How do I stop hoping for reconciliation after a breakup? Should I?
August 7, 2019 10:48 PM   Subscribe

Hi, Metafilter friends. I was recently broken up with (3 weeks ago) after a 3 year long relationship with the best person I know (31F/30M), mostly due to timing/mental health. I’m totally reeling. What do I do about my hopes for reconciliation?

We were supposed to move in together recently but life threw a whole pile of shit his way (family, job, self) that he basically said he couldn’t handle while being in a relationship, especially with the added stress/change of moving in. He also struggles deeply with (severe?) clinical depression and PTSD that’s being treated, but slowly/somewhat unsuccessfully.

I was always willing to work through any bumps in the road and accepted and loved him exactly as-is. Despite not being an optimist, I have endless hope, an unrelenting drive to work for things I believe in, and I’m a romantic. I don’t fault him for not feeling able to stay in the relationship. He truly felt he couldn’t handle it right now- he said it was ‘self-preservation.’ Though he’s always struggled with self-esteem issues, self-acceptance, etc., he is actively in therapy and seeing professionals.

But he needed to be by himself/focus on his life. I think I understand that. This comment by strelitzia sums things up well and this Junot Diaz article (minus the compulsive cheating and later harassment coming to light) could have been written by him. He knows he has a lot to work on, to get to a place of feeling like he’s worthy of love and acceptance. I always felt like he could get there, with a lot of work, and a lot of support, (I’ve been through my own mental health hell) but I also know you can’t make someone get better simply by loving and supporting them.

However.

The part I am struggling with is that I slipped about a week post-breakup and emailed him. Among other thoughts, I asked if ‘this is the end of this relationship forever, end of story’, and he responded with a levelheaded ‘No, I haven’t closed the door on being together in the future,’ if he gets to a place where that’s possible. He said he does still love me. And that me being open to that made him feel good, because he feels like a giant piece of shit right now, guilty for making me feel sadness and pain, probably feeling like I was done with him forever because of how the breakup hurt me and because he has this feeling that he’ll inevitably hurt people and that he’s a bad guy.

He said not to wait for him/put my life on hold for him, which is a feeling he struggled with a lot while we were together (him feeling like he was holding me back- but I didn’t feel that way and wasn’t waiting or pressuring him to do things).

But I really cannot stop ruminating over that thought- that I want to be with him, that he’s open to being with me at some point in the vague future… that it’ll somehow work out. I want it so much. I don't feel desperate about it and I'm not particularly scared of being alone. It's just something I want enormously.

I’m a kind, responsible, resilient, successful, independent woman. I suppose I am confident I could find someone else, eventually, if I wanted to. But other than the issues he’s struggling with that impacted our relationship, we’re incredibly compatible. So much more so than any other relationship I’ve been in (several serious, long-term ones), other friendships, etc. There weren’t any other sources of conflict or dislike or anything. We never fought, we were always respectful of and kind to each other, extremely affectionate, excellent verbal banter and conversation, very alike in interests and personality. I admire him in so many ways and I know he felt the same.

I assume I shouldn’t pin all my hopes on him calling me up to say he wants to try things again. (Can I just pin some of my hopes on that?) Even if he did, it’s not like there’s a timeline on it. It seems like that’s always a blanket ‘no, dummy, bad idea.’ It doesn’t sound impossible given the reason for the split and our attitudes on the possibility, but it’s also not up to me. What do I do?

In the meantime I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. Spend time with friends and family, exercise, get outside, treat myself kindly, cry when I need to, see my therapist, pet some cats… (please don't suggest dating right now, the thought makes me want to retch) and we’ve agreed to not being in contact after that one exchange post-breakup.

mefihoping@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm going to say it as if you were my daughter: put your own oxygen mask on first.
If your long-term friend sees that you can be yourself, strong and capable, then he can stop being "the man" and take care of his own mental health without fearing that he is dragging you down.
You can be there for him when he needs you. But you can also be there for yourself. This is not selfish. This is setting a good example.

You listed all the things you are "supposed to do." This is reconnecting with your own needs. Good for you.
Now, if he want to make this relationship work, he needs to get in there and do his share. Sometimes it's more you. Sometimes it's more him. But if it's always you doing the emotional labor... you know there are a lot of posts on the Green about that, right?

Half the population is male (if that's your thing). And a women without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. As much as you would like to force this into being the Perfect and Only One Relationship... let it rest for a while.
You may wind up feeling sad from time to time about the one who got away. Missed chances, right?
But I've seen more women who realized that they dodged a bullet. And more women who thought the man would change... and he did, once he no longer had to be on his best behavior.
If he sees you as an anvil instead of a life raft, that is a problem. His problem.
Please step back from this and let him get his own head on straight about what he wants from you. You deserve better than this.
I'm not saying he isn't a great guy. But take it on face value that after all these years, he is not depending on you. What does that mean?
It's his job to find the answer to that question. Let him figure it out, and in the meantime, you can kick back and live your best life. No guilt.
If he's wise, he will come back running. Then you get to decide if he is an anvil or a life raft. Honestly, what do you want -- not from him -- but for yourself?
Take some time to find out.
posted by TrishaU at 11:25 PM on August 7 [9 favorites]


I’m really sorry you’re going through this. It sounds a bit similar to a breakup I went through which I asked this anon question about:
https://ask.metafilter.com/275782/Help-me-pull-the-plug-on-this-relationship/
I got a tonne of good advice there, which you may find helpful.
Ultimately, regardless of how good you two were together, the fundamental thing required for a relationship is that both people want to be in it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t want to anymore. A vague “maybe someday” is not the same as wanting to be with you now, so you have to kill that hope that he will change his mind- it is the worst most painful thing, and I know how hard it is.

For me, no contact was the right path. I was in so much pain and reaching out to my ex just kept the wound alive, especially as we also had a “never say never” thing about reconciliation. At times I never thought the wound would heal. For a long time I still thought my ex was the best person in the world and had no interest in dating or trying to find someone else (I could not stand people who said “plenty more fish in the sea”- I wanted MY fish back). For various reasons we got back in touch after a year or so and tbh, though we are friends now, that set my healing back massively. I was still in love with her and imagined us reconciling even after years passed... Eventually I told her this and we decided to meet up (living in different countries) to see what would happen. And... nothing did. I still loved her and could imagine being together forever, she still had fondness for me but wasn’t holding on the way I was.

It boiled down to the same thing that was the case immediately after the breakup: a relationship requires both people to want to be in it. I knew that, deep down, I believed and loved in myself enough to not keep presenting my love to her in the hopes she would pick it back up again, and so made the choice to put it down myself too, finally, three years after we broke up. That was like going through the breakup all over again, but much less painful- by that time I had got used to being without her, could confront the memories of her with gratitude rather than misery, and had built my life up with friendships, work etc. So the final letting go was just of a fantasy, not her.

To this day I love her and feel I will for the rest of my life. I think you and I are lucky to have loved so deeply and truly, and a love like that won’t ever really die- which means it was worth it despite the pain. But I have put that love down and don’t need to cling on to it anymore. I can look around and see other marvellous people in the world, and feel interested in building something new with someone else. It just took a very long time to get there, longer than I would have imagined, and with more bumps in the road.

Just keep believing that you deserve to be loved and cherished and to be with someone who would go to the moon and back to get to be with you, and take care of yourself through the horrible process of knowing and accepting that that person is not your ex.
posted by Balthamos at 11:35 PM on August 7 [18 favorites]


After my divorce I made a promise to myself to not even think about becoming involved with someone until I had my shit sorted out. It wouldn’t be fair to them or me and it was much easier to just give the whole thing a miss.

That was 2003.

There have been a number of fabulous women along the way and I’ve made it clear to them that I would follow up with them if I ever felt emotionally ready. In 16 years that’s never happened.

I’m not saying that your ex is headed down the same path, but if you wait for someone to sort themselves out you could be in a very long wait.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:48 PM on August 7 [11 favorites]


I was your partner at the beginning of June, telling my fabulous and and amazing best friend and lover that I didn’t have the mental health and capacity to move into a house with them and told them that I was moving into my own apartment instead.

It was hard for the first month, but I am committed to making the relationship work, I just need space and my own schedule and time for a while in order to work on my shit in order to be the best person I can be.

Our relationship is now better than it ever was before, we also made the decision to be poly across this change though, so that helps lessen the pressure to perform the monogamous “we live together and share everything” narrative.

Me and my partner are living proof that this can work, it will take your partner figuring out what their healthy boundaries are, and setting realistic expectations as to what kind of relationship they can be in with you, and you reserving having the choice to agree to new terms or walking away.

Set healthy boundaries and realistic expectations and go into couples counseling ASAP.

The rules are whatever you two can agree on and decide they are, that requires honesty and commitment to creating a new relationship style work for the both of you.
posted by nikaspark at 12:09 AM on August 8


(FWIW I am actively engaged in trauma counseling and dealing with dissociative identity disorder and cPTSD, I have a lot of mental issues and personality disorder shit to sort out, me continuing to engage my therapist at my current level is one of the fundamental requirements of my partner staying in this with me. They set some hard and fast boundaries that are bright lined and clear)
posted by nikaspark at 12:16 AM on August 8


Just being honest in my reaction: his reasons, which you make a mighty effort to rationalize, don’t sound all that sincere to me.
posted by spitbull at 12:41 AM on August 8 [28 favorites]


The most difficult relationships for me to get over are the ones where I still think there’s a door open. It may be that he was being honest, or simple trying to be kind, but I don’t think he helped you by saying you might have a future together. I encourage you to slam that door shut yourself and move on.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:45 AM on August 8 [20 favorites]


Most likely he told you he wasn’t closing the door on you being together so he didn’t have to break your heart the whole way and feel like the bad guy (he told you he felt guilty - this is the way he alleviates it and also has a fallback option if his next relationship doesn’t work out.) Sorry.

I know this sounds incredibly cynical and maybe this guy is the exception to the rule but take it from someone whose been around the block, slam that door shut, for your own benefit.

Act like he’s dead to you and move on because constantly holding out hope means your breakup can drag out for another two years while you come to terms with the fact that it’s actually over and then whooo boy will you hate him and yourself for stringing you along.

I’m sorry, he’s trying to be kind. It’s actually the worst thing he could do for you. Ben and Jerry time.
posted by Jubey at 1:58 AM on August 8 [40 favorites]


You don’t want to be someone’s benchwarmer in life. You were with him for years while he struggled with these issues and now you two are no longer together because he would prefer not to be. If he wanted to be with you, you would still be together, moving in or not. I think moving on is the best way to get over this. It’s also ok if you’re just quite ready to be over this yet. Take some time to just wallow and not move forward, but know that his statements about the future aren’t going to be healthy for you to plan on.
posted by sallybrown at 3:53 AM on August 8 [20 favorites]


Sallybrown gets at my impression of the guy too. You’ve been with someone for years and say you love them. Tough times arrive (vague “job life work” problems that arise all the time for everyone?) and you suddenly need to be alone to “fix your shit”? Not how good relationships that lead to lifelong commitment ever work. He should have leaned in, he leaned out. You’re still leaning over.
posted by spitbull at 6:03 AM on August 8 [18 favorites]


Changing your expectations and therefore your hopes for this relationship can maybe help you. It's a hard transition to go from "We are couple; we have sex, are best friends, feel romantically, may have kids together, are each other's therapists, will provide financial support to each other," to "This person is nothing to me now."

If your husband suddenly lost his leg in a workplace accident and was thereafter severely handicapped and unable to bring in any kind of income you would adjust to that. It would be distressing and hard but the moment you knew he would never ever again say, "No Babe, I paid for that," you would expunge the expectation that he could or would be of any financial support to you and you would be careful about how you talked about money because you know that anything that would make him feel bad about being stuck forever on a tiny inadequate disability pension would be adding more pain to his life, where his pain about the changes is far greater than yours.

Similarly if you planned to have kids and discovered that he was infertile, or if his diabetes rendered his vascular system beyond the help of viagra, you would re calibrate your expectations and try not to make him feel bad about it. You would especially not harass him to change.

My point here is that it is possible to step back from your expectations and modify what you hope for to something that is realistic and still allows you to love someone. Ever meet one of those people who introduces their ex to you with pride and affection? It is possible to move from other half of our couple to other very important person in my life.

Right now your every instinct is to search for him because deep in your reptilian brain the signal is bubbling up: "Member of tribe is missing! Find member of tribe! Fix error that has lost member of tribe!" When you wander into the kitchen he's not there, and that instantly triggers "Find member of tribe!" so you probably can't stop thinking of him. For awhile you were able to turn on the thought that "Lost member of tribe is gone where they cannot be found" but unfortunately what he said about wishing that some day he could be with you again has triggered the instinct to run and find him.

Someday is probably never. The trick is to set up that expectation in your head, while he occupies so much space in your head. One way to do this is to tell yourself stories. Your guy is gone - like he was drafted and sent to war. There is a very high chance he won't make it back alive, and even if he does it will be so many, many years that you may be the mother of a large and increasing family by then, or you may be an old old woman of ninety, or he may come back with a war bride...

The important thing is to cultivate helplessness. You may write him the occasional letter perhaps, but only if those letters are not asking him to desert and swim the Atlantic ocean to come back to you. Your letters need to be the kind that support-the-boys-on-the-front-lines. Raging and grieving goes in the opposite direction. You know the odds are too high in your situation. 98% of the boys won't come back from their posting out East, and those who do will have spent so long and had such a bad war that they may be unrecognizable, or have lost a leg, or be broken from their time as a prisoner of war. Hope is not realistic - until his name turns up on the list of the dead there is hope, but the odds are not with you. You can still love him, you can still hope but... Odds are not good. Attempts to bring him home will backfire. You must not try to persuade him to desert and find a way to be smuggled back to you. Deserters are shot and if he came back to you before it was time he would have abandoned the Great Task that he has to perform before he is free. In this case it is his mental health, not Defense of the Fatherland, but it is no less critical that he does this before he thinks of coming back.

Alternatively you can let go of the romantic link and the sexual link and mentally turn him into the equivalent of your brother away at university. He loves you, you love him, but he's your brother, the one who threw your favourite stuffed animal out the window when he was thirteen, so god no, you would never get soppy on him. "Hey bro, my birthday isn't the same without you to blow out the candles just before the singing stops. Mum gunna kill you if you waste her investment, so Study Hard because if you make Mum cry I'm gunna kill you. Doing well here." You know what happens when your big bro goes out in the world? He gets a job in Denver, or he marries the woman he met in coding class, or gets hooked on fentanyl. Yeah, he's gone. You can't bring him back home. But you still love the big dope.

Don't try to turn off your feelings all at once like you are a Victorian father whose daughter got pregnant without being married and you have to throw him out of the house and he is dead to you now and you don't let anyone say his name in your presence again. But dial him back to "He was my first great love." Figure out which way to hang on and which way to let go, and work on letting go in fragments.

Work on finding personal paradigms. "If you love something let it go. If it doesn't come back it was never yours..." is pretty wince inducing but, "Until he gets his shit together it would never work anyway." or "Some people have too much baggage. Wish he didn't have that baggage but he does." Make a list of the things he did that were hard to live with, like always leaving a dirty teaspoon on the counter, or kicking in bed, or clearing his throat with the most unlovely noise known to man. Obviously you would be glad to wash his teaspoons if you could only have him back and you miss that HUUrrgghhkllppblip-blip-blip now like you would miss your right arm, but in those incredibly tiny and unimportant ways your life is better. After all when he did live with you every time you saw that goddamn teaspoon you felt that knot of frustration and every time he did that throat-clearing thing you gagged.

Go through this the way you would go through recovering from surgery. Today you are in pain. Therefore you will move carefully and take painkillers of the safe sort, such as meeting up with friends and watching comedy movies that are not rom-coms. Tomorrow you will still be in pain, but there is no reason to think you won't be able to move just a bit more flexibly and be distracted from the pain just a few moments longer. Give yourself space to grieve. Three weeks from now you might even enjoy lunch and feel eager to read a book. When you get tired at the end of the day the pain might still be unbearable and inescapable, but that will only be at tea time when you would feel sad about the world anyway. In six months there may be a few days without that late afternoon sorrow. There is a time table to your healing, and while it may be slower or faster than the one I described there is still a time table and endurance will get you through it.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:42 AM on August 8 [9 favorites]


Jubey, Sallybrown and Spitbull are right. If this guy really wanted to be with you, he'd be with you, and not brush you off with the tired old "I gotta work on myself, I'm not ready for a relationship, I'm too damaged, blah blah blah" bullroar. Consider that open door closed and move on. I know it's tough, I know it really sucks having that carrot of hope dangled before you, but...chances are, he's never going to come back. Now is the time for you to be selfish, work on yourself, and move on.

Call me hella cynical, but, in my advancing middle age, I never believe "I love you, but..." anymore. "I don't have what it takes to be in a relationship" = "I don't want to be with you." "I don't believe in marriage/marriage is just a piece of paper and we don't neeeeeeeed a piece of paaaaaaaper to prove our love!" = "I don't want to marry you." "I'm not sure I want kids" (not from someone who has stated they are childfree, but someone who thinks they might want kids someday) = "I don't want your children." Please remember this is not a reflection on you, your worth, your desirability, whether you will ever find another romantic partner, or whatever. It just means that your ex is cloaking "I don't love you anymore, or enough" in platitudes that make women, in particular, feel guilty for being That Needy Girlfriend.

Close the door and move on.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:48 AM on August 8 [26 favorites]


a relationship requires both people to want to be in it.

QFT, along with the Harsh Truth from Rosie M. Banks, Jubey, Sallybrown, and Spitbull. I went through this a few years ago myself, and the only thing that helped me to get over it was focussing on the fact that, at the end of the day, the guy did not want to be with me. He did not see my love and affection as something essential to his life, or even a positive. Instead, he saw it as a guilt-inducing obligation. For whatever reason, he did not want me with him on his journey in the way that I wanted to, and could have been there for him.

Your guy does not want to be the Big Jerk who dumps someone who has been very good to him, but even though he might "love" you, that word does not mean what you want it to mean here. And, as others have pointed out, in this context, "I love you but..." is worthless.

Feel the pain, have your own back, and get on with your life. In practical terms, I'd recommend going no-contact for at least three months, and by then you can reassess whether or not you can maintain a decent friendship. In the meantime, after you've had some quality mourning time, make a list of all the things you missed out on doing while you were care taking this guy, and do them.

This, too, shall pass.
posted by rpfields at 7:19 AM on August 8 [18 favorites]


Hello, I've been you in this situation and I've been your ex - there is nothing but pain to be gained by hoping for a reconciliation here. I'm sorry, I know it sucks, but you're going to keep ripping out your stitches if you don't allow yourself to see this relationship as over.

As to what you do, keep doing what you're doing, but go complete no contact with your ex. I'm afraid it's just going to take time.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:31 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


So, even if you reconcile, it shouldn't be now or soon. You need to let go, move on, as if it's never going to happen. Tell yourself that the timeframe for that degree of repair and reconciliation is somewhere on the order of 18 months, and you can check back in with him then if you want to.

(Spoiler: either you won't, or you will find out in 18 months that he's still not able to do what needs to be done to grow and maintain a strong relationship, or he can but not with you. Sometimes the well is too poisoned to go back.)
posted by Lyn Never at 8:13 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Jubey is completely right. How do I know? I was definitely that guy. There is an avoidant trait where you're in a cycle of depression/anxiety/not taking responsibility for yourself --> guilt --> avoiding (usually by alleviating the guilt, but not honestly) --> finally briefly confronting (you broke up) --> repeat.

You're back around to avoiding where he said the whole not closing the door thing. He is stuck in this trap where his entire being is centered so desperately on himself and briefly he will flail to try to make himself feel better by trying to cause as little pain as possible to other people. But really, he knows in his heart that he's lying and he's causing more pain in the end because uncertainty is so much more painful.

Now, eventually he might get out of this trap. I did. Painful things are hard to deal with but I deal with them very concretely one way or another. There's no "I just CAN'T be with anyone RIGHT NOW because of my depression, but maybe in the FUTURE." because that's nonsense. I made those words bigger because they're all false. I can only speak from my personal experience and what I've observed, but it's a combination of depression/anxiety making you feel like you're not in control and that you have to act a certain way. A huge part of it is maturity too. I can be extremely depressed and still realize what is happening and speak in coherent and clear language and timelines.

Please close the door or he will be back in a month when you break down and start talking again. A month later you'll date for 3 months then he'll break up with you again. It will be anguishing. It will repeat. If he reappears later as a fully formed person who may still get depressed or anxious but isn't owned by that as his identity... then he will be worthy of you. He is not right now.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:43 AM on August 8 [10 favorites]


Hard truths from the above, which I agree with. All people go through challenges in their lives, even when clinically depressed, and when they want to do something they find a way. When they don't want to do it, they find an excuse.

You're obviously still in love with him and that's really hard, but that will ebb as you are separated for longer and you shed the codependence stuff.
posted by juniperesque at 8:43 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


For the record, I realized that this was not how I should live my life and was incredibly unfair and unconscionable. I dug deep and hope that I'm now an amazing partner to my girlfriend. I try every single second of every day even when I am going through very tough times. Sometimes trying to do no harm but in a shitty avoidant way does the most harm.

You do need to block him on everything because out of sight is required for the healing process IMO. Or will drastically speed it up.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:47 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I agree with everybody who says he just doesn't want to be with you. If he did, he'd find a way. There is nothing you can do to change this because it wasn't your decision to end the relationship. I'm really sorry. I know this hurts.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:06 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


He may feel bad about breaking up with you...but not bad enough not to do it. That's the main point.

This is absolutely miserable and I'm so sorry you're going through this, but the best thing is not to feed the rumination. Treat it as over. If one day you're in Paris and you come across him in a cafe and blah blah blah, fine, but that has nothing to do with your actual life, right now. Feel as sad as you need to, but feel sad over something that is definitively over.
posted by praemunire at 9:28 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


I agree with everyone above, and wanted to add that it may be good if you reframed your perspective:

Hi, Metafilter friends. I was recently broken up with (3 weeks ago) after a 3 year long relationship with the best person I know (31F/30M), mostly due to [the fact that he doesn't want me through tough times]. I’m totally reeling. What do I do about my hopes for reconciliation?

We were supposed to move in together recently but life threw a whole pile of shit his way (family, job, self) that he basically said he couldn’t handle while being in a relationship [with me], especially with the added stress/change of moving in. He also struggles deeply with (severe?) clinical depression and PTSD that’s being treated, but slowly/somewhat unsuccessfully.

He said not to wait for him/put my life on hold for him [because he did not have the courage to say that he did NOT want me as their life partner], which is a feeling he struggled with a lot while we were together (him feeling like he was holding me back- but I didn’t feel that way and wasn’t waiting or pressuring him to do things).
posted by moiraine at 10:04 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I really cannot stop ruminating over that thought- that I want to be with him, that he’s open to being with me at some point in the vague future… that it’ll somehow work out. I want it so much. I don't feel desperate about it and I'm not particularly scared of being alone. It's just something I want enormously. ... What do I do?

Nothing.

Just because you're not happy, that doesn't mean something is wrong with you. Being dumped hurts. It's supposed to feel this miserable, and a bit of melancholy is a completely appropriate response.

There is no issue here that you can fix; therefore there is no issue here that requires fixing.

They ex's actions are beyond your control, the rumination isn't bothering you, you're alone but not frightened of that, you don't feel the slightest bit motivated to go looking for somebody else, and that's just how things are right now. There's no immediate threat to life or limb, you're just in the throes of a post-dumped slump and don't have a huge amount of clarity right now. Absolutely par for the course. It feels miserable and it will pass. Just let it be what it is until it's something else.

Trying to fix it by talking to your ex won't fix it, it will just make it last longer. You'll know it's time to talk to your ex again when you can see him as a person instead of as this huge fresh hole in your own life.

I'm sorry. This sucks, and there's no way to make it suck less.
posted by flabdablet at 11:06 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


I assume I shouldn’t pin all my hopes on him calling me up to say he wants to try things again. Your assumption is correct. Don't pin all your hopes on him AT ALL.

(Can I just pin some of my hopes on that?) No. Unless you want to suffer and drag out your heartbreak for waaaay longer than you need to. Don't do that to yourself.

It doesn’t sound impossible given the reason for the split and our attitudes on the possibility, but it’s also not up to me. What do I do? You are rationalizing and making assumptions about his desires. His reason for the split is not the real reason he's splitting with you. "Our attitudes on the possibility" -- Please re-evaluate this thought. Do not schedule your life around a possibility. There is really not a possibility. I agree with others above that he's giving you some lines in order to break up in a "kind" way. In the end, if he really wanted to be with you, he would work through his shit while with you. It just sounds like he's not into you anymore, and he doesn't know what real commitment is. I'm sorry. It totally sucks, and I've been there.

It is up to you. You need to end the relationship in your mind. Grieve what you had, let go, and move on.

Take your power back. He left. Do not wait. Hang in there.
posted by jj's.mama at 11:30 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


The rule of Fuck Yes also applies to these situations.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:11 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Long term partnership means enduring many heavy experiences together. Illnesses, death, job loss - these are realities of life for all of us. Some people retreat from others when they hit hard times, but many others show up and lean in. What sort of partner do you want?

Partnership goes two ways, even when things get tough. Reach for one that reaches back in the darkness and the light.
posted by amycup at 4:56 PM on August 8 [7 favorites]


I have anxiety and depression. I can't speak for anyone else, but his reasons sound like bullshit to me too. Calculated to make him seem as noble as possible.

Again, in my experience - no one can even afford to be that selfless while clinically depressed. My gut tells me he isn't protecting you from himself while wishing he could be with you. He's downsizing his emotional burden. He's reducing his own suffering, in some way.

And. He's happier now. That is the shittiest thing. If he was miserable, he would change his mind. He's keeping you on the shelf because you love him and receiving love feels good. But he's happier with the way things are.

It definitely isn't you. And this sucks. Depression fucks with you on such a deep level that you almost can't avoid hurting -someone- in one way or another. It sounds like he didn't want to hurt you.

But...yeah. Never have I thought to myself "I'm not ok right now, so I'll isolate myself from my main support system, hurting them in the process, and THEN the healing will begin." There is no future in my mind where I fix myself and don't have depression. It's turtles all the way down.
posted by captain afab at 6:10 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


At the end of the day, despite this:

we’re incredibly compatible. So much more so than any other relationship I’ve been in (several serious, long-term ones), other friendships, etc. There weren’t any other sources of conflict or dislike or anything. We never fought, we were always respectful of and kind to each other, extremely affectionate, excellent verbal banter and conversation, very alike in interests and personality. I admire him in so many ways and I know he felt the same

He is not emotionally available to be with you in a long-term, supportive, healthy relationship. Basically, when shit hit the fan, he took off. I mean, he did what he needed to do. But do no, do not, do not wait for him to come back. It's interesting that shit hit the fan when there was an event of increasing intimacy coming up (moving in together). So now, moving in is completely off the table, and he's gotta deal with these crises, and he's doing them without you. Nor does he want your help in dealing with them. He may or may not still love you. But you need more than love to have a healthy relationship. He has to want to be with you, and he doesn't. I know that's a hard pill to swallow. Please take care of yourself.
posted by foxjacket at 7:51 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


My therapist once said to me that the question I needed to ask about a partner was this: is he psychologically healthy and capable enough to be in a committed relationship? In your ex's case, the answer is clearly no. You don't do yourself any good by waiting for him to get there; he might never get there.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:50 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I have had stressful times in my life, dealing with a combination of bother, stress, and obligations to others. In those times, if I had a girlfriend I was lukewarm about, I ended the relationship, because having them demand (entirely fairly) my attention while also trying to navigate all the relationships my problems centered around, was way too much to handle.

If I was having a bumpy time with my career or family or health and was with someone I loved, someone I wouldn't have wanted to hurt or lose to someone else, I did not break up with them. Maybe I'd ask for a little space or a little time apart but I wouldn't dump them.

You aren't getting into too much detail about his problems and I don't have PTSD but this is how I read the situation. For whatever reason he is fine with not seeing you. That sucks and I have been there so I agree with the above. He's letting you down gently, don't hold out any hope this will continue, and move on with your life.
posted by Philemon at 10:35 AM on August 12 [5 favorites]


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