Q: I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years because every 8 months or so I would find myself questioning if he was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. The doubts started after about a year together. Usually, they crept in when we were talking about getting serious and moving in together or during a relationship lull. Usually, after a few more weeks, we'd go back to normal.
I always enjoyed spending time with him. He was my best friend. We laughed together, we enjoyed relaxing and playing with our dogs together, spending time with our respective families, etc.
A little information about us: I'm a law student and he began his career living just over an hour away. We would typically see each other every weekend, but not during the week because of my school requirements. He was wonderfully supportive.
My parents divorced when I was a kid and they've been miserable about each other for most of my life. My dad's second marriage also ended miserably. Needless to say, I'm terrified of marriage, serious commitment, etc. I'm not really sure what it means to be "in love." From what I can see with dealing with divorcing couples on a regular basis through our school's family law clinic, the best you can hope for is to find someone who you get along with well, can work through difficult times with, and who overall makes you happy. I knew I loved and still love my boyfriend, and at times would believe I was in love with him, but when I would start questioning us I would start wondering if I was really in love with him.
Now that we're broken up, I'm not sure if I made the right choice. I miss him and still love him, of course. I don't know what was causing the doubt. Was it my fears? Was it that there was something missing emotionally? Was it our circumstance (being long distance), or was it my selfish coveting of the life I didn't have (which now I realize is not what it's chalked up to be)?
My question is: Was I right to break up with him? Does it seem like it could be something that could be fixed and otherwise we would be good together? Why did I continue to go through those times of questioning? Just any advice, insight you can give would be amazing.
I just don't want to be like my parents and 35% of the US married population and make the wrong decision about a partner and divorce.
– Did I Make A Mistake, Baton Rouge
A: I can't tell you whether you and this guy are good together, but I can tell you that you miss him and love him and that you're confused. So call him and tell him that. He might say, "Please, enough already, leave me alone," or he might hear you out. But it's worth asking. You're not making any promises. You're just being honest.
Every relationship has lulls and moments of doubt, especially when one person in the couple is in law school, trained to ask questions, and grew up around divorce. My guess is that your doubts and reasons for breaking up with him were legitimate, but that you're entering a new phase of life. You're imagining life after law school. You're wondering if he might be a better fit for you once you've settled down.
My advice is to call him and be clear about the fact that you don't know what's going on in your head. He'll either tell you he's not interested or agree to explore this one more time. If he does want to explore, you might find yourself in this position again in a few more months. But at least you won't be plagued by self-doubt. And here's a tip: If he is open to seeing you and you start hanging out again, don't ask yourself any huge, is-he-the-one questions. Ask yourself, "Am I having a good time? Do I feel good? Do I want to see him tomorrow?" For a little while, the simple stuff is all you need to know.
Readers? Should she reach out? Will she be messing with his head? Is this about being a student? What about those doubts? Should she have time alone? Help.
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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.