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Help with a multi-factor break up situation?

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This seems like a nice, supportive atmosphere in which to seek advice. Keep it up!


I was hoping to get help for a problem I've been having since January 1st.


I was dating a man for over a year, and we were quite deeply involved. He is the kind of man who takes relationships very seriously, and it was his first time being in love. Things were going quite well. We were spending almost every night together--he had driven accross the country with me and met my family, and we were both intimately connected with all the details of each others' lives and were friends with each others' friends from other periods of life. I had slowly begun to realize that this was the man I wanted for the rest of my life: he is steady, reserved, and very moral, while still managing to be both sensitive and fun-loving.


We both went home for a winter holiday--he to the South, me to the Midwest. (We go to grad school together in Pennsylvania). Things were fine for most of the break...we talked daily and affectionately on the phone. One day he seemed sad/cranky...I questioned him, but he said it was "stuff going on at home" and didn't seem to want to talk about it.


When we got back from break, the proverbial hit the fan. He came over the second day back, after a fabulous evening out together the night before. He seemed fine at first, but suddenly his face fell and he said he didn't see our relationship as "permanent." We broke up over he thought were "incompatibilities," religion being a big one (he is a devout Catholic; I was raised in a loosely Christian tradition only). He cried, claiming it "wasn't fair," etc. He said he still loved me, holding my hands, leaning against me, etc. Then he left. We've had very little contact since, but we did exchange letters, in which he said that he didn't think it was right to ask me to change my "core values" for the sake of a permanent relationship. He ended the letter on an ambiguously romantic note.


I think there are several things going on here: first, I think he is feeling pressure from a religious family to find someone else in the faith. Second, I think I suffocated him and pressured the relationship a little bit during the latter part (my mother is terminally ill, and I wasn't paying enough attention to my own neediness, which manifested itself in some stupid ways. He would have been understanding if I had just stated that I was feeling bad). Also, I think he's commitment-shy.


I recognize that I need to do my best to move on and better myself, regardless of what happens. I've been socializing, traveling, and working out, and I plan on doing a little dating in the near future. But I love this man and want to demonstrate to him that I can be the independent, clever, fun woman he first met and also that I am willing to help him live his life in his tradition, even if that means becoming part of it myself (I know that's huge, but I'd been thinking about it for a long time even while we were still dating). Any advice is appreciated on how to slowly work myself back in with this person I adore, and without scaring him about commitment And yes, I know it's best to "move on," and I will try to do that simultaneously.


Wow, that's long. Apologies!

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Hi, welcome to eNotAlone,


It is possible that you may be able to change his mind if your 'clinginess' was the major factor. But I think it may be very difficult to change his mind if the difference in religion is the issue, particularly if his family influences him a great deal.


As a child of a roman catholic mother and protestant father (and several aunts and uncles who also married non-catholics) I can attest that inter-faith marriages can work - but only if compromises can be worked out at the beginning. Usually, in my experience, that means most of the compromising has to be done by the non-catholic.

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I appreciate your input.


Any advice on how I can eventually bring this up to him without freaking him out? I think I understand what is entailed with being with a Catholic for the long term for the most part, and I believe I am okay with it. I truly love this person and the lifestyle he has chosen to lead.


I saw him on Friday, and I believe made quite a good impression in a few brief minutes. I want to take steps to get him back in my life...it has been almost three months since we broke up, and I feel calmer and more able to make rational vs emotional decisions.

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I think you should ask him how he is feeling. There is no easy way to get someone back without doing that. If he is up to trying again, then you should ask him what he thinks might be the best way of doing that. And you should definitely cover the religious difference and ask him what he needs you to accept and you need to decide if you can do that. For instance, it is likely he would want any children to be brought up in the Catholic faith exclusively.

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Last I saw him, which was two months ago, he said that he didn't think a conversation about these "differences" could be "productive." He said that "some things can't change," but I never got the impression he thought that he MUST marry a born-and-bred Catholic previously in the relationship. The letter he wrote me detailed that he didn't think he could ever "ask someone to change their core values." However, I don't see it that way...I was raised without strong religion, but that doesn't mean I don't want it in my future, and I definitely see the benefit involved.


I didn't behave very well last time I saw him--was obviously sad, etc. I think he was turned off because he felt emotionally responsible for me, etc. I think I need to show him that I am strong and independent, but still love him unconditionally...not sure how to do that, really.


Thanks for responding again...you earn the name "Super" Moderator (which is cute and funny, by the way." I like your Aristotle quotation.)

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