Q. My girlfriend and I recently split after more than five years. We are both under 30. She has a successful career and I have been jumping jobs. I moved out of state during the pandemic to try and “strike gold” with a new job. I was away six months, and a few weeks ago I got the worst phone call ever. Basically, she broke up with me. At first it was worded as a “restart,” and I would have a chance to try again when I got back with her. We’d still been talking once a week, and I thought I did have a chance.
During our last call, I asked if there was someone else and if she was waiting for me. She got mad and said I shouldn’t expect anything to happen so fast, and “How dare I ask her to wait” after she’s already waited this long. I am not in a good spot financially but have just started to feel better about myself. I have felt so good and have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. I know I need to change for me, but I am having a hard time dealing with the fact that she is not going to be there when I become the man she deserves.
Do I need to keep working on myself and trying to start my career and accept the fact it is over, or is it possible to work on becoming the best version of myself while still fighting to get her back?
A. If you’re broken up, let it be over. It sounds like you need time to be alone. You made a choice to leave, and this six months away has only improved your self-esteem. It’s not just about the work; you seem to be thriving in other ways with this kind of space.
The thing is, you don’t have to be a finished, perfect product to be a good partner. People who couple up in their 20s often wind up seeing each other during awkward transitions, massive changes, and whatever aftermath comes with choosing a path. For whatever reason, you felt more comfortable answering the big questions on your own.
You talk about the “light at the end of the tunnel” as if you’re trying to get there for her, but really, this should all be for you. I guess I’m wondering whether she’d even be the right partner when you’re ready to be in a couple again. It’s too early to say.
For now, work on yourself without the added pressure that comes with trying to win her over. She shouldn’t have to press pause on her life, and you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re on a deadline. It’s a loss for both of you, but it’s time to accept that you’re in different places — literally and figuratively.
There aren’t many details in your letter, but I’m guessing that things weren’t really working before you left for this new job, so when you took off, she saw that there were other options out there. And it sounds like she has already moved on. You’re young and in a transitional period of your life, so figure yourself out before you try diving back into this relationship (or any other one for that matter).
“Jumping jobs,” ”strike gold,” ”start my career”: LW, it seems you’re impatient and looking for the quick win. At almost 30 you still have time to get your act together but you’ll need to settle in and pay your career dues; think long haul.
Dude — you don’t leave a partner for six months when you’re both in your 20s/in your prime. Especially with apparently no discussion of the future, planning visits while you’re away, etc. Move on. And, keep improving yourself.
Dreamers/schemers/wanderers are not a good match for the career-driven, house-buying, bill-paying woman. Move on, Bojangles.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.