Q: Hi Meredith,
About two years ago I met this guy, Eric. We hit it off instantly and basically became inseparable from day one. After a few months of dating I was staying at his apartment every night. I was 100% positive that I had found the man I was going to marry. Things continued to be great, and about one year into the relationship we decided to find a new apartment and move in together.
We were both really excited about moving in together at first, but then as the time came closer I started having doubts. All of a sudden everything just seemed to be happening so fast. One important thing to mention here is that I'm in my mid-20s and Eric is about 30. Although he wasn't pressuring me, it was very apparent that he was ready to get married and have kids. I did not feel quite ready for those things. The fear about marriage/kids then turned into doubt about how I can be sure at 24 that I want to spend the rest of my life with this person. I can hardly bring myself to say the next series of events, but I ended up cheating on Eric a few months ago. I told him everything and we tried to work it out for awhile, but it was hard to keep the relationship going without a foundation of trust and with all of the hurt/pain I caused him. I ended up moving out a few weeks ago.
Here's the issue: although I've moved out, Eric and I still talk all of the time. We even spend one or two nights/week together. I love him so much, and I want things to work out. I wish I could erase the past few months because all of my reckless behavior made me realize that my concerns were unfounded and I do want to marry him. But now I've just made a horrible mess of everything. Eric says that he wants to forgive me and work things out but that we need some time apart to heal. I also know that he's been doing some online dating though ... basically I just don't know what to do at this point. I feel like I'm in an endless waiting room just hoping that Eric will come through the door and say that he's ready to try again.
Do you think I should give Eric some more space and hope that he can come to terms with what happened and forgive me? If yes, how long do I wait? Or should I cut ties now and try to move on? Help.
– Waiting in Boston
A: If you really want Eric, you have to give him more time, WIB. You cheated, you moved out, and now you're in a confusing, messy situation that has him reevaluating his options. Some of this just has to run its course, which means you might be stuck in that waiting room for a few more months.
As for how long you should wait, well, you have to go with your gut on that. If you feel taunted by his online dating or if it's been months and there are no plans to reinstate exclusivity, you can tell him that you need your own space and walk away. You did a bad, bad thing and he deserves some time to process it, but processing is different than punishing. Trust your instincts.
I'm also going to advise that you use this time wisely. Are you sure that you want to marry this guy soon? If he calls you tomorrow, asks you to move back in, and wants to make a baby, are you open to that? I know that you miss him, and I do believe that the threat of losing someone can give us real clarity, but please, don't make promises you can't keep. Knowing that you miss him doesn't mean that you're any more committed than you were before. Use this waiting room time to think about your own needs.
Readers? Obviously she knows she messed up, but what happens next? Does she really want to marry him? If so, how much time should she give him? Should he be online dating in her face? Should they be seeing each other at all during this time? 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 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.