Q: Dear Meredith,
About 6 months ago, my boyfriend of less than a year broke up with me abruptly, citing a number of reasons ("It shouldn't be this hard," "I just can't do this," "I'm a loser," and the whole gamut of commitment-phobe type reasons). To say that it broke my heart is an understatement. I truly loved him and still do.
When he first asked me out I was elated but cautious. We had been good acquaintances for years and I always liked him but knew about his commitment issues. I definitely fell for the idea that I was the only girl he had ever loved, and used that as a reason to justify him not being the world's best boyfriend. Throughout our relationship I tried my best to be patient with him through our ups and downs. We fell into a pattern of getting really close, usually following some beautiful love-filled weekend, then he would freak out and backtrack, and then we'd start over again. When we broke up I assumed we'd never get back together as I had done everything possible to try and give him the space throughout our relationship to adjust to being in one. Getting over him was one of the hardest things I've had to go through, but I've made a lot of progress -- applied to school, moved, etc., all the while thinking about him every day.
Then about a month ago, I was asked to make a decision that I thought I would be really happy about. My ex wanted to see me again and see if we could make it work. I was nervous, excited, and afraid all at once. Since that time, we've had a few dates, each one fantastic. But I already see some of the old patterns coming out -- days without talking, unanswered phone calls, and a tendency to regress as soon as we start to talk about our relationship.
So my question is this: How long do I see if we can "make this work?" At 28 I find myself falling for him again, but am so afraid of getting hurt that I can't just let go and trust him. Then when I do decide to let go, I don't hear from him for a couple of days. How do we move into this slowly while still building up our relationship? I love him but am not sure if he really wants to work on our relationship or just misses me and knows I'll always be there for him.
– Do I Give Him Another Shot, Boston
A: I don't have high hopes for this relationship -- in fact, my money's on it lasting another four months -- but you have to finish this cycle with him. Call this your last shot and if he bails on you this time around, you'll know that you did everything you could. I can tell that you need a real final answer and that if you walk away from this right now you'll wonder if he might have rallied. Go ahead and play this out. Destroy the what-ifs.
My big concern is that he might become a great boyfriend. That would be confusing, right? How long would you have to be together before you could trust him again?
For now, just be clear about your needs and then let him do his thing. If he doesn't call for a few days, tell him that his behavior is unacceptable. Make sure that he understands your expectations. If he runs, fine. You'll have your answer.
There should be no walking on eggshells. That didn't work last time. You should embrace this cycle of the relationship by asking for what you want without being petrified of his response.
Again, my money's on another ending, but sometimes I'm wrong. And either way, you have to see where this goes. I want you to be able to walk away from this without any second-guessing.
Readers. We have another fool me twice situation today (sort of) and I want her to play it out. Thoughts? Should she end this now? Can she? What if he behaves this time around? 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.