Q. I’m a 32-year-old woman. I’m currently seeing my 30-year-old ex-boyfriend. We are dating, but at this time he isn’t interested in a relationship.
He says that because he wants to pursue grad school in our city/state, other states, or in another country, he doesn’t want to start a relationship.
I don’t want to stop seeing him. I feel frustrated. Even if he decides to stay in this city for school, he might meet someone in his program, or he might want to give his full attention to academics. He has made it clear that he may not want a relationship while in school, even if he’s in our city.
To complicate things further, he is polyamorous and seeing another woman. I get jealous and am not happy about that.
DATING MY EX
A. Please help? How?
There’s only one good path here, and you already know what it is, I assume. Break up with him because you’re not getting what you want.
Sometimes breakups are easier when one or more people can say, “I don’t want you anymore. I’m not attracted to you. I’ve moved on.” I acknowledge that what I’m suggesting for you is more complicated than that.
You do want each other. You enjoy each other’s attention, and you could continue on as you are, waiting to see what he wants after he gets into schools.
It would be more simple if he said, “I’m walking away from you because I can’t be your committed significant other,” but he’s not going to do that. Instead, he’s given you all the information you need to make that decision.
A breakup would feel sad and uncomfortable at first — and maybe for a long while — but there would be so many more chances for happiness. There are new/different people out there. There are fun experiences waiting for you.
I’d rather play a game on my phone than spend hours wishing someone would want more of me.
Turn him back into a real ex. It’s time.
Right now you’re in limbo waiting to see what he wants to do. If you were OK with a casual relationship with him while you were also seeing other people, it would be fine but you’re not. You want a real relationship with him that doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen. It’s better to end things.
This is clearly a bad fit. It continually baffles me that people will keep trying to square peg relationships rather than being alone or finding what they actually want and deserve.
If you don’t want to stop seeing him, don’t stop seeing him. But stop fantasizing about a relationship with him, because that directly interferes with finding someone compatible. Once you’ve found someone else, and that relationship has gotten to the point where you want it to be exclusive, you’ll be OK with not seeing your ex anymore. Or maybe you’ll find right away that seeing him isn’t desirable if you’re not imagining a relationship with him, and you’ll stop at that point. Either way, there’s no reason to do the thing that’s difficult before it’s necessary, when it’ll get easier to do as you’re more motivated.
You want a relationship with him. He has told you that he doesn’t want one at this time and is seeing someone else. The answer is obvious; time to break up and find someone who wants what you want.
“I don’t want to stop seeing him.” Why not? Probably because you’re deeply afraid of spending time with yourself and being single. People who appreciate and enjoy their own time don’t settle for such a stark difference in values. Maybe get to the bottom of why you choose remaining in an unfulfilling relationship over keeping yourself open to better possibilities.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com or fill out this form. 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.