I know you like the early letters. Doing my best.
Q: Hi Meredith,
I'm a 48-year-old gay man in his first serious relationship. Yes, I came out late in life. My boyfriend, “Chuck,” is 42 years old and tells me that this is also his first serious gay relationship. We met when we were both living in another state --- and things were going reasonably well for few years when we both lived there.
We are very much opposites in personality. I’m more introverted and he's an extrovert, a true people person. I'm an academic while he's a great bartender. That's only important because my job pays more and provides the health insurance. His pay fluctuates greatly depending on the tourist economy. The plan was that once we got married, he'd go back to school.
We have had some rocky times and some absolutely great times. But we've run into trouble this past year. When things got shaky with my old company in the state where we met, we talked for almost four months about what to do, whether I should restrict my job search to a specific geographic region or expand it. We also talked about what it would take for him to move with me. He had said things like "I want to be with you, where you go I'll go." The best job, which was in a state that would allow us to get married, was up here.
Unfortunately, one of Chuck's parents became seriously ill and he wound up staying down there longer than expected. During this time, he kept telling me that he was moving and would keep setting new dates to move, delaying each date by two weeks or so, even when I would have just been OK if it was a simple "I'm not coming up until things are stable." Eventually, his sick parent passed away. At the funeral, he introduced me to everyone as "just a friend" one minute and then he talked about eloping the next. A whole series of events that weekend led me to pull back a bit and realize that we weren't as ready to get married as I had thought we were. I came back feeling that I was a boyfriend of convenience: there when he needed a boyfriend or extra money or dinners out.
After the funeral, he asked for more time to do some work at his family's house. But it has now been six months and he keeps sliding the date to move up. I had to push him hard to follow through to come up for a visit. When he did finally make it up, we sat down and talked about how much time he would need and even extended it by a month. Now he says that he won't live his life by external arbitrary deadlines and he can't say how much time he'll need. The answer to a question of "will you need two weeks, two months or two years?" was that he doesn't think he'll need two years.
My problem is after a year of being told "I'm moving" and "I'm coming up next weekend," I've lost faith that he'll do what he tells me he'll do. My head is telling me that he has been telling me through actions rather than words that he's not going to move. But my heart keeps saying to find a solution to go on; that we're better together than being separate.
We actually discussed breaking up over the weekend as we just seemed to drive each other crazy. Right now, we’re in a cooling off period. Friends keep saying that I just can't depend on him, and are frustrated with me that I don't get angry and break it off.
At this point in my life, after three years, I wonder if I'm fighting because I don't want to be alone rather than this being the great fit I thought we grew into.
– Still Waiting, Massachusetts
A: I have a question, SW. Does he want you to visit him more often? If he does, there might be something to save. I'm sure the death of a parent makes it incredibly difficult to want to move away from family. I get that. But he should also want to be with you. If he wants you in his life, he should be telling you that he's not ready to but that he wants you around.
Unfortunately, based on what you've told us, he basically wants you to stay up here and wait. That doesn't say togetherness to me. Again, I'm empathetic about his loss, but why doesn't he want to see you more often?
If he wants to cool off, cool off. You can only do so much, and it's hard to start a new life in a new city when you feel like you're on hold. If he says he wants to be with you and that visiting is a priority, fine. But so far, it hasn't been.
It wouldn't be the worst thing if this was your first relationship -- the first of more than one. Yes, being alone is scary, but waiting on a person who makes empty promises is scarier.
Readers? Should he wait? Should the letter writer be empathetic based on the death in his boyfriend's family? What's with all of these broken promises? Discuss.
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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 new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.