I deserve a better explanation

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As the world turned upside down, I felt like I finally was OK. I lost my job and had to find emergency housing and leave my university town over the course of one week. But it was OK because I had someone truly special in my life (I'm 23; he's 27). Plus, I have been through worse things in my life than this, sadly. I'm tough as nails.

Then life threw me another curveball and my boyfriend broke up with me out of the blue. I couldn't believe the words he was saying over the phone, and it took a while for it to hit me. I asked for a reason and he said, "I don't want to stand in the way of your dreams. I don't think I am good enough for you." He also said he couldn't deal with the fact that our future paths are unclear. Then he said he still loved me.

We have only been dating a year (we broke up right before our anniversary) and have known each other just under two years. We've discussed the future in fleeting conversations, but we have never had a serious talk about it. He doesn't know what he wants to do, but he wants a change to his career. I've always encouraged him. I honestly think he is having a quarter-life crisis and just questioning his purpose in life. With the pandemic, we are separated, as we don't live together. I know he's probably curled up in his apartment overthinking everything and coming to these conclusions on his own without involving me in the conversation.

I feel like he is shutting me down and has stopped communicating. He is like my best friend and partner. A week before he broke up with me, he said he saw a future with me – and then this happened. I am so confused. I love him so much and I know that the love is still there. He thinks he is doing me a favor and I want to scream and say that isn't true.

It's been over a month since that phone call, with some brief texts in between. I don't want to give up because I truly care for him. I've stopped reaching out and think maybe no communication for now is best. We will eventually have to meet up and exchange our things. I do still think I deserve a better explanation and a proper face-to-face apology. I don't know what else to do. Do I poke the bear and give him a breakdown of what I need?

– Shut out

Do not poke the bear. Let the bear hibernate.

He told you he doesn't know his path and that he has his own priorities to consider. Respect his wishes and leave him alone.

Breakups in this pandemic are confusing and painful – you don't always get to say goodbye in person – but they're no less real. Perhaps this is a quarter-life crisis and he's overanalyzing his place in the world, but again, that's real, too. He believes he needs to answer these questions alone. There's not much you can do about that.

If you have things you want to tell him, speeches you want to make, write them down (or record them as voice memos) and then put them in a file. Wait a few days and see what still makes sense.

Also remember that you are tough as nails. That doesn’t mean you have to fix this for both of you and convince him he's wrong. Being tough, in this case, means believing that no matter what someone else chooses to do, you'll continue to care of yourself and except no less than you deserve. You do not need to spend this scary time begging, pleading, and bargaining on behalf of the relationship.

Take some space and let yourself grieve the loss. Treat yourself well.

– Meredith

Readers? Reach out again?