Q: Hi Meredith,
I met my girlfriend in college. We instantly hit it off and fell deeply in love very quickly.
Things were going great. After I graduated I decided to go to grad school and she was happy to come along. We moved in together that year; this was 5 years ago. We have lived together ever since. She is loving, kind, intelligent, and beautiful. My family loves her and she loves them. About a year ago, we decided to move to Boston to pursue bigger and better things. We did not know anyone except for a couple of college friends who happen to live in Boston. We transplanted our life together, and I had plans of proposing to her as soon as I found a steady job.
During the first several months in Boston, I went through a depression about my job search, which was difficult. My girlfriend was supportive and caring, but at the same time she was growing very tired of the situation and said she felt like she was walking on eggshells. It is also true that I have in the past shown a very dark side as far as my temper and mood swings are concerned. I want to make clear that I never touched her, but I would yell and fly off the handle. I never called her ugly names or insulted her, but I will admit that I was condescending and used a mean tone of voice. I have also become less romantic over the years, perhaps even letting her feel as if I didn't care about her.
She eventually told me that she has been going to a counselor about our situation, and that the counselor has informed her that she has to figure out things for herself before committing time to working on our relationship. My girlfriend has asked me for space and says that she does not know if our situation is fixable.
Since this conversation, I have been an absolute wreck. I admit my faults and I know that I can be difficult, but this is the woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with. I have no idea what to do. I have spoken to my family about this and they have helped me out in feeling better about the situation, but I still don't know how to approach it. We live together and we made an enormous move to Boston. I have finally found a job and hoped to propose soon.
I want to give her time to figure out the things that are in her head, but in the meantime I have been left with a huge void in my life. I feel as if I don't know how to act around her anymore. Please help me out, and let me know if this is something that can be fixed.
– Confused and heartbroken, Mass.
A: Is she still in the apartment? Do you see her every day? If so, just enjoy your time with her. Ask her questions. Try to relax with her. For now, take marriage off the table.
You messed up and you can't change that. All you can do is let her know how you feel and show her that you want to do whatever you can to make this work for both of you. Tell her that you'll join her in counseling. Tell her that you'll go to counseling on your own -- because you need it. Explain that your goal is to make her feel good again, even if that means having to leave her alone for a while. You're allowed to say, "I'm scared to lose you and I want to give you what you need."
There is no Control-Z in relationships. You messed up and can't hit "undo." Your only plan of action should be to support her as she makes decisions, ask her how you can help, and try to figure out how you can better cope with bad feelings in the future. You can't promise her that this won't happen again if you don't figure out why you behave the way you do, so get to work. Let her see that you're making this a priority.
Readers? Did he ruin what he had? How can he prove to her that he can make her happy? Can he make her happy? What should he do? How will this end? 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.