Four years of confusion

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Break up confusion: Why did you do this?

Hello Guys,

Hopefully I won’t make this too long but here goes. I’m a junior in college and I have been dating the man I love for about four years now. He left to go to another city about 6 hours away from our home town to study art. I stayed here in town because one of the best programs for my major is at one of the state schools right here. About two years ago we decided a long distance relationship wasn’t the best idea. There was no one “else” in either one of our lives, but with new experiences we didn’t know where we were headed. We decided to continue “dating” though.

I dedicate myself to my education and the vice presidency of my sorority fully. I don’t blame him for doing what is best for him and leaving, nor has he ever criticized me for staying behind for my best interests. He graduated last year and has stayed where he went to school to work and pay off his school loans.

We have always communicated on a daily basis and make it a point to spend time with each other when given any opportunity to do so. We have always talked about the future, including children and marriage.

This past Christmas, he asked me to move in with him once I’ve completed my degree. I agreed. However, that was the last time I physically saw him. Between school getting more and more intense, clinical rotations, and summer courses, I haven’t been able to visit him. He also has not been able to come home due to a recent surgery.

Just last night he told me precisely this: “I never want to hurt you, so I think it’s fair I tell you that I’m seeing someone now. I can only blame it on the distance and the time we’ve had apart. It’s been so long since I’ve last been with you and right now, it’s uncertain when we’ll get the opportunity to see each other again and that alone hurts me. I don’t want that for us. If it ever happens between us, I will welcome it with the love I have for you. But for now I gotta do me. It hasn’t been anything serious with her and I don’t expect you to say anything about this, but I want you to understand that this doesn’t change how I feel about you. I’ll always love you. But apparently, we just can’t be together right now. Maybe some day. I love you and it’s killing me to never see you. It just isn’t fair to both of us. I still love you. I just can’t do this right now.”

I trust him, and I also give him props for telling me the truth. But it tears me to shreds to hear this. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this from him however. It has actually been a REALLY long time since we’ve had that conversation. It always seems to eventually rub off within a couple of weeks or months, whether there is someone else or not, and we’re back to normal and dandy all over again.

With that said, I guess my question is: Why love me and be with someone else? Is he just leaving me out to dry for later use, or does he see what I see for us someday?

I could never bring myself to do such a thing as see someone else when he has my heart. Four years is a long time and I honestly can’t see a future without him in it. But I also don’t want to be waiting around for his new-found fling to get “serious” all of a sudden.. though it has never happend, yet..

I’m so sorry for the novel!! However, please explain.


Dear Marie,

Thanks for your question.

We applaud your focus and dedication when it comes to your studies. Getting your career in place should be your number one goal right now. We hope you complete your course load, and establish yourself in the working world before you make any decisions about your relationship. Once you do that, you’ll be negotiating from a place of strength and security when it comes to figuring this relationship out. That may sound business-like, but it’s important for both of you to feel equally strong as you move forward.

As far as this other woman goes: We think it’s pretty selfish on his part. The relationship doesn’t sound serious, so we don’t think you need to worry about that, but he shouldn’t say all the things he’s saying to you, and still be sleeping with some other woman. Because what’s really going on? Yep. He wants sex. And if he can’t get it with you, he’s decided to get it from someone else until he can be with you. (If you believe he truly wants to be with you.) Also, what about this other woman? We wonder what he’s saying to her if he’s telling you he loves you? In our opinion he’s treating both of you disrespectfully and no matter how you slice it, it feels wrong.

Sure, guys want sex as much as they can get it, especially a young guy like your boyfriend. But so do women. So does everyone. But some people, like you for instance, are able to keep the larger picture in mind, and not act on every impulse or desire. He thinks since he’s been upfront with you that he’s free and clear, and absolved from any wrong doing. However, no such luck. It doesn’t work that way. If he wants to be single and have the freedom to act any way he wants, then by all means he has the right to do that. But if he chooses to be single and see other people, he can’t still keep you on the hook, string you along, and ask you to move in with him. He only gets to do one or the other, but not both. And that’s exactly what his speech to you is all about—keeping you in the fold while he explores other possibilities.

So Marie, you have to figure out how you want to address this issue. If you let it go and tell him it’s fine, even if you end up together, some other situation will come up where he’ll display his selfishness. You say it’s happened before, which means there is a pattern here—although the sample is kind of small. But this needs to be nipped in the bud now. We’re not telling you what to do because obviously you two have a strong connection, and you know better than us. We’re just presenting the picture from our perspective so you can see it with a bit more objectivity.

Here’s a test: It would be interesting to see how he would react if you told him exactly what he’s telling you. We doubt very highly he would be open and supportive of you and your needs if you started seeing some other guy.

One more point. Remember, you were still in high school when you met this guy. We know you love him dearly, but people change and evolve throughout their teens and twenties. In fact, we hope people never stop evolving throughout their lives. So consider keeping yourself more “open” as you embark on all the exciting new experiences life has to offer: school, career, a new city, and definitely new people.

We know you’ll figure this out Marie. We hope this helps you a little.


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6 Comments on Four years of confusion

  1. Hey guys!!
    Just an update on what has been going on. I asked him to call me one night shortly after the ‘devastation’ episode, because frankly, after thinking it over…and over.. and over… some of the same thoughts you have responded to me, popped into my head. I left him a message asking him to call me back because I felt he owed me answers I couldn’t answer myself 100%. Needless to day, he didn’t call. That was pretty much an answer to all of my questions. He sent me a text about going on a roadtrip over winter vacation.. I’m not convinced honestly. I haven’t spoken to him in weeks-nor have we exchanged texts or anything of the sort.

    With everything going on with my degree right now, I’ve been fortunate enough to be distracted by that and running my organization. I’ve been keeping myself from moping around at home; going out and trying new things. And I have actually met someone…he’s been a mutual friend for several years, but in recent events we’ve hit it off and have been spending a lot of time just hanging out and talking. He was in a similar situation with his ex girlfriend, so it’s just nice to have someone who has been in a situation similar to mine. I don’t know where this is going, and I don’t want to jump into anything soon. But the company is nice. I’m starting to understand how blind I’ve been.. not only in my situation, but also to how there are so many people out there who are willing to devote their time to me as well. I’m blessed for all I have.. and whether it happens or not in the “future” because he “loves me”, HE can be the one to try to prove that to me.

    Thanks for your reply!
    Hopefully I can still keep you updated on this story.

  2. @Marie….Thanks for your note and update. It all sounds very positive. Good for you! Yes, please keep us updated. Stay in touch, and good luck.

  3. Hello again guys!
    Just keeping you posted; I have not contacted my ex at all (not even once), nor has he even attempted to contact me either. Of course, it hurts a little to know there was no conversation or closure to his little speech. However, I realize how much I have grown as an individual since this experience (even though it hasn’t been such a long time). Tonight is my ‘official’ first date with that guy I told you about earlier. I must admit, I am not used to being the one who doesn’t have to suggest a date or initiate anything of the sort. We are alike in very many ways and have actually been set up by my sisters and his brothers. As i mentioned before, i do not know where this is going, however, his friendship has been keeping me smiling. Thanks for the encouragement! Let’s see what happens within the next few months… 🙂

  4. @Marie… it! Please keep us posted. Glad to hear you’re smiling again!

  5. So apparently, a lot can happen in just a few weeks. I decided to keep you guys updated on what happend the other night… Things have been going extremely well with my new interest/boyfriend. For ONCE someone devotes his time to me and even if we are both extremely busy, he will randomly show up with coffee. He calls me every morning to say hello and every night to make sure I had a good day. I am not particullarly used to anyone being more affectionate than I usually am in a relationship, but it feels great to know that he genuinely cares; even if it has only been a couple of months. He’s already introduced me to all of his friends, he’s met mine and is actually enthused about meeting my parents. This is completely different. Sudden, but different. I’m starting to realize how stupid i was for holding on to something for four years that doesn’t even compare to what the two of us have bulit in just a couple of weeks.

    This past week, I got a voicemail and a ten page text message from my ex. He apparently had “water damage” affecting his phone, so he switched back to his old one until he could get it fixed. In it, he found pictures of us and old text message conversatoins he had saved. He explained how he misses me and how he’s definitely killing himself everyday for letting me go. He explained how his current girlfriend doesn’t compare to who I am and he wanted to know what to do. I didn’t answer his call… instead, i texted him back. I asked him to delete whatever he had saved and move on. I know that was extremely blunt of me, but in retrospect, he had pretty much done the same to me AND expected to keep me hanging on a hook for him. I explained to him how i was dating someone new who cares for me and actually selflessly shows it in every way possible. The only thing i could do after he left me hanging for four years straight, was to get over it. He evidently had no problem finding someone else (whether it be “serious” or not) to sleep with and spend time on. Though that was not at all what i’m looking for, nor did i really look for anything else at all, I could only think of doing things for myself; just as he explained to me. In the process, i just so happened to stumble upon an amazing person. He got upset, (as expected) and replied with: “I only did this for US, damn it. I didn’t want to lose you but i couldn’t be with you. But look at you now, living the dream. You’re his now, but he could never love you as much as I do. I admire your pure love and I’m never going to forgive myself for giving you up, but i wish you the best. Don’t say anything anymore. Good Night.”

    I’m past anger, and sadness. Telling him what I did didn’t hurt me or make me feel like i regret “letting him go”. I don’t regret what we were or the connection we had, but you all were right, I am an adult now. What was the perfect guy for me in high school, isn’t perfect for me now. I grew up. I’m not the same person and i’ve never felt more comfortable being who i am and who i am currently with. This whole conversation didn’t really phase me at all. I explained to my new boyfriend about the voicemail, (since we both helped eachother through these sticky situations) and how i felt completely liberated from that. He was nothing but supportive and proud to hear that he has made me happier than anyone else ever has. 🙂

    Hope to hear from you all soon!

  6. @Marie….We’re glad you’re feeling so strong and secure with your decision. Your ex is definitely trying to get you thinking about him, even as he wishes you the best in your new relationship.

    The best part of your note is when you say: “I’ve never felt more comfortable being who I am.” Remember, it all starts with you. A great guy might enhance that feeling and make you feel even better, but you first have to be happy with yourself, and it sounds like you are. That’s fabulous!

    Keep in touch, and all the best.

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