(Shitty) love in the time of coronavirus
April 4, 2020 2:20 AM   Subscribe

I was just walked out upon and ghosted. By someone I've dated for months. I want some guidance about how to respond while I'm feeling really angry.

I've been dating someone for a few months - and while there were ups and downs, overall it was good. I was direct and honest about things that bothered me. Things came to a head last week though, when we got into a fight. Right after, I had surgery (and I'm totally ok), and the person I've been dating has been really absent -- not checking in on me, or asking me at all about recovery.

Just now, they walked out on me and broke up with me via a text message. Yes, a text. After dating for six months. I replied to their text immediately and was overall kind but asked to do a phone conversation (they offered it up).

Now, it's 24 hours and nothing in response. Just their original text. I'm incredulous and angry. Am I biased, or is that incredibly rude? I feel so blindsided and I feel like an idiot for seeing now how disrespectful that they are.

My main question is...do I just block their number and likely accept that I will never see this person again? Or send one more note effective to: "Don't worry about the phone call. I'm angry, and I expected way better for you to not break up with me via a text and then disappear. I wish you the best."

I guess I don't want to regret it down the line, but I am so upset and my friends seem to agree it's crazy to do that (I know that they are biased, but they told me before when I was overreacting). Now I have zero sources of support as my family is out of state and I have to face the prospect of being alone for month(s).
posted by pando11 to Human Relations (21 answers total)
Response by poster: To be clear...obviously, I wouldn't be able to see my family regardless. Even if they were the block down from me.
posted by pando11 at 2:22 AM on April 4, 2020

Don't take any action. You're upset and angry. This just happened; it's ok to wallow and feel terrible for a bit.

Yes, accept that you might not see this person again.

I don't understand why you want to block their number? They don't appear to be reaching out. Are you hoping to punish them with finding your number blocked should they do so? Do you or don't you want to talk with them if they call? Otherwise, blocking seems a bit 7th grade.

Please don't send a text. This person no longer wants to be in a relationship with you. Do you really want to discuss that further? Do you want to let them know they're an ass? Neither conversation is going to make you feel better.

Give yourself a pity party, ask your friends for their support and patience while you bitch and cry. Take care of yourself - meditate, journal, work out, enjoy nature, and get plenty of sleep.
posted by shoesietart at 3:40 AM on April 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Re blocking - at this point, I don’t want to talk anymore. And it’s giving me a lot of anxiety waiting for them to respond (if at all). I don’t like to be left hanging.

Thanks re your other tips.
posted by pando11 at 4:15 AM on April 4, 2020

Don't send a last message and just block their number. A lot of people are showing their true colors right now and it can be shocking and disappointing. Good luck with your recovery!
posted by quince at 4:23 AM on April 4, 2020 [18 favorites]

I’m sorry this happened to you. I think you should assume you will not speak to this person again. If it will be upsetting for you to get a text in a couple of days offering up that call then, sure, go ahead and block. I wouldn’t send a last message first unless there’s something practical you need to arrange like getting back belongings or a house key left at their place. If so, focus on that in your text, not your thoughts on how they broke up with you. That’s done and you’re not going to change their mind about whether it was the kind way to do it.
posted by Stacey at 4:27 AM on April 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

Don't text them again. I take a different perspective on this—I don't think this is ghosting. You had a fight and they decided to end the relationship and told you; ghosting doesn't involve that last communication. I don't think texting was so out of line, especially if you don't normally communicate on the phone anyway.

It sounds like it wasn't going very well for you, either. I definitely wouldn't be happy with someone who wasn't supportive if I had surgery. Consider what would have been gained by a conversation...would it really be less painful? I guess in an ideal world, a breakup would happen in person with a kind conversation and hugging. But people who don't live together shouldn't be meeting up at the moment anyway, unfortunately.

I've felt better in past breakups when I forgave the person rather than holding onto anger. Can you imagine a scenario that would help you forgive them? Maybe they're secretly terrified by the coronavirus or dealing with something that they haven't shared with you, and just couldn't cope. If you feel sorry for them in some way—maybe you're sorry that they weren't able to open themselves up fully, or experience the good that can come from committing to someone and being there for someone—you might be able to get over it more easily than if you're simply angry.
posted by pinochiette at 4:39 AM on April 4, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I like the idea of blocking their number. That's an action you CAN take, and it's not 7th grade-ish at all. Blocking means taking away their access to you, creating a boundary, and not waiting around for them to mayyybe decide you're worth speaking to. Block them, then put on some music and dance around and get rid of some of that adrenaline. Then start learning a new language or something!
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:40 AM on April 4, 2020 [40 favorites]

The way I've come to think about situations like this in my own life is:

If they were capable of acting in a kinder, more compassionate way, then that's what they would have done instead. But they didn't, so they're not. And that has very little to do with you. And maybe someone with these limitations isn't right for you anyways. We all have limitations. So it's not like they did things this way to be especially mean or whatever, they just did what they could manage. And trying to figure out what it was in their life that led them to this point where this was the only way they could act will probably not help either, btw.

You have my sympathy.
posted by some loser at 5:16 AM on April 4, 2020 [30 favorites]

Seconding that blocking them will give you a feeling of having some control in this situation - in a healthy way of just setting and maintaining boundaries for yourself - and so would be a reasonable thing to do.
posted by eviemath at 6:44 AM on April 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

Breakups are shitty any time, and this one had the worst possible timing. I'm so sorry.

It's not the end of the world to block him or to text him. My therapist would probably ask something along the lines of "what are the possible outcomes if you block his number?" And the same thing re sending the text you describe. Blocking him gives you some control and means you can stop wondering if he *might* call and get on with the grieving process. So maybe ask yourself if there's anything that might come out of that conversation that would make a difference for you.

The other thing you can do is resource yourself. It sounds like you have some pretty supportive friends and family for texting and talking while you're going through this. If you have access to virtual therapy, that might help as well.

Baggage Reclaim (website, podcast and book) talks a lot about relationships including processing breakups.

And the last thing for me is remembering that falling in love is like heroin. Of course breaking up feels so horrible - you're detoxing from an incredibly powerful primordial bond. Knowing this doesn't mean I can be completely at peace with the shitty awful feelings I'm having, but it helps me be strong with no contact, and it helps me be just a little more patient with the whole terrible process.
posted by bunderful at 6:56 AM on April 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I might wait another 24 hours for your blood to cool, but in general shutting him out and moving squarely into recovery sounds like a healthy move. You need to be focusing on yourself.

As a side note, video chats are coming into their own in this current crisis. I strongly recommend getting your friends and family set up — it’s never as good as being there, but is is far far better than feeling alone.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:24 AM on April 4, 2020 [2 favorites]


Give yourself the tiny boost of taking control and blocking his number, then gather everything you have that belongs to him or is connected to him and literally BURN it if you can do so safely. Roast a marshmallow over that little fire, make a s'more with it, and plan your fabulous next steps while snacking.

You don't need people like that in your life, you deserve way better.
posted by mccxxiii at 7:30 AM on April 4, 2020

For many people with avoidant conflict styles saying they will call you and not doing it for twenty-four hours is only a sign they they are, in their own mind, giving you time to calm down before they do something that they dread. Twenty-four hours is nothing. I like to keep my calls down to no more than four a week and that includes calling the pharmacy about prescriptions, etc. I would usually say that they were definitely not going to call you and had lied around the almost-two-weeks mark, but if they are right now very busy because of the current situation they could call you once most of the peak of the pandemic is over, as that could be the soonest it feels like the world is sane and they are ready to deal with things that make them anxious.

If you block them and they try to call on Monday and can't get through, they will most likely think you are the crazy person who demanded a call, but then made it impossible for them to do so; the request for a call and the blocking of the call will feel like drama. However I think you should still block them, and then go and binge watch some entire series that has a lot of potential for catharsis. Blocking them will tell you to stop watching for the call, and missing the call frankly may make it easier for you to adjust your expectations so that you stop wanting them, hating them and needing them. It's not like they are going to be upset if you block them and since they are officially your ex now, your priority is not their feelings, expectations or opinion, but what will make YOU feel better.

There is a gulf here from your intense, immediate feelings and this other person's ability to match your intensity. They are clearly not good at emotional labour. They may have been able to sustain it in short burst initially, especially if there was a being-in-love rush at the beginning that made emotional intimacy temporarily easier for them, but there was clear evidence that they were increasingly not able to be there emotionally for you. Any phone call is likely to prolong your distress rather than to alleviate it. The shortest route for you from hurting to not hurting is to disengage from them so they are no longer important or interesting to you. It's not likely you would feel heard or validated when you did talk to them, and that is a good thing, because if you did you would continue feeding the part of your brain that wants your ex in your life, instead of disconnecting from them emotionally.

Focus on thinking of all the ways the phone call will be disappointing. They will be stiff, maybe even get angry and say some nasty things. You will talk and be able to tell as you are speaking that they are not getting the information you are providing to them. What you say that is insightful and meaningful to you will be wordy and unconvincing to them. They didn't want to phone, or they would have done so, so if they do phone they will be tolerating you, unwillingly. This kind of break up phone call is like pity sex. No. You do not want to have that call. They might be able to soothe you temporarily and end on a good note, but then the bump will come as you realise anything kind they say doesn't change the fact that you are maybe going to be alone for months and they are not going to be able to help you with that.

Worst case scenario you manage to convince them to go back to being your partner, when they have already made their need to end it clear, and you end up being in a now badly dysfunctional relationship with someone who isn't fit to partner with you, and this stops you from learning, growing, disengaging and finding someone a better fit for you, while you struggle painfully to keep a relationship that makes you miserable still going.

You've done the first twenty-four hours of the break-up. You've gotten as far as the first corner on a journey that you need to take. Going back will mean having to repeat the last twenty-four hours of emotional storm that you have already done once. Feeling better lies in going forward. Keep going. Love yourself. Block them.

Re-frame the story in the way that makes you feel best without trying to get them to agree to it. If you don't talk to them you can make them the villain and you can make yourself the brave survivor of their cruelty, or you can make them the tragic hero who was unable to love you and you the other star crossed lover. Describe it to yourself in whatever way works best for you, even being inconsistent in your interpretation, so that they are two mutually exclusive characters in your life story, as needed. If you have to talk to them you lose that ability. If you make them the villain they will want to justify themself. If you make them a tragic hero, they will argue with that interpretation. But if you don't talk to them they don't get to define themself, or the relationship, or you, and you can pull out whichever version of the past you need at a given moment.

Take some breaks from thinking about this to help reduce your emotional burden. Don't do that by drinking. Do it by immersion in other thoughts, such as binge watching shows or getting really deeply into other projects, and by strenuous work so that you are physically exhausted to match the mental exhaustion you are going through. Self care is key.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:49 AM on April 4, 2020 [6 favorites]

My daughter's boyfriend of three years broke up with her via text. Shitty people gonna be shitty. Go ahead and block them, it'll make you feel better.
posted by cooker girl at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

Thanks Jane, I needed that too.
posted by sibboleth at 9:43 AM on April 4, 2020

My father gave me a good piece of advice when I was in a situation where I had clearly been wronged and was never going to get any kind of acknowledgement from that person that they behaved badly. He suggested I "write a letter to the file" where I could put down everything I wanted to stay, get things off my chest, and then put it away.

It really helped me let go of some of the anger, self-recrimination, and sadness I felt over the situation.
posted by brookeb at 9:48 AM on April 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I don't see any point in sending a final text -- getting the last word here isn't going to actually make you feel better. It just prolongs the hurt a little bit more and gives you a bit of a stew in righteous anger.

You say that you don't want to talk to this person but are you sure about that? I'm not sure if your statement about not wanting to "regret it" is about blocking or sending the text but I'd just try to avoid flip-flopping as then you may add an additional dose of self blame if the outcome you really want isn't the one you get.
posted by sm1tten at 10:56 AM on April 4, 2020

Best answer: If you think there's high likelihood of actual catharsis in the phone call I might wait for it -- i.e. if you think the person might say stuff that would ease the stress of the breakup -- but if the phone call is likely to either a) not happen or b) be some bullshit, then there's no point in waiting for it.

And it's ZERO percent overreacting to send a short last text like the one you describe and block them. You spent six months intimately hanging out with this person -- how is it "drama" to say you're unhappy about being broken up with over text? "Drama" would be calling them over and over when they didn't pick up, sending abusive texts, or threatening them. The text you describe is what I would call "concisely and flatly describing your feelings."

(The one caveat is if you think you guys have a good chance of being friends once the breakup blows over; in that case I'd send a text like "Forget it about the phone call, I don't feel up for it any more. Maybe we can talk in like six months or something -- please don't contact me before then. Best of luck during the quarantine." And then block.)

I'm so sorry that this happened to you! What a lot of stress all at once. I hope you feel better -- emotionally and physically -- soon.
posted by hungrytiger at 11:47 AM on April 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

This says more about them than it does you.
posted by bendy at 3:51 PM on April 4, 2020

Considering the phone call didn't happen soon after you requested it, I'd say there's about zero chance of whatever they have to say making you feel any better, IF they ever get around to calling you. Waiting around for that call that's only going to go badly, seems completely pointless. Block them, that way you wont still be secretly waiting for the call. Then move on, there will be other, better people in your future.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 7:02 PM on April 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

This article really helped me: https://markmanson.net/forgiveness.
posted by treetop89 at 10:28 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

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