Savage Love Letter of the Day: We Will Never Get Closure On CLOSURE

Comments

1
And on Tuesday I commented this:

Get used to SLLOTD from this point forward.

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/11/…
2
Stop publishing them, Dan! You're like the media complaining about how much the media is covering Trump. We could all have closure on CLOSURE if you just found some good letters about butt sex to post. It's not like you're not getting letters about butt sex!!!
3
we should all be kind and compassionate when dumping someone, if at all possible, and an explanation that helps the dumpee get themselves to closure counts as compassionate and considerate

is 180 degrees from

if getting dumped—which is always a risk—is impacting your mental health this severely, your issues may be bigger than "my ex didn't dump me juuuuust right."

Dan's advice on the original letter essentially amounted to "man up, and if you are so fragile you can't handle being dumped, get your head examined."

There are certainly advantages to stoicism ( a trait which men are socially conditioned to adopt), but the poor guy wrote in asking for advice and got gaslighted about being a potential abuser and a bit of a basket case instead.

I can't help wondering if Dan's original response would have been different if CLOSURE was a woman.
4
Also, I would like more letters about butt sex.
5
Look the campsite rule is nice and all, but I thought it was really only supposed to be about relationships in which there is a power discrepancy. You know, the elder and more experienced person who is fond of the younger and less experienced person mostly as a fuck buddy has a responsibility to be ethical about it and not take advantage of the younger person's inexperience or makes him/her think something more is going on or try to manipulate the younger person into something- all the things that sometimes happen in relationships in which there is a power discrepancy.

When two adult peers are in a relationship that involves the sort of feelings associated with long-term relationships (and when they are both moving towards that) then it's really hard to make sure you always leave them better than you find them because life is messy and we are in it together. Sometimes you get dumped. Sometimes you get your heart broken. It's important to be ethical and honest, sure, but I think this talk about the campsite rule really seems irrelevant to this or closure's situation.
6
@4

So you do not want closure on that, I take it?
7
@3: "is 180 degrees from"

It isn't?

Persons should be compassionate, and the dumpee should seek licensed help if they can't take no for an answer and demand more, claiming PTSD. There's a cry for help / a need to work out some inconsistencies.
8
Yeah butt sex letters and closure on CLOSURE
9
I've broken up with people this way. Not bolting in the night or anything, but with few signs that there is something wrong with the relationship before the break up, and with vague "it isn't right" excuses during. Usually I love the person and care for them, but there is just something that makes it hard to imagine spending a life with them.

Breaking down the reasons would be hurtful and pointless. They are not compatible and shouldn't change because of me.
10
Okay, but what do you say when you just aren't feeling the relationship. You can't give reasons, because it's emotional.

I'm with Miss Manners on this, who says if you don't want to attend a function, the only thing you say is I'm not coming. In a relationship you announce you can't do it anymore and walk out the door. Any reason you give will either get an argument or hurt the person. What are you going to do with the "reasons" for leaving. Explain that the actions can be changed? Tell them you will do things differently? Even if you think you can apply it to the next relationship, you can't. The next person may not have the same deal breakers.

It would be nice to have your ex give you notice that they are moving on. It may be legally required that they give you notice so you can find an new roommate to help pay the rent. But all you need to know is that they don't want to be with you any more.
11
@3 Wow the 'What about the MENS' folks are out early.

Look sometime there is no clear cut explanation. And constantly asking for one, constantly reopening that wound and turning yourself into a pseudo-stalker is not the way to deal with it.

You missed the most important part. That closure is something we give ourselves by refusing to be dragged into the morass of 'what went wrong'. Closure is accepting the explanation were given even if doesn't fix everything, or make our pain go away.
12
FJWL wrote: "And it can be insanely disheartening to find out that you had placed that level of trust in the wrong person. This hardened me to others, and made me constantly wonder if I could trust anyone."

Well -- I think there's a good lesson there, about not taking people for granted. They're in your life for a while, some of them for a long while, but there are no guarantees. And whether it's a tragic car crash or a secret lover or boredom or old age that ends a relationship -- all relationships end.

I will say that if a housemate moved out secretly and I didn't find out until they'd left... I would talk it out with a therapist (or an old friend) to explore whether maybe I am scary when I get angry. Your ex went to a lot of trouble to make sure he and his stuff were safe from any reaction you might have to the news he was leaving. Maybe that was due to his own issues, but maybe it was yours. Or it could just have been a bad match between the two of you.
13

If part of a relationship is to be close and fuck and talk about stuff, then for one to simply to get up and leave and say I won't talk any more is immoral.

The big question is how much did the parties agree to owe each other and did they follow through.

So much depends on facts and unless you hear both sides of a story, it's all guesswork and drawing a conclusion is risky.

Practically speaking, the dumpee should focus on new relationships. But let's separate what the dumpee should do for his/her self protection while still acknowledging that dumpee has, as Ivssid before, some degree of moral obligation.

14
What CLOSURE and FJWL don't seem to appreciate, is that sometimes you don't have an coherent (or expressible) reason for ending a relationship. Something just doesn't feel right anymore and it is time to move on. To the person getting dumped, that obviously comes as a disorienting shock, and it is natural to want an answer which makes everything clear, but there isn't much of an answer to give, which is why CLOSURE and FJWL partners could only really shrug and offer vague statements. But those vague statement - which amount to a sense that they weren't in love anymore and wanted to move on - is the genuine truth, even if CLOSURE and FJWL can't accept that response.
15
As someone who did not handle a particular break-up very well, I can look back with hindsight and realize that no explanation for why it happened would have helped.

I didn't know it at the time, but I recognize now that I wasn't accepting the only answer that mattered--that this person simply no longer wanted to continue to be in a relationship with me. In search of a mysterious "why", I was merely preventing myself from accepting the reality of the situation. My repeated demands for a "why"--any answer given to me would be an excuse for me to argue the point...or give me a false basis for thinking that things could be fixed... What didn't occur to me, even though it was the most obvious thing in the world, was that this person didn't WANT things to be fixed.

It has been said before, but you can't explain to someone why they should love you when they don't. You can't prove your point and win a debate and someone else admits "You're right, I was wrong for not continuing to love you."

The fact that when I think about that break-up and certain things about it still baffle me, after fourteen years now, is a healthy reminder to me to that not everyone, not even the people you feel closest to, share your exact reality. Other people, even those you feel closest to, might think or feel things that you're not aware of--either because you're not noticing or because they're not sharing them with you....or, more likely, you're choosing not to know.

For someone who doesn't want to be broken up with, no answer in the world is going to help. That person, in the thick of it, will never say "Oh, I get it now. OK."

It takes time.

Even with time, there might be not BE an answer...and you'll have to be ok with that.

And even if there was an answer, there's really no answer that you'd be ok with, because, again, the end result is that someone you cared about came to a point where they didn't care about you in the same way.

I wish I'd dealt with things better then...but that's on me.

It was the reality of the break-up I was struggling with, not the lack of a detailed enough explanation...

"Don't fight the drowning, the struggle only makes it worse."
Drowning by Dear John Letters

https://youtu.be/qMtEE37AoM8
16
@15: Preach!
17
It's kind of a weird Groucho Marx flip - absolutely refusing to leave a club that won't have you. At the same time as thinking they're in wrong and probably bad for not wanting you.

I'm pretty sure it's not just straight men, though.
18
It's not, but it's certainly more of them conditioned and emboldened to feel they "deserve" things they don't.
19
@15 well spoken.
20
To all those whose partner just up and left, be thankful you got away from someone who is a bit of a coward and enjoy your lives with people who will talk straight and act kind.
21
I'm sorry, but anyone who can only give a "it doesn't feel right" answer after several years is too immature to be in a relationship. They completely lack any introspection skills, the ability to communicate what they want, and have no commitment to their partner. It's been proven like a zillion times in research that the two things that keep a relationship going are communication and commitment. If you don't know that, or can't hack it, then you really shouldn't be doing anything but fuck-buddies or maybe casual dating at this point. Someone with that much baggage should not be seeking a long-term relationship.

Now, that doesn't mean that CLOSURE or FJWL should have continued to badger these folks. That's like getting hounding a 4 year old for not knowing how to solve an equation. There is no sense in putting the both of you through more torture. Best that everyone move on, and be thankful that you probably dodged a bullet.
22
Well said @21
'...anyone who can only give a "it doesn't feel right" answer after several years is too immature to be in a relationship'

Of course there is a time to let go and move on.
But dumper has obligation (that means must!) give it a real try to explain even if it means the obvious "I don't like you now and you bore me".

Obviously her avoidance to say something like that is the basis. She damn well knows what she feels but she just doesn't want to say it.

So my advice to dumpee is to think of the old adage of "Be careful what you ask for."
23
@eastcoastygirl: I don't think "it doesn't feel right" is an immature answer if it's given to the person you're dumping. It's code for "This relationship looks good on paper, but there is something about it that I cannot stand that is not a deal-breaker for everyone but is a deal-breaker for me."
24
#23, right, and if the relationship were a few months old, it might be ok to say "I don't like this and I don't feel like figuring out why". However, after years of being together, I am having a hard time accepting that kind of reason to break up. Either something has been building for a while, and the dumper let it fester, or something sudden happened and the dumper didn't take the time to evaluate it. Unless the dumpee snapped or something huge changed, then it seems like the dumper is giving up pretty quickly.
25
If someone dumps you, it means they no longer want to be with you. What benefit could you get by asking why they no longer want to be with you? Any answer will hurt, whether it's I'm not in love with you anymore, or I was never in love with you, or I met someone else, or I'm not that into you and I was just trying it out and now I'm done! You KNOW it's one of those, if it was something minor or fixable (on either side), they wouldn't break up with you. Say you get them to tell you, and then what?

Some years ago I read this horrifying story about this woman - very beautiful, very smart, accomplished and successful, earned most of the money for their household, loving wife and mother - whose husband cheated on her. She asked him what went wrong, he told her what he didn't like about her, what he liked better about the other woman. She went all out fixing herself to be just what he wanted to save their marriage (bigger boobs, more obedient, more admiring of him, etc., etc.). This creep actually gave her a LIST of what he wanted, and she did all of it. Then he gave her another list, she again did all he wanted. He said he stopped seeing the other woman, but of course he didn't. So when she found out - after a couple of years of being absolute obedient and changing herself to become everything he said he wanted - she went to the hotel he and his mistress were at, and ran them over with her car!

There are billions of people in the world, be decent, be kind, be yourself, there will always be lots of people who can and will love you, as long as you can love yourself enough to move on from dead relationships.

26
Remember when Dan did a column on virginity stories? I wish he'd do one on getting dumped stories. The idea would be to describe your most painful break-up where you were the dumpee (no fair claiming how painful it was to dump someone else). Required questions would be how much you were told about the reasons, to what extent you were friends after the break-up, how long ago it was, and to what extent you're friends now.
27
#25 (and many others) have said that details won't matter, and that these dumpees are just using it as a ruse to keep a foot in the door. But, perhaps they are honest, introspective people (maybe a little neurotic) that actually do want to know what happened, and if there is something they can do to better themselves. Sometimes the things we like least about ourselves are the same things that others don't like. Sometimes we are not exactly sure what those things are. If someone tells about aspects of ourselves that bother them, then it gives us the motivation to re-examine ourselves and do something about it. If that someone holds it back, they are implicitly saying "my feelings are more important than your self-improvement". And, that can be a valid statement. There can be good reasons to say that (say, if the dumper doesn't feel safe). But, often it's just selfish to do so.

Also, some people pride themselves on open communication. When someone they have been close to denies them that communication, that can hurt. A lot.

Regardless, if someone says "I need to X", then I've found that it is best to assume that they know what they want. How many posts on these topics have said "The dumper knows what they want, and you should just respect that", but don't give the dumpee the same latitude? They assume that the dumpee had ulterior, even sinister motives.

There is no easy answer here. There is no black-and-white, right/wrong way to do this. This is love. It's complicated shit.
28
FWIW I regard these kinds of relationship post-mortems as being a part of bargaining - in an alternate universe, if I had done XYZ other thing, we'd still be together.

That said, it really, really does hurt to be dumped suddenly and without explanation. And allegedly it's a hallmark of borderline personality disorder relationships. The LW needs to focus on taking care of himself and accept that there may not be real reasons for the breakup, but that doesn't make it any less permanent. Find a good therapist, and talk to them about you, not why your relationship ended. You'll feel better.
29
My ultimate advise to dumpee would
"Be careful what you wish for"
because likelihood of dumper actually telling the truth would be more along the lines of
"I don't like you anymore and I find you boring. In fact if you want to know real truth, I never liked you that much and was just waiting for something better."

So, "Be careful what you wish for" when it comes to asking for truth.

30
@22, 23, 24
Also people just change over time for all sorts of reasons. Throughout my life, there have been plenty of moments where I was sitting down with friends hanging out like we'd been doing for years and one of them said or did something and I suddenly realized how much I really don't like this person. Lots of little things build up over time and you excuse them because of circumstance and habit, and then one day you realize you spend most of your time with that person excusing them. The fact that Closure (the original) just returned from a vacation with his long distance girlfriend made me think of this. Maybe a few days with him made her realize she just wasn't THAT into him.

Another thing. If her stated reasons are true, then saying you might work on them after the fact isn't really going to fix the damage done. If you have to ask someone to change, then sometimes it's better to let them be as they are and just move on. This is something we all have to decide in relationships, and there aren't hard and fast rules. Not only do you have to decide if you are going to bring it up and discuss it and say it is a problem that must be solved, but you fall into a habit here of things being left alone until you are the one to challenge it and micromanage it - which is what some people are fond of calling (variously) nagging, ultimatums or emotional labor. It's a perfectly sane response to say "I'm not happy the way things are. My partner is happy the way things are. Therefore we aren't compatible" in some cases. You don't have to discuss and negotiate everything.

And long term thinking is different. You can be pretty comfortable in a situation for a while and yet it's still not really making you happy. We are talking about relatively young people (in their 30s) who have no children and live in different cities. Now the woman is out dating a lot shortly after the breakup. If I had to put money on it, it's as simple (and complex) as she's just not that into him. It was comfortable and perfectly fine, which can feel like death sometimes. She probably sat down and thought to herself, I'm in my 30s. I have no kids. Look at all these amazing people in my city that I could be meeting. Look at all the experiences that I could be having. But instead, I'm going to spend the weekend again with my perfectly fine long-term long-distance boyfriend. And if she's also an ethical person (and it sounds like she is, based on the fact that she has been trying to help him through the breakup) she probably realized it wasn't fair to treat him like that either.

Three years is EXACTLY the time to think this way. It's enough time that you know for sure what someone else is about and what else you are going to do together. And if you aren't already deeply in love and satisfied, you probably aren't ever going to be. What else is there to keep going? Are you going to marry the person because it's an OK relationship? Are you just going to continue hanging around in the same-old same-old not seeing each other enough etc.

Also it's possible she is starting think of marriage and kids. Being a woman, she does have to consider those things seriously now if she wants to have them traditionally. He says nothing about this which means either A) she is not looking for this either and it's not an issue between them, or B) it's an issue for her that he has shown absolutely no interest in - did not propose and does not mention children. If B is the case, then she has done the right thing by leaving and not telling him that while he is vulnerable because he might say something stupid like "let's get married then" which would be the most depressing and idiotic way to go about it ever- and yet so many people do just that.
31
26- Following up on my own post- In the same compilation column where everyone tells their when-I-was-dumped stories, we'd share what helped us get past it.

How 'bout it, Dan? Put together a column in which readers share the story of their most painful break-up in which they got dumped including:

-What you were told about the reasons you got dumped
-Whether you wanted to know more
-Whether you felt like you got closure
-To what extent you were friends after the break-up
-How long ago it was and whether you're friends now
-What helped you get over it
32
The real problems why dumper doesn't want to offer verbal closure is likely because dumper has nothing nice to say.

Either
-- dumper has (sincerely, genuinely) changed over some period of time
or
-- dumper would have to admit that s/he never really found dumpee all that appealing but was settling until someone better came along.

In either case the dumper is going to feel guilt which s/he wants to avoid so easiest course is to avoid honest conversation.

Or might not have any feelings at all and simply don't want to spend the time with the creep s/he used to fuck. (It shows how sociopaths have such a huge advantage over majority.)
34
Some people can't handle the truth, but some can. If someone genuinely asks you for the truth, over and over, then you might take them up on their word.

#32, Again, all of this sounds too vague. Saying "I changed" isn't very helpful if you can't say WHAT in you has changed. It just seems like that response lacks introspection. As for settling, I do see how NOT telling that to the dumpee would prevent the dumper from having to deal with that fact, but I would argue that is a BAD thing. Avoiding and repressing that realization isn't healthy either. But, even if the dumper was settling, it still helps to tell the dumper WHAT you were settling for, and ultimately what wasn't working. These things are harsh to hear, but some people would actually rather know. The dumpees have asked for this information. Who are we to tell them that they can't handle it?
35
Fichu, I'm with you. A "I got dumped" podcast would be interesting.
36
35- I hope Dan goes for a column, not a podcast. I never listen to the podcasts.
37
@32, or, you got fat and I don't find you attractive anymore, or you got skinny and I don't find you attractive anymore, or you won't shut up about disney since they bought marvel and starwars.

Not having anything nice to say doesn't necessarily make the dumper a villain. I agree that it would be better to give something concrete if it exists, but it really might be something that would hurt to hear. In the original guy's case, it seems likely that the answer is something along the lines of, "You're an insufferable, argumentative bore and I literally can't believe I stuck around so long." That would be a horrible thing to say to a person for whom you still have affection.

In my own case, my ex-wife told me that I put her on such a pedestal and so ignored her faults that she felt that I didn't know her at all, and was instead married to this other idealized person. I, of course, immediately swore that I could and would fix it and I was so sorry and would she please come back. (She didn't.) The person up top who identified the "what went wrong" quest with the bargaining stage of grief is really on to something.
38
Sure, there are horrible things you COULD say when breaking up with someone, but there are also constructive ways to give feedback. You could say "You're fat and ugly", or you could say "I'm worried that you are not taking care of yourself". You could say "You're an insufferable, argumentative bore", or you could say "I don't think you respect my opinion". You could say "you're a manchild who is obsessed with Star Wars" or you could say "I feel like my interests are getting ignored". Again, all of this it doesn't feel right" stuff just seems like a lame excuse to me.
39
Well I am glad that some have moved on to the true but easily misused Gestalt Prayer:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.
(Fritz Perls, "Gestalt Therapy Verbatim", 1969)

It's probably true but so many use it to disown personal responsibility. Trump would believe in Gestalt Prayer if someone explained it to him.
40
Even with the "it can't be helped" shifts to the passive voice.
Very telling and sounds like a lot of the comments here like that: "Tough luck chump & fuck off".
41
@28: "And allegedly it's a hallmark of borderline personality disorder relationships"

In the pop culture "anything I don't like must be BPD" sense, but not having anything to do with actual borderline personality disorder.
42
@21: "I'm sorry, but anyone who can only give a "it doesn't feel right" answer after several years is too immature to be in a relationship"

Anyone who doesn't understand that "it doesn't feel right" is a perfectly acceptable reason to leave sounds like they've got some maturing to do.
43
@21: "I'm sorry, but anyone who can only give a "it doesn't feel right" answer after several years is too immature to be in a relationship"

Anyone who doesn't understand that "it doesn't feel right" is a perfectly acceptable reason to leave sounds like they've got some maturing to do.

@40: If you think there's some cheat code to make a relationship right when it isn't, there is a gulf between you and reality.

Sometimes things can't be helped. Arguing won't make a lie the truth.
44
There's a weird logical pretzel that people who have been dumped tie themselves into. It's the one that goes: I love you so much and think you must be perfect or close to it, but you've dumped me which means *I* must be at fault (since you're perfect), which makes me sad, but I'm willing to change (so I won't have to be sad), but you won't tell me what's wrong which means you must not be perfect, which means the problem is me for loving you so much (when you're not perfect), but I can't figure out what's wrong unless you tell me since all I did was love you so much, and you encouraged me, even loved me back, and that makes me sad, but I don't want to be sad so you must be the problem, so I hate you, you bitch, but then what's wrong with me for loving you so much ...
45
Seriously all this negotiation and considerations for fixing it and calls to counseling, etc- omg. These are two people without shared assets and no children. In relationships like that, you have an ethical responsibility to consider the other person's feelings, but you are in no way required by any standard to stay and make something work. I mean, "I'm bored" is a perfectly acceptable reason to leave a relationship like this.

I think we need to stop focusing on how to break up with someone or how to dump someone and look back at whatever it was they were saying to one another DURING the relationship. Were you telling each other that you were going to get married or have children or buy property or make future plans together? If so, then you might need to do some explaining if you respect the other person's feelings- why did you think that way then or were you lying or did something change. And yes, "I've changed" is a perfectly acceptable response, even in a situation like that. You are not under obligation to work on it when there is literally nothing at stake other than a heart break. But if you are not telling each other any of those things (if you are just happily dating and not making promises about the future) then why in god's name would you be required to offer extensive or satisfying reasons? Hey, we were hanging out and it was good. Now I want to do something else.

46
What EmmaLiz says. You don't need to have a "good enough" reason for leaving a relationship with no kids or financial dependency: you need to believe, for whatever reason, that you'll be happier out of the relationship than in it. And maybe you don't bring that up until the breakup because you don't want the other person to go into negotiation mode. If the reason's something the other person can't change, or probably won't change (and you don't want to go through the trial period), or will guilt you about having to change, the best course of action is often to decide whether it's a dealbreaker, and then, when it is, to leave.

Similarly, you don't owe anyone "enough introspection." If "I'm not feeling it any more" is your reason for leaving, then why on earth would you be obligated to figure out all the reasons why you're not feeling it? I mean, if they're useful for your own future, sure, but--you don't owe it to the other person to conduct an in-depth psychoanalysis of the reasons this relationship doesn't make you happy. It doesn't, so leave.

As far as self-improvement goes: yeah, *maybe* there are things this guy can improve (this guy? definitely has things he can improve, boy howdy) and *maybe* he'd take hearing about them well...but maybe he'd make a big old self-justifying scene with the "I can't believe you're so mean" and the "well what about this thing" and "okay so I'll change that and then can we get back together?" Life is short: why play those odds?

And yeah, my feelings *are* more important than your self-improvement, unless I earn my living as a psychiatrist or a life coach and you're paying me accordingly. If that's selfish, then so is any other variant of boundary-setting.
47
@ 45 - From repeated personal experience, I can say that when one of the partners doesn't want to hear what the other has to say during the relationship, it'll still come as a surprise to the former when the latter decides it's over. The dumpee will still not accept those reasons, will still think that it's unfair and that s/he hasn't been given a chance to work on the issues, etc. And since s/he never actually listened to what s/he was being told, s/he will be convinced that s/he's the victim.

I may be totally wrong (as my view is tainted by the aforementioned personal experience), but my hunch is that this is the case with CLOSURE. His ex is not giving him reasons because she already has, and since he didn't care then, there's no reason for her to think it'll be of any use to repeat them now.
48
Not how I read it Ricardo. She gave him no clear indication she was not happy. Even their friends commented on what lovebirds they were.
Yes, his incessant after pursuit is way too pushy, his constant working thru.
I think she left without warning. Maybe not even much to herself. It was still a rude way to end a relationship of two years.
49
This girl lied, and that throws the whole relationship into question. She didn't own her feelings thru out the relationship clearly enough, that her partner heard.
50
We can talk all day about what people "should do", but if something doesn't end to your satisfaction and the person never chooses to talk with you again, that is 100% their prerogative. We also have to keep in mind that we're getting a one-sided story here. Without the full context its pretty hard to make a judgement, but my opinion is: given how much detail the original letter writer put into his "case", I personally think that he's not actually looking for closure, he's looking for another chance to negotiate. She probably knows his personality and doesn't want to have another 3 hour "discussion" about how she should stay with him, or have him defend EVERY SINGLE thing that she brings up. He's a master rationalizer. I have a feeling this part of his personality is actually what drove her away. I've met people like this. They are intolerable to have a disagreement with because they literally have an answer to everything. Here's the bottom line: If it was something serious that she thinks she could work through with him, then she would talk about it and if she isn't then that its probably a reflection on you and you should move on. If its something petty, or she's not a good communicator, then you dodged a bullet and move on. Either way, MOVE ON.
51
@ 48 - Because you're reading the dumpee's account of how it happened., Lava. But if he never listened, he can't tell you what she said.
52
Just as one person may not have the skills to process being dumped, another may lack the ability to "properly" dump someone. I wish it weren't this way, but we're all flawed to one degree or another.
53
@49: "This girl lied"

At no point did even his friendliest read suggest this.
54
Masterful trolling there dan.

Let's just say it. It sucks to be dumped and it is impossible to dump someone "right."

This all leads me to vote for break up by text
55
@2 and @4. About one thing we can all agree: More letters about butt-sex.

I do slightly disagree with @4 about Dan's inconsistency though. CLOSURE felt that his ex owed him a better explanation. Dan felt that his ex gave him a perfectly good series of explanations and CLOSURE was just refusing to accept them because they didn't make sense to him. Now he's saying that, in normal circumstances, we owe people some explanation when we dump them. There's no real inconsistency because CLOSURE's ex did give him explanations. He just thought they didn't make sense.

TL;DR More letters about butt sex, please.
56
Sometimes people don't provide an explanation because the true reason for breaking up would probably be more hurtful than the absence of an explanation.

Who is really helped by hearing that they're being dumped because of some trait that they can't change, like a very small penis, or that their partner has been cheating on them from day one and was only stringing them along for room and board? Or imagine if the explanation was "my dom ordered me to date the ugliest, smelliest, least appealing person I could find for a year, and I chose you, sweetie, because you disgust me." In that sort of situation, no explanation, or sugarcoated "it's not you, it's me" explanation may be better than the truth.

OK, that last one probably doesn't happen often, but ending a relationship because you've been cheating on your partner can't be that rare.
57
@55 dcp123: I completely agree, she gave him reasons, he just didn't think they were right or acceptable or concrete or whatever else he was looking for. "She left without warning and hasn't told me why, at all!" No. He listed five examples and it's safe to assume he dismissed others. 1) You live far away. 2) We didn’t spend enough time together. 3) We should be closer than we are by now in our relationship. 4) I just don’t see it lasting in the long-haul. 5) The more we talk, the more of my suspicions are confirmed.
58
eastcoastygirl, you're basically setting up a standard by which your soon-to-be-ex-partner is required to join you in a self-harm ritual disguised as a cleanse.
59
I get it. Some people can't handle the truth. Many of you have made this point OVER AND OVER again. My point is simply that some people CAN handle the truth. And if someone says that they want the truth, that it will bring them closure, then who are you to tell them that they can't handle it?
60
ECG @59: "Who are you to tell them they can't handle it?"

I am a conflict-adverse, low-drama person who has tried on numerous occasions to have a conversation with you about how our relationship and communications could be better, yet here we are two years later and nothing has gotten better, at least not for me. I can't keep up with you in the debate department - you're very good with words, it's one of the things that attracted me to you in the first place, but now your words are driving me away. It's hard to feel like you really hear me when you immediately counter everything I say with a comeback of your own, and frankly, it's so exhausting that I rarely even bother to try any more. I do know that I don't want to spend the rest of my life feeling this way. I'm sure you can handle the truth, but I'm done trying to explain my version of the truth to you because you're already getting ready to tell me how I'm wrong.
61
@53. Undead. She lied about her feelings by not alerting him to her negative ones.
62
@59 - Who are you to say that "It doesn't feel right" isn't this woman's truth?
63
@60 bingo. He's shown us he talks more than he listens, he's told us he keeps on arguing his case, the picture is pretty clear in my eyes.

It's quite a Rashomon letter to different readers though. Interesting.
64
@60 Those are all fair points. And surprisingly detailed. Is that from your personal experience? If so, I am sorry if my comments are pouring lemon juice in your wounds. I don't usually like to give specific advice to people that I have never met, and don't know the full situation of, but your post sounds like it comes from a place of pain, and I want to give my perspective.

Have you already ended your relationship? (I can't tell from your statements) If you haven't, then this might be a conversation to have first, if you can stomach it. Simply saying "I need you to stop fighting and just listen to me" should hopefully do it. If your partner is not receptive, proceed to the next paragraph.

If you have already ended things (or are about to), then what you said sounds like the kind of concrete thing that perhaps FJWL and other commenters would have appreciated knowing. This tells them that it WAS something they did, and perhaps not so easily solvable. This gives the dumpee a chance to re-evaluate how they treated you, and perhaps others who have been in their lives. They would realize what they put you through. Maybe, if they are themselves introspective enough, they can change for the better.

Conversations like this can suck, there is no denying. They can feel like torture, as other commenters have pointed out. They can bring out so many bad emotions. But, in the long-run, they can also lead to positive change, for both people. I'm not talking about reviving the old relationship -- that is already dead. But, maybe it will teach some compassion to the dumpee. Seeing how our actions affect people, especially loved ones, can be one of the most powerful forces for change in our lives.

We're all struggling through this game called love. Some of us are better at this than others, some of us more experienced, more mature. Some of us carry deep wounds that may never fully heal. It sounds like this person still cares about you, as inexperienced as they may be, and as crappy as they are at showing it. You are obviously closing off any romantic feelings for this person, and that is your unconditional right (and perfectly understandable, given what you've said). But, if they truly care about you, then telling them these things directly should make them understand. If it doesn't, then by all means block their ass every way you can.

I wish you peace and love in whatever the future holds for you. All the best.
65
To paraphrase Dan: "LW Gets It, Dan Doesn't, But Doesn't Mind."

There is zero evidence from any of our presently available information that the ex-GF was coerced into meeting up with the LW, or did so because LW demanded that she reveal insights into their former relationship, or whatever fantasies have been attached to the straightforward emails that LW sent Dan.

NOPE. Based on what we know, and what seems plausible given the well-documented history of human romantic relationships: 1) They *seemed* perfect together, and he, basing his judgments on the available info, *thought* that they were, and so did their friends. 2) She sincerely liked him and cared about him as a human being, but was not in love with him for unknown reasons (and reasons that might be unknown even to her). 3) He was devastated and understandably wanted answers. 4) She was unable or unwilling to provide those answers. 5) LW wrote Dan Savage, who acted like kind of a dick. His followers followed suit. 6) A FEMALE writer responded with compassion, having experienced something similar. 7) This is something that Dan understands, and so he published her letter. 8) One wonders if responses had been different for the original LW if genders had been reversed. 9) I'm not an angry MRA, or God-forbid, a Trump voter because 10) fuck that guy, we are all screwed, but 11) sometimes I wonder about these kinds of things.
66
@34 The problem is the 'over and over' part. How many discussions do you have to have until it's enough? If someone doesn't believe you are you now bound to them until they do? Are you supposed to keep having the 'why we broke' up talk a decade from now when you're both married to other people with kids?

If someone doesn't want to believe what you tell them there's nothing you can do. The Dumper is not obligated to have the same conversation over and over until the Dumpee sees the light.
67
ECG @62, it does come from personal experience - but I was the dumpee, not the dumper. I was the blissfully happy person for whom the knowledge that my partner wanted out, came like a bolt from the blue. Why? What did I do, what didn't I do? I love you, I can't imagine life without you! What do I need to do to make this better for you? Give me REASONS, for God's sake!!!

Very fortunately for me, my spouse had NOT yet closed off all romantic feelings for me, and agreed to go into couples counseling with me on a trial basis - still married, but living apart. After several years of work, sometimes the two of us together, sometimes just me working on my own issues with the counselor, I came to see how my naturally assertive conversational style had unintentionally become a bludgeon with which I beat my partner soundly on a regular basis. This was horrible news to me, and it took a long time before I was able to accept it, and longer still until I was able to recognize when I was doing it; I think of myself as a gentle, kind soul and a supportive life partner, the exact opposite of abusive. But the counseling revealed that I am a "confronter," preferring to address conflicts head-on and resolve them immediately, whereas my partner was highly conflict-averse. What I thought of as "talking things out" and "working together on a solution" felt to my partner like "getting bulldozered into submission." It became much easier for them to squelch their feelings and avoid difficult conversations altogether, rather than face all of my well-intentioned proposals, challenges, and rationalizations. It also caused them to quietly resent me more and more over time, until finally they couldn't take being around me any more.

Long story short: with the help of an outstanding professional counselor, my partner learned how to be braver about speaking up whenever they felt I was getting too pushy or prescriptive. I learned to be a lot more sensitive to how words can harm, even when spoken respectfully without yelling, and that my partner's silence was not necessarily the same as agreement. I learned to say "Tell me more" when they came to me with problems, rather than answering with what I saw as obvious solutions. We found we were still in love, still best friends, and still capable of rebuilding and maintaining trust despite all the pain we had caused each other, and we agreed to stay married and move back in together. A rare happy ending for this sort of a conflict, and a thumbs-up vote for the value of marriage if you are in a committed relationship. I doubt either one of us would have been willing to work this hard for a Significant Other, certainly not for a partner of just two years like CLOSURE.

So when I wrote @60, that was me talking in my partner's voice before our separation and subsequent reunion. And, I suspect, the voice of CLOSURE's and FJWL's exes.
68
@65, ya, I was also extremely surprised by Dan's reaction to the original letter. Several other commenters also seemed to assume that this was some asshole chauvinist who was trying to own his ex's choices. That might have been one possible situation, there was also the possibility that he was just someone recoiling from a shocking break-up, and was clambering to make sense of it all. Not saying that the LW was acting in a healthy manner, but there was no indication that he was being disrespectful of his ex, in my opinion.

@67, thank you for sharing such a personal story. It is extremely interesting to see what the ex's perspective might be through the eyes of the person that was in LW's shoes, what things you have distilled out of that situation. It's also reassuring that we can come to an understanding over such a huge divide. Not that CLOSURE should sit there hoping for it to happen. Seems like the important thing is to work on himself, and forget any thoughts about getting back together.
69
@63: Absolutely. It also shows an interesting divide in who may always takes the LW's constructed narrative at face value regardless of what they say, and how any normal person would react.

Ultimately "it is a total surprise" is likely true! "She gave me no signs or statements", likely not true considering they would get into arguments and his rhetorical style did not go over well with her.

And, again, I can't grok the sort of person who would not take "this is not working out" as an acceptable answer.

I can accept and empathize that one is more neurotic when HEARING that answer in the heat of the moment, but posters here aren't in that situation and should know better.
70
Addendum: "how any normal person would react." refers to the other party in a strongly tinged non-objective personal narrative of the LW where the other party is framed as acting erratically and where there is presented an information gap, their perspective is glaringly missing from the story, not referring to commenters as non-normal.
71
67. BINGO BINGO BINGO BINGO!!!!!!!!

And I am sooo soooo sooooooo glad that you wrote this.

The style you used, the confrontational style, is very much the style in my family of origin. I used to think it was all nurture, but my oldest is just plain bumptious in the way my youngest is not. She is confrontational. She is also diagnosed with ADHD, a condition that runs in my family and I think is very much factors into it.

I too inherited - again nature versus nurture - that confrontational style of rhetoric. It ultimately cost me quite a bit - often because I was (wait for it) more interested in scoring points than listening. A lot of people do not like it at all.

It was a failing of mine in my first marriage - major - although he never said it to me directly. I changed my tune and dropped a lot of my confrontational style, although I am more so than average.

But now that I am married again to a man with the same overblown confrontational style (we marry our parents we marry our parents), I see the corrosiveness of it. The statement you wrote for your wife? That is what I literally said to my husband not even three weeks ago. I don't talk to you anymore because it turns into a never ending debate where every choice I make has to be defended. And I do that enough in my life. I want to come home where I can have a collaborative marriage rather than forever living under the Socratic method.

I never thought Closure was bad, but I also didn't see Dan's advice as some how cruel either - or different than he would have provided a woman. This is what Closure related in his first letter than comes to the point for me: (1) the ex did engage in several conversations that were perfectly friendly discussing why she decided it didn't work; (2) he didn't accept those as the "real reasons" because they were surmountable in his opinion; and (3) she said these discussions merely reaffirmed her decision. In other words, their interaction regarding conflict (no matter who is "right" and who is "wrong") was incompatible and she didn't like it.

And that is all she needs to say.....

To everyone who keeps saying she needs to do more, no one can answer this: WHAT does she need to do more of? She's given her reasons. She's talked to him several times. He doesn't like what he's hearing. To him, they aren't sufficient,

Well, he doesn't get to pick the "sufficient" reason. Perhaps she doesn't fully understand it yet. Heck, I am 41... and Capricornius did 1000x better describing a dynamic I have lived my life in. If he continues to hound her for the "real reason" then yes, he has crossed the line to a d@ck and, for me that has nothing to do with gender. People in my family who suffer from this confrontational stuff are women as well as men.

I mean, seriously, I am going to cut and paste that Capricornius and send it to my husband. I might send it to my brother and the rest of my family. That was amazing... eye opening... incredible. I love you (platonic).
72
I really thought I was done commenting on this letter-turned-into-a-saga and was only going to chant "buttsex, buttsex, buttsex" but remembered something from the original letter that nobody seems to have addressed:
I also found out, through various non-invasive sources like social media and friends (don’t judge me for snooping), that she has been pretty heavily out there dating since we broke up. No serious relationships, but she’s definitely hitting the market hard. For whatever that is worth.
Is it possible that, because of their living apart and not seeing each other often (for who knows what reasons), she wasn't getting her emotional-romantic-sexual-fun needs met, but - now that she's free of him - seems to be pursuing new partners vigorously? And the LW is jealous in a nebulous but slightly stalkerish manner?

Okay, back to asking for letters about teh buttsex. Or else, how about an educational column on new toys aimed at men's anal pleasure. [And women's, for that matter.]
73
http://therumpus.net/2011/06/dear-sugar-…

I'm surprised no one has linked to this Dear Sugar column. I hope it can help.
74
@ 72 - If that were the case, his solution of moving closer might have been tempting to her.

Perhaps that's why no one's proposed that so far (though many have commented on this specific paragraph).
75
DHR @71 you're welcome, glad you found it helpful. For us as for you, the different communications styles were definitely the result of our raising, and quite likely also in our genes. One small request though - my spouse and I are both androgynes, and we find gendered labels and pronouns distasteful. I dearly love my spouse, but I do not have and would not want a "wife," any more than my partner would.
76
@capricornius.

Oops. I apologize. I read right through you careful language. Just goes to show this really isn't a gendered issue. It's simply a human issue.
77
My ex, who I was married to for 12 years, texted me that he wanted a divorce. We had a 3 year old and shared a business. I didn't ask him why. It was pretty clear, whatever the reason, that he was a giant piece of shit.
78
@60 I think I see what you did there, and now this is getting very meta.
79
@77 word
80
@77 yeah, that's a complete asshole.

(I wonder if some of the Rashomon effect is people taking different ideas of the letter writer's relationship situation -- level of commitment and life entanglement.)
81
A two-year relationship which has been long distance the whole time is more like a much shorter relationship, in terms of actual time together; a six-month relationship, maybe, but it's really unclear. That may be part of why there doesn't seem to be agreement on how serious it was, or what level of explanation is owed.
82
@81: Yeah, I also wonder if it was as serious as implied, or even exclusive.

Any way the interpretations of pre-dump occurred, post-dump the only thing that matters is that the dude needs to back off. And from the responses he doesn't want to, and she doesn't want him to continue his approaches.

That is the true WTF, why anyone is enabling crappy behavior.
83
Undead. I haven't supported his post break up behaviour. My focus was on how the break up occurred and pointing out that he is caught by that.
You married, right? I know you are because you waved at me from Western Australia as you sailed by on your honeymoon.
The most important part of a relationship, a marriage, is honesty about one's feelings for the other. Trust that the energy and love one puts into the other person will be at least returned by being truthful about feelings. And I read this guy made an effort to look after this young woman.
She didn't disclose her unhappiness, until she walked out the door. That is no way to treat a friend and lover.
84
"She didn't disclose her unhappiness, until she walked out the door. That is no way to treat a friend and lover."

We don't know that she was unhappy, just that she decided she didn't want to be with him anymore. Perhaps she didn't understand this until she actually spent vacation time with him and understood it for the first time herself.

Meanwhile, if he's still hoping to get he to return to him, let's hope the original LW sees the value of this:

https://despair.com/products/persistence
85
While I agree that Dan was a little insensitive in the original response, it really did seem like he would not have accepted any answer that did not include a deep and sincere vow to spend the rest of her life with Mr. CLOSURE. I've been on both sides of this, and in my experience (as dumpER), sometimes it seems like offering non-specific reasons (when pressed by dumpEE) would spare them the pain of having to hear about their shortcomings in the wake of an inevitably painful break. But sometimes that's what is necessary, I guess. And other times I've just left relationships for the simple reason that it was no longer making me happy, without any single fault to point to. Still, CLOSURE and today's LW have gotten all the reasoning they're entitled to. Time to take your baggage to a therapist.
86
Considering how often CLOSURE refuses to accept her breakup reasons as valid and how much he demands she justify their breakup to his satisfaction or get back with him, it's very easy to believe that there were lots of signs she was unhappy, he just ignored them because it wasn't what he wanted to see. And yes, if CLOSURE were a woman, the advice would be the same: "He dumped you, stop demanding better explanations, stop picking at the wound, and move on."
87
@86: Those comments are so trashy and sexist, aren't they?

They never have examples, just that prevarication.
88
@87: And you know if it was a woman they'd be like "why are women so crazy?" "Why are they so needy?" "Why do they always have to talk about their feeeeelings?" "God, lady, He's Just Not That Into You!" "Sheesh, women and their emotional clingy-ness!" "Bunny Boiler alert!"
89
Undead @87, Traffic @88: Whoa there. For two people who are (rightfully) irked by sexist stereotypes and assumptions about women based on what limited factual knowledge any of us can derive from SL letters, you both seem quite eager to stereotype commenters who have supported CLOSURE (identified as male, unless Dan switched the genders in his editing just to mess with us). But we are all people first, genders second...or third...or for some of us, irrelevant. No one here has issued a snarky "Bunny Boiler Alert" for FJWL (identified as female, same caveats re Dan), who wrote in to say that she had basically the same experience and response as CLOSURE - anguish, confusion, and a deep yearning to know the specific reasons why, after her partner left her abruptly with no explanation. These emotions are not unique to a specific gender, nor is the tendency to desperately pursue the person you love, even when the pursuit makes your lover more desperate to get away.
90
@89: "you both seem quite eager to stereotype commenters who have supported CLOSURE"

?

No, I argue certainly with supporters because of his codependency but we are responding in this particular case to those posters who make the SPECIFIC argument that we are only not supporting him because of his maleness.

Those comments are trashy and sexist.
91
I apologize, I'd generally cite what I'm referring to but there are ~300 posts on the topic sprawled out and I don't have the patience to find the specific reply that suggests he's being unfairly treated because of gender.
92
Sorry Undead, I completely misinterpreted your comments. It sounds like we're actually saying the same thing.
93
@92: Something about the structure of these posts makes it difficult to carry on an informed conversation sometimes without getting led astray.

It'd be nice if Slog eventually moved to Discourse.
94
@eastcoastygirl: I don't think you understand the point of breaking up with someone. When you're in a relationship, you are at least partially responsible for the other person's feelings. It is your job to try to make their joys greater and their sorrows less. There is something about helping someone to be their best self in there. You break up with someone when you don't WANT to do those things for them anymore. There may be other reasons to break up with someone, but one of the great things about dumping someone is the sweet relief of not being at all responsible for their well-being anymore. That includes any self-improvement they may want to undertake. It's not just about being able to "handle" the truth or not handle it. It's about the fact that if I were this woman, I would be so over having conversations with him of any kind, let alone conversations that are solely for him and not for me. Sure, he would probably benefit from knowing that he's an argumentative pain in the a$$. But from her perspective, telling him seems like all risk and no reward at this point, since it can go one of three ways:

1) He insults her for telling him. (Highly unpleasant).
2) He says he'll change, can we get back together?
3) He thanks her for the assessment and takes it to heart.

That last one is way more likely if they start talking again once he's already over her. For example, if he's already in another relationship, starts to notice an old dynamic start up again, and decides to contact the ex to get her honest take.

Basically, I think you're still thinking of this way too much in the dumpee's perspective. Sure, if you were dumped, you might want to know why, but oddly enough, break-ups are not about the dumpee, they are about the dumper. The dumper decided that they no longer want a romantic connection with the dumpee, and if all they had was a romantic connection, they don't owe them anything.
95
@94: "don't think you understand the point of breaking up with someone"

It's because his ex is waiting for The Romantic Gesture with a boombox, right? All her dating in his absence is an indicator that she's with anyone but him to surely drive him back into her arms...

All jokes aside, yes. Empathy for the dumped doesn't mean you have to take their harmful and self-destructive ideas seriously. It's understandable that a person can't reconcile these feelings but outsiders should know better and be able to separate the fantasy life from what actually happened here. Someone needed out and he is not respecting the person he supposedly thinks he is interested in. He wants the relationship back, whether she's into it or not.

He knows on some higher level that she has no interest in him anymore, but he continues anyway with lizard-brain.
96
I thought initially that they were hanging, but I guess the phrasing the LW used is "meeting", so she gave him the opportunity to speak his feelings about the breakup, told him what she felt like about it, but he still is refusing to accept the boundaries she has set in the dissolution of their partnership.

Blecch.
97
@94, We are entering the realm of opinion here, and I get what you're saying, but I don't think that a breakup is ALL about the dumper, and entirely NOT about the dumpee. It's not that black and white. If it were all about the dumper, then you are saying that it is perfectly acceptable for the dumper to just ghost someone after 30 years of marriage. No, clearly that would be a jerk move. So, what is the line between "acceptable" and "shitty"?

Of course, the dumper HAS THE RIGHT to just say "it's over" after a few years, just like all of us have the right to just not show up to work, or have the right to not flush a public toilet, or have the right to sing loudly on a crowded bus, or have the right to stand our friend up for a coffee date. There are many things we are allowed to do, but doing so would be shitty to people around us.

I look at it in terms of benefit vs risk. If the dumpee is abusive or dangerous, then a text-and-run approach is appropriate. If it were early in the relationship, then a simple "We aren't a match" might be all that's needed. As the relationship gets longer and more committed, it seems to me that it is appropriate to have more communication about why things are ended (or better yet, communicate that certain things are bothering them BEFORE breaking up).
98
@97: I don't think anyone here is arguing with what is best in an ideal scenario.

And we do not know what specific attempts she made, only that she told him in no uncertain terms her decision.
99
@98, I'm not sure I follow your point. Sure, this is clearly not an ideal situation. That doesn't mean that we can't talk about what should/could have happened differently.

And, sure, we don't know all the sorted details of what happened between these couples. We're all going on our own interpretations. You seem to have pretty strong opinions on what happened. For instance, you really seem convinced that CLOSURE's ex wanted marriage, although there really isn't any indication of that in his letters. That his ex wants him to "back off", even though she is still in contact with him. That "they would get into arguments and his rhetorical style did not go over well with her" even though CLOSURE indicated that they rarely did so. That "meeting" is mutually exclusive to "hanging out". That "All her dating in his absence is an indicator that she's with anyone but him to surely drive him back into her arms", yet you later say "He knows on some higher level that she has no interest in him anymore". You seem to be very willing to make some incredible leaps to fill in some gaps here, and often conflicting ones. I find it very hard to follow your reasoning.
100
"All her dating in his absence is an indicator that she's with anyone but him to surely drive him back into her arms", yet you later say "He knows on some higher level that she has no interest in him anymore"

Your sarcasm detector is broken.
101
"That doesn't mean that we can't talk about what should/could have happened differently"

Then preface it so, because the rest of our advice, for him to get over himself and leave his ex to her happiness is based on what happened this time and with his bad decisions.