This week's letter comes from beautiful Corinne, who tells her story of an on-again-off-again relationship with a man who can't seem to commit.
Here's her email:
My boyfriend and I were together for almost 3 years. We had a beautiful, fun relationship with so much love. The only thing that bothered me was that I always felt as though he was searching for something wrong with me.
Our relationship was really strong for about two and a half years, until things in his life started to change (he was graduating from college, I had already graduated but was staying local for a job). He talked about finding jobs together and moving in together, and sounded really optimistic about it.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he broke up with me and really didn't have an explanation.
He came back about a week later wanting to reconcile and told me he was just not ready to move in together, which was fine with me. We were back to ourselves and continued dating, but he left again when he got a job offer and I had to go through a serious surgery, again with no real explanation.
This time he took a few weeks and came back to me, telling me nothing in his life was right without me and that he wanted me to be there through his successes.
I helped him move and we had a blast exploring his new city and things were really great - we were communicating better than ever and he finally told me he wanted me to look for jobs near him and move closer, in my own apartment.
I started getting interviews and last week I looked at apartments while staying with him. He called me on Thursday to make plans with me for the weekend, MADE THE PLANS, and in the same phone call told me he couldn't make our relationship work anymore.
Again, no real explanation.
This has all been so confusing. He tells me in person how happy he is that we're getting stronger and working through our problems, but then hit me with this breakup. Again.
Maybe 12 hours before breaking up with me he told me he was thinking about our dream house someday - why on earth would he say that if he didn't really mean it? He said he doesn't believe that relationships require effort and it should never be difficult. I have been in other long term relationships and I KNOW that they take work and they get stale from time to time and that effort makes all of the difference.
I know that I can't make him see that, but I'm so hurt and so very frustrated. I still love him, and part of me wants to give him time to figure this out, but part of me doesn't think he'll ever be able to handle taking steps forward in a relationship.
Will he ever learn what it takes to be in a relationship, or am I wasting my time and my heart?
This, Corinne. This.
"He said he doesn't believe that relationships require effort and it should never be difficult."
This is what he believes. This is his programming. Whether he’s hiding behind it or using it as an excuse, the part that matters to you is that this is where he goes when a relationship requires effort on his part. And since you’ve actually been in real relationships before, of course you understand this.
He, on the other hand, doesn’t. And more importantly, he isn't showing you he wants to.
He bails. He runs. He leaves.
It was easy when he was in college, before he had any real life choices to make that could affect anyone else, namely you. Now he feels responsible.
He doesn’t want to be the reason you move, much less sign a lease. He doesn’t want to bear the responsibility of being the person you’ll blame if things fall apart. He doesn’t want to be the one who couldn’t live up to your expectations even though he thinks he could.
He was there for those past 2 1/2 years just like you, Corinne. He had fun, too. He loved being with you. He enjoyed all those moments you enjoyed, just like you did. He loved the plans, the dreams, the future the two of you talked about together.
But the important disctinction is that he loved the idea of those things more than he could handle the reality of what it means now to actually make them happen.
No, it’s not a lot of work. No, it’s not that hard if the two of you have the type of relationship you describe where you’re both in this together and working toward the same goals.
But in his mind, it’s overwhelming him.
He’s got too many messages coming up for him that he doesn’t know what to do with them. That’s the reason for the back and forth.
There’s your truth.
He can’t do this. And it’s in your absolute best interest to believe him. In fact, it’s the only way he’s going to step up and do anything about different. By realizing he has to. By realizing it’s the only way to keep you.
And believe your own intuition. Every woman who's been right where you are is going to tell you to believe him. We’re all going to tell you that we wished we had believed our own versions of him!
That we’ve lived through the heartbreak of pushing our own gut instincts aside, fearing that the heartbreak of believing him and the actions that needed to follow on our part would be far worse than hanging on for what we thought would just be a little longer, until he had more of a chance to grow up and get his act together.
You know what happened with that “just a little longer”? Ask any one of us. You’ll hear months, years, decades.
So I’m going to make this easier for you.
Believe him now. Take him at his word. The clear words. Not the back and forth words. The clear ones that come through. The actions that support those words you can’t depend on, you can’t plan around, you can’t move forward with.
Believe that part of you that doesn't think he'll ever be able to handle taking steps forward in a relationship. Those are your words.
That’s what you’re sensing from being right there next to him, walking through this relationship with him for the past almost 3 years. You, more than anyone else, know him!
Will he ever learn what it takes to be in a relationship? He might. But that part isn’t up to you.
The only way to show him, convince him, make it clear to him is to the detriment of you.
Why? Because the more you try, the more you invest, the more you make him your project, the less you’re going to find yourself in an equal relationship.
The more you're going to have him resenting you and you resenting him.
Reread what you wrote to me. Reread my response. Ask yourself if you can honestly see yourself signing a lease to an apartment because you just want to see where it goes with him, only to find out days, weeks, months later that he’s breaking up with you for good this time and you’re in a place you only chose for him, in a job you only took to be close to him, and a life you only wanted if you were living it together in a relationship with him. I've been there, Corinne. It loses its fun factor fast!
So please do yourself a huge favor and be honest with yourself. If you know in your heart of hearts that scenario is a real possibility, then you have your answer loud and clear.
I think you already do.
Alright, Beautiful! Your turn. I know this hits home with so many of you. She needs your stories, your reassurances, your “been there, going through, got through it!” Let’s share them all with Corinne in the comments below.