Advice for a stupid broken heart
June 6, 2021 7:57 PM   Subscribe

I am freshly divorced, only 5 months out. A couple of weeks ago I asked a guy out and we had a great time. Today he told me that he had been seeing someone when I asked him out and felt like he should see it through. I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut.

I feel so STUPID that I am so heartbroken over such a brief relationship. I feel sick to my stomach that he would rather be with someone else. I don’t understand why I feel so acutely terrible about this.

He said that he met her first so he thought it was fairest to play things out with her, and I said good luck but I don’t want to be a second choice if it doesn’t work out and I left.

Can someone please say something to make me feel better. I am just so,so sad.
posted by pintapicasso to Human Relations (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Lots of people casually date several other people nowadays, I don't understand it either.

I don't have the energy for that nonsense.

I feel for you, and maybe make your expectations known beforehand, but hopefully someone more experienced will chime in with better advice.
posted by TheAdamist at 8:09 PM on June 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

Don't blame yourself for bad timing, let the guy know if you'd like to meet up if the other thing does not work out, keep dating. Dating is like fishing, sometimes boring, sometimes you have to throw a fish back, sometimes you land a keeper.

Don't let the recent divorce color your perception of this break up. You might be still grieving which might make this breakup hurt more than otherwise.
posted by vrakatar at 8:09 PM on June 6, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: A divorce and a pandemic. Those are major stressors. Could this guy be the last straw? Something low-consequence that it's easier to grieve than other aspects of your life that may need processing? Let it be a bigger deal than it is. It's ok to be sad.
posted by aniola at 8:14 PM on June 6, 2021 [43 favorites]

Best answer: I don’t understand why I feel so acutely terrible about this

Even if you did understand why, would that make the feeling any less terrible?

The best way I know to deal with feeling like that is to sit with it and breathe through it and weep for it and do my best to be as kind to myself as I possibly can until I'm feeling better. Feeling like shit is quite bad enough without being beaten up for feeling like shit piled on top of it.

Happiness is not mandatory and being sad about a sad thing is healthy. What you have is not what you expected, and what you expected was really good, and that's a real loss, and that just is sad.

You might be able to stave it off by finding some pretty lies to tell yourself about it, but lies will come and bite you in the arse when you least expect them to. Better just to give yourself permission to be sad until you're done being sad. Optionally offer a huge Fuck Off to anybody who ever tries to tell you that feeling what you feel means you're doing life wrong.

Internet stranger hugs. Hope it passes soon.
posted by flabdablet at 8:38 PM on June 6, 2021 [14 favorites]

Best answer: To quote yourself out of context, you are "worthwhile and smart and good and loved"
posted by aniola at 8:54 PM on June 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Well, good for you for asking the guy out--
It really does sound like bad timing--which is nobody's fault.
It sounds like your emotions are still a bit raw too; again nobody's fault.
This might not help much, but I think you've just got to ride this one out...maybe stop by the Metatalktail Hour to get your mind off things a bit.
I've been using it as a virtual pub these past few months...I'll be in the back, people watching and drinking an espresso martini...
posted by calgirl at 9:12 PM on June 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It hurts because you had hopes for the potential. It's very hard to be forced to give that up.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:16 PM on June 6, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Sometimes the timing just doesn't work out. You're freshly divorced, and all your squishy vulnerable insides are especially tender. It'd be stranger if you didn't feel bad about it. Just let yourself go through the feelings.
posted by praemunire at 10:06 PM on June 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A divorce and a pandemic. Those are major stressors. Could this guy be the last straw? Something low-consequence that it's easier to grieve than other aspects of your life that may need processing? Let it be a bigger deal than it is. It's ok to be sad.

Seconding this. Something that I've learned relatively recently in life is that when I'm carrying a whole bunch of bad feelings around, sometimes the thing that's filling my field of vision when those feelings spill over is the thing I assign all the feelings to. But on review, I often find that it's not actually the source of all the badness -- it's just the final item on a list of several different things. I can maybe deal with the bad things when I consider them individually. It's just that when I'm feeling the feelings induced by all of them while looking at one of them, the one I'm looking at can seem to be worse than it actually is.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:12 PM on June 6, 2021 [12 favorites]

So he's a douche who failed to disclose he's mutli-dipping.

Maybe ask the next guy you date that you don't share, and is he dating someone else right now?

It's a GOOD thing that it didn't go any further.
posted by kschang at 10:58 PM on June 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

When I first started dating after a divorce, it was the same for me. Most men in my age group were not looking for a permanent relationship. To find someone who is interested in a permanent relationship I think, is to find someone in your shoes. But a nice man who I didn't even date told me, "don't take dating seriously". It was a long time before (say 18 months) I could do that, but that's what you're going to have to do. Most male daters (in my experience) are looking for a one-night-stand or fuckbuddies, and they won't tell you. I think it's better that he told you, rather than ghosting, but this is the nature of online dating. It hurts, so you have to dial your expectations back.
posted by b33j at 2:44 AM on June 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don’t understand why I feel so acutely terrible about this.

Well, I do. At your most freshly vulnerable, you were wounded by the first person you let in to your new personal space. Was it too soon? Perhaps. Is 5 months enough time to "recover"? Maybe. But it feels like.. not. You don't specify the length of the marriage or the difficulty of the divorce process, but even so- as others have noted, this was not a normal year regardless.

It's easy to unwittingly assign multiple layers of expectation onto something that comes along at such a time. Even if you meant to play it cool, that expectation can take hold. It might be worth considering, to give yourself a bit more time, if you don't feel able yet to safely wade back into those waters. It's hard to catch yourself with so much baggage in your hands. Be gentle with yourself; take back your power and remember that you didn't come this far to only come this far.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:22 AM on June 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don’t understand why I feel so acutely terrible about this.

Hi there, I'm about 2 years out from the beginning of my divorce. I was not in great shape and didn't understand why that was, so I sought therapy for the first time. One of the insights I got from that experience: I'd just been abandoned, so I needed to be aware that the next time anything remotely abandonment-adjacent occurred, I'd possibly react to it with the full force of my divorce. I did what I could to tread lightly, but it still happened. A couple of times. And you know what? It may always happen to some degree... and that's a good thing.

Hear me out: this confirms to you that you are a sensitive, feeling person. You aren't callous. Your values in relationships are shining out through this experience (I can guess, for example, that you seem to value prioritization of a romantic interest, and reciprocally being valued as a priority by a romantic interest).

If you haven't tried it before, this is a good time to introduce things like grounding meditations and other practices to help you accept that these feelings will come (and go), and you can slowly position yourself as an observer of those feelings rather than being so intensely caught up in the experience of them (i.e. watching the storm outside from inside your cozy apartment, rather than being outside in the storm getting soaked). It can all sound hokey, but I promise you that I'm one of the many people who rolled my eyes at this sort of thing when I first encountered it, but here I am a couple years later feeling pretty dang good, taking my heart back out to people with a sense of cautious confidence, and meditating every day to make sure I keep checking in on this stuff.

I'm sorry you're in a rough spot. You're not alone, and you won't feel like this forever.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:31 AM on June 7, 2021 [14 favorites]

Oh, btw, I read somewhere that you should wait the number of months equivalent to the number of years you were married to be your new self - not necessarily not dating, but aware that you are changing. So if you were married 10 years, it's going to be at least 10 months before you feel like a new independent you, knowing what you want, without being the person who compromised for your ex-partner. It did take me a long time after a 24 year marriage to recognise what I wanted, and what I wouldn't compromise on, and during that time, I became comfortable with non-monogamous dating relationships to meet companionship (and other needs), though by preference, I am monogamous.
posted by b33j at 3:35 AM on June 7, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This sounds like a rebound. Which is fine but part of the utility of rebounds is that you don't have to feel all of the awful feelings, and have something really positive to day dream about and distract yourself with. That coping mechanism has just been removed from you, and it sucks.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:37 AM on June 7, 2021

Best answer: A few years back, I had a hugely outsized reaction to a guy I'd only seen a couple times ending it. In my case it was definitely not about him, but I had been looking for a while and was deeply unimpressed by my local dating pool, and he was the first person I met who seemed like someone I could possibly develop a long-term relationship with. So my emotions were entangled with the idea that he was my Only Last Option and his choice of someone else meant I had nothing to offer to people who were actually decent prospects, and thus I would Always Be Alone.

So it's possible you're catastrophizing this after going through what I'm guessing was a stressful end to another important relationship, and possibly you're also new to dating and nervous about it and one "failure" makes it seem even more intimidating.

Exploring it and recognizing what you're truly upset about might make it easier to effectively address THAT hurt or fear. (And you are allowed to wallow in it for a bit to give yourself a chance to grieve.)
posted by metasarah at 6:44 AM on June 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

If you’ve been married up until recently, and (assuming from the wording of your ask) this is the first person you’ve been interested in and on dates with since *before you were married*, it makes utter and complete sense that your body and brain would invest a lot in the outcome. I’m sorry for this hurt you’re feeling.

A take that has been very important for me, but that I’m not sure applies to your situation, given how little I know of the context: if I found out that someone I was seeing had been seeing someone else and told me they wanted to explore that, I would not want to self-talk about their response as betrayal, wounding, or other words that describe breaking relationships of deep intimacy. Like you, I have had some intense feelings during short relationships! But - for me and friends of mine that I have seen do the same - describing another person’s actions as desecrations of intimacy is a way to cope with rejection by making the other person into a villain. When I am dating, I might go on dates or even sleep with with more than one person in a month. I might feel a spark with one person and not another - or I might go on a couple of dates hoping to feel a spark with someone and still not find it. I don’t think these things are villainous, and wouldn’t want someone to think of me as a villain for being honest and not continuing to date when I was uninterested, or more interested in someone else. It sucks, really sucks, to like someone who doesn’t like me. But it is not a moral failing! Practicing this understanding on others’ rejection of me has made it easier for me to reject others in a healthy way.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 10:35 AM on June 7, 2021 [5 favorites]

But - for me and friends of mine that I have seen do the same - describing another person’s actions as desecrations of intimacy is a way to cope with rejection by making the other person into a villain.

That's exactly the kind of pretty lie I was warning against above.
posted by flabdablet at 5:07 PM on June 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My divorce was finalized about 4 years ago, and I still felt your post viscerally. Girl, this shit HURTS. It just does, for whatever rhyme or reason. You've already been through the emotional wringer, and then the first person to come along who made you feel something good, gave you hope that everything was going to be okay, that it's all going to work out for the best, he went with another option... that HURTS.

For me, that person actually kept seeing me on and off for over a year, and then he went with another option. That just about killed me. I was bad enough that my best friend and my sister started calling each other to talk about what they should do. They were afraid for my life. I eventually dusted myself off, got back on the horse, and along the way I learned how to take really good care of myself. I can genuinely say that I'm glad to know myself better than I ever did before. I'm genuinely more ME than I was before getting my heart pummeled into a pulp.

I hope it doesn't sound trite for me to say that you need to give yourself more time to grieve and get your footing back. You're not going to feel like yourself or have your regular level of resilience for a while. Just know that you're not alone. So many of us go through this journey, and come out the other side better than okay.
posted by keep it under cover at 9:54 PM on June 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's always good to verbalize your interests. You don't have to, you can feel your way thru and keep it light, but actually articulating your place in life can save a lot of headaches without feeling demonstrative. It can make the difference between dating and seeing a person who thinks (or may be telling people) you're dating, or vice versa 😬 as well as casually seeing someone, or whatever it may be.

Additionally, multiple partners is no big deal, but it's kind of a given courtesy to mention in some small detail.

You feel awful because you probably really liked that person, and while dating can be super fun, it's sometimes annoying and even a little pretentious in some ways.

Also, it doesn't mean you're 'second choice' in a hierarchical way, necessarily, it may just mean, "this naturally feels fitting so I feel obligated to pursue it." Don't make yourself feel extra bad, thinking as though the person may contrast you deeply with the other: I don't do it that way, many other people don't either.
posted by firstdaffodils at 10:03 PM on June 7, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you everyone.

This was definitely some “misdirected” grief. I know that because I was really sad about this person for about 48 hours and then woke up like nothing had happened. It’s like the length of time it took to get over it was proportionate but the depth of my feelings were not. I really felt those sad feelings but they were quick to leave.

It was pretty cathartic to be deeply sad for a couple of days.

It did make me realize that I’m not ready to date.

I marked a few best answers but all of the responses resonated with me. Thank you for taking the time.
posted by pintapicasso at 3:32 PM on June 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

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