How to be a more stoic bitch in the face of a break up?
January 3, 2007 1:51 AM   Subscribe

How do I deal with an emotional roller coaster ride with my (now) ex boyfriend?

I am not one to fall in love easily, but after meeting a wonderful man that warmed my heart everytime I saw him or heard his voice, it turns out that he isn't really in love with me anymore. It just sort of faded away. The problem is that he has broken up with me and then told me (on more than one occasion) that he was having doubts about his decision. My heart and emotions are on a yoyo and after our last break up (which he insists he is sure about) I realize that I'm hanging on, waiting for him to say it's a mistake.
I know this may sound like a chatty open ended question, but what I'm asking is this:
1. How do I become more emotionally solid in this situation and accept the fact that it is over?
2. If he changes his mind again, how do I stand my ground and tell the person I love that I'm no longer able to ride this emotional roller coaster?
I've never been in this situation before and I'm sure the hive mind has wonderful advice ...all I find myself doing is waiting for the phone to ring and crying on my best friend's shoulder which, although nice, just isn't working for me.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! to Human Relations (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I think the only thing that really works in a situation like yours is to stop thinking of him as wonderful and heartwarming and start getting mad. You want a committed relationship, he doesn't, and instead of doing the honorable thing and leaving you alone to get over him and move on, he's keeping you on the back burner, where you are nice and convenient if he gets lonely or horny or bored. Whether he's doing it deliberately or in an uncharacteristically selfish lapse, the end result is the same: you're in pain with no resolution in sight.

You don't have to stay mad forever. At some point, you can remember what's wonderful about him fondly, but right now, you have to focus on the unfairness of how he's stringing you along. You don't have to be cruel to do this, just firm. Don't wait for him to call you again. Call him yourself (or email, if you doubt your resolve) and say that at some point, a friendship might be possible between you, but right now you need a period of complete separation from him so you can get on with your life. You'll be back in contact when and if it feels right. Don't let that conversation devolve into nostalgia, don't talk about the feelings you still have for him, and don't let him talk about the feelings he still has for you. They are immaterial. He's made his choice. His desire to still see you is his problem -- he'll get over it. A period of true separation will help you do the same.
posted by melissa may at 2:22 AM on January 3, 2007 [4 favorites]

melissa's hit the nail on the head. even if he's a "generally" honest guy, i've seen too many people (including myself in the past) do this "back-burner" technique which they secretly know the motives of.

so start feeling indignant!
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 3:48 AM on January 3, 2007

Go out on dates with more men.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:11 AM on January 3, 2007 has some good advice.
posted by sonofslim at 5:17 AM on January 3, 2007

Cut off contact with him. NOW. He made his choice and HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE WITH YOU.

So stop being with him. Cut his sorry ass off and take this as a chance to refocus on yourself. Now is a great time to start up some new hobbies/hang out with friends etc, etc.

Feel free to burn some of his clothing and/or break something of his that's under $100. You don't want to be nasty about it, but you do want to do something that signifies you're making a clean break.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think Melissa's advice is the best. Brandon's advice about a new hobby is good too. Good luck in dealing with the exbf and all the best to you!
posted by LunaticFringe at 5:56 AM on January 3, 2007

In addition to the possible burning and breaking suggested above, I would add that if you have presents from him that you do not need daily, his clothing, etc, put it in a box and put it away. It's a lot harder to let go of someone who's stringing you on like this if you have reminders of him around. I've had this happen to myself as well, for nearly six months, so stay strong and good luck.
posted by nursegracer at 6:06 AM on January 3, 2007

Melissa's advice is good.

I came in here to suggest that you don't speak to him for at least a year or two. Otherwise, it will prove very difficult to really get over him.

Just cut him off. Resolve never to talk to him. Don't have a discussion about it with him. In addition to giving you the space you need to heal, this will give you back some of your power. Brandon's advice about a new hobby will help you accomplish this.
posted by milarepa at 6:15 AM on January 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

It's Called A Breakup Because It's Broken -- I highly recommend reading it, it's more useful than you would think.

I'm sorry that you have to go through this, and sorry to say that it won't be quick or painless. There's no way to do it other than to suck it up and cut him out of your life.

For right now, think of it this way: what if he were to want you back right now? You would be thrilled and you would jump right back in -- but you'd constantly be waiting for the other shoe to drop, because that's the way it is with him, and that's no way to live. If you want to think about getting back together with him someday, if that helps to get you through this time, then think of it this way -- he acts this way because you let him, and that won't change (maybe, probably, it never will) until you change how you react to him.

Seriously, how is *he* so wonderful that he gets to treat you like this? Enlist your best friend to help you whip those blinders off your eyes.

He says he's made his choice - fine, you're done with him. Don't talk to him and let him pull you back in, he doesn't deserve it, and you deserve better.
posted by KAS at 6:43 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Another vote for cut him off. He's a cad, and however much you care for him, you can't trust him.
posted by ewkpates at 7:45 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I reccommend that you take the good advice above and find a mp3 of You Keep Me Hanging On - lyrics - (I prefer the Supreme's version, but the Vanilla Fudge cover has a certain charm) and wear that sucker out.

Why don't you be a man about it
And set me free
Now you don't care a thing about me
You're just using me
Go on, get out, get out of my life
And let me sleep at night
'Cause you don't really love me
You just keep me hangin' on...

posted by nooneyouknow at 7:56 AM on January 3, 2007

listen to melissa may, Wisdom has spoken
posted by matteo at 8:11 AM on January 3, 2007

KAS is so right. i'm in a similar situation and i just have to convince myself that, even if we were to get back together, it would just go wrong again in a month or two and then i'd be right back to where i am now. dont give him the chance to hurt you all over again.

like several people have said already, the only way to get through it is to get mad at him. that may not be the most healthy or mature way of going about it, but its working for me. i made a list of all the lousy things he did to me (and its a long list!) and i read it whenever i'm wavering.
posted by silverstatue at 8:31 AM on January 3, 2007

stay away from him for a while - no talk, no email, no text, no dates, no nothing. Really. No contact no matter what (unless you have kids together, but a mutual pet doesn't count as a reason)
Tell him about it first, set a length of time (at least 3 months) and don't talk to him until then no matter how he grovels and pleads, or no matter how he doesn't.
This will give you time to figure out what you want and give him time to figure out the same. If you want him and he wants you it will become obvious. If you aren't dying to be together on a new basis that you can both hold up to the light and cheer for, then stay away from him.
I don't care if you get mad at him, just don't sell yourself and your dreams out for someone who isn't nescessarily dreaming of you. I am sure he is a great guy, but he's acting like a boy. If you want what you say you do then you need a man-guy, not a boy-guy. In an internal sense, not agewise
posted by henryis at 9:02 AM on January 3, 2007

You know it's really over. You also know he's probably going to call, and part of you is hoping that it'll be for real next time (though you know it can't be). And when the phone rings, your heart is going to flutter; there's no way to stop that now, and probably not for quite some time in the future. What you need to do is make up your mind to consciously let those involuntary reactions pass. You can't stop the wishing and the hoping from coming around, but you don't have to make them feel welcome when they do show up.

Also, keep in mind that when he does call, he's going to say all the things he knows are most likely to sway you, in a tone of voice that he's learned you have a hard time resisting. Because of that, it's better not to talk to him at all. Forget about being friends; he's not your friend, and he's probably not going to be, ever.

I suggest you ask him not to contact you. It's very hard to do, but when I was going through a similar thing, it helped. If you're on the phone with him when you're telling him, don't get into a conversation about it, because the more he talks, the weaker you'll feel -- and be ready to hang up first, because it's likely that he won't want to.
posted by wryly at 9:24 AM on January 3, 2007

let's assume you aren't in some way still tied to the guy (living/working together)...that wouldn't preclude this approach but it could complicate things.

set aside an hour or two to yourself. go ahead and take some time to feel sad, hurt, angry, whatever. then decide you're done.

now go through whatever memories you have of being with this guy, and quickly relive them...but as you're doing so, change them. erase them, shrink them, make them different colors, play some music you want in your head to mask the words he is saying, chop his head off with an ax (of course you wouldn't *really* do that, but imagining it could help you feel better), play the scene in reverse...whatever imagery comes to mind and helps you overwrite that memory and experience. there aren't any right or wrong ways - whatever works for you is best when it comes to creative imagery. go over particularly powerful memories as many times as you need to until they feel significantly weaker.

after you get the hang of this (it will only take a few minutes), do the same thing with any material items you're hanging onto: letters, photos, emails, whatever. burn them, shred them, scribble on them, whatever. if you can't bear to part with them wrap them in tape and throw them in a trash bag with some old socks. decide to move on and make that a symbol of doing so.

then, once you've spent however long you needed to do these things, imagine it's 5 or 10 years later. imagine you're looking back on the travails of this breakup, but you're seeing it all with mild bemusement...think of how "it was fun and too bad it had to end, but oh well."

because the truth is that in a year or two or five, that is exactly how you'll feel - you'll have moved on, met someone new, thrown out all your sentimental junk from this relationship, and those feelings that are presently so poignant and painful will have become dim and faded and without emotional charge.

but when and if you're ready, you can accelerate that process to being RIGHT NOW.
posted by jjsonp at 11:27 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

A new partner, even for one night, may begin to free you from his spell. Assuming you can enjoy it.
posted by londongeezer at 2:24 PM on January 3, 2007

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