A man looking for more women's perspectives on an unusual break up

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Registered: 12-31-1969
A man looking for more women's perspectives on an unusual break up
Mon, 08-13-2012 - 6:06pm

Little background first:

I'm a 25 yo male and the ex gf has recently turned 21 yo.

I have a bit of an interesting past. Some legal trouble that has recently been fully resolved and expundged from any criminal record that served as a real trying period for me that spanned over a number of years and interrupted my education. Everything is back on track perfectly now, such as finishing up school and starting a financially secure career, but it took a real emotional toll on me.

My family is a mess. Immediate family marriage and relative's marriages have all experienced  divorce (not me, never been married) and I was not brought up in an environment that encouraged me to never want a family or kids because of the negativity I saw and experienced.

She comes from a Middle Eastern (Palestinian) whose parents were born in the Middle East and moved here to the U.S. (I mention that because I believe there is a cultural aspect that had to do with our recent break up.)

Her family life is, well, interesting. I became aware of a clash of a Western lifestyle and values and their Middle Eastern ones that has created quite a rift amongst all members of the family. Not to get into too much detail, but things like the mother having cheated on the husband, but a divorce cannot take place because it tarnishes the family image (it's a "secret" that a few people outside of the family are aware of); the 3 male children (In their 20) mootch off of their father financial, barely go to school, don't work and treat the mother and daughter as is seen as acceptable in their culture, which is pretty much that they are to serve a subserviant role; the mother is unfortunately in my opinion, a shell of a women. She has never worked a day in her life and has always been taken care of by the husband, which I believe came about from an arranged marriage. It is without question there is NO love between the husband and wife and they are just stuck together. Furthermore, the mother is expected to raise the daugther soley on their own and in this particular case, influencing her daughter in a negative way, feeding her the idea that love should work like a fairy tale and it that marriage is something that should be persuaded almost immediately; the daughter (the ex), has always seemed to me to the be the one caught most awkwardly in both worlds: she begrudgingly plays the subserviant role, however speaks against the treatment of her and her mother in that regard, longs for a relationship of constant and unweaving attention (for obvious reasons) and wants the fairy tale love life and believes marriage is the ultimate goal that should be obtained as quickly as possible, has a job, goes to school full time and wants to have some kind of career.

I was a secret to her father the entire time we dated because she was not allowed to date for cultural reasons. Because of this, the time we could spend together was very limited because she couldn't be away from home for very long, go on trips, etc. This was very difficult for me. I wanted to see her more and grow our bond, but with limited time together there was only so much I could do.

OK, sorry that was pretty long. On to the actual story:

We had been talking for about 2 months before we started dating for about two years, starting when I was 23 and she was 19. I was emotionally distant and she was as well for obvious reasons. Over time we talked about it and each of us started opened up little by little, which created an incredible bond and was so much fun. She gave me her virginity, which I didn't fully grasp at the time as being such an incredible gift, show of trust and openness.

We had silly little fights and always made up, were googly eyed over each other for the longest time, shy to show affection around friends... all those little crush things. She would make all kinds of posts about me on Facebook and including pictures and quotes. It was really cute and I loved it!  So I mean the relationship was wonderful and full of lots of love, but as in any relationship there are things that could have been improved on.

When we started dating, I was working as a personal trainer at a gym and unfortunately was surrounded by people you would expect to be in such an environment: everything being very sexually oriented and male dominant. I really feel that this caused me to have a skewed view of my relationship and not appreciate the gift I had been given. I never cheated on her, but the thoughts were there because it was encouraged and opportunities were there. I never treated her as less then me, but I didn't open up as much as I should have because "that's not what guys do." Furthermore, being surrounded by women all day while at work definitely brought feelings of insecurity to my gf no matter how much I consulted her on it not being a problem because I only had eyes for her, which was entirely true. Not anything big, but definitely not helping and something I would change if I could go back.

After about a year, the gf was really starting to give her all and I was still remaining a little distant for previously stated reasons, but also in part because I started realizing that I was not 24 and just a personal trainer...I wasn't accomplishing anything with my life and was secretly embarrassed with myself. I decided it was time to get back into school and started the appropriate application process and started to develop a one track mind. Also around this time, the gf started speaking on the idea of marriage and kids. This was NOT something I wanted to even think about and every time she brought it up I shut it down immediately. I didn't realize it at the time, but this was the start of me crushing our relationship. That was something very important to her and I didn't want to hear about it because I thought it was too soon and I wasn't leading what I believed to be an appropriate life in terms of a job and financial security to even begin to entertain the idea.

The limited amount allowed together started to wear on us a little and I felt that things were getting repeative and not moving ahead because of it. Only being able to spend a few hours together when we hung out was becoming very tiresome to me and I voiced my concern, but she said there was nothing she could do. We were able to pull off one tripunder her father's nose together with one of her girl friends to Disneyland, which was amazing.

Anyway, I got into the school of my choice, which was relatively close by, about 40 min away from the gf's home. She was concerned about the distance, but i assured her it would be fine. She started needing more attention understandably because she was feeling insecure while I was mentally getting more focused about getting my life on track.

School started (Spring Semester) and I honestly became obsessed with doing well. I really pushed her away. Not seeing her for a week or two at a time, not talking to her for sometimes days at a time...it was not ok of me. She was really, really hurt by it. Me creating that distance along with basically telling her I wasn't interested in marriage or kids (I told her I didn't want to consider it or even entertain the idea until I was done with school and many times I, having gotten annoyed with the constant bringing up of it, flat out told her I never wanted to get married or have kids.) I think destroyed a lot of what she felt for me.

Soon enough the semester ended and  I was very proud that I finished it with a 4.0 GPA. Unfortunately, the emotional toll of my inability to balance school and my relationship had taken a heavy toll. Me and the gf hung out for part of the summer and it was evident that things were starting to trickle down. It got to the point of which I called a break between us so I could evaluate what I really wanted to do with my life and her. I really took the time to evaluate myself and my life with this girl.

We kept in touch and talked frequently over the next month and I began to understand that I really could see myself marrying her and maybe start a family. Not saying I'd jump into it just like that, but it was a future that I wanted to pursue. It was such a revelation and went against what I have always thought I wanted that I didn't believe it at first. I understood that my obsession with school hurt her and I wanted to right that wrong. I wanted to make up for all the attention I starved her of ten times over. I really felt like I had an epiphany. I started to talk to her more and build up the courage to how I was going to tell her all of this. I wanted it really send a message that I saw my wrongdoings and I could see me spending the rest of my life doing that.

Unfortunately, she went out on a date with some guy and I was pretty upset. I asked her about it immediately after and she said she felt bad because she wanted to see me instead, but was so happy to have someone give her all the attention she had desired that I over the last 5 months had not given her. I felt SO bad because I for the first time I really understood how I had made her feel. I apologized profusely about it and told her I really wanted to talke to her about everything. She was agreed, but it was going to have to wait because she was leaving on a family trip back to the Middle East in a few days. I should have pushed to talk to her before she left, but I didn't.

While she was on her trip we kept in touch, but kept it light. There were a few flirtatous comments made on Facebook too. The longer she was away the stronger I felt about the feelings that had revealed themselves to me. I told her again that I really wanted to talk to her when she got back and she still agreed. I was prepared to tell her it all.

Then probably the worst day of life occurred; Her relationship status changed to "in a relationship". I sent her a message asking about what the hell was going on. Long story short: Some guy she met 2 weeks into the trip asked her father for her hand in marriage. Her father of course said no, but she apparently became infatuated with the guy. She told me she didn't feel like she could trust the guy at all (weird), but wanted to try with him because he made her feel passionate again. I was in shock and started spilling my guts out to her over the next few days, however I didn't tell her what I had planned on telling her about how I could see a future with her, but I apologized about how I had acted over the past 6 months and told her it had all changed. She wasn't interested. As a matter of fact, she was down right COLD.

She said things like: "I'm in love with this guy." "You need to move on." "You live and learn." "I only see you as a friend." "I don't feel for you like that anymore so I don't know why I should try." "We don't share the same priorities." "I wanted you to be the one, but I understand now that you aren't" "We'll see what the future holds." (Mean little glimmer of hope with that one! UGH!)

It was so hard to read those things. I was devestated.

When she got back from her trip, I rode the 40 mintues it took to get to her house and brought her 4 boutiques of roses and poured myself out to her again. She didn't even take the flowers and restated everything she had said before through teary eyes.

I asked her if we could go out to coffee a few days later (too soon I know) and she said no. She was really adament about not having anything to do with me, ending it wit a stingingly definitive "Goodbye.". I've never been stone walled so hard. It was brutual.

I haven't spoke with her for a few days and don't plan on contacting her for awhile. I've read all the the suggestions you can online, talked to so many of my girl friends about it  and even a middle eastern friend who was able to give me some real insight of how the culture is (and give a bit of an explanation to some of her odd behavior) so I'm not completely lost on this whole thing. I really just want to get more perspectives on it.

Final Note: Why do I want to stay with her? She is the first and only person who has been so patient and loving with me that it literally caused me to reevaluate my entire view on life and made me adopt that view. I want to give her all that I am for that. She is worth any amount of work or waiting to me. I know emotions are playing a role right now and will for some time, but objectively I know she did something special. i want to be the one to fulfill her dreams.

Please offer any and all thoughts.

Thank you very much for reading.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-04-2006
You say you want to "stay with" her, but you're not with her. And she's said in no uncertain terms that it's over and goodbye.

I understand that you've come to this "realization", but you can't expect her to move on your timetable. Just because you're now sure you want a future with her doesn't mean that she has to feel the same way. She did when you didn't, and now you do when she doesn't.

Sounds like a case of bad timing to me. Sure, you have all this history and it's hard (really hard), but you don't have any choice but to accept her decision. It doesn't matter if you think she's making a mistake or making bad decisions, those are her choices to make.

You could choose to wait for her, you could choose to keep contacting her and keep asking her for another chance, and she could keep saying no again and again. Or, you can accept that for now, this is her decision. You can choose to move on with your life and focus on school, your future career, making new friends, etc., and perhaps someday she'll come back to you. Or maybe she won't.

But I definitely don't recommend putting your life on hold while you attempt to convince her to come back to you. And I definitely don't recommend you keep contacting her when she's told you adamantly that she wants nothing to do with you. If you continue to try to initiate contact and meetings, you'll start to come across in a bad way (almost like a stalker who won't take no for an answer) and you don't need to jeopardize your future now that you have a clean record.
Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010

It is that perhaps during the summer you have time to wrestle with emotions.  It always seems better in retrospect.  Truth is you have other dreams.  You have placed her on a pedestal.  That is a mistake.  Dealing with cultural differences as if you emotionally comprehend those differences; even if they appear to be somewhat the same as your culture is an error.  

   In all her leaving is a blessing.  The new fall means that school will be your life.  Your lack of experience in the "love" game has made this failed relationship much more important than it was.  You cannot fulfill another's dreams.  They have to do that for themselves. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008

Just want to add xxx is a man.  Not that I don't value his opinion, but since you are looking for a woman's perspective ...

IMHO, especially given your dysfunctional immediate family, you don't need to "take on" another dysfunctional family.  It is all well that she often SPEAKS of goals like going to school, having a career, but what has she DONE to actually achieve those goals?  After a year, she turned to speaking of marriage and kids. 

It is possible to be married and have kids and go to school and have a career.  But it IS very difficult.

You need to focus on your schooling and your life.  You are still very young.  I believe people sow up in our life for a reason.  Perhaps she is there to give you the catalyst to get back on track, now that her "job" is done, it is time for you to move on.  (And most likely in some point of your life, you will also be the catalyst for someone else).  Let her go. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2004
I agree with Demontespan. You are very young. Coming from a disfunctional family might make it more difficult for you to choose a good life partner. You may need to learn some lessons first and this woman may have entered your life for that purpose.

Please remember that you can intensely love someone with all your heart and soul, who is a really good person, but that doesn't necessarily make her right for you. I think the cultural differences between the two of you may have proven to be a huge problem later, particularly once you had children. Their value system is completely different. But, your relationship with this girl taught you many things to prepare you for your relationship with Ms. Right who is out there waiting for you.

I think you loved this woman, but a big part of the reason you are feeling so bad is because she ended it. Maybe she was your security blanket? I think its much more painful to have the blanket taken away before you are ready to give it up on your own. So, you are very emotional right now. I remember what that feels like is it is awful.

I don't think it is wise to pursue her anymore. I would let some time pass. You need to be able to see things clearly when you are not feeling so emotional. You are going to feel like crap for awhile, but it will go away.

Take care.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2004

Despite the fact that you are feeling very emotional right now, you are responding in a VERY level headed way.  That is really good. 

Just from what you have said, I'm thinking she comes from a family culture that is strict and has expectations much different than yours.  Her upbringing was probably rigid.  I doubt that the feelings of women are taken into account.  At that same time, your girlfriend is bonded to those people and I'm sure her father's opinion is most important to her.  If you had a child, raising him or her in that environment really could have been terrible.  I know you want your child to have a joyful life.  Some culture don't care about that. 

Also, you are right.  You probably are jealous.  That is normal, but isn't it an ugly feeling?  That, coupled with any insecurity and just plain old sadness is painful.  Around your age, I remember dating a guy I thought was cute, but the minute he opened his mouth, I cringed.  I went out with him maybe three times.  He ended up asking my roommate out and I remembering feeling very  jealous.  I didn't even like him!  But you loved this woman, so it's going to sting for awhile.

I'm sure she loved you, but that is kind of beside the point.  Her culture probably doesn't encourage her to find a soul mate that will fulfill her emotionally.  Her mother certianly didn't.  She probably just feels pressured to get married, period.  In that culture, I'm sure the girls feel like complete losers if they aren't married by a certainly age.  So, she may have chosen this guy because he is ready.  It doesn't really matter why she chose him as long as you recognize the fact that you have not made a mistake by letting the relationship go.

Take care of yourself and pat yourself on the back for being so logical about this when you are feeling so sad.  A little time is all you need.





Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010

"And when I really think about it, I find it scary that this girl is so willing to give herself away to someone she hardly knows and wants to marry him, regardless of the cultural aspect."

   Many cultures for centuries have had the relatives and parents choose the husband or wife.  The idea of marrying "for love" is a 19th century western concept.

 This is one of the times that cultural conditioning takes command.  It is not scary just different.  The concepts and ground rules are different.  So it is hard to get your head around it.  You learned how it was supposed to be according to US romantic standards. 

  Most parents like to be vindicated and justified in their life choices and wish the children to follow in their footsteps.  The learned cultural standards wield a heavy hand. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007

>>I personally found it odd how the first person other then me to show her that affection she jumped all over and completely forgot about the year and a half of great times we shared.<<

Pel, it makes perfect sense to me.   You have to remember that she was, by now, completely turned off you.   What's the use in remembering the good times when they are long gone?  

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010

Hi Pel

    Let me enlighten you.  She has chosen another.  It does not matter how long your "relationship" was.  It is over.  You must move on.  Classes will start soon and your emotions need to focus on that.  People will change and at this time & stage they will change fast.  Going over in your mind what you found odd does not help your future.  Forget and move on.  IMO you are holding on to this failed relationship.

  How are you going to move on?  What are you going to do to move on emotionally. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007

Sorry Pel, judging by your response, my post wasn't clear.

You were wondering how she managed to move on so quickly. My last sentence should have been "What's the use in HER remembering the good times when they are long gone?". Five months or so bad times is more than sufficient to negate the good times.  

You said I find it very difficult to accept that I may have lost out on a wonderful and life changing opportunity because of timing being off by a little bit.   Since you're trying to move forward, be honest with yourself.  This had nothing to do with timing - it had everything to do with you pushing her away and having other priorities.   One can manage to work and/or study without pushing their partner away.