Cold shoulder after fight, how to proceed?
November 27, 2019 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Boyfriend and I (mid 30s) had an argument a couple weeks ago which I take full responsibility for. I lashed out on him in a way that wasn't me, and I don't know why it even happened, which is not an excuse. I've been digging deep and trying to figure out why I treated him that way because I know he deserves an honest answer, but my mind is going in circles because I just can't explain what happened to me that day.

To lay it out briefly, I had text him one morning because he seemed off, which is not unusual for us to ask each other -- are you okay today? I said, you seem like something's on your mind, everything ok? Well, that day, he didn't like it and started going back and forth about how he's offended I asked because he is fine. He raised his voice a bit and was defensive, and then I reacted in the same manner. That morning, I was at work running 102 fever trying to pack up to go home, I only came in because we had a memorial service for my co-worker that suddenly passed two weeks prior in our office due to a heart condition. It was a traumatic experience for me because we tried to save him and he ended up passing in front of us basically, very unexpectedly. The family was here mourning because we put together a memorial service, and the pain the wife was in was something that just put a dagger in my heart. This was on Friday, and on Saturday I had a scheduled apt to put my beloved 14 year old pet down, which was a decision I struggled A LOT with. All in all, it was a really sh*tty day for me. The argument continued, and I just couldn't take it anymore, so I said "This is a great f*cking relationship..." and immediately hung the phone up. I tried to call him right back once I got out of the office to apologize that I had family members coming into my office and I felt like all I could do was hang up and call when I was packed and outside. I didn't mean those words I said, at all. If I could take it back, I would have thought for a minute, calmed down, and said "This is not us, this is not how people communicate in a good relationship, this is not right to talk to each other like this." But, instead I said something mean and hung up because I couldn't handle the anxiety and stress I had on that day.

This was 3 weeks ago. Since then, on two occasions when we're trying to talk about everything, it turns into a fight or I just feel as if he's throwing attitude at me over anything I say. It's impossible to feel normal around him because he is so different. It's almost as if he fell out of love with me that very second. And it's causing me a lot of pain and anxiety, so our talks turn into more fights. I know I am pushing him to work through this with me and that is the problem, so I've backed off. He's barely speaking to me still because of how much this hurt him. He just keeps telling me, I wish you wouldn't have said those words because now I wonder why am I even here? He really was an amazing guy to me and didn't deserve that outburst. I've sincerely apologized and tried to lay it out so that he understands it's not really how I felt about him or the relationship. I've sat and let him just get everything out. During his talks with him, it seems to turn onto how I need to change for myself and my daughter and that I need to take time to think about this and work on me. I know I'm not a bad person, but I feel like a terrible person to have done this. He told me that he doesn't want to treat me distant but my behavior and actions have brought it out and that this is what he needs to do to heal. If I say I miss or love him, it's met with silence. But, to him, it feels as if he was pouring his heart and life into someone who just disregarded and disrespected him like that so easily so he isn't sure if he wants to continue. He hasn't "broken up" with me, but the communication is very dry and sparse, and we only see each other if I ask to see him, it feels as if I'm losing him slowly and that one day he will just disappear for good. When we have our discussions he will say things like, Hey "dumb dumb," I say what do you even mean by calling me that, he will say you are not "dumb," so I'm showing how you are behaving and talking is seeming like it. He will say, your education and resume by far surpasses anyone I have ever met so I know you're more educated that this to tell me that communicating your feelings is what caused this. Because I had told him I have a hard time communicating my emotional feelings, and that day I didn't stop and think. I opened up to him and he knows a lot about my relationship with my ex, my child's father, and the emotional/physical damage he caused me. But, now he kind of uses it against me I feel, saying things like he has a thumb over you, or you yell at me and you can't even yell at him, or he really screwed you up but I'm not him. I worked very hard before meeting this guy to heal everything and move forward from my ex. My ex is extremely pathological, and just out to hurt. He manipulated and emotionally abused me for years. We fought, I went off on him numerous occasions and it turned into me having to get an order against him to leave me alone. Now, the dust has settled, he doesn't have any effect on me, and I feel indifference towards him so I do not react anymore because I have learned no reaction is the best. My current SO just doesn't seem to get that by me not being an a$$ to my ex, that it is because I am doing what I know is best in this situation.

I don't want to lose this man. But, I know it's not up to me. Nobody is required to accept an apology, and I just need to focus on myself but I just cant get this feeling and thoughts off my mind enough to do so. I feel like I ruined something great and that will forever haunt me. He said I crossed a boundary he had and that this is how he responds, and he isn't sure if he still wants to be together. I get it. Everyone in a relationship, at our age, and mature relationship, deserves respect.

At this point, it just hurts having someone I love that know I hurt just feel like is disregarding me. I don't get any good morning messages, how are you, do you need food. I barely get a glimpse of kindness from him. I am not this person I became the last couple weeks and it's my anxiety and the uncertainty literally driving me crazy. Not having his presence hurts. Not being able to call or hug him or just talk, kills me. But, I have left it alone and, I know I need to just be focusing on me. But, how can I get my mind to relax so that I can. I feel like such a horrible person honestly for doing this to someone that really adored me. I wish I could just take it all back, and I can't. What should I do?

posted by MamaBee223 to Human Relations (44 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Girl. (I’m assuming you’re a girl and apologize if I’m wrong.) You had a very minor, very isolated, completely understandable outburst on a stressful day. You had just witnessed a coworker die in front of you? You had an appointment to euthanize your pet the next day? And your partner reacts by withdrawing, denying you comfort and support during a time when any reasonable, normal adult would recognize you were under a great deal of strain. Does that seem like a guy you want to fight to keep around?

Listen-I want you to go back and read what you wrote about your ex. Try to notice the unhealthy patterns that were established in that relationship that seem to be playing out again here. Your “picker” might be broken. It’s okay, you can fix it. AskMe loves to suggest therapy and in this situation I think it would be so helpful to you to have a neutral third party to help guide you through this situation and help you recognize what you actually want and need.

I am older than you, and I am here to urge you to let this man go. Please don’t waste all this time and emotional energy on someone who will only use you up. There are other people out there who will treat you with the kindness and love you deserve. I wish you all the best.
posted by little mouth at 6:36 AM on November 27, 2019 [142 favorites]

From what you've wrote here, you are not at fault. You were running a high fever, had to go into work for a memorial service for a coworker who basically died in front of you, and you were also putting your pet down the next day, yet you still had the desire to check on your boyfriend because you thought he was down, assumedly he knew all this was going on yet decided to blow up at you because you were being considerate, and you're feeling responsible?

This man is immature and unreliable. I don't usually tell people to get out, but... get out.
posted by Automocar at 6:38 AM on November 27, 2019 [72 favorites]

Was he making sounds and body language that morning that made you think something was wrong? I’ve had this happen to me repeatedly by someone and I think it’s obnoxious to act like something is wrong (deep sighs, frowns, less talkative) and then get offended when someone asks. It messes with the atmosphere of the house and it sounds unsettling. I don’t think you were wrong to get mad and say what you said- is it possible that the truth slipped out (he knows it!) and now you can’t take it back but you don’t want to let go?
posted by catspajammies at 6:47 AM on November 27, 2019 [12 favorites]

I don't say this lightly but 3 weeks of the cold shoulder for 1 snippy comment on a really shitty day? DTMFA.
You're taking 100% of the blame here but from what you've written it sounds like he was picking a fight with you first. You sensed something was off with him and you messaged him to check in and he turned that into an argument. You lashed out, its completely understandable with everything you were going through. You've apologised, there's nothing more you can do, if he can't forgive and forget then you need to move on.

FWIW I have done and had done to me much worse than swearing and hanging up in my relationship and we're still together after nearly 20 years. It takes 2 to fight and 2 to make up again. He's not taking responsibility for his part in the fight and quite frankly, what he's doing to you is far worse than what you did to him.
posted by missmagenta at 6:47 AM on November 27, 2019 [42 favorites]

Wow. These are some major red flags from him. A total lack of empathy, blaming you for his own insecurities, and he thinks an honest, unfortunate mistake makes it valid for him to talk down to you? No, this is not salvageable. You were traumatized, running a fever, having to put your pet down, and dealing with mourning strangers. It's understandable, though not okay that you lashed out. He is, however, in full consciousness deciding to mistreat you to "show you what it feels like". That is not a responsible, sustainable way to manage things.
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:49 AM on November 27, 2019 [55 favorites]

You've apologized. There is nothing more you can do about the angry outburst. The past is done. You also can't control how long he chooses to hold on to his hurt feelings about an angry outburst (Which, seems actually pretty minor and completely understandable with the very traumatizing week you had *internet hugs*). Has he been comforting about any of that at all? Or, is he steamrolling your issues with this one slight that he's holding on to? What is he doing for you in your time of struggle and pain?

There's a LOT in that paragraph that starts with "This was 3 weeks ago..." This sentence in particular stands out to me : During his talks with him, it seems to turn onto how I need to change for myself and my daughter and that I need to take time to think about this and work on me.
This reminds me of how talks with my now-ex went. Looking back, it was a lot of manipulation and distraction from things I was unhappy with in the relationship. I might be biased, but any time anyone tells someone else "you need to change for you", unless they have major major problems. I give that side-eye. It's such an easy way to dismiss someone and can get really gaslighty, really quickly. It plants that seed of doubt. Again -- sometimes people really do need to change, but in this case, you had an extremely stressful week, and if you made it through that with one snippy comment, you did great.

Making an appointment with a therapist to talk about this might really help you out.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 7:15 AM on November 27, 2019 [13 favorites]

I think he might be trying to break up with you but have you do all the work. He wants you to be the initiator and the villain. You’re not a villain. You have a daughter? Hell no. I’m sorry this happened to you...all of it. I hope you have some other supports in your life. I hope you can take some time to grieve these shocks. He is withholding in a cruel way. You’ve done your best to rectify the situation. He stonewalled you. Please put down a boundary and a barrier for his re-entry into your life. Couples counseling at a minimum. A person who treats someone like this is not adult enough, man enough, compassionate enough to be a parent figure.
posted by amanda at 7:17 AM on November 27, 2019 [22 favorites]

Is this the same guy from August? I remember that question. Girl. No. Just no. What. A. Problem. He. Is.
posted by amanda at 7:24 AM on November 27, 2019 [19 favorites]

Throw away the whole man. And be proud to do so.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:30 AM on November 27, 2019 [33 favorites]

Please, please, get out. You deserve better. I'm so sorry about your pet and seeing your coworker die, and BEING IN THIS AWFUL RELATIONSHIP.
posted by missrachael at 7:34 AM on November 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

Girl, no. Just ... no.

Break up with him today (or, crueler, just fade as he's doing to you) and enjoy a spectacular sparkly holiday season with your daughter and let the new year bring better things than his tired ass.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 7:58 AM on November 27, 2019 [11 favorites]

But, to him, it feels as if he was pouring his heart and life into someone who just disregarded and disrespected him like that so easily so he isn't sure if he wants to continue. ...
When we have our discussions he will say things like, Hey "dumb dumb," I say what do you even mean by calling me that, he will say you are not "dumb," so I'm showing how you are behaving and talking is seeming like it.

Speaking of disregarding and disrespecting someone, this guy seems to be disregarding and disrespecting you. People are allowed to have deal-breakers; if your partner has decided that it is a deal-breaker for you to snap and hang up on them during an unimaginably shitty day, when you were sick with a fever, after a colleague had literally died in front of you, and when you were about to put down a beloved pet, then that is your partner's call. Nothing you can do about it.

Here's a really healthy thing not to do: Not to chase him. Not to indicate that you are willing to crawl over broken glass to keep him in your life. Not to accept being called dumb dumb. I don't know what is up with this guy but no one is perfect. You responded irritably when your partner was acting differently than usual when you were super stressed. Instead of showing you understanding and compassion, your partner is now punishing you for an understandable response. You are absolutely not 100% the fuck up here.

Do you want to spend your life with someone that lacking in empathy and kindness? To quote Captain Awkward, “Please do not sink all of your time and energy into figuring out mean (but sexy) people. Your kindness cannot fill them up, but their unkindness can drain you dry.” This guy may have been loving and kind earlier. But he is being mean to you now.

my mind is going in circles because I just can't explain what happened to me that day.

Read all these answers, OP. I can explain what happened to you. You were at the end of your emotional rope. It happens. You are not evil, you are not horrible, you were human during a period of crisis. If you have a daughter you may well want to think about the kind of relationship you want to model for her. Don't turn yourself inside out or accept all the blame for a relationship gone sour because of a guy who is using one understandable experience to blame and mistreat you.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:07 AM on November 27, 2019 [27 favorites]

Oh my goodness, you have been through so much with your colleague and your dog and I just want to give you a big hug and tell you things will get better. And I'm a complete stranger, whereas your boyfriend's reaction was to pick a fight with you and make everything all about him. I think that tells you all you need to know right there. You really don't deserve the treatment he is giving you over this. And he's got previous for being a selfish guy if this is the same person from your last question.
posted by hazyjane at 8:21 AM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

I am sorry for your beloved pet. I also unfortunately have to suggest that someone picking this petty of a fight after losing a beloved pet is doing it on purpose. Your grief and stress have taken your emotional focus off him for the past several weeks, and this is him throwing an adult tantrum to make sure he has your attention again.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:24 AM on November 27, 2019 [32 favorites]

I said "This is a great f*cking relationship..." and immediately hung the phone up.

I lashed out on him in a way that wasn't me, and I don't know why it even happened

My take: you lashed out at him because you were stressed and ill and grieving, and still trying to be considerate and caring towards him, and he was being a jerk over nothing, and the truth suddenly oozed out through those cracks. I think you know deep down that this isn't a good relationship, that this guy claims to adore you but doesn't treat you with care and respect and isn't willing to do his share of the rowing in this relationship, that the only reason it's even somewhat workable is that you turn yourself inside out doing the lion's share of the emotional labour it takes to make it work.

Please break things off with this guy, and don't look back. You haven't ruined anything, because no worthwhile relationship is ever ruined by one person snapping something about their unhappiness with the relationship. This relationship wasn't worthwhile.
posted by orange swan at 8:26 AM on November 27, 2019 [18 favorites]

i mean, i know it's rude, but with everything going on in your life that day and his sudden, actual, inexplicable aggression towards you instead of the support and check-in that *you* should have been getting then from a partner like you were giving him, a sarcastic "what a great fucking relationship" just seems accurate and like something that would be a wake-up call for a better partner. his feelings are hurt and his trust betrayed because you ... were honest in the moment about his shitty behavior? and to him, that means you deserve for him to turn it back onto you and your faults, insult you, punish you, cast doubt on everything you're doing, and never acknowledge any of his behavior that caused this and the responsibility he has to you to make up for it?

i'm so sorry about the trauma you've been going through, and i hope you're getting some support elsewhere.
posted by gaybobbie at 8:38 AM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

This guy...

MamaBee, this guy is not a good egg. I have said and behaved worse to the man I'm married to for reasons less valid than all that stuff you want through. And things were worked out within an hour, not three weeks. Everyone up there has said it better, and I know this looks like a pileon, but it's really a bunch of us reaching out like a friend would and telling you that this needs to stop.
posted by kimberussell at 9:18 AM on November 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

Look, you snapped and said something pretty inappropriate. But it was an extremely bad day for you (so sorry about your pet!) and you immediately tried to make amends. I tend to be more severe than the average AskMe poster, but I authorize you to forgive yourself and move on.

Now, your partner is allowed to decide that that comment was a bridge too far and break up with you over it. He's not allowed to hold it against you as an excuse to be nasty for weeks. Basically, in any working relationship (that includes friendships and family relationships), you can either address something that upsets you in a way that moves forward in dealing with it and letting the hurt feelings go, or you can break off the relationship over it. You can't sulk over it indefinitely.

Bluntly, abusers often look to goad one inappropriate action or speech out of you so they can lord it over you indefinitely, because they've trained you to hold yourself accountable for every little thing and forgive everything they do. It's a way of maintaining power over you. I'm not saying this is an abusive relationship, but what he's doing is a textbook example of a dynamic that occurs in one.
posted by praemunire at 9:35 AM on November 27, 2019 [18 favorites]

Can you forget for a minute about how hurt his feeling are based on what you did?

Because I think you have a lot of hurt feelings because of how he treated you. He:

—Calls you “dumb dumb”? What is he, twelve years old?

—Makes it all about himself when *you* have had the crappy day of the century?

— Tears you down about the hard won work you’ve done to get past your bad ex, instead of respects the guts and dedication that you have shown?

Gently, I ask you to consider why it is so important to you to hold yourself to a standard of perfect love and care and compassion toward him, when it is perfectly clear that he does NOT hold himself to a bare minimum of love and care and compassion toward you?

I fully agree that each of us is responsible for our actions and, in a healthy relationship, we do our best to keep our human failings from hurting our loved ones. What I am saying is: it’s critically important that both parties do this. It is not a healthy relationship when only one person does it. You can’t make him do it. He’s not doing it. All you can do is decide whether it’s acceptable for you to receive this treatment. I hope your answer is no, because you deserve to be treated with love, care, and compassion by someone who takes responsibility for his own human failings.
posted by Sublimity at 9:42 AM on November 27, 2019 [14 favorites]

This guy threw a tantrum because you were grieving for your coworker and pet (i.e., your attentions weren't revolving solely around him), and after you shut that tantrum down, started tantruming about how you shut it down wrong. Give me a break. And he's also calling you names, pouting, and telling you all the ways you need to "fix" yourself? I doubt you would accept this kind of behavior from your little daughter, it's ridiculous that he would expect you to not only accept it from him but actively cater to him because of it.

He's an asshole. Your descriptions actually reminds me *so much* of a guy I dated for a couple months who earnestly thought that the Pick Up Artist gave great advice (in 2019!). Lots of manipulation, lots of bullshit drama (pouting, etc), and just a fundamental lack of respect for women as human beings (rather than some exotic zoo animal). Not relationship material. He and I had an interaction similar enough to your fight and his reaction to it was similar enough to your boyfriend's that I actually wonder if it's something that PUAs teach. (Although maybe assholes just tend to follow the same scripts organically, too, who knows). In our case, I actually didn't even say anything sarcastic or hang up on him -- he was going on making a lot of (false) assumptions about my family, I kept saying that's not the case, and finally said we should drop the subject, and he decided my tone was disrespectful. Over the next week or so, hours and hours of scolding and assessments about how I needed to "fix" myself followed based on my "disrespect," as well as more pouting and other drama from his end. I ended up breaking up with him and going no contact, and recommend you do the same. Life is just too short.

This guy is tearing you down to get you as focused on him and as vulnerable to him as possible. Please get out before he does any more damage to you. I'm sure there's a sexual attraction there and that's fine, I don't think it necessarily means anything bad about your "picker" that you hooked up with him in the first place. But he's not relationship material, he's not boyfriend material. So enjoy the hookup for what it was and don't try to transform it into a relationship. Don't try to transform this presumably sexy asshole into a partner. He's just not the one.
posted by rue72 at 9:47 AM on November 27, 2019 [18 favorites]

You are not at fault here. I think, on some level, that you know that. After all, you gave us all of the information we needed to know why you said something intemperate in the moment. If you really believed, to your core, that this was your fault, you wouldn't have bothered to give us that context.

So yeah, you were overwhelmed by a bunch of stuff, and you snapped in a way that wasn't great. I personally think that a relationship needs to have room for people to occasionally say or do something that isn't great. If he's not giving you that space, it's hard to see how a relationship with him can have much of a future.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:58 AM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

I agree with Ragged Richard, you know full well that this guy is being a dick but you somehow can't bring yourself to draw that line with him because of previous ex issues so you're asking for validation here. Well consider yourself validated - of course he's being unreasonable.

The sensible course of action now is just to to state what happened from your perspective, ie you said the thing because you were (entirely legitimately!) overwhelmed and needed support. If he doesn't agree that's on him. Know your truth. If he can't step up to provide that support, or at the very least, let the ludicrous butt hurt over this incidence go, you should think about moving on.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:11 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just get out. He wants to break up with you.

The only thing you did wrong was feeling like you had to Mommy him in order to get him to love you. That works sometimes in a relationship but never for long.

Next boyfriend, find an adult who doesn't need mommying. That's going to take a lot of self confidence on your part,but you can do it.
posted by perdhapley at 12:37 PM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Nobody is required to accept an apology

Actually, if they want to continue having a healthy relationship, they do. He can't just carry anger about a harsh comment you made for the rest of your lives together. Even the kindest and most considerate people have bad days, no-one can be perfect all the time. In any relationship, people are going to accidentally say things that upset each other. The important thing is to be able to accept that your partner isn't perfect, love them anyway, and forgive them for any mistakes made along the way. By not letting you guys get past this bad day, he is the one that is abandoning your relationship. You have done your best, if he's not willing to do his part to mend the relationship then he doesn't want it fixed, and it's time for you to walk away.

you're going to be ok without him. It's sad when someone you thought was a good person ends up being a jerk after all, but you can't change that. He's showing you the he's not willing to do any of the work that is necessary to make a relationship work. For your own good, and for your daughter, do not accept this shabby treatment. You deserve so much better.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:40 PM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

You were having an objectively terrible day and he picked a fight with you, and then made sure the past three weeks revolved around him. At a time that you need love and support, he's sucking all the emotional energy in the relationship into himself. He's manipulating you, and it's really shitty.
posted by Mavri at 12:41 PM on November 27, 2019 [10 favorites]

You didn't do anything.

Either A. you need to consult an warm and supportive professional to determine whether some kind of ongoing abuse has distorted your perceptions and reasoning regarding your relationship, as has been known to happen,

or B. you know perfectly well you didn't do anything and the proof is that you wrote it all up yourself, in exhausting detail. You can read your own question, same as I can. but for some reason your instinct is to say, Why did I do such a terrible thing?-- without ever specifying what the terrible thing was, because there wasn't one--when you mean "Why is he such a prick, and why do I pretend it was my fault?"

maybe he is such a piece of shit that for your own safety you need to pretend everything is your fault when you're talking to him. but when you talk to complete strangers that way, it seems bizarre, like you might be fucking with us. though I trust you are not. it concerns me that you have lost the ability to know how stories like this sound to a non-abuser. your sense of right and wrong in a relationship is calibrated very strangely. You were not in the wrong.

again: you didn't actually do anything. The fight wasn't about anything. He is a prick.
posted by queenofbithynia at 1:05 PM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

The person who has the power in an unhealthy relationship is the person who cares the least. Right now that’s him, and he’s acting like this because he knows it makes you fall all over yourself to make it better. That way he can keep yanking your chain whenever he feels like it.

He wants to act like the relationship is over? Great, take him up on that, he’s doing you a favour. Pack his stuff for him and leave it at the front door and tell him that because he hasn’t said anything to you for almost a month, you’re assuming it’s over and you’d like him out. (Or you can leave, whatever. But be done with this.) Show this emotionally abusive manchild that his bullying tactics to get you to come to heel have backfired. He will be absolutely shocked and start backtracking but hold firm.

As long as you stay, you’re teaching him that these tactics work and this is what you can look forward to in the relationship. Because he knows you’ll put up with it and he gets all the control. You deserve better. Kick him to the curb.
posted by Jubey at 1:25 PM on November 27, 2019 [7 favorites]

Jesus H Christ, you were sick, a coworker died in front of you, and you had to put your beloved pet down. You made one low grade snarky comment.

You do not deserve weeks of retribution.

This guy is trash. Dump him and run far away.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:42 PM on November 27, 2019 [13 favorites]

It sounds like he’s is grabbing onto an easy excuse (“I wish you wouldn’t have said those words”) as a reason to move toward a break up and make it your fault. He didn’t fall out of love in that moment. You were already noticing he was acting like something was wrong, even before the fateful statement. That was him thinking about breaking up. Now you’re experiencing him gaslighting you into thinking that your one bad day was unforgivable and caused the downfall of a good relationship. How very untrue. Good relationships don’t suddenly fall apart like this. Good relationships aren’t predicated on having no bad days.
posted by Knowyournuts at 2:49 PM on November 27, 2019 [11 favorites]

I’m overly sensitive to anger and harsh words, but what you snapped on what sounds like a uniquely horrible day doesn’t merit this kind of punishment. Even I, a huge petty baby, would let that slide!

Yes, listen to everyone who’s telling you he should have been supporting you and you were attempting to support him instead.

Actually, your comment sounds pretty valid to me. The relationship wasn’t functioning and you noted that.
posted by kapers at 4:45 PM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

In real, human, adult relationships, it's understandable for one party to snap or say something nasty or out of character to a partner on a terrible day like the one you were having. (Very sorry about your co-worker and your pet.) It's also understandable for the partner to be hurt by that, and maybe even to take a day or two to truly accept an apology.

But, one of the signs of a truly caring, mature relationship is realizing that if someone behaves badly, especially if that behaviour is out of character and followed by a sincere apology, that person might be acting out of pain or something else that deserves to be addressed. Instead, your guy is using your "outburst" (which frankly sounds pretty minor to me) as an opportunity to put you in a one-down position. He's not even trying to address the hurt behind it. Did he ever offer you any words of comfort about your pet?

The guy is either an immature, insensitive jerk who is trying to put himself in a dominant position, or he is looking for an excuse to break up and is hoping you'll do the dirty work. Either way, RUN.
posted by rpfields at 5:44 PM on November 27, 2019 [7 favorites]

Last year for a few weeks I dated a guy who started to behave in ways I couldn’t quite put my finger on: jealous? Controlling? My therapist told me I was lucky to see these red flags so early in a relationship because most people can hold back on this stuff for at least three months or so, and that’s when it emerges. I was wanting to understand it, and she told me I didn’t have to understand it to know it was bad and move on.

So, in the same vein as my therapist, let me say that you are lucky to be seeing this behavior now, nine months or so in. He’s sending up these huge red flags for you to see.

He’s not withdrawing because he’s hurt. He’s withdrawing because he’s an abusive liar who is trying to draw you in and get you to do what he wants. He keeps talking about how he’s not like your ex because he’s like your ex.

I’m sorry. Please get away from this guy now, ASAP.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:33 PM on November 27, 2019 [10 favorites]

I had text him one morning because he seemed off, which is not unusual for us to ask each other -- are you okay today? I said, you seem like something's on your mind, everything ok? Well, that day, he didn't like it and started going back and forth about how he's offended I asked because he is fine. He raised his voice a bit and was defensive

He wasn't fine, he was hiding something from you, and now he's latched onto this as a convenient way to make it your fault. If it hadn't been this one comparatively minor fed-up comment, it would have been something else.
posted by babelfish at 8:40 PM on November 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

Wow, this is *precisely* what my abusive boyfriend used to do, to the letter. He could be as angry and critical to me as he wanted (and he was, frequently) but the instant I showed the slightest bit of anger or even mild asperity toward him...WELL. That was just the excuse he needed to launch into an extended expatiation about how nasty I was, why no one liked me, why he had to be mean and critical to me for my own good, and by the way I was really lucky that he would have anything do with me because I was dragging him down and I should thank him for his honesty and his willingness to work with me to improve myself. As I say, to the letter. It actually made me really anxious to read your post because it was so familiar it put me right back to my time with him.

This guy is not worth one more second of your time. Dump him without a qualm.
posted by holborne at 9:02 PM on November 27, 2019 [13 favorites]

He’s probably cheating on you and you noticed the shift in his energy and put him on alert when you asked. He responded with DARVO, a classic tactic that’s very popular with abusers and cheaters:

Deny- “no I’m not acting off, how dare you suggest that, you don’t trust me and it’s unfair blah blah”
Attack- he raised his voice and got offended and told you off, picking a fight to scare you that you’d lose him and thus distract you from investigating his behaviour:
Reverse Victim and Offender- you had THE WORST WEEK but he’s the real victim here. Poor guy, his girlfriend made one (justified!!!) sarcastic comment during her week from hell. Hope he can get over the pain one day.

And now he’s ignoring you because he’s probably getting attention elsewhere. I would bet $100 that this guy has another girlfriend. And I think you sniffed it on the day you asked why he was acting weird.

PLEASE LEAVE HIM. He is awful. I’m so sorry your week was so hard and I’m so sorry you had to euthanize your pet.

You also probably need to hear this: Nobody who loves their pet has ever euthanized too soon. You did the right thing, you gave them a lovely life, and your pet loved you, trusted you to make the right decision, and knew how much you loved them.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:30 PM on November 27, 2019 [12 favorites]

Look, you had a 102-degree fever. Even without anything else, that's more than enough to explain the fact that you were less patient and sensitive than you usually like to be. That's high enough to significantly affect your behaviour - a fever that high is like being drunk. Add to that that you were in the middle of multiple very traumatic experiences, and I don't think you need to give any more thought to why this happened.
And your boyfriend should know that, and he should care about that, and it sounds like he doesn't. Instead it sounds like he's devoting an awful lot of effort and energy to punishing you for something totally understandable.
It sounds like there's a pattern of unkind and unreasonable behaviour here, but it's his, not yours. You really didn't do anything wrong.
posted by BlueNorther at 1:26 AM on November 28, 2019 [8 favorites]

Um yeah, this is bullshit. I hope, after all the comments, you realize that I don't mean you - how your bf is reacting and treating you is bullshit.

There are already lots of great comments above, so I'll focus on this: '"This is a great f*cking relationship..."' Consider that you said this because it's the actual truth. You know the saying, "in vino veritas?" Well this was your version of it. You were having the shittiest day ever, dealing with grief and trauma from your pet's and co-workers' deaths, PLUS a fever, PLUS this ridiculous blowback from your bf after asking if he was ok. He didn't like how you asked if he was ok? Really?

In your second paragraph of how you describe his reactions and treatment of you, I just can't. Notice how he makes everything your fault and how YOU'RE the one to have to change? What about him? There was nothing wrong that he did, nothing that he has to own up for? Really? He's frozen you out for THREE WEEKS. How much MORE do you have to bend over backwards until he's satisfied? Answer: NOTHING will be good enough for him. Instead of talking through it like mature adults and actually talking about the relationship, like, "Is this relationship not meeting your needs? What can we do to do better about this?" Then again, if he was actually capable of doing that, you wouldn't be here. You wouldn't have said, "This is a great f*cking relationship."

What was the relationship like until this point? If you say it was good, I believe you. My guess is up till now, you kind of went along with him on everything and maybe he thought you were someone who wouldn't have conflict with him, or question him, or state your needs. If I'm wrong, feel free to disregard. But when push comes to shove and you are dealing with an actual conflict, THIS is how he treats you. Pay attention. At some point you have to throw your hands up and say, "I've done everything I can. I can't go back in time and change what I did. I'm sorry. I've taken the time to reflect on this. There's nothing more I can do." He hasn't told YOU what he needs, all he's done is call you dumb-dumb. Who does that? If you're such an awful person in his eyes, why doesn't he break up with you?

This conflict has told you everything you need to know about him. He actually doesn't care about how you feel. He doesn't care about how HIS reaction is making YOU feel. He doesn't understand where you're coming from, he's making it about himself. He's treating you like crap. I agree with others that your partner picker may be a bit off. Deep down I think you also know this is bullshit. Doesn't mean it still doesn't hurt. Do yourself a solid and break up with him.
posted by foxjacket at 8:52 AM on November 28, 2019 [6 favorites]

Thank you all to the advice and time taken to provide me with responses. My picker may be off here. And why this is such a difficult experience for me may indicate that I am not toally as healed as I thought I was and am just repeating old patterns. I never want to feel the guilt of hurting someone or of the demise of a relationship, I feel less than, not good enough, and I know that in and of itself is an issue that needs to be addressed. Thank you metafamily.
posted by MamaBee223 at 5:20 AM on November 29, 2019 [8 favorites]

I am not toally as healed as I thought I was and am just repeating old patterns.

I think sometimes in the dating world, especially if you’re a single parent, there’s this idea that relationships and the work around them are a linear process, and there’s a clearly defined time when we are “over” our last relationship (healed, recovered, lessons learned, etc) and only then can we move on to date again. I think we feel like the consequences are higher when we have kids so we feel like we have to get it completely right. That maybe makes us not want to see these patterns emerging because then we feel guilty for dating, like somehow, if we had waited longer or healed better (!?), we would have gotten it right.

But relationships and healing aren’t linear or simple. There’s a lot of messy overlap, things we don’t understand about an old relationship until we see it again or differently in another. And so we need to gentle with ourselves and forgive ourselves for sometimes not making the best choices or falling into the same patterns.

There’s also the abundance philosophy in dating: there are many suitable partners so the consequences are lower if we date someone and it doesn’t work out because there are other good potential partners out there.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:46 AM on November 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

I never want to feel the guilt of hurting someone or of the demise of a relationship,

These are unavoidable feelings. Trying to avoid them makes you a doormat who is hurt regularly to spare your abusive partner from feeling the pain you don't want to feel. Please put your own oxygen mask on first.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:55 PM on November 29, 2019 [7 favorites]

Thanks for the update, MamaBee. something I'd like to emphasize here is that none of this is your fault. You have acted in good faith, treating him with kindness and compassion. Sometimes we end up in relationships with people that act like normal decent people until they have wormed their way into your heart, and only then does their true self become apparent. You can't be blamed if someone has gone out of their way to trick you into giving them love and consideration that they are not prepared to return.

It's really hard to tell if someone is being genuine, it takes a long time getting to know someone before you can know for sure that their intentions are good. And those who have something to hide absolutely gravitate towards people who are trusting and kind, because that means they have a better chance of getting away with their shenanagans. This is totally shitty, but there ya go. Don't let those jerks stop you from being the kind and compassionate person that you are, don't let them drag you down to their level. It's really important that you don't blame yourself - if your boyfriend had just given you some consideration for the crappy day you were having, none of this would have happened. If he's upset that you're dumping him, that's on him, he failed you when you really needed him, and isn't even enough of an adult to admit he made a mistake and try to fix it. You can walk away from this with a clear head and heart, you are not broken, you don't need healing, you're fine.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:10 PM on November 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

This is also the man who lied and hid his child from you. HIS CHILD. Please check in and let us know that you're OK.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 2:28 PM on December 3, 2019

Thank you for all the time spent and advice. I am OK. Emotionally, this is triggering my feelings of not being good enough even though I know this is not true. This all stems from not feeling good enough and I realize this. I have to stop making excuses for my past. It's not hard to let go of the man and the piss poor treatment, but it's hard to let go of that image of a future I built. I love my time with my daughter but the loneliness hurts after every failed relationship in my mid 30s. tHANK YOU ALL!
posted by MamaBee223 at 5:03 AM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh dear. I'm sorry you are hurting. It can be a difficult time of year for that. I really like the abundance philosophy of dating for you: there are so many great potential partners out there, and the more folks you meet, the more likely you are to find someone who is a good match for you. It's not about finding a good person, but the right person -- and there are lots of potential right people! Have you been dating through apps? I know it's hard to date when you are a single parent, but lining up more dates and investing less in any one of those dates can make this easier. It also means we imagine lots of futures with lots of people, which means it might feel easier to let go of any one future. Feel free to reach out via DM if you'd like to chat about all this.

Also, can I re-frame something you said? You said you feel like you are not good enough. Here's the thing: you are good enough! That's why it's healthier to leave a relationship that isn't good enough. It's not that he's bad or you are bad (though I'm inclined to think he's probably spending less time than you are evaluating this relationship and your various contributions to it and I think he probably has a fair amount of work to do if he wants to be a good partner). But it's not a good match.

Hang in there. I know this is tough. Let yourself grieve this loss.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:18 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

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