I’m Concerned About His Pacing

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I met a guy 10 months ago at a concert and we’ve been dating since. I’m a college student graduating soon. He’s an on-and-off community college student who has had a bunch of jobs, still trying to figure things out. He loves me a lot. I feel similarly. I’m starting to make my post-grad plans (where to work, where to live, who to live with, what my priorities are). And as of lately, I cannot seem relax around him. I feel guilty partly because I feel that the version of the life I’m building is incompatible with his. Which may not be true.

I’m on a faster timeline, he’s taking his time. Which is OK. But it’s sad. I’ve broken up with him before; we got into an argument about why he wasn’t doing his homework. In retrospect, it was stupid. Our breakup lasted all of six days and I’m sorry for them. But now, as many times as I tell him that I’m concerned about his pacing, he’s not really doing anything. He’s been making lists in notebooks. And I’ve tried to help him but it’s a sensitive subject for the both of us.

He hasn’t had an easy life, and he works hard on himself. He’s deeply in touch with his feelings, he makes a huge effort to understand me, and he is incredible supportive. Even as I make my post-grad plans, he is encouraging me applying for jobs across the country. He thinks “we’ll figure it out” and isn’t letting himself influence on my decisions. Which is proof of just how great he is. But it’s sad because the pragmatist in me doesn’t see this working out. I don’t know what to do. It doesn’t help that my parents hate him.

– I can’t relax


Let the pragmatist in you take the wheel. Actually, let all parts of you take the wheel, because it sounds like you know what has has to happen here (a breakup).

It is sad. He sounds wonderful in so many ways.

But you know what’s not great? Feeling like you’re not enough. Having a partner look at you with clear disappointment even though you’re doing your best and learning about yourself.

I know you want to help this man, but he’s not asking you to reshape him. He’s figuring things out at a pace that feels right to him. Why would you want to mess with that?

Breaking up over homework made you feel awful, but letting go because you’re too different – and want very different things – could feel OK (despite sadness). It would be better for you and him. Appreciate the support he’s given you and return the favor by telling him you want to focus on your future. Give him a bunch of compliments and explain that this hasn’t been an easy decision.

This is a great time to be single. Even if you were dating someone just like you, you might want to take next steps without having to think about anyone else. Follow your gut and focus on yourself.

– Meredith

Readers? Am I right about a breakup being the best next step? Any perspective you can give about how not everyone in their 20s knows what to do and where to be, and that sometimes figuring it out for a bit leads to great things? I love writing lists in notebooks. Do you?

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