Can I be there for him while we’re on a break?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for 1.5 years. While he's been a wonderful and supportive partner, he's always been a little guarded in ways I've never understood. As an example, he met my family and friends, but wasn't comfortable introducing me to his family. Rather than see this as a red flag, I passed it off as a quirk that I could deal with for the time being.

I believe that he's been in a dark place for the past few months. Looking back now, I see that he isolated himself from his friends, lost interest in things he used to enjoy, and has just been withdrawn. In November, he told me that he had a medical "thing" he took care of when he was home for the holiday and that he had to get genetic testing. Since then, he hasn't really wanted to talk about it. Right before New Year's Eve, when confronted about our recent lack of intimacy, he broke down and just said he was unhappy. In life, our relationship, everything. He wanted to run away to his hometown, as he hates the city.

My reaction was emotional, as I felt somewhat blindsided, and I asked that we take a month break rather than break-up since he obviously had a lot of other things going on. I reached out yesterday because I knew he got the results of the genetic test. It turns out he is positive for the gene and is struggling to come to grips with everything. He agreed that we could meet next week, even though we're still on a "break." To be honest, I'm not even that concerned with our relationship anymore. We were each other's best friends, and since he isolated himself from the people in his life, I'm not sure how he is coping. Is it my place to continue to check in on him? Should I have any expectations for our relationship at this point? I'm just having trouble with the idea that I have to be a stranger when he's going through a major life crisis. I still love him and struggle with the concept of moving on.

– On a Break


You'll get some answers when you see him in person next week. You'll find out whether he really wants you to be a stranger. You'll be able to ask about his support system, and whether he's been turning to family and friends during this process. Right now, the unknowns are making things so much worse.

If you can confirm during your meeting that at least one other person is keeping tabs on his state of mind, you must turn your attention to yourself and do what's best for you. He's going through a lot, but that doesn't mean you should sit in limbo. If he wants to sort out his life on his own, you have to call this a breakup. Then, after time, you can make decisions about whether you're capable of having a friendship.

Again, it's almost impossible to set expectations before you see him. Get that out of the way, and then be honest with yourself about what this is. If you are not his girlfriend anymore, you have to accept and heal before you jump to his side as a friend.

Readers? What will she get out of their meeting? Can they extend this break? What are her responsibilities?

– Meredith