Struggling to move on …

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  • #943929 Reply

    I was in a relatively short relationship (just a few months) that ended two weeks ago. I felt him being distant. I called him out. We set up a time to talk and when we did he told me that his (from what he tells me pretty toxic) ex was starting problems with the kids telling them that their dad had less time for them now that he has a girlfriend etc and that the kids were getting upset. He said he needed a few days to figure out if he could continue our relationship and I said sorry but I can’t just hang around like that given nothing would change on it’s own in just a few days (the ex isn’t going away/stopping without him intervening etc.) So he said if I was making him decide right then that he couldn’t do it. We parted ways relatively amicable given the circumstances (although I did tell him I would be blocking him because I needed to try to move on) but it blindsided me and it really really hurt. It’s been two weeks of NC. I’ve been doing … ok, for the past week or so. But last night I went out for ice cream with a guy. I thought that would help me to move on. And it had the opposite effect. I cried all the way home. I really miss my ex. I hate this so much.

    #943931 Reply

    It’s okay to realize after a few months that your situations aren’t compatible and to call it off. He needs to prioritize his kids, and it sounds like he’s still working through co-parenting and his issues, so your relationship would have been full of these difficulties. It’s also okay to take some time for yourself until you’re ready to be fully open in dating again. I’ve put my foot back in for a date here and there after a breakup to see if I was ready or if it just made me feel worse and miss an ex. If it felt worse, I’d wait a month or two and try again. If I still felt bad after a date, repeat, wait a while before trying again, until it no longer felt bad. 2 weeks is very little. Focus on yourself, your friends, your hobbies, a new interest, things that build your self-esteem. Breakups always suck, but being kind to yourself and doing activities you enjoy or exploring new ones can be much better ways to process your feelings than jumping back into dating someone else. Hang in there!

    #943941 Reply

    Thanks so much for your reply, Maddie. I really appreciate your insight. I think it’s just thrown me through a loop because it was so out of character/out of nowhere. We spent the weekend before the conversation where he ended it away together and everything was so romantic and wonderful. Four days later we were talking about a trip we are going to plan for us and the kids. Up to two days before that conversation I was getting multiple texts a day about how wonderful I am and how much he missed me. The day before he seemed off which is why I asked about it. We talked the next day and poof – relationship gone and over and NC since. I know he is an avoidant. He’s told me that before. I know he would rather sweep things under the rug than deal with them. He’s been honest about that too. I have really bad relationship anxiety and I tend to shut down/run away when it looks like I’m going to be hurt which is why I told him I couldn’t give him a few more days to think about what he wanted to do about us (because like you said – it seemed there was an issue there with where we are in our lives right now that makes us incompatible so what would change in a few days?) I’m just wondering now if I made the right decision by not giving him that time (when I know how he is with conflict) and if I shouldn’t have told him I was going to block him (because obviously I wish he’d reach out.) It’s just been such a nightmare these past two weeks and I miss him so much. It’s heartbreaking really.

    #943942 Reply

    You did the right thing Natalie. Avoidants and anxious people don’t do well together, they trigger each other something fierce. It only works if both people are willing to take the ride together to change. Also, he’s got too much else going on, this wasn’t work out in the end. Relationships with people who have toxic ex partners usually don’t. Sounds like the ex used the kids on him in a very unfair way and that’s not a person who’s really ready to move on. It’s normal to miss someone. You will eventually see this breakup was for the best.

    #943944 Reply

    Thank you so much for saying that, Angie. I’ve been torturing myself with this so it really helps hearing from others that they think I made the right decision. I know in my heart of hearts it was the right move but it’s tough not to question that when I have the feelings I have. I wish I could fast forward a month or so. I did book an impromptu very short trip last week. I’m away right now (got here yesterday afternoon.) Yesterday wasn’t great. I was very cognizant of the fact that I’m here to clear my head and get over him which just made me focus on him. I got a good night’s sleep though and I’m feeling pretty good today so hopefully it’ll be better. Thank you again.

    #943949 Reply

    After your trip is finished, you should look up the “anxious avoidant trap”. This is a very common problem in dating, like AngieBaby said. It doesn’t matter how much time you give, if people aren’t dealing with their issues, then this outcome is inevitable. It’s not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. He’s not dealing with his issues. I know that because: you felt blindsided, which means he wasn’t communicating; his go-to strategy for working out his issues with you was immediately question if you should be together; he’s telling you he’s avoidant but as a warning to you about the behavior you can expect and not in the context that he’s seeing a professional and working on it. I’ve dated a lot of avoidants until I worked on my own issues, and at that point I was able to be in healthier relationships.

    I don’t think you need to have regrets here, just start working on your anxious side after you’ve mourned this relationship. Anxious attachment styles don’t form out of no where and can actually be shifted over long periods of time. Enjoy your trip!

    #943950 Reply

    Hi Maddie! Thank you so much again for weighing in here. I stopped for lunch and happened to see your comment so I googled as you suggested. That is NOT a cycle I want in my life. As great a partner as he was I really am in a place where things are overall secure and healthy and I need that from my partner as well. I’ve been on medication for anxiety for a few years now but after this breakup sent me into a tailspin I started therapy as well. It does seem to be helping so far. And as you said – my therapist says that my anxious style must’ve come from somewhere but we haven’t gotten to the bottom of that yet. It does help talking to someone and my friends have been wonderfully supportive. I just hate burdening them with this over and over again and this guy is proving tough to get over. I know it’s only been two weeks and in the grand scheme of things that isn’t very long. But usually by now I’m in a much better headspace. I need to learn to give myself a little grace – I know. But I can’t help but wonder if he’s sad and missing me too and kicking himself for handling things the way he did. Not where my focus should be at all. I know that. And I’ve been overall keeping perspective but the last two days – since my ice cream date – have been hard. I never expected that reaction (from me!) to meeting a nice man who bought me ice cream. Ugh.

    #943983 Reply

    Does he know where you live? I would assume so and, therefore,be patient. It may not be good compatability though since he already has children. That’s A LOT to take on and that is no exaggeration.

    #943986 Reply

    Pls dont regret your decision. You told him you dont want to hang around indefinitely till he decides. Nothing wrng in that. He cld hv been a little understanding and tried to quantify the waiting time. He cld hv made an effort and told you to just give him few weeks to figure out how to best manage the situation. He didnt. He accepted what you suggsted and let you walk away. Dint even try. What cld u hv done? You may feel hurt and sad for few weeks. Thats natural. But u did right and u dont need to over analyse your decision. Its just been a short while. It does get better if u give it few more weeks. And btw, well done. You stood up for yourself.

    #943988 Reply

    Thanks for your input, Mary and Tammy. I really appreciate you commenting.

    Mary – yes he knows where I live and has been to my house many times. We are both parents so I definitely know what it’s like raising kiddos. The differences in our situations being that his kids are younger than mine and he is dealing with a toxic ex. He had full custody for a while and has only shifted into more of a 50/50 arrangement of late (I’d say it’s more of a 60/40 with him having the kids 60% of the time still.) I still miss him like crazy. I still have so many questions about what the heck happened. I’m not even mad or sad anymore – I just miss him.

    Tammy – he did give me a finite period of time. He asked for three days. But I didn’t see how anything would change in three days and he wasn’t able to explain to me how or why they would which is why I said no to that request. I still think I did the right thing under the circumstances (ie that he didn’t explain to me why he needed that amount of time or why things could potentially change) but I just wish it hadn’t gone down that way. I also wish I hadn’t told him I was blocking him because I’m sure that served as a deterrent to reaching out to me TO explain things.

    #943989 Reply

    Natalie. Tough love and hard truth time to help you stop torturing yourself over this guy.

    1) He was NOT going to take three days and come back and tell you he decided he wanted to continue the relationship. He was going to take three days to figure out how to let you down easy. How do I know that for sure? Because he couldn’t explain what difference three days would have made (because the answer was none) and then he immediately ended the relationship. How would you have felt if he’d taken three days and come back and told you it was over? Not good. So you stood up for yourself and spared him from taking the time and energy of three days from you during which you would have worried and agonized. Here’s the deal – if someone needs to think about whether or not they want to be in the relationship, the answer is clearly NO. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s always a no.

    2) You (and anyone) will never be anything more than a bit player in the drama of a man and his toxic ex. It’s a sucky role. I know, I’ve taken it and I will never take it again and I strongly encourage all women to say no to being with a man like this. Your relationship will never be first. Ever. You and all women deserve a lot better. Don’t settle for this crappy position. It’s really not any better than side chick.

    3) You showed good boundaries and you protected yourself. That’s what you should do 100% of the time. No man is worth lowering your standards to keep around. And he won’t respect you. On some rare occasions when a woman puts up a strong, healthy boundary, a man goes away and thinks about it and decides to up his game because he really wants to be with her and decides to do the work to be a better man. This guy won’t, he’s got too much going on with the ex. But that’s how it works in the case a man decides to step up.

    4) If the kids were really saying Dad didn’t have time for us because he has a GF, he’s got problems with the ex AND the kids. And they’re young. This drama will likely go on for years. And what if he gets full custody again at some point?? This may be a nice guy you had fun with, but he’s NOT relationship material by a long shot. And sure not husband material. His finances are probably a mess from the divorce and paying her. And if he has to keep paying lawyers, that will affect your life together.

    5) YOUR children would also at some point be affected by his mess. Don’t subject them to that.

    6) He should be prioritizing his relationship with his children right now, if he’s any kind of a decent guy. Dating any more than very casually really isn’t a good idea for him. You wanted what he just didn’t have to give and that’s no bad reflection on you. This isn’t the right time in his life for him to get into another serious relationship, from what you’re describing. His ex will make sure she sabotages it and until he can find a way to shut her down, he’s really no good for any woman looking for anything more than a few laughs on a night out here and there.

    You dodged a bullet here. Rejection really is protection in this instance. You aren’t missing anything healthy or good with this man. Grieve the loss and move on, and in the future screen out guys who are still dealing with an ex.

    #943990 Reply

    I am sorry Natalie but my opinion differs a bit after hearing your last post. if it was just 3 days, why couldn’t you give him that much time. I am not saying that the outcome would have been any different but what’s the big deal in giving just 2/3 days? This was an important decision since it involved his kids, and he needed time to think on how to tackle this situation. Atleast you wouldn’t be here second guessing whether you were right in breaking off things with him.

    If I was facing a situation and I needed to figure on how to keep my kids and my present bf in my life happy, with a vengeful ex & father of my kids in the picture, trying to spoil my present life with my current bf, I too may have asked my bf to just give me some time to think and figure on how to best handle the situation.

    I think more than the ex-bf, you need to also introspect as to why you couldn’t give that man 2/3 days time to think and revert? what would he think? if she can’t even give me 3 days time to think over the situation which involves his kids, maybe it’s for the best that she broke off things.

    i think you should have given him 3 days time and then if he was still confused, walk away.

    #943991 Reply

    Tammy – with respect, you’re applying female logic and female thinking to a man. They think very, very differently than we do.

    You bring up some valid points, but if this man really wanted the OP in his life, he would have been able to address the OP’s question and address what he needed three days to do and he absolutely wouldn’t have immediately said if you’re making me choose right now then I’m out. That’s not the behavior of someone who really wants to be in the relationship. That’s someone who’s looking for a way out. He was withdrawing and the OP called him on it. He wasn’t communicating openly and he’d already had “time to think”, the “toxic ex” clearly isn’t a brand new problem out of the blue.

    He’s not ready, willing or able to stand up to the ex. I’ve seen men stand up to toxic exes, shut them down cold and prioritize the new relationship – without the children being neglected. This man ain’t doing the job right now. Men often feel guilt about not being with their kids every day and the family unit being broken up. Women can play on that. I’ve seen men leave a bad marriage and then go back for the kids, out of sheer guilt and not out of any great love for the ex. I’ve seen men not leave when they clearly should. Think Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.

    I’m not trying to start a fight with you as your opinion is certainly as valid as anyone else’s here and we respect each other here when we disagree. Just felt I had to point out the angle of applying female thinking to male behavior – common mistake women make.

    Anyway, I’ve now said my piece on this post so I”ll bow out. Good luck Natalie. I think you did the right thing and you’ve lost nothing of any great value for the reasons I’ve stated above.

    #943992 Reply

    One last thing I feel it’s important to point out and then I swear I’m done, LOL.

    At a couple of months in, both people are deciding if the budding relationship is going anywhere and the truth is most of the time it’s a no from one of the people. Men often fade out at the 3-4 month mark. Totally normal. I think that’s the bigger part of what’s going on here, coupled with the fact that this man has too much trouble with the ex he hasn’t figured out how to handle yet and probably won’t for a while yet, given the kids are young.

    Peace out!

    #943993 Reply

    Great points Angie! I always say that we should think more like men, would any men be interested in dating a woman with a toxic ex? I doubt it.

    #943996 Reply

    I agree with AngieBaby. If someone can’t communicate a reason or why they need a couple days, it’s a big problem. If he had said “give me a few days to talk to my kids and figure out what they need and then we can have a better conversation about this,” and OP said “no I need to know right now,” that would be entirely different. But he was putting off the conversation despite definitely having been dealing with his ex’s shenanigans for some time and just not telling OP.

    #943997 Reply

    (To be clearer, the big problem is he’s a bad or immature communicator, and you can’t have that in a situation complicated by children and toxic exes, it will lead to things not working and to drama. And that wasn’t the only problem in this situation, either, just a big one.)

    #943999 Reply

    Hello Again, All:

    Thank you to everyone who has commented/voiced their opinions. It’s been really great reading and contemplating everyone’s respective perspectives and points of view. Definitely some food for thought all the way around. Its also interesting to see some disagreement among the group regarding my behavior/his behavior – in a way that tells me that my flip flopping back and forth between thinking I did the right thing and questioning whether I did isn’t too crazy.

    At the end of the day I totally agree with what those who mentioned communication said. He didn’t give me enough to go on here. I gave him a chance to explain and I heard him out. I even asked what would change in three days time. He didn’t give me anything at all. No feedback whatsoever. So I had to go with my gut. My anxiety couldn’t handle three more days given his answer to the “what would change in three days” question and so I gave him the ultimatum. Right or wrong that’s the decision I made and I’m living with it.

    I miss him in the quiet parts of every day. I’m trying to stay distracted. I’m trying to focus on other things. But it’s very very hard. I do still hope that he’ll reach out eventually. What I would do if he did I don’t know but I hate the way that it ended. There wasn’t one thing wrong in our relationship until that – the thing that ended it. It’s something I need to come to terms with and so far, it’s been really hard. Talking to you all here does help though so I thank you for that. It feels nice knowing there’s somewhat of a support group out there (as I know my real life friends have to be sick of hearing about this by now.)

    #944000 Reply

    Sorry – I do want to add one more thing in defense of why this has been so hard for me and why I miss him so much/can’t get over him.

    In the week leading up to the breakup (before the two days or so of him acting distant), he took me to the Ritz Carlton for a romantic dinner and overnight. While we were away, he asked random strangers to take our picture together so that he could show friends who had been asking what I look like. He had just gotten his bonus and told me he was earmarking 10k so that we could take the kids away on a joint trip. A friend texted him asking if he and I were around because the friend was out and about in his town – the friend used my name and I’ve never even met the guy (the ex showed me the text.) So all of this – just a week prior – had me believing we were moving in the right direction and that we were on the same page. And then WHAM – we’re done! I don’t think he spent any amount of time thinking he didn’t want to be with me or wanted to break up. During the break up conversation he told me both kids had a really bad night (they were crying and it was difficult for him to get them down for the night.) I almost feel like that is why the relationship ended the way it did. I don’t think he called me with the intention of ending it (in fact when I texted him earlier calling him out about his distant behavior that day and the day before I said I didn’t mean to pry and he responded saying he always wanted me to pry because it’s not prying and he always wanted me to feel comfortable in our relationship.) It just makes no sense and it’s just been a really hard pill to swallow.

    #944001 Reply

    I was not talking abt possible outcome. But just the fact that why was it so diff to gv a man 3 days time? Maybe he wld hv had the same answer after 3 days but i dont think you wld hv come here and posted wondering whether u were right in ending off things so suddenly.. maybe others hv different views to mine. But thats their perspective. And they are most welcome to share just like i did. i just see things in this instance slightly differently. In the long scheme of things, how does 3 days matter?

    #944003 Reply

    men who want you won’t need a 3 days to make a decision . I was asked once to wait a week, for the guy to make his mind up and I was like, no way he needs a week to decide if i am worthy or not, he clearly made a decision way before he even said anything.

    #944004 Reply

    Tammy, I’d agree in a different situation: if the communication didn’t already suck. My take is, I think even if she gave him the 3 days she’d be second-guessing herself because the problem is his communication and she would have felt blindsided that day or 3 days later. Which leads to second-guessing. Assuming he’s really avoidant (like he warned her!), this outcome was inevitable, but the excuse might be different at different times. But he would still always have an excuse. His own issues may have contributed to his ex acting toxic, or to him choosing someone toxic, because that’s how this usually works. Just because there was no obvious conflict prior to this doesn’t mean there weren’t problems, especially as it was only a few months. Natalie didn’t know him well enough yet since it was the honeymoon period, but now you know he isn’t good at talking through conflict (he’s currently having conflict with his ex and his kids also, it wasn’t just with you, yet he said he didn’t know how to handle any of it and was going to think about it for a few days… instead of my other comment that he could have found out what his kids need first then spoken to you). It can also be hard to be an early person to date after a divorce, because they don’t necessarily have their crap in order yet and aren’t truly emotionally available. Add avoidance to that, and it’s a recipe for problems.

    You’ll do yourself a big favor when you can stop ruminating on what ifs and let go of this guy, focusing on yourself instead.

    #944007 Reply

    Natalie, I’m just going to say this in hopes of relieving your confusion and pain… divorced men frequently behave like this. They think they’re ready to move on, they’re used to being in a relationship and they liked that feeling, so it feels good to them to meet a new woman and start building a new life with her. But they are fooling themselves. They are not ready. Some little thing happens – in this case his kids tried his patience – and then they realize they are not ready, they jam on the brakes, turn tail and run from a woman they were pursuing hotly. Leaving her blindsided and heartbroken. It was nothing she did. It’s very unfair. That’s why it’s not a good idea to date men recently divorced and/or still dealing with a toxic ex. You wind up as collateral damage of their last relationship. And as far as taking you to the Ritz and making all those other promises… that’s future faking. Take any promises like this in the first 90 days with a large grain of salt. Anything a man says in the first 90 days should be taken as, that’s nice… we’ll see. And you don’t take it seriously until it happens. I don’t think he meant to hurt you or break up with you. He isn’t as ready to move on as he thought. He knows where you live. If he uses this incident to face his stuff, he might be back (but don’t count on it and you may not want him back at that point anyway). This relationship the way it was going was never going to work out, with where he is in life. Nothing to do with you, nothing you could have done differently for a different outcome.

    #944010 Reply

    Thanx maddie. I totally get what ur saying. but i think if someone has asked you for 3 days time, u cld hv given that. Maybe the outcome wld still have been the same. But natalie wld hv had that satisfaction of knowing for sure that this was def not going to work and she did her best. Now its possible that if she thinks over the wonderful past that she shared with the man, and how things ended, there will alwys be a niggle at the back of her mind whether ending it right there and then, was the right thing to do.

    Besides those 3 days were in the name of children. If i am comfused as hell, and smone pushes me for an instant decision, its most probably going to go agnst the person pushing. Now that she chose to take a stand for herself, thats fine as well. But if she was so confident of making that decision she wldnt hv posted here seeking approval for her decision.

    I hv made instant decisions in my life which have gone on to haunt me. What if. So my suggstn is more from the point of view of natalie with zero doubts.

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