Moving on
April 2, 2008 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Whenever my bf and I have a fight, we always break up, packing things, threats of leaving. Then, we kiss and make up. I feel empty sometimes, thinking this relationship is not stable. There is no certainty in this kind of relationship. But sti,, I always stay, I always forgive him, I tell myself that things will get better and it does for a few weeks and then we fight again.

It's like a roller coaster ride. Any feedback as to how people get the courage to MOVE ON and NOT LOOK BACK no matter what sweet words he tells me?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What would you tell your sister to do if she was in a relationship like this?
Do that.
There are over 3 billion men in this world, surely you can find one that makes you feel comfortable.
posted by Floydd at 6:09 PM on April 2, 2008 [4 favorites]

how people get the courage to MOVE ON and NOT LOOK BACK

Get a new boyfriend who's better than the current one, that seems to do the trick.
posted by WalterMitty at 6:11 PM on April 2, 2008

The best advice I ever heard about this kind of situation is that love should be easy, not hard.

Anecdotally, I have been in my fair share of awful relationships. When you're in a relationship, it's sometimes very easy to fear being on your own again. Despite the problems, you internally convince yourself that being single again would be too hard. It's not true; not in your kind of relationship. You need to get out, and I know this seems as though it is easier said than done, but it's just as easily said as it is done.

I am in an absolutely perfect relationship now. I'm engaged and we've been together for over 3 years now. She's a girl I love and I'm certain I always will. But would I be with her now if I'd not had the courage to move on from my previous bad relationships? Almost certainly not. Would I still be trapped in hell rather than being happy in my current state of bliss? Almost certainly so.

By staying with the douche you're with, you're denying yourself the chance to be with someone who you'll rarely, if ever, fight with. Who won't break up with you, who won't need to pack things and threaten to leave. You're denying yourself the chance to find the one you're meant to be with, the one you can be happy with, the one who'll make you realise you were never completely whole until you found him.

But above all, simply remember, love should be easy, not hard. Remember that above all else, and you'll find the courage you're looking for.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:16 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Get a new boyfriend who's better than the current one, that seems to do the trick.

Unfortunately, it is not always a healthy "trick", especially if one has been in an unstable or chaotic relationship. It is probably wiser to let this one go and then take some time to breathe on your own for a bit.

I knew a girl who professed "que un clavo saca el otro," many times over, but she hopped from jerk to jerk for many reasons having to do with her own self esteem and what she expected out of not only men she dated, but herself.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:19 PM on April 2, 2008

I take it you live together. You could pack some things, especially anything you can't bear to lose, and take them to a friend's or family member's house where you can stay for a few days. Then meet with him and tell him you're leaving and actually leave before he can talk you into staying.

You need to just make the break. It really, really sucks but the hanging-on type of deal is so much worse in my opinion.

You run the risk of losing anything still in the house.
posted by cabingirl at 6:20 PM on April 2, 2008

You are on the road to destruction. I know people who recover from this, but most don't. Ratchet back the anger an rhetoric or forget it. A blow-up now and then is not the issue, but one that causes one or the other of you to desire leaving is over the top toxic. You can only survive so many of those before it is over.
posted by caddis at 6:20 PM on April 2, 2008

Get a new boyfriend who's better than the current one

It takes two to tango.
posted by caddis at 6:21 PM on April 2, 2008

Start documenting these incidents - keep a file on your computer so that every time one of these incidents happens, you write down how you felt, what he promised and what you ultimately hoped for or believed when you agreed to stick together. Sometimes it's easier to see or evaluate a long and unchanging pattern once you write it all down (I speak as an idealist/optimist who is also prone to hope that this time things will be different, really they will!).

It might also help if, in a separate file, you wrote down all of your hopes for a relationship - if you imagined the relationship you'd love to have, what would it look like? What would your partner be like, what would they do, what would you do, how would your disagreements or fights go, etc? Compare that against what you've currently got. How big is the "gap"? Is there any chance of bridging that gap? Again, sometimes it helps (to me, at least) to put things down concretely so that I'm forced to really "see" what things are really like as opposed to what I wish they were like, maybe this type of thing could help you, too?
posted by zeph at 6:23 PM on April 2, 2008

how people get the courage to MOVE ON and NOT LOOK BACK

Every week I er... you stay is another week where you get older, a week less to spend finding the person you want to spend your life with, before your youth starts fading and the quality of your options become slimmer. Another week lost to a complacency rut that fails to drive personal growth, likewise harming your potential-relationship-attractiveness-quotant. (PRAQ :-))

Basically, you are sabotaging your future by lacking the courage to do what you already know you will have to do eventually anyway - and the longer you put it off, the more cemented in the rut you will become and the more disruptive the break will become. So just do it already.

It took me over a year. Don't do that.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:37 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you have already decided that breaking up is the right thing for you to do. Don't wait until the next fight. You know want to break up and stay apart so start planning it now. Figure out where you are going to live. Once you tell him you are leaving, you should not spend another night in the apartment. Depending on what you think his reaction might be, pack, tell him and move or pack, move and then tell him. In either case, have friends (the more the better) lined up to be there to help you move. Your friends will give you the support to follow through. Then the hard part is to really end the relationship - no being friends (especially friends with benefits). Do a search - There are lots of mefi posts on the topic of not trying to stay friends with people that you are breaking up with.
posted by metahawk at 6:39 PM on April 2, 2008

Don't wait until the next fight.

Yes, you have to be able to say "it's over" when you're not angry, and not be swayed. And obviously it will never even occur to him to take your decision seriously if you inform him of it while angry.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:41 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you know in your heart of hearts that it will end someday, that you will certainly break up at some point down the line, why put off the inevitable? I was in a fight, then not fight, then fight, then not fight (bad week, good month, bad week, good month sort of thing) relationship for seven years once, and I knew the whole time that sooner or later, it would end -- that one day I would have had enough. I wish it had been about 6 years sooner, looking back.

At the beginning of my current marriage, we both made a promise to one another that we would never EVER threaten to leave in the heat of an argument, that doing that was unfair ball, and we've stuck to it. Sure, there's been some door slamming, and some driving off to get space and cool down, but ten years on, neither one of us has started the bag-packing bit once. It took both of us until we were in our mid-thirties to figure out how relationships work, and then meet each other. It was serendipitous in that way, I suppose. Had we met in our early twenties, our tempers might have gotten the better of us. It's all part of growing up, a bit at a time, and learning what commitment and partnership means.

Hope that didn't sound preachy -- it wasn't meant to be.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:50 PM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

You haven't given enough information. First of all, the vast majority of couples fight. It's healthy in a way--it shows that there's at least some connection there, that you are discovering differences and (hopefully) learning from each other about how to deal with those differences. So the fact that you're fighting isn't unusual. I've known couples who do the whole dramatic "break up, packing things, threats of leaving" thing a lot, but they still stay's just how they roll.
posted by zardoz at 7:02 PM on April 2, 2008

I agree, it is not the fact that you are fighting that is the issue. If you never fight then you are probably just repressing your anger and issues. The problem is the toxic nature of your fights. Fight fair. You can google that. Even the Catholic Church has a bunch of good stuff on that, written by a bunch of celibate priests, but they basically got it right.
posted by caddis at 7:14 PM on April 2, 2008

Do you feel he is always at fault in these conflicts? Everyone seems to have assumed that and gone ahead and cued the "lifetime movie of the week" music (and one person went so far as to call him a douche).

But you didn't give that information at all. If he is constantly treating you so badly that you threaten to leave, then yes, go ahead and do it by all means. If you feel you are sometimes to blame too, than maybe you can work it out with the suggestions above.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:26 PM on April 2, 2008

well, it might help to identify what you're getting out of this relationship. be brutally honest with yourself: are you in love with your boyfriend, or are you in love with being a girlfriend? if you love him, then you guys should look into couples counseling rather than splitting permanently. if you find the security of having a partner more appealing than the partner himself, then it's time for you to build up your self-esteem and create a life of your own. the more things you have going on, the less bandwidth your boyfriend can occupy.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:41 PM on April 2, 2008

Motivation follows action. You don't have to want to do it, you just have to want to want to do it, or else, know that it's the best thing for you. In other words, just do it, and you can sort your emotions out after you go.

Start making lists - things to pack, authorities to notify, cancel the paper. Find a place. Set a date. Move out. When he says, "I'll always love you, you're the only girl for me," say "that's nice, but it doesn't work. I'm going. It's been real. Call me in a year or so when I don't care anymore." Or something. Script it, so that his charm doesn't have a chance to take you over again.

I always found it useful to make the move about 1000 kilometres wide. Quite difficult for visits then.
posted by b33j at 8:31 PM on April 2, 2008

Many of the answers in this thread assume that the boyfriend is a monster and that anonymous is a sympathetic victim. But on the face of it, the question describes a symmetrical back-and-forth between the two of them, not one person wronging the other. There's no reference to anyone abusing the other, except insofar as they're both shortchanging themselves by perpetuating an unhappy relationship. We don't know if either of the two of them is a "jerk" or a "douche." We don't know if "authorities" have to be "notified."

And we don't know if anonymous is a man or a woman.

You need to clarify what the situation is. This could be clarifying it for us -- you can give more detail through an admin by contacting them at this link. But better yet, clarify for yourself exactly how bad it is. If it's really bad...then leave.

You certainly seem to think it's that bad. So ... LEAVE! If you live together, then MOVE OUT! You don't control each other. If you don't live together, even better -- just stop seeing each other. Don't think about maybe doing it someday -- do it. Today. You're an adult, so you can make decisions about your own life, and other people can't force you to do otherwise.

Some of the responses you're getting are so dire I suspect that the answerers have assumed there's domestic violence (e.g. "You are on the road to destruction"). We do not know if this is a domestic violence situation. If it is, then we still don't know which one of you is using it! If there's any violence involved, you need to end the situation immediately. If you're the victim of violence, get out immediately, stay with anyone in town who you might know, and contact one of the many organizations that deals with this.

But you haven't clarified whether your problem is at that level. It might be just garden-variety arguments that keep getting out of hand, which might be solved by conversation, self-help books, therapy, some time apart, etc. Now, I highly doubt that it's this mild from your description. But you haven't given enough details to make that clear.
posted by jejune at 8:35 PM on April 2, 2008

Why don't you move out before you break up? It seems like this relationship would be easier to manage (or ultimately terminate) if you lived separately.
posted by delmoi at 9:13 PM on April 2, 2008

Your behaviour will become (if not already) a pattern, and the "I'm leaving" thing will be just another thing you hurl at him in a fight- and the more you do it the less currency it will have.

As the song goes, "How Can you Leave Me if You Won't Go Away". Either put your money where your mouth is- if you want to leave - leave- if not don't.

Sounds to me like the threat to move out/ leave is a "weapon" you use because it the easiest one to hand- perhaps you have self esteem/confidence issues.

If you want to stay, find out why you fight and address the situation- look to yourself as well as the relationship.
posted by mattoxic at 9:21 PM on April 2, 2008

Yeah, I am not thinking this is domestic violence per se; I'm thinking it's a lot like the relationship I just got out of. Three years of awesome periods of time peppered with all too frequent screw-ups and being taken for granted.

I don't know that for sure but...if that is the case, then seriously, get out. It's not going to get better. I know it is hard to let go of the times when it is really great, how I know it well! But you're already getting fed up.

You say you forgive him over and over - that shows him how much he means to you, yet at the same time (and I know this is screwed up) every time you forgive and take him back, you're devaluing yourself a little more. "She forgives me...I can do ANYTHING."

That is far from healthy, and you deserve better. Roller coasters are fun, but only in small doses. Find a new fun ride that'll make you happier without all the stressful ups and downs.
posted by angeline at 9:25 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

The reason you don't leave is because you're not ready to leave. You haven't hit bottom. You and/or he will have to do or say something unforgivably awful that will make it impossible for you to stay. When you hit bottom, you'll be ready to leave, and then you'll do it.

Unless, of course, you see clearly where things are going and decide that you don't want to get hurt the way that hitting bottom hurts and you decide to veer off that course and leave now...
posted by jasper411 at 9:40 PM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

The question (as I read it) is not about evaluating the relationship, or improving it, or fixing it, she has already decided she wants to end it, and wants to know how to find the strength to act on this decision. I don't think people are assuming the guy is a monster so much as assuming that she must break up with him, as per this being a premise of the question.

"You are on the road to destruction", as I read it, refers to the relationship, not violence - that with this much on-again-off-again breakups, it is a Sure Thing that the relationship will not sort itself out, and attempts to sort it out are wasted energy better spent on getting out. The qualities of the guy or the girl, or who is wronging who, don't change that, and don't matter (unless they affect how she can effect her breakup). So that stuff generally isn't relevant.

posted by -harlequin- at 9:55 PM on April 2, 2008

I'll also nth the "move out" suggestions (or getting him to move out). Breaking up when you cohabitate creates difficulties and problems you can pre-emptively solve.
And if you do want to save the relationship, moving out is also probably the only way to do that. So either way, one of you has to move.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:02 PM on April 2, 2008

Yeah, move out. Just say, "it's really hard to have my living situation tied up with my romantic situation, especially since we fight so much." Just move out and then you'll have the space you need when things get hectic. My god, if my roommate threatened to move out every two weeks, ("look at the dust in here! I'm gone!!") it'd happen about three times before I started trying to kick them out. So, set a date, decide who's moving, and start looking for a place (or having him do so).
posted by salvia at 10:31 PM on April 2, 2008

I don't know enough to say whether you should stay or go.

But I can say this whatever your relationship is like:

Stop threatening to leave.

Breaking up shouldn't be a gambit that you wheel it out in every argument. You might want to look at where you learned to play that card whenever you get angry.

It also shouldn't be the addictive adrenaline rush that gives a moribund relationship the illusion of life.

Either break up, or work it out. But threatening to break up is strictly bush league. It's corrosive to your trust in each other -- and to your self-respect.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:51 PM on April 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

I beg your pardon, by authorities, I meant gas and electricity and landlord and postal service. I didn't assume any violence - just a young and unhappy relationship.
posted by b33j at 11:30 PM on April 2, 2008

I think ottereroticist has it. You can save your relationship if you want to, but you have to stop fighting like this.

One practical suggestion: make an agreement with your SO that no one will threaten to leave for some amount of time, maybe a month. That will give you both some breathing room and stability.
posted by robinpME at 10:06 AM on April 3, 2008

Read How To Dump a Guy: A Coward's Manual, by Kate Fillion and Ellen Ladowsky.
posted by russilwvong at 10:45 AM on April 3, 2008

Get out now or you will be that woman screaming at her "husband" in the parking lot of Wal-Mart.
posted by saradarlin at 11:30 PM on April 3, 2008

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