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Boyfriend of 5 years foresees our relationship ending in a year

Tagged as: Dating, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (30 November 2009) 3 Answers - (Newest, 29 April 2010)
A female United States age 36-40, anonymous writes:

My bf and I have been together for 5 years, since he was 19 and I was 20. We've lived together for approximately 3.5 of those years.

6 months ago, when our previous lease was about to expire, he said he wanted to move out on his own. I was shocked and we had arguments about it. He quickly changed his mind and apologized.

Fast forward to this past weekend. I got angry about something and told him I was tired of him, and he responded with "there's not much of me left in this relationship anyway." He then said he didn't think the relationship would last more than another year. He said he wanted to be on his own for part of his 20s, and he wanted to find someone new, different; he wanted to experience a "variety." He also said he wanted a partner who would collaborate with him on programming projects. He also blamed me for his lack of productivity in regards to his current projects, and said he wanted to be in control of his own schedule.

To give a little background, basically the only people he spends time with are me and (occasionally) his family. I told him he could easily find his "variety" and collaborators and meaningful relationships with friends. He has plenty of people at work who think he's great, but he doesn't put in the effort to spend time with them. He countered that by saying his "social energy" is entirely spent on me. I told him I would be happy to go out and do things by myself or with friends to leave him with his social energy intact.

He eventually admitted that he's happy with me, that he loves me, and he thinks that if we stay together for more than another year, then we'd be staying together "til death do us part" (because he'd be too "cowardly" to break it off that far in). But he says he doesn't understand why people can't break up while things are still going well (I told him that the only reasons I would have for breaking up would be if I was unhappy or I met someone else).

Backing things up a little bit, the past month I've been obsessed with a diamond ring, and asked him if I could have it as a birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day present. It wasn't meant to be an engagement ring, because he's always said he doesn't "believe" in marriage (and I've been fine with that); but I suppose I did view it as a a commitment type ring. We had an earlier argument, where he said I've been "pushing" for it - maybe I scared him.

The morning after we had the above argument/discussion/screaming match, everything returned pretty much to normal. I was upset in the morning, as I mulled the previous night's events over, and I started crying. He came over and said "I don't know what I want" and "I'm a stupid man." The rest of the day was very productive, and he was as affectionate as he's always been.

During the night's discussion, he did admit that if "circumstances change" (i.e. we're able to fix our flaws, be more productive, I get more involved in his projects, he finds more friends, whatever), then this 1 year prediction may not come true.

My friend tells me she and her bf (now-husband) had similar issues at the 5 year mark. Is this just growing pains? Something a lot of young couples go through? Should I fight for this relationship, or let him go? Does he really want to be single?

I do love him very much, and frankly, I could see him as the father of my child. We're a great team, and very supportive of one another (although, maybe he doesn't think I support him and his goals enough).

I'd appreciate your thoughts!

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A reader, anonymous, writes (29 April 2010):

hmmm...i just totally agree with your boyfriend. i feel the same way,that is. i grew up dreaming of being in my twenties and wondering different countries alone, like all the bob dylan songs. i am on the cusp of ending it with my boyfriend, for this reason. i feel too young to be in such a committed relationship. i am 23. so i say if he has mentioned it more than once, like i have, he probably also means it. whether it's sooner or later, so i say end it while its good like he says and plan on meeting up in a year and keeping in contact. that's my plan. i really do believe that if it was meant to work out, true love and all, it will. i have dated this boy on and off again since high school (except the past three years have been together) so as before, because of love, i think we will be together again.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (1 December 2009):

Thanks for your response!

We have actually done some traveling... to a few countries in Europe, and around the US. I love traveling, but it's something he isn't really interested in. But he goes because he knows I like it (and because he's European with a lot of family over there. Can't understand how you can be European and not enjoy traveling to Europe!!)

As far as a child goes, it's not something I'd even consider until my 30s. So I guess I should have said I see him as the EVENTUAL father of my child. :) I've never really wanted to have kids before, but can see it happening with him (he's really sweet with kids, unlike me. haha).

After we had the argument, everything went back to normal. I feel like we're both making an effort to address some of his concerns (i.e., we've both been very productive the past few days, I've been trying to give him alone time to work on his projects, we've been exercising together and waking up on time, etc).

But ultimately, a year from now, he still may very well say "ok, time for me to be single." Or he may not. It makes me feel... odd, with that hanging over my head. It's true, we're young, and I don't want to deprive him of experiencing romantic relationships with other people or being an adult and on his own, if that's really what he wants. I had had a previous long term relationship, I was working and going to school, and I was no longer living with my parents by the time I met him. He was living with his parents, in school, never had a job (b/c of a green card situation, not lack of desire), and had had only a few minor relationships.

Do I need to let him go in order to let him experience life as a single, self-sufficient adult male? Even if in a year he decides he doesn't really want to be without me, on his own - maybe I need to do the breaking up myself? If he's been thinking about it so much, maybe this is something he really needs? And perhaps he'll come back to me at a later point feeling more confident in our relationship? (or not...)

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A female reader, Country Woman United Kingdom +, writes (1 December 2009):

Country Woman agony auntI do think a lot of relationships go through a sort of stagnant stage and they often need an injection of fun factor.

We can all be guilty of falling into the mundane routine of life and NEVER see beyond that.

I think you also have to look at the things that have been said, I was like you always wanted the commitment in my relationship but my NOW ex never believed in marriage as his parents were divorced and it did affect the way he saw his life and what marriage was all about. Me on the other hand came from a family where my parents were married for almost 55 years in the end.

Don't push for the ring, you DO give out all the trappings that are associated with it and when someone else sees that ring on your finger, no matter which finger it goes onto, it is a ring from your bf and people jump to conclusions and that may be too much pressure for him, like you say.

On the other hand, all relationships actually need a lot of effort and compromise from both parties and having your own social circles outside of your relationship with one another is a healthy way in which you keep your own identities without having to split to get that aspect into your lives.

Also consider doing all the fun things you can right now, like travelling or just taking a holiday sometime as it all changes once you have a child in your life or commitments such as a house etc, you just don't have the freedom or the money to do those things so enjoy life and see a bit of the world. It will give you both a sense of adventure and believe me if you don't do it now, you could be a lot older before you get the chance to do it ever.

Both my ex and I went out and hired two different motorbikes and travelled to different parts of France, two years running before we decided to have a child. It was great fun and you see so much more on the back of a motorbike.

We went to the States and Greece and just enjoyed ourselves without having to worry about getting our daughter to bed or the sleepless nights and nappies.

You are still both very young so remember, going out with the girls or a boys night out and being interested in what each other are doing. In makes a lot of difference.

If things don't improve by their own, you could consider going to maybe a couple of sessions of couple counselling as that actually helps you LISTEN to what the other person is saying rather than talking over them, it is a skill you learn that never actually leaves you.

Good luck and keep us posted OK.

BFN

Country Woman

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