Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Does an ex's pain show you that they still love you?

Asked by wundayatta (58599points) March 8th, 2010

An old friend of mine recently broke up with her long-distance love because he wouldn’t commit and move to be with her. She was pretty devastated, but it wasn’t long before she started looking again. At the same time she was keeping up a correspondence with her ex because she really loves him.

She wrote, “At least I know he is still hurting about it like I am. During out last webcam, he’d seemed so cold and unfeeling, I thought that maybe he had just changed his mind about me but didn’t want to tell me that. Now I’m at least assured that he truly does still love me.”

I asked her why this was good, and she wrote, “I’ll tell you exactly why this is good. Because the pain of being no longer loved is worse than the pain of his psychological inability to come out here. Even if it never works out, knowing that he does still truly love me eases the pain greatly as opposed to his simply not wanting to be with me anymore.”

Can anyone explain this to me? She’s looking around for someone new and yet she remains happy to know her ex loves her despite the fact that he is too chicken to move to her area and live with her. She’s hoping he’ll change his mind, and sees his pain as a good thing? What is going on here?

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32 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

She’s on an ego trip. Her ego would fall the very moment he pursued someone else. She would begin to wonder if she made the right decision. Then she’d join Fluther and ask questions about the one that got away… Does he still love me?

They’re both more concerned with finding the right person than they are with becoming the right person.

MrGV's avatar

So it makes her feel good that he’s in pain? I am believing it is because somewhere in her head is saying “That’s what you get for not being with me right now!”

gemiwing's avatar

My first though was, well if he does love her he would move or she would. Or they would work it out long distance. So, I don’t see his pain (or hers) as a sign of love, but more a sign of loss in general.

I agree, it sounds more like ego than love.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Selfishness explains that.

phillis's avatar

This sounds like something a person might tell themselves to ease some of the pain they are feeling. It HURTS when someone shows us blatantly that their level of commitment isn’t what we think we deserve, or when our devotion is not returned back to us. Though this kind of thinking runs dangerously close to dysfunction, in and of itself it is hurting no one. Let her lick her wounds and be there for her for chats about it, if that is part of your friendship together. She’ll move on soon enough.

noyesa's avatar

Sounds a little psychotic to me. And besides, it’s not even necessarily true. Just because he’s upset about it doesn’t mean he’s going to move to be with her. It just means he’s upset about it.

An old acquaintance of mine cheated on his girlfriend and she found out. He genuinely felt bad that he hurt her like that, but that’s not the issue—just because he felt bad or remorse over it doesn’t mean he was a changed man and it certainly doesn’t mean he’s going to stop doing what he did in the future.

People can feel hurt over something without changing at all. Just because he’s bummed out about it doesn’t mean he’s going to do what she wants him to.

Sounds to me like she’s just trying to avoid moving on and is stuck on thinking he’s actually going to make the move.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Is it selfishness or is it knowing he still cares as opposed to not caring at all for her?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Life is tough, sometimes the situation is such he can’t or she can’t make the change to be together. At least she may be taking a little solice in the fact he still cares.

CMaz's avatar

Sounds more like a pain in the neck.

partyparty's avatar

She is just loving the fact that she ‘thinks’ he still loves her. She has a HUGE ego.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I don’t think pain is necessarily a sign that you are still in love with someone. I say this because I am using my parents as an example. My mum cheated on my dad after 15 years of marriage and this (and other things) lead to my parents divorce. It didn’t take long for my dad to fall out of love with my mum because he felt he couldn’t love someone who treated him like that but that didn’t stop the pain. He didn’t love the person she had become and the person he had loved once no longer existed but that didn’t stop him from feeling pain for what she did. I think pride played a very big part in my dads pain.

whatthefluther's avatar

To love and be loved is very special, and quite empowering, so much so. that it can make even a dismal existence seem not just OK, but “just right”. And knowing that someone suddenly fell out of love with you for no apparent reason can be devastating. But, I have to question the love in this case. If he was truly in love with her, it would take special circumstances/strong forces (career, family health) to keep him from being with her. I think she is falsely justifying the reason they are not together. That is, he does not truly love her and the pain she sees is in fact the pain of breakup, not continuing love.
See ya…..Gary/wtf

susanc's avatar

Why can’t unworkable love still exist? Being together and being loved are two completely different things.
My husband is dead. Do you think his love died too? I sure hope not.
I can’t count the number of people I love right now but nevertheless can’t live with. Not sure we have to be so bitter.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Emotional pain can be caused by a lot of different things, one of which is remaining feelings about the ex. It can also just be about loss, period. Even if you have no romantic feelings for someone, you can still miss the feeling of being loved and having someone to talk to about anything. In that case, it doesn’t matter exactly who that person was, and whether or not they were actually a good person. In the case of a non-long-distance relationship, it’s hard just to get used to not having a warm body sleeping next to you anymore.

But yeah, it seems like your friend has a lot of unresolved feelings herself. She seems to want her ex to be in pain? Sounds kind of vindictive. She may just be insecure and is feeling the need to boost her confidence by believing someone is hurting “for her.”

njnyjobs's avatar

It sounds stupid to me! The fact that their relationship did not move forward the way it should, and instead went backwards, tells me that there’s no real cohesiveness in their relationship. They should both write-off one another and move on. They’re just wasting their time with those nonsensical webchats and dreaded feelings of being down and out.

As for her, her theory is one of self justification to alleviate her of the guilt that’s probably consuming her from breaking up with him.

Do her a favor and throw a party for your friend and invite the most eligible bachelors. . . she probably needs to get laid to get her off ex-bf guilt trip

wundayatta's avatar

@njnyjobs She seems to be throwing her own “party” on eHarmony. She tells the guys who contact her that she’s “just looking.” She’s still hoping he’ll come back. I’ve warned her that she’s just going to open herself to more pain. She said something very similar to your advice:

“Maybe I am kidding myself. I don’t really know, but I also know that you can’t just stop loving someone when you loved this intensely and it is extremely hard to totally let go. I don’t think I’ll be fully able to do that until I’ve met someone else here in the real world. Which is what I’m working on.”

I dunno. Can you really be fully there for another person when you haven’t fully given up on the former lover?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Throwing a party for herself on eHarmony? A breakup party? An “I’m free” party?

Woe to the one who reaches the mountain top, only to find nothing there but a misty view, and a one way ticket back down.

prolificus's avatar

I agree with @susanc. They are two different things.

I don’t think it is ego or being psychotic to want the love of someone who can’t be with you. To want to know the if person is still in pain is not necessarily selfishness.

Love cannot always be easily understood or explained. Even if two people cannot be together, or if one cannot prove love through actions, it doesn’t mean that the intensity of love ceases. It is possible to love deeply from a distance and still live life without the person. It is possible to love passionately without love returned.

For this person, her pain seems to find peace in the knowledge that her loved one never flipped the switch to his heart.  Sometimes, knowing this is enough.

Trillian's avatar

Sounds like a crock, keeping an iron in the fire and a back-up plan. Also just a psychological need being fulfilled. If she finds someone first, she’ll probably get over it.
And then again, maybe she won’t. Were he to come to where she is, she may dump her new beau, even if it’s only for a temporary bit. Sounds like a toxic situation for my friend @wundayatta who stands to get hurt seriously.

Kokoro's avatar

I think she means that any feeling towards her is good. As she mentioned, the pain of not being loved anymore would be worse, it definitely hurts a lot more. Whether her ex shows her any signs of emotion whether it be anger or sadness, they still ARE feelings towards her. It shows that the person cares somewhat. If he were to be oblivious and happy and not to be bothered by it, she’d think “Was I that easy to forget?”

thriftymaid's avatar

No. Breakups are hard even if you want it. It’s painful when you have such a major change in your life. You miss what is familiar, even if it wasn’t healthy.

wundayatta's avatar

@Trillian It’s not about me. Not at all. It really is an old friend of mine. This is not gonna hurt me. I may have problems, but this is not one of them. For once, I get to watch the train wreck (although I hope there isn’t one).

thriftymaid's avatar

@Kokoro I remember your situation; hope you are doing OK.

Jeruba's avatar

Pain does not prove true love. Pain after a breakup is the result of loss. Loss can mean a lot of things and not just love. The fact that my mouth hurts after oral surgery does not prove I still have the tooth.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

This gets back to the eternal female quest to be “the one” that some guy loves enough to change for. In this case, his hurting validates that she “could” be “the one” but his inability to move is “bigger than both of them.”

Gag me with a spoon.

JeffVader's avatar

Seems a fairly normal human reaction to me… everyone wants to be loved after-all.

lonelydragon's avatar

I agree with @Kokoro. Pain after a break up is the result of the loss, but the loss wouldn’t hurt unless there was some form of attachment to that person. I can’t say whether your friend’s ex loves her. She could be imagining that he’s in pain, and the thought is comforting to her. But I can definitely relate to what she said about the pain of being unloved.

With that said, if your friend is still thinking about her ex that much, she should probably wait to begin dating other people. Rebound relationships only delay the pain of the break up. They don’t eliminate it.

phillis's avatar

Get em, Dragon. Good answer, as always.

Kokoro's avatar

@lonelydragon I would like to hear your thoughts on rebound relationships. I have been told by a friend, “nothing wrong with rebounds, it helps.” But you say it only delays the pain. How so?

lonelydragon's avatar

@Kokoro I think rebounds do help for some people, especially if the relationship with the ex had soured a long time ago and the person grieved for the relationship before it was over (does that make sense?). But in many cases, people immerse themselves into new relationships because they don’t want to be alone. They don’t give themselves time to grieve for what has been lost and go through the healing process. I have observed this with many of my social contacts, and in myself, too. I got involved with someone right away after breaking up with my first love. I thought that I was ready to move on, because I’d begun to distance myself from my ex emotionally before I initiated the break up. But the rebound relationship didn’t work, and when that was over, I was hit with a double whammy of emotional pain because I didn’t allow myself to grieve over the lost relationship with my first love. I just kept a stip upper lip and got back into the dating game. So rebound dating is not always healthy.

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