Why is it so difficult to get over a relationship that wasn’t right for you?

Logically, it shouldn’t be a problem if you know the relationship was not fulfilling. For a year, I struggled with JR. From week two of our dating, there were periods of awesomeness and weirdness. I never knew when these phases would wax and wane. I spent most of the time feeling the blocks and distance between us come and go.

When I met JR, he appeared to be my gold standard for single men. He had a good job, a car, lived in my neighborhood, and was smart, cute, and tall. We got along smashingly at first. We had a ton in common and hung out all the time. I sometimes felt an awkwardness between us, but most of the time things were good, so I ignored it.

After we’d been dating for a few months, JR asked me if I would like to go to visit his hometown with him. I thought this was a great sign and wanted to go. We bought plane tickets and went a few weeks later. The trip was amazing. I met a bunch of JR’s old friends, went to a state fair, and went to the beach. I got a feel for what JR’s childhood and college years had been like. Things felt phenomenal between us and there was a new closeness. I thought that we’d left behind any of our awkwardness. What I didn’t know was that a different struggle was ahead.

A few weeks after the hometown trip, I unexpectedly got laid off from my job. This was an immense blow, but I’d hated my job anyway. It was rough, but I tried to view the layoff as a kick in the butt to move on.

Not having a job anymore gave me a lot more time to think about my relationship with JR. I realized that I had fallen in love with him, but was terrified to say anything about it. Instead, I sought affirmation that JR was happy with me and our relationship. One morning as we were lounging around in bed, I said to JR, “I’m happy with you. Are you happy with me?” This should have been a fairly straightforward question and answer period, but JR couldn’t say that he was happy with me. This was the first of our terrible talks where it was pointed out to me that he was not as into me as I was into him. This was also when I realized that JR rarely said anything positive about me or our relationship. He didn’t say anything negative, there was simply no feedback at all.

It was during this horrible conversation that JR disclosed a thought process he had when I told him I was getting laid off. When I had told him my job loss news, he decided that he was going to have to be a better boyfriend to me. However, the layoff did not throw me into an immediate emotional abyss. I didn’t do as poorly emotionally with my situation as he thought I would. Because I was not instantly a mess, he decided not to be a better boyfriend. I really did not understand what he was talking about until later.

After this conversation, things felt weird between us for a while. As before though, we got through this period of awkwardness and things felt good again. I continued falling in love with him.

The Christmas season arrived. I decided not to go see my family (who live an eight hour drive away from me) and stay in town with JR. He took the week off from work and we spent every day of his vacation together. It was on one of these days that I got up the nerve to tell him I loved him. I remember thinking that if he broke up with me because I loved him, so be it. Telling someone that you love them should be a touching moment, not a terrifying one. This one was completely terrifying to me. Many signs pointed toward my love for JR as not being completely mutual.

After I said I “love you” to JR, he launched into a speech about how he had been trying to figure out what it meant to love me. He had apparently approached the concept of love in a logical manner, then logically decided that he loved me. Even though I heard the phrase I wanted to hear, this was not so cool. The conversation was less than touching or inspirational. I have to say, at that moment, I didn’t believe that JR really did love me. It seemed to me that JR felt he had to say he loved me to keep me. This was highly reminiscent of the conversation where we decided we were boyfriend and girlfriend. Both events — becoming boyfriend/girlfriend and saying “I love you” seemed to be done grudgingly on JR’s part.

Christmas came and went and my unemployment continued. This started to bother me. I’d been looking for jobs and hadn’t found one. I had rationalized this by assuming that no one was going to hire before Christmas. However, the holidays were over and I still had no job. This started to eat at me. I worried about money and the future. I became despondent. My confidence waned.

You would think that during this time, having a boyfriend who loved you would be of help. To a point, it was. I saw JR most days. He took over the financial aspect of the time we spent together. This allowed us to still go do the fun things we liked to do. What was lacking though, was any sort of real emotional support. When I would get upset, he would hug me while I cried, but he never provided any helpful, supportive words. Not once did a statement like, “It’ll be okay, I love you and I believe in you,” come out of his mouth. He didn’t seem to care that I was fading away, he just let me fade into sadness.

At some point during this period, I got highly frustrated with JR. My friends were constantly telling me that I was great and everything would turn out fine, but JR never made those statements. I told him a few times that this is what I needed, but he just wouldn’t say anything nice to me. He wouldn’t even say “I love you” except for in response to me.

I knew that JR wasn’t giving me what I wanted or needed, but was beaten down from my continued unemployment. At the time, I didn’t think I had the stamina to deal with a breakup. I also still had hope that he would come around.

After six months of interviewing, I finally got a job. It wasn’t one that I was sure was right for me, but I was desperate. The schedule was a bit unusual and I sought affirmation from JR that this would be okay for our relationship. I didn’t get it and was again left feeling dissatisfied.

Working again made me feel a little better about myself and my confidence slowly began to return. During this time though, JR became more and more distant. One Sunday morning, I reached the end of my patience with JR. I told him that I needed more from him and wanted to know if he saw me in his future. I wasn’t asking if we were getting married, I simply wanted to know if I when he thought about the future, he saw me there.

JR thought about this question for a couple days. His answer was no. He said that when he thought about his future, he didn’t think I had to be there. He said that we needed to move forward or move on. JR wanted to move on.

Writing this all now, I see that anything I ever wanted to know about the relationship was right in front of me. It wasn’t all as bad as this essay makes it seem, but clearly, JR was not the man for me. He didn’t properly support me, was never completely sure about his feelings for me, and seemed to be overall dead inside. He was never happy, sad, or excited — he just was.

In this breakup situation, I would oddly have liked to be more like JR. He has logical answers to emotional questions. Logically, all the facts were in front of me and I needed to move on. Although I knew this, it was extremely difficult to deal with the loss of our relationship. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t beat down my grief with logic.