Love Letters

They’re ‘taking a break’ but still talk every day

She’s deeply involved with his family and heartbroken. Will giving him space bring him back to her?

Q. Hi, Meredith.

My long-distance boyfriend and I are taking a break. He lives a state away for school, while I go to school closer to our hometown. We’ve been together for more than a year and have really been struggling, and I don’t know what to do. We are technically “broken up,” but we still talk every day and have intentions of getting back together when things get better between us. He’s the one who initiated the break. I am trying to give him as much space as I can because I want him to find his way back to me. I love his family and baby-sit his youngest sister two to three times a week.

Because of this close connection, I’m having a hard time deciding if I should make an executive decision to let him go and experience the world on his own. Days ago, he hung out with a different girl and said he kissed her. When he told me, I was a mess. I didn’t realize that he was using our “break” to seek out other companions. I feel betrayed and broken. I feel as if I am being dragged through emotional mud, and I have no energy left. I want to fix things between us, but he always seems to find an obstacle to put in our way. Should I end things with him? I love him so much, but should I set him free so he can experience the world with whomever he chooses?

— If you love someone  .  .  . 

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A. You don’t have to make any executive decisions here. He’s already decided to experience the world on his own. He’s making the most of his “break” and treating it like a breakup. That means you should, too. No more hearing about his experiences with other women. No more obstacles. Let him know that if he needs to be on his own right now, he can’t lean on you. You have to set a boundary and treat him like an ex — because that’s what he is.

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The more complicated issue is your connection to his family. It sounds like they depend on you, too. My advice is to tell them that you can’t baby-sit right now. Let them know that you care for them very much but that you need to give yourself some space as you adjust to being single.

You put the words “broken up” in quotes, but it’s important that you treat this like a real ending. You’ll be less exhausted, less “dragged through emotional mud” if you cut him off and start putting yourself first.  

— Meredith

READERS RESPOND

You should end things with him and also your baby-sitting gig. He is not interested in being in a relationship and your contact is preventing you from moving on — you should not break up with him to let him experience the world, but so YOU can! — ASH

If someone fired you from your job would you consider yourself on a break with the company? Would you call yourself an honorary employee? No? Then if a significant other says he wants to take a break and is kissing other women, believe him. Instead of thinking of it as “letting him go to experience the world on his own,” be good to yourself and do the same. — SASSIESADIE

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Letters like this make me grateful for all the times people just broke up with me. — GRETCHYNN

He already made the executive decision. — STAUGUSTINE

“My advice is to tell them that you can’t baby-sit right now.” No — tell them that you can no longer baby-sit, and leave out the “right now” part. — NOMORESCREENNAMES

Columns and responses are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters, questions, and comments to meredith.goldstein@globe.com.