Moving away, but not moving on

No chat because I'm going to the dentist. We'll resume next week, me with cleaner teeth.

In the meantime, send your own questions (it's fall; time for fall problems) to [email protected] or fill out this form, please. 

I was in a relationship with this amazing guy for over a year. We're both 23. We were best friends, our families knew each other, we had sleepovers all the time, and really bonded and had a great connection/relationship. We talked about the future, marriage, kids, etc.

In early March, he started getting quite anxious about life. At this point he had told me about his mental health struggles so nothing came as a surprise as I was made aware very early on. I got him to seek a counsellor and that really helped. In March things started getting weird with him, and out of nowhere he broke up with me mid panic attack. After a few weeks of heartbreak and sadness, we decided to start back again but take things slow, as I thought he was getting better (he wasn’t) and he expressed how he wanted to fight for us despite his struggles. One day a few weeks later, we were doing better, but he called me saying his counsellor had told him he needs to be by himself, as his anxiety had only gotten worse and worse.

We left this conversation for the weekend as we wanted to give each other space, and at the end of May we officially broke up. We both cried in his car for hours. At this stage I knew things had gotten even worse because he was losing weight and very pale. He told me he was a shell of himself. He told me he didn’t want to live without me and he had always imagined kids and marriage with me but right now he needs to get himself right.

Now it's months later. I am going to be moving to Italy for a master's in Neuroscience at the end of the month and I haven't spoken to him in six weeks. Our communication before that was every couple of weeks; we'd check in and it was fine. Basically my question is am I dumb to still hold out hope? I've done everything you're suppose to do during a breakup. I've gone to the gym, spent time with friends and family, enjoyed myself, kept busy with work, and planned my future. But for some reason I can’t shake the feeling that we could reconcile one day. Is this stupid of me because we’re so young? I don’t want anyone else.

– Moving away but not on


It's human to hope for a reconciliation. You miss him – specifically what you had at the beginning of the relationship – so of course you want it back. Of course you're hopeful.

You're also about to make a major change, one that sounds kind of amazing. Italy! Neuroscience! Congrats!

Part of your extra angst right now might be about knowing that this is a real goodbye. Perhaps somewhere in that brain of yours you know that once you remove yourself from the picture, you might want different things. It’ll be that much harder to preserve the foundation of your ex-relationship.

I mean, you're clearly the brain expert here, but I think some of these strong feelings are actually part of the grieving process. You're fantasizing about getting back together, but maybe that makes it easier to leave.

The point is, have whatever fantasies you want as long as they don't distract you from this wonderful thing you're about to do. You don't have to want anyone else; your only job is to keep track of your own experience. To track how your hopes evolve and change … because they probably will.

– Meredith

Readers? Is it OK to hope for a future with this person? Is it part of the process?