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Second-guessing the break-up

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  September 20, 2012 08:41 AM

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Q: Hi Meredith!

I'm a fun, nice girl in my late 20s who just got out of a two-year relationship. There were a lot of ups and downs and we lived together for a little while, but we just ended things. I'm having a really tough time with the breakup for a lot of reasons, and I just don't know if we did the right thing.

We never had a perfect relationship, but I'm of the mindset that there's nothing perfect in life. He has sweet qualities, but also bad ones, as well as a hefty amount of issues from his childhood and a lacking social life. He wasn't always great to me. He did some hurtful things (unintentionally). Nothing abusive, but sometimes he just doesn't get it.

I have my own issues, but I put my friends (who don't like him) first because they've always been there for me. I'm always busy with plans -- the polar opposite of him. He's used being alone, while I am the ultimate caretaker (to a fault), which might be why I'm second-guessing myself.

Every time we do something like this (we've broken up before), he ends up being amazing and awesome and there for me and tells me that he can't live without me, so I fall back into the routine. It's a frustrating cycle and I made the choice to break it, but I am obviously second guessing myself.

I'm not in a rush to settle down but I'm wondering if I should have stuck it out. Should I have waited around for him to grow up a bit and become the guy I know he wants to be and has the potential to be? Was I too rash in ending things when I might not have put in enough effort myself? (I don't think this is true, but again, I'm second-guessing.) I don't know what’s right, and my heart and my head can never seem to agree on anything. I've kind of left things to the universe, like if we find a way back to each other in the future then it's meant to be -- but of course, I'm nervous we might not. And what happens then?

– Up&Down, Cape


A: You were right to end this, U&D. There's no need to "stick it out" when you're in a relationship that involves frequent break-ups and bad feelings. You can't wait for someone to grow up. He is who he is, and he just can't make you happy.

But you know all of that, right? This second-guessing is really about your fear of being alone. Suddenly he's gone, and you're freaking out about what's next.

I can promise you that there will be a next. You're outgoing, flexible, and you've got a great group of friends. You just have to get through this uncomfortable phase, which is basically about learning to be by yourself sometimes. It's not supposed to feel great. You just have to get through it.

You're allowed to mourn the relationship, but don't let yourself romanticize it. There is no "meant to be" when it comes to this guy. Sure, "there's nothing perfect in life," but there's definitely something better than what you had. Let him go.

Readers? Is this about missing him or a fear of being alone? Can the guy grow into a better person? Was she wrong to put her friends first? What should she do to get herself through this transition? Help.


– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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