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I won't go into too much because I have a very extensive thread ("Can you just fall out of love like this?") and my story is in there. But, I ask myself (and I asked my ex when he broke up with me) the same exact question as your title.
Im 23, my ex was 22, and he always seemed very mature, and Im pretty mature and directed. But just recently I found out he isn't and he is in fact a very selfish person. VERY selfish. Our relationship was never equal- I sacrificed A LOT for his religious beliefs, compromised, went long-distance for a year while I made my life transition and he finished college, gave 120% all the time- I was so totally in love with him. He was amazing to me too, we were so intense and stable, blah blah blah, we hardly ever fought, had great communication, I just knew he was The One and we talked about marriage within the next 2 years and kids...the whole deal.
Anyway, I was blindsighted. He got into dental school and all of a sudden, when tests piled up, he just 'couldn't see me' anymore. He sort of snapped and became this studying machine. But, deep-down, it just seemed more like he didnt' WANT to see me, or, more precisely, both couldn't AND didn't want to. He never showed any huge signs or making any effort, instead it was sort of my problem- this is the situation, I can't do anything about it, so deal with it. That was his response to it all.
Now, we were together about half the time that you and yours were, but to me he felt like my 'other half', so it just felt longer than 2 years, and we were so serious. I did a lot of partying and dating in college, so when I got into grad school, moved and started my whole new career life in a big city, I just felt ready to settle down, and with HIM. I guess, for my ex, this year during HIS transition he felt ready to just start anew and do whatever he wanted to make it easier on him...who knows. I could analyze it to death. I basically just narrow it down to his selfishness, immaturity, cowardness and confusion.
What is funny is that my ex used similar lines that yours used. The whole "I need space", "I need to find myself", "I dont know who I am anymore", "I need to be alone for awhile", etc etc etc. I swear he got them from a textbook or something. The whole time crying hysterically and then saying, 'it doesn't have to be all or nothing'. I was so confused. Then, the next day, ignoring my phone calls pleading for him to talk to me. It was all such a joke, looking back. He didn't care about me if he could do this to me- it was all about how to make himself feel better about HIMSELF. He wasn't doing so hot in school, and he wasn't doing so hot in our relationship, so to ignore his crushed ego he ignored me. I think it is true that men (or boys, haha) realize they just don't want to give up their 'personal space', decide they'd rather be selfish and do what they want b/c its easier than being mature and committed, and then they want the easy way out when they break up with us. I.e., letting us down easy with those silly words because they probably still do care about us or love us in some regard. But they're too selfish to know how to fit us in to their life at this point in time. I don't quite get it, but I'm a very giving, altruistic person. And I think my boyfriend took me for granted. Throughout our whole relationship, and I just realized it too late.
Sorry if I am talking about myself too much, I am still trying to heal and am also trying to give you a situation to parallel yours with. All in all, I don't know how someone can do what our exs did to us, after being so sturdy and stable and loving for so long. Its such a slap in the face. I was completely blindsighted and at times I truly feel that I have lost all faith in people- how can you trust people again if they turn on you like this, esp. after being so intimate and vulnerable with each other? My ex is like a stranger to me now.
I think the text your ex sent you is a reflection of his insecurity/selfishness. He assumes you are still upset about him and aren't over him yet. Im sure he still cares about you and again, doesn't want to hurt you if you found out elsewhere beacuse then HE"D feel bad about his own character (not necessarily about your feelings bc then he wouldn't have hurt you in the first place). I think it scares him to think that you are out meeting other guys, or out NOT thinking about him at the very least, and maybe he wants to see if he still has the upper-hand and is in control of your emotions. I started seeing someone recently (just for fun) and i would NEVER EVER even think of telling my ex about that because I'd rather him sit and wonder what I'm doing and miss me. Plus, I'm not hurtful and spiteful like him- I'm better than that.
Anyway, I dont know. I could be way off. This whole experience has really made me bitter, but I know it will make me stronger in the long-run. Ive learned what a wonderful girlfriend and person I really was/am, and I'm sure you are the same type- would have given your right arm for your guy, etc. Stuck by him til the end. It sucks that this is the treatment we get in return, but try to remember that its a reflection of THEIR character, and they will be the ones having troubled relationships if this is how they deal with things.





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