Our beautiful friend, who has called herself "Hopeless Romantic", is wondering if she should just let go and move on or give her boyfriend of 8 years one more chance.
Here's her story:
My situation is a little complicated, I met this guy about 8 years ago.
He tried very hard to get my attention and win me over so we started dating very soon after we met. When we met he told me he had been in the army and that he was about to finish college only for me to find out that all this was a lie and he only said it to try to impressed me.
Regardless of this, I forgave him and we continued our relationship.
Within 8 months of dating, he proposed and I said yes. I was not ready to get married yet and he was not financially stable nor had finished college so we decided to have a long engagement. During the next 4 years we had wonderful memories and were planning for a future together, but we also had a few speed bumps where I caught him emailing another girl and telling her how much he loved her.
He said she was his cousin and that nothing ever happened so I took him back.
After I graduated college, we started planning the wedding but I always had a gut feeling that things were not quite right, I was the one making all the decisions and he was still not stepping up as a future husband to me. I decided to break the engagement and end the relationship, but I was devastated as I really loved him and for months he never stopped trying to win me back and letting me know he was waiting for me.
After 5 months apart we got back together, I moved out of my parents house and got an apartment and he would spend most of his time there with me.
None of my friends or family knew we were back together because I wanted to make sure the relationship was stable enough to tell everyone again and be able to justify my decision to get back with him. For about a year we kept our relationship on the low but he gave me an ultimatum and told me that I either talked to my parents about us, move in together and get engaged again or we should just end things.
It was a wake up call to me as I had this guy there ready to commit and start a family with me and I was taking him for granted. So I talked to my parents, friends, and started including him more into my life and making plans for our future again. I told him he had to go back to school and finish college as I was already working on my master's degree and wanted us both to have a good career and job to have a stable life.
Shortly after this, he started pulling away, making excuses to not spend time together, he would not spend the night and started going out with new friends and lying to me about it. I tried to talk to him and understand what was going on but he was very defensive and sometimes mean.
At the same time, my career took off, I got a promotion and started meeting new people and getting amazing new opportunities both academically and professionally, he always said he was proud of me and I believed it.
His odd behavior continued for months and in the last 6 months of our relationship he has broken up with me 3 times to only call me a few days/weeks later and tell me he wants to do things right and to please give him another chance. Things would be good for a few weeks and then he goes back to his old ways only for us to argue about it and him breaking up with me again.
During one of our arguments he admitted that he was interested in another girl but that their relationship was only over the phone, lasted 3 weeks and they never went out or nothing physical happened.
He begged for another chance and I accepted him again, things were "OK" for 3 weeks and he had agreed to move in with me and spend the holidays with me and my family.
Then on our anniversary he bailed on me and when I confronted him he told me he could not do this and broke up with me again over text, saying that I got too busy and "obsessed" with my career and education and that I decided to start graduate school instead of giving him the baby he has been wanting for years and that he got bored with me and the relationship, that I complained to much and wanted to control him and that he didn't feel the same way and that I deserve someone better.
I blocked him from my phone and social media as I was determined to move on after this.
Now a week later, he has been emailing me asking me to meet him to talk and work things out. I am deeply hurt by everything that has been going on, my friends tell me he is jealous and intimated by my successful career, education and independence and that he only wants to take advantage of me.
The worst part is that I have seen all the red flags since I met him 8 years ago, making excuses for this behavior and lack of responsibility and honesty but I always stood by his side and supported him through all the ups and downs. I know I should let go and move on but as soon as I feel my strength coming back, he shows up telling me all the things I want to hear, making promises and making me feel guilty for not giving him another chance.
It has been such an emotional roller coaster and this has caused me to fall into a depression in the last few months.
Now this is affecting my job, school and relationship with friends and family as I am constantly sad and anxious and I can't figure out how to get out of this relationship that is causing me so much pain.
I keep wondering if this is just a phase we are going through and that I should work things out instead of leaving him completely. So many years and energy has been invested in this relationship, I am close to turning 30 (him too) and I can't help but think that if I don't take him back I will never find anyone else and I am missing out on my chance to have a family.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Dear Hopeless Romantic,
We all have a story.
The one that keeps us living the way we do, believing that one day it will be different even if we don’t do anything different.
It won’t be the same story for all of us, but our own version of an even bigger one that we've bought into. But what it will be and do for us is the same regardless of who we are, where we’ve been or what we’ve gone through. It will be the story we tell ourselves is our truth.
And so in your letter you've answered your own question of what to do and where to go from here.
You see, deep down we always know what’s really going on, by simply looking beyond the complicated rest of the story that we can always find a way to attribute it to.
The simple truth is always there.
We just want it to be different. We want to find that single strand of hope that will allow us to stay with someone who isn't on the same page as we are, who doesn't want the same type of relationship as we do, even as the writing is clearly on the wall.
I know you want to see it. You want to see past the lies, past the emails, past the excuses, past the facts that you’re having a harder time denying. To see that there’s something salvageable there, something more than what there has been to build a committed relationship on.
You’re so not alone.
We've all wanted that at one time or another. But the reality that’s so hard to hear is the very one that you so need to hear. The one that says look at what his actions say. Look at the way he’s content to live his life. Look at what he can give you and what he can’t. Look at what you deserve and what you don’t.
I know it’s so much easier to keep working at something you've invested so much of your beautiful time and energy in already than to imagine the work of starting something new with someone else. I know it’s the last thing you want to do when you’re turning 30 and ready for the whole package and what you know seems so much more secure than the unknown of what you don’t know.
But there’s a different way of looking at this.
From a place of power instead of despair and hopelessness. From a place of hope, not in someone who’s going to do what he’s going to do regardless of what you want him to do, but in yourself, in whatever you believe in, and in life and love that are anything but hopelessly romantic, but have so much real hope to offer you.
It’s in this way that matters, one that aligns with you and who you are.
With your own beautiful hopes and dreams that are yours to take with you, not to leave with any particular him. It’s the way of feeling your own power, where you take your power back, where you choose to own your own choices and do what is best for you, not for anyone else but you. Where you look clearly at what you have and what you know about him and what you want.
Where you take out your list that has what you’re looking for on it and compare it with what he’s able to give you. And you decide if you can live with what he has to offer you or you can’t.
Because either you can or you can’t, Hopeless Romantic.
We can’t lie to ourselves when we already know the answer to that. We can’t keep pretending we can do this when in our heart of hearts we know we can’t. People don’t just change for someone else unless they’re motivated to themselves. There’s a reason why the greatest indicator of future behavior is someone’s past behavior, because it’s been proven time and time again.
When you say he isn't letting you move on because “he shows up telling me all the things I want to hear, making promises and making me feel guilty for not giving him another chance.”
You don’t have to buy into that.
You don’t have to take on that guilt that taps into an even bigger place about something else that has so much more to do with him than with you. You can choose what you want to believe, regardless of what he wants you to hear.
Because you know, Hopeless Romantic. And you know what you deserve even if you’re not sure you really do.
Make this time about you, not him.
Not what he says, but what you say.
Not what he wants but what you want.
It’s how we do this. It’s how we get to where we want to be, not just where we say we want to be. It’s how we take the “hopeless” part out of hopeless romantic and find the romance, the love, the life of our real dreams.
And there’s nothing hopeless about that.
What do you think? Do you have any other advice or words or encouragement for our dear friend "Hopeless Romantic"? Please share your thoughts with all of us in the comments!