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A Break After Nearly 8 Years


LTNS
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It’s a long one, but the relationship has some sturdy bones, so here goes.

My boyfriend and I met when we were younger. We were friends for nearly five years when we began dating. Fast forward through 7.5 years of a healthy relationship (we had our disagreements, but the good far outweighed the bad) and now we’re on a break. It started with the holidays, when I brought up that it seemed like I was no longer a priority in his life. I know attachment fades, that’s natural, but he was spending so much time with his friends and hobbies that I felt like the only time I was seeing him was to say good night and goodbye in the morning. This had happened a few times before. We talked, he agreed and apologized, and the next few months would be great until the (what seemed to be) inevitable comfort of having me there won out, and he’d start forgetting to pencil me into his life. It’s important to note that I have no fears of infidelity. There was never a time where he wasn’t exactly where he said he was, or that I felt he was being dishonest. The last conversation turned into him saying he could not figure out why it always came back to him treating me this way. He didn’t like hurting me, and didn’t like that he couldn’t figure out how to keep me as a priority. He brought up taking a break, because trying something different was all he could think of. After tears on both ends, we ultimately agreed he had some sorting out to do, and I needed to take the time to find out what was good for me. We agreed it was not about seeing other people. We had a lot of attachments living together, so we separated our bills and now live separately. I told him I would not be in contact so as to respect the space he needs to figure out what he wants in life, and that he could reach out when there was some clarity on how he was feeling. It’s been just over a month since then with no contact outside of splitting our phone plan, and I have no idea how to proceed. I miss him immensely, but I don’t want to pull him back in if he’s not ready to be in a serious relationship. Not knowing how he’s feeling or what’s going on is the worst out-of-control feeling, but I only want him to come back if he is certain it’s what he wants. I don’t know what to do, if there is anything I even should do.

 

Thank you for reading everyone.

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I felt like the only time I was seeing him was to say good night and goodbye in the morning.

 

- So he was living with you, but stopped dating you (you should never stop dating). How was the sex life? What was the rest of the relationship like? How did you spend holidays - together - with family/friends? Tell the full story, more info needed.

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I would consider the sex life above average for how long the relationship has been. (A few times a week+) but it definitely felt like the only time we were connecting for a while there. We split the holidays and went to both families together. Having known each other since the 8th grade, our families were close enough to the point where his family is still in touch with me despite knowing the present situation. He and I also have plenty in common (love is music, love of traveling, general view on the world) but it seemed like our time together was decreasingly valuable as his friends, hobbies, and social media swept up his attention. It was definitely gradual when it happened each time.

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Okay, that sounds normal. Sometimes the love fades, perhaps his love level for you is low.

 

Yeah, it's a common complaint from women.... you need romance, quality time together, date nights, vacations. I'd say you two need a weekly date night. Maybe suggest that instead of complaining. Maybe something that integrates one of his hobbies? Men do like recreational companionship. Maybe that would help light his fire again.

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Sorry to hear this. Do not continue this on/off relationship because on/off means chronic unresolved problems and general incompatibility. Unfortunately it sounds like you have been together way too young and for way too long and it stagnating and suffocating both of you.

 

Sadly moving out and severing things is a breakup, even if you still contact each other. Do not wait around for him to "figure things out". It's over.

we’re on a break.

he was spending so much time with his friends and hobbies that I felt like the only time I was seeing him was to say good night and goodbye in the morning. This had happened a few times before.

He brought up taking a break, because trying something different was all he could think of.

We had a lot of attachments living together, so we separated our bills and now live separately.

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I had actually suggested that, but it never ended up happening every week. And I have actually become pretty proficient at his main hobby just from time spent with him, but I again hit a point where I felt I could only see him if I was doing something he liked. I do appreciate the help, Gary! I’m not sure if it’s acceptable to reach out at this point during our break or to wait it out and see if the time away hits him the way it’s hitting me.

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I should have phrased that better. We haven’t taken a break before. He had just let other things become priority before, and it was solved with a conversation. We were definitely together for some pretty formative years, and part of this space was figuring out if we are as compatible as we were then, because naturally we aren’t the same as when we were 18. I will say that despite considering it a break, you are correct in saying the separating of bills and living space feels like it was a break up. It’s all new to me, so I’m definitely lost to it.

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Okay, you are a good girlfriend and already tried the things I suggested.

 

I’m not sure if it’s acceptable to reach out at this point during our break or to wait it out and see if the time away hits him the way it’s hitting me.

 

- Right, you should play hard to get - so don't initiate contact, let him be the one. If he's got a shred of love left for you, maybe it will spike and he'll miss you.

 

Men are stupid, women are crazy. The reason women are crazy is because men are stupid!

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Ok use this time to reflect on what you want out of life, not just missing him wishing and hoping he wants to come back. Even if he does, things will get worse, not better.

I will say that despite considering it a break, you are correct in saying the separating of bills and living space feels like it was a break up.
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Could be that even if he loves you sincerely, what looks and feels like a great relationship is different for him, he shouldn’t need to be asked to make time to spend time with you he should want to because you’re his favourite person and it makes h feel good.

 

My last serious relationship I was phased out in favour of hobbies, the love wasn’t there. I advocate unilaterally making the decision to cut him free and save yourself the heart ache of trying to hold together two pieces that no longer fit. (No easy task, wishing you strength)

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I say date other guys. That will either make him jealous and fear of losing you or he will say forget it which is probably he was going to do anyways. TBH he's bored/lost interest in you. Not enough there for the long haul. He's hanging on because of attachment not out of love. Don't be sitting at home waiting...start living your life. Go out, party, hang with the girlies, go dancing. Don't let this relationship define you.

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I agree that you should open up the break so that the two of you can date others but I suggest you do it after you break up with him if he can't make up his mind if he wants you in his life or not. I suggest you let him know that you're not willing to be in limbo without an end date.

 

Only do that if you can not for the life of you wait another five minutes. If you do have the wearwithal to hang in there, then let him be the one that comes to you. As hard as that may be, if you allow him to come to you, at least then you'll know he's all in and not just doing it because you've given him some sort of soft ultimatum or a solid one.

 

I think in this particular situation and considering your long history together that its a matter of who can let go of the need to be in control and just let the story play out organically.

 

Good luck, you have built a life together and hopefully it will continue on once he wonders where you got to. Keep us updated, LINS.

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You've known each other since you were kids and you started dating very very young. So those formative years when you both should have been single, learning who you are as adults, having some fun, dating, figuring out who is and isn't right for you.....you both pretty much skipped out on all that. What you are dealing with now is the fall out of that - that itch of what all he missed out on, what else is out there.

 

Personally, I think you need to stop kidding yourself about what this is. It's not a break, it's a break up. You are split, no longer living together and so on. The "break" thing is him literally putting your life on hold as a back up plan while he figures out what he wants and whether the grass is greener or not. How "nice" for him, but how utterly foolish of you. Sorry OP, but I have to be brutally honest with you. Do not play "on break" games. Either you are together or you are broken up and free to do as you wish with your life. Never ever waste time waiting on someone.

 

This means that you take this time to focus on yourself and who you are as a person as opposed one half of a relationship. Your instincts were actually correct that your relationship was sour and one sided. You've spent too much time already living his life, his hobbies, his interests, etc. Time to start living your own, your hobbies, your interests and you if don't have any, then this is your time to learn and figure out what actually interests you as a person, and yes, go and date when you feel ready.

 

The point of doing that is that even if he ever comes back, YOU, need to be able to look at him through fresh eyes. This guy wasn't afraid to lose you and that's the harsh bottom line. You might find that you are the one who doesn't want him anymore after all because he isn't and was never all that, he was simply all you knew for way too long.

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I always look at these breaks as *he is willing to risk losing you. He may be back. . but he is willing to take the risk. How does that feel?

 

I also think that when someone gets to the point that they want a break. . a break to figure themselves out and a break from the relationship. .They've thought long and hard about this and after 8 years invested in a relationship, a clean break is awfully scary. What better way then to wean yourself slowly, given the other person has given you permission to.

 

He may be back. .but in the meantime you are responsible for taking care of yourself. You two are no longer a team.

If by taking care of yourself. . what would that look like?

 

There isn't a lot of motivation to return if he knows you are on the shelf he put you on.

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Normally, I agree but they've agreed not to see others in this case and IMO that means there is not that intention in this situation.

 

Adding to that: They had been living together, they've been living the life of a married couple for many years. This isn't like the usual we read around here where the couple have been dating a short while and haven't melded lives much in any way. That situation doesn't warrant a "break" but rather a total break up.

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This is a tough heartbreaking thing to watch unfold in your life and have zero control over since the ball is in his court.

 

You need to take control of this situation. That means you need to figure out what you want for your life, not just now but the rest of your life. Marriage, children, house, traveling, shared experiences and interests? Make a list and then sit and look at that list and ask yourself "is he capable of being my partner in life?" You have known him a very long time so you can surely answer that question honestly to yourself. I think you already know the answer but your heart doesn't want to hear it.

 

Our minds know when something isn't good for us but our hearts just want love, to be loved and wanted so it hangs on even when it isn't all that great because what is the alternative? Heartache and loneliness. Who willingly goes down that path if they don't have to.

 

I would suggest that YOU don't know who you are either because you have always been his girlfriend and nothing else. I am not in favor of just calling and telling him it is over and I am going to start dating because that is not realistic in this case. You still love him and he loves you but hard choices need to be made. It can be possible to love each other and not work out as a couple.

 

You need to heal and begin to figure out who you are and what you want for your life or you could very well find yourself in the same boat with a new guy in 2 years. A great couple is formed by two people with their own lives merging them into a shared life. You don't lose yourself and he doesn't stop being who he is but you are much more than the sum of the two parts. That didn't happen here since you started in 8th grade.

 

You can't stay in limbo that is for sure. Some sort of time frame or date in the near future needs to be set to meet and talk. It has been a month so if this guy doesn't know in another 30 days then he basically has made the choice for you both.

 

I would tell him you would like to sit down and talk things over on February 29th. During that time you can use it to figure out exactly what you want for your life and what you would like your future (with or without him) to look like.

 

These slow motion break ups are tough.

 

Keep posting

Lost

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@LINS. You say that you are still very much in contact with his family since they have been your extended family as a married couple (for all intents and purposes). Have they given you any insight into what your boyfriend needs (if anything further) to figure out what he wants or what he's going to do.

 

I agree that to put yourself in his hands 100% isn't fair but I think that most of us (all?) will agree that you're not likely to just phone him up and end your relationship with him on the advice of strangers on the internet.

 

I will give you a positive bit of advice from someone who has been there and is now married for 40+ years to the man that, like your b/f, took me for granted knowing I was always willing to be there. I didn't call him, I lived my life, I did my thing and after almost two months of no contact he called me to ask if he could see me and we fell into each other arms only to be together from that day forward. It killed me not to call him and give him an ultimatum but I did it by living my life and letting him live his. We weren't living together at that point but we had been exclusive bf/gf for three years. I wanted him to make a decision on his own without me making it for him through ultimatum or threat. It was so much more sweeter when he chose to keep me in his life and to learn that there is a balance of time to be shared between friends and lovers and hobbies, that I didn't need all of his time but a nice balance is possible, doable and sufficient.

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I appreciate all of the feedback from everyone. There’s a lot to think about with each comment, and I don’t think I’m ready to call and cut the chord quite yet, but I may have more waiting in me. I will maintain that this isn’t about what other fish are in the sea for him. It’s largely because he had a long term girlfriend before me (in high school) so he essentially has always had someone attached to him, and hasn’t figured out how to take care of himself as a consequence. He admitted to struggling to handle the more serious things in life because he’s always had someone carrying him along. I thought I’d clarify timeline for everyone as well: we met in 8th grade, but started dating my senior year in high school. I know I can’t let him hold out forever, and I do have to figure out where I’ll draw the line, but I agree with @ThatwasThen that I want this coming from him, otherwise it’s a forced decision on my end. His family is just as baffled as I am, and have no clue what he’s doing, but they’re also not the type that will talk about how he’s feeling with him. It all boils down to what he feels, and how long I’m willing to wait to find that out, but that lack of structure is torture!

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I'm sorry, OP. This is undoubtedly very painful for you.

 

However, I would argue that it's not baffling, if we consider the timeline. It's actually quite common for couples who started dating as teens to eventually part ways as they grow up and grow apart. I was there myself, many years ago now. As you acknowledge, you're not the same people today that you were as high school students. There's so much changing that happens in those years, so much exploring to do. I think that's what's ultimately happened here - he has outgrown the relationship and consequently lost interest. It doesn't mean you've done anything wrong, nor that he has. It simply means that he isn't done exploring and spreading those proverbial wings. The urge to be on his own is stronger than his urge to stay committed to you.

 

That, in turn, also doesn't mean he is actively looking to date right now or has someone specific in mind. But he knows he doesn't have the same feelings towards you that once did, and it wouldn't be right to lead you on while he is continuing to go in another direction.

 

I would not continue to put myself on hold for him. Treat is as a break-up, which is likely what this actually is. It will be hard, but I believe you two are already past "on a break" territory with you living separately and having untangled your finances. Is it possible for two people to find their way back to each someday? Yes, it's possible and I have seen it happen a couple times. But the couple I know who managed a successful reconciliation (and have maintained it going on 15 years, marriage and two kids later) also dated others in the interim and didn't initially intend to reunite. They went their separate ways and explored life without each other for a while before naturally getting close again and eventually back together.

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Very true, especially consider the length of time involved. This uncoupling will take time and not be comfortable at all. Take this time to refresh and reflect. Focus on your (not his) long term goals. Do not try to re-raise him or help him grow up. Does he work? Did he go back to live with his parents? How capable is he of responsibilities?

 

Make sure you are not mothering him or hoping to fix or change him. It seems like he is less mature and may not want to talk about future goals, values etc such as commitment family, etc. It sounds like he was just coasting along as long as things were easy and just playing house. Ask yourself if you want an equal partner or someone you have to "carry along". Have you heard of Peter Pan Syndrome? Google it.

He admitted to struggling to handle the more serious things in life because he’s always had someone carrying him along. It all boils down to what he feels, and how long I’m willing to wait to find that out, but that lack of structure is torture!
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I appreciate all of the feedback from everyone. There’s a lot to think about with each comment, and I don’t think I’m ready to call and cut the chord quite yet, but I may have more waiting in me. I will maintain that this isn’t about what other fish are in the sea for him. It’s largely because he had a long term girlfriend before me (in high school) so he essentially has always had someone attached to him, and hasn’t figured out how to take care of himself as a consequence. He admitted to struggling to handle the more serious things in life because he’s always had someone carrying him along. I thought I’d clarify timeline for everyone as well: we met in 8th grade, but started dating my senior year in high school. I know I can’t let him hold out forever, and I do have to figure out where I’ll draw the line, but I agree with @ThatwasThen that I want this coming from him, otherwise it’s a forced decision on my end. His family is just as baffled as I am, and have no clue what he’s doing, but they’re also not the type that will talk about how he’s feeling with him. It all boils down to what he feels, and how long I’m willing to wait to find that out, but that lack of structure is torture!

Then give yourself a time line, a date as to how long you'll wait and then if he hasn't even called you by that date, then its time for you to make a decision I would imagine.

 

As I said, it helped me to live my life and let him be so perhaps if you have a deadline, you can put it all away and do your best to forget all the OCD thinking on it as you keep busy with your own hobbies, having fun girls nights out, and doing things you always wanted to do but haven't yet done. If it IS a breakup then what is the harm to wait it out to the date you think is reasonable? You'd not be dating anyway, I would think when your heart is shredded and you are adjusting to the new normal.

 

As I also said, normally I would advise you to just pull the plug and get on with your life if this was a short term dating situation but its more than that and I think you owe yourself the opportunity to see if he comes to you with open arms and heart.

 

Best of luck to you, LINS.

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As you acknowledge, you're not the same people today that you were as high school students. There's so much changing that happens in those years, so much exploring to do. I think that's what's ultimately happened here - he has outgrown the relationship

 

I agree with MC. This is quite common with High School Sweethearts too. People’s brains are developing when in high school and when they’re in their late 20s or in their 30s even, they find themselves realizing they’ve evolved.

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