I've met this man, whom I love more than anything. Our relationship has been rocky from the start, mostly on account of me going through personal struggles. He's been there for me every day since we've met. He's shown up in ways I never expected someone ever would. He sat outside the hospital for five hours on one particular day. I had been sick for over a week, but being scared of doctors and hospitals and medical stuff, I didn't go to get checked out. Eventually my partner had enough of watching me suffer – he took me to the hospital and sat there in a hot car waiting for me because he couldn't come inside (pandemic), he said that he wanted to be there for me to come out any second. He knew he would calm me down, and he was right. There have been so many instances when he has gone above and beyond what anyone has ever done for me.
Unfortunately, we recently broke up. Both of us need to focus on ourselves right now. It seems that while I was having such a hard time with my health, he was struggling with some inner demons. He kept it so quiet. Even though we aren't together anymore, I'm trying to be there for him as much as I can, because I love him more than anything or anyone. I suppose my question is – do you think that there's potential for us to be together again? I want him to be happy and I want to be happy with him. I understand right now that he doesn't feel like he can be there for me, and that’s OK. I'm here for him. Is it selfish to be hoping one day he'll say he wants to get back together?
It's not selfish to want to be with him. Of course you want to be with him.
And of course you want to be there for him – to support him – because he was so good to you when you needed someone around.
But it's possible you're not the best person for the job. If he's worried about you (no matter how you're doing now), he might not be able to focus on himself. Perhaps if you widen your own support system and give him space, you'll show him that this relationship isn't just caregiving, and that it's OK for him to look inward.
Also, if he can't make promises right now, you should focus on yourself and other possibilities for love and companionship. Be there for him as a friend if it feels good, but if he doesn't consider the two of you a couple, believe him.
The big thing is that you don't have to reciprocate the care he gave you, because again, it might not be what he wants. It sounds like the next step is to have a talk about his specific needs and boundaries. Listen, consider your own feelings, and then decide how – and if – he can be in your life.
Readers? Is it time to walk away? How do you care for someone you love without being with them romantically?