My D-day was almost 3 months ago. It wasn’t a marriage but a 10-year relationship, since teen years. I am 27, she is 25.
On her summer vacation to the Canary Islands, she hooked up and fell in love with a guy (38-year-old surfing instructor/musician, WTF), proceeded to invite him to her next vacation in Barcelona (we were supposed to go to my friend’s wedding, but she asked if she could pass on it long before. Knowing how much she loves travelling, I chumpishly agreed).
Next two months she kept him a secret and kept seeing him, meanwhile she started getting distant on me. I picked up on it, thought she was unhappy and started busting even greater gears to make her happy. A big case of pick me dance without even knowing I was competing.
Eventually one evening I saw a message pop up on her iPad that was explicit. I went down the rabbit hole, asked her about it knowing the details, but she denied it all. She was distant and kept giving neutral answers “I don’t know”, “I am not sure what I want right now”, “I love you but differently”.
I went away and shattered. Next day I had such a schism from “person I love and trust is saying one thing, I read a different thing entirely” that I “hacked” into her account again and read the entire convo. Very explicit and very clear. I admitted this to her and was about to break up, but she beat me to it — used the breach of trust as “this helped me make up my mind.”
My issue is — this was a person with so many green flags and barely any red. I am not deluding myself here, the package you described in your husband, Mr. CL, was there for 10 years. Reciprocation, caring, open and honest, vocal about judgment on infidelity and the like, kept up what she promised.
Was this just an exit affair? How do I handle having to come down from cloud nine where I have been for 10 years? I am really struggling with suddenly losing that pitch perfect person I knew.
Chump with lost ideals
Dear Chump with lost ideals,
Forgive me, but you’re young. You don’t know much about your character until it’s tested. By committing during those years that many people are sowing their wild oats, the Dump and Be Dumped skillset isn’t formed. Your ex is a coward who behaved horribly.
I’m not excusing her because of youth, but I’m trying to give you some context on the red flag/green flag thing. You didn’t have any prior relationship history to survey here (unless you’re including middle school). I believe you, that while she was your girlfriend, she seemed all in. But at some point, she gave herself permission to cheat and to let you bust those keep-her-happy gears. That’s shitty character.
Exit affair? As I’ve said here before — Use your words, not your genitals. If she wanted to break up, she could’ve communicated that. But YOU did the breaking up — she was intent on cake and blameshifting. Again, that’s shitty character.
Consider the larger picture here — that’s before the hard stuff of adulthood. Her life sounds like jolly trips to the Canary Islands and Barcelona. (Her next vacation? When I was her age, I was living in a former crack house in DC working for lousy wages with $15 of disposable income between paychecks. And I walked to school in the snow, uphill, both ways…. end Old Person rant…)
My point: her life is pretty light on responsibility at 25. No babies vomiting in her hair, or aging parents, or unemployment, or mortgage payments, or tax audits. When life’s biggest challenge is to not fuck the surfing instructor… and she’s failing? This is not the sort of person you want to go the distance with.
Could she mature and become a less entitled, deceptive person? It’s possible, but life needs to kick her in the teeth some more. You don’t want to stick around for that social experiment. Your job is to learn from this. Do not lose your ideals — stick with being a good guy, the world needs you — but have boundaries. Yep, even with those you love, trust and with whom you have a decade of sunk costs.
meanwhile she started getting distant on me.
This is your cue to ask yourself: Is this relationship working for me? Am I getting what I need here?
Sure, you should ask her why she’s being distant. She’d probably lie. But you still need to bring it back to yourself — is this acceptable? If not, what am I going to do next? Speak up? End it? Mirror back the distance?
Rookie chump mistake — you chose Pick Me Dance.
I picked up on it, thought she was unhappy and started busting even greater gears to make her happy.
Her happiness isn’t your job. You sound like a loving, empathic person, but remember — her “unhappy” is her responsibility. She can speak up, advocate for herself, see a therapist, adopt a pet… Don’t go to the lopsided place. Where you’re tappity-tap-tapping to prove your worth. You matter and it’s up to you to act like it.
I went down the rabbit hole, asked her about it knowing the details, but she denied it all. She was distant and kept giving neutral answers “I don’t know”, “I am not sure what I want right now”, “I love you but differently”.
Okay, that’s enough information. You don’t have to hack into her accounts to find more. (Understandable when you’ve been gaslighted, #nosnoopshame.) This is actionable information.
She doesn’t know? She’s neutral? GAME OVER. Do you want to fight for the honor of someone’s ambivalence?
What she’s saying is “persuade me.” Pick me dance. Keep being of use. Let me enjoy the power seat a little longer.
Note what she is NOT saying: “I want to break up. I’m not in love with you any longer. I need to end this.”
Every weasel word leaves open the possibility she MIGHT change her mind. She doesn’t know “right now.” Oh, could that change? Tappitty-tap-tap.
Fuck. That. Shit.
I “hacked” into her account again and read the entire convo. Very explicit and very clear. I admitted this to her and was about to break up, but she beat me to it — used the breach of trust as “this helped me make up my mind.”
Classic It’s Not What I Did, It’s Your Reaction to It. Otherwise known as blameshifting. She made up her mind about your relationship when she pursued Mr. Surfing instructor and lied to you about it. You’re just now getting the memo.
How do I handle having to come down from cloud nine where I have been for 10 years? I am really struggling with suddenly losing that pitch perfect person I knew.
All love is risk. To be intimate, is to be vulnerable. You don’t want to be one of those shallow people fronting a fake life. Be glad you’re a person who loves with his whole heart. The good news is, you aren’t the only person on the planet who bonds. You don’t need to lose your ideals about love, you just need to trust your ability to stick up for yourself if things go pear-shaped.
That’s all we control — ourselves. We don’t control if people love us, keep their promises, or cherish our winsomeness. I know that’s scary, but it’s also liberating. You just control your side of the equation — bring your A game because that is who you ARE. When someone doesn’t love you back, know your worth and stop investing. You control that!
When you’re 27, ten years is more than a third of your life. I’m sure her rejection feels like a huge measure of your worth. It’s not. It’s ONE data point, from an immature person with lousy life skills.
I know you’re grieving now. But you won’t always. Dust yourself off and get back out there. You’re an ethical man who loves with his whole heart — that’s a stock that trades high. A two-timing girlfriend? Not so much.