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Author Topic: relationship break-up...
fallenleaf
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hi,

my relationship of a year and a half ended last night, a mutual decision between my boyfriend and myself. I'm wondering if this is a place where I can process how I feel about it. I am very emotionally distressed but didn't think it was that big of an emergency to put in that forum. I'm especially wary of my emotional state because I am a performer and have a lot coming up early this week, and I really need help talking and starting to process this before then so I might feel a little more secure about myself.

I feel really weirded out, like it hasn't quite hit me yet. We had both been unhappy for a while. This was our first relationship, and it was really intense. We're both in college - when we met, something just clicked. especially the fact that we had such a powerful intellectual connection. We started dating, and, of course, it was perfect at first. I have a lot of trouble opening up to people about my feelings, and I felt so loved and so secure with him. I will never forget those nights first spending time with him, and being together, and being in love. It was so beautiful, I cry whenever I think about it.

After the first two or three months, I started having a lot of anxiety, and he went through some periods of depression. I think a lot of this anxiety was due to the lack of control I felt over being in a relationship. I developed an eating disorder, which sort of comes back these days when I'm stressed and lose my appetite. I started acting compulsively, and still do sometimes, checking my door multiple times, almost unable to leave my room, and obsessing over academic work, worrying about how I was being judged in social interactions, etc. I was very afraid of intimacy and becoming pregnant, taking Plan B when completely unnecessary (I've posted on that a few times before). I am a first-generation American and come from a quite strict upbringing, and while I feel like my parents are giving me a little more independence now, I don't feel like I can talk to them (I have great relationships with my younger siblings, though), and I think the fear of pregnancy was intensely related to their "no sex before marriage" ultimatum, even though I wanted to. I had sex with my boyfriend one night - when they found out, they really made me feel so ashamed of myself. I felt like I loved my boyfriend, but my life was a mess. I barely talked to anyone except for him, and lost a lot of friendships and connections. I certainly didn't confide in anyone else, I never had. While I have a tendency to get anxious then depressed, my boyfriend was much more depressive. He would often go through periods when he would feel so unmotivated, which would really affect me. I felt so lost to myself.

My boyfriend isn't very affectionate, and frequently has a flat affect. After the first few months, I feel he never really looked at me the same way. I felt he was emotionally unavailable to me. This made me feel really unloved. I would try to confide in him, but I never got something that felt real in return. I felt like he was out of touch with his emotions, in a different way than I was.

I feel like I can't pinpoint what happened. We discussed last night the possibility that we just weren't able to support each other in the ways we each needed, emotionally. And maybe our personalities turned out to be quite incompatible, even though we had such an intense connection in the beginning. He said some things that were realistic but were hard to hear - that maybe this just felt so special because it was our first relationship, our first real connection with someone else.

He cares about me so much, as I care about him. He's tried so hard and has been there for me when I was anxious, or depressed, or having other problems, but he feels he wasn't able to be there for me in the way I needed. I don't even know what I need, though. I would always of course be open to hearing about his problems, but I feel like he just talked about them just out of the honeymoon period, and he was so fixated on them that it made me slightly depressed and I felt like I couldn't do anything for him.

For the last few weeks, I've felt that he has was just with me to be my support system, which made me feel pathetic and needy. I felt no real love, and he told me last night that he had been unhappy for some time. We have taken small breaks in the last few weeks and we both have been happier. I felt more inner peace, I'm socializing a little more, I generally felt so much more control over my life.

But a part of me wonders if anyone will ever love me, if anyone who ever gets involved with me realizes I'm just such a huge load of issues that they become disillusioned or numbed. Am I just incapable of being in relationships? We agreed that it was a combination of the two of us, both of our styles of communicating and dealing with stress, etc, but I feel so much of it is my "fault".

I've always been quite solitary, I tend to be a workaholic, but I'm so confused, and I just wonder where to go from here. I feel almost abandoned. We agreed that after a while we would try being friends, but I'm not thinking about that right now. It's so difficult especially because we both know how hard we tried, there was nothing we feel we could have done differently. I know how much he cares about me and how much he wants what's best for me.

I just feel so incompetent, in a way, so unlovable, such a mess. I knew this was coming, because the relationship for the past couple months has been unhealthy. I felt almost suicidal a few nights ago, just so depressed.

thank you for reading and in advance for any input

[ 12-08-2012, 03:37 PM: Message edited by: Anna284 ]

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Robin Lee
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HI Anna,

It's absolutely okay to process all of this here.

It's understandable that this would all feel a little unreal. I think sudden changes often tend to feel that way for most of us.

You've mentioned a lot of different things here. I'm wondering if there's one in particular that you'd find it helpful to talk about first?

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fallenleaf
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Robin, thanks for your response. actually, I feel like such a psychological disaster I have no idea what to talk about first. is there anything you suggest? I certainly am struggling with feeling like it was a lot of my fault that it completely disintegrated, and that I am just such a burden. But then I feel that if he can't deal with my worst parts, he can't accept all of me. I guess I also just feel he didn't bring out the best in me...
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fallenleaf
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I'm just having so much trouble because I feel like I'm so stuck on how perfect it was in the beginning, how compatible we seemed, especially since we are both rather solitary, we seemed to be able to completely understand each other... and I feel so sad because that's gone
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Karybu
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Well, feeling like a lot of the responsibility for the relationship ending lies on your shoulders could be a place to start, if you like. It seems like maybe that ties in a bit with feeling that you would be a burden to someone else in a new relationship, too - does that sound about right?

What you're experiencing now is totally understandable. With the end of a first big serious relationship especially, it can be tough to wrap your head around how it could go from being awesome to being not-so-great, and it's definitely not unusual to feel a bit like you'll never find the same thing with someone else. If you want, we can talk about that too.

[ 12-08-2012, 04:11 PM: Message edited by: Karybu ]

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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fallenleaf
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yeah, that does sound about right. I just feel like I ruined it. like I said in my post above, that we had something so special, and he just got sick of my problems. He told me he hates when I use the word "burden" or feel like a "burden", but I feel like that's what happened!! he just thinks that we weren't able to support each other in the right way, emotionally, that we weren't compatible.
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fallenleaf
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he also talked so much about the fact that we've tried so hard, and that we're both SO busy we didn't have time to commit to a relationship (which is really true), but I don't know, maybe I'm just not realistic.
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fallenleaf
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I feel so misunderstood by so many people, like I'm so serious and reserved, but can also be really outgoing and want to have a good time. I have trouble opening up to people as I mentioned. I felt like he really understood me, when we both met we came from the same place of feeling so happy that we could connect to someone, that's what made it so powerful. We both knocked each other off our feet. It's so sad it didn't work out, I don't know I feel kind of apathetic about it but I think I am just protecting myself because I have a really important performance on Monday. I have had no appetite for the past week because of these relationship issues and have lost so much weight
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Karybu
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For what it's worth, I'm not hearing that you were a burden at all. It sounds like both of you had a lot going on emotionally that may not have created the best situation in which to be in a relationship, and that you weren't really getting the support you needed from each other, but I'm not seeing anything in what you've described to suggest that this is all your fault.

Even if we have an amazing connection with someone, sometimes it just isn't the right time to be in a relationship with them, or they're not the best person to be in a romantic relationship with for any number of reasons (there can be a great connection and still a lot of incompatibility). It takes a lot of self-awareness to figure out when that might be the case, and there's a learning curve with that too: we're not born knowing these things. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that if he can't deal with your worst parts, then he's not going to be able to accept all of you - no one's perfect, and partners do need to be able to deal with the not-so-great aspects of you as well as the awesome ones.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Karybu
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For right now, is there anything you can do to take extra-good care of yourself? For example, it's totally understandable that your appetite is gone, but is there anything you really like to eat that you could have at least a little bit of, just to get some food into you? What else do you do for self-care when you're feeling down? Can you take a day or even a few hours just to watch a favourite movie or read a good book or whatever it is that helps you relax and take your mind off things?

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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fallenleaf
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yeah, of course I haven't been avoiding all food, I've been eating a little bit. and since I have a lot coming up, I'm really absorbing myself in work and feeling confident about it. I feel like I'm putting off when this will hit me, or maybe it already has hit me. I do feel freer and more liberated, but I know I will miss him so much.

I guess it's just so difficult to not feel like it's my fault because I was always the one, not him, calling him having emotional breakdowns at night, he would wake up to texts from me, and I feel like I was just so needy. Or there would be times when he would come into my dorm room to calm me down. I just feel so needy and pathetic. Did I expect too much from this relationship, from him? Did I not respect his boundaries? I'm almost feeling guilty, as well.

[ 12-08-2012, 06:30 PM: Message edited by: Anna284 ]

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fallenleaf
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Can anyone help me with these emotions? I've been feeling so awful for so long. I really want to sort this out.
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fallenleaf
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Can anyone help me with these emotions? I've been feeling so awful for so long. I really want to sort this out.
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Onionpie
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Hi Anna. Sorry you didn't get a response sooner. We can't really know if you crossed any of his boundaries, he'd be the only one who knows that. But I think you shouldn't blame yourself here. Sometimes relationships don't work out, and it doesn't mean there's something "wrong" with anyone who was in the relationship. Sometimes people just have different wants and needs and they're not a good fit at the time. It still hurts a lot, but it doesn't mean you did anything wrong or that it was your fault, okay?

Have you considered talking to someone professional about this? Counsellors really help when we're having an emotional rough spot like this; a counsellor would give you a safe place to just express all of these feelings you've been having, and they'd also help you learn the tools to cope with these feelings. What do you think? Does that sound like something you'd be willing/able to do?

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fallenleaf
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I have been talking to a counselor, but only have one session left, and then I have to figure out how to pay. I just don't know how to let him go. I'm having so many emotional breakdowns and can barely function. I don't know what to do. I feel so suicidal. I feel like he never cared, like it was all a lie.
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Onionpie
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If you feel like you might harm yourself, please contact a crisis hotline. If you are in the states, here are some crisis lines you could call:
National Hopeline Network:
1-800-784-2433

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
1-800-273-8255

Or you can visit imalive.org for online crisis support.

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fallenleaf
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Thanks for those numbers. I don't feel suicidal anymore, I was just very depressed for a few hours, which is usually how long an emotional breakdown lasts for me. Is this the right forum to post this in? I was hoping to talk through some of my feelings about being a burden and not being able to be free around him, and just how to move on, because it's so scary and I've never been through this before. I know it's not all my fault, but I just want to learn from this in a constructive way.
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Heather
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Hey, Anna. I'm around today and I'd be happy to listen and talk with you as you'd like. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallenleaf
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Thank you so much, Heather! I hope everyone doesn't think I'm making this huge deal but it just feels like it because it was my first relationship. I feel like it was totally unhealthy and I don't know whether or not it is because relationships are just not right for me with the issues I have, or if it was just him. I was so scared of being a burden to him, I always felt like I was. I just don't know how to move on from here.

I feel like this hasn't quite hit me yet, probably because I've been so busy and I can't sacrifice my work on other things, so I wonder if I've pushed it aside. I felt so suffocated by the relationship, and I feel now a little happier and more sociable, but I wonder when it will hit me that he doesn't love me anymore? I talked to him last night and it was scary to hear that the love is fading away just because we aren't together.

It's really unhealthy because the relationship was bad for me but I still find myself wanting to talk to him and reach out to him. It's like we were really addictive to each other, as it was both our first relationship, and needed to have broken it off a while ago. We're hoping we can be friends in the future, though

[ 12-10-2012, 04:50 PM: Message edited by: Anna284 ]

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fallenleaf
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I guess in addition to my above post, I wonder what boundaries are in relationships, do you have to agree on that? How do you make sure you're not being too needy and dependent? I just feel like I was never able to be myself around him.

[ 12-10-2012, 04:54 PM: Message edited by: Anna284 ]

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fallenleaf
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Hi I think I sent a private message about the last post, but can I get this whole thread deleted? I am scared but I can't say why on this thread
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Heather
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Relationships and our feelings in them -- and with break-ups -- usually ARE a huge deal.

As well, we can have relationships where -- this sounds like it might have been the case here -- the places we connect the deepest are our most broken places, if that makes sense. Those relationships and connections can tend to be incredibly powerful and intense, but also really volatile and, most often, I'd say, tend to be really unsustainable. In other words, they don't tend to be the stuff of more stable long-term relationships.

When you ask what boundaries are in relationships, I'm not sure if you're asking for something really basic: I think so, but if what I'm saying is way too rudimentary, just let me know. Ultimately, boundaries, simplified to their barest bones, are the ways that we make clear that while we may be with someone, and be connected to someone, we remain separate people. In other words, the ways we make clear we're two whole people meeting, not two halves of one whole. Boundaries tend to include things like some measure of privacy, or like things or areas where we only put so much of what we're carrying per our own stuff on someone else, limits we have per what we want to do or can/cannot do, etc. Does that make sense?

How do we make sure we're not being too dependent? Big question, and not one where we can really give a very specific universal answer, since all people and relationships are different. the most basic baseline? I'd say it's that we are in something that really is clearly a partnership, where we're both taking care of ourselves, even if we're supporting each other or helping in some ways. Where it's clear a relationship is not like parents and children, but like two peers, if that makes sense.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallenleaf
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that seems to make a lot of sense - it was really unsustainable, we were both unhappy. we bonded at a very intellectual level/thinking the same way, but also over the fact that we felt a lot of the same way socially, with some insecurities, and for the first months of our relationship we completely isolated ourselves from other people, but is that normal in the first few months?

then I resented him because I felt like I lost a lot of friends and just became so depressed. I guess I just never could be free, and the relationship made me really anxious.

I guess what I meant by boundaries and dependency was that I would always worry if I was texting him too much, or being too forward (even though this was a long-term relationship!), or being too needy when I would email him crying at night because I didn't want to wake him.

The weird thing, is that those breakdowns and helpless feelings don't happen since we've decided we should end this relationship. Does that just mean relationships in general make me anxious?

I feel so bad for putting him through so much... we both loved each other though. I just feel awkward now

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Heather
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Well, I'm guessing that isolating yourself from people for the first few months was probably a combo of being infatuated with each other -- as we all tend to be at the start of very passionate relationships -- but probably also part and parcel of connecting in some toxic or vulnerable places.

Those worries about texting too much, etc: what we'll typically do to find out about boundaries from someone else is just ask those questions. In other words, things like, "Are you comfortable with how often I'm contacting you? Is the level of emotional support I'm looking to you for something you're okay with?"

I don't think anyone can assume how "relationships" make them feel based on one relationship. One relationship can't represent all relationships. But it sounds like you're saying you never really felt comfortable in this one, felt pretty insecure and anxious in it, so I certainly think it sounds safe to say that THIS relationship made you feel those ways.

And again, if where we're meeting is really in the broken places, or when one or both of us is in major crisis, then we are likely to feel a bit of a wreck, at best. Sometimes the comfort and connection relationships that that can provide? There's just as much DIScomfort they create or reinforce.

We're vulnerable in intimate relationships. That's just a thing. So, in them or when we leave them, we can all very much feel naked in them, or feel like we were naked in them, since emotionally, we may well have been.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallenleaf
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Heather, thanks for your reply. I just am going through so much hurt and resentment over the relationship right now. Like I gave myself to someone who never loved me, or not as much as I loved him at the time. Like I went through so much more than he did, even though there's no way for me to know exactly "how much" he went through.

What do mean by broken places? Aren't we all somewhat broken, in some places?

[ 12-13-2012, 09:05 PM: Message edited by: fallenleaf ]

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fallenleaf
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Is anyone there?
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Heather
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Morning, fallnleaf.

I certainly do think we all have wounds or broken places. What I mean when I talk about connecting to other people via those places is that we're connecting with or around those places. What can that mean? Well, if and when we start to heal, especially if we're not healing together, it can mean we don't feel connected anymore. Or, if we don't start to heal, those kinds of relationships can really help keep us stuck or hurting or wounded. If those are the places we connect, we can also kind of keep being hurt or wind up hurting ourselves in those places more.

At the same time, those relationships can tend to feel super intense and powerful because we're letting someone in when or where we are very vulnerable.

I'm not making a judgment on relationships like this, mind. Especially when you bear in mind that I'm not someone who considers the importance of relationships, or their meaning, based on how long they last or how they go, even on if they were healthy or not. I think it's safe to say many of us have had relationships that were very meaningful to us and had a big impact that also were not healthy or sound..

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallenleaf
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yes, this relationship was very meaningful to me. Your explanation makes a lot of sense.

I feel much better and much more of a strong individual. I keep thinking I should be a mess because this relationship ended, but I feel really happy and good about myself.

I really care about him, but I just don't know where he fits into my life. He told me that he hopes we can be friends after a few weeks of processing what happened. We plan to talk a couple weeks from now, or so. I'm just struggling because I feel a lot of resentment, like I should have ended this much earlier, like he just sucked my spirit out of me, since now I am much happier.

I just feel like a different person now. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to move on, or how to talk to him. What should I do I feel so strong and so helpless at the same time.

[ 12-14-2012, 12:08 PM: Message edited by: fallenleaf ]

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Heather
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It sounds like one thing that will probably help is to try and let go of all the shoulda, coulda, wouldas.

In other words, you ended this when you did, not before. You can't change the timeline, but it's over now, and that's what matters. You are realizing now that you're happier this way: it's no less valuable now than it would have been if you had realized it earlier.

It sounds like for right now, it's probably best for you NOT to keep processing with this guy: are you able to have space and time for yourself for a while, apart from him, and without contact?

In what ways do you feel you are helpless?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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fallenleaf
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We have had no contact, except for twice. A few days ago, he contacted me to tell me that even though it seemed he was unemotional about the break-up, he's been processing it this week and he really hopes we can be friends. we talked a bit, and he told me he feels like he loves me as a friend, and will always think I'm very beautiful, and hopes we can be friends after the winter break.

I contacted him last night to ask him if he was okay because he looked really sad and depressed in a class we had together that morning. I feel stupid for doing this, I don't want him to still think I have those intense feelings for him.

I feel helpless because I don't know what boundaries to set, or how to set them... I've been so much happier, and have felt like I have friends again, and am more sociable (even though I am quite introverted) but I'm scared I'll be sucked into a relationship with him again that is really toxic and poisonous. I feel just scared of relationships in general, of losing control. I don't know how to set these boundaries.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I'd say that if you feel totally unable to set healthy boundaries with this person, that's a good cue that you probably shouldn't put yourself in the position yet where you have to.

In other words, how about NOT trying out a friendship until you DO feel more able to do that? Until you have some more time to build up your own strength, get some distance from this relationship, maybe even get some more education around setting healthy boundaries first?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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fallenleaf
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hi Heather, and Scarleteen,

my boyfriend called me about a week ago to check-in, and I wish he didn't, because I completely broke down, talking to him, especially because he sounded stressed and I just got so anxious.

Now, I miss him so much, and I don't know what to do. I really need to talk to someone.

I wanted to leave this alone for a while because I felt like I wanted to see if I would feel better after some time, or have a clearer sense of these issues. I do feel unable to set healthy boundaries with him.

I don't know what to do. I need so much help. I still have been so depressed and lacking in appetite and I have NO energy whatsoever. I feel so weak.

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smittenkitten
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 2297

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Hi fallenleaf,

It can be difficult to encounter people who we cared deeply about after they've largely left our lives. I think sometimes we tend to remember things as being better than they were. There is also the urge to return to the familiar. You said earlier that you feel you have a lot more energy and stronger since you broke up. Do you feel the positives of being apart from your ex outweigh the negatives?

I think if someone is a drain on our energy and wellbeing, even if we love them, it usually isn't healthy for them to take a big role in our life. Maybe you could text him and ask him not to contact you, and that you will contact him if and when you are ready. I think this is important if you're having trouble setting boundaries with him.

What do you need to talk through to sort out your feelings? I'll be here to listen for a while if you like.

I think the most important thing you can do right now is look after yourself. Make yourself a cup of tea (or your drink of choice) and settle down with a book or some TV that makes you feel good. Or just do anything that reminds you what a strong person you are. I think you mentioned there was dependency in your relationship? I find reaffirming my sense of self really helps me feel empowered in my own right.

Cheers,

Marion

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fallenleaf
Activist
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I don't know if the positives outweigh the negatives.

I could not be more confused right now. I feel like he never loved me. I feel like this whole relationship, I was just a burden that he was unhappy with.

I don't know when I will be ready to talk to him.

I have anxiety and OCD issues and at this point, I really feel he couldn't feel love for me anymore because he couldn't see past my problems. In the last couple months, he kept saying to remember how much he cares about me, but that feels so empty.

I feel so stupid because he wanted a break, before we actually broke up permanently (?), for a longer time and then I RUINED it by contacting him about how angry I was because I felt like he didn't love me and I felt like I needed to leave him (although I of course didn't tell him that last part). I told him I felt like he had no affection for me. But he kept saying I love you till the last minute of our relationship, and even afterward. I'm so confused.

I feel like I pushed for a break up just to get out of such a confusing situation when I could have waited. I don't know what to do.

I don't know when to talk to him, or what to say. I don't know what to do if he contacts me first.

Please help me.

[ 12-28-2012, 11:24 AM: Message edited by: fallenleaf ]

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Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
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Hi Fallen Leaf,

I hear two separate things here. I hear you wondering what to do right now, and I hear you struggling to make sense of the past.

The past is the past.

It's natural (as in, a lot of people do it) to go over the past to try to figure out how things could have been different, but it's usually not all that helpful for people to do so. It also sounds like you felt insecure about his caring at the time, which may or may not have been anaccurate evaluation of what was going on, but certainly says that the relationship wasn't meeting your needs. IN a happy relationship, both people feel secure a good deal of the time. Sure, we all have our moments of insecurity, and I think we're entitled to them, but overall, there's a stability and a certainty.

But again, this isn't really about the past but about what you want right now. So, what do you feel like you need?

--------------------
Robin

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