I am in my early 30s and was, until a year ago, in a tumultuous 5-year relationship. Although we loved each other very much and got along well, my ex couldn't make up his mind about whether he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, whereas I was ready for a real commitment on his part after being together for 3 years. To be fair, he was in an unstable financial and career situation the whole time and felt he had nothing to offer. He had already tried to end the relationship a few times because even though I didn't make any demands on him, it was obvious I wanted something that he couldn't provide. He was just not mentally ready. But each time, our feelings pulled us back together.
We finally broke up last year when he decided it was unfair to keep me waiting until he made up his mind.
It took me a while to get over him, but two months ago I met a wonderful guy and we have developed strong feelings for each other. But after I announced to my ex that I had met someone, he called me back to tell me he loved me and was now sure he wanted to marry me and that he's ready to spend the rest of his life with me. It's been a few weeks and he is much more communicative (he couldn't say the words "I love you" before), loving and caring.
So here I am, not sure if I should give my ex another chance or try and figure out where this new relationship is headed. Both options feel risky. My ex hasn't made me happy in the past due to his emotional unavailability, but I have some doubts about my new boyfriend's ability to make me happy too. He had trouble getting over an ex until recently, he hasn't gone to grad school yet, which is usually a big strain on relationships and delays family and kids (and frankly, I don't want to experience grad school a second time), he has a busy life (friends, hobbies), and I feel as though I can be just another activity to schedule...
Meredith, I need your help. I need to either tell my new bf I cannot pursue this relationship or tell my ex I will not marry him. How do I figure out if it's worth pursuing this new relationship or if I can trust my ex and give him another chance?
– Which One?, Boston
A: This is a tough one, WO, but based on what you've told us in your letter, you should probably drop the new guy. You want marriage and kids and he's thinking about grad school. And the whole "just another activity to schedule" thing doesn't make me feel good about what he has to offer.
I can't tell you whether your ex is for real this time, but you seem to want to know. You're talking to him (more than once, right?) and letting him tell you that he loves you. It sounds like you're already negotiating with him. I've got a big problem with the fact that he only changed his ways after you met someone else, but ... I can't say for sure that he's not capable of being what you want.
You could wind up losing both guys. The situation is certainly risky. But you spent a good three paragraph discussing your angst about the ex, and one paragraph listing your new guy's faults.
If you need to find out if your ex is for real, go do it. Get to know him all over again and listen to what he has to say.
Again, there are no guarantees, but that's life.
Readers? Which one? Is the ex for real? Is there more to the new guy? What should she do? 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.