I'm a dick - now what?
February 9, 2007 9:57 PM   Subscribe

So, I moved halfway across the country to be with a guy who subsequently decided I'm too irritating to be around. Help me make the best of a shitty, shitty situation.

We'd been in a long-distance relationship for a few months, and last week, after two months of mutual planning, I quit my job and moved from California to Chicago so we could really give it a go. I've just dropped $1400 on a two-month sublet by my old university (he lives about a half-hour away, but works near where I'm staying.). Even though I went to school here, none of my old friends are still around. I have no car, no job, no life, really - these were all things I was going to take care of upon arriving here, but in the meantime, I thought I'd be able to rely on him.

But he's apparently not as in love with me as he claimed to be, or as he thought he was. He finds my neediness repulsive. He suddenly isn't sure about any of this. So while I wait for him to figure it out, I need to figure out how to fill my days so that I'm not obsessing all the time. (Frankly, I find my neediness repulsive, too.)

I have some savings but they won't last forever. I could go back home, but I figure I'm already here, and maybe I can use the time to my benefit somehow. I wasn't planning on staying here more than six months anyway, but I haven't decided if I'll leave in two months when my sublet lease is up - if I do, it seems pointless to start looking for a job now.

I feel completely lost, lonely, and devastated, not to mention somewhat betrayed. I know this may not be the most lucid post, so I've set up a throwaway account to answer any questions. Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Go home. Be with people that love you, and when you are ready to leave them, make it on your terms. Live and learn your lesson. Do not take it as a failure. You tried, it didn't work, gather your strength and try something else. No fault, no foul.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:17 PM on February 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

If you weren't planning on staying there more than six months anyway, why did you move halfway across the country in the first place?
posted by phoenixc at 10:23 PM on February 9, 2007

Volunteer -- habitat for humanity, the library, ASPCA or whatever interests you.
Habitat is good because you can often show up that day without a lot of prep. In Denver you call a number and you get a recording that tells you where and when they are working and what they'll be doing.
Take some classes, the kind that last or two days.
Do the classic tourist things and take the little guided tours. Talk to the guides.
Work short jobs through a temp agency.
Talk to everyone. Ask them about interesting things to do and then go do them.
Do things you wouldn't normally do. Pretend you are gathering info for a travel article. Keep busy. Make a bunch of friends. And don't call that guy everyday.
Be someone else for 2 months (or 6). This is a great time to try out those little personality alterations you can't practice around people who know you.
Have fun.
posted by BoscosMom at 10:45 PM on February 9, 2007

How scared and alone you must feel.

I moved 800 miles from home to fulfill a long-distance relationship, and it was very, very hard at first. I also felt very needy, and seemed too needy to my partner. It was harder because I moved right in with him--we had no space from each other. I was in his space when he wasn't there, and when he was.

I also moved at the worst possible economic time--I moved to a dot-com town at the height of the dot-com crash. So I wasn't in a position to find a job in my field that was any kind of a step up, or even laterally. Incredibly depressing and demotivating.

I signed on with a temp agency and made the rounds, and fortunately it was a good time to be overqualified--most people were much more overqualified than I was and still holding out for high-salaried jobs, and I was a little more desperate than that, so I found several longish-term, well-paying positions over the course of a few months before settling into a true long-term position.

At the time, I had no idea whatsoever whether the relationship would pan out, but I needed to be somewhat independent and I needed to be doing something all day long. In the course of that, I made a few friends (at least of the going-out-after-work type) that filled my time between the end of the work day and the time when my partner got home from his long commute, and I learned my way around the city (probably not so much of an issue for you, depending on how long it's been since you were in school in Chicago). And I got my sea legs, and I bought myself some time to recalibrate myself and reconfirm what it was that I wanted out of my life at that point.

My story ended happily in the sense that the relationship worked out, we got married and had children. But there are other ways to have a happy ending, and most of them don't involve sitting in a sub-let wondering what to do next.
posted by padraigin at 10:53 PM on February 9, 2007

anonymous, your situation is really heart wrenching but there is some potential for you to come away from this experience (experiment?) better off. Incidentally I moved to Chicago a few years ago to be with someone and it didn't work out either.

Some of this is random, stream of consciousness stuff but here goes:

- It sounds like you went to school here so you probably know your way around. There's a lot to see in town depending on when you were here last. Maybe chalk the experience up as a time to get reacquainted with your old stomping grounds?

- Okay, so it sounds like you've paid up for two months of rent, so if you move back home now that money is lost... potentially you could find someone (perhaps via Craig's List?) who would take up that sub lease (I guess it would be a sub-sub-lease?!) That may require more work than you want to put into it but who knows?

- Or, you could decide to stick it out for these two months, find a job and make some friends. Chicago is in the running for one of the best cities in the universe IMHO, soooo why not give it a try? There is lots of potential here.

- I'll be your friend. My email is in my profile.
posted by wfrgms at 11:10 PM on February 9, 2007

Just one piece of advice: Whatever else you do, set up daily routines that force you to get out of the house and interact, even minimally, with other people.

You are a competent adult with all kinds of good qualities, whatever this schmoe might think. Get routines (temp job? real job? volunteer gigs? daily trip to neighborhood coffee shop? local sports league? once a week adult dance class or whatever) that remind you every day of this fact. You just moved to a new city alone. Look at the hundreds of AskMefi threads about what to do in that situation, and do it.

Don't sit in your house thinking "I'll only be here for a few months, it's pointless to even look for a job, or go out to activities alone, or hell, even put on pants. I'll just sit here and eat comfort food and someday this dude will realize the error of his ways". That's the one method you know for sure that won't lead to happiness.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:20 PM on February 9, 2007 [4 favorites]

Sometimes people make mistakes that cost them tens of thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of dollars. $1400 plus needing to look for a new job is not too bad for such an important lesson.

And the lesson is this: make sure you're doing things for the right reasons, and don't commit to things you're not entirely sure about unless you're cognizant of and willing to accept the risks involved. Perhaps a leave of absence from your job and/or several weekend trips would have been a better trial run. As I said, lesson learned.

So Chicago's a wonderful city; I grew up there, but relocated to California. For my first three years here, I really wanted to move back -- now I can't even conceive of it. Odds are good this might happen to you in the reverse; whereas I think "I'd move back if it weren't so cold" you might realize how much nicer Chicago is than California except for the cold and decide to stay.

You have no job, you have a place to stay -- turn it into a vacation. Sight-see. Visit cool places. Spend time at the lake. Go get a Superdawg. Stop by the Brew 'n View at the Vic. Ride the El. Have a good time.

Then either go home (because it was nice, but you wouldn't want to live there) or look for a job (because you can conceive of living there, and you still have time on your sublet.)

Worst case, you don't have any fun, so you cut your "vacation" short and go home.

As for the emotional aspect of this: I think you got lucky here. This man of your dreams thought it was a good idea to have you quit your job and move out to Chicago, but now thinks you're annoying to be around? What a jerk, really and truly. This is not the kind of guy you should be with, and isn't it nice to learn it right away, and so clearly?
posted by davejay at 11:38 PM on February 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Hello populace, anon here. I'm feeling more lucid now than I felt last night when I wrote this, so here's a short clarification/update.

I came here knowing I'd only be staying for a few months because, without going into too many autobiographical mundanities, I have no real commitments right now, and won't until next fall. As for what that portended for the relationship, we were going to discuss that when the time came.

After I wrote this question, which I'm actually too embarrassed to reread, I bought a plane ticket back home for a week from Monday. I figure I might as well hedge my bets. If things are looking brighter I can always cancel it.

Meanwhile, I'm forging along as planned - researching used car advertisements and temp agencies, signing up for yoga classes. Other than the whole thing about my heart being stomped on with soccer cleats, my two biggest problems are my social skills (which are remedial on a good day anyway), and my lack of mobility (mainly caused by it being cold as all fine fuck.).

Don't sit in your house thinking "I'll only be here for a few months, it's pointless to even look for a job, or go out to activities alone, or hell, even put on pants. I'll just sit here and eat comfort food and someday this dude will realize the error of his ways". That's the one method you know for sure that won't lead to happiness.

heh. i can't imagine why you'd think i'd ever spend the whole day reading celebrity gossip in my underwear and drinking milk straight from the carton and randomly crying and throwing things.
posted by september gurl at 11:51 PM on February 9, 2007

Well, it's not your fault that Anna Nicole died and you have to sit by the computer to wait for autopsy results.

Those yoga classes may save your bacon, honey. Of all the dumb things that I did upon moving to San Francisco, going to yoga class wasn't one of them.
posted by padraigin at 11:58 PM on February 9, 2007

After I wrote this question, which I'm actually too embarrassed to reread, I bought a plane ticket back home for a week from Monday. I figure I might as well hedge my bets. If things are looking brighter I can always cancel it.

Don't be embarassed. I know I've been there and I know this sounds trite, but better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all. Finding love is all about taking risks and jumping in with both feet.

Give yourself tons of credit for having the courage to take the risk - and know that you still have it in yourself to do it again when another opportunity comes.
posted by three blind mice at 4:08 AM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've been there too, and it also involved moving from the West Coast to the Midwest. In my case, though, I also had some other motivation, besides the relationship, for wanting to move out of Seattle for a while. That kept me from turning around and going right back home. And it was a good thing -- I managed to survive in a new city where I knew no one, and I think I got a lot out of that experience. When I did go back to Seattle it was for an entirely different reason and I have no regrets about any of it.

Since you have paid for the sublet already, I agree with what some others have said -- stay there, temp (boy, did I do a lot of temping in my Midwest adventure), be a tourist, and make the city yours. As far as meeting people, I'm also weak on social skills, but I have a couple of hobbies that often involve group activities so I would just look for local groups doing the same thing. (For example, if you are a knitter, find a local stitch & bitch session. If you like medieval history, find the local SCA folk, etc. And maybe there's a MeFi meetup coming up soon...?)
posted by litlnemo at 4:29 AM on February 10, 2007

I work for a school, and I'm searching for a blow-off job for the summer. I'm actually looking forward to it. Since you're only staying in Chicago temporarily, this is your time to look for a job that suits your interests instead of worrying about career advancement.

FWIW, I moved to Chicagoland a few years ago to get away from someone I was in love with, which is kind of the opposite of you. I've since moved back to Wisconsin, but Chicago is a nice city. Once you accept the shitty circimstances that landed you there, you might enjoy it.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:43 AM on February 10, 2007

It might be worth checking out your alumni office. They might have things that you would find useful and/or fun, and you might find some people you'd lost track of are still around.
posted by carmen at 6:25 AM on February 10, 2007

Well. You're freaking me out, given that I'm set to do almost the exact same thing in 2 weeks, with the same 6 month comittment. Yikes.

Anyway, treat it like a vacation from your life. It's sort of what I'm hoping to do. I found a job in a small cookware shop with an annexed cafe and while it's not what I'm going to do with my life forever and ever, it's a nice vacation from my current 9-5 drudgery and it'll allow me to stash some cash for a summer trip somewhere more exotic. You could be the town asshole and in a few months, dissapear. You've got an advantage of not having to deal with these consequences in the long run. So, chill, take it easy, have some fun and look on, well. The more well-lit side, at least. From the sound of your second post, it seems like you're getting there. Good luck!
posted by GilloD at 6:35 AM on February 10, 2007

Organize a meetup.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:56 AM on February 10, 2007

The Art Institute of Chicago has free admission until 2/21. I'm heading over there this Sunday afternoon--so if you would like to come with, drop me a line. Nothing like some gorgeous art to clear you head. Email is in my profile.
posted by gsh at 6:59 AM on February 10, 2007

I've been there too: moved to NYC to be with a woman who broke up with me immediately afterwards. No job, no phone, living in a basement shared with several students most of whom could barely speak English... it sucked, and I was depressed for a while. But I got a job and made friends and fell in love with the city and stayed there for 23 years. Give Chicago a chance even if the guy doesn't work out (I've been there, it's a great town, try the Mexican food), and good luck! (E-mail in profile if you want to discuss anything.)
posted by languagehat at 7:00 AM on February 10, 2007

I went to university in London, and when I graduated I still had a few months left on my visa. I didn't want to leave just yet, and I thought maybe I could find a job, so I sublet an apartment from a friend who was away for the entire summer. It was kind of a miserable one - I was by myself about 90% of the time as most of my friends had either gone home for the summer or moved to a new city to start a new job.

The things that helped me immensely:
1. I didn't have an Internet connection at home, so if I wanted to send email or surf I had to go to an Internet cafe or the library. This got me out of the house every day - even though the 'net is a sedentary activity, at least I wasn't in the apartment
2. This was easier because it was warm and summer, but I stopped at farmer's markets a lot and tried to cook myself a healthy dinner every night.
3. I wasn't sure how long I had left in London so I did all the touristy things I had never got around to doing.
4. I did some out-of-city day trips, either by myself to a place I had never been before, or to visit a friend. It helped to get out of London every so often.

Hang in there - I like my alone time but being alone most of the time was so hard for me. In retrospect, it did help me to grow as a person - it helped me to see that I could entertain myself and I didn't need other people to help me do anything. Of course I had days where I just lay in bed all day and didn't get up, but when I made the effort to leave the apartment I was much happier. Good luck!
posted by sutel at 7:03 AM on February 10, 2007

Things that helped me when I moved out of range of my normal "support network":

I got a routine. I started running every afternoon and then cooking my dinner, making an effort to cook properly. I made a shopping list every Sunday and went to the shop every Monday. I started going to a juggling club every week. It's good for your mental health to be doing things, and it's easier to do things if you don't keep having to decide what to do. I've used Remember The Milk to store all the things to do, because ticking the things off the list is really motivating!

Getting some exercise (the aforementioned running). It was really noticeable how I felt less happy on days when I didn't get exercise for some reason.

Doing things for me. Buying some really nice bath stuff and having a bath. Sitting in the sun in the evening with a book and a beer. Going for a walk somewhere with scenery.
posted by emilyw at 9:53 AM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

tell the boy about the plane ticket and if he doesn't step up before then--like, says "yes, i want you in my life, i want you near me, i love you"--go home. you just made an enormous sacrifice for his sake and if he doesn't get his head out of his butt soon, then you need to do what's best for you. you're in a bad place right now because of his indecision, and if he can't understand/remedy it, then he's not fit to be your boyfriend.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:39 PM on February 10, 2007

That makes, what, four of that moved to Chicago for a boy who didn't want to be with us? God. I did the same thing a few years ago, and while I was devastated, I ended up staying six months and actually having a lot of fun. Of course after the six months, I didn't have a job, and I didn't have any money, so I moved back home. You know what? Being at home with my parents was much more depressing than exploring the awesomeness that is Chicago. I felt rather failure-like at home, whereas in Chicago, I felt brave. Granted, I had a friend there who took me out drinking a lot, but for the next week, and if you decide not to leave, I urge you to take advantage of the city (I wish it was summer, though) - check out the museums, your neighborhood bars, exercise like everyone suggests, go make friends at the coffee shop or whole foods. I'll also second the craigslist idea - there may be a lot of freaks, but there are also some very nice and interesting people out there that would make great friends. Anyway, good luck, your boyfriend is stupid, and I promise you that things will be better soon!

Also -- if you do move home, make an effort to keep yourself busy there, too.
posted by echo0720 at 1:21 PM on February 10, 2007

Get temp work to help you organize your time, get income, and meet people. As others have said, find out what there is to do, and make use of your time in a new city.

It was kind of unfair for the guy to ditch you after all this. I think he should help you out financially.
posted by theora55 at 1:34 PM on February 10, 2007

Pretend you're in a low-security prison: do situps and pushups, read, write, study a language, learn to cook your favorite dishes, practice singing, sew the holes in your clothes, start a blog, catch up on DVD-watching, rebuild your armor.

And if I'm correct in assuming that your fall committment is schooling of some kind, maybe there's stuff you can do to get ahead on that? Or related things you could do at the school you're near?
posted by xo at 2:05 PM on February 10, 2007

Moving is very stressful. Being low on funds, without transportation, in a city where you don't know anybody except the one person you moved there to be with is very, very stressful, and can bring out the worst in people (I'm not saying that's you, necessarily, september gurl, I'm just sayin'). Mister Wonderful might need to be reminded of that. It's conceivable he'll get with the program.

I had someone move halfway around the planet to be with me. I was pretty freaked out because I felt the onus for making her new life a success. Mister Wonderful doesn't seem to have that exact problem, but he still may be freaking out. The woman who moved to be with me definitely felt somewhat adrift, even though she liked her new home and we both continued to want to be with each other. It was stressful for both of us for at least six months, though after a while, it seemed as if she had a bigger social circle than me.

Anyhow, in the meantime, this is where your life is. Maybe he'll come around, probably not. Regardless, you should get out and get some work, and do something so you feel like you are in control of your situation. Do not mope, do not feel sorry for yourself, and do not waste mental energy blaming Mister Wonderful for your plight. You're a grownup, and you made the move knowing that a lot of relationships don't work out. I realize that sounds harsh—I don't mean for it to. Certainly your situation isn't helped by the fact that the other guy is being a dick, but hey, better you found that out quickly.
posted by adamrice at 2:13 PM on February 10, 2007

I've been there, too. I moved across country and then to Canada and learned that he was not all I had imagined, etc. I know that exact feeling of neediness and feeling as though I was a complete idiot for moving. The most important thing I learned though was if I could organize my life in a way that made it possible for me to pick up and leave once, I could do it again. It was amazingly empowering to know that I could just pick up and leave. I say go back to where you have a support network and start over there. You can find a new place and a new job and be a new person in a place that feels like home. That's a pretty rare thing to be able to do.
posted by janespeed at 2:37 PM on February 10, 2007

I moved all the way across the country (DC to California) to be with boyfriend. Things with us are peachy, but it's still hard. I had a whole life (job, friends, family, cat, hobbies, routines), and when I first got here I had well, him and that was it. Not having that social net can make you very depressed, very quickly. If you stay in Chicago (with or without the guy), you're still going to need a job, hobbies, friends, routines, etc. So if the plan is to stay there for the immediate time being, then focus on getting those things -- everyone here has made great suggestions on how to go about doing that.

The one thing that has helped me is to remember that there are many people who love me and care about me -- they just don't happen to live in California. Don't be afraid to lean on your friends and family . Call up your best friend or your mom or whatever and connect with them. An hour of connecting with a supportive friend, family member always does a world of good.

Good luck.
posted by bananafish at 3:33 PM on February 10, 2007

That makes, what, four of that moved to Chicago for a boy who didn't want to be with us?

Not the same boy is it?
posted by criticalbill at 3:36 AM on February 11, 2007

Go to Wicker Park or Pilsen and have fun. Pick up a copy of the Reader and find out what's going on. I don't live in Chicago anymore, but I loved it when I was there and always have a great time when I go back.

I have to assume you're at the U of C.. There should be tons of stuff going on in Hyde Park, too, and it's full of college students who are always the easiest people to meet.
posted by atomly at 6:38 AM on February 11, 2007

« Older Should I buy a solar trickle charger?   |   Problem booting Windows/reinstall/backup Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.