-- Question for John --
My boyfriend and I recently broke up. He told me he loves me, but there is so much going on in his life that he “just needs to be alone right now.” When we were together, he was scared about uncertainty of the future. We’ve seen each other since the breakup and when we are together he acts like we’re still dating. But after all is said and done, he’s still confused and needs time.
Our friends say that he is always asking about me and asking questions like “How do you know that what you have with someone is forever?” …and… “Do you ever have doubts or get scared?” Part of me thinks that he is just doubting his feelings because he’s never felt this way about anyone before (so he tells me), but part of me is scared that it truly is over.
I mean… he said that he loved me. I asked him if he meant that he loved me as a friend or family member… and he said that it wasn’t like that… he said that he truly considers what he feels for me to be love.
If that is the fact, why is he pushing me away… telling me he needs space? Is he scared of commitment or is he just being selfish by telling me that he just needs some time… giving me false hope? I don’t know if I should totally just give up on him or if I should wait?
I need help… I love this man more than I have ever loved anyone… I truly feel he is my soulmate… and before him, I didn’t even believe that was possible. He’s even said the same thing to me. I really need some advice because I am really lost at this point. Please help… thank you.
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-- Answer from John --
The answer to why he is doing what he is doing is nowhere other than inside of him… if he even knows. Fear sounds like a big part of it. It also sounds like this has been the first big love for both of you. I have no doubt that it has been special and that the two of you are/were potential soulmates. However, that potential only turns into a lasting reality when two people are willing to face their fears and move ahead — instead of “getting confused” or “needing time to figure out their life” or other synonymous phrases that simply mean they are too scared to go forward. When one person retreats from the fearsome and awesome challenge of getting to the next level of commitment, the relationship is pretty much out of the other person’s hands. It takes two to make a relationship last. Only one person is required to break the relationship.
I am sure you want to know exactly what is going on in him and exactly what he will do. Unfortunately, I don’t see that as a possibility right now. He sounds like fear has taken over and he cannot give a readout. But know this simple thing. He is in retreat and you are left behind. In any case — even if he suddenly starts “missing you” and “wanting you back” — this is a sad sign. And I personally wouldn’t let him back unless he was able to produce clear evidence that he has learned something that will enable him to move through his fears in the future. Because as a truly significant relationship grows, it moves through successively deeper levels of connection and commitment. Even after marriage it keeps growing in significance. And at each stage, there will be fears.
You want to find a partner who demonstrates the capacity to move through the fears. This guy, unfortunately, is taking a dive at Gate One. You are at 10 months, the honeymoon probably barely done with. And he’s got cold feet. Very bad sign about his potential longevity and resilience in love at this time in his life. The questions he is reportedly asking his friends are similarly signalling that he is far from ready to deal with a full-on real relationship.
The only thing you can take care of at this point in time is yourself.
Ultimately, many potential soulmates are lost because the timing simply wasn’t right. In my mid-20’s I left a wonderful woman, who could have been a lifetime partner, simply because I did not know myself well enough, nor did I know enough about love and relationships. My fears won out. And I had no idea what was really happening there. And I couldn’t have known. To me, at the time, it was all like, well, how do you really know, and there sure are alot of other women out there, and maybe someone more right and perfect will come along, and so on. I did not realize that it is not about meeting the “right” person at that young age.
And such is the case for many young men in their 20’s. The way they experience their fears can vary from guy to guy. You are maturing faster than your male counterparts. It might be worthwhile for you to take this into consideration.
At any rate, the only true response you can have at this point in time is to totally match his uncertainty. Because, dear friend, you ought to suddenly be very uncertain that this guy is it for you. He’s just given you a major red flag that I wouldn’t recommend you let slide by your line of sight. The flag reads: “Warning! This guy runs when it gets scary!”
The responsibility you have to yourself now is to take good care of your heart. Soothe your pain. Know that this is not about you, and that he is losing a real opportunity here. Know that your heart is strong. And that you are courageous. You were willing to go to the next step. And let go of worrying about what he will do. Instead, go inside yourself and take care of your inner feeling state. Learn to center yourself and nurture yourself. This will make you stronger and wiser. And let your true friends support you through this time.
Come back home and reclaim yourself. Breathe full breaths, all the way down to your belly. Give yourself some time to grieve and honor your heart. Stop pursuing him. At this point there is nothing to do there. There is only something to do inside yourself, in terms of really going deep and letting the love you are fill you up inside, fill up every cell of your being. This is a time of quiet and healing and renewing your spirits. Do not stray from that path.