Lifestyle

He says something’s missing. Do they have to break up?

Meredith is looking for questions! Send yours here.

Q. I’ve been with my boyfriend for about 10 months now. He’s one of the most thoughtful people I know, and I feel like there’s potential for this relationship to blossom into something so much more.

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However, he feels like “something is missing” — and he’s unsure of what exactly that “something” is. He says he’s also not sure whether he’ll ever be able to say “I love you,” and admits that he struggles when he thinks about our future.

Some background: Several months ago we took a week break. Due to birth control changes, my anxiety and depression were so unpredictable that I was driving everyone away. However, we decided it would only be fair to us to try again. Since then, it’s been wonderful. He has seemed so much more himself, acting silly, showing more affection both in public and not, and communicating a lot better. That’s why this recent conversation really blindsided me.

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He says that despite the good changes, his feelings haven’t grown the way they should have by now (even though his actions say something different). Do we just walk away from this? Are there ways to continue to explore and find out what’s missing? I’d appreciate some advice.

I’m not ready to move on, but he may be

A. Some of these questions are for him. Does he want space? To break up? Is there a way for him to figure out what’s missing without ending the relationship?

If he hasn’t been clear about his needs, it’s time to ask for answers.

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Most likely, it is time to walk away — and that’s probably best for both of you. He wants to explore what’s missing, and you need to remember what life is like when you’re not worrying about the approval of someone else. I know you don’t want to end this, but you also don’t want to live with so much uncertainty.

For the record, I do know of some couples that went through “something’s missing” phases, fought off all breakups, and wound up staying together for good. But those examples were the outliers.

Also, for those couples, the problems were always more about timing (they felt too young, inexperienced, etc.). In your case, you and your boyfriend have everything you need for relationship success, and he can’t quite get there. That says plenty.

Meredith

READERS RESPOND:

Things come alive or they fall flat. At 10 months, a relationship should still be on an upward trajectory. This one is going the other way. It is time to find somebody who has what you need. You have invested enough in this already. BZZNLIKE-CRAZYMAN

Well, sometimes when you demand better communication, you actually get it. And guess what, he actually told you what he’s thinking/feeling, which is what most women claim they want. PICKLE-RICK

This isn’t about what happened a few months ago. Letter writer, you don’t want to hear this, but he likes you, he just doesn’t love you. You can stick around and hope it changes, but eventually he will meet someone he is excited about and then he will break up with you. -ROADRUNNER-

Why do you want to be with someone who thinks you’re not good enough? COSMOGIRL

Personally, I’d end it if I was in love with a guy and he had told me outright that he doesn’t love me now and doesn’t think he ever will. JIVEDIVA

It sounds like he thought this relationship had potential, so he put his back into it, and he has since realized that this just isn’t it for him. It’s not that he doesn’t care about you at all — he just doesn’t see a lifetime commitment here. I’m sorry — it’s not the news you wanted to hear. JUST-ANOTHER-BOSTONIAN

A better question is, do YOU love HIM? You say there’s potential, but even your description of him is a little bland — “one of the most thoughtful people I know.” Go find someone worthy of a better description than that! CONCERNEDCITIZENONDUTY

Thank him for being honest with you and move on. It’s that sad song, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t.” SEENITTOO

He’s trying to leave you. Let. Him. ELLLEEM

Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to meredith.goldstein@globe.com.
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