Letters to [email protected]
I've been "dating" a man for five months. I use the term "dating" loosely. A month ago, I asked him what we were. How would he introduce me to a friend? His response was that I worry too much. Nearly half a year in and I've never met any of his family. I haven't even met his roommate, who is often present when I’m at his apartment. He's a nice guy. Respectful. Makes me laugh, but still.
Fast forward to last week. I don't know why. I wasn't dwelling on this, I hadn't been thinking about it for days or weeks, but I reached out to a man I've known for 20 years. We were really close in high school, always together, always laughing. In our 20s we went on a date once, but at the time I lived in another city hours away, and aside from a goodnight kiss, nothing ever came of it. But I have loved this man for two decades. He's seen me through highs and crippling lows. We grew apart years ago when I was in grad school and was pushing everyone away, pretending the relationship I was in wasn't toxic and abusive. He was wrapped up in a toxic marriage that lasted for years.
Again, I have no idea why I reached out but I’m so glad I did. Everything picked right back up, as if years had not in fact passed since we last spoke. I've had a few long-term relationships in my life, including a long marriage to my son's father, but I have never felt for anyone the way I feel for this man.
So, I suppose my question is twofold. Am I crazy, and if not, how do I break things off with this other man? There's nothing inherently wrong there, and I do care about him, but it pales in comparison to what I've felt for years and am experiencing again now. How do I, in the midst of COVID-19, compassionately tell someone they're fine, but this other person is better?
Well, don't say it that way. Do not say, "Eh, you're fine, I guess, but I like this other guy who isn't even here right now."
Instead, tell him what you told us – that you enjoy his company, but the relationship isn't sticking. His "you worry too much" response suggests this is a mismatch. He wants a companion, you want a partner. That means it's time to let go.
He doesn't need to know anything about the other guy. I mean, after five months, he hasn't been stressed about defining the relationship. He’s not entitled to this new information because you never set expectations and boundaries when it came to your commitment.
Also know that breakups during this pandemic are complicated, but they're happening – because you can't pause life. It sounds like this man has company (a roommate) and family to talk to. This is a time for transparency. If you can’t be there for him, let him go on without you.
As for the new/old guy, I have little to say. I hope this turns into this beautiful relationship, and that when this stay-at-home existence is over, the two of you meet up, run into each other's arms, and have a life together. Really, I'm rooting for it. But for now, you're just getting to know each other again. Enjoy that.
Please know that if it doesn't work out, you shouldn't regret the other breakup. This isn't about one relationship vs. the other, it’s about letting go of something that's not working and then trying something different.
Readers? The current relationship is going to end at some point anyway, right?