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I broke things off with him because he isn't at the same place I am. I'm so heartbroken!

Tagged as: Breaking up, Dating, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (16 June 2017) 2 Answers - (Newest, 23 June 2017)
A female United States age 22-25, anonymous writes:

I started dating a guy about eight/nine months ago after meeting online. The first date was fine but I wasn't particularly smitten - he asked if we could go on a second date. I was hesitant at first - I wasn't really looking to get into anything serious - but by the third or fourth date, I realized I really liked him and we had a lot in common.

Fast forward about 3 months in to New Year's Eve. I maybe got a little too wine-happy (who hasn't) and we had a ridiculously fun party at my apartment with friends. After everyone left, he stayed and helped me clean up (both the apartment and myself). As we sat on the floor at 3:00 in the morning just talking (and rapping to Nicki Minaj and showing each other silly videos), I realized I might be in love with him. Having only ever been in relationships where my partner said I love you first, I didn't say anything for three months.

Another fast forward to March. I said it. He said it back. Then he took it back. He hadn't been in a relationship as long as ours (at this point 6 months) in 6 years, and said he was scared he didn't feel the same way, but also scared to open himself up to another person. He said he'd understand if I wanted to leave, but if I didn't he would work on being transparent about his feelings and just putting more into the relationship.

Final fast forward. 3 months later, this time to this past week. He's just returned from being out of the country for a few weeks. Since our conversation in March, things have been great. He's done everything from surprising me with flowers to taking me out on a fancy date to celebrate me finishing my masters and getting a job to taking care of me after I had a panic attack. Everything feels evenly balanced as far as how much effort we put into the relationship. Unlike with past partners, I'm not the only one making plans or cooking dinners or getting excited about milestones (like meeting family or planning/going on trips together). But something still feels off. We spent a great weekend away together where literally the entire time we were together was perfect - even hiking 7 miles in near 90 degree heat when we forgot water was somehow fun with him. But the next day, when we were back at our respective apartments and I was alone in my bed, I just cried because I kept thinking "it was perfect but he doesn't love me."

So this past week we had a great date - he took me for drinks, cooked me dinner, we watched a movie, then laid on his bed and talked about him coming to meet my parents and me meeting his brother and sister-in-law and he invited me to 3 weddings in October. We cracked stupid inside jokes and talked about summer plans. But as I was leaving to go home, I felt like I had to say something. So we sat on his front porch and talked. And he said he had been trying really hard but he still felt like there was a "feelings disparity" (his words) and that I felt more strongly than he did because the relationship thing seemed so "easy" for me but it was "difficult" for him to make the same "sacrifices." (Again, his words and he couldn't exactly explain what he meant by "sacrifices"). Ultimately, I told him I had to have self respect for myself and as much as I want to stick around another 3 months and see if his feelings have changed, there is a difference between expecting the normal amount of pain that comes with any relationship and setting oneself up for pain. I am not one to be dramatic but I was so hurt that he couldn't explain himself that the last thing that happened was me grabbing his face and sobbing that I am in love with him before fleeing to my car (and then eventually having a panic attack that nearly caused me to go to the hospital).

I am so, so hurt and confused. On the one hand, I feel like i made the right choice - he told me once he is very good at "detaching" from his emotions because he realizes that all emotions are just chemical reactions. This was his logic for why he has a high physical pain tolerance. But I know compartmentalizing and detachment are not healthy, so he probably isn't a healthy person to be with. On the other hand, I have never been in a relationship where I felt more comfortable or happy with someone. Being with him wasn't the problem, it was how I felt when he was gone. When we were together, I always felt good enough, like he truly valued me as a person. I just don't understand why you would stay with someone for 9 months if you knew you didn't love them? And now I'm afraid we'll never speak again and I'll never see him and I feel like I've made one of the worst mistakes of my life. I have a general rule of not doing second chances and even though I'm the one who broke up with him, I want nothing more than for him to call or text or show up and say it was a mistake and he realizes now what went wrong. He told me once that when the only other long term relationship he's been in ended, he didn't realize he loved her until after she left. I fear that he might mistake the absence of "someone" for the absence of me - there is a difference between being lonely and realizing your true feelings.

I don't hate him and I don't think he's a bad person or has done anything "wrong," but I am miserable. I can't eat or sleep or function other than to cry. I've had so little sleep the past week I've been hallucinating things (a dog walking beside me when I go on runs in the morning?). I'm just so hurt and confused and I don't know what to do. Logically I feel like I should just suck it up, accept it's over and move on. But my heart isn't letting me. I've never reacted this way to breaking up with someone. Help?

View related questions: broke up, flowers, heartbroken, I love you, move on, text, wedding

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A female reader, aunt honesty Ireland + , writes (23 June 2017):

aunt honesty agony auntAs much as you are not allowing yourself to accept it is over, the moment you do then you can begin the healing process. It is still early days so you need to give yourself time. Off course it is going to be hard, with panic attacks added in to the mix it will drain you. But you need to just give yourself time. Time to accept that the relationship is over, time to accept that he did not love you the way that you loved him. Do not blame yourself, or him. Life is cruel, and for whatever reasons he could not allow himself to fall for you. Now it is time that you look after yourself and give yourself time to heal. Have you close friends you can call? Keep yourself busy and active. Going for runs is good, its good for your mental health but you also need to have friends and family support you through this break up. Make sure you have no contact and delete and block his details. I know it is difficult but it will get better.

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A female reader, worriedgirl2012 United States +, writes (17 June 2017):

Oh goodness... I am your same exact age, prone to panic attacks, and had the EXACT SAME thing happen to me in May.

We had an amazing relationships. Equal effort, lots of caring, being able to be myself, him being so respectful and supportive etc. I had never had a relationship like this, and LOVED having him around. He was like a friend to me too!

But by 6 months, a fancy anniversary celebration that he planned and still no I love you. Couples massage at 7 months, and still no I love you.

He had literally made plans for us to go to a golf event in a year and was talking about celebrating me getting my Masters (in 18 months!!!) I don't get why they do that when they're not actually planning to stick around. I think both of our guys didn't want to break up/ anticipate it happening, but also weren't able to get more serious like we wanted. And we're allowed to want more than the relationship being "stuck" where it is!

ALL this time I was swallowing my worries that deep down he didn't/ couldn't / wouldn't love me. I KNOW that feeling all too well of waiting for something to happen that you don't even know actually will. It messes with your head! The whole time I fell deeper and deeper for him without actually knowing if it was going anywhere. He had gotten a new job and was super stressed trying to please everyone. I could feel things building up. Eventually I also snapped.

I asked him if we had a future and that it's been 8 months... you still haven't said anything? He said he didn't know, and needed some time alone to figure out what he wanted. We were both sobbing; he told me not to leave, etc.

But like you- I had enough self respect to leave. I know that is the absolute worst feeling in the world; loving yourself enough to know that this isn't good enough for you, but also hating that you couldn't just suck it up and stay. But I know you're going to be ok because in the end, you recognized something wasn't right and that you want more. SO many men & women stick around getting sadder in relationships and never acknowledge what they know deep down they deserve.

I think maybe you needed this relationship to show you what good treatment looks like. They SHOULD be supportive, initiating 50%, excited and fun to be with. I'd never had anything like that before (sounds like you hadn't either), so I just assumed this was the one for me. I think sometimes the universe just has other plans.

Mine kind of just freaked out and ran. I keep telling myself that it's better it happened now than later. What if I waited around and he NEVER said he loved me, and I wasted more than 8 months? What if I was waiting YEARS for an engagement that never came? What if he bolted at the altar? Or after having kids? I think we both loved unhealthy people. Despite them both being great guys, they were scared and damaged for whatever reason. And I DO think they deeply cared for us, but weren't able to move past their pasts to engage in something more serious and committed. It doesn't make sense, and I wish I could tell you that I figured it out. But 1 month later, I DO feel like I can breathe again, and am ok with my new normal.

Mine hasn't contacted me, and I think it's for the best. It still aches each morning when I have to pass by his apartment to get to work. But I realized the other morning that I had forgotten to think about him until lunch time. I promise you it will happen. Remember, you made the right decision KNOWING there is more out there for you that you deserve! You deserve better than mediocrity. You want someone who loves you enthusiastically and is excited to move forward- not dragging his feet and suppressing emotions.

I would highly recommend no contact, although I know it feels like you're dying inside. You have to keep busy, exercise, meditate, pray- whatever gives you peace. Don't get drunk trying to numb the pain (wine always makes me cry!) and don't jump into something new too quick (tried that last weekend and cried with a new guy). Keep exercising, find a new show to binge watch, reach out to your friends, call your parents, and keep busy! I didn't even want to return to my apartment alone after it happened, but I found it empowering to throw away all the stuff that reminded me of him and clean.

Your post made ME feel better because I know I'm not alone. Please know you aren't either! There are so many people out there who love amazing you for you! And someone else will come along. It doesn't feel like it will happen, but it always does. And I believe each time it gets better. Message me if you need to talk more. Remember, you are so strong, and you are worth it! Hang in there :)

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