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I begged him to stay

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  October 5, 2009 09:42 AM

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I got an email from the tech department on Friday that says comments will be increased by the end of today. They say they haven’t been ignoring us – just testing to make sure that our computers won’t crash when we load more comments and pictures on one screen. Be patient.

And TallGirl – if you leave, don’t leave now, please don’t take my heart away.

I’ll start posting “Love Letters: The Results Show” later this week, as promised. Grilled Cheese update on Friday.

Today’s letter is from a college kid. I like it because it addresses the issue of begging. Begging is something done by people of all ages. Including you. Admit it.

Q: I am a young woman in my 20s currently in college. My boyfriend, let's call him M, goes to the same university as me and is also in his 20s. We met at orientation, and after "unofficially" dating for 6 months, we got together. Since then, almost 2 years ago, we have faced a series of obstacles but always came through fine.

He and I both often remark that we have spent over half our relationship apart. This is pretty true, since my school has long summer breaks, but 2009 has been particularly tough for us. After staying at my parents' house for 6 months to pursue an internship (I still saw him at least once a week) and then studying abroad for 2 months, I feel our relationship is strained. We are both in love with the other, and missed each other a great deal, but something is missing now. Sometimes I feel like I expect things to be better because we've been apart so long.

Don't get me wrong, when I am with him I am on top of the world - always giggling, laughing, and feeling completely relaxed. Generally, when we are apart I am alright because we chat often (we send one another text updates all day) but recently I am not.

Last week, my boyfriend and I got into one of the biggest fights in our time together. He used to be very focused and ambitious, set on going to law school and becoming a lawyer. Now, he seems to have lost direction, he wants to open a business, study abroad, and doesn't like his major. He isn't sure what he wants to do with his life, and I'm afraid that means he doesn't know about his future with me, either. We have talked about marriage before, and neither of us has ever been in such a good relationship. This thought scares me.

Aside from his issues, we are both extremely busy. I work 20 hours a week, and so does he. When we planned our schedules we thought we would devote one night a week to one another, to relax and talk. This has not worked. While we spend time together, he is always stressed and irritable. In our fight, he actually blamed me for not letting him get his work done! (Although apparently he had enough time to watch two football games.)

To spare you the details, the fight ended with him wanting to break up with me because he needed to get his work done. I got upset and stayed on the phone sobbing and begging him to stay with me for hours, neither of us sleeping until 6am. While he agreed to stay with me, and now acts fine around me, I am no longer happy when I am not with him. I feel hurt, and betrayed, and vulnerable. Worst of all, I am mad at myself for being so pathetic as to beg him to stay with me.

He claims he is devoted to me, loves me, and always has. I just don't know how to trust him anymore. I love him, and in the moment everything is still perfect, but my insecurities eat away at me when I leave to the point where I can't get my own work done.

What do I do? Is our relationship over? Am I holding on too long? Or can we make this work?

– Wishing for a Better Future, Boston

A: WFABF, I’ve always believed that the Kübler-Ross model of coping with grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) applies to the dumped. What you’re doing – and what a lot of dumped people do – is pausing the process at stage three. You successfully bargained -- and now you’re back in denial.

Except you did write this letter, which means you’re starting to get to steps four and five.

Break-ups are terrible. Staying together because you begged is worse. He’s acting fine around you now, which makes sense. He never stopped caring about you. But you know as well as I do that what you basically did was delay the inevitable.

You signed this letter “Wishing for a Better Future.” The “acceptance” stage is where a better future starts.

Do it on your own time. When you're ready, let him know he's free to go.

By the way, I highly recommend that people read about Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Besides coming up with the whole grief process theory, she was sort of amazing, in general.

Readers? Have you ever begged someone to stay? Did it work? Is the letter writer stuck in bargaining or denial? Share thoughts here. Letters to the right.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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