He has doubts about our future


I have been dating a man for seven years whom I love very much. We met while he was a medical student. We dated for two years, and when he matched into a medical residency here in Boston, we discussed our options and decided to move here together. The past five years have had hard times, especially with our busy schedules (his residency, my job and graduate school work), but overall it has been very happy and full of love. We have talked about getting married and have planned our future together in many ways. He has been through a particularly difficult two months at work, but we worked through the issues together.

Last week, however, seemingly out of nowhere, he said that he has begun to have doubts about our future and if it is what he really wants. As he looks to move out of residency and into the "real" world, he said he has begun to think about his future more seriously. He has asked that I give him space to figure out how he feels.

I feel completely shocked and hurt by this. I always felt our relationship was very loving, strong, and stable. He says that he is still in love with me and wants to be in this relationship but needs time to sort through his feelings to be sure before we go any further. Meredith, what do I do with this information? We live together and neither of us have family or friends we could stay with at this time. Do I just continue on with our life and let him think about this on his own? He has claimed he needs space but he still texts me all day and asks me to lunch on the days he is not in clinic. His actions seem in opposition to his words. I told him that I see him as my life partner and feel very hurt because I believed he felt the same. I want nothing more than to live out our lives together. What should I do?

– Outofleftfield

Ask him to get more specific about what he means by space. Is he saying he wants to stop talking about your future? Is he saying he wants to pause the relationship but continue to live under the same roof? It sounds like he's trying to give you the heads up that he might bail when he's done with his residency. That kind of honesty is fine, I guess, but he needs to be clear about what he thought you'd do with the information.

At this point, you should also ask him whether there's any reason for you to stay in this living situation, because all signs point to you moving out for your own sanity. You can't live in a home where you feel evaluated by your parter. Yes, his actions do conflict with his words, but words count for a lot. If he says he wants real space, believe him.

You mention that you don't have a place to crash right now. I have to wonder whether that's part of the problem. You should be thinking about your community and what life might be like if you were on your own. Who else makes you happy? Are there friends and acquaintances who have made you smile when your boyfriend's not around? Reach out to those people and get to know them better. And if you're really without a place to stay, check out some sublets. There are always plenty.

Readers? Should she continue living with him while he figures out what he wants?

– Meredith