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This is my first time posting here and I'm not sure what to expect, but I will be doing my best to explain the situation.

My girlfriend and I had a recent fallout (first one). We are in a long distance relationship and see each other about every three months or so, and we won't be able to truly be in a physically close relationship until I complete my graduate program and she completes her undergraduate program. She is an absolutely stunning, intelligent, talented human being with a heart of an angel. She deserves nothing more than happiness and success in her life. I love her.

Situation

She posted on her twitter that she wanted pizza. I wanted to surprise her by buying her pizza, but also not being able to have my information tracked down to keep the surprise. The thing is Little Caesar's is her favourite pizza place---I couldn't find a way to get a delivery-based company to pick up the pizza that's available in her community (I will try harder next time---there has to be a way). Thus, I settled for Dominoe's pizza, which was readily available (I found out the hard way that this was NOT her pizza preference by far).

When she received the pizza, she immediately called me and asked if I had bought her pizza---I insisted I didn't because I wanted to preserve the surprise as much as possible. Furthermore, I advocated this fact by saying she wouldn't have wanted Dominoes because it's not her pizza preference (mind you, I didn't know this, so I took a risk in saying, to which, surprisingly, she concurred---I kinda look even more of a jackass). She trusted my word, and so went to proceed to call some of her closest friends and family members (all said they didn't order the pizza), while I'm pretending to be dumb and oblivious to the whole thing---I knew that if I looked at her in the face if she interrogated me, I would have broken completely. I wanted to preserve the surprise as much as possible. In the middle of her interactions with fellow peers, I noticed she entertained the idea of a secret admirer---I thought, "Hey, I could play this off further. Maybe it will get me off her list as a potential suspect for buying her pizza." In order to not have my information tracked down (because she's one hell of a smart SOB---NEVER UNDERESTIMATE HER!), I used a messaging app that gives me a different number. I used broken English and grammar to not give any indication that it was me (i.e. "your amazzing personn. you deserrve pizza - sekret admirerr").

At this point, she experiences distress and anxiety. She has anxiety--I should have known better. I immediately fessed up and apologized for putting her through her anxiety scare---she told me a recent friend of hers was kidnapped and raped, and she was scared out of her mind that she could a potential victim---I didn't know about this. She couldn't sleep at all that night.

She didn't talk to me at all the day after. At the end of the night, she requested to talk me, and we did. She told me she didn't appreciate that I had lied her, that I didn't fess it was me that ordered the pizza (I didn't fess up for the entire time that previous night until I saw she was panicking and was experiencing anxiety---she also said the pizza thing was sketchy), and that I put her through an episode of anxiety---she told me never to do it again. I had apologized to her, telling her what I did was not right at all and putting her through an episode of anxiety was completely unfair to her being, making her think she was a potential victim. She doesn't deserve this kind of experience at all. It was not my intention to do this to her at all---I wanted to surprise her and make her happy because her smile is one of the greatest delights of this world.

She has told me to give her some space and time. She has also said she won't easily leave me off the hook, and that tomorrow (which is today) she won't be in a good mood.

I recently read a book that recommended to talk to her, listen to her and understand where she is coming from, affirm that I am understanding her, and apologize for these points, and to keep iterating this process until she feels better (the book said she will verbally express this). The thing is, if I try to follow this book, it means that she has not felt better last night, she has not felt my love and understanding of her, (she has said she still feels salty). At the same time, the book has said to give her some space and time, to be patient with her (that is, to not contact her by any means until she feels ready to reach out), and allow her to miss me and come to me.

I'm confused---I want to be able to be the best partner that I can be for her. At the same time, I hate to see her this distressed and I feel extremely awful for putting through this---I had a hard time sleeping because my heart was aching from what I have done to her. As much as I would hate to see this relationship go to the history books because she is one of the best things that has ever happened me, I understand what she needs to do to make her happy and I wish nothing but love and the best for her.

What can I do as a partner in this situation? I don't want to rely on this book---I want actual human feedback that could support me. I reached out to a personal coach of mine, a friend, and her mother for some feedback.

Your support means the world to me. Thank you so much IPS.

  • "physically closed" -> "physically close", probably. – Faheem Mitha Apr 8 '18 at 12:50
  • @FaheemMitha I made the necessary edits. What do you mean by "probably"? – Brian Diaz Apr 8 '18 at 12:54
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    I want actual human feedback that could support me. > I'm sorry, but this is a site for questions and answers, not a support group. Asking us what you can do is too broad, asking for the best way is opinion based and your question seems to be lacking a goal, a skill you want help with. You need to decide how you want to procede, not ask for validation of your previous approach here. – Tinkeringbell Apr 8 '18 at 13:15
  • @BrianDiaz It seemed probable, but not certain, that the proposed change was correct. – Faheem Mitha Apr 8 '18 at 13:21
  • @Tinkeringbell I understand now. My apologies. Vote to close. – Brian Diaz Apr 8 '18 at 13:45
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Give her some time and space as requested. Don't initiate contact but only respond to her texts. Send her a short good night text ("Hope you had a good day. Sleep tight :) ") and tomorrow you can send her a longer good morning text and see how she responds to that

"Good morning! Hope you slept well. " + Something personal about the coming day (anything she does on Monday or had planned that day?)

She said you're not off the hook, so respect that and be careful for now.

Concerning this situation: Always make sure people will laugh at the end of your pranks. (You keep saying surprise but I don't see how lying and pretending to be someone else can be a surprise. But that's not the topic of the question.) Don't pretend for now and when you do, come clean immediately. In a couple of weeks you can send her some flowers with a note "From a secret admirer xx (It's Brian)". This will show her you actually learned from the situation.

  • I won't even try to justify the "pretending someone else" part because I learned afterwards it was a stupid decision---I should have come clean from the beginning, just like you put it. Thank you for your feedback, @LVDV, it is much appreciated. Speaking of the good morning text, what exactly should I write in it? How she slept well, hope she has a great day? I'm not sure what I should write and I can't measure the context in what you mean by "longer". – Brian Diaz Apr 8 '18 at 13:07
  • Made an edit. Difficult to say exactly, since we don't know how you usually communicate. – LVDV Apr 8 '18 at 13:16
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While I'm certainly no expert on human relationships, it seems clear that your girfriend's reaction was not the one you expected or wanted.

Your intention in purchasing pizza for her without telling her was presumably to please her or, to put it differently, evoke a positive reaction, but didn't. Instead, she freaked out.

So it seems to me that you need to get to know your girlfriend a little better. In particular try to get a better sense of what she might like, what she might dislike, and what her responses to a specific situation might be.

I'm also unclear on why you thought why ordering her mystery pizza would please her. I realise a box of chocolates from an admirer is a bit of a stereotype, but if I was sent something edible, and I didn't know who the sender was, I would be quite unhappy, and I probably wouldn't eat it, even if it was chocolate.

It sounds like your girlfriend responded quite strongly to this particular situation, so I recommend thinking a little more before springing other stuff on her. To be clear, a surprise isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it does depend on the surprise.

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Maybe the best you could do is to give her the slace and time she has clearly expressed that she needed. In the meanwhile, you could also do some reflection so that when she’s ready you two could have an effective communication, resolve this incident and strengthen the relationship.

Your apologies and reactions were sincere. But from where I stand there are things you probably need some further clarity of:

1) Secret admirer is not something fun. Having a stalker who knows your home address is scary and should be taken seriously. Your gf’s reaction to check who the sender is is sensible and her emotional responses are totally understandable. For you to make a joke out of this and anticipate smiles from her shows lack of judgment to some extent or at least insensitivity. Does it happen before in any other forms of interactions with your gf? Use this time to really reflect on why it happened and what needs to be changed within you to make sure it doesn’t make again.

2) Although it’s your fault to make a distastful joke, part of her anxiety or fear is triggered by her friend’s experience thus not something you should feel responsible for. She needs to figure out how to deal with it separately from your joke. It probably will take some time. Acknowledge that and when she’s ready to talk ask her if she needs your support.

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