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Has he really changed?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  April 20, 2010 09:15 AM

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Hello, I'd like you to meet Class-A Hottie and his beautiful girlfriend, McCrazypants.

Q: I'm a recent grad who's relocated back to Boston. I maintained an on-again off-again relationship throughout college with a guy I went to high school with. Yes, we dated for part of high school, and no, I never imagined that we would still be romantically involved. I'm generally a person who knows what I want, and this guy possesses many of the qualities that I admire most in others. He's a great listener, very sensitive, has loads of personality, loves his family, has tons of ambition and if that weren't enough, is a Class A Hottie. He never makes me feel less than gorgeous and amazing, and is really and truly a catch. I love him, and I don't doubt that he loves me.

You may now be asking yourself "What's the big issue, McCrazypants?" The issue is that these qualities have only just resurfaced in the past six months, and only after years of an again-off-again relationship (OAOAR) that had me constantly doubting myself. Throughout our OAOAR, he was unreliable, selfish, and unwilling to compromise to make time for me.

Just how dreadful was he? Rewind to 2008 when he stood me up on my birthday because he had gotten so drunk with his buddies at school that he couldn’t drive. That was the pinnacle of his horrible non-committal behavior that ultimately led to me checking out of a relationship that was making me sink like the Titanic. After slapping myself in the face for having wasted my time with this loser (who was also one of my best friends), we finally broke up for real.

Fast forward to almost a year after graduation, and he's a new man. We're living in the same city for the first time, and after taking a hiatus from our relationship, he emerged from his dreadful self-centered cocoon as a catch. We started seeing each other again about five months ago, after he made it clear that he wanted to be together. I took a leap of faith and decided that this would be my last ditch effort. I figured I would always regret never trying to make it work in ideal circumstances (i.e. fresh start, same city etc.). I didn't expect it to work, but it's been working more than wonderfully.

The problem is that I can't stop thinking about the past. He's acknowledged his shortcomings, apologized for them, and has expressed that he had a major epiphany regarding what an oaf he'd been and how important I was to him. I believe him, his actions speak to this, and while I can forgive, forgetting has been the hard part. However, I can't get the wise voice of my grandmother that echoes in my head saying: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." I want to trust him, I want to move on with this new amazing guy that has finally gotten his act together. BUT, do I just forget the past? Do I go with the flow and see what happens, or do I listen to Granny who's telling me that ex's and on-again-off-agains are just that for a reason?

– Mr. Right Over-Night, Massachusetts

A: I know your grandmother's line, MRON. "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." Or as the great Michael Scott on "The Office" once said, "Fool me once, strike one. Fool me twice … strike three."

Usually I'm with Michael Scott and your grandma, but your letter involves a college romance. I don't consider college students to be normal humans. I mean, they're real people and they're capable of love, but they live in a world that celebrates selfish behavior. They're socialized to believe that they're supposed to have fun no matter what, that they're choices are temporary, and that they're only in training for adulthood.

Start thinking of this on-again five months as the first five months of your real, adult relationship. If there's a misstep now, you can invoke Grandma's rule. Until then, assume there won't be a misstep. Because there might not be. It's a new world, one that no longer looks like a keg party. Your boyfriend has decided that he wants you to be a part of his new life.

Try to stop bracing yourself until he gives you reason. I'm giving him a do-over.

Readers? It's me vs. Grandma. Is Grandma right to say that he'll probably want to be off-again at some point? Or am I right to say that the post-college him is a new guy? Should she be so serious with a high school boyfriend right after college? Discuss.

– 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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