My dealing with a dying mom and a family in crisis was difficult for my boyfriend to completely comprehend. I lacked support and still, to this day, feel like I was completely left on my own (whereas before I always felt like part of a strong united team with him). The big deal breaker came when my mom passed away and my boyfriend decided not to come and join the funeral and be there for me because he was already planning to come for Christmas and he had just started a new job and didn’t want to lose it. A couple of months after our awkward Christmas visit together, I decided that we needed to take a break. I was feeling completely unsure of my feelings and to this day I still am.
When we met up for Easter, I ended up looking in his phone and finding messages from a girl he dated just up until seeing me. Though we hadn’t defined the break and whether we could be dating others, it was really hurtful to learn about, and I ended up writing him a long letter explaining to him how I felt. We didn’t tackle the issue that well and kinda just went along with it. I started dating another guy but was constantly thinking about Greg.
In the fall, we decided that by Christmas we would have to make a decision about our relationship. He ended up proposing to me on New Years Day and, though it was very beautiful, a tiny little voice in my head was shouting, “no no no.” I said “yes” though and started planning my relocation to NYC. A couple of weeks into planning, I broke down in tears in front of some girlfriends. I’m in doubt over whether he is my one and only. I cannot forget, and I still struggle to forgive him, for not being there when my mom died or at least showing the effort to do so.
This spring I underwent a two-month to trial of living back in New York with him. It was a tough but also a good time where I felt like we grew back into our relationship a little bit. Now I am back in Copenhagen and I’m pulling out hair to figure out whether this is what I want — moving to New York, putting my career on hold while I wait for a visa. I have proposed our going somewhere neutral to start over, but he is not keen on that idea, nor does he want to move to Copenhagen yet, before we have kids.
I’ve spent five years on this relationship and now I’m turning 30 and I have an incredible fear of actually ending up alone if I don’t go all in for this. I’m completely torn, also by different perspectives from my friends and family who are all looking from their points of view. I’m afraid of losing him, but I’m also afraid of saying yes to a marriage that I’m not 100% sure of.
I would love your perspective on this very difficult life decision. — Feeling Doubt In My Yes
It doesn’t strike me as a difficult decision, actually. It seems like a no-brainer, to be honest. I don’t even need to tell you what the right answer is. You already know. The hard part is feeling the loss and heartache you’re sure to feel in letting go of someone you love. But look, if it were right, you’d feel excited! You’d be counting the days until you could be together again and starting a new life with him. You wouldn’t be crying to girlfriends, feeling so much doubt, struggling with forgiving your husband-to-be for the way he neglected you when your mom was sick and dying, or pulling out your hair trying to figure out if this is what you want. This isn’t what you want.
What you want is to not end up alone, I get that. But there are lots of ways to avoid ending up alone. Marrying Greg isn’t your only chance to have a spouse. He’s not your only path away from loneliness. Can you even say you feel less lonely with him? Because reading your letter, it doesn’t feel that’s true. What it seems like to me is that you stay with Greg because he’s comfortable, he’s what you know, and you’re afraid you won’t find something better. Fear is never a good motivating factor for getting married.
I hear what you’re saying — you’re 30 and you feel like time is running out. But time isn’t going to slow down by marrying Greg. You aren’t going to be closer to what you want by marrying him. You’re going to be further from what you want and that much older. You know what’s worse than being 30 and not knowing exactly what you want? Being 35 and knowing exactly what you DON’T want because it’s the life you’ve been living for a few years and you don’t know how or if you can get out of it. You know what’s even worse than that? Blaming yourself for making a decision you had so many warnings not to make — the tears, the doubt, the inability to forgive, the lack of communication and ability to work effectively through things (“We didn’t tackle the issue that well and kinda just went along with it”). You think life is going to get easier? You think marriage is going to solve the problems you have with working together and understanding each other and meeting each other’s needs? It won’t. You get older and life gets more complicated, and if you don’t have a handle on your relationship now, your issues aren’t going to magically fix themselves when you move to New York.
And what’s this about Greg not wanting to move to Copenhagen until you have kids? What if you don’t have kids? What if you have trouble conceiving or carrying a baby to term? Is he only going to move once a baby is born? Do you discuss what that looks like? What it will be like for both of you uprooting your lives at just the moment you’re adjusting to new parenthood? What about Denmark’s healthcare and childcare? Have you discussed the benefits of your having a baby there vs. in the U.S.? Have you discussed when you want to try to have a baby? You’re 30 now; I’m willing to bet you probably would want to get started on growing your family in the next few years, right? So… what’s the plan around that in relation to your moving to the states, if what you want is to be in Copenhagen once you have kids? It doesn’t really make sense.
I don’t think either of you has fully thought this through. I think Greg just wants to get you on his turf, living his life, and doesn’t really have much intention of leaving. You think someone who didn’t even try to be by his girlfriend’s side when her mother died for fear of losing his job is going to prioritize family and his wife’s wishes when it will mean sacrificing so much more than a week or two away from home to support a grieving loved one? Come on, wake up.
I don’t know how else to make this any clearer for you. The writing is on the wall. Ignoring the writing, or prolonging the inevitable, isn’t going to make the end any less difficult or sad. But feeling sad about an ending doesn’t mean it should be avoided or that it isn’t the right choice. You will feel grief, and it will be the price you’ll pay for the love you shared and the freedom you’ll have to love again.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.