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Long distance breakup and the loyal older ex


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Where to begin.


I don't think I have any questions, this is more a means of getting it all out--I have been unable to find a post that matches what I'm going/have gone through and a few of the categories overlap so I've chosen to post it in the general relationship forum.


Well, I'm a 26 year old female. I'm fresh out of a one year long distance relationship with a 29 year old male and just when I think I'm getting over it I'll be reminded of something and the wound will rip open again.


Some facts: I met him on a dating site about a year ago, exactly six days after me and my (much older--24 years) ex of 3 years broke up. I was the dumper and while upset I didn't feel anything like I do now. At first, it was just fun with this guy. He was my own age, had the same interests, same sense of humour and it was great talking to somebody who seemed to "get" me in a way no other guy ever had. We met up, the spark was amazing but he said he was going travelling indefinitely and hence couldn't commit so I let it go. Well, around February the plans for travelling seemed to be on hold/he came to visit me and the trip went well. Then again in April we had a lovely few days on an island. I really felt like I connected with him on an incredibly deep emotional level and he said he felt the same. It sounds awfully trite and cliche but it felt like we were soulmates. After first admitting he had commitment phobia early in the relationship and a hesitance for long distance, he eventually embraced the relationship/I became the first girl to meet his parents/etc. This was all going great until the end of August when something felt a bit 'off' on our trip. After he got home he said something like he was "so deeply bonded with [me] that he needed a chance for the physical side to keep up". What I gauged from that is that he wasn't that attracted to me but was bonded. He said he was attracted to me but he was waiting for that "moment" when the attraction "takes on a deeper level" and he didn't think it was that big a deal/that he just thought it was that we hadn't spent that much time together. He also said I wasn't his 'type' but "what's a type anyway" and he thought I could be his type too. I tried to look at it objectively but it really shot my confidence because up until that moment I was under the impression he was very attracted to me and vice-versa. I decided to end the relationship because I felt hurt--he begged/pleaded and I gave in. We seemed stronger than ever. Then for a few reasons trips were cancelled and we hadn't seen each other in over a month. I perhaps didn't put that much effort in after that incident in summer. Anyway for some stupid reason we both decided to have a "breakup weekend" a little over a month ago. We both decided long distance wasn't working but we should have a fun weekend to remember each other by.


Obviously a big mistake. We acted like a cute couple for the first day then the second day we literally cried on each other's shoulders. When I said goodbye to him at the airport he was crying/was even more emotional than me. Before the trip, I had resigned myself but afterwards I thought how much I loved him and how strong our emotional bond was(YOLO right). He also said his lack of attraction was a blip because I had worn an unflattering dress on the last day of that fateful trip in summer(red flag I know). When he got home he texted me as though I was still his girlfriend, kept saying he was flipping between thinking it was for the best and then thinking he had made a huge mistake. Said how beautiful I was/etc. I reassured him but eventually caved and sent a message to the effect of "I love you! Lets make this work". I really swallowed my pride and put myself out there, and he basically just didn't respond for a few days. And when he did he said "I don't know. I really can't do long distance". He then said he would probably regret this decision and "beg me to come back in a month or a year". I said I would be willing to really put the effort in if he would (that I could move there for summer or he could move here while I finish school) and then he just completely disappeared for almost two weeks when he eventually sent a message on Christmas saying he had been drinking and he was sorry he didn't reply but he is "a weak piece of " and he "hopes [i'm] happy".


I did everything I could to forget him--all photos/messages were deleted. I blocked him on fb (mainly so I couldn't stalk him/ignorance is bliss). I thought I was doing well. Then my sister snooped on his page today and informed me (she thought she was helping) that he had just added a girl on fb who looked similar to me. I then stupidly checked to see if he was on the dating site I met him and he is. This hit me like a ton of bricks and has made me feel like an absolute mug. He said he loved me and I was like his best friend and then couldn't even be bothered texting me back (if even to say he's not interested), gave me false hope by saying things like "I'll probably be an old man wishing I was lying next to you" and "I want to dream we can make it work when you finish school". And it just feels like he couldn't care less. Of course I don't know what's going on in his mind and I know deep down I wasn't that happy in the relationship as I felt I was willing to put more effort in, especially at the end. But man it hurts.


Meanwhile, it has made me think about the older ex. About how supportive he was of me and was always there for me even after I left him. He was my first real relationship and I took him for granted. Looking back on our arguments, it was almost always me to blame but I just didn't see it at the time. He was finishing a PhD and I didn't recognise how stressful it was. He also wasn't as demonstrative as the long distance ex--but he was loyal and consistent and I think I've learned that's what I need. Passion only gets you so far, and in this case, left me burned.


I guess I'm confused. I don't know if I am only getting to mourn the longer relationship now and whether the long distance ex was a glorified rebound or if I'm mourning the loss of the long distance guy who really hurt me and I'm attempting to rebound with my reliable ex. I feel as though being burned by somebody has made me feel a whole lot more for my ex who would have done anything for me, and still would. I left looking for a spark with somebody, found it and realised you need a whole lot more to sustain a relationship.


My (older) ex has been remarkably understanding about this--I think he saw it as me exploring because he could sense I was on the fence for a lot of our relationship. He proposed I come visit him (he now lives in Malta; I am in Ireland; Long distance ex in England) before he moves to Australia. He wants to make a go of it and is willing to put the effort in (eg invited me to Aus for summer). In the year we broke up, he finished the PhD and landed an amazing job--it really is a testament to his character of how resilient he is. It feels a bit 'now or never'. Obviously it's easier to visit him in Malta than Aus (and he's moving to Aus in a month). I'm also aware I'm still hurting from the recent split, though I haven't hidden that from my older ex. He still thinks we could make it work and that he still loves me. I felt so passionate about him at one point and was only 21 when we got together/hadn't experienced another long term relationship so had nothing to compare it to and maybe didn't know how lucky I was. Should I take the chance? Is that selfish?


Sorry for the stream of consciousness. My heart is a confusing place at the moment.

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The new guy played you. He's an a$$hole and you totally fell for it. I'm so sorry. You gave your whole heart to the relationship, and he was -- at least part of the time -- faking it. You saw the red flags and you ignored them. Lesson learned.


6 days between the old guy and the new guy, then jumping back in with the old guy right away -- yikes. I think you should take some time to find yourself first. Just because you got burned by a spark doesn't mean you should choose to live without it. Why is the old guy your ex anyway? I'd like to here more about THAT relationship and why it ended.

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Thank you for the reply! Yes, he is an a*hole. I think I made allowances for him because of his "commitment issues" and lack of experience combined with the fact he seemed genuinely upset/distraught that it was over initially but ultimately, he just wasn't as invested/willing to commit as I was and his behaviour in the wake of the breakup really enforced that. I'm not in the habit of wanting to be with somebody who isn't into me. If he had just said that, I would have moved on straight away and happily but he strung me along with mixed messages. Anyway, onwards and upwards. At least I found out at a relatively early stage how immature he is and how little regard he shows for anyone but himself.


Yes, yikes! indeed.


I left my older ex because I didn't feel a spark anymore. He's American and I am Irish so there was a cultural mismatch in ways--different senses of humour/different backgrounds. He is also 24 years older than me so I worried about the future and what that might mean. Ultimately, he was finishing a PhD so had no time to invest into romance and I just wasn't happy anymore. He has since finished the PhD (he was always working on it when we were together) and has shown a more carefree side--the part of him I initially fell in love with. As before, I also didn't have much to contrast with as my longest relationship before that was about five months. He was the first guy I cohabited with and perhaps I didn't realise that all relationships ebb and flow and that ultimately he was good for me. He is a genuinely good guy and showed such integrity throughout the relationship and after the breakup. All of my family love him. The timing is very bad as you correctly pointed out but with him moving far away in a month, it feels like if I don't go see him before that then I might have thrown away a truly good man. Going to see him in Australia after I have had a chance to heal would be a far bigger commitment than a week in Malta so I'm trying to weigh up the pros and cons and really don't want to hurt him again either because as before, he is a great guy.

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It would be best to leave both these men and these chapters behind you and think of them as great lessons in dating, relationships and life.


Sorry but he has every player line in the book, now you can recognize them sooner in the future as well as all the other red flag behaviors you encountered.

he said he was going travelling indefinitely

He said he was attracted to me but he was waiting for that "moment" when the attraction "takes on a deeper level"

he said "I don't know. I really can't do long distance".

"I'll probably be an old man wishing I was lying next to you"

"I want to dream we can make it work when you finish school".

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I think you would be best to stay single for a while.


Get to know yourself in the context of an individual woman, rather than as a partner in a relationship. You're in your prime years. Your older ex is long past that and moving very far away; I think you would find that the appeal of going back to him wouldn't last long. Sure, spending a summer together in Australia might be fun - but then what? You go back to your continent, and he stays on his.


Date local guys. See how great it is to be able to find someone with similar life experiences, who can be with you in person. Someone who doesn't need so much time figuring out if he is attracted to you or not. Someone who doesn't waffle on whether or not to be with you.


You're still young - get out there and have fun!

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  • 5 months later...

Thanks guys. Seven months on from the breakup I'm feeling a lot better, it's amazing how time can heal. I did in January send an emotionally-charged email to the long distance ex asking why it ended for him in a bid for closure and he didn't reply so I stopped caring shortly after that, hadn't thought much about him or expected to hear from him again and then he sent me a message a few days ago: Hey [my name], I know this will be opening old wounds but you asked me a while ago why it ended for me and its plagued me ever since because I just didn't reply but you deserve an answer and I can't stop thinking about how I didn't reply and how disrespectful that is. But yes, in the end I realised I had fallen out of love, I knew how amazing a person you are and how well we clicked, I also saw how deeply you were capable of loving and I wanted to give you everything you wanted but realised I couldn't. I'll keep this short because I don't want to reopen old wounds. I'm sorry I couldn't just come out and say this at the time, I really hope you're well and you get everything you deserve from life because you deserve everything! Sorry I've just come out with this on a random Sunday afternoon, I've sort of done it for my own sanity still selfish, really I was pretty ty."


At this stage, I had moved on so said I accepted his apology and said I was equally sorry for any hurt in the wake of the breakup, best of luck, etc. Then he said "In a lot of ways I just feel sorry for myself. I had the love of somebody absolutely incredible. My friend said I'm emotionally retarded." Then I somehow wound up almost feeling sorry for him and attempted to boost his confidence by saying he was a good person, etc. before I slept on it and realised I had basically just glossed over the hurt he had caused, slipping right back into being an emotional crutch. So I said thanks again for the apology but I wasn't interested in being friends then deleted him. Now I'm left wondering why he would send a message months after he had ignored my message, outlining he had fallen out of love (well duh, his actions showed that) then in the next message seeming almost regretful? Am I right in assuming his "apology" was mostly for his benefit or does it seem a sincere gesture?


While either way I have no desire to strike up a romance with him ever again, I'm left unsure of how I should feel about him or this whole thing in general. My gut says he's just a confused, emotionally immature man who meant no harm but there's another voice which half thinks he might have sent these messages because he realised the grass wasn't as green as he thought and he missed the emotional support I gave him. He said he still sees me as one of his "best friends" and that he woke up every day wanting to send a message but he was a "coward". It really seems to me if you cared or had respect for a person you would at the very least inform them you had fallen out of love so they could move on easier instead of ghosting out of "cowardice". The cynical side of me is thinking he barely thought about me at all over the past few months and sent that message spontaneously rather than after months of thought.

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