Lacking closure from a toxic relationship
GILMOREGIRL123 - Sep 2 2020 at 11:08
So during lockdown my partner of 3 years ended our relationship. Whilst upsetting, I knew that this was the right decision as it was no longer healthy or salvageable. Prior to this we had been arguing for some time, as I felt that he had lost interest in me from as early as last November. We had been doing long distance for just over a year when he began to contact me less often, and seem much less engaged whenever he did.
I found this extremely upsetting as nothing about me had changed however I knew he was changing and beginning to fall out of love with me. I voiced my concerns several times however he managed to convince me every time that I was overthinking and asking too much of him. This eventually became quite toxic as I accepted worse and worse treatment in a bid not to lose him (I.e. did not complain when he failed to come to my birthday or Christmas and didn’t buy me any cards or gifts for either.) My friends and family raised concerns about his behaviour again when he claimed he was too busy and short of money to visit me and yet went on two international holidays with his friends. The more I forgave him the worse he would treat me each time, and regrettably I now realise that in the end he was likely just staying with me for sexual gratification as this was the only way I ever got his attention towards the end.
We went through several ups and downs before he eventually broke things off abruptly one day after witnessing me having a panic attack. However, fortunately I was starting a new job the next day which gave me the support I needed and I can now say I have moved on and am much happier. Right now I have not contacted him since the split, but I feel like I am lacking closure. We have a lot of mutual friends and I am concerned that he will make me out to be the villain of the story. I am torn because I think it would be better for me to end on good terms and be able to be friends with him since there were a lot of good times before things turned sour, and it was our first relationship for both of us. But I also want him to truly understand that the way he treated me was unacceptable and will have a lasting impact on me? Any advice would be appreciated:)
You basically need to forgive yourself, rather than forgive him, for trusting him when he treated you badly in the end and allowing him to do so. If he's not going to tell you himself the whys and wherefores, then you may be able to empty your head onto paper, where you'll find more positives rather than negatives. Your 'true' friends won't take sides and there will be people who will tell him straight, where he went wrong.
Yeah, it's all good to try and end on amicable terms and remain friends but sometimes it isn't worth your sanity trying to make it happen. You need to be kind to yourself and keep moving on from it and get on with your life goals realizing that not all guys are the same.
I was told by a therapist that my "closure" was the breakup...He didn't forget the good times you had together...
I'm glad you had the new job to dive into.
You can't worry about him making you out to be a villian...talking to HIM isn't going to change any opinion he has on the breakup...nor will it change anything h has already told people....You will have opportunities with these friends to have your input if the conversation comes up...
In my opinion it is best to let it go because it is not going to make anything better...
Thanks for all the feedback, I think I now realise that he has changed from when I first met him and in reality I am mourning the loss of someone who has been gone for a very long time. I do want him to be happy, I just wish he could finally recognise his wrongdoing, as I was close to his family and friends and the thought of their opinion of me changing based on a twisted story upsets me:(
This sounds sooooo much like the end of my 3 year relationship as well.
I called the end of that relationship in 2018. And honestly, I still struggle at times. I feel that since I pulled the plug, i was so feed up and so mad. At times, I feel I let my emotions get the best. But I couldn't handle his behaviour anymore. So honestly I feel that first year and a bit, I just blocked out my emotions and didn't acknowledge anything. But I feel these last few months, I have some regrets for how I handled the end and I think about the what ifs. But then I get reminded that there was a reason I walked away.
And like you, for months I brought my feelings to him and he never changed or just would say that Im being negative and all that. I would also go visit him and we would do nothing. Then when I came back to my home city, then he would go off and do all this stuff with his friends. So it is very similar with your story.
And also Like you, I hate thinking about his parents and families thought of me changing. It hurt me because I treated his family with respect and loved his sisters baby so much. So It kills me not to see him grow.
It is a hard thing and its easy to get stuck in the what ifs and the whys. And wanting that closure but at the end of the end, you need to forgive yourself. Which others have stated here and it is also easier said than done.
I have so many of the same feelings as you do. So i understand all your emotions and thoughts.
Thanks for sharing your story, sounds like we had a very similar experience!! Actually as it happened I ended up bumping into him yesterday, after managing to not see him all summer. Unsurprisingly he acted as though I didn’t exist and avoided any eye contact:(
For me this was heartbreaking to have to acknowledge that now we are nothing more than strangers, but also because he appears completely unbothered by the situation which I guess reflects on how little it actually ever meant to him. People have told me to be grateful for the good memories and look back on the relationship as a positive experience, however it is extremely difficult when he has so easily cut me out of his life. I realised from seeing him that I no longer wish to be with him, but as @manalone above mentioned I need to forgive myself for investing so much energy into someone and allowing them to treat me so badly in return.
@pais19 I completely understand, I personally knew I couldn’t end my relationship myself because I would look back with regrets and blame myself. However, from the other perspective let me tell you that him ending it was just as bad as it has left me questioning my self worth and reflecting constantly on how painful it was to be told I wasn’t wanted. I hope that in time we can both come to recognise that their actions do not define us and redirect our energy onto ourselves and onto people that will truly love us:)
Hi GILMOREGIRL123: I am sorry for your loss. You hurt because you dared to love. I believe the risk of loss is always worth the joy of love. The next time, you will be better equipped and experienced to nurture the relationship without going all in first. You mentioned that your ex may have used you for sexual gratification, only. If I can share anything with you that I hope you embraced for the future, it is this. Your allure and your sexual mysteries are some of your most cherished and personal gifts you can give anyone. Anyone who is blessed enough to receive these gifts from you, that are uniquely yours, must earn it. And the best part of this is, you get to decide what earning it means. Take your time. You are worth it!
Move on. The closure was all the ways he mistreated you. Mistreatment => breakup. You even say the way he treated you was unacceptable. If it was unacceptable, what about that isn't clear that the relationship wasn't working? It's not when things go well and/or everything is logical and reasonable that relationships end. It's when they don't and aren't. So accepting that "I will never understand how someone could... X, Y, and Z" are very the terms on which relationships frequently end. Unless it's something like a partner dying, not self-inflicted, and it's clear and final, there will always be "I just don't get how he/she could do/treat me like... whatever."
If you really want a reason I suppose I can make it explicit, though it's obvious to most: Many people are selfish jerks. They don't care about you and how you feel. They make promises they don't keep. And thy don't don't admit it. You have judge their character by their actions and not by their words. You have to make your conclusions, plans, and actions align with their actions and not their words as well. If you can't fathom how someone would treat YOU like that, or can't accept that someone is not acting in your best interest even when they mistreat you time and time again unless they outright admit to it, then really reflect on whether you're ready to be dating. Because there are selfish people everywhere and they are willing to take advantage of, and mistreat, you as readily as anyone else.
Now about the "I also want him to truly understand that the way he treated me was unacceptable and will have a lasting impact on me?" You got this all backward. YOU need to truly understand what I'm sure you've heard being said by many about relationships: you will get treated how you allow people to treat you. If it was unacceptable it should have been unacceptable to YOU! And YOU should have broken up with him as you noticed it started to "became quite toxic." Instead, you "accepted worse and worse treatment in a bid not to lose him." Try telling him it was unacceptable and he will tell you that you were right there accepting it, front and center. Which you were.
Don't blame someone else for being selfish and entitled when being a doormat and not even complaining is something that's also unacceptable, but especially when change change on your part in regard to these things would have prevented his "unacceptable" mistreatment from occurring in the first place. It's so easy to blame someone who overtly mistreats someone, but is someone who mistreats themselves or doesn't take the opportunity to leave and prevent ongoing mistreatment only a victim? You might have been caught off guard the first few times. But ultimately you're the one who is responsible for protecting yourself and not allowing toxic people into your life.
So, the bottom line is that this will inevitably have a lasting impact on you, but what kind? Hopefully it's one from which you learn a lesson and one which motivates you to truly understand that
a) mistreatment is enough to justify breaking up
b) it IS synonymous with closure... some people are just selfish, entitled, and mean, and hence they mistreat, all there is to it, no mysterious hidden reason,
c) yes even YOU will be mistreated and lied to by selfish jerks but
d) YOU are the one who has the ultimate say on what and how much is acceptable, and finally
e) YOU are the one responsible for not putting up with what's not acceptable to you by breaking up before being mistreated on a regular basis.
It may feel shocking and unbelievable to you, but a lot of people do what he did if given the opportunity. Protect yourself and don't be so willing to respond with "thank you sir, may I have another," when you're being treated badly. Your friends and family raised concerns - since you are new to romantic relationships maybe try listening to them a little more. And please, take mistreatment more seriously. Don't re-engage someone who mistreated you, if it's the least that you do. The good memories are just that, memories. They belong in the past, they don't in any way imply some sort of relationship must go on. The guy was toxic and didn't respect you, yet you want to be friends?
Here's another thing that needs to be spelled out, I guess, but someone who doesn't respect you and doesn't care about your needs just doesn't respect you or care about your needs. As a person. Period. As a "friend" they are not another individual, they are still the same person. With the same moral compass, the same character defects. They are not more trustworthy as a friend, or more likely to treat you with respect. They might seem like it for a while because you're together less and not involved in a sexual relationship, but eventually when life gets hard and you might need a true friend who you can really trust, he still won't be the kind you can count on. Because he doesn't do that kind of deep and intimate connecting, if he did you would have seen it when you really were trying to get deep and intimate. But you tried and he didn't, and he won't just because you're telling yourself he will in the future.
You're essentially doing the same thing you did the first time when you voiced your "concerns several times," by wanting to tell him again how "unacceptable" he was. Because you didn't get the first time around that his response to that is to convince you every time that you were "overthinking and asking too much of him." That's exactly what he will do this time. But you still "accepted worse and worse treatment in a bid not to lose him," and that's what you'd be doing again by reconnecting with him. He doesn't have to have sex with you to mistreat you, all he needs is access to you. And you want to give him the opportunity? Why? Just stop. This guy is not a good guy for you, the relationship was not healthy, admit and accept it didn't work out, and focus on making friends who actually treat you respectfully. Respect yourself by keeping toxic people out of your life, and don't fool yourself that people are going to be nice when they proved they aren't just because you're you or something or you really want it. Orient yourself based on reality, not wishful thinking, and don't play around with people who mistreat you.