You’ve probably heard almost all of it, but I’m not positive you’ve heard this one. This happened in April: My partner at the time goes on vacation with his college friends two or three times a year; I’d been going with them for seven years. The day before he left, we were discussing whose last name our kids should have (since I wasn’t going to change my last name when we got married) and he said mine would be better since it’s easier to spell.
All anyone said was that it was so sweet how he’d stare at me anytime we were in the same room and that he just loved me so much. Literally more than six people said that to me without prompting over the years. We were best friends with dozens of inside jokes and went on adventures together every month.
He had broken up with me once, five years ago. He asked to get back together 18 hours later and had said repeatedly that that was the greatest regret of his life. Obviously, he’d promised many times that we were indefinite life partners that worked things out. Obviously. We talked all the time about how we would parent, where we would live, what kind of childcare we wanted, what we would do if one of us couldn’t work for a while and so on.
Anyway, I had to work (as a paramedic at a fire department) so I was going to join him on vacation the next day. That morning he texted me asking me to bring the medications he forgot. That afternoon he called me while I was dealing with a choking baby. Then, on our way back from the hospital, I called him back. I told him we were on speakerphone and that my coworker could hear.
He told me we were broken up, he was moving out and leaving me, that it wasn’t a negotiation and that there was nothing to talk about. Then he hung up and blocked me and has not spoken to me since. I had to leave my shift in the middle of it and drive home while losing my mind.
I am not dangerous. I was not cheating on him. I have no untreated mental health disorders. I am not addicted to any substance. I do not threaten suicide to get my way. I don’t use violence or even raise my voice. Sometimes when I get upset I cry. That’s really and truly it.
Anyway, here’s the explanation I was sent about why he left me like such a coward:
For (2): The reason I broke up with you in the way that I did — an intentionally brief phone call– is because I remember the first time I broke up with you that I just can’t deal with alternating audible despair, fury, and negotiation. After several hours of the same, I have learned there is no resolution I will actually hold onto in the face of that. I cannot handle you crying out of obvious and reasonable despair; in the moment I will do or persuade myself of anything to try and make it better. You angry is also hard to deal with, though not as bad as the crying. “I, Aaron, should be willing to look upon the consequences of my actions and the emotional devastation I have wrought” is a fair stance to take (hey, it’s justice), but one that’s incompatible with me actually going through with it. “Nailing the door shut” is a fair summary of what I was trying to do because I don’t think I could have done it any other way.
So I did what I did: tell you it’s over, and get off the phone before I can be persuaded otherwise, especially because in the moment — and in fact any time I think I’ve lost you — I have a really hard time sympathizing with the steady-state Aaron who was unhappy and wanted out. I didn’t mean to be cruel. I know you hate stonewalling. You didn’t do anything wrong that would justify that. But I also need to protect myself from how strong your emotions are at times like that, which I can’t in-person at all, and honestly can’t really do over the phone either, and I need to do that because if I don’t I’ll just end up in a state where I’m saying (and in the moment, believing) whatever to make it stop.
Anyway, I’m not sure whether or not he left me for someone else, but I know I’m welcome here anyway. I’ve been reading a lot of your blog and am slowly accepting that he’s terrible, this is what he was always like and I just couldn’t see it, and I don’t make people abandon me the same week we’re scheduling embryo freezing. There is no narrative that I can string together to make sense of this. Even if I ignore my own perceptions and just refer to words he said with his actual mouth I can’t understand. Mostly I’ve stopped trying to and I’m doing a lot better at accepting I’ll never know why mostly because I can feel empathy.
Anyway, thank you for the sanity in the midst of the worst thing that’s ever happened to me (and that is not an easy contest to win). I’m only 32. I can start over. But I still miss him so much sometimes. I let him become the pillar of my life and now he’s gone and it’s hard to be in a world where that happened. I have good friends that are absolutely horrified by this. I am no contact with him and he did me the favor of never coming back from vacation so we don’t run into each other.
But I had no idea. We spent almost all of our time together and I thought I was the most important person in his life, too.
Thank you for listening,
Aaron is a ghoul. And a future faker. And absolutely shit at apologizing.
This is a classic case of “It’s Not What I Did, It’s How You Reacted.” And! He’s blaming you preemptively. Things could get messy, so let’s be a sociopath and dump you in the cruelest way possible. By speakerphone.
You asked for an explanation, which is a rookie mistake. First of all, Aaron is beneath contempt and should not be spoken with. I know your broken heart is having a hard time catching up with that. Yet, he’s gone on the offensive — treating YOU as if you’re beneath contempt and should not be spoken to. Mindfuck! Don’t ask for explanations because they don’t exist. He did it this way because he could. Because that’s how shallow and cruel this freak is. Wanting further contact with him is just an invitation for more cruelty. Do you think a guy this callous has INSIGHT? He’s a shallow puddle of piss, not the oracle of Delphi.
Contact is centrality. He’s devalued you, but still he’ll accept your failed currency of attention. And if other sources dry up, expect him to circle back for more kibbles (aka “hoovering.”) He did it before after he dumped you, he’ll probably do it again. So be strong and stay NO CONTACT.
Before I feed his crap to the Universal Bullshit Translator, a word about future faking. To be a chump is to be future faked. Cheating is the theft of your reality, and so is future faking. They go hand in hand. You’re living a life of presumed mutual investment.
The truth is in their actions.
Now, with cheating, obviously you’re unaware of what’s going on behind the scenes. But the lies keep you invested. You’re of use, until the moment you’re not. In your case, he made plans with you and promises — we’re going to get married, freeze eggs, name future children — but in NINE YEARS — the best years of your fertility — did any of these plans manifest themselves? Did he DO anything other than make promises? People who want to do things DO THEM.
Yes, life takes planning, but most people work in tangible ways towards outcomes. Pay attention to what people do over what they say. Go watch this video about the power of “maybe.” The dopamine hook of “maybe” is hard-wired in our brains. You got intermittent rewards — he stared at you lovingly, he made a happy promise — nothing of value materialized, but you stayed hooked.
And then one day, like the bastard he is, he unhooked you and threw you back in the dating ocean. Not compassionately, not ethically — he lacks the raw materials — but cruelly (your humiliation is a high) and abruptly (your services are no longer needed).
Of course you’re anguished and want explanations. An actual loving, invested person — even one who wanted to end the relationship — could not behave this way. It would HURT them to hurt you. What he’s doing is a sick impersonation of that — your upset upsets me — but that’s a different beast. If it truly UPSET him, he would take pains to lessen your grief — he would break up with you as kindly as possible. In person, with kindness, with a fair division of your shared life. He’d responsibly clean up his mess and not leave you wondering.
Now, let’s feed his stupid bleating to the UBT.
For (2): The reason I broke up with you in the way that I did — an intentionally brief phone call– is because I remember the first time I broke up with you that I just can’t deal with alternating audible despair, fury, and negotiation.
I can’t deal with emotions because I don’t possess them. What is this bother? Why are you moist? Wherefore snot?
After several hours of the same, I have learned there is no resolution I will actually hold onto in the face of that.
You’re so powerful, you force me to be cruel. I’m an asshole because you emote.
I cannot handle you crying out of obvious and reasonable despair;
It’s obvious and reasonable that you’d despair to lose the wonderfulness of me.
in the moment I will do or persuade myself of anything to try and make it better.
Let me make it better and dump you by speakerphone.
You angry is also hard to deal with, though not as bad as the crying.
This is hard on me. Harder really, than me breaking up with you via speakerphone. After you saved a baby from choking.
“I, Aaron, should be willing to look upon the consequences of my actions and the emotional devastation I have wrought” is a fair stance to take (hey, it’s justice), but one that’s incompatible with me actually going through with it.
Aaron being a grown-up is incompatible with who Aaron is — a sociopathic, avoidant baby-man.
“Nailing the door shut” is a fair summary of what I was trying to do because I don’t think I could have done it any other way.
I must dump you this way! Can’t you see your obsolescence? FOOL!
So I did what I did:
Promise you children, promise you a commitment, play make-up futures with pretend children…
tell you it’s over,
How was I to know you believed me? JUNIPER ISN’T REAL, Naive! We don’t have a daughter named Juniper! She’s just a contrivance so you’ll suck my dick.
and get off the phone before I can be persuaded otherwise, especially because in the moment — and in fact any time I think I’ve lost you — I have a really hard time sympathizing with the steady-state Aaron who was unhappy and wanted out.
I have a really hard time sympathizing.
But if I do muster some, it’s for me.
I didn’t mean to be cruel.
I meant to be cruel.
I know you hate stonewalling.
This is me. Expressing myself by speakerphone! You don’t like stonewalling, so here, try abject humiliation and public rejection. Is that better?
You didn’t do anything wrong that would justify that. But
Always the qualifier…
I also need to protect myself from how strong your emotions are at times like that,
I hurt you to protect myself. DARVO! I’m the real victim here. You’re a hysterical woman.
which I can’t in-person at all, and honestly can’t really do over the phone either, and I need to do that because if I don’t I’ll just end up in a state where I’m saying (and in the moment, believing) whatever to make it stop.
I’m not a man who built you up, then cruelly dumped you and made you cry. No, I’m a captive, imprisoned by your emotions. One wrong move and whammo! Waterworks!
I’ll do whatever I can to make it stop — like inflict more cruelty. That always makes people stop crying.
Naive, believe me, this freak thrills to your emotions. He’s got a whole fantasy built up in his head about how important he is, and how devastated you are. Well, it’s natural you would be after what he did. But I mean, he has a whole crazy idea that he’s some captive to your pining and unreasonable demands upon him. Versus someone who fronted a committed relationship that he was never invested in.
I shouldn’t untangle his ugly skein, but I think he’s projecting here. He’s the person who can’t deal with dependency or connection or emotions. You wanted real things — children, commitment — and he can’t operate at that level. It terrifies him, so he projects that on you. There’s nothing wrong with you for wanting authentic connection. You just chose from the barbed wire monkey pile. It happens.
As you move on, date for character, and pay attention to actions over empty promises. Big ((hugs)).