you actually break up.

There were no red flags, anger or longing in the way he talked about it, and said that while he really cared and loved her as a person, he knew that he no longer wanted to be with her for a while but since their feelings were so uneven, he kept trying out of guilt to see if they could make it work. Ultimately he moved into a different state at the other side of the country and their lives came apart for good. On his last trip to his hometown, which was a few weeks before I met him, he told her that it was over. She was having a hard time dealing with it and he felt bad that he did not share those feelings, but for him it was over long before that.

Fast forward a year, and we were still together , had almost no fights and seemed to agree on most things, loved each other's company and were planning some long term goals.

Until a few days ago when I was home and he was at a government agency for a permit he needs renewed, he called me flustered to go into his laptop and get him a number from a document he had forgotten to print, because he could not open the attachment from his phone. The email has 2 inboxes, one for gmail and one for yahoo, and since he did not tell me where to look I clicked on both and started searching.

In his second inbox, I saw an email with his ex's name from a month ago and the subject line was "why are you doing this". I felt a knot in my stomach and read it.

It turns out, he had not broken up with her when he said he did and was still talking to her for months after, until almost two months ago when he finally came clean about everything.

At that point I was too deep in the rabbit hole to stop reading so I read them all...the one where he's telling her he's so sorry but he has met someone else, and did not know how to tell her it's over and kept postponing it until one bad decision snowballed into endless lies.

I have been shocked and incredulous since and I can't stop feeling nauseous at the thought that he was doing this for months after we were together. I confronted him and he admitted everything, he said he was a coward and because she was about to take a major exam that would define her career (this is true because she mentioned it in her emails) he did not want to tell her and risk her failing it.

Based on the date of the email, he did tell her immediately after she took the exam, and by her reaction I could tell that she was so distraught where she might have not passed it if she had known earlier. On top of my own confusion, I also feel terrible for how hurt she was and that I contributed to it albeit unknowingly.

We talked for hours where he apologized, pleaded and tried to explain how much he regrets it and wishes he had not done it. He kept saying he felt paralyzed because of how intertwined their families were, her exam and his guilt, he could not bear to both break her heart and risk her career. He kept saying that he loves me and the only thing that terrified him was losing me and he cannot forgive himself for doing just that.

I am so confused and upset. I feel bad for the girl, and I feel really angry at him. On one hand I believe that his intent was not malicious but on the other , he was lying to me for months! He never saw her in person while we were together but he kept emailing and texting her like they still were. In time his communication had dwindled, and he would just ask her how she is doing and about her exam. But he was living a double life and lying to both because from her end it looked like they were still together and as long as I was concerned, he had broken up with her before we started dating.

I don't know if I can trust him again after this as I feel so shaken that there was an entire parallel reality right under my nose that he kept so well hidden. But because I love him, my grief stricken brain tells me to forgive him and try to work it out because this was mainly out of stupidity and bad judgement and not intent.

I do not think that he has romantic feelings for her, because she was planning to move close to him after her exam and he did not want her to do that, and told her in his email that he will always love her as a person but does not love her in the way she loves him. But at the same time, I feel like I was last in his priority list of people not to hurt because he chose to spare her academic success and lie to me. And in the end she got the truth because he told her, but I did not until I stumbled on it by luck 2 months later.

After the talk I asked him to leave because I needed time to process everything, and for all intents and purposes we are broken up. He kept saying that I can't throw away our relationship because of this and he would never lie to me again.

I feel lost and don't know what to do, end it for good or try to work it out? Am I stupid for even entertaining that idea?

I am also hurt by the fact that everyone, even his mom, knew the truth by the end and I didn't, and I feel like he disrespected me the most in that sense and had no intent to come clean.

Is this a good indication of a really flawed character or could it be seen as a terrible but non intentional mistake, compounded by repeated bad decisions? I do realize they're almost the same thing, but at least the second one does not make him look like a callous, self centered liar in my eyes. I would appreciate your insight or experience with anything like this.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
My experience in things like this is that it will be way much better when you find that person of solid gold integrity and shining honesty who puts you first, instead of the one who weaves whole webs of alternate realities that get into your head, and puts you last. It also makes so much sense that you would still love him and want to make it work.

But in my experience there's what you think might be a great relationship...and then there's a truly great relationship, the one with someone who would never even think of lying to you. And it's like you can't even conceive of the truly great relationship, you can only theorize about it in the abstract, until you experience it, and it will make everything before it look like rubbish. Especially this one with the dude with the double life. You will wonder why you ever entertained thoughts of him being the right one, even if right now it seems so clear that he could be.
posted by johngoren at 2:30 AM on August 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


If you would not have started a relationship with him while he was entangled with someone else, then the entire partnership has been based on a false premise. All the other stuff about him being trapped and trying to do the least damage possible may be true, but it is very likely that he wouldn't have even been in that position in the first place if he'd started out with, "So I can't break up with this girl because she has an important exam. I plan to lead her on and let her think everything is fine for months, and I expect you and my family to help me maintain this deeply damaging charade so I can have everything I want without feeling bad about myself." Does that sound like something you would have agreed to? Do you think it's possible that you might become the victim of a similar charade in the future?

So, in light of these facts and questions about his character, I'd say that it makes perfect sense to DTMFA.
posted by xyzzy at 2:32 AM on August 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


'... But he was living a double life ...'

To live a double life, to dance this way for almost a year, and to only offer honesty in the future because he was found out - well, no matter how you contort yourself to compartmentalise this set of actions as 'unintentional mistake' it just wasn't.

I've given this person the benefit of doubt in my life. It doesn't get better. You can't trust this person. Even if you could (ie he tries to be honest, hell even maybe if he is), you really couldn't because now you know what you know.
posted by honey-barbara at 2:36 AM on August 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


Also, he DID disrespect you. And his girlfriend, and his mother (because he co-opted her into lying too).
posted by honey-barbara at 2:39 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


You've only been together a year and already he's shown you an important part of his character: that whether for good or bad reasons, he cannot be honest with the people he purports to care about. Either of them, in this case. You'll never be able to trust this person again, and with good reason; this is the kind of behavior that seeps into every aspect of life, every uncomfortable conversation, every situation in which it's difficult to be transparent and truthful whether his intentions are duplicitous or meant to spare someone's feelings. It doesn't matter why he did this, or why he'll do it in the future--this isn't about logic, it's about what you should expect, reasonably, from a partner. Forgive yourself for trusting him, know that love is fundamentally not scarce, mourn your loss and move on; may your next partner be someone who knows how to be kind and honest at the same time.
posted by tapir-whorf at 2:39 AM on August 14, 2017 [24 favorites]


You will never be able to trust him. He lied to you about this for his own benefit--because he was afraid that if you found out, you would leave him. He didn't respect you enough to be honest with you and let you make your own decisions based on the reality of the situation. He preferred to control the narrative to get what he wanted. He has loads of excuses for this which don't matter. What he's shown you is that when you two disagree on something important, he will go behind your back to do what he thinks is best for him. That sort of relationship will literally drive you crazy. You've done well to get out.
posted by Polychrome at 3:29 AM on August 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


What he's shown you is that when you two disagree on something important, he will go behind your back to do what he thinks is best for him. That sort of relationship will literally drive you crazy. You've done well to get out.

Experience has always proven this to be (painfully) true.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:31 AM on August 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


You don't come to AskMeFi with a story like this expecting to be told to take him back. I suppose you already know that.

But if you truly regret the break up, end this thread right here, then call your boyfriend and have a serious talk with him to see where it goes.
posted by Kwadeng at 3:31 AM on August 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


My initial instinct was to say if the two of you are younger than 30, it is possible for people with bad boundaries to get better at being clear about relationship boundaries. I was super terrible in my 20s at making clean breaks, spent a lot of time in long distance limbo, and definitely lied by omission on several occasions. In some ways, the alternate reality was really for his ex, who continued to think she was in a relationship (albeit long distance) when he was in practice already moved on and in a new relationship. However, reading this over again...
I told him I didn't want to get involved in anything like that, and it's best we remain friends and take it really slow until enough time has passed for this to not be uncomfortable. He was adamant that it had ended a while ago but because they were together since high school, it was one of those dragged out situations where you officially break up long after you actually break up.
I am way more annoyed at him. He may actually believe this in part. But I think you need to be clear with him that it is unacceptable to lie to you to try to spare someone else's feelings or spare your feelings. This is a boundary that you need to rebuild for your relationship to have a chance.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:42 AM on August 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


I believe that his intent was not malicious.

Sure, but it doesn't really matter what the intent was in situations like this. There are any number of plausible explanations for why he did this, from "he's a master manipulator who gets off on playing people off against one another/keeping secrets" to "he's so pathologically afraid of displeasing people that he can't say no to anyone (including breaking up with them) or tell the truth about his feelings to anyone he's intimate with". Very different explanations for the behaviour, but the outcome is still the same - you're hurt and confused and your trust has been significantly breached.

Doesn't matter if he's a bad dude and this is how you found out or his heart is true and pure he just can't help treating people like shit - I think it can be tempting in situations like this to look for meaning or reason, but none of that changes the fact that his actions and their consequences made you feel terrible and made it impossible for you to continue to trust him.

If you can, don't waste too much of the post-breakup time fixating on whether he was actually-good-all-along or actually-bad-all-along (and it will be hard to make up your mind up and you'll end up flopping back and forth a lot if you think of it in those terms). Focus on the person who you have the longest relationship commitment to of all - yourself. What can you do to be kind to you in this situation, to get closer to your long-term goals for yourself? Figure some small steps in this vein out, and do them, and do not give this guy too much space in your head.
posted by terretu at 3:47 AM on August 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


Deep inside, you knew what you had to do and you did it despite love and fear of the unknown. That is so brave. It's normal - unavoidable even - for panic to set in after you've made the decision. Your brain will tie itself in all kinds of knots to convince you to return to the comfort of the relationship. But don't do it, you know you shouldn't be with this person. You've done the hardest part already.
posted by wreckofthehesperus at 3:57 AM on August 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


I agree you are super brave and showing amazing wisdom and maturity. If I may add one point?

It was easy to have a great relationship and few conflicts because all of the energy from day-to-day miscommunications or misunderstandings was getting expended in lies. Do you get me here? If he were only dating and dealing with you, he would have been outed as an unsuitable partner earlier because his ex-girlfriend situation was the steam vent on your relationship with him. There is emotional labor to be done in all well functioning relationships, he used lies to defer or avoid emotional labor. That's a HUGE character flaw. No, you can't get back together with him.
posted by jbenben at 4:21 AM on August 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


There's a quote from SlateStarCodex that I tend to remember when dealing with people like this:

"My first year of psychiatry I was *so* willing to trust people, just because everyone I knew in real life was a basically trustworthy person and my priors for anyone I met being trustworthy were high. After working with lots of dysfunctional people and getting burned again and again, I no longer have that problem. It’s not that I mistrust people, per se, it’s more that I…have a broader view on what kinds of relationships to the truth people consider acceptable, and try to take that into account and meet them on their own terms."

I've tried to be more understanding of that in my life (it's been a helpful framework for me in several contexts), but also more adamant about how I really can't have close entangled relationships with people whose relationship to the truth is dramatically different from mine.

Good luck.
posted by 168 at 4:54 AM on August 14, 2017 [21 favorites]


You made it clear you didn't want to be involved with someone while they still had another relationship to deal with. He not only completely disregarded your wishes but lied to many many people in the process. If he wanted to break up with his ex after her exams, that's his perogative. But he did not need to date you at the same time. He dragged you into this without your knowledge and your explicit non-consent.
Of course it was all intentional. Every time he lied to you and his girlfriend was intentional. He was just hoping he was going to get away with it (and he honestly almost did) I don't see how someone can come back from such a breach of trust. I'm sorry you're going through this. It's ok to feel sad. Take care of yourself. You deserve much better from people.
posted by like_neon at 5:16 AM on August 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


I've dated a lot of guys who did what was easiest or most comfortable for them rather than doing the right thing, even when it meant lying or stringing people along with empty promises. Being in a relationship with someone like that is building a house on sinking sand, because he will let you down again and again and promise not to do it again, and then do it again. You want a guy who consistently acts like a man and an adult even when it's difficult, or you will never be able to depend on or trust him.

Don't second guess your decision on this one. Let him go and look for a guy with the kind of character you can rely on.
posted by orange swan at 5:45 AM on August 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


It's normal to regret a breakup, even when it was clearly for the best.

At best, he lacks the maturity to be honest when it might mean having a difficult conversation or losing something he wants - or even having to delay gratification. He could have told you when you first met that he was involved with someone else. He also could have broken up with his girlfriend - you say you've been together for a year but he just broke up with her a month ago. So she's been "about" to take this career-defining exam for 11 months?

One of the things you liked about the the relationship was that you didn't fight much and had an agreeable relationship. Well... that's probably because he doesn't bring up things that might cause a fight.

You made the right call ending it. It's okay to feel regret and grief, but it's unlikely that someone who lied for a whole year about his relationship with another person is going to stop lying on a dime, even if he really wants to and even if he believes he means it in the moment. He clearly has some work to do before attempting another relationship.

Be kind to yourself and stick to your guns. Good luck.
posted by bunderful at 5:46 AM on August 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


That feeling of unease when you break up with someone is not really an indication you made a mistake. It's more that there was a bond-- physical and emotional-- there, and breaking it is traumatic even if it is 100% for the best.

Also, as someone alluded to above, of course your relationship with him seemed perfect. It wasn't though. He is apparently so anxious to preserve whatever relationship he is in at the time that he will say pretty much anything, with no regard to how you may feel when you find out the truth. He will do this right up to the point where you find out you are in the ex girlfriend's position. Maybe his problem is that he's so insecure that he can't break up with someone until he's absolutely sure he's got someone else lined up, or that the person he's with becomes less to him once they are committed to him, or what. It doesn't really matter.
posted by BibiRose at 5:54 AM on August 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


My mom always says this
Do you know what you find out when someone you care about lies to you?

THAT THEY ARE A LIAR.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:54 AM on August 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


You're tying yourself in knots trying to figure this dude out, but in the end, his motives are irrelevant; his ACTIONS are what matters. What do his actions say about the content of his character? Don't you deserve better than this?

Lots of good DTMFA advice in this thread, but I particularly like the way johngoren framed it. Find the person with a heart of solid gold who will treat you with the love and respect you deserve. Don't settle for this pale shadow of an imitation of what you could have. As long as you allow yourself to be preoccupied with this liar and manipulator, you're wasting opportunities to let the right one in. No room for a new plane to land if this shitty old one is blocking the runway.

You've already made the right decision. Just follow through with it. Trust yourself. Cut off ties with this asshat and go live your life.
posted by the thought-fox at 7:34 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


On top of my own confusion, I also feel terrible for how hurt she was and that I contributed to it albeit unknowingly.

You most certainly did NOT contribute to this. This is ALL ON HIM.
posted by JanetLand at 7:36 AM on August 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


Panic is not some kind of sophisticated early-warning system to tell you that you made a mistake. It's a primal siren to announce something changed. Change is scary. Mammals hate change. We'll invent any excuse to accept a terrible situation in lieu of accepting a new unknown set of circumstances.

Other things people panic about: paint colors, having just purchased a new car, graduating from college.

Additionally, "instant click" is nothing but a good beginning. It's not A Sign that your relationship is destined to last for the ages, it doesn't mean you have any of the actual shared values/goals necessary for a good long-haul relationship. It doesn't mean anything, it's just a handy jumping-off point, as other reactions like intense fear or loathing or utter boredom make conversation difficult.

It's just a bad fit, all around. His maturity level and values aren't really suitable for being in a relationship with you. Stop looking for ways to let him off the hook. Intent doesn't really matter, the lying matters.

Just wait a while. Go no-contact and see how you feel after a few weeks removed from the adrenaline and drama and intensity. The panic will subside and you will gain some clarity. Chances are good you will get really, really angry. And that's fine! You don't need to confront him when that feeling comes, just give it a few more weeks. Given enough time and distance, you will realize there's nothing here to go back to, really.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:36 AM on August 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


Let me invalidate "she had an important exam" excuse:

It turns out, he had not broken up with her when he said he did and was still talking to her for months after, until almost two months ago when he finally came clean about everything.

Based on the date of the email, he did tell her immediately after she took the exam...


You've been together a year (so...12 months)? And he said he ended it right when you got together (12 months ago) but now says he didn't end it because he didn't want to upset her right before she took an exam? And he came clean 2 months ago, right after she took the exam?

So he's using the excuse that she couldn't recover from a breakup ten months before an exam? Bullshit. Absolute bullshit.

It's OK to feel anxious about this...it's normal for just about any relationship ending because your day to day "normal" has changed. And he's going to work that anxiety and try to get you back, minimizing his behaviors and saying that he will change. Don't fall for that. Go no contact for several weeks (I'd say at least a month) before making any other decisions about the relationship. I did that when me and my ex husband first separated...I needed the time to decide if divorce was the next step because part of me didn't want to have a "failed marriage" (I was worried about what others would think...had to get past that!). Turns out having that failed marriage was WAY better than one that was devoid of love and trust.

You did the right thing. Give yourself the space and time to relax before making any other decisions.
posted by MultiFaceted at 8:27 AM on August 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


"he admitted, after some awkward ignored phone calls in front of me, that he had just recently broken up with his gf of many years, the last of which was long distance."

Reality Filter: You caught him ignoring phone calls from his highschool sweetheart, the women he was still in a relationship with (although long-distance for the last year), who he was cheating on with you. He lied to you and told you he was (recently) single.


"I told him I didn't want to get involved [with someone coming off a recent breakup], and it's best we remain friends and take it really slow until enough time has passed for this to not be uncomfortable. He was adamant that it had ended a while ago but because they were together since high school, it was one of those dragged out situations where you officially break up long after you actually break up.

Reality Filter: He convinced you that not only was he single, but he'd been so emotionally checked out of his "previous" relationship, and for such a long time (more than a year, even before their relationship became long-distance) that that should count as being broken up for more than just a few weeks. He said this so you wouldn't break up with him.


"... he knew that he no longer wanted to be with her for a while but since their feelings were so uneven, he kept trying out of guilt to see if they could make it work. Ultimately he moved into a different state at the other side of the country and their lives came apart for good"

"...he told her that it was over. She was having a hard time dealing with it and he felt bad that he did not share those feelings, but for him it was over long before that."
[only he hadn't actually told her it was over]

Reality Filter: He told you that he is terrible at being emotionally honest with people he is in relationships with and goes to extremes to avoid conflict.


"Fast forward a year, and we were still together , had almost no fights and seemed to agree on most things, loved each other's company and were planning some long term goals."

"...It turns out, he had not broken up with her when he said he did and was still talking to her for months after, until almost two months ago when he finally came clean about everything."


"I confronted him and he admitted everything, he said he was a coward and because she was about to take a major exam that would define her career (this is true because she mentioned it in her emails) he did not want to tell her and risk her failing it. Based on the date of the email, he did tell her immediately after she took the exam, and by her reaction I could tell that she was so distraught where she might have not passed it if she had known earlier. "

Reality Filter: If he had broken up with his girlfriend when he claimed he had, she would have had almost a year to recover emotionally and pass her exam. If he'd broken up with her at the point in time when he says he knew he didn't want to be with her any more she would have had 2 YEARS to recover. (It's definitely worth noting that he didn't break up with her until his relationship with you was well established enough that you were making long-term plans together. A cynical person could see that as him keeping her in his back pocket just in case things didn't work out with you.)

He cheated on his long-term girlfriend, with you, for almost a year, and strung her along in a dead-end long-distance relationship for almost two years.

He has admitted to a well-established pattern of emotional dishonesty, conflict avoidance, and flat out lying to get what he wants, all of which he dresses up as being sensitive to others' feelings.

Your ex is an asshole.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 8:34 AM on August 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


One of my exes had this near-pathological need to be the Good Guy. The problem was that he needed to be the Good Guy to everyone, and that often meant, everyone except me. Because I guess, he took it for granted that I would stick around, so while he was cycling through being the Good Guy Hero to his other ex, his sister, his female coworker, etc. and I was at home cooking and cleaning alone, or whatever, it was okay in his mind because he'd eventually throw me a Good Guy bone and keep me in the "circle of damsels" he had to protect.

But these other women, couldn't I see, were less STRONG than I was. They needed him MORE. I shouldn't be SELFISH. Blah blah blah blah blah what it comes down to is a pathological need on his end, lack of maturity, and him virtually guaranteed to leave you (at least emotionally if not physically) for the next wilting flower who makes him feel the strongest. Being strong and independent is actually punished when you're with guys like this. It sucks.

If he's like this at all, you did the right thing 100x over.
posted by stockpuppet at 8:53 AM on August 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


Whoa. He "had to" lie to you for ten months to protect his ex's ability to pass an exam? No, sorry, ten days could have been an act of kindness, ten weeks would have been a stretch, but still, maybe, reasonable depending on her level of fragility, but ten months? COME ON.

The guy wanted to have both of you and he said what he needed to to get what he wanted. He deprived you of your right to be in the kind of relationship you wanted (one that didn't involve cheating on or deceiving a third party) and he prevented his ex from moving on with her life. Who knows who she might have met in that ten months, if she'd known she was single???

You've dodged a bullet, even if it doesn't feel like it. And don't blame yourself for any of this, it was all on him.
posted by rpfields at 9:14 AM on August 14, 2017


You came here for "how do I make it through this" I think you know not to get back together with him, deep down. You've got lots of great advice on why you shouldn't get back together with him, but not a lot of advice on how to stick with your great instinct and make it through the heart break time. First off, you need space to heal that broken heart. Hide him on your socials and ask him to respect your space, you need time to mend and heal and that's hard with him in the picture. So take him out of the picture for *at least* one month (altho I'd say 3 months would be better), if you want to be acquaintances after that, it is easier to manage and not have your heart crumble again if it's had some solid time to heal. If y'all texted a lot, let your best friends know that you need some text support throughout the next few weeks to fill the void of texting with him; this works for any main communication, if you talked every day on your way home from work, plan to call your mom or best friend or whatever during that time, you get the idea.

Now with all this extra time, my advice for making it through the heartbreak time is to keep busy. Call close friends and tell them you need to stay busy, make plans with people you haven't given enough time too recently, read a book, volunteer, start a new workout or dietary plan, pick up a new hobby, start meditating, journal your feelings. Put all that hurt into a positive adjustment in your life.

You can do this!
posted by vividvoltage at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Her plea "why are you doing this" could reflect pain that she thought there was a chance he still loved her and he wasn't responding.

And even presuming people do "unhealthy" things for a good reason like stay in a relationship so their partner can pass an exam, he could have kept being her friend and all during this time. (Was it ten months though? What kind of grieving period is that?). It is not like she will feel better in the long run if she finds out about you.

It's honestly hard to fault the fact that this guy wanted to be with two people at once and that part of the reason was guilt. Or maybe more likely just having two options was nicer for him too. I wouldn't condemn a person for that, if it makes sense to him it makes sense to him.

But lying to you is a bad start to a relationship. You would have been in a thing that you had to lie about essentially, to make it ok - you would have to lie to all your friends and family about the nature of your relationship and whether you were exclusive, and admit that you really had no sway over a partner who was prone to putting himself first and being unfaithful.

It would have been a lot of trash to deal with and you're better off.
posted by benadryl at 11:32 AM on August 14, 2017


My rational brain and conventional wisdom tell me that if I did not do it now, I would just be delaying the inevitable and this would occur again under different circumstances.

You could try thinking of it in reverse and channeling your rage - if he had been honest that he was still involved with his girlfriend upfront, like you asked him about and made clear you were uncomfortable with - then you could have dealt with and gotten over sad feelings about a relationship that didn't work out *months* ago, with less emotional investment, rather than having to go through it now. Try being even more pissed than you already are, I guess I mean.

If there's room in your heart to worry about his first girlfriend, then perhaps also console yourself with fantasies about her justifiable satisfaction when she inevitably learns that her cheating jerkass boyfriend got rewarded for his poor behavior by getting dumped himself.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 11:57 AM on August 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


I have to address the other part of your question as well, how to get through the longing period where you feel like a crazy person because you know the guy is no good but want them anyway. You really should treat it like an episode, an emotional episode or a flare up or whatever. Being alone and unoccupied is inevitable during a breakup but you should be aware that if you start to miss this person and the feelings of "oh no this person has left me, must make it right!" rush in, they are lying, and you should try to be around more upstanding folk during his healing period. This situation is an itch that you shouldn't scratch and I think the worst case scenario from this relationship would be remaining involved, but you know that.
posted by benadryl at 1:07 PM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I just finally put the last nail in the coffin on a similar relationship. I made the mistake of going back again and again because I, too, thought "Well maybe he's just a sweet guy that cares about everyone" and the cons and the lies kept happening. I agree with cdefgfeadgagfe. Your best bet is to be angry FOR YOURSELF. Not this other woman (which is nice of you to empathize but who cares really?). YOU. You were lied to and duped. You were the mature adult in putting your boundaries on the table and he disrespected them. He got to have his cake and eat it to BY LYING. Own your feelings, which will vary wildly while you heal, and shut him out. This person you thought you could trust to be a good person and care about YOUR best interests is a liar and a con. It sucks, but that's the reality of it.

If you can, override your feelings of regret and lingering love with anger and justice whenever they bubble up. He is no longer an intimate partner to you or a friend, because neither would do this. Would you forgive a corporation for fucking you over? Nah. So he is now a non-person.
posted by Young Kullervo at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I want you to sit down and go over in your mind how many times he had to lie to you over the course of those 12 months. How many times did he look you in the eye and lie to you? And then, how many times did he not exactly outright lie, but lie by omission? How many times? Dozens and dozens, I'm guessing. There's your answer right there.
posted by raisingsand at 2:02 PM on August 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


Ten months is an entire school year, not prep time for a single exam. I suspect that further review would turn up that the exam wasn't pending when he first got together with you - it came up a few months ago, and that's his most recent excuse for "why I'm not breaking up with her today."

This is a guy who wants to do the absolute minimum to guarantee he always has at least one girl to fuss over him and tell him he's smart and share his interests and go on dates with, but absolutely refuses to do a damn thing to help them feel safe and happy, except for saying anything at all that works to keep them from getting directly angry at him.

If you're really concerned that maybe you could make a go of it with him - insist on five months of no contact, no relationship, no obligation not to date other people. That's half the time he strung her along after claiming to you that he had broken up with her; obviously, he CAN keep his feelings active for that long.

See if you're still interested in him next January.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:16 PM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I am really sorry that you're hurting behind this. Nothing like a break-up to rock us. Earthquake. TIlt-a-whirl. A spooky, bass-driven soundtrack in a house of mirrors, every one of them warped, at best giving an distorted view of things, at other times scary as shit.

Who put you in this earthquake, who set you on this goddamn tilt-a-whirl inside this house of mirrors? He did. He is the author of the hurts you're in right now.

Sometimes anger is needed, give you the juice to lift your head so as to face this shit down, and give you the juice to tell him to fuck off.

Once, going through a break-up where I was totally confused* -- this stuff can keep you tilt-a-whirling for quite some time, or it can me anyways -- I had to drive past her home almost every damn day. Twice. I kept a tablet in the pickup, and if/when I got rocked I'd pull to the side of the road, I'd write down what was happening inside of me, and who authored it.
*We had so much in common -- we both loved her, and neither of us thought much of me.

Damned if putting words to the page didn't light that anger that protected me from caving. Hell of a tool. I'm well aware that anger can be destructive -- voice of experience -- but I can tell you also that it can be helpful. Just don't let it get habitual, don't harbor it; just utilize as needed to tap its power, to get the tears off your cheeks, to get you some clarity.

Again, really sorry you're in this. I'm just words on a screen, right, except that I'm not -- I'm rooting for you, I am damn sure wanting peace for you.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:41 PM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


« Older When communicating seems to make it worse   |   Help me find the fountain pen I want Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.