Am I wrong for going on dates after he dumped me?
September 9, 2020 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Dating casually after being dumped - ex is not happy.

I'm 24F, my 33M boyfriend of a year broke up with me two weeks ago - it wasn't completely out of left field, though. We have been going through a rough period of insecurity (on my part), stress from work (both of us), and falling into a routine of fighting and making up.

Those fights were always when I express some sort of feeling ("Babe, when you do *this*, it makes me feel *like this*. Could you maybe do things *a different way*?" His usual response would be "that's stupid, don't feel like that", which I felt was insanely unconstructive. Whenever I brought up some sort of emotional distress regarding the relationship he would stonewall or turn defensive, which made me feel like he was purposefully choosing to not hear what I'm saying.

Anyway, he said I was too high maintenance, and split up with me. It was very difficult for me, as we had spent lots of time together, especially during the lockdown.

I spent the last two weeks turning to friends as much as possible, having platonic girl friends at sleepovers, and distracting myself by going on dates, where I make it clear that I'm freshly out of a relationship, and I'm not looking for anything too serious. I am not sleeping with anyone.

In the meantime, I am going to therapy and starting on medications again (my ex did not believe in antidepressants and "didn't want to date someone who needs antidepressants").

He caught wind of my being on a dating app, and sent me a text saying that I had matched with a friend of his (I realised this before ex even messaged me, and unmatched this guy), and why was I "jumping to another guy"? Why wasn't I doing more "wholesome" things? I told him that if he wanted to stay in a relationship with me I would delete the app with no hesitation. Otherwise it wasn't his business how I grieve. I was met with silence.

He made me feel like I'm betraying him in some way, although he expressed that he wasn't mad. My mother and my friends think that he has no right to meddle in my business, especially since he was the one who broke up with me.

He did hint during the breakup conversation that he thought things were salvageable, and we might end up together someday. I'm not opposed to this idea because goddamn I love him, but I've always been the kind of person who cuts off all exes from my life. We could become acquaintances after a year or two, but that's all it would amount to. I thought that he was being irresponsible by saying something like that.

The point of this question is: I know that everyone says not to jump straight into a new relationship, but that isn't what I'm doing. I am working on myself by taking care of my mental health, and I've even started going to ballet again. Should I not be going on dates? Am I somehow betraying the man who dumped me? Did I ruin any chances of getting back in a relationship with him by dating other people after breaking up?

Am I even doing this breakup thing right?
posted by antihistameme to Human Relations (69 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
What a dick. Don't take him back, block him entirely. You are so much better without his controlling self in your life (criticizing your ex? Can't let go much?). You're fine going out on dates with other people. Keep it light, take it easy, you're doing good.

(30s/cis/female/partnered, for whatever that's worth)
posted by arnicae at 7:38 PM on September 9 [97 favorites]


Oh fuck this guy. Look, there are a lot of people in the world and each one should get to tell you no more than once that they don't love you anymore. You're high maintenance and you're stupid for having feelings? That's a breakup. Why are you still listening to him when he talks down to you?
posted by fritley at 7:40 PM on September 9 [121 favorites]


Yeah, this guy reminds me of too many of the decade-older men I dated in my early 20s. Controlling, manipulative, emotionally immature. Stay away from this idiot for your own good and your own dignity. Cut him off completely and find someone who treats you like a peer rather than a piece of property.
posted by shaademaan at 7:45 PM on September 9 [76 favorites]


What you do and who you do it with after he chose to end your relationship is none of his damn business.
posted by biogeo at 7:47 PM on September 9 [46 favorites]


Are you betraying the man who dumped you? No.

Are you doing this breakup thing right? Yes!

Don't give that guy once ounce of control over your life.
posted by allegedly at 7:47 PM on September 9 [16 favorites]


I urge you to not go back to someone who has such contempt for your mental health that they forbid you from the treatment you need(ed). That goes beyond controlling into malevolent, imho.

To me, that one reason is reason enough. (Aside from his other dickishness)
posted by cats are weird at 7:51 PM on September 9 [76 favorites]


Am I even doing this breakup thing right?
You're killing it. Cut this guy off and be proud of all the great things you're doing for yourself!
posted by weirdly airport at 7:52 PM on September 9 [30 favorites]


Block him and stop communicating with him. You can do way better and you deserve to be happy.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:52 PM on September 9 [9 favorites]


No, you’re not doing the breakup thing right. The right thing is never to think about this asshole again. Beyond that, do what you like. It seems you’ve earned the right to enjoy yourself.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:56 PM on September 9 [11 favorites]


I could pull out a list of all the things in this post that made me think, “wow, fuck this guy,” but it would be about as long as the post. You are well rid of him.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:00 PM on September 9 [60 favorites]


Am I even doing this breakup thing right?

So there is one thing you are doing wrong about this breakup thing.

I told him that if he wanted to stay in a relationship with me I would delete the app with no hesitation.

This guy needs a lot more personal growth before he would be ready for a good relationship with anyone. Telling you how to feel? Not wanting to date someone who attends to their health by taking antidepressants. No way should you go back to this relationship now.

Block him, and if you think there could be something in the future and still want to contact him after a year, then you could reach out if you want to. Or maybe you'll have a fabulous life without him where you get to feel however you like!
posted by yohko at 8:03 PM on September 9 [17 favorites]


Leave this guy in your rearview mirror. He’s an irredeemable ass. Do what makes you happy.
posted by gnutron at 8:03 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


The "dating other people" issue seems like a red herring. The biggest red flag here is that you felt unable to take your prescribed medication while you were with this man, because he judged you for needing it.

It's perfectly okay to need it! Lots of people need it! Needing it says exactly nothing about the quality and strength of your character!

Don't worry about his hints and what he's willing to do and commit to. Give yourself time to meet new people who are accountable and kind and committed to self-improvement (like you are) and you will soon see the truth about your ex's quality. (i.e., he stinks)
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:10 PM on September 9 [25 favorites]


My mother and my friends think that he has no right to meddle in my business,

Your mother and friends are right! And they should add that your ex was and is abusive and you should run away like your head's on fire.
posted by medusa at 8:17 PM on September 9 [26 favorites]


This guy doesn’t want to be with you but he does want to know that you’ll never be able to get over him and anytime he wants, he can just yank your string and you’ll come running. The best revenge you could have is to never think of or contact him again, and go off and live an amazing life. What a blow to his ego.
posted by Jubey at 8:20 PM on September 9 [46 favorites]


You broken up with him. Doesn't matter who said it first - It's over. Even if you broke up with him, it is still over. Don't listen to a word he says about you and your life ever again.

If you are wondering if it is too soon to be dating, ask people who have your best interest at heart - your therapist, your best friend, your mother. And then, whatever they say, ask yourself what feels true for you. It sounds like you are (and should be) proud of the new life you are creating for yourself - this internet stranger says, trust your judgement and keep doing the light social dating that is working for you.
posted by metahawk at 8:36 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


"I dumped you, but still get to tell you how to live your life and emotionally blackmail you!"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

" Did I ruin any chances of getting back in a relationship with him by dating other people after breaking up?"

HE ruined all chance of getting back in a relationship with YOU by being a complete and total, gaslighting asshole, who actively tried to sabotage your mental health.

Please go out (with a mask) and have a fuck ton of fun and make sure your ex knows everything about it. Rub it the fuck in that you are happy to be well shot of him and couldn't give a rats ass what he thinks about how you live your life.
posted by brookeb at 8:39 PM on September 9 [32 favorites]


The fact that he broke up with you for being "too high maintenance" (which, oh my god, he thinks he has the right to demand what medication you do or do not take in order to suit his preferences, and yet YOU are the high maintenance one?? Just ... no) makes me think he wanted you to bend even further, make yourself even smaller for him, whittle away even more of yourself to please him. Instead, you started working on yourself, re-integrating parts of yourself you'd apparently given up, reaching out to friends, and meeting other guys. You are doing GREAT, and I hope you take a moment to feel proud of yourself for that.

Oh, and nthing everyone who suggests blocking this person. He is not good for you, and you deserve the space to really start to see that.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:40 PM on September 9 [30 favorites]


There is a breed of man who gain control over their partners by dumping, taking back, dumping taking back etc for years. They are shits, and this guy is one of them - he dumped you, but expects you to act like his girlfriend while you're apart, on the expectation you'll get back together sometime?

It's toxic shit and you're better than that. Block him on everything, cut him out completely, because he's gearing up to waste your twenties for you.

Date other dudes, do ballet, take your meds, and let him wehwehweh about what he want from you from far, far away.
posted by Jilder at 8:40 PM on September 9 [27 favorites]


You are not betraying your ex--there's nothing to betray!

Please, this Internet stranger begs you, leave him in the dust and never look back--do not consider getting back together with him. Someone who tells you to stop taking prescribed medication because they "don't want to be with someone who needs antidepressants" is someone who will never respect your needs or boundaries, which is a recipe for utter misery for you.

Love is not enough.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:43 PM on September 9 [5 favorites]


Oh, this is an easy one: that guy sucks shit, and you never ever have to listen to another dumb idea of his!!
posted by Charity Garfein at 8:46 PM on September 9 [12 favorites]


I literally said out loud as I was reading this, “WHAT?! Is this guy fucking kidding me?!” Cut all contact with this guy, completely, without a qualm. I promise you, 100 percent guarantee, that in a year you’ll look back and be absolutely thrilled that this asshole isn’t in your life anymore and you’ll wonder why you ever thought he was worth one hot minute of your time.
posted by holborne at 8:48 PM on September 9 [15 favorites]


This person is an abusive manipulator who has been controlling you. He's dictated how you manage your health because he didn't want to date someone who took medication?

How you treat your body is your choice. How you handle your life is your choice. Please block this person and never, ever speak with him again. If you get back together, it will only get so much worse.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:50 PM on September 9 [12 favorites]


Do not get back together with this guy for any reason. Seriously, you don't want to date such a grade A sexist asshole douchebag. He's a gaslighting, manipulative, abusive pile of trash, a veritable dumpster fire of a human being. He's not even a poop milkshake, he's all poop. Block him and move on, he's not worth your time or energy.

Think about this from the perspective of it happening to someone else. If your mom, your friend, or even a female stranger told you about a guy who treated them like this, would you suggest they get back into a relationship with a guy like that? Or would you tell them run as far away as they could?

He doesn't "believe" in antidepressants? So he doesn't "believe" in established medical science? Taking medicine when you need help with depression is no different than taking medicine when you have diabetes or heart problems. It helps you live a better life and he shamed you into not taking medicine you need. That's something a terrible, controlling, awful person does.

You should 100% be going on dates (with masks, of course). You did not betray him. You can't betray a barely evolved garbage pile who dumped you. Ignore this garbage person in every single way possible and live your best life without him.
posted by i feel possessed at 8:51 PM on September 9 [13 favorites]


Usually when 100% of the people answering an Ask give the same answer I would, I see no point in chiming in. This time I hope a hundred or even a thousand more people all comment to say: this man is an absolutely horrible waste of carbon, and the sooner you are completely rid of him, the better. Block block block.
posted by ejs at 8:52 PM on September 9 [20 favorites]


Hi 47M here and I just want to emphasise that this man is an ass, most especially for trying to control your emotions and (maybe more importantly) your medication while you were dating. You are well rid of him, block him, go on dates if you want to, but generally just move on to someone else when you are ready, and live your best life. [ETA no, you are not wrong for going on dates].
posted by Pink Frost at 8:55 PM on September 9 [11 favorites]


Also, who the fuck runs around telling their ex they should do more “wholesome” things? Seriously, even if it were his business what you’re doing, which it’s not, who even tells another adult, unironically, that they should be “wholesome”? WTF. Wholesome my ass.
posted by holborne at 8:57 PM on September 9 [40 favorites]


"Usually when 100% of the people answering an Ask give the same answer I would, I see no point in chiming in. This time I hope a hundred or even a thousand more people all comment to say: this man is an absolutely horrible waste of carbon, and the sooner you are completely rid of him, the better. Block block block."
I just wanted to chime in and add to the chorus. To hell with this guy.
posted by Floydd at 9:04 PM on September 9 [10 favorites]


I told him that if he wanted to stay in a relationship with me I would delete the app with no hesitation.

This jumped out at me.This guy has been acting with real contempt towards you, calling you high maintenance for expressing preferences in an honest way.

So the break-up waa a good thing but i would spend some time with a therapist trying to see if there's a pattern of allowing people like this in your life so that when dating you don't fall for someone like him.

Treating you with disrespect should be an instant deal breaker.
posted by M. at 9:14 PM on September 9 [19 favorites]


One more vote for "fuck that guy."

Seriously, don't ever go back to him. Your post had more red flags than a communist parade.
posted by Chuck Barris at 9:23 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]


Visualize any one of a number of Twitter memes on the topic of “whole man disposal services.” He isn’t worth another second of your time. He is an abusive jerk and he sucks.
posted by matildaben at 9:32 PM on September 9 [8 favorites]


Thank you for your responses. The reason why I think about going back to him is... I have cancer. I am a 24 year old woman with an aggressive form of uterine cancer. I got the tumour removed, but I may never be able to have children if it comes back or metasises. I don't know that I will ever meet anyone who can accept me for who I am - an infertile, mentally ill, cancer-ridden 24 year old woman. Despite his suckiness, he stuck by me through my cancer treatment/surgery.

But I see what you all are saying, and I know I deserve better. I don't know I believe that yet, but I know I do. It's just hard.
posted by antihistameme at 9:58 PM on September 9 [8 favorites]


starting on medications again (my ex did not believe in antidepressants and "didn't want to date someone who needs antidepressants").

The reason why I think about going back to him is... I have cancer.


that is a better reason for this horrible old stalker to be out of your life immediately and forever before he can medically abuse you some more. he "stuck by you?" showing up to the hospital is something so basic and undemanding that anybody can do it. good friends will do it. home care? you can pay a stranger to do it.

if you want a boyfriend, you should have one, but not because you're sick or might be sick later. you can be sick without a boyfriend. you CAN'T be sick around a scary prick who tells you what medication he allows you to take. it isn't safe.

I don't know that I will ever meet anyone who can accept me for who I am


He didn't accept you for who you were. He was so unwilling to tolerate your health conditions that threatened to leave you unless you deprived yourself of meds on his blacklist, which you did. you did that for him. he is a proven threat to you.

If you have female platonic friends who are decent to you, you know you can have that with someone--you have it right now. a partner who's as nice to you as your friends are is the least you can ask for.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:35 PM on September 9 [41 favorites]


Half the people I know have cancer and are missing uteruses or breasts and are a lot older than you and they ALL have men better than this pile of dog shit. Omg. Go. Don’t look back.
posted by HotToddy at 10:46 PM on September 9 [42 favorites]


Despite his suckiness, he stuck by me through my cancer treatment/surgery.

He stuck with you in the sense of not dumping you immediately. But really sticking with someone is being with them on the worst days when they are vulnerable and needy and yes, high maintenance. Not the "Here's what I feel when you do X" high maintenance but real, "I'm irritable and unreasonable and snap at my loved ones" high maintenance.
posted by M. at 11:24 PM on September 9 [12 favorites]


He doesn't want to be with someone who needs antidepressants? Good news for him, he's not!
posted by tillsbury at 11:53 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]


You have cancer and “he said I was too high maintenance, and split up with me.“

Go forth and be as ‘unwholesome’ as you like. :o)
posted by heyjude at 12:26 AM on September 10 [22 favorites]


Fuck this guy to the moon, especially because you have cancer. You don’t have time for this shit.
posted by like_neon at 1:02 AM on September 10 [37 favorites]


being alone will be better for your health than being with someone who causes you this much stress and tells you not to take medication. even in the unlikely event no one else ever dated you, you are still better off jettisoning this guy permanently
posted by slow graffiti at 1:03 AM on September 10 [19 favorites]


I know it must be painful to hear his accusations, and I am sorry, but I am also crowing in triumph at how you handed his ass to him.

He dumped you in the hopes of making you crawl back to him and stop being "high maintenance", (that is, asking him to behave like a decent human being). And it backfired! Instead of being begged to return he finds himself casually replaced.

(I know that's not what you're doing, but that's what it feels like to him.) It"s not that it hurts him because he loves you. He can dump someone, never want them back and still freak out when they start dating again because what does that say about his own relative importance? It hurts his pride that you're probably dating way more than he is even able to. So he's lashing out.

Anyway, I don't know if you do vindictive at all, but if you do, there's no shame in being gleeful and triumphant about his recent temper tantrum.

As for the casual dating itself, it seems to work for you now, so keep doing it until it stops working. Keep in touch with how you feel. As long as it feels good, and affirming, distracting and fun, it's healthy. If you start feeling unpleasant obligations, if it gets stressful and depressing, stop doing it.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:22 AM on September 10 [22 favorites]


This guy is a toxic dumpster fire. Extinguish your interest in him immediately and thow him out like the trash he is.

PLENTY of women who cannot have children have partners, and exactly zero of your value as a human is tied to your reproductive ability. Taking an antidepressant is a completely normal thing, he was just trying to successfully diminish you and make you dependent on him.

Fuck that noise.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:35 AM on September 10 [35 favorites]


I don't know that I will ever meet anyone who can accept me for who I am...

Please try filing this under "lies my depression tells me." And if your ex ever ever ever even the tiniest bit corroborated that lie, then yet another hearty "fuck him" for that as well.
posted by teremala at 2:45 AM on September 10 [47 favorites]


he stuck by me through my cancer treatment/surgery

He failed at sticking by you through other things, though.
Meanwhile, many (most?) people have some mental illness, though not all are aware of it, and lots of people don't want to have children at all or care about having biological children.
The only metrics by which you should decide if you should be dating other people are your own feelings and, at the moment, coronavirus safety.

It sounds like you have a good support network in your friends and mother!
posted by trig at 2:48 AM on September 10 [9 favorites]


Oh antihistameme, I feel so sorry for you! It must be hard hearing an entire chorus of people saying that the man you still love is a manipulative, immature asshole and you're lucky to be rid of him. Your follow-up kinda broke my heart. Please don't think of yourself like that. You are strong and intelligent, everyone here can tell, and you do deserve and will find so much beter. (Also, awesome username.)

I agree with everything that has been said here, and wanted to touch on something else: "He did hint during the breakup conversation that he thought things were salvageable, and we might end up together someday." This is so classic and so manipulative. What may appear to be an act of kindness, is actually quite the opposite. A good break-up conversation should be like a band-aid that's ripped quickly and definitively. It hurts like hell but heals faster. Whereas he is still trying to string you along and control your heart and headspace. He doesn't let you heal, because he barely acknowledges that he actually broke up with you and hurt you. Next thing you know, he'll be at your doorstep saying that "he didn't mean to break up with you", and he'll say that when his own efforts at meeting new people (that I'm sure he's making) aren't working out. He wants you on the back burner. Turn off the heat.
posted by Desertshore at 2:58 AM on September 10 [22 favorites]


Regarding your update, much of what you're saying is probably what your depression is telling you. Even with your health issues, you're not unloveable and there are plenty of people who will be willing to not only "put up with you" but love you for who you are right now. They will never be so callous and shitty as to call you "high maintenance" when you had cancer. That's just beyond the pale.

It's natural to want the comfort of the expected and known even while knowing it's not good for us. It's good you're in therapy because much of this is stuff you should talk about with your therapist so you can process it and let go of the desire to go back.

My main concern is that if your cancer returns, this jerk will not be the partner you need to support you. Given what you've said so far, it's possible he may dump you again while you're in a really vulnerable place and that would be worse for you than just not being with him at all. He has harmed you already and will continue to harm you if you spend more time in his presence.

The only reason he's messaging you is because his ego is hurt due to you moving on so quickly. He doesn't really want you, he wants to string you along and emotionally abuse you. He wants to be in control and dictate what you do even though you're no longer together. Continue to deny him the opportunity to control you, your emotions and your life. Block him entirely on every platform.

In summary, I just can't with this guy. I want to yeet him into the sun on your behalf so you never have to deal with him again. Someone is going to appreciate you as you are. Don't make it impossible to meet them by wasting time with someone who hurts you and doesn't care about your well-being.
posted by i feel possessed at 4:15 AM on September 10 [7 favorites]


I don't know that I will ever meet anyone who can accept me for who I am - an infertile, mentally ill, cancer-ridden 24 year old woman.

For what it's worth, as a random Internet stranger who knows nothing about you beyond what you've posted in this thread, I am genuinely impressed by you. Here's why:
Those fights were always when I express some sort of feeling ("Babe, when you do *this*, it makes me feel *like this*. Could you maybe do things *a different way*?" His usual response would be "that's stupid, don't feel like that", which I felt was insanely unconstructive. Whenever I brought up some sort of emotional distress regarding the relationship he would stonewall or turn defensive, which made me feel like he was purposefully choosing to not hear what I'm saying.

You were in a relationship that wasn't going the way you wanted, and you expressed your needs clearly and kindly. His responses must have hurt like crazy, but you were still able to analyze them in a thoughtful, emotionally intelligent way.
I spent the last two weeks turning to friends as much as possible, having platonic girl friends at sleepovers, and distracting myself by going on dates, where I make it clear that I'm freshly out of a relationship, and I'm not looking for anything too serious
This is an exceptionally mature and self-aware response to a breakup. I'd be impressed to see it from anybody under any circumstances. But to see that much maturity from a 24-year-old, and such an emotionally healthy response to a breakup when you're dealing with the stress of cancer during a pandemic... Good heavens! That's amazing.

I've been happily married for 23 years, and I can tell you that maturity, self-awareness, and the ability to handle misfortune are incredibly valuable things to bring to a relationship. I'm sure you have your personality flaws, just like all of us, but it seems to me like you have a tremendous amount to offer. This particular guy didn't see that. Future partners will.
posted by yankeefog at 4:47 AM on September 10 [43 favorites]


Ugh. I could have written a very similar post, when I was 24. My ex said/did many of the things you are describing. I loved him so much, and tbh it took me years to get over that relationship. Even now, nearly two decades later, I know on an intellectual level that it was abusive, but a large part of me doesn't believe that it was abusive. Because I was very in love.

So I sympathize. It's easy for us, on the outside, to see that this guy is bad news. But I understand why it's hard for you to believe that a person you love and know so well, could be doing you harm.

I don't know that I will ever meet anyone who can accept me for who I am.

Unfortunately, from what you've described, this guy does not accept you for who you are. If he did, he would listen to your emotional needs, accept that you need to take medication to be well, etc etc. Block this guy so he can't keep contacting you. YOU get to make your own judgements and decisions now. You are allowed to not be friends with your exes.

(btw, my ex also took great pride in being friends with his exes, and told me I was cruel for cutting contact with people I no longer dated. In retrospect, I realize that he stayed friends with many of his exes so he could continue to dangle the possibility of a continued relationship in front of them, sleep with them every now and then, and generally fuck with their heads while still being able to say it was their fault for getting upset. Fuck that shit. Trust your instincts and heal how YOU want to heal.)
posted by EllaEm at 5:52 AM on September 10 [13 favorites]


Just to chime in with everyone else: you're better off, block him, don't look back.

And some anecdata related to your update. My niece, who was divorced with three young children at age 27, met this really great guy. They started a relationship, cautiously, because she had been hurt so badly by her ex, and because of the kids. Two months in, she was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer that had metastasized into her lung. He stuck by her through chemo and terrible prognosis after terrible prognosis. Three years into her cancer diagnosis, the doctors told them that treatment would no longer help, her death was inevitable. He asked her to marry him the next day. They got married and had a honeymoon and then a month later, she died. He had plenty of time to leave, but he never did. So. There are really decent men out there who will not care about your diagnosis and will encourage you to treat your mental health. Your ex is NOT one of them.
posted by cooker girl at 6:30 AM on September 10 [17 favorites]


Feel like speaking on the record as someone who had a (mutual) breakup, and later got back together, and knows that their partner dated during the time apart: when you break up with someone, you’re explicitly giving them permission to date. That’s what breaking up IS. Knowing I missed out didn’t feel awesome, but that isn’t my then-ex-partner’s fault.

This guy stinks on toast, and I blame your poor self-assessment on him, too. You’re fine and worthy of good treatment. Lots of people are broken. Lots of broken people are kind, as you seem to be. I’d rather have a broken and kind person than a whole unkind one.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:57 AM on September 10 [7 favorites]


The reason why I think about going back to him is... I have cancer.[...]

Hi, I'm a person with chronic illness, and I wanted to respond to this in particular. I worry a lot that my issues (rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, food allergies) are going to be a problem for me with dating, and I'm sure that they will be offputting to some people, just like your history with cancer will be. However - there are a lot of great people out there who will see you and how great you are, and want to be with you. They'll see your strength in getting through the cancer, they'll be up for dealing with questions around kids in a way that works for you both, they'll understand how lucky they are to have met you because they'll also have things they're insecure about that you will know aren't a problem to the relationship because they're just part of being human, part of what makes the person you like so beautiful and unique.

Also, this guy didn't "stick by you" through your treatment if he wasn't sticking by you for the mental health component of it - cancer is depressing, the pandemic is depressing, dating an utter asshole like him would be super depressing, and it's always, always valid to treat your mental health and want to get better and be your best self. He didn't support you in this and instead tried to control you because he has some kind of retrograde view of mental health as being about morality and willpower or something like that, or more likely it makes him nervous because he knows he's not working on his shit.

You're doing great without him. Block him, get your cute outfits and masks together, and keep having a great time (within covid-reasonable bounds). You're not doing anything wrong.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:59 AM on September 10 [13 favorites]


Run, don't walk, away. You can do better.
posted by history is a weapon at 7:20 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


In regards to your update:

Your ex's having stuck by you during cancer treatment and surgery is a baseline expectation for human behavior. He does not get to run the rest of your life in return for doing that.

I am a middle aged woman who has many off-putting traits -- I'm quite cranky and not terribly neat -- yet when I had a grand mal seizure at work, friends drove me to all the appointments that were needed for the neurologist to diagnose me with a generalized seizure disorder. I was lucky enough to have the same experience when I had two episodes of strabismus (one for each eye), during which I could not drive.

He's worked himself into a lather because you've moved ahead with your life. If he's so into "wholesome" activities, let him organize a hayride. You are doing great.
posted by virago at 7:52 AM on September 10 [10 favorites]


He wants you as a backup girlfriend so when he's having a dry spell he can just dial your number and feel like he's wanted. Don't buy in.

Obviously the fact that you've been successfully going on some casual dates shows that people are interested in you. Keep meeting people!

People will still be interested in you even if the cancer comes back and/or you can't physically carry children. There are many ways to bring children into your life and heck, plenty of people don't even want to have children and live complete, awesome, and fulfilled lives as a couple without them.

So buy a new outfit, do your nails, make your hair look super nice, work up a sweat in your ballet class, and go live your best life. Oh and block his number. Block block block.
posted by donut_princess at 8:01 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


> I don't know that I will ever meet anyone who can accept me for who I am - an infertile, mentally ill, cancer-ridden 24 year old woman.

There are SO MANY people who will accept you for who you are; an emotionally mature woman who is an excellent communicator, has faced significant challenges in her life, and knows how to take care of her mental health. Seriously, reaching out to friends, casual dating while communicating your recent breakup, therapy, medication, physical activity? You are kicking ass at taking care of yourself during a tough time. And, as other comments have said, giving birth is not the only way to have children if you want them, and there are plenty of people who don’t want their own kids if that’s where you are.

Your ex sounds controlling and the relationship sounds like it was really bad for you. I know that you love him and that it’s really hard right now, but I am 1000% confident that a few months from now, you will be SO GLAD the relationship is over.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:25 AM on September 10 [10 favorites]


FUCK.
THIS .
ASSHOLE.

He "stuck by you" through cancer? Congratulations, does he want a cookie? That's baseline behavior for still being considered a human being. Plenty of men out there don't want kids. Most humanity will deal with mental illness, especially if you're not denying it and you're working on it. Cancer? Fuck cancer, and fuck anyone who refuses to date a cancer survivor (exceptions like already widowed due to cancer, of course).

Block his numbers (after you use them on a fuck-you lottery ticket); burn anything of his you still have, piss on the ashes, shit on the ash slurry. This prick has no redeeming qualities and is not even self-aware enough to realize what a piece of shit he is.

Plenty of fish in the sea, and waste not one further iota of emotional currency on this rotten bottom feeder.
posted by notsnot at 8:54 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Chiming in to say he's abusive and you're better off with no one at all than him.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:22 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


usual response would be "that's stupid, don't feel like that" Maybe he's a Narcissist. Certainly he's some form of asshole.

He breaks up with you and then feels some sense of control over your behavior. This is very bad news.

Do not reply to him. Do not engage with him. Unless, you choose to send 1 message/ email/ letter postcard saying. We are not getting back together.

You deserve So Much Better than someone who makes you feel that you odn't deserve unconditional joyful love.
posted by theora55 at 10:45 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Hahahahaahahahah.

Ahem. I don't mean to make light of your question. I mean to make light of your ex who thinks he can police your dating life. The mere suggestion is laughable.
posted by adamrice at 11:21 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Fuck that guy. He is garbage.

(and don't feel bad for dating him. we've all been fooled by a nice shiny object that turned out to be something harmful like broken glass.)
posted by vespabelle at 12:48 PM on September 10 [5 favorites]


Who gave you the idea that no one else but him would stick by you through cancer? Was it him? Because it's a lie.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:38 PM on September 10 [11 favorites]


having cancer is a GREAT REASON to let this one go. cancer shows us that we only get one go-around and we're taking good care of ourselves by getting rid of people who treat us like our feelings are stupid. or like their caring for us during our illness is reason enough for us to stay with them.

after my diagnosis, i left my partner of 10+ years when he made it clear he was only sticking around because he didn't want to face the judgement of the people he imagined would condemn him for leaving a cancer patient. screw him and screw your ex. spend your life with people who support you.
posted by hollisimo at 2:38 PM on September 10 [12 favorites]


I don't know that I will ever meet anyone who can accept me for who I am - an infertile, mentally ill, cancer-ridden 24 year old woman.

Do you think this because he told you that? It's utterly untrue. Maybe other people your age haven't figured it out yet, but everybody's got something (mental illness, physical illness, criminal record, family baggage, other limits) that they might struggle with. It doesn't keep them from finding love. Some of my favorite people tick multiple boxes and are happily partnered. You won't meet anyone who will appreciate you for who you are when you're wanting to get back together with someone who can't appreciate you. (And someone who prevents you from feeling better, to boot!) I hope the time is soon when you see this ex as a bullet you dodged. Because he is.
posted by *s at 2:53 PM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Adding onto the chorus of "oh, fuck this guy" and also that this guy not only didn't really accept you, he doesn't deserve you either. He is only saying this because he is salty and trying to hedge his bets. I hate, hate piling on but... seriously, fuck this guy.

You'll get to that point of accepting this, but it will take some time.

In the meantime -- if you want to mourn the end of the relationship by cloistering yourself away from dateable folks, that's fine. If you don't, and you're being honest about what you want/where you're at... that's fine too. I'd think that if you'd been with the guy for a month, a year, a decade. It doesn't sound like you're getting over this guy by trying to get under someone else. It sounds like you are trying to move forward. The best way to move forward is not, you know, to stand still.

That doesn't mean that people won't judge you, or won't think that there's an ideal way, or guarantee you happiness in the end, or any of that. I'm just acknowledging that there sometimes there's a difference between what's "right" to other people and what's "right" for you. Only you can ultimately decide what is right for you.
posted by sm1tten at 6:26 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Another pileon consensus vote from me.
posted by flabdablet at 7:43 PM on September 10


I don't know that I will ever meet anyone who can accept me for who I am - an infertile, mentally ill, cancer-ridden 24 year old woman.

Please know that this is nothing in the grand frame of things. Nothing. As a nearly forty year old person I can tell you that at 24 you are unfathomably young, in a way that children are not - you are a newly minted adult, you are at the beginning of all great things.

No one who would use those things against you are worth having. People meet the love of their lives in hospices and hospital wards and cancer support groups, they meet and bond with each other over shared mental illnesses. Infertility wouldn't stop you being a great foster mother or step mother or fur child mother or independent woman who lives without the burden of motherhood.

That arsehole who wouldn't let you take your antidepressants? He is unworthy of you, your strong instinct to survive, the power of your vitality that has taken you past depression and the jaws of death. He isn't the shadow on the wall of the worst day of your life. He is nothing. He will stomp on your scars to keep you at his heel because he has nothing at all else to offer.

Somewhere is someone who is worthy of your strength, the clarity you've written with here. Somewhere down the track is someone who won't keep you as a side piece, or on a loose leash and try and play with you and make you weak and half dead through whatever manipulation their callow heart can muster. You deserve someone who is willing to let you grow and become better than you are now - as we all do at 24.

Let yourself be free of that fuck and go forth.
posted by Jilder at 11:11 PM on September 10 [8 favorites]


Did I ruin any chances of getting back in a relationship with him by dating other people after breaking up?

We can only hope so.
Fuck this guy.

You said that
I don't know that I will ever meet anyone who can accept me for who I am
I don't believe that for a second, but what I do believe is that you have not YET met anyone who would accept you for who you are because this jerk sure didn't seem to.

Oh, wait. Also you dated for a year and had been going through a rough patch?
How long a rough period? Cos that doesn't leave much relationship left for there to be a non-rough period does it?
Maybe that's just what he's like? There's a good chance the entire rest of your relationship would just be the same thing over and over?

In summary, I agree with the previous 60+ comments, your friends and your mother.
Fuck that guy.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:03 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Or preferably don't.
posted by flabdablet at 6:31 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


I join this chorus to say HALLELUJAH.

I know you find it hard to feel truly triumphant in this moment, but intellectually at least, you know this, right? You handed his whole ass to him. You did not mean to, but you did, and there is glory in this, and I hope you can feel wonderful about the way you're handling this breakup. You rule. Other recently broken up people will hear your story and want to be just like you. We will tell our children The Tale of Antihistameme when they are crying to us about their first breakup, and our children will be inspired. You are doing this so right.
posted by MiraK at 5:45 AM on September 16 [5 favorites]


You're doing this right. Someone like your ex messes with your mind and makes you feel less lovable. Dating reminds you that lots of people would like the chance to be with you. I had an ex who messed with my mind in high school and what finally got me free of him was a lovely girl who was super into me away at a camp. She wasn't my next big relationship (and made that clear) but she reminded me that I'm awesome, hot, and lovable and made it easier to look for longer term when I was ready. Please keep dating at least until you're ready to block your ex's number and know that you'll find someone much better for you than him.
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:54 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


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