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Should I have ended the engagement?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  July 21, 2011 08:31 AM

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Q: My fiance and I broke up about 2 months ago. We'd be together for just over 5 years after meeting our freshman year of college. I find myself constantly questioning whether I made the right decision to end the relationship. I'll briefly explain some of the things that led to my decision to end it.

My fiance was very emotionally closed off. He wouldn't talk about his feelings and when I shared mine, he was quick to simply apologize and say whatever it took to stop me from being upset, even if he wouldn't/couldn't follow through on his promises. His idea of showing me he loved me and was attracted to me was spending time together and cuddling. I rarely got a "you're beautiful/hot/sexy" and he almost never initiated sex. I became paranoid that he really didn't find me attractive or wasn't IN love with me. I knew he loved me, we were best friends, I never questioned that. But I decided I needed to be in a relationship where I felt wanted, physically and emotionally.

I'm also a very motivated person and he struggles to find direction in life. When we moved (in order for me to attend graduate school) he struggled to find work. I supported us for over 6 months before he found something and I had to prod him every step of the way in his search. Once he got that job he started to take some pride in it, but it still concerned me that he didn't seem to have the same motivation I did. I'm the kind of person who jumps in and solves a problem as soon as possible, whereas he puts it off till the last minute. This made me concerned that if something big happened in our lives, I wouldn't be able to depend on him to deal with his share of life's challenges, that I would be his mother, telling him what to do and nagging him until he did it.

Now that we've been apart for a while, I wonder whether the things that bothered me were really that important. Were they worth giving up a person who took care of me when I was sick, talked with me late into the night, was always there to listen when I had a hard day at school, made me laugh when I was stressed? Basically, were they worth losing my best friend over? I also question whether I'll ever be able to find another guy who doesn't have those bad qualities. And if that's the case, will I have given up those wonderful things in hopes of finding something that's not out there?

– Heartbroken, Colorado


A: There are guys out there who are awesomely proactive about their careers. And I can assure you that there are guys out there who will make you feel desirable in the bedroom. But those guys might not want to cuddle. They might not take care of you when you're sick. Humans are packages of good and bad. No one's going to do everything right.

I have mixed feelings about your letter, to be honest. Part of me thinks that you simply moved on and should find someone else. You were young when you met him and your lack of context is part of the problem. You could use some dating/alone time. But another part of me is thinking, "He moved for her. He loved her. She loved him. After five years, he still wanted to listen to her all night. Who cares if it took him six months to get a job in a bad economy?"

But I'm missing some important information (and maybe you are, too). Do you miss hearing his perspective? Do you wish you could call him to tell him something funny? When you're alone at night, do you wish he was next to you -- or are you picturing some faceless fantasy man? When you ended the relationship, did he fight it? Or did he simply let you walk out the door? If you had more dating options, would you be thinking about the ex as much? Does dating seem like cheating?

You're mixed up about the reality of this right now, which means that you might need to see him to get answers. You might have to be face-to-face with him to figure out whether these feelings of regret are about a fear of being alone or about realizing that you actually do want to spend the rest of your life with him. You're muddled. Go unmuddle yourself. Talk to him and figure out what happened.

Readers? Did she make a mistake? Is this about needing a warm body or realizing that she wanted something that doesn't exist? Can you tell how she feels about him based on this letter? Is it relevant that he isn't knocking on her door (as far as we know)? Should she see him? Or will that muddle her more? 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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