The Pre-Emptive Break-Up
August 27, 2007 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Why is my girlfriend so irritated at me over the past week? Should I pre-emptively break up with her?

I've been together with a girl for about a year or so. We lived apart in the same city, seeing each other fairly frequent, then move to two different countries, spoke on the phone as well as visited for long weekends every 2nd or 3rd weekend. Things were relatively fine. Recently, for the first time, we were together during the holidays for 4 weeks. This is time we spent together all the time. The first 3 weeks were fine, but this last week, she has been flying off the handle at small and trivial things. She is fighting with me all the time. And right now, I feel nothing for her. She's just an annoying burden, and I wish to just escape from this.

Additionally, she used to have my picture as her background on the pc - gone. A pic of her and I used to be on her cell phone background - gone. Her messages directory on her cell phone - password protected. The other day, she went on a rant about how she was 'stuck' with me on a friday night, and then sank into a sullen silence before sending a few messages out to someone or the other.

All in all, a very disturbing series of events.

To crown it all, I'm going to be away for several months on business in a country too far away to travel between. This is basically our last week together, and it's not a good last week. I'm of the opinion that she's tired of me, and as soon as I'm gone she's going to start some tom foolery, and then will proceed to tell me I'm history. I obviously would not appreciate this.

Considering the evidence, is this enough to give up on this relationship and just end it as I leave? Me and her are compatible, and usually happy, but all this time together seems to be showing a different side of things. And I'm no stud. I'm too old to find someone new, so giving this up is probably going to be the last opportunity I have.

It's all a confusing mess of a situation, and someone should give me some advice. Please.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (39 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wait, what's confusing?
posted by contraption at 11:43 AM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

Do you think she might be upset because she knows when the week is done you guys will be in separate cities once more, and unable to see each other for quite some time.

Long distance relationships are hard.

Also, breaking up with someone to pre-empt them from breaking up with you is stupid. You should break up with someone because you want to; If you don't, you should be thinking about how to improve your relatinoship.
posted by chunking express at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

That is, you guys each seem to consider the other an unwanted burden. It doesn't get much clearer.
posted by contraption at 11:45 AM on August 27, 2007

Her messages directory on her cell phone - password protected.

Presumably you think she has some secret lovers messages hidden here; if so you should talk to her about it, not people on the Internet.
posted by chunking express at 11:46 AM on August 27, 2007

I second chunking express's point that there's probably a very close relationship between your girlfriend's behavior and your upcoming trip.

But, unfortunately, you really don't give us enough details about the situation for us to tell you if you should break up with her. We can't read her mind to figure out if she's planning on breaking up with you, and... Well, neither can you. Have you spoken to her about this? It'd be rather mean to break up with someone because of a quick shift in their behavior without even trying to understand what caused that shift.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:47 AM on August 27, 2007

Have you tried talking to her?

I'm too old to find someone new, so giving this up is probably going to be the last opportunity I have.

This can't be true. I can't think of any age at which one would be too old to begin a new relationship.
posted by amro at 11:48 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

A week of grumpiness in a year-long relationship? Not a big deal if you actually love her.

Could it be hormonal? Is she overtired or needing alone time or feeling unwell?

Have you asked her gently what's on her mind?
posted by Riverine at 11:48 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Three weeks of good moods, followed by one week of bitchiness? Have you ever heard of PMS?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2007 [8 favorites]

I feel nothing for her. She's just an annoying burden, and I wish to just escape from this.
Tell her you sense that things are ending; ask if she feels the same way; look for the gentlest, kindest way to part company.
posted by theora55 at 11:56 AM on August 27, 2007

You should break up with her, because by the time it's down to a race of who can break up with the other first, it's already over.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:01 PM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm too old to find someone new

Congratulations - I don't know many 113-year-olds who know how to work a cellphone's message directory.

The answer is easy if you take it logically.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:02 PM on August 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

I'm too old to find someone new, so giving this up is probably going to be the last opportunity I have.

Oh, bunk. My boyfriend turned 44 a few weeks after we started dating (I was 36) a couple of years ago. A good friend of mine who's 45 just found "the one" last year. Another good friend of mine in his early 50s found his partner just a few years ago.

I'm don't know whether or not you should break up with your girlfriend, but I do know staying in a situation primarily out of fear of the unknown alternative is almost always a bad decision.
posted by scody at 12:03 PM on August 27, 2007

Not breaking up out of fear of being alone will only lead you to years of misery if she doesn't dump you first. You will never feel more lonely than when in a bad relationship.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 12:08 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

2nd'ing Theora55.
posted by rhizome at 12:12 PM on August 27, 2007

If your response to your partner being cranky is not to ask why she's cranky but to dump her, you need to... I don't even know what you need to do. Not be in relationships until you've worked out that that's a spectacular overreaction? Take a nap and chill out? Get therapy? Grow the hell up?

Maybe your girlfriend is upset that you're about to leave and her sadness is being channeled into fighting with you. Or maybe she's paving the way to leave you for a super-hot aerobics instructor she's had her eye on.

You certainly won't know if you refuse to bring it up with her!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:13 PM on August 27, 2007 [9 favorites]

Look, any long time relationship is going to have its ups and downs. Maybe shes in a bad mood unrelated to anything about you. Just talk to her. If you go through life attempting preemptive strikes to avoid getting hurt, well, your problem isnt that youre too old its that you arent givign things a fair chance.

Be a man and bring it up. If after the clearing of greivances things dont work out, then consider drastic action. Considering it now is being goofy.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:20 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Her behavior is not really unusual. People have bad weeks. People sometimes deal with bad weeks by taking it out on/distancing themselves from their partner. Your reaction is odd and suggests you've wanted out for awhile and this has just provided an excuse.
posted by desjardins at 12:37 PM on August 27, 2007

And I'm no stud. I'm too old to find someone new, so giving this up is probably going to be the last opportunity I have.

last opportunity for what? losing your virginity? seriously, you sound too young, not too old. Your last chance to find someone to settle down and have a family with? If you seriously want to get married at some point, you need to be able to talk to your potential spouse. There's no reason to pre-emptively break up to avoid being dumped. That's just in high school when it's half about what other people think and then another quarter about your own self esteem and only like a quarter about your actual relationship with the other person. Once you're a grown up, you're in a relationship because you actually want to be in a relationship. If you don't want to be in it any more, you have to talk to the person and clarify why you don't think things are working, but do not just break up to save face.

And it sounds like you've got a tough situation, with all that time apart - you should be talking about how things are going pretty regularly. She may be very frustrated with the long distance situation, as someone suggested above (and PMS could easily aggravate whatever she's feeling to make it worse). Just think about what you honestly want, and then bring it up with her, whether to try to work things out or to mutually end things if you both agree it's not going where you want it to. But no one has to 'win' a contest of dumping first.
posted by mdn at 12:45 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm too old to find someone new
My mother, at 70, had three marriage proposals. My brother just married at 57.
posted by la petite marie at 12:47 PM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

I personally suspect it might have something to do with the fact that after recently spending a lot of time together, she's feeling the anxiety of knowing you'll be separated again soon, what with your long, out-of-the-country trip approaching. Maybe she's self-sabotaging to keep herself from getting hurt, or to try and create some emotional distance before you go back to extreme physical difference.

Maybe I'm over-analyzing too much, but in the past I've gotten exceedingly grumpy/cold when someone I care about is about to leave town for a long time, especially if I'm not feeling particularly secure about the relationship to begin with. Especially too if there had been previous issues about not keeping in touch well. Defense mechanism, etc.

Of course, if you're simply not into her anymore, independent of her recent behavior, you should just dump her and spare yourselves the unpleasantness of more LDR drama while you're on your trip.
posted by np312 at 1:04 PM on August 27, 2007

i doubt that this is your last opportunity to find love! so relax. that said, a yearlong relationship is not something lightly thrown aside. maybe the few months apart will help you sort out your feelings for each other. you don't have to break up, just be apart and incommunicado for a while. (and have a don't ask, don't tell policy about extracurricular sex.)
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:15 PM on August 27, 2007

"I feel nothing for her. She's just an annoying burden, and I wish to just escape from this."

Read this sentence again. Why do you want to continue this relationship?

"I'm too old to find someone new, so giving this up is probably going to be the last opportunity I have."

Oooooohhhh! You're 97 and in a rest home on life support. Got it. Yeah, go ahead and cling to this last chance, grandpa.
posted by MsMolly at 1:24 PM on August 27, 2007

I feel nothing for her. She's just an annoying burden, and I wish to just escape from this.

There you go. She seems to feel nothing, either. This is patently cut and dry.
posted by calhound at 1:31 PM on August 27, 2007

Also it seems you're more interested in the idea of being in a relationship with her than actually being in the relationship -- this is bad.
posted by calhound at 1:32 PM on August 27, 2007

It's super-normal for long-distance couples to fight during F2F time, especially toward the end.

What's abnormal is your response to a week of crankiness: question her fidelity, and start planning to break up. WTF? Agree with mdn: you don't sound "too old" -- you sound exceptionally immature about relationships and intimacy if you think a week of crabby behavior and fighting is grounds to bail.

Instead of seeing crankiness (yours and hers) as a sign that the relationship is doomed, try thinking of it as Handle With Care label.

Both of you are having feelings and concerns that need to be shared honestly and listened to empathetically -- which can make your relationship stronger than ever.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:43 PM on August 27, 2007

I've been together with a girl for about a year or so.
I'm too old to find someone new, so giving this up is probably going to be the last opportunity I have.

I missed the "too old" bit on first reading. This really must've been a crucial year! A year ago you found someone new, but since then you've gotten too old for that to be a possibility?

Everyone's treating this as a significant long-term relationship, but I don't know if that can be inferred from the information you give. You dated while living apart for an unspecified amount of time less than 1 year, then saw each other every few weekends for another period less than 1 year. Now you're spending some significant time together and it sounds like you're both feeling burdened by it.

Could be you're really important to each other and this has been a bad week, or it could be you've been idealizing each other from a distance and the illusion has come crashing down now that you're around each other "for real." Talk to her about these possibilities and decide together what to do.
posted by contraption at 2:09 PM on August 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

As pathetic as it sounds I used to try to create rifts between myself and a loved one if I knew we were going to have to be apart for a while. It made seperation easier in my twisted mind. Maybe that is what your G/F is doing. If she is hurting over this breaking up with her might just offer both her and you and easy way out. An harder but much more worthwhile option is for you to both talk openly about your impending seperation and the issues it is likely to bring up.
posted by mycapaciousbottega at 2:23 PM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

Also, I recall hearing about how people often fight before saying goodbye for a long separation. Families, couples, friends seem to be annoyed about the separation, and need to take it out on someone, who just happens to be the cause of the anxiety.

Consider everything you're going through, consider everything she's going through. Consider hormones may have an effect. Breathe deep. And talk. Breaking up is not inevitable, staying together is not assured.
posted by FuManchu at 2:29 PM on August 27, 2007

E.g. mycapaciousbottega.
posted by FuManchu at 2:30 PM on August 27, 2007

I don't think anyone's mentioned that 4 weeks is a LOT of time to spend with someone when you're not used to it. 4 weeks into living together, I thought I was going to kill my now-fiancé. We'd had a long-distance relationship full of exciting I-missed-you-so-much weekends, and I simply wasn't prepared for the grind of work-eat-TV-sleep that was his Monday-Friday habit. After four weeks I wished I was missing him again (and I'm sure he felt the same). After four weeks of being together ALL THE TIME when I'm used to flying solo, I'm sure I would have needed some time alone.

Maybe you have some habits that get under her skin - or would get under anyone's skin after four weeks. Maybe your girl's irritability is a passive-aggressive way of saying she can't wait for you to leave so she can have her damn bathroom all to herself again.
posted by desjardins at 3:06 PM on August 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

I don't think the bickering is a big deal. The other small changes (not having pics of you on her wallpaper/cell phone, etc) are not big deals, either, but it sounds like you have a sense that things are in a downward spiral and that a breakup is inevitable. I've had that sinking feeling, and, well, it definitely has a tendency to lead to breakups.

If you want some closure here, talk to her about all this directly. If you're lucky, she'll dump you ... the dumpee gets the better end of the bargain, I think. You'll get to blame her and be the victim, and you'll never need to agonize over whether you should have broken up with her -because she did it for you.

Repeating what others have said: You're not too old for another relationship. Holding on to what you have simply because of fear is lousy rationale.
posted by Happydaz at 3:33 PM on August 27, 2007

I'm too old to find someone new, so giving this up is probably going to be the last opportunity I have.

No, you're not. Data point: my friend's late-60-something dad just moved in with his 70-year-old girlfriend.

And this situation does sounds confusing, since you apparently haven't asked her what's up. You should ask her; that will probably clear up some of the "confusion."

Also: some people just aren't good at living together - they can be fine living nearby, but separately, but not sharing a bathroom/bedroom/kitchen etc. 24/7. Doesn't mean it's broken - just means maybe you shouldn't live together. Especially if you can't say "Honey, you seem kinda angry lately. Can you talk to me about what's going on?"
posted by rtha at 3:38 PM on August 27, 2007

she has been flying off the handle at small and trivial things. She is fighting with me all the time. And right now, I feel nothing for her. She's just an annoying burden, and I wish to just escape from this.

Er, what's the problem here? If you can't spend four weeks together without getting sick of each other, you might want to second-guess the longevity of your arrangement. If your girlfriend is suddenly showing a marked change in her behavior towards you indicating that she's going off you, and you simultaneously feel similarly towards her, be glad you're not married yet and walk away.

Of course, you should explain why you're leaving first -- don't just bail.

Here's a little past history on my part to tell you where I'm coming from:


We drove cross-country for about a week, perhaps a little more, visiting her relatives -- and by the middle of it we really didn't enjoy each other's company. The relationship fractured after that, even though we tried to make it work.


We drove cross-country for over two weeks, visiting her relatives -- and by the end of it we were exhausted but still in good spirits. Within an hour after getting out of the car, I realized that what I really wanted to do is get back in the car with her and drive for another two weeks. She felt the same way. We're married and happy, even though she wants to kill me sometimes, because I'm a pain in the ass.
posted by davejay at 3:49 PM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm too old to find someone new, so giving this up is probably going to be the last opportunity I have.

If you act like this around her, don't be shocked if she breaks up with you, dude.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:30 PM on August 27, 2007

Well, if you really were together constantly for four weeks, she may just need a little space. To go from seeing each other only occasionally to not being separated for four weeks is a really long time to be with anyone, even a partner! I would vote for trying to have a very nice, romantic last dinner, flowers and all, and leave it there. You could even apologize for the crankiness. Why preemptively break up if all she needs is a little time to breathe and do her own thing? (yes, I'm that girl. I need lots of alone time in order to not feel claustrophobic.)
posted by sLevi at 4:47 PM on August 27, 2007

I'm too old to find someone new, so giving this up is probably going to be the last opportunity I have.

N'thing the "no, you're not." These two met in their late 70's and got married. They are in their mid-80's now. It was the first marriage for her. He is a widower. Proved to me that you are never, ever, ever too old. And yes, they are like that photo ALL of the time. So freaking adorable.
posted by jeanmari at 5:50 PM on August 27, 2007

I love my husband. A lot. We're frequently told by friends that we are sickeningly in love. And, well, we are. We've been married for 5.5 years.

But after 4 solid weeks in his company, I'd be just about ready to kill him. After two with no break, I'd be at the very least, irritable.

And he'd be about the same.

We love each other, our relationship is healthy and wonderful - but we both have a high requirement for time spent alone.

If you've been having a weekend relationship, and you've just spent weeks in each others' pockets ... well. Regardless, it's highly unsuprising she's a bit cranky, and that you're disaffected.

I think it's time for you two to sit down and discuss whether you can deal emotionallyl with being constantly in each others' company for long periods of time, or if it's best if you take a weekend 'off' so to speak during vacations or similar together.

Incidentally, I am very aware of my need for time alone - it's a basic need to me, like food or shelter, and that's just the way I am, so it's natural for me to demand it from my relationships. It is entirely possible that you and your gf haven't been slapped in the face with this particular requirement before, so you were both unaware of your responses to being overexposed to anyone, no matter how loved.
posted by ysabet at 5:29 AM on August 28, 2007

If this is your last opportunity, I'd probably tough it out.
posted by battlecj at 10:19 AM on August 28, 2007

In addition to the possible reasons that have already been proposed, here's another hypothetical:

At some point in the third week you were together, you did or said something that hurt her feelings. You don't know what it is, and she isn't going to tell you unless you drag it out of her. Removing your photo from her desktop and the photo from her phone are meant as coded messages to you that say, "if you care so little about me as to say/think/do/not do "X", then why should I care so much about you that I have your image wherever I look, and why should I be nice and loving to you, when you obviously don't feel the same way?

This is very passive aggressive, obviously, but not at all unusual in relationships.
posted by taz at 4:07 AM on August 29, 2007

« Older New car - cleaning & waxing advice.   |   Why did my friend temporarily lose his mind? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.