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Background

Last month, I broke up with my gf, 36, who I was with for over a year, for the second time. During the pandemic, I had broken up with her briefly but later got back together after we both agreed to see if we could work things out.

At the time of the breakup, I told her that, "neither of us is happy and I am not able to envision a future with you. We tried to work it out again but unfortunately it does not seem to be the case.". I did not go into the details on what was different etc. because I did not think it would make any difference and also, knowing her, I thought any further statements would hurt her more.

It was her suggestion that after the breakup, we should continue to be friends. I agreed. Also, together, we share a dog who now spends a few days with me and few days with her.

During our time together, she was already saying I wasn't supportive: For example, if we spoke about her finding a better job, she'd say she couldn't find a good job because her education was not sufficient and that she did not want to ask her parents to help her fund her education. I offered to pay for any education she wanted to pursue which she did not take. She would still say I was not being supportive.


Problem

Recently, some of her messages are more like jabs at me. She seems to think everything I did for her was a lie. There have been instances where she comes to my place and cries and says harsh things like I never thought she was good enough for me etc. Even though I do not agree to that, I do not say anything because I thought she needed to vent her feelings. But these things are happening more frequently and the most recent one was when she told me about securing a scholarship. Before I could tell her that I was happy for her, she said "you can pretend to care for this as well".

I broke up with her and I take the responsibility for that and for hurting her because breakups aren't easy. I cannot feel her pain exactly but I have been broken up with before so I know a little about it. But her saying things like these affect me. When I told her about this once, she simply replied "So many lies, so much deceit". I felt she thought that breaking up with her was some kind of evil plan that I had for her from the beginning. I get angry but I did not say anything.

So, I have tried to explain to her that when she says things that sting it affects me and ask her to understand that my intention was never to hurt her during the relationship. But everytime she takes it or twists my words into something worse. She even adds things that I never said.

My question is: How do I communicate to her that her jabs are affecting me and would like that to stop and also correct her if she brings up things which she thinks I said when I in fact haven't, without turning it into a bigger rather more emotionally painful argument?

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  • Hi PKU, I'm sorry you're in such a tough place. Unfortunately this site can't tell you what you should do - Q&A here needs to be focused on specific goal. So for instance, if you do want to tell her to only contact you for dog-related things, that's something we could help with. We actually have an older question that yours reminded me of, maybe the posts there could help?
    – Em C
    Jan 27 at 2:57
  • Em C, I have updated my question. Hopefully it's now compliant to be considered a suitable question in IPS.
    – PKU
    Jan 27 at 3:41
  • Hi PKU! I''m giving your post a big edit: I summarized the relationship/breakup part because it was drowning out the part about the behavior you're trying to deal with now. I think the second-to-last paragraph includes some of the most important information from your question: what you've tried to do and her reaction to it. I think it could be beneficial to your question to include a bit more details about how you tried to explain, and perhaps also a bit more about how she interprets this.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jan 27 at 10:57
  • You might also want to include what you've tried to correct her 'making up things', as there's not much in your question about that right now. If you hate the edit feel free to roll it back, but do remember that there's still work to be done. If you roll back you're going to at least need to come up with a good title yourself, and include the bit I asked about in my previous comment, about including more details about how you've tried the things you tried.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jan 27 at 10:57
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    You have three possible outcomes: a. You go your separate ways. b. You keep being abused forever. c. You convince her to stop abusing you. How acceptable or not is (a) to you? That influences strongly what you can or cannot say. You can avoid painful arguments easily by walking away if you are willing to do that. She is your ex, right? That means you can walk away. The dog will likely be happier in one place without arguments.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 7 at 18:56
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In my experience, what is happening 'normal'. A lot of couples that break up agree to stay friends, but I've only seen very few cases where that actually works.

As you're experiencing right now, a break-up results in a lot of emotions. There is frustration, disapointment, loneliness etc. None of those are very easy to process and need to get out of your/her system for a 'healthy' breakup.

Breakups is one of the situations where the 5 stages of grief might occur, where the current seems a bit like the first stage (Denial); Denying that something is wrong from her side, possibly with the outcome that everything might become fine.

The second stage is Anger, which is what you're starting to encounter with the stabby remarks. You will be the bad guy and some(/most) of that will be at your expense.

I recommend limiting communication to a more 'professional' kind of approach: Drop the emotion, dont chitchat, dont engage in anything and keep distance. In my experience, if you want to stay friends, there must first be a period of nothing. Both sides need to reset and keeping casual contact in the meantime prevents that.

It could become a bit worse as she might try to provoke a response. Not because she is a bad person, but because this is an emotional situation and emotion wants to get out (and should, same goes for you!).

IMO the best/most polite thing you can do for her (and yourself) is force distance. At this stage, anything you'll say will be used against you. You can explain this to her, that you're noticing it's not going well and want to keep a little more distance for now. Be careful you make sure that doesnt sound like something that can be bargained, without sounding like a d*ck.

With the risk of sounding like a cliché: Time will heal, you both need to give it time to sink in :)

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