The anatomy of a relationship meltdown

meltdownSome DG readers have emailed asking what’s happening with Mr.Romantic. They have noted a decided absence of any reference to my “sweetie” the last 2 weeks.

We had a meltdown. It started over something dumb, but then escalated to yelling and disparaging remarks. This prompted me to rethink if I was willing to continue with someone whose company I enjoyed, but knew there were some big deal breakers. As much as I tried the techniques I’ve suggested to you, I was unable to put them aside. The insights I had during and after have spawned many of the recent postings.

I’ve looked at my contributions to the meltdown, as well as his. I am not without error. I made mistakes. In our last two phone conversations, I yelled back at him when he began yelling and making inaccurate statements about what I felt, thought and my motivations. But in reviewing the emails of this meltdown, I never got accusatory nor affronted him personally.

I asked a former beau, who I’d dated last year for 2.5 months, if Mr. Romantic’s accusations paralleled his impressions so I’d know if I was misperceiving my actions or if Mr. R was filtering them through his own past wounds. I was assured that he had never seen any of what Mr. R described. Was it that I never behaved as Mr. R said, or that I just didn’t act that way with my former beau?

So what happened? The details are unimportant. In “The first fight” I talk about the importance of noticing the three parts of the fight process: before, during and after. In this case, all parts spoke volumes. I saw behaviors in him I hadn’t seen before. While we sometimes say things we regret in the heat of anger, I don’t believe we say things we don’t mean. I think we speak our naked truth during this time, as our social filter is removed. We say exactly what we think, so you get to see an unmasked view of the person’s perception of you.

His unscreened view of me was so loathsome I knew that even if we got through this, I’d always know he interpreted my behaviors in the worst possible way. How could you continue to date someone you knew put up with what he considered odious behavior flaws? Could I ever feel I could be myself knowing nearly everything I said or did was being misconstrued? I didn’t envision this as the way I wanted to live my life.

So while it was he who said “I’m done,” I didn’t try to dissuade him from his decision. As it is, I’ve endured a stream of scathing emails. If it was I who pulled the plug, I imagine the stream would have been a river. I now understand why some men just go poof — if they think their trying to talk rationally with someone will result in irrational blistering vitriol. And I’m reminded of “When breaking up is a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card.

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9 responses to “The anatomy of a relationship meltdown”

  1. Bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    Wow, I really don’t know what to say, except that I’m truly sorry to hear this. However, as you so wisely pointed out, it may be for the best in the long term if this guy dwelled on what he perceived to be your faults and couldn’t see your many sterling qualities. 🙂

    A big hug from me to you and best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  2. NYSharon Avatar

    Hugggsssss!!!!! I am sure there is something special he gave you that made it worth it. The learning experience alone. He sounded a bit intense. NEXT!!!

  3. Ally Avatar

    Sorry to hear it, as I never like it when things dissolve.
    I have to say that he did ‘glom’ on to you pretty fast, which in hindsight was a red flag. There is a tendency to believe in the beginning that a person is ‘perfect’, but it is important to temper that belief early on. While you are probably near-perfect, sweetums had you on the pedestal. Whenever anyone does this, especially a guy, watch out, because you will fall, guaranteed.

  4. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Thank you all for your virtual hugs!

    Yes, Ally, in fact, I had that pedestal talk with him within the first few dates! I told him I was far from perfect, but he said he’d love me no matter what warts came out. And yes, we even talked about how quickly he became attached. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do differently next time, as I thought I was commenting on what I saw as it happened. I just think it points to how we all see exactly what we want to see when we want to see it. None of us are immune.

  5. Gatti Avatar

    Oh DG, that is just what happened to me with the ex: “How could you continue to date someone you knew put up with what he considered odious behavior flaws?”. Exactly. It’s taken me months, some fine cognitive behavourial therapy, good friends and now, someone who sees me as I am and likes me very much, to begin to change, on a visceral level, the image that the ex imposed on me: a loud, strange-talking, illogical, thoughtless, smelly person.

    Funny thing: there is a profile of me in a regional magazine this month. The interviewer commented at length about how nice my accent is and how pleasingly I talk. That was one of the ex’s biggies, how I talked strangely. The Sweetie likes my voice too. Hmmmmmmm…..

    Name-calling is verbal abuse, it’s never on, even in anger. good that you found out about these problems now. But crummy to go through a breakup, no matter how deserved.

    He broke up with you and *he’s* sending vitriolic emails? Oh dear…

    Your friends and admirers are sending you good thoughts…

  6. Ally Avatar

    The sad thing is, this kind of crud happened in my 20s, so to have it happen in one’s 40s, GAWD! I even see it in friends who are in their 60s. I’d like to think discernment and maturity improve with age, but there’s no guarantee. >sigh

  7. Christine Avatar

    Thanks so much for sharing yourself with all of us. Your ability to see an emotional issue from all sides reads in such a positive way. I’m trying to live with more grace in my life and clearly you bring that here in every daily post.

  8. Sassy Avatar

    Hi DG, Sorry for the break-up. It’s never easy. But I’ve learned that these lessons help me grow stronger and I know you will too. I appreciate all of your honesty. Good luck with your next dating adventure.

  9. LA Avatar

    Sounds like Mr. Unavailable to me. He is probably so relieved that he is out of this relationship which was suffocating him. Ironically, however, he created the close association. You are better off. Go get drunk.