Q.I am a Bostonian born and bred, went to college there, and stayed to work until I moved to Europe for another degree.
At the end of my first year in Europe, I met a slightly older guy, let’s call him David, who was in a position of authority at my school. The first time I was in the same room with him, before words were spoken, he was just oozing a sort of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” sexiness. We worked very closely together for a few weeks and he made it abundantly clear that he was interested in me. He also had a girlfriend and a reputation of cheating. I convinced myself, and everyone else within shouting distance, that I hated him. He ended those weeks by taking up with somebody else, behind the girlfriend’s back. He was a worm. He moved away but kept up a sort of long-distance thing with this new girl.
During the year after David left, I began to analyze my strong feelings of dislike. If I disliked him so much, why was I always looking at pictures of him on Facebook? Eventually, he returned for academic reasons and we were working together again in a large group. We spent weeks staying up late together talking about how he needed to work on his moral compass and his current relationship. I was acting like a counselor because there was no way I was going to let him use me as an overlap-girl too. But eventually he disclosed his feelings and kissed me. I told him that he had to call the girlfriend and dump her. Immediately. He did.
The next year was like a fairy tale. We moved in together and got engaged after a year and a half. Our family and friends were thrilled. He had his suit and groomsmen, we had a wedding website, and flowers had been ordered. And then he dumped me.
Yes, it was like that. He said, “I cannot get married, we won’t make each other happy.” We’d been together for more than three years. The notion of heartbroken and sad that I had from books and movies bore no similarities to my despair. I was just full of anger. Bitter, nasty, hateful anger. And then, months later, he changed his mind. He pleaded and begged, but insisted he had good reasons to end it in the first place. I told him I’d take him back but that it would be a process. The anger took about three months to begin to diminish. The bitterness lingers.
The passion is maybe half what it was. The dreams of the future are about 20 percent. The idea of moving in together and getting married is not on the table yet. The idea of him getting a job far away seems appealing. It’s been a year since he asked for me back. I am trying, we are trying, but I am not the same person I used to be. I have told him everything I am thinking, all of my misgivings, not all of which he likes to hear.
Finally, here is my question: Am I nuts to think this will morph into something as good as it was before? That my bitterness and independence could possibly turn back into love and a desire to be together? My mother tells me that I must “get over it” because he’s the one. He tells me I need to make up my mind, not as an ultimatum, but because he can’t believe that I could still not be ready to start over, or move back in together, after a year. I’m still in it because of what it was, because of how I felt, because of how life-changing it was to meet him. Is the girl I was gone forever and this is as happy as I will ever be?
A.If you’re still feeling this negative about him after a year, you both deserve a break, BA. You’ve made it quite clear that you took a huge leap of faith when you started dating him the first time around. Then he went and did everything you feared he would do. You say that you’re not the person you used to be. You need time alone to figure out who you are now.
For the record, I don’t think that you’re incapable of happiness, but you might be incapable of finding it with him. If “the idea of him getting a job far away seems appealing,” you must really want some space.
Sometimes a temporary breakup can change a relationship for the better, but that’s not what happened here. Your relationship didn’t grow. You didn’t reunite with some new understanding of each other’s needs.
I understand that your mom wants you to be happy, but there is no “one.” There’s just you and your choices. If this isn’t evolving into a deeper love the second time around, please allow yourself to walk.
You thought you could change him and were the one so special that he’d have no choice but to see the errors of his prior skirt-chasing ways. You lost.
My head hurts. Let me guess: Your advanced degree is in Victorian literature? Please, please, please let this man go. And please reevaluate your taste in men. You obviously fell for him because he reminded you of some handsome cad in books.
Sweetie, it’s so very over. A chronic cheater left you steps before the altar. It’s been a year, release him — release yourself — from the charade.
Would you be less bitter if you had a guarantee that he’s not going to cut and run again? Cause, yeah . . . there ain’t no guarantees in this life, honey. There’s nothing anyone can say to you to lessen the bitterness, it’s all on you. I agree with Meredith that maybe you need to take some time away. Take stock and assess the situation. Are you better off with or without him?
Your mother told you to “get over it”? Did she also tell you to “think of England”? Seriously, I can’t fathom worse advice. If you’re mad, you’re mad. You get to scream and holler and work it out until it’s gone. He left you at the altar (almost) and you get to be as furious about that as you want to be. What you don’t get to do, however, is make this guy miserable for the rest of his life.
You ended your letter by basically saying that he doesn’t want to deal with your concerns or issues. He’s playing you again.
This column and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgold
firstname.lastname@example.org. She chats online Wednesdays at 1 p.m.