Does future career always trump future relationship?

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Dumped by text

Hi Guys,

I have been totally blindsided! About six weeks ago I started seeing this guy. (He is younger than me – I’m 30 and he’s 24, but that didn’t seem to bother him.) Everything was going really smoothly up until yesterday. While we were seeing each other he was out of town for two of the weeks. One of the weeks he was going to different universities around Canada because he’s finishing med school this year and is looking for residency positions. So we didn’t talk much while he was gone. And then the week before Christmas he was out of town staying with his family. So I know that overall I haven’t invested a whole lot of time into this relationship but I’m not sure where/when it went wrong.

The first few weeks that we were seeing each other he did do most of the talking. I think he was nervous(?) because it could be hard for me to get a word in edgewise. After our second date he wanted to not only know if I’d hang out with him on New Years but also wanted to know if there was anyone else in the picture and seemed somewhat surprised when I said that I wasn’t seeing anyone else. He even asked me if “I was (only) his” and I said yes. (How does one answer that kind of question??) He was really eager/enthusiastic – I’ve never dated someone so overzealous (seemingly) in the beginning of a relationship but I certainly wasn’t complaining. I don’t think he’s had much experience in having relationships. He said he’d only had one previous long term relationship and then a “fling” over the summer. I just got out of a 4.5 year relationship last March and I’m in no rush to jump into anything. (We waited until about 2 or 3 weeks in before having sex… well I made us wait and I think I should’ve waited longer).

After a few dates he invited me out with his friends and we had a really good time. He told me later they really liked me and a week or so after that my friends and I hosted a party and he came to that and my friends all came up to me later telling me they really liked him. After the party was the first time we had sex and I do think there was a (very) subtle change in the dynamic of the relationship after that. The very day we had sex I had to leave to go to work but we made plans to hang out when I got off. Just as I was on my way to meet up with him he messaged me bailing on me—first time ever bailing last minute—because he had to pack because he was going to his universities tour that I mentioned earlier. The fact that he had just stayed at home while I was gone playing on his xbox knowing he was supposed to meet up with me I thought was inconsiderate so I asked him to next time give me a heads-up in advance if he has to bail. And the following week, when he thought he wasn’t going to be able to meet up, he let me know 12 hours in advance! So I saw the bailing thing as just a blip.

We still frequently made plans to meet up after that and it was always nice spending time with him and he was pretty consistent about contacting me, as was I with him. Two days ago he got back from spending a week and a half with his family out of town. No sooner did we sit down at coffee yesterday that he said, “We have to talk!” We hadn’t even had a ‘define the relationship’ type of conversation so I didn’t even know if he considered me as his girlfriend. And then the next thing I knew he was ending our relationship and according to him we were dating!

He said that he felt that because the hospital he was going to be working at next semester was pretty far he was going to have to spend a lot of time at his parents because they live close to the hospital. He often has to be at the hospital for 6am and public transit doesn’t even start to operate until 6am and he will be on call most of the time and he didn’t know how much time he could invest into a relationship. He said he doesn’t also want to be a guy who calls only when he has like thirty minutes to hang out or something. He said he still likes me and is attracted to me but he has to prioritize his career and school. (Since I have a Master’s degree I totally get the need to prioritize school and career.)

So I told him that I respected him for being straight up but that I would’ve appreciated a bit more dialogue such as about how I would have felt with only seeing him once a week but he sort of made up his mind about how I would’ve felt about it.

I asked him how long he had been thinking of this and he said he just started really thinking seriously (as in 3 days ago) about how the next few months are going to be for him and that he didn’t see how things could work out as we’d like it to so he decided he needed to focus on his priorities, which is school and getting into a residency program. (I don’t begrudge that of course).

But is it really school or do you think he’ll have a change of heart?

Thanks! 🙂


Dear Sarah,

Thanks for your question.

As women are often, but certainly not always, attracted to guys who are stable and seemingly good caretakers—guys with money, or at least good jobs—guys in turn strive to achieve those positions. Our identities, and unfortunately our egos, are closely connected to our work. We want to feel valued in society. We want to be respected by our peers. And we certainly want to be attractive to women. But it’s more than that. Since we’re no longer required to hunt, moving up the career ladder is the closest thing we have to taking down that Saber Tooth Tiger.

Your guy’s age and inexperience play a big factor here as well. He’s probably a bit uncertain about how he feels. Remember, he’s probably been planning on studying medicine his whole life. (Or maybe his parents pushed him in that direction, which is a whole other story.) Then all of a sudden he meets you right before he’s about to take the next step and he’s thrown off a bit. Most guys just won’t tolerate that. Even if they feel a strong connection with a woman they won’t allow themselves to “go there.” We’d say he fits neatly into this category. And if so, we don’t see him veering from his course.

Some people love the idea of love. They get all excited every time they meet someone new, only to have their feelings temper as the relationship develops. In a word, or words, this stinks for the other person. The way he spoke to you at the beginning was probably genuine, but in some ways he was living in his own fantasy world. When he “woke up,” he realized that he needed to stay focused on his plan.

Of course having said that, if this guy really felt something extra special with you his conversation might have been slightly different.(Like you surmised.) He might have asked you how you felt about him moving, and if you would consider trying to do a long distance relationship; and maybe if he was really a risk taker, he’d ask you if you would consider relocating. He still wouldn’t have changed his path, but it’s possible he might have tried to incorporate you into it.

But that takes a forward-thinking person to do that. Someone who is able to balance a lot at one time, or even understand that this balancing act is possible. If he’s career obsessed it might not even have occurred to him that having an exciting career AND a great relationship is possible. Some guys just don’t have that capacity, even when they are married.

If it makes you feel better we bet at some point he’ll feel some regret over his decision. We also wouldn’t be surprised if he contacted you again. But it’s hard to say when, and if he’ll be a different person when he does. (We wouldn’t hold our breath on this one.)

We’ll speak personally and tell you that having a career that we love is very important, but having a woman we love and a family to come home to is even better. There are many guys out there who feel the way we do. We’re not sure if this guy is one of them, or if he’s just too young to know where he stands.

Please leave us a comment here in the comments section. We’ll respond here as well.

Good luck,


ps. Keep spreading the word about us. We love you girls up in Canada!! Thanks. 



28 Comments on Does future career always trump future relationship?

  1. Hi guys,

    Thanks for your advice! And for responding so quickly. Hopefully at some point he’ll regret it (but I don’t mean that in any sort of malicious/ill-will way) but who knows. Hope you don’t mind me throwing this out there, but I guess one thing that is still nagging at me is that I keep thinking I should send him a quick message to apologize for being a bit harsh with him after he told me that he wanted to end it… When he was telling me how he was feeling I was so shocked so I was really quiet while he was talking but it was after a few minutes after saying bye that it finally sunk in how blindsided I felt and was really angry about it. I went back to find him and told him that even though I knew he was trying to not be an a$hle but he just made a real a$* move – not one of my finer moments haha. He was really surprised that I thought that and I was surprised that he was surprised (someday I’ll find this funny). I then did explain to him that I would’ve appreciated more of a dialogue about the situation if he was being sincere when he said that he was still attracted to me. We talked about it a bit more so he understood why I was upset (he actually thought that because I was so quiet when he was first talking about his decision that I was apathetic about the whole relationship/break-up and he thought that maybe he was over-thinking everything) and when we left I gave him a hug goodbye. I texted him the next day telling him I respected him for being straight up with me and no hard feelings and he did later respond that he was happy to hear that and wished me happy new years. I really want to send him a Facebook message/or brief email apologizing again for calling him an a$*hle because I felt (and still feel!) awful about saying that but being that it’s been about a week since we last spoke, do you think it would be a bit much for me to send him a message out of the blue to contact him about that?

    Thanks again!

  2. @Sarah….We never think it’s a bad idea to end a relationship amicably, even if the other person didn’t handle things in the best way. So yes, by all means send him a note. He’ll appreciate it.
    And yes, we agree. We didn’t mean malicious regret. We just think he’ll wake up one day and wonder why he made the choices he did. Of course, he’s only 24 and doing the best he can for where he’s at in his life.
    All the best Sarah. Keep in touch.

  3. Thanks for the input, guys! I really appreciate it 🙂 I did end up sending him a brief FB message a few weeks back (just after I asked for your input) but never heard back from him, but I wasn’t really expecting a response. But I noticed today on Facebook he deleted me from his account! I have no idea why – I could have understood it more if he did it right after I messaged him but that was 2 weeks ago… Sooo… I guess it’s for the better. I’m going to refrain from texting him to ask why he did that, which is probably good to not contact, right? Thanks!

  4. @Sarah…..yes, this just isn’t the right guy for you. Unfortunately you’re not going to get all the answers you deserve. But you will be better informed for the next relationship. Good luck and keep in touch. Ask us another question anytime, or just send us some good news! Take care.

  5. So, I’ve been with my boyfriend for just under a year and a half and for the most part it’s been good. However, we’ve been long distance the whole time and though we made time to visit a lot (it’s a 4 hour drive) and I spent the summer with him (May-August) he’s become withdrawn lately…the thing is that I graduate from graduate school this spring and with that he just figures that I’ll be so much farther away that things won’t work out. We had talked about the future and he even looked at jobs in my home state (plus places to live), but now he’s not sure what state he wants to live in or what he wants to do with his life careerwise. The only thing he’s sure about is that he hates his current job and town, and that he wants to get out of there to live in a place where he can access the beach (I’m from South Florida, so no brainer there). Given his indecision regarding his own life and since I have to graduate in the spring and sit for a professional state exam, I decided to take the exam in my homestate and go from there…He says he loves me and wil never find anybody else like me, that he knows this to be true, so he doesn’t want to let me go but that he doesn’t want to hold me back and he feels like he is. I truly love and adore him with all of my heart and am just frustrated because I know that he can do so much more than he is right now, it seems like he’s in a rut and knows it but just doesn’t know how to get out of it and though I’ve tried to help it only seems to push him further away because he wants to figure it out himself. He’s also stopped hanging out with his friends and family, sleeping a lot more, and working longer hours at his dead-end job (the one he hates). Maybe I’m just being stupid, but I believe him when he says he’s never felt like this about anybody else and knows he won’t again…so, what should I do? Just let him go for now and hope things will sort themselves out? I feel like I’ve lost my best friend and soulmate and though I want to be with him, I also want him to be happy with or without me and I know that he’s with his current situation (job, place, etc.). It’s hard because I see him settling for what is and giving up hope on us and himself…can anything even be done at this point?

  6. @Lina……Here’s a quote from the post…. “As women are often, but certainly not always, attracted to guys who are stable and seemingly good caretakers—guys with money, or at least good jobs—guys in turn strive to achieve those positions. Our identities, and unfortunately our egos, are closely connected to our work. We want to feel valued in society. We want to be respected by our peers.”
    The thing is Lina, he’s down, depressed and struggling. So much so that he’s becoming paralyzed which is why he’s isolating himself and sleeping more. (Both signs of depression) We’re not saying he’s sunk to the point of no return we’re just saying that he’s in a hole and needs to dig himself out. (Which we believe he will.) So yes, the best thing is to give him some space and trust that what he’s telling you is the truth: that he loves you. There’s not much more you can do, except keep pursuing your own goals and hope he can get his act together. There are no guarantees here, but hopefully this will all work out. Remember to keep reassuring him that you love him AND that you believe in him. But he doesn’t want you to baby him. That will drive him away from you.

  7. Thank you, for now we’re not really speaking so I’m not even sure what the status of our relationship is. I’ve tried reassuring him and telling him that I love him, but that he needs to figure himself out first. So, is no contact for now a pretty good rule of thumb on my part?

    PS By no contact, I mean that I’m not calling or texting him as much as before just so that he can figure things out on his own…though I have e-mailed him job postings, should I just not e-mail him those anymore either?

  8. @Lina……Just let him initiate contact for now. But certainly respond to his texts, phone calls and emails. And you could ask him if he’d like you to keep sending him job postings or not. But our gut says you might want to let him figure that part of his life out without getting involved.

  9. Thanks! It’s hard to just sit back while he’s in a rut/downward spiral and know that he won’t take my help or anyone else’s.

  10. Hi guys,
    It’s Sarah again – miss me? Jk. You were right – I wasn’t going to get the answers I deserved after dating the last guy and even though it totally irked me and I obsessed about it for some time, I did refrain from contacting him (my girlfriends ordered me to contact them first before him lol). But I hope you don’t mind, I have a little question and I’m hoping you can humour my insecurities a bit (please!). After this past fiasco my girlfriends got me to sign up for an online dating site. I didn’t want to at first (it feels awkward) but after a few doozies I did finally meet a guy with potential (he’s 26… So at least I’m closing the age gap!). He initiated contact with me and it’s only been about 3 weeks since our first date and he has called/texted me everyday without fail. We tend to meet up at least 2 times a week, sometimes 3. Even if it’s just for coffee late at night he’ll drive down to pick me up, we’ll go somewhere, then he drops me off at home before he goes home (it’s a 30 min drive each way for him from my place). He’s not big on texting but he knows I prefer it during the day so he does usually text me during the day to see how it’s going and then tries to call me before going to sleep. So I really haven’t had any reasons to complain or be insecure – one of my friends didn’t realize I was seeing anyone because I hadn’t been complaining about him 🙂 He told me a few times this past week he was going to go across the border to buy a specific pair of shoes at a U.S. outlet mall – he was telling me when he was going and when he was coming back (just for a few hours) and that he’d probably do a bit of gambling after. I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to come along so I didn’t invite myself to come with him. But he said he wouldn’t be home until late so he probably wouldn’t be able to call me when he got home. I mentioned that to one of my friends who responds by saying “maybe he’s on another date?”. I hadn’t thought about that! But… Because I did meet him online he can obviously be in contact with other girls and I haven’t seen his profile on the site anymore after our first date (maybe he blocked me? or closed the account?)… I’m wondering if maybe he is still dating other girls from the site and this was his way of not arousing suspicion when not calling me? Or maybe my friend has tapped into my neuroses… I really don’t want to be blindsided again! Sorry, this was a longer message than anticipated! What do you think?

  11. @Sarah……We think you should take a deep breath and be positive. He seems like he’s being pretty open and honest with you. (even telling you he might do some gambling) But at this point he doesn’t owe you anything. Meaning, you two aren’t quite a couple yet so he should be able to date who he wants until the two of you decide you are going to be exclusive. BUT…..we’re not saying he’s doing that. It doesn’t sound like it. But if that’s your worst case scenario then it’s not really that bad. Relax and have fun with this. He’s a different person than your last guy. Give him a chance to show you that he’s great. (Or not) But you’re not going to have any fun if you keep projecting. ps. Your friends sound great, but don’t let them put ideas in your head. Your gut will tell you if he turns out to be a deceptive person. Feel free to ask any follow up questions you want. We enjoy your company. (Although, we know if you’re here, then something isn’t quite right. And of course we’d like for you to be happy and in a great relationship.) Good luck. Breathe……….

  12. Thanks, Guys! Not to worry, I didn’t go into anaphylactic shock – I think I need to maybe have a bit more selective hearing with with my friends, we give great advice but we’re equally great at imagining worst case scenarios too. But my gut isn’t ringing alarm bells and he still calls/texts me everyday. I recently moved to city almost a couple hours away but he is going to try to visit me every few weeks when I can’t get into Toronto on the weekends… sooo… I’m going to do my best to not project and be content with the fact that right now he appears to be on the level. 🙂 Thanks so much

  13. @Sarah…….You’re welcome. Keep us posted.

  14. Update:

    He told me he’s no happier now than I saw him being before, if anything he’s more unhappy. However, he is seeing someone new and although it really hurts me I know that he still loves me and can only move on myself. I just wish he’d told me sooner.

  15. @Lina…..We’re sorry. Hang in there.

  16. Thanks, if anything I know I tried and gave him all I could. The one consolation is that she’s a waitress and I’m an attorney…also, his mom says that he will regret losing me…though I just want him to be happy, whether it’s with me or someone else.

  17. @Lina…..And that’s all you can do. No regrets.

  18. Thank you, all of his friend and family and even himself say that I’m the perfect girl for him because I motivated him and they saw he was truly happy with me…they’ve said that he’ll regret losing me soon enough, but I just want him to grow and be happy and if life brings him back to me then that would be great. Although, right now I don’t know what to do if he contacts me again because he text me on Friday and I didn’t respond, however, I’m sure he will get in touch with me again (this guy said I was the love of his life and was planning on moving to be with me until fear got the best of him). So, I was just wondering what, if anything, I should do if he reaches out to me again?

  19. @Lina…….Why don’t you just wait and see where you’re at if/when he contacts you. Coming up with a plan now is okay, but your head might be in a different place if/when he does reach out. We’ll be happy to discuss it with you then. For now, do your own thing. Be happy. Focus on you. And take care.

  20. Well, that was fast! He just text me this morning saying he’s sorry and that he still loves me and didn’t want this to happen, he says he still wants me in his life and that nobody could take the feelings he has for me away…not sure if/when I should respond to this lates barrage of messages? I have nothing to say to him, would it be best to stay silent while he sorts himself out or would that just push him away?

  21. @Lina…….Have you decided what you want? Do you want him back? Or do you want to move on? We seem to be hearing both. For example: “YOu have nothing to say to him.” But at the same time you’re worried about pushing him away. So which is it?

  22. I want him back, but he has to figure out what he wants in his life before that can even happen…

  23. @Lina…….At this point you just have to trust your gut. If this relationship is meant to work out it will. Let him reach out to you, but also let him know you’ll be supportive of him as he tries to get his life together. But let him know you won’t do it for him, or won’t stand by while he self-destructs. We wish you the best.

  24. Thank you very much!

  25. What do I do? I’m just too hurt right now and even though he’s with someone else he continues to message me to tell me he cares and wants me in his life…I’m not sure what to do. How can I be supportive of him when I’m so hurt because he gave up on us and is now with someone else? Also, his friends and family say he’s just passing the time with this person, but it hurts just the same…I feel very betrayed.

  26. @Lina………We said, “let him know you would be supportive if he chooses to get his life together and then try to be with you.” Obviously that’s not happening. And certainly if he’s with this other woman than that’s a pretty strong message that he’s going to stay where he’s at even if he is reaching out to you. You need to be very clear with him now. While he’s with this other woman he shouldn’t be trying to contact you. If he breaks up with her then that’s another story. But no, you should’t let him lean on you while he’s bedding another woman. At some point we all have to have some self-respect. It might be time to move on even if it’s difficult. Don’t you think?

  27. I have been friends with a guy I went to school with, and ever since I have known him, he has proven to be the most eager and driven man I have ever known. We have known each other for over three years and up until Christmas time this last year, I never thought of him more than friend. He had been in a relationship when we first met, and had always been professional when it came to our conversations and never even spoke about each others lives or days… Just work, school and more work.
    When he broke up with her, I was one of the first people he called. I didn’t know that he had broken up with her at the time, but noticed that our conversation was very different than usual. We talk for about an hour about life, and events, and barely mentioned work related topics. It was one of the best conversations we had over the phone. Months passed and we went back to our usual conversations and topics. And nothing really changed.

    After a few more months we made plans together since he was going to be visiting where I live. While we were hanging out we learned we had so much in common. We stayed up for hours just talking and laughing, and eventually admitting possible feelings for each other. We had an emotional connection that night (but nothing else happened between us)

    A few week after that he started sending a few complimentary emails, and we talked about our previous conversation. He said that he wasn’t incapable of having a relationship, but wanted to soley focus on his career. (the reason he had actually broken up with his ex) He said he wanted to stay friends, and I completely respect his decision to focus on his career because I am doing the same thing… but do you think when he reaches his career goals that he might reconsider a relationship?

  28. @J….If he truly broke up with his ex because of his career, then it’s possible he’s telling the truth, and that he wants to focus on his career. Of course, it could just be an excuse, and that he wasn’t sure at first, but now has decided that maybe the two of you should stay friends. Our suggestion: Keep this in your back pocket, but don’t wait around for him. Go out. Keep meeting new people. And see what happens. If nothing transpires through the summer we’d say it’s time to move on completely. Good luck.

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