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.