There's a new episode of the podcast up today. It's all about the big accomplishments we make after breakups. One story involves a newly single woman who pursued a pretty incredible hobby.
A little over two years ago, I met and fell in love with Rafael. I knew our time might be limited going into it, and sure enough, he moved away. But we continued to communicate. There were no promises made to each other about waiting or pursuing a long-distance relationship. Any time he visited, though, we picked up right where we left off. I dated others during this time, and I'm sure he did as well.
About four months ago, he moved back to where he was living, but we had different ideas about what that meant. Although he cares about me, he was not looking for a committed relationship. I ended up going back to one of the guys I dated while Rafael was away. "John" is really good for me. He embodies all of the things a woman would look for in a husband: stability, devotion, sensitivity, humor, etc. We have a special chemistry. My parents adore John, but those who know a different side of me (best friend, sister, etc.) think I'm settling.
My issue is that Rafael has been trying to make his way back into my life romantically. Maybe it's because he sees me with John or maybe he's finally ready for more. I can confidently say that John is the first person since Rafael that I can't imagine ever hurting or leaving, but I also can't deny that Rafael still has my heart, and might always have it. Do I leave John, the perfect husband-type for the adventurous and passionate Rafael? Or do I finally give up on a life with Rafael and marry John?
It sounds like you should leave John.
It was difficult to type that sentence because John sounds pretty fantastic, but you put it best: Your heart belongs to someone else. You shouldn't be thinking about marrying John if you're on the fence about it (and about your relationship with John, in general). It's not fair to pretend to plan forever with him if you're also dreaming about a life with someone else.
Let John know that you can't give him what he wants right now. Be honest.
As for Rafael, please have a conversation with him about what he's offering and why. Does he want to try an exclusive relationship? What are his goals this time around? You need to be able to set appropriate expectations. He might not have all of the answers yet, but he should be able to explain his feelings.
Also know that this next attempt with Rafael might leave you single – and that's OK. The solution to all of this might be to start over with someone you haven't met yet.