Blindsided By A Break Up Email

Name: Lucy
Age: 31
State: NYC
Question:
My boyfriend of three months and I recently booked a weekend trip to Miami for Memorial Day Weekend. (He paid for the tickets.) Over the weekend he sent me an email telling me that he didn’t feel we were ready to travel together and that he wanted some time to think about things.  This came on so suddenly that I didn’t know how to respond. I already took the days off work to accommodate this trip. How could he do this so last minute and by email? How should I respond? Should I call him? I’m so shell shocked I don’t know what I would say. What do you think I should do?

 

Okay. First, breathe. I don’t blame you for being upset at this. In your mind, you were blindsided. But before you react, let’s break this whole thing down.

First, let’s address the “my boyfriend” thing. I’m not privy to the details or conversations where you two agreed to be “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” I do know that women tend to take the “my boyfriend” ball and run with it. Men let them because it’s easier than having some drawn out conversation. The words boyfriend and girlfriend really should be erased from the dictionary at this point, as they mean nothing. They are juvenile terminology we use to help us clarify and identify a relationship. What matters is whether or not the two people involved in the relationship have a) sacrificed something for the other person and b)expressed or pledged and explicit desire to be exclusive. (Even then there’s no guarantee, but for the purpose of this conversation let’s assume there is.) Sacrifice is key. Does this person give something up for you? Do they relinquish a level of power or sense of security to you? If not, then this is a faux-lationship with an expiration date.

Now, let’s go on the presumption that he did these things for you. There is nothing written that says someone is required to invest a certain amount of time in or on a relationship once they have committed. He tried it and it wasn’t shaping up to what he wanted or thought it could be. He’s allowed to do that, as are you. He thought you two were ready to go to the next level and now he’s reconsidering. The why’s are inconsequential. He’s not there yet and he may never be. You can not speed up the process. Is the timing awful? Yes. But such is life. Sadly, we do not get to schedule or choose when we are dumped. For him to do something like this should tell you just how apprehensive he was. Which brings us to the next point.

Things like this rarely happen out of the blue. There were signs. We ignored them. They don’t have to be glaring red flags either. They could be as tiny as a hesitation to answer certain questions or have conversations. Many times they are obvious. Like when he says he wants to get to know you better before committing. But signs or no signs, he’s not ready or not interested. Period. Do not pass Go.

As for the way in which he did this, I’m torn. The bottom line is that he told you. There are people out there who never get that explanation. I think 3 months is enough time where a phone call is warranted. But that’s me, and that’s you. That’s not everybody. People are split down the middle in regards to the appropriate and effective ways we communicate. He knew you’d be hurt and would probably want to talk it out. He didn’t want to fight or talk. He felt guilty enough.  (Maybe.)  Or maybe he always knew this was coming. I have no idea. He won’t give you the real answer, either. He wanted to cancel that trip. You can call him cowardly or lazy all you like. It doesn’t change the fact that this appears to be over. Trying to piece it all together will make you crazy.

You can reply to him and express your confusion and hurt. Just don’t expect him to come running back. If he wanted to speak on the phone with you, he’d have called. He will ignore your calls. So don’t bother trying.

As hard as it sounds, you need to try and put this out of your mind. It’s possible you’ll get an answer in a  few weeks. Be prepared to never get a resolution. If you do, it’s a bonus.

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27 Responses to “Blindsided By A Break Up Email”

  1. AJ Says:

    Some good advice here. Thanks Moxie! One question, what things would you consider “sacrificed something for the other person” to be?

    Thanks

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Angeline Says:

      The biggest would be the freedom to date other people. Another would be to take trips and do whatever you want while there – be it see friends, sleep half the day and eat chinese take-out in the bed, or go-go-go without the hassle of worrying whether the other person vacations in the same style. Three months is really soon to take a trip together. I for one don’t get enough vacation time to blow a week of it on someone who will be grumpy because I want to sit on the hotel balcony and relax, or check out the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, or, and this would cause me to break plans, the other person wants to plan out every minute.

      Either he didn’t really want to offer that the OP go along but felt he had to, or something happened between invite and trip that made him apprehensive about how it would go. Email seems cold, but at least it gives you the chance to respond with some dignity if you so decide. I’d cut my losses and move on. Don’t attempt to convince him otherwise, or think that any amount of level-headedness or cool will influence things. Remain calm and respectful for your own state of mind, not as a lever to work your way back in.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

      • Selena Says:

        He invited her to go away for Memorial Day weekend- 3 days- not schedule a whole week vacation with him. Do you really think going away for the weekend with someone you’ve been dating for 3 months is “too soon”?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

        • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

          If she took multiple days off of work for the trip, then it sounds like the trip will be longer than 3 days. Or at the very least they will be together for more than 3 consecutive days.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          • Selena Says:

            Since she wrote she got time off for the “weekend” my guess is she doesn’t work for a company who’s policy is to shut down for 3 days. She did not state she put in for a week vacation to go off with a fellow she had dated 3 mos. which was the assertion above.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

            • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

              Does it really matter if it’s 3 days or 4 or 5? How does the length of the vacation have any bearing on the letter? That’s a rhetorical question, btw. I don’t need or want an answer.

              Angeline didn’t make an assertion. It was an offhanded comment. She was speaking for herself.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

        • Angeline Says:

          Apparently it was too soon (for him). And I assumed it was longer than just the weekend, when she said she took time off – I admit I was thinking of vacation days added to the weekend and Monday holiday, not a job that included weekend hours.

          Even so, as Lost Sailor said below, if they haven’t had 24/7 time at home over a weekend yet, I think that’s a lot to take on for even a weekend trip. 3 months isn’t a lot of time to have gotten many of those weekends in yet.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

          • Jeff Says:

            3 months too soon? I’ve followed all “the rules” got me no where. Started dating a woman in January. As it worked out she had a vacation planned 3 weeks into this thing. She casually suggested I come along. Against my better judgement I went. Still seeing her & firing on all cylinders. Screw the rules which are good for creating barriers!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      • fuzzilla Says:

        >or, and this would cause me to break plans, the other person wants to plan out every minute.<

        Have to say, that's a huge turnoff of mine, too. So suffocating! Vacations are supposed to be fun. (I guess a compromise would be to split up for parts of the trip so Captain Control Freak can check everything off their list unimpeded and the other party can have some chill, do-whatever time).

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Erine Says:

    I know you will be sitting by the phone, I would do, all people with emotions and inve$ted would. But like Moxie saud, wait it out. Email him smth calm and respectful , no shaming, no name calling. Tell,him you are upset and thought you two had smth good but that you respect his decision and hope he is well. Nothing else, just dissapear. If he ever decides to reconsider you will have 1000 points in your favor than if you get angry with him. Walk away with dignity and calm +, he will respect you for that. I,know from experience of how exes behaved after breakups and who left the best impression. But i know it is a hard thing to deal with.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

    • grace Says:

      Great advice for the OP. Dating is a crap shoot. Mox is right, sooooooooooo many relationships end with one person just ‘falling off the face of the earth.’. I like the idea of sending a respectful, non-blamey but honest email.

      I will follow this advice when and if I am faced with this situation. I certainly have had this experience in the past and unfortunately, sent the goodbye/shaming/etc. letter and got NO response at all which just made the pain even worse. Also, I agree that there were likely red flags which we often disregard because we think we are being too desperate/guarded/judgemental. When I finally have the courage to jump back into the dating game (LOL!!) I am going to be sure to respect and listen to my intuition.

      GE

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Erine Says:

    Most likely its over but in any case, the absolute best is to be respectful and try to not go crazy analyzing this.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  4. separatedguy Says:

    Maybe you hear from in a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean you need to start things up again. One can always choose to end a relationship no matter what state its in. But someone who makes plans first then reconsiders after doesn’t seem like he has enough respect/consideration to take the process seriously. Another go would likely have low probability of long-term success.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  5. Selena Says:

    Canceling holiday plans a week before you are to leave? After you’ve taken the time off to go? By email? That’s low. For whatever reason he apparently decided he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend. Funny how the 3 month mark is common for this. I’m sorry you are hurting. If you feel like it, go ahead and shoot him a email detailing how you feel about him doing this. You don’t need to spare his feelings, he surely didn’t consider yours.

    And I agree with separatedguy, this man has proven how flakey he is…should he come sniffing around you again another go would likely end with a similar outcome.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8

    • Crotch Rocket Says:

      go ahead and shoot him a email detailing how you feel about him doing this. You don’t need to spare his feelings, he surely didn’t consider yours.
      Sending or not sending that email is not about his feelings; it’s about one’s own feelings and emotional well-being. Closure doesn’t come from yelling at someone or forcing a response out of them; it comes from acceptance.

      “… anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering; suffering leads to the Dark Side.” –Master Yoda

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. dimplz Says:

    I’m guessing he paid for your ticket, so I would try not to waste any time trying to ask him what went wrong and just say ok. If you paid for your ticket, I assume you will find a way to change it and eat the extra fee. This is just me, but I think after 3 months, taking a vacation with someone is a big risk. I tend not to move fast anyway, but I would say this was a “pre-lationship,” that probational period of discernment for both of you. I’m sure if you reflect, you would probably see that you really weren’t that close enough to do something like that, and in the beginning stages, people want to be able to vacation with their friends, when they’re almost guaranteed a drama-free time, than with someone who could potentially ruin their trip.
    Btw, I went to Miami on Memorial Day years ago. It was probably one of the worst times to go. Definitely not my crowd, culture wise and age wise. Go another time with your girlfriends and have fun. Just my two cents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  7. Eliza Says:

    i agree with separatedguy–only an inconsiderate moron would do such a thing. But you know what? Better it happen this soon, than invest more time with someone of this caliber, and get more emotionally committed and then have his true color shine through. Perhaps it’s not too late to ask your employer to allow you to take that time off – at a later date. Men like this deserve to be alone for a very long time. He saved you aggravation in the long run. You will find someone nicer and more deserving of you down the road. At least you didn’t pay for your ticket. The hotel can be cancelled in advance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  8. LostSailor Says:

    Gee, I’m surprised no one’s called this guy a sociopath yet.

    There’s really not enough information in the OP’s email to fully gauge the situation. One vital question is whether HE felt she was his “girlfriend,” that is, that they were exclusive. How long had they been sleeping together (assuming they were)? Were they seeing each other multiple times a week or were they really still just “dating”? It’s entirely possible he thought a trip a good idea. Personally, I don’t think you ever really get to know someone until you travel with them, especially travel abroad. But clearly he was having second thoughts. Had they previously spent long weekends together? Until you have already spent long periods of time in each other’s company 24/7 at home, doing it while traveling can be a recipe for disaster. Three months really isn’t that long a time.

    Whether he was “right” to send the message in an email rather than a phone call is debatable. I tend to agree with Moxie: he knew you’d be hurt and didn’t want a dramatic scene or to have to “talk it out.”

    Either that, or there’s a hot, young salsa dancer named Margita in the seat next to him as they wing their way to South Beach on Friday…

    Whether hears from him again or not, this is pretty much over.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  9. Jesse Says:

    I don’t have enough information to pass judgement on the guy, so (as usual) Moxie’s advice holds.

    When I read this, I heard the possibility of the following:

    “My boyfriend and I recently booked a vacation” = I pushed this guy into agreeing that a weekend of my choosing would be great!

    (He paid for the tickets) = he knows I don’t have any money, and I acted so excited, and told him that the tickets were really cheap, so he had to assume that he was going to pay.

    “Over the weekend” = 3 days later afterwards

    “he e-mailed me to say he didn’t feel we were ready to travel together” = knowing he wouldn’t get a word in edgewise, or worse, have to put up with screaming indignation, he did the the courtesy of sending you a note rather than just disappearing off the face of the earth.

    So again, until I know all the facts from both sides, I can’t be so quick to judge

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 15

    • Crotch Rocket Says:

      until I know all the facts from both sides,
      I can’t recall one instance here where we actually got the facts from both sides; that’s not how an advice column works. So, you just have to pay extra close attention to what the OP says–and to what the OP doesn’t say.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  10. Charlie Says:

    Well since you didn’t pay for the ticket and don’t have to worry about getting a refund, how about you either call your boss and let them know you’ll be available to work during that time, and if the work schedule is already firmly set with you off, just go enjoy yourself for those days off? Relax, maybe see some friends, even go on a day trip to a nearby city and check out a museum or something.

    Yeah it’s annoying and it might have been nicer if he could have called you, but he didn’t and the plans are canceled. So say “to hell with him,” move on, and enjoy your newly free time. Don’t waste your time calling him, and if you feel you must respond to the email just a one line “okay I got your message” will suffice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    • Selena Says:

      If it’s possible, consider taking a trip of your own this weekend. Spend time catching up with friends, go to a cook-out, do something entertaining with other singles. Distraction is better than spending the time off moping over this guy.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. Horace Says:

    People come up with the craziest reasoning.

    I hate to use this phrase–you know, because of that book and that totally emasculating movie based on that book–but girls, sometimes, he’s just not that into you. Even if he just was a second ago. And, yes, it works both ways, too. Sometimes, she’s just not that into me.

    It’s simple really:
    You can have interest, and then lose it.
    You can have interest, and then have more interest in someone else.
    You can convince yourself that you have more interest than you do, and then realize it.

    Sometimes people handle these situations in a non-confrontational manner. Sometimes they handle them seemingly like a jerk, after you’ve already asked for days off. However they handle it, and however this particular guy handled it, it’s better not to put it off. Can you imagine if they would’ve went on the trip while he was feeling that way? Brutal.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    • Selena Says:

      They could have gone on the trip, had a good time, and then he sends her the ” I want some time to think about things” email. She probably would have felt even more blindsided had it gone down that way.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. John Says:

    I think going away for a weekend that requires plane travel is too soon after 3 months. I think going away for the weekend maybe to a B&B that is driveable, seems like a smaller step and a more appropriate one. Even though you are still going away with the person, going for an overnight or 2 night getaway that you drive to has a different “feel” than getting on a plane and staying for 3 days.

    If the shorter, driveable trip goes well, then escalate to a more prolonged plane trip getaway further down the road. Taking days of from work to spend time with someone after just 3 months seems too “rushy” to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  13. Kristen Says:

    From my standpoint, three months isn’t long enough to get too invested in someone. It’s impossible to know someone well enough to trust them or hold them accountable. Be grateful that you didn’t waste your time and money, and enjoy the alone time (or time with friends, whatever). Don’t waste your time emailing him or calling. He already decided when he sent the email that he wasn’t invested in you. If on the fence about the relationship, I think most people would have gone on the trip and made the decision when they got back. There’s no point in trying to hash things out with him when you’ve only been dating him 3 mos. When someone needs to think about things that early in a dating relationship, then things are not going in your favor. And, it likely has very little to do with you. It sounds like he might be a little emotionally immature, since he said he would go on a trip with you so early in a relationship and then bailed. A mature person knows themselves well enough to know how to navigate situations, and even if you were pushing for it (which it’s impossible to know from your post), he would know that he needs to maintain his own boundaries. Take this as a learning opportunity and if you are invited on an out of town trip early in your next relationship, you might take some time to think about whether you and he are ready for that step.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. M Says:

    Of all the posts Moxie’s made over the years I’ve been reading this blog, Im not sure there’s one I disagree with more than this one.

    First, Im not going to argue whether you are bf/gf. That’s between you and this guy, and yes, it does mean something if you are. Second, he did not actually break up with you. He cancelled the trip and said he needs time to think. When a guy says this, it means he needs time to think – it does not mean he wants to break up, at least not necessarily.

    At one point in my life, I could have written the same email. I had been with my gf for 2 months. We found out we were both going to have an unexpected day off that would make it a long weekend. We made plans to take a road trip. Shortly before we were to leave (a few days), she backed out, saying she wasnt ready for that yet. Fine. After the initial disappointment, I got over it and we moved on. Then, a month and a half later, we did actually take different road trip to a different location, and that trip really strengthened our relationship.

    Yes, it sucks that this happened. I dont know why he cancelled; did you offer to give him money for your ticket? If he thinks you are the type of girl who expects him to shell out for everything all the time, hat might be why he cancelled. Other than that, just give it time. Rome wasnt built in a day, and so you cant expect your relationship to be either. At some point, this would be a big red flag, but at 3 months in, I wouldnt say this is that bad. Just play it out, and your relationship will get better and stronger with time. If not, it wasnt meant to be, and this is probably for the best.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

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