I Don’t Want This Breakup To Be Forever

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Hi Meredith,

I know what I want in a partner, despite being only 22. This is not to say I have a list or need certain physical traits, but over the course of growing up I’ve been in close proximity of very dangerous relationships, leading to the disappearance of a relative a while back. In high school I dealt with very serious sexual harassment from a peer for years, and was never taken seriously by the adults I talked to. I unwillingly had my first kiss and other minor firsts in that experience. As a result, I’ve maintained due diligence of who I choose as partners, and my efforts wildly paid off when I began my first year in university. I met this truly amazing guy who always prioritized my safety and rooted for me every step of the way. He’s the coolest. We recently broke up after about four years of dating, but I still feel so lucky to have experienced the relationship in the first place. I worked really hard to get there.

Our breakup wasn’t because we “fell out of love,” but because we had too much on our individual plates to dedicate enough of our attention to a virtual relationship. This is also our fourth time doing long-distance after studying abroad at different times during undergrad. I understand that forcing a partnership in a time of great personal need is a valid cause for a breakup.

My concern now is that despite our breakup, I still want this person for me long-term. I’m even more stunned now, post-breakup, about how little was wrong with us and our partnership (that wasn’t pandemic-related). My loved ones loved him. I find it alarming this person was everything I had been hoping for, and that I know I will likely love him for the rest of my life. I feel a sense of serenity with him by my side, even when we are discussing a disagreement (we would actually treat ourselves to ice cream after, or slow dance). Is what I’m feeling first love or long-term? We agreed we needed to break contact (including social media) to give ourselves proper space to cope, but he also said he’s not sure if we made the wrong decision in breaking up, and doesn’t like the thought of becoming strangers. Should I even entertain the idea, if ultimately we are not together?

– Braving New Heights


Entertain all ideas at this point. You’re 22 and have no idea what’s next on your agenda. It’s possible you and this ex will find each other again – maybe even sooner than later, after a vaccine – but it’s too early to say.

I think the bigger question is how to communicate until the answer becomes clear. He asked for space, which makes sense. Now his absence might be making your heart grow much fonder (tough to guess on that one). But if the two of you hit a point where you’re thinking, “Why aren’t we checking in? Why are we not part of each other’s lives in some way?,” you might want to have a quick talk about where things are. You want to respect whatever boundaries he sets, but if they were up in the air, maybe it’s worth asking how and when the two of you should update each other, if ever. The light of the end of the tunnel with this pandemic is bringing up new questions for a lot of people. There are more possibilities on the horizon.

What a gift to have had this person in your life. The relationship you described sounds really … well … happy and nice. What a concept. I do think there are phases in life where it’s just so much easier to be single, no matter how great a potential partner might be. You might be in one of those moments right now. Always know that the most important relationship you have is with yourself. If he fits into that plan later, great. You can’t force the stars to align right this second, and that’s OK – because you’ve got yourself no matter what. That sounds cheesy, but I swear it’s true.

– Meredith

Readers? Is it OK to reach out? Give it more time? How do you save a relationship for later?

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