Should I contact my ex? Part 2
February 8, 2019 6:04 PM   Subscribe

There has been a sudden turn of events that has gotten me pretty upset. I could use some advice again.

To understand the full story you may have to read the previous question I posted on December 6th. Link below:

So, after more than 1 year, drunk me decided to contact my ex who had been the love of my life but abandoned me and left me heart broken without any reasons. I am also very sorry to not follow any advice that had been given to me from you.

I called him to wish him a happy birthday. And the reaction was nothing like I thought it would be.

He started crying immediately after realizing it was me (and I have never seen this man cry, ever) and got into telling me the reason of leaving and that he should never had done this. As he says, he left because he didn't have the courage to tell me about what happened to his family. It is, indeed, something pretty heavy. Out of privacy reasons I won't tell you what happened, only that I understand the reason he had to be there with his family. On top of that he had been feeling like a burden to me because of his dept and the no-job-thing.

He had been wanting to contacting me every day since he left, but didn't have the guts. However, he has now gotten the pieces together, has a new home, a new job and is doing fine. Just fine, because as he says, he has lost the love of his life because of the stupid mistake of not telling me about this. And we would have worked it out, I know.

We talked about an hour, we were both crying, tears of joy and of extreme sadness. He says that he cannot come back to Germany before the problems with his family are settled, I know that this could take years. But he wants to keep contact, and says that if I want, maybe, someday, we could try to work on this from the beginning and start all over again. This would not only be the biggest wish for him, but sadly for me too.

He says he wants to keep contact, and eventually see me sometime again, when we happen to be in the same country someday. I don't know if this is a good idea. But only because it would hurt too much.

I cannot move away, not having an own home, job or any money. I can't do this for someone who has hurt me this much. Although I am thinking about it.

I told him about my current partner, but also about my feelings for him. He doesn't have a relationship, and says he never had any after me.

I know that I shouldn't have done this, but I feel better. I know why he left without a word after 3 years, and I know that he is sorry and still loves me. It just hurts to know that maybe, someday, we will be together. Because someday is too long. I do have a relationship at the moment and I love my partner very much, we live together and I have decided to move on without the pain, but when I imagine myself in 5 years, it is the someone else I am happy with. And he always has been.

Again, I am sorry for not listening to your previous advice on whether to contact him. i just wanted to share this with you and hear if you have any thoughts about how to move on.

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I remember your question from before. You got the closure you had wanted but also now have a conundrum. That's OK, and no need to apologize to us for making your own decision. I'm sorry that it continues to be so hard!

This guy is all talk and no action. He may genuinely wish to be back together with you but he's made no effort to do so or even come see you or have you come there, really. You were the one who reached out, which is fine but telling.

I've reconnected with exes but it's never worked out: at first it seems wonderful, of course, but quickly the old problems return but this time with less patience and a painful awareness of what's going on. It's not to say that it can't work out for, say, 3% of people who try but it doesn't seem possible for you and him, I'm sorry. You are being very hopeful and nostalgic, which is understandable but unrealistic. You're remembering too much of the good stuff and not enough of the bad: again, it's natural but still not a fix.

The good news is that there are more possible partners out there than your ex and current guy! The ex isn't a good option for obvious reasons; the current guy may be sweet but your heart isn't it in. Please consider breaking up and taking some time for yourself and thinking about what you truly want. Chances are that that person -- many people even -- are out there but you haven't met them yet. Chances are good that you will meet them one day, especially if you give your heart time to heal. I'm not saying that you can't keep in contact with this ex -- sometimes things need to run their course -- in fact, you may get annoyed and find the true closure you want! But count me in as someone who says it's OK to have done so but put your hopes and efforts elsewhere.
posted by smorgasbord at 6:28 PM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I stand 100% behind the advice I gave you last time you asked this question, and for all the same reasons. Nothing has changed except that the wound is still fresh and your life remains twisted up around this shitty ex. In all kindness, please stop doing this to yourself.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:47 PM on February 8, 2019 [25 favorites]

I know why he left without a word after 3 years

did he give you any proof of what he told you? he may be telling you the truth, but the most likely thing, to an outside observer, is that he is lying.

But maybe he isn't lying. What he told you is that he is very weak, very cowardly, and incapable of taking the step to make amends without you reaching out to him first; he was not willing to contact you all year even though he claimed he wanted to. why? because it meant taking a risk that you might be angry with him, or that his shame over his family situation might be exposed to you. this, to him, was intolerable. But letting you live in pain and worry and confusion indefinitely was not intolerable to him. not at all.

this is what you have to believe, if you believe his story. so it is tragic and painful, because you loved him, but you can use this to kill the painful dream of someday. he is not trustworthy. he is someone who chooses to protect himself from unpleasant scenes above everything else, even when that means hurting you terribly. No matter how good he is to his family, he is bad to you. If he ever comes back to you, he will use his fear and weakness to justify lying to you, keeping things from you, hiding secrets from you, running away, and disappearing. And when you catch him and ask him why he didn't just tell the truth, once again he will say, "I couldn't face it," and he will cry.

I'm glad for you that you got an answer to a mystery. but if you believe him about what happened, you have to also believe what that says about him as a human being and a partner. his shame is stronger than his love. that is another way of saying: he will always protect his own feelings before he thinks of yours.

you can pity him for that, but pity him from far, far away.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:00 PM on February 8, 2019 [78 favorites]

I know this feels fresh and new and different but, and I mean this gently as I know how hard perspective on these things can be, from the outside this looks exactly the same. Nothing seems to have changed regarding your ex.

Best case scenario he's still wildly prioritizing his feelings above your value, worst case he's involved and you're a side piece he's keeping available.
posted by French Fry at 7:01 PM on February 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

Oh buddy, let this one go. It's not gonna happen, it's never gonna happen. It's okay to like, and love someone, and even be really compatible with them - and it's still not going to work out because of other stuff.

This is not going to work out because of other stuff. And that's okay! But relitigating what could have been is not going to give you the healthy, physically present relationship you deserve. Do not hold yourself hostage to a relationship that does not exist.

He had been wanting to contacting me every day since he left.

This is a lie. There was nothing stopping this man from contacting you before he left, while he was leaving, and on any one of the days in the year since he left. He didn't want to contact you, regardless of what he says.

There is a type of person - male and female both, though I do think for whatever reason guys tend to gravitate toward it more - who build up false narratives about themselves, their actions etc. They do this by imagining what they would have done, rather than what they actually did do, and build out these grandiose narratives about the kind of person they are, the epic struggles they endure, etc etc. This guy is doing that.

If he's the type of guy that would do anything for you, that has been dying every day since you separated, why didn't he call you, for your birthday? Why didn't he email, or message, or let a friend of a friend know? He has not contacted you at all since he skipped out.

You are encouraging and buying into this fairy tale about his love for you and the nature of your relationship. It is not true, and of course he wants you to buy into it, it absolves him of guilt and makes you seem like star-crossed lovers. Instead of a shitty guy who cannot behave like an adult when things get serious.

Don't judge him by what he says, or feels, judge him by what he does. There are millions of men in the world who would have worked this out with you - however shameful the family situation is (And how do you even know this family situation is real?). Millions of men. You can do better and you must do better. Block this guy, for your own health.

I'll leave you with a parting thought: He's been away from you for a year. Has a new job, a new life in his old country. He has a new woman in his life, I guarantee it. Maybe not a relationship, but flirting, positioning etc. He has been interacting with women in a romantic way in the last year, 100%. What do you think about that? How does this tie into the love story you are both writing? How do you think he will explain that?

Guys like this have an excuse for everything and a reason for nothing. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Raise a glass to this old relationship, but drink to a new one.

Best of luck,
posted by smoke at 7:04 PM on February 8, 2019 [48 favorites]

Consider, if a friend told you that her partner - of years - left the country with no notice, lied over and over about coming back and then dropped out entirely for over a year, what would you tell that friend?

"Hang in there champ! I bet they have a good reason, you can still be great couple." - Hell no, you wouldn't tell a friend that! You'd tell a friend that real relationships are not filled with lies, and to get on with their lives. Be a friend to yourself, I beg you. Consider seeing a counsellor to help rid you of this obsession.
posted by smoke at 7:13 PM on February 8, 2019 [16 favorites]

Yes I just read the previous advice given above (from "anticipation of a new lover's arrival"- possible an apropos name for this situation as well!) and I have to say I 100% agree.

At the end of the day, he (your ex) is unreliable and untruthful, or at least just very cowardly (in terms of communication and actions). You can restart the clock and wait it out again but he's not going to be there for you in the way you want, maybe figuratively, maybe literally. You can call him and he will tell you to wait- just like previously. I'm sorry, I know that it is SO hard to get over certain people but there's some quote about how you are really trying to get over the 'fantasy relationship/future' you had planned with the other person, not the actual reality of them. You can wait again, but please don't. And let your present partner go too, he's obviously not the right person for you either, at least at this time.
posted by bquarters at 7:47 PM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

You are being unfaithful to your current partner. Break up with him and find someone you actually want to be with and who will actually be with you instead of building up epic stories about how your love is being thwarted by fate. That's how you will get the absconder out of your head.
posted by praemunire at 7:51 PM on February 8, 2019 [22 favorites]

I also suspect he is lying about some or all of it. It is amazing the things people will lie about. I'm so sorry, but stay far away from this one. You are also being disingenuous with your live-in partner and they deserve someone whose whole heart is dedicated to them. If you can't be that person, then you need to let them go. Imagine the stories your partner will share about you when you break up with them later and they realize you never got over this horrible guy and pursued him while you were together.

I needed to be by myself for a long time to recover from the lies someone told me. It is normal to feel what you are feeling. But you need to go no-contact with that liar and take control of your life.
posted by juliplease at 8:19 PM on February 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

Just to add a bit more to this point you made:

He doesn't have a relationship, and says he never had any after me.

I have an ex like this. We broke up over a decade ago. So, the (slightly) younger me found this so romantic, a sign even, that we were destined to be together!! The current me: Damn, these women are smarter than I was! And Gee, dude, I feel bad for you and wish you had moved on because I genuinely want you to be happy and there's no way I'd ever be interested again!!

(FWIW I also have exes who moved on quickly and are just as shitty with their new partners as they were with me. My feelings are not as kind and generous. And others I have no clue about and for whom my feelings are neutral and/or apathetic.)

There are a lot of MeFites who are invincible, strong in theory and/or at least full of conviction after having learned the hard way themselves. I support their stance while also being humbled by and fully aware of my own humanity. For me, it took meeting up with the one aforementioned ex a few years later to realize what I wrote above; we've had no contact since nor do I wish to, although I'd be fine with something friendly and neutral. I hope he's moved on and not used any lingering feelings as an excuse to focus on me rather than his own darn life. (Because, honestly, many of us often use relationships and romantic longing as a distraction from the bigger issues. I'm guilty as charged but working on it with a lot of success or, at least, increased self-awareness.)

Something else a friend told me that's been so reassuring as I shift though the good and bad of life is that sometimes we recognize something is not quite right. And that it won't last, and we don't even want it to last but we can't seem to let go just yet. That it's OK to recognize the cognitive dissonance and allow ourselves to feel how we're feeling and do what we're doing with the knowledge -- and reassurance -- that when the time comes and we know we must move on -- or simply feel we must move on, we can trust ourselves to make the right choice eventually. When it's time to move on, you'll know. If you aren't ready just yet, it's OK. But eventually you will be able to let go and be OK with it!
posted by smorgasbord at 8:48 PM on February 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'd be very skeptical of whatever sob story he told you unless you were somehow able to verify it as truth through an unbiased, uninfluenced third party... and I doubt it's worth the effort.

I'm not sure what kind of game the guy was playing, but honest, sweetie, this just feels like a con. It makes me uneasy and want to raise red flags all over it, even though I can't define why. Please, be cautious, no matter what you do.
posted by stormyteal at 9:59 PM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Even if his story is 100% true, what happens next time he has a family crisis? He will respond by disappearing and leaving you hanging, worried, confused, upset.
posted by sunflower16 at 2:30 AM on February 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

Don't judge him by what he says, or feels, judge him by what he does.

This. Exactly this. I understand that you love your ex deeply but in the end, the emotion alone is useless. It is through MetaFilter that I was taught that love is supposed to be a verb. An action, a series of actions, rather than an empty declaration.

In your earlier question, you wrote: He was living here long before we met, but he always had trouble with the language and struggled his way through, never finding the right job and ending up in a huge pile of debt. ... There were absolutely no signs from him nor how he was treating me to let me know what was about to come. The only thing that was going pretty bad was his debt pile that kept growing and no matter how much I tried to help we couldn’t find a way out.

This person is a walking red flag. Not because one is a bad person if one struggles to find the right job or because one is in debt but because you were trying to fix his situation. He is the only one who can fix his life, his situation, his debt, and the way he communicates with you. Captain Awkward has great advice for this situation, which I have paraphrased: "Do less work on being friends with people who are doing zero work on being good to you."

You will be stuck on this guy however long you are stuck on him. I have been in that place and it sucks. I don't have a magic wand to make it better. I will say that after you get through this, you may find a partner who makes you grateful you did not end up with the lover who abandoned you. Since your current partner doesn't do that, please be kind and consider releasing him to find someone else who can love him fully in a way you simply can't.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:38 AM on February 9, 2019 [12 favorites]

Bella Donna is right. This sad sack says he loves you, but in what way has he loved you in the past year? He has done nothing but abandon you, leaving you bewildered, upset, and wracked with unending grief. He has not loved you, he is not loving you, he does not love you. Anyone can open their mouth and make noises come out, but that isn't love. The hard reality is that he has spent the last entire year treating you like absolute dirt. He has shat on your heart and thrown your life into a tailspin and now he wants you to feel sorry for him. What a complete bastard.

Have some self respect. Muster up a little dignity. Do what's right by your current partner. Don't go crawling back to this stain ever again.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:56 AM on February 9, 2019 [9 favorites]

There is something about his not lifting a finger to alleviate your pain all of this time, THEN, when you finally reach out to him, saying everything you need to hear. It's as though it benefits him to remain in good standing with you. But not unless or until you make it clear you are amenable. The way it looks from my perspective is that if you had stayed silent, he would have never reached out to you. After abandoning you completely, which is seriously callous behavior. If he can do that to someone, he's quite capable of telling you a string of lies right now. His tactic, at best, as an opportunist, is weak and lazy. At worst, he's done this a million times before and sees your reaching out, not in anger but confirming that you are still heart broken, as an opportunity. And he will behave in whatever way secures he still has you in his back pocket for if and when he might need you. (I'm sorry).
posted by marimeko at 5:07 AM on February 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

So really, he's given you two things during this most recent contact:

* A more-acceptable-to-you explanation of what happened. Good, that's great.
* The gift (!!) of years of endless pining ahead of you for a future relationship that he says might happen, that has no way of happening now, or for the forseeable future, and, lets be honest, is unlikely to ever happen (Who's to say you'll ever both be a position to pursue it at the same time? How long will have passed? How much will you both have changed by then? Is one of other of you ever going to actually be able to emigrate to pursue it seriously?)

If he really wanted the best for you, he wouldn't wish years of painful, possibly endless, pining on you. He would acknowledge the good times that you had and then call an end to things, and set you free to get on with building a happy life.

I think you know this, because near the end of your question, you say what you want from AskMefites is "to hear if you have any thoughts about how to move on." So I think you know, deep down, that you have to move on.

If he's too much of a coward to put a full stop to it, then I think the only way you can move on is to do that yourself. Tell him you're glad for the times you spent together but it's over, and go no-contact.

That doesn't have to mean going back to how things have been for the past year, because now you have the first of those gifts - a better answer for what happened.
posted by penguin pie at 7:55 AM on February 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hugs (if you want them)

You asked about how to move on. I’m going to try a different tack. Don’t force yourself to move on, don’t force yourself to try to forget about him. What I mean is, try to feel your feelings, the aches, the pains, the sadness, sorrow, whatever. Identify them, acknowledge them. Don’t try to do anything with them, like fix them or solve them or whatever. Just feel and acknowledge. Learn about yourself from these feelings. And then, when you're ready, let them go.

Other mefites have talked about how he treated you badly so I don’t need to reiterate that. This is about YOU and want you want to do. Do you want to keep in contact? Do you want to wait for “someday” to see if you can have a relationship again? Do you want to have a relationship with him? I suggest that you don’t answer these questions right now. Leave them unanswered - for now. Commit to no contact with him, commit to your mental health and sanity, commit to being a great partner to your current guy. Do that for say, a year. Maybe 1.5 years, so that your year of no contact doesn’t end around the time of his birthday. See how you feel by the end of those 1.5 years. You can decide then what to do.
posted by foxjacket at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

I’m waiting for the follow up post where we find that this guy has said if you just send him $xxxx he’ll be able to clear his debts and you can be together...honestly, this guy is a parade of red flags and the best thing he could have done for you is walk out of your life, albeit in not such a cruel way.

Meanwhile you have a new partner who seemingly treats you well while you pine for someone else. For both your sakes, please let your boyfriend go - because he deserves better, and your awful ex - because you deserve better.
posted by Jubey at 4:30 PM on February 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Do not trust this man or anything that comes out of his mouth, or any action that he ever performs. Stay away.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:41 PM on February 10, 2019

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