All through our relationship, we were pretty happy. We took care of each other, we had a very strong intellectual and physical connection, we pushed each other to be better people, and he really made me laugh. I told him I loved him and actually felt it. We also had compatible long-term goals/values (we shared our answers to “15 Things Every Couple MUST Discuss Before Getting Married”). However, early in our relationship, I started to doubt if our personalities were compatible for the longterm.
By the end of the semester, I was stressed out by school, was realizing that the 6-month mark made our relationship relatively serious, was thinking of the fact that I had promised to tell him if it might not work between us and I was upset over the way we had worked out holiday plans (I, as an extrovert, was excited to spend 4-5 days with him and his family, but he, as an introvert, was barely comfortable coming for more than two hours at my holiday supper, even though family is really important to me).
And then, he told me he decided to not consider a really (really!) good job in another city, near his family, so that he could stay with me until I finish my graduate program (in 2018!). I told him that I was still figuring out if we would be compatible in the long-run, and I wasn’t comfortable with him making such important decisions based on our relationship.
And then we quickly broke it off. I am sad and some days I feel maybe we could give it another shot, but I don’t want to get back with him before I’m sure of what I want as to not hurt him. So far, we’re seeing each other once a week, but I’m not sure what to do from here. Should I just cut it off completely and find someone else with whom I would be more compatible, or try to give it another shot with him? (He didn’t get the job finally, so that’s no longer on the table). What are the actual basic ingredients in order to spend your life with someone? Am I just feeling sad and confused because I miss him (we were living together before we broke it off)? — Second Guessing
What are the basic ingredients to spend your life with someone? Wow, what a question. And yet, you asking such a thing points to the larger problem here: you want all the answers now, bypassing the lessons you need in order to learn them. I can’t tell you what basic ingredients YOU need to (happily) spend your life with someone any more than you can promise someone you’ve just started seeing that you’ll let him know as soon as you think it might not work out between you. First of all, you don’t date someone to figure out if it won’t work; you date someone to figure out if it will work. And you just can’t know that right away. Sure, maybe some people feel it in their bones the same way they wake up and feel rain in the air. It’s certainly romantic to think we can just KNOW when someone is “the one.” But the truth is, it takes time to learn whether someone has the “basic ingredients” you need to be happy with him longterm. How long? It varies. But, in general, for someone in her early 20s who has only one relationship under her belt, it’s going to take longer than a few weeks.
Here’s a question for you: why rush? You’re 23. You’re in school for four more years. Why the rush to figure out if THIS guy is THE guy? Furthermore, why rush into moving in with him? If at the six-month-mark you were only beginning to think the relationship was becoming serious, why on earth did you already live with him? It seems you two read “15 Things Every Couple MUST Discuss Before Getting Married” when what you should have read was “15 Things Couples Should Do Before Moving in Together.” Number 8 alone could have saved you a lot of grief.
Anyway, what’s done is done. You moved in together too soon and then you broke up. Did you break up too soon? I don’t know. But since you’re uncertain and since you’re still involved in each other’s lives and it seems the door is still open for a reconciliation, why not try it out? Only, this time, don’t make dumb promises. Rather than look for ways you aren’t a match so that you can end things before either of you gets too invested and too hurt by a breakup, focus on getting to know each other and figuring out whether you ARE a match. Yes, there’s potential either of you will end up heart-broken, but that’s the risk you take when you bet on love (and if you don’t take the risk, you rarely get the reward). But if your ex is still pushing you to decide whether you’re ready to be his life partner, MOA. There’s no reason that you, especially as an inexperienced 23-year-old, need to pledge yourself to someone you’ve known a few months. And if he’s really asking for that because he was hurt once before and can’t bear the thought of hurting again, he’s still got a lot of growing up to do before he’ll be a good life partner for anyone, let alone you.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.