Was I right to break up?
July 12, 2019 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I had planned a nice romantic trip with my partner and it ended badly. Wondering if I am in the wrong and if/how I should fix things.

I have been dating someone for a few months. I was super excited by them and haven't felt this way for the first time in a long time. Things were going well, so I invited them to an international trip that my friends planned. Things quickly went south.

Going into it, I was nervous because I didn't know how it was going to go as they were rather distant via text the week before. The first day things went wrong -- we were supposed to meet up in a city and then proceed to meet up with the friends. However, a flight delay meant that they missed their connection. I decided to miss my flight and wait for them instead. When they landed and saw that I waited for them, they expressed surprise that I hadn't gone ahead, which left me feeling bad because I thought they would be more excited to see me. Then they expressed that they were stressed about work, and that evening barely talked and wanted to watch TV. I was disappointed as I wanted to catch up, and I asked some questions that was on my mind about whether they were going to move. We had a good conversation about it.

Then that evening they facetimed their ex in front of me. I thought that was odd. I expressed as such -- I am all for exes being friends, but doing in front of me when we're in early stages of dating seemed insensitive. They said they were close friends and didn't seem that apologetic.

The next day they were silent through the hour long taxi ride. When I asked if everything is ok, they said they were tired. The next few days went well, with them getting along well with my friends and we were having a good time...but no sex. It was hard to find a time because everytime I came into the room, they had fallen asleep and in the morning would sleep in after I had woken up.

By the fourth day I asked if they considered it weird that we were not having sex. They said it "wasn't on their mind." Then as the conversation progressed, they mentioned that they were "concerned when I brought up the move, and didn't want to hurt me later on."

I reflected on it for a few hours, and talked to a friend who said that they probably are not into me, and I should give them the option to be friends so that they don't feel pressured to have sex. So last evening, I did. They were really taken aback and asked where it was coming from. I expressed that I wanted to be more, but in case they were feeling that way, I wanted to give an out and just finish the trip as friends. They said it probably makes sense to do that, but they didn't intend for the timing to be off, and that when we had spent the weekend together two weeks before, they felt something missing. So I said it's ok to be friends, and we can reconnect when things are clearer.

This morning, right after we broke up, I felt sad and weird. Then they, during breakfast, proposed a trip with my good friend as they were mentioning that he wanted to check out something. Of course my friend has no idea we broke up and was enthusiastic. Meanwhile, I am thinking....WTF? That seems insensitive to me. But I didn't say anything because if she wants to do that, she can go ahead as I want both of them to have fun. I'll probably give him a heads up right after the trip is over that we broke up.

I feel angry, confused, undesirable, and embarrassed to have invited them. I also wonder if I sabotaged things by asking so many questions from the start. My last relationship ended also after a few months and I abruptly ended things and I thought I had made progress with communication and patience, and I feel like I have done the exact same thing.

The few days since, things have been mellow and I feel a little calmer having some resolution but also really guilty and sad.

My question is whether I overreacted, and whether my anxiety ruined what could have otherwise been a good trip. I have an appointment with a therapist in a few days which I am looking forward to.
posted by pando11 to Human Relations (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think you did the right thing. When someone is into you, they show you. Even after you expressed that they didn’t seem keen, they said a breakup made sense and something was missing, so I think they just didn’t have the courage to do it themselves. I’m sorry they wasted your time, on an international trip no less. But at least you know and got out early. Best of luck next time.
posted by Jubey at 2:21 PM on July 12 [38 favorites]

Your anxiety may have made slightly more awkward what was otherwise already kind of an awkward trip, but it also successfully ended what seems like not a very good relationship, so you may have lost the battle but you won the war.

It's a bit hard to follow exactly what the state of the relationship was before the trip. Were you living in the same place? You mention having to meet them on the way to this International destination, and also the possibility of them moving. Were they moving to you or away from you?

The overall impression I get from your question, though, is that this person you were dating wasn't nearly as in to you as you were into them. That's reason enough not to be in a relationship with them.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:24 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]

We were living in the same place, and they were potentially moving away. We had to meet up in a separate city as they were coming from another trip.
posted by pando11 at 2:26 PM on July 12

I mean, they facetimed their ex in front of you, said they weren't even thinking of having sex with you, and when you finally said that maybe you should just be friends, their response was basically that they hadn't been feeling it since at least last weekend but didn't want "the timing to be off."

This person wanted to break up with you, and were probably just waiting until after this trip to do it. Breaking up was a question of when, not if -- you didn't sabotage anything.

Good for you for having some nerve, and I'm sorry that you're going through this.
posted by rue72 at 2:33 PM on July 12 [82 favorites]

As you've described it that relationship was DOA at the airport. You did what you could in very awkward circumstances, for which you should be proud. There was nothing to be saved though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:44 PM on July 12 [15 favorites]

(and by DOA I mean that either they had already checked out or that they are incredibly bad material for a partner)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:46 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]

Yes, I think you were right to break up. I don't think you overreacted. I don't think it was your anxiety that was the issue. Once the sting has worn off, I think you'll feel better about your decision!
posted by bighappyhairydog at 2:48 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]

I feel angry, confused, undesirable, and embarrassed to have invited them.

How about a new framing? This trip made clear what might have taken longer otherwise: this wasn't a good match and the relationship didn't have enough potential to continue. I suspect this person probably was tired. But I agree that, a few months in, sex should be on their mind or at the very least not a surprise!
posted by bluedaisy at 2:53 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]

You didn’t overreact. I think the other person was being a little passive aggressive (maybe unintentionally) to provoke you, and your friend was right to say they were acting not that into you.

The only thing I would do differently in the future is not go on an international trip with a pretty new relationship.
posted by sallybrown at 3:04 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]

I have never heard of someone acting distant who didn't really want to break up but was too chicken. The only thing I would have done differently here would be to hold off on actually breaking up til we got back home just for the sake of MY vacation. BUT I have never been in this situation so who knows what anyone would really do.
posted by bleep at 3:51 PM on July 12

I honestly can't tell if they were not into you or if they were just really jetlagged and tired. Not having sex because you're off in terms of time zone seems somewhat normal to me? I mean, couldn't be me, but it seems to make a lot of sense on a group trip where you can't just do whatever at whatever time.

Anyway, I think that you did the wrong thing by breaking up with them instead of just asking what was up. I think breaking up with people because of how you think they might be feeling is not so great.

In terms of not pressuing someone for sex, you can also just say "look I'm sorry I brought up sex in that way, I don't want you to feel pressured. I like spending time with you and I just want to make sure nothing is wrong and that you feel comfortable."

Ultimately, this seems like maybe not a good fit anyway, but I do think you went way too far pretty quickly given the circumstances.

(And if someone broke up with me when I was on an international trip with them, I would probably be like...yeah, sure, I also felt that way, even if I didn't, because omg how embarassing and uncomfortable :/ anyway yeah)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:18 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]

we were supposed to meet up in a city and then proceed to meet up with the friends. However, a flight delay meant that they missed their connection.

Like, missing a flight connection, plus work stress, plus jet lag alone would have me pretty exhausted and not in the mood for a bunch of conversation. And add to that, if I said I was stressed by work and tired and the person I was with brought up a stressful issue (moving)...yikes. I don't know if you've ever been in a longer relationship, but sometimes people just legitimately feel tired and don't want to talk and they don't have that "early date" excitement. For the most part, the best move is to ride it out and keep things low-key instead of pushing them to reassure you.

posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:25 PM on July 12 [19 favorites]

The overall impression I get from your question, though, is that this person you were dating wasn't nearly as in to you as you were into them.
I had the same thought.

I actually do think you made a few missteps but I don't think they would have made any difference in the outcome.
posted by sm1tten at 4:30 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]

You were right to end it, and you ended it in a way that gave them the option to let you know if that wasn't what they wanted.

I personally wouldn't take a new partner on a trip with friends but some people do that sort of thing and it works out fine. I'd almost guess that your partner was uncomfortable with the trip, at least by the time that they went? In that case it was on them to say something - decline, back up, say they weren't ready for that kind of step yet. Instead, looks like they kept giving you signals that you were correctly interpreting, and claiming they were tired when you asked about it. Wild guess: this person might not have been awesome at communicating their needs and boundaries and might have been really frustrating as a long-term partner, so IMO you dodged a bullet here.

Breaking up is hard and confusing and it's normal to have doubts about it afterwards. Hopefully therapy helps you feel better. Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 5:32 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]

If I were your ... invited person I would have reacted to your pushiness by retreating further. This is not weird at all, it is a common reaction to being pushed.

I agree that you two weren't a good match and it's not a bad thing that you've broken up. However, in the future you may want to chill out a bit around someone you're interested in, especially early in a relationship. If someone says they are tired, jet lagged, stressed from work, the right move is to relax and keep it light, not pile on more stressors by talking about moving, pressuring them for sex, etc.

Also, my best friend is my ex. If someone can't accept that we are best friends and that best friends speak frequenty, I don't need 'em in my life. I refuse to be held responsible for someone else's unwarranted jealousy. The facetime may be a regular thing in your invited person's life, and it's not reasonabe to expect them to change it because you've misinterpreted a friendship as sexual/romantic.

Try putting yourself in their shoes: How would you feel if you wanted to chat for a moment to your best friend, and the new romantic interest in your life reacted with jealousy? Would that reaction contribute anything positive to your view of that person or the potential of your relationship?

As to people showing it if they're into you, yeah, and this person may never have been into you. But I also detect that you are operating in a way that will actively push people away, even if they start out being into you.

In a nutshell: take a chill pill. Accept that a new person has their own ways of doing things and their own life, stop interpreting everything as being about you or as signifying something sinister.
posted by nirblegee at 5:37 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]

Also, my best friend is my ex. If someone can't accept that we are best friends and that best friends speak frequenty, I don't need 'em in my life. I refuse to be held responsible for someone else's unwarranted jealousy.

Would you Facetime them right in front of your current SO immediately after telling that SO that you were too tired to talk?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:41 PM on July 12 [53 favorites]

Oh, my god. No, you were not PUSHY. Yes, you did the right thing to break things off.

This person facetimed their ex in front of you on your first night together --- that is an extremely unsubtle demonstration of disinterest. It really could not be clearer. (And then it did get miraculously even clearer after that, with the avoidance of even talking about sex. It's one thing to say "let's take it slow." It's another to just avoid the whole thing by falling asleep.)

They weren't into you. "DOA" as stated above is correct. I'm sorry this happened to you, sounds like a lousy time. Someday you'll laugh and shake your head about it. One for the "lol remember THAT dud, eugh" album.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:35 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]

You did fine.
It was not your fault.
They're just not that into you.
You're not "too" anything.
It just wasn't a good match.

Truly, you deserve someone who is excited to be with you. For heaven's sake, the first few months of a relationships should be chock full of that sweet intoxicating new relationship energy. If they're not excited about you now, chances are they never will be. You saw clearly and made a good call in ending it.
posted by dum spiro spero at 10:29 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]

It seems apparent in hindsight that you were acting according to your sense of the situation, and also apparent that you two were really mismatched on pretty much all facets. I know what it's like to hang on too long,to root for an underdog, to hope things get better, but those aren't so much "profound insights about my own motivations" as they are "reasons to break up sooner than later."

I've got to think there are some added nuances with the "international trip" aspects, but I'm not sure how much effect, if any, they'd have on the outcome. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a tension-multiplier, though, so even if it doesn't change the outcome, it made it suck more.
posted by rhizome at 11:22 PM on July 12

My partner of a few months not telling me they were skipping their flight and waiting for me is my definition of, I guess we're calling it "pushy"? It sounds like you were mismatched, but I know my partner now of a few months would know me well enough that I would respond very badly to being surprised in that way.

I'd feel awkward and taken aback by them having changed their plans for me and not communicated it to me so I could say no, I want you to go on ahead. Which I would have. (In her case, I would feel differently but I'm pretending she's another person I've dated. So maybe if you were right for each other he would've opened his arms and shouted. But again, she would not have kept that from me and I would've been vibrating with joy over my long stressful time being over soon, the entire flight would've felt great, love is fucking stupid, so again don't withold. This is a very new feeling for me, an introvert and person who doesn't give their whole heart away.. ever, previously.) Anyway, I dated a ton of people who were great but not right for me and I'm thankful we parted so I could not be in those relationships. I'm sorry this sucked so bad, but I don't think you should beat yourself up about it. I would communicate in the future and not spring surprises during travel on someone. Travel is VERY STRESSFUL. If you pushed me, I would only retreat further.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:21 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]

Truly, you deserve someone who is excited to be with you. For heaven's sake, the first few months of a relationships should be chock full of that sweet intoxicating new relationship energy. If they're not excited about you now, chances are they never will be. You saw clearly and made a good call in ending it.

I wholeheartedly agree with this but not if it includes the thought that relationships in the first few months should be conflict free. I had many conflicts due to stuff that was going on but each one was like establishing a fundamental important part of a relationship that I think most people who get divorced literally just turn their head and walk into another room if it comes up. Conflict is not the enemy. It has to be healthy. His being taken aback then conceding meant that he felt the concession feeling but "felt bad" so it was an initial over the top denial and that was his weakness. When people protest very quickly then backslide, you can read it as their anxiety and guilt defenses coming up. Very normal. Very the sort of person I think a AskMetafilter person would date (intelligent but needs to grow emotionally)
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:25 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]

You did nothing wrong and are not pushy and definitely did the right thing by breaking up with someone who's clearly not into you! Re- the waiting at the airport- it's likely there was no way to contact each other to discuss plans while one was in flight. If I was the delayed one, I would've thought it nice and thoughtful for you to have waited for me so I didn't have to navigate catching up with the others in a foreign country alone.
Hopefully by breaking up you are now free to enjoy the rest of the trip with your friends even if it's awkward having your new ex around. If you hadn't broken up the whole trip would've been a miserable slog of you second guessing yourself and trying to interpret standoffish behaviour.
posted by emd3737 at 12:56 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]

As this thread shows, there are lots of cogent ways to analyse this, but every single one works out with you having done the right thing. Your overall read (it just wasn't a relationship that was going anywhere) seems to have been spot on, given their reaction to everything that happened.

Early relationships are, as noted above, not constant sweetness and light, but you do have to both be genuinely invested in, and getting a genuine emotional return from, the relationship. For whatever reason, this person really doesn't seem to have been in a position to (or/and didn't choose to) contribute properly to those vital things.
posted by howfar at 3:17 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]

If there’s anything clear about what transpired on the trip, it’s that every time you did something to establish further intimacy (waiting for them at the airport, initiating conversation, asking about having sex), the other person did something to distance themselves further (fell asleep, FaceTimed their ex, avoided conversation). All of those things put together were definitely a clear indication that they were no longer interested, and breaking up was the right thing to do.

I don’t think there’s any way to have prevented this, or that it was incidentally caused by the trip or whatever. You were clearly hoping for a romantic getaway with lots of sex, and disappointed that they were not at all into it, understandably so. And maybe the stress of being in a different country with a new partner and meeting people they didn’t know...maybe that crystallized their feelings and made them realize in a hurry that it wasn’t right for them. But then how do you get out of that situation when you’re in a foreign country with someone with whom you’re sharing a room, who may or may not respect your physical boundaries? Awkward is kind of the best case scenario—if someone really wants to be a terrible person, it could be very dangerous.

But it was only awkward, you were very respectful, and everyone got home okay with only their dignity bruised. I’m sorry the trip and the relationship didn’t work out, but I’d chalk this up to a learning experience and move on. Maybe save the international getaways for more established relationships. The common wisdom is definitely that if you want to know if a relationship is going to work out, to travel with that person! Guess it definitely held true in your case! But a local weekend trip might be a better test of compatibility next time.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:53 AM on July 13 [25 favorites]

100% the right thing and you were 100% justified in feeling anxious about their behaviour and the entire situation.

Your questions and expectations seem, to me, entirely reasonable in any budding relationship. Good on you for breaking up as soon as you noticed this!

I've never met you but I feel really proud of you.
posted by ipsative at 1:21 PM on July 14

My read is that this person was a complete ass. If they weren’t feeling it they should not have agreed to the trip. It sounds to me like they wanted a free trip out of you before ending it.

But yeah, in the future, avoid international trips with new partners.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 3:18 PM on July 14

Just got an update that they were cheating on me this whole time with their ex. So yeah, your advice was on point and I dodged a bullet. It’s painful now but will be a funny story someday.

Learned a lot, but one major lesson: if something feels off, it usually is because it is.
posted by pando11 at 1:58 AM on July 16 [10 favorites]

Ugh. I'm really sorry.
posted by bunderful at 4:29 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]

It’s painful now but will be a funny story someday.

I'm sorry. That's awful. Also: it's truly okay if it's never ever a funny story and always one that stings a bit.

Was this the ex that he facetimed with? If so, yeah, your instincts -- that something was off -- were exactly right.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:49 PM on July 16

Yes the same one, and they had prearranged a meetup right as they landed weeks before this trip. The ex was waiting at the airport (which I didn’t see but someone told me. And why this ex would engage in that is also a mystery). Truly bizarre.

Therapy is already helping.
posted by pando11 at 2:58 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]

Oof, that's really rough. I'd get far, far away from these folks. How do you know all this? Are you all still connected via social media or do you have friends in common? I'd recommend blocking/unfriending/unfollowing or whatever you need to do in order not to have to know more about this. In your situation, I'd have a lot of questions about why it all played out that way, but I suspect there aren't really any satisfying answers. It sounds really awful and like he lied to you. I'm so sorry. Good luck healing and moving forward. You should feel really good that you made the right decision even without all the information.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:03 PM on July 16

The ex was waiting at the airport (which I didn’t see but someone told me. And why this ex would engage in that is also a mystery).

Holy shit. He probably didn't even miss his connection like he said he did. Fuck this guy.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:59 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

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