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The next few months were difficult, but we remained as strong and close as we were when we lived in the same state. Plans were made for where we would live, which set of pots and pans we would buy, what color we would paint our bedroom. We had monthly visits, we texted all day long, and we typically had a phone conversation every evening to talk about our days. He talked about how much he loved me, how much he wanted to be with me once I graduated, and fantasies about our future together.
Then I had the rug ripped out from under me. I had booked us a four-star hotel here in my home state for our monthly visit, made dinner reservations, and psyched up my whole family to FINALLY meet the guy that I had been talking about non-stop (I think some of them doubted his existence), when two days before he was supposed to get here, he calls and says that he’s facing a deployment. He also said that he would not be coming to visit me, he doesn’t want me to move to be with him, he thinks he’s getting cold feet and has commitment issues, and he “hates talking on the phone.” He has never seemed commitment-phobic in the past, so this was all very shocking to hear, especially when I thought things were going so well.
We spent the next few days exchanging teary conversations that ran in circles. Finally, I told him that I understand he is dealing with a lot, and I want him to be able to figure it out at his own pace. I agreed that moving to a new state and trying to start a new life is not a good option if I wouldn’t have him at my side. I asked him to please not throw away what we have simply because he is scared. He asked for time to think, and I am giving it to him. However, I am now getting antsy, and my feelings are hurt that it’s taken him over a week to respond in any way. I want to honor his request for space and stay true to what I told him, that he can take this at his pace, but at what point is enough, enough? This “not really together, not really broken up” state is really confusing and painful. Am I getting strung along by a commitment-phobic guy, or is this stress from the deployment? — Stuck in Limbo
When you say you don’t want your boyfriend to throw away what you have because he’s scared, I believe you think he’s just scared of commitment. But the truth is, he has much more than that to be scared of right now. If he’s about to be deployed, he’s probably dealing with the fear of losing his life, being severely injured, witnessing other people being hurt or killed, and, of course, losing you. It’s great that you two have managed a long distance relationship so well, but deployment is a different beast entirely, and it’s understandable that as the reality of that beast looms, he would freak out about how it will impact your relationship. It’s understandable that as he begins to realize how much sacrifice will be necessary on your end — you being someone who probably has little to no experience with military life — to make this relationship work in the long-term, that he might rather get out now, save you from making said sacrifices, and save himself from losing you down the road after he’s invested even more.
We all put our hearts on the line when we let someone love us. Those of us who have been in or are currently in long-distance relationships know that the risk feels even greater at times. We may go weeks or months without seeing our significant other, relying on texts and emails and phone calls to fill the gap. The missing-ness is hard. Sometimes it’s so hard it can feel like there’s isn’t enough air to breathe until we’re reunited with the person we love. And the good-byes? Ugh, forget about it. I still get a sense of dread when I pass couples saying good-bye in airports, remembering how sad it was to always be leaving Drew when we still lived in different cities.
But all of that is a cake walk compared to having a partner deployed. I mean, people do it all the time. Military families are constantly separated. Spouses wait upwards of a year or more to be reunited. Kids go entire school years with a parent deployed somewhere dangerous. People do it all the time, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. And it doesn’t mean every relationship survives. Many of them don’t. And brand new relationships where a couple has only spent two months living in the same place? The odds are stacked against you. You just don’t share a very large foundation to hold the weight a deployment demands of a couple.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and it doesn’t mean you couldn’t survive and be happy forever after. But it does help explain why your boyfriend is suddenly pulling away. It does explain his fear. He knows better than you do what deployment does to relationships. He knows better that you what kinds of risks he faces. You can’t blame him for wanting to spare you from facing and sharing those fears, too. You can’t blame him for wanting to spare you more missing him, and for sparing himself the anxiety of losing you later, after he’s already let himself hope you might wait for him.
As for how much time to give him to figure out whether the risk of losing you is one he’s willing to take, only you can decide that. A few days seems like a drop in the bucket if you’re talking about someone you could potentially spend your life with. Days, weeks, even months of limbo seem small if you truly see a future with this person. But I also don’t think you should forgo potential happiness with someone else because the guy you love can’t commit to you while he’s deployed.
If I were you, I’d give him a few more days and then reach out again. Tell him that you love him and want this to work and ask him what he needs from you. You’ve had great communication until now, so just keep the doors open and let him know he can talk to you about his fears and that you aren’t going anywhere. But also don’t put your life on hold for too long for someone you’ve only known a few months. If you decide to continue a relationship while he’s away, whether it’s monogamous or not, do some research into what being a military spouse is all about. You may discover that it’s a lifestyle that isn’t right for you and that the man you think is a perfect match maybe isn’t so great in the long-term after all. Or you may decide that you’ve got what it takes to be committed to a pilot in the Air Force, deployments and frequent moves and long hours and all. I just wouldn’t decide anything for sure — and I definitely wouldn’t move to be with your boyfriend — until you get a taste of what that life is like. This deployment will give you that, whether you’re ready or not.
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SasLinna June 5, 2013, 11:15 am
Seven months together, of which you only spent the first two in the same place, is a short time to make a commitment to moving in together. I’m not that surprised that he’s scared of being this committed already (not commitment-phobic or cold feet, but just a normal apprehension at moving so quickly). Maybe the deployment, aside from forcing continued long distance, with all the difficulties that entails, also made him see that the two of you were moving really fast. I don’t think you have much to hold onto here, since there hasn’t been enough interaction to build a strong foundation for this relationship. If he agrees to do long distance for the time of his employment, you’re taking the gamble that the relationship will implode once he comes back. It could be hugely frustrating to put your hopes into this guy over an extended period of time. Plus, the subject of breaking up or not letting the relationship continue has already come up twice between you – in the beginning and again now. I would MOA.
Heather June 5, 2013, 11:16 am
I’m going to guess he’s active duty. (My SO is Air Force National Guard). If it is the case that he is active duty, you need to really understand what that means LW. Whatever life you had envisioned for yourself before you met this man will not be what you get I you commit to someone who is active duty in the military. When someone is enlisted, their job MUST come first, they don’t get a say. They can be uprooted at a moments notice with little to no choice in the matter. If you planned on having children with him, this life will carry over into them.
People have done it, like Wendy said. But you need to honestly think long and hard about whether or not you’re ready to make that commitment and life change for someone you haven’t know. That long. If you decided it’s too much, you honestly should not feel bad about that. It’s NOT a lifestyle suited to the majority of people. Putting yourself through something this difficult if you’re not 100% sure wont be proving anything to anyone; you’ll just be shortchanging yourself and this guy.
Like Wendy said, give him some time to think. But most importantly you need to give yourself time to think as well. Best of luck.
GatorGirl June 5, 2013, 11:16 am
I didn’t read the letter all the way, or Wendy’s response…but if a guy say’s he doesn’t want to date you, he does NOT want to date you. End of story.
SasLinna June 5, 2013, 11:20 am
I like your response. I feel that most people err on the side of not taking a “No” as a what it is and spinning it in all kinds of ways just to be able to hold onto their hopes. Sure, there are reasons for this guy to be scared. But he might also just not prioritize being in a relationship with LW.
katie June 5, 2013, 11:27 am
yea, i got a different vibe- i think that you two were just kind of swept up in fantasy “lets get married and have babies” land, and then reality has come back to airforce boy and this isnt really what he wants. i mean, with only two months actually together -and im sure it was an amazing, summer-vacation, movie quality two months of you guys “living it up”- and then months of long distance.. i mean you dont really have a “real” relationship, in my opinion. and not literally, but you dont have any base, you know? you havent had that period of time to really get to know one another in anything other then perfect dreams fantasy land. and thats ok, it happens! to long distance people, and people who move really fast, specifically, and you have done both of those things… so, i think this just isnt the right guy. he obviously doesnt want what you want, even if he said that he did at one point.
also, yea, deployments break up marriages. my friend is going through a divorce after being in a situation *kind of* like yours.. so i would not advise you to be all gung ho about being together through the deployment and that true love can last through it and all that. its not fun, love doesnt always last through it, and if he doesnt want to even put in the effort, you are going to be 100% screwed and angry, because you will be the only one trying to maintain a relationship from thousands of miles away. its not worth it if he isnt on board, and it really almost isnt worth it unless you have a really solid foundation already. personally, i dont think you guys will last, even if he gives in to be together during deployment.
Jess June 5, 2013, 12:07 pm
As to your first paragraph, that was my read on it too. I’ve been there and it sucks when you get swept up in something new and exciting and then one of you isn’t really satisfied after the dust settles. Most failed relationships break up at the end of the courtship period. I think it’s usually around 3 months (I call it the risky first trimester) but in long distance relationships, it can extend longer.
For me, these were always REALLY hard break-ups. People scoff at a few months time but you really can get invested in that time and by then you are thinking of the future, family introductions, trips, etc. When something is cut off at its peak, it’s hard. During my several “single” years before meeting my fiancee, I had a string of mini relationships that didn’t go beyond 3-6 months. No matter which end of the break-up I was on, it was always hard.
Miel June 5, 2013, 1:39 pm
I kind of disagree with your first paragraph actually, because it happened to me. Long-distance relationship don’t always need many months/years of “together” before becoming “with a distance”. And many months of long-distance don’t make the relationship less valid or less serious. They seem to have done all the good moves with the long distance : daily calls, visit, good communication…
I agree that the LW is probably not be ready at all to be a military spouse, and that moving in with her long-distance military boyfriend would probably not be a good idea. But I wouldn’t say that their relationship for now was not “real” and only some big honeymoon phase. That’s just judging something we don’t know.
GatorGirl June 5, 2013, 1:43 pm
I agree with you. My husband and I only had 8 months in a short distance relationship before starting on a 3 year LDR. 5.5 years later we’re married and going strong. I definitely think you HAVE to have some in person interactions (like meeting for one and monthly visits etc) but I don’t think you have to have a short distance relationship for x period of time to be a successful relationship.
katie June 5, 2013, 1:45 pm
i didnt say any of that- my point is that her relationship was based in fantasy land. i even clarified it, actually.
Miel June 5, 2013, 2:08 pm
What rubbed me in the wrong direction was: “i mean, with only two months actually together […] and then months of long distance.. i mean you dont really have a “real” relationship, in my opinion. and not literally, but you dont have any base, you know? you havent had that period of time to really get to know one another in anything other then perfect dreams fantasy land.”
GG gave her own timeline, but mine was a lot more extreme. I was with my boyfriend for three days (three days to meet for the first time, flirt, and become a monogamous couple) before we began the long distance. We’ve spent as much as 5 months away from each other without any visit sometimes. We’re now averaging around 50-60 days spent together per year, and we’ve been together for two years now. Saying “you don’t have any base” after two months of being in the same state just makes me feel “wooaooaoaaa two months is so extremely long ! I would have loved to have so much time like that !” In two weeks I’m going to visit my boyfriend for one month (living in the same apartment). It will be the first time we are able to see each other all those days in a row, we are very excited.
katie June 5, 2013, 2:32 pm
“you havent had that period of time to really get to know one another in anything other then perfect dreams fantasy land”
again, my point is that her relationship was based in fantasy land. sorry you seem to be picking out things you are insecure about in your own life in what i said…? i dunno, i think i was pretty clear.
Miel June 5, 2013, 2:36 pm
Those are not things I’m insecure about. I just don’t think she has said anything that put her automatically in a fantasy land. She’s just envisioning a future with her boyfriend of seven months. She might not be ready for the military spouse life, but that’s all.
Fabelle June 5, 2013, 11:28 am
I loved Wendy’s response. LW, I get that the “in-between” state you’re in now is painful, but besides feeling hurt & impatient, you should definitely take the time to consider how committing to this man will affect ~you~. I don’t think he’s being phobic, necessarily—he’s just being smart (although going about it in a warped manner, for sure). He knows what deployment means for your relationship. Long-distance appears to have been hard on him, & deployment is a whole different, much more difficult, animal.
There’s nothing you can really do to change his mind, if he decides that your relationship won’t survive his deployment. Despite the stress I’m sure he’s feeling, he is still able to make decisions (like breaking up with you.) Allow him that decision, instead of attempting to convince him he’s scared of commitment, & “throwing a good thing away”. If you need to contact him sooner, rather than later, to hear what he’s thinking, then do that. But don’t wrangle him into a relationship that he may not want to be in any longer.
j2 June 5, 2013, 11:46 am
I admit that driving planes for a living has inherent risks, but (according to some ex-mil male friends) the young officer’s combat risks as a deployed Air Force pilot are tiny compared to those of an Army or Marines platoon leader. It is even possible (they said) that his risks are little higher than when he does rigorous training flights in the US.
My point is that I discount the “I just don’t want you to mourn me” part, but it does very much reinforce that what LW is seeing is the guy’s pre-deployment mindset.
Those same male friends of mine said that many men preferred a clean slate when they were deployed so as to avoid feelings of relationship guilt over what was likely to happen over there. That may or may not be the case for LW, but I do think that if they stay together she will face similar issues as she has now for every future deployment. As Wendy said, this is tough on LTRs, always has been.
Lily in NYC June 5, 2013, 11:47 am
If he hasn’t responded in a week, it’s not because he’s scared or paralyzed by indecision. I’m sorry to say this, but he is done with you. Everyone can debate his fears of being deployed til the cows come home, but I think it’s MUCH more simple than that. I get the feeling you have always been way more into him than vice versa and he realized that he just wasn’t as invested and not interested in moving so fast considering that he’s leaving. Or he’s met someone else. I know it’s hard to hear. But you can’t force someone to feel what they don’t. Please don’t fool yourself into believing he is having some existential crisis about this; you are going to drive yourself nuts with false hope and overanalyzing every little detail. It’s just not worth it. There’s no such thing as “the love of my life” – there are other guys out there and you deserve to find one that loves you as much as you love this guy.
Fabelle June 5, 2013, 12:04 pm
Yeah, I agree. I kinda think the only reason he agreed to “think” was because she had become tearful, & began listing reasons why they should stay together. My impression is that she was hoping he’d be “the one” & is now crushed with disappointment, and trying to think of explanations for why he’s just temporarily afraid to commit. Unfortunately for her, I think he already knows the answer.
Lindsay June 5, 2013, 2:08 pm
Yep. I think “thinking” is sort of like a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” sort of thing.
Jess June 5, 2013, 12:08 pm
Sadly, I agree. I’ve been there! And I’ve been on the other side too. It sucks when something starts out so promising but doesn’t hold up after the honeymoon period.
sobriquet June 5, 2013, 2:25 pm
This x 1000. A break up is a break up is a break up. Analyzing it will drive you insane.
Anecdotal evidence: I once had a LTR end in a similar fashion. He dumped me one night and I started SOBBING I was such an emotional 20 year old. So after telling me it was okay a thousand times (after many conversations, like the LW?) he said, “How about we try going on a break? For 2 weeks? And then we’ll reevaluate.” That pacified me. No contact for 2 weeks while I missed him like crazy and thought about all the things I could do to make our relationship work. After 2 weeks he, duh, broke it off for good. He never needed to reevaluate anything. He broke up with me and I stupidly let it drag out for 2 more weeks.
You should never have to CONVINCE someone that they should be in a relationship with you. If it’s worth it, you do everything you can to make it work. He decided that it’s not worth it anymore. He doesn’t need a week… he’s had 7 months to figure it out.
lets_be_honest June 5, 2013, 2:30 pm
I really agree with this a lot, but don’t you think there are some circumstances where you could give it another chance, or talk it over at least to find out why? I’m a commitment-phobe big time, and one of those people that usually would just duck and run at the first sign of a barely yellow flag, so because of that, I really appreciate the patience my panther has had with me because he knows I’m like that. Usually once I’m thinking a little more rationally, I know I don’t really want to run.
You know, writing this made me think about the other side of this and if your partner can’t handle that (calming someone down before they run for no good reason), then they should save themselves the heartache.
SasLinna June 5, 2013, 2:34 pm
You’re with a panther? 😉 Haha sorry, that just made me laugh.
sobriquet June 5, 2013, 2:45 pm
I think talking things over is extremely common and healthy in good relationships. Even if you have the knee-jerk reaction to end things, if you’re able to talk about it and come to a different conclusion, that’s completely fine. But if after someone breaks up with you and gives you a valid reason, you have multiple conversations that go around in circles and end up right back at the beginning… what is the purpose of that other than to drive yourself insane?
lets_be_honest June 5, 2013, 2:49 pm
lol’d at the panther too Sas.
sobriquet June 5, 2013, 2:50 pm
Also, and this is a good example of the general sentiment you should feel after discourse in your relationship and then a discussion with your SO (and this just made my heart melt!) my boyfriend sent me this text this morning:
“Nights like last night, with disagreement but great communication and resolution, make me even more excited to be your life partner. You’re amazing and I’m lucky to have you.”
I just had to post this somewhere
lets_be_honest June 5, 2013, 2:57 pm
That’s awesome Sob.
Kate B. June 5, 2013, 3:25 pm
This is kind of reminding me of the last relationship I had. I wish I had gotten through my head sooner that he was done . It would have spared me a lot of wasted time. Not the hurt feelings, though. LW, he hasn’t responded because he’s decided he’s not into you anymore and he’s taking the easy way out hoping you’ll get the message. I would assume you are done and MOA. If you really want to reach out to him, send him one final email saying you wish him the best in his military career, but you’ve decided to move on. Do not expect an answer and then, do not contact him again. If by chance he does write back and tell you he still wants you to wait (and this is a HUGE long shot, I would bet against it), tell him you’d be happy to maintain a penpal relationship with him (ONLY if you can honestly do that) but you no longer consider yourself committed to him. I did something similar to this and it was the best thing I did. And then go out and have a good time. As for how long to wait, I waited about a month after communication ceased. There was lots of wishy-washiness before that which I consider to be wasted time, but only with the benefit of hindsight. Good luck.
TECH June 5, 2013, 11:54 am
I think this is a case where you guys should separate while he is deployed. I don’t think he is scared of commitment. He just knows how stressful and risky deployment is. It puts a lot of pressure on a new relationship. Does he know how long this deployment will last?
While you guys are separated, you will have time to focus on you and what you want. You can still love him. He can still love you. But while you are separated, he won’t be holding you back. You will be free to live your own life. I think you really need to think about what it would be like to be married to someone active duty military. Are you okay moving around the rest of your adult life? Are you okay putting your kids through that?
Once he is back from deployment, you guys can re-evaluate things. I think you are going through a lot of pain because you don’t want to let this great man go. But separating while he is deployed isn’t really letting him go. It’s just recognizing that circumstances aren’t allowing you to be together right now. But the possibility is there for the future.
lemongrass June 5, 2013, 11:55 am
Do you really want to be dating someone that needed convincing? If a guy breaks up with you, even if he’s “thinking about it”, you’re done! Doesn’t matter his reasons or whether they seem legit enough for you, you’re broken up. Don’t drag this on any longer than it needs to be, it won’t make things easier.
SasLinna June 5, 2013, 11:59 am
Your first sentence is genius!
iwannatalktosampson June 5, 2013, 12:03 pm
The sad thing is I think a lot of people think their love is better if they had to “work for it”. If it’s dramatic and worth fighting for and blah blah blah.
lemongrass June 5, 2013, 12:15 pm
I blame chick flicks.
bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 1:05 pm
Those also make stalking out to be… “romantic.”
6napkinburger June 5, 2013, 12:15 pm
My only reason for not 100% agreeing with you is the military thing. Normally, you are totally right, but sometimes there are bigger, grander forces at work that really do (empircally, absolute value-y, truly, not just in our heads) inspire some people to step back from a relationship that they would otherwise want to be a part of, which have NOTHING to do with love, feelings, compatibility or any of the other “valid” reasons why you should turn and walk away immediately. Sometimes, it isn’t that “he’s just not that into you” and in those incredibly limited situations, it is worth probing a little deeper to see if it is truly what everyone wants .
If only there were some way to know with 100% certainty when you are in that situation, rather than the much more likely “walk away” scenario…
lemongrass June 5, 2013, 12:28 pm
Thats my point though, that it doesn’t matter what his reasons are whether its because he doesn’t like her or because he’s worried about the pain he’d be causing her while he’s gone. It’s his reason and if its reason enough for him to break up with her then she has to accept it. Breakups can’t be a discussion, that only extends the breakup.
6napkinburger June 5, 2013, 12:50 pm
I don’t know… I think “I’m not going to let you give up on this because you’re scared of hurting me” is a fair response when it isn’t because he just doesn’t want to be with her. I think it is worth addressing the underlying issues, because what he sees as “unfair” might be reasonable for her, and he was trying to spare her for her sake, when she doesn’t want to be spared, and he actually wants the opposite. Gift of the magi thing– if only they talked!
SasLinna June 5, 2013, 2:09 pm
I wonder if it actually ever happens that someone breaks up with another person for fear of hurting them. Just seems like an unrealistic scenario.
bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 2:16 pm
I somehow rather doubt it. But I definitely do think that people say this to one another all the time. It’s erroneously called letting someone down easy. Personally, I am very much against this rather childish practice as it often only leaves the dumpee clinging to the belief that the break up was all just some horrible mistake…
SasLinna June 5, 2013, 2:40 pm
I mean in a sense a breakup is always good for the dumpee – it’s much better than being in a relationship that the other person is lukewarm about. But yeah… Don’t ever say anything to the effect of “I’m doing it for you” if you’re breaking up with someone. It’s a) not true, your doing it for yourself and b) gives the dumpee an opening to bargain.
Fabelle June 5, 2013, 2:20 pm
Yeah, I agree it’s a pretty far out-there scenario. I think people break up with the ~excuse~ that it’s for the other person’s benefit—like, in this case, “I don’t want you to have to live the military S/O life”—but, really, it’s them that doesn’t want to continue the relationship. And they’re just too cowardly to admit it, or have been emotionally wrung into giving a “gentler” reason for the breakup (as I believe was the case for this scenario)
Lindsay June 5, 2013, 2:26 pm
I think it’s one of those things that mostly only happens in movies, but people think it happens in real life.
redessa June 5, 2013, 4:56 pm
I had someone break up with me for my own good one time. He didn’t say that was what he was doing, but it was. It was my high school boyfriend. I was a yr ahead of him in school. Sr yr, I was applying to colleges and wanted to go out of state but had a “backup” school in state I was applying to. We didn’t live in the same town and I said something to him about how the backup school would actually mean we were closer. My mom preferred that school for me too and I’m sure that came up as well. I meant all of this in terms of if I didn’t get accepted to my 1st choice school. He, however, took it to mean that I was considering turning down the better school in favor of staying near him so he broke things off. After a little bit of time, we were able to be friends and at some point (after I’d gotten into the school I wanted and was making plans to leave) the misunderstanding came out.
He didn’t break up with me because his feelings had changed, but because he didn’t want to be the guy who held me back. Of course, I was heartbroken at the time (plus, it was high school so everything was a big deal) but in hindsight, I can see that he was doing me a favor. He did what he thought was best for me even though it wasn’t what he wanted for himself (I was home from my freshman yr of college in time to go to his Sr Prom with him – he hadn’t been dating anyone else in that whole time). He really is one of the good ones.
Sheryl June 5, 2013, 11:59 am
unless both parties are *absolutely sure* this is what they want before a deployment, then its probably best to call it off, and see if the stars align when he gets back. Even when people are *absolutely sure*, it’s a really tough situation.
If you do call it off officially, i think its OK to keep casual contact ONLY if you do think you can still try to legitimately date other people, and really not be ‘waiting’ for him.
bethany June 5, 2013, 12:04 pm
I can totally understand that he’s freaking out about being deployed. That’s a huge thing, and however he reacts to it is how he reacts to it. You can’t change that.
If he doesn’t want to be with you right now, he doesn’t want to be with you right now. You can try to justify that any way you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that at this moment, he does not want to do long distance while he’s deployed. He’s going to have other, more important things to think about, aside from trying to maintain a relationship with you, and that’s what he wants to put his time and energy into right now. Can you blame him?
Give him the space he needs. Let him know that you’re here if he ever needs a friend or wants to talk, but other than that, let this go.
oldie June 5, 2013, 12:04 pm
It does sound like the guy told LW how he feels and that she simply refuses to accept it. The teary going around in circle calls sound like pleas to change his mind and to try to make it work, but ending back at the starting point of he thinks it’s over. LW says she can’t stand being in the present grey area, but that is where she has put herself by not accepting his attempt to break up. She doesn’t like the grey, but she prefers it to accepting the black. Move on, date other people. You can’t bring back what you had in those two months if that is not what he wants. I can understand his comment that he doesn’t enjoy the phoning. Frankly it would creep me out if my long-distance gf wanted to discuss what pots and pans we would buy and what color we would paint the bedroom. This is fantasy-land. The guy has been burned in the past by an LDR and probably sensed that you were drifting into cray cray land. This is just too much super specific trying to make real and concrete, something that is emphemeral and drifting away. It smells of desperation, as does the comment that her family and friends thought she was babbling about an imaginary rather than a real man. It’s just too too much emotion and fantasy. It is understandable the guy didn’t look forward to the continuation of this through a whole deployment. It would be very wearying.
Miss Terri June 5, 2013, 1:11 pm
I agree. As much as it hurts, she needs to let this go. He isn’t going to change his mind.
bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 12:18 pm
You’re not in love with him. You’re in love with love. And really — there is a HUGE difference. Your entire relationship seems to have been a fun little fantasy for you both. But reality has come crashing in. He has A LOT on his plate right now… And it’s a bit self absorbed of you to really demand so much of him at this time.
Now, I’ll catch hell for this, but seriously? C’Mon! I mean, really…ONLY a women would somehow still demand to be number one when her lover learns he’s suddenly going off to not only face war but death. Somehow, it’s still all about you? REALLY?! You’re stressed out? The rug has been pulled out from under you? Um, he just learned he’s off to a warzone… but yeah. Truly. The rug has been pulled out from under you… (insert non-existant DW eye roll icon.)
Lily in NYC June 5, 2013, 12:36 pm
I agree with your sentiment in general, but c’mon. There are just as many ridiculously needy, possessive men that would act the same exact way. Stage-5 clingers come in both sexes!
bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 12:42 pm
I’ve never heard of a guy doing this to a woman who is going off to war… I just haven’t.
Roxy_84 June 5, 2013, 1:56 pm
Ah, because you’ve never heard of it, it must have never happened
6napkinburger June 5, 2013, 1:10 pm
Her questionis whether it is better if she contacts the man she loves, who loves her, and who is going through an incredibly difficult time to offer her support, love and help; or if she should give him space so he can deal with it on his own terms.
She was asked to move across the country, leaving her job, family and home to be with the man she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with and she said yes, and was happy. Suddenly, in one phone call, all of that disappears for her. That is jarring and it unsettled all of her life plans for the foreseable future. Yes, it is scarier and a bigger deal for him that he is being deployed, but that doesn’t somehow de-legitimize the effects on her life of the change in plans. Why you think that she is demanding to be “number one” by acknowleding the sudden , massive, immediate changes to her life? Why do you think she is demanding to be “number one” by her acknowledgment that she is confused and hurt from having no understanding the status of her relationship and no contact with the man she loves?
You berate peoplefor being doormats and not demanding more for themselves and not claiming autonomy over their own lives and say they deserve what they get when they are treated like crap ; and yet you call this woman selfish for acknowledging and and providing as background to her question for advice the impact on her life and feelings of the current circumstances of her relationship. She isn’t complaining to him — she’s explaining to us.
And still you make it into some sort of women v. men thing when that isn’t at all one of the issues here. Why is it that you do that? I really don’t get it. And you say you’ve never heard of a guy doing “this” to a woman going off to war. What is “this”? Offering support and love? Giving space? Making sure the soldier knows that they are loved? Asking for advice when they were broken up with due to circumstances?
Why do you read an advice column regularly considering that you seem to judge LW so harshly for asking for advice on issues that you so regularly think are stupid, selfish, pathetic, or arrogant and which you feel the need to berate them for so asking? Not just for their life decisions, but also for the fact that they are so selfish, terrible, stupid oand/or vapid that they want advice in regards to those decisions?
katie June 5, 2013, 1:19 pm
eh, to be fair though, the whole “romeo and juliet circumstance” situation you seem to think is happening could very well be all in this girls head- you, and we, dont actually know if he “really” loves her, or if he has wanted to end this for months now and the deployment is the best excuse he could come up with. from HER perspective this was a perfect relationship that was on a run away train to marriage-ville, but i have a feeling he wasnt feeling it the same way…
bottom line, its over, though.
6napkinburger June 5, 2013, 1:41 pm
But even if that is true, that doesn’t make her selfish or forcing him to prioritize her… it just makes her assessment of the situation inaccurate. If he asked her to move in with him across the country, even if he changed his mind and wants out and is using the deployment, she is justified in being sad, feeling like her life changed on a dime, and asking advice for whether she should contact him or not. Your advice is “not, and move on” which is valid. But she’s not wrong or horrible for asking.
Bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 1:37 pm
Um, in her entire letter she barely even addresses what he might be going through. It’s absurdly self absorbed. It truly is…
ebstarr June 5, 2013, 1:53 pm
“Finally, I told him that I understand he is dealing with a lot, and I want him to be able to figure it out at his own pace.”
“I want to honor his request for space and stay true to what I told him, that he can take this at his pace,”
I mean, but OK, it’s not unreasonable to argue that she’s “absurdly self-absorbed,” though I think the quotes above indicating that she’s doing her best to be generous but is freaking out too much to do so. What IS unreasonable is saying a man has never thought his own emotional needs came before a woman’s life-or-death situation, which, PUH-LEASE.
bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 2:09 pm
That’s all lip-service at best… The sort of thing one slyly slips in as an aside so they can continue to talk about oneself and one’s feelings some more. 😉
The guy in that letter is an asshole, to be sure. But talk about apples and oranges. He never asked her to send those blasted presents. Sounds to me like she just did it… Foolishly so, I might add. I’m talking about where some woman is suddenly being sent off to war and some guy is whining about how he’s been left in the lurch. Do you all really truly think that if some vapid guy wrote in with this exact same tale of woe, you’d be quite so sympathetic? “So, this girl I’ve been seeing long distance dating for the few months is suddenly being sent off to Afghanistan… What about me? What about my — er, I mean, our plans to play house together in the next few months? Help! I’m falling apart here!! How was I ever supposed to anticipate that this would happen? I mean, who ever has heard on an enlisted soldier actually being deployed?! She tried to end things with me on the phone and was very kind about it — but I sobbed and sobbed until she reluctantly agreed to think about things some more…”
That’s precisely how I read this letter.
ebstarr June 5, 2013, 2:30 pm
Haha. Your first paragraph could well be true.
Second paragraph — I think Wendy’s response to this LW was kind but rational, and I would expect her to respond similarly to a man who wrote in with the same problem. As for my own sympathies, neither of them sounds terrible to me (just young and dumb to be making commitments after six months). But I do think guys are just as capable as women of feeling entitled to sob and whine about their broken hearts even when there are more important things going on. Yeah, American society has this insane Princess Fantasy about how a good man always puts his girlfriend first and never falls out of love; but men have male privilege, which tends to train (some of) them in the belief that it’s other people’s (specifically their SO’s) jobs to deal with their feelings because they’re Important and Legit. :shrug:
ebstarr June 5, 2013, 2:34 pm
In general, though, why bother saying men don’t do this, women don’t do that, men are like this, women are like that? It’s like… almost always unreasonable. I feel like I got drawn in to doing it myself and now I regret it. SIGH.
MissDre June 5, 2013, 1:57 pm
Guess what. She’s asking for advice for herself. Not for him. So of course she’s going to tell us what she’s going through. Just because somebody else is going through something difficult doesn’t mean we aren’t entitled to our own feelings. I guess I was just a selfish arrogant self-absorbed bitch when my boyfriend’s sister died and I went to see a counsellor for help dealing with my own feelings while still trying to support him?? This guy told her that he wanted her to move to be with him and move in with him, she’s ALLOWED to feel lost and confused now that he’s changed his mind.
By the way 6napkinburger I’m with you on this one.
Lindsay June 5, 2013, 2:00 pm
Her letter was asking for advice on their relationship, so I don’t think it’s that unusual that that’s what it focused on.
bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 2:10 pm
It didn’t focus on their relationship — the letter focused on her. Big difference.
Scooze June 5, 2013, 12:25 pm
I think the deployment could be a distraction from the real issue. When guys meet a woman they could marry, they don’t get commitment-phobic. They work for her and make plans. It seems more likely that the newness has worn off and he wants to keep his options open.
TECH June 5, 2013, 12:37 pm
I think the issue is that he asked her to move to another state to be with him, and then he found out he is going to be deployed (apparently to a combat zone). Obviously, he can’t expect her to move when he is not going to be there for her. He’s at a point where he can’t be present in their relationship — emotionally or physically. I think circumstances are dictating this rather than the fact that he “checked out” of the relationship.
I highly doubt he is looking to keep his options with other women open when he is about to be deployed and is putting his life at risk.
I still think once his deployment is over, they can revisit the relationship. If it’s what both of them want.
bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 12:41 pm
Yeah, I think that many are being overly harsh on the guy… Surprise, surprise.
csp June 5, 2013, 12:58 pm
There are no options in Combat zones.
bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 1:07 pm
To be fair… that’s NOT true… There are plenty of women in combat zones these days.
GatorGirl June 5, 2013, 1:11 pm
Also plenty of men 😉
Bittergaymark June 5, 2013, 1:35 pm
Even I wasn’t going to go there… 😉
KKZ June 5, 2013, 12:33 pm
I don’t think this guy is afraid of commitment itself at face value – the type who would always be wishy-washy about moving in or marriage or exclusivity. I think he’s just realized that his life circumstances won’t allow him to make that kind of commitment right now. It’s not like he has a choice, deployment or live at home with the GF. The military makes those choices for him. And to his mind and heart, this is an either-or thing – he is afraid of/unwilling to make BOTH work.
I was just talking to my brother about something similar recently. He just graduated college with an education degree and is about to go into his student teaching. He hasn’t been in a relationship for a while, after he and his college girlfriend broke up a few years ago. And he said to me very plainly, it’s not like he’s not interested in the idea of committed long-term relationship, but he also knows what his next year or two will look like – student teaching locally, and then WHO KNOWS where he will land his first real teaching job? He has to go where the work is, whether it’s local or 1000 miles away. So he’s decided he’s off the dating market for now – in his view, the timing and situation are not right. I was positively BEAMING at him across the table for being so mature and responsible about this.
With that in mind, I don’t think the boyfriend’s reaction and interpretation of this situation/relationship is unreasonable at all. It’s not that he doesn’t see the worth and value in the relationship, but considering his circumstances, he doesn’t think it’s sustainable. That’s his prerogative, and the LW would be unwise to try to convince him otherwise even if she disagrees.
And as to her final question about how long to wait for him to make up his mind – maybe I’m sympathetic because I’m an anxious and indecisive over-analyzer, but it would take me several days to come to a conclusion about something like this, depending on what else is demanding my attention. I doubt very much he’s sitting at home concentrating on this question from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep. I personally would give him a total of about 2 weeks before approaching him for an update (unless his deployment is coming up faster than that – and from what I know, deployment dates and details change last-minute ALL THE TIME). They may be the two longest weeks of your whole life, but it’s really not too much to ask of yourself. IMO, better to give him more space than he might need, than to lurk & linger & pester an answer out of him. But that’s just me.
Lindsay June 5, 2013, 1:50 pm
I agree, but I think that if two weeks passes and she hasn’t heard from him, then she’s gotten her response.
TECH June 5, 2013, 1:16 pm
After re-reading this letter, one thing that really stuck out to me was the LW says the rug was pulled out from under her when he broke the news of the deployment. I can understand the shock of a relationship ending that was going well. However, when you date someone who is active duty military, you need to prepare yourself that there is ALWAYS the possibility that he could be deployed and put his life at risk. Having the rug pulled out from under you would be if he called and said, “I decided I’m going to quit the military and join the circus.” Calling and saying, “Yeah, so I’m an Air Force pilot, and they are deploying me overseas” is upsetting, but also expected considering that it’s his job.
When you date someone who is upfront about what his career entails, you can kind of have to expect that things like this can happen. The odds were stacked against you at the beginning. And you knew that, but you kept going because you fell in love. All relationships present risk, but he told you at the beginning the level of risk you were getting into. Did you guys ever go through “What if?” scenarios should he be deployed? If not, it sounds like there might have been a little denial about how hard this relationship would be.
This may have been a case of living more in fantasy than reality.
Emily June 5, 2013, 1:34 pm
I dated a pilot in the AF for a while. He also pulled the rug out from under me one day with no warning at all. We talked about our future so much that I had a really hard time moving on. If I could go back in time I would have just realized that I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me. I said some things I wish I hadn’t. 2 years later I am engaged and expecting a baby this winter. I am so glad I found someone who loves me and WANTS to be with me.
Lindsay June 5, 2013, 1:48 pm
I’m a firm believer at taking a person at their word, and I don’t think that a deployment changes that.
Miss MJ June 5, 2013, 1:49 pm
“I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me.” Well said, Emily.
And this is really all there is to say about it, isn’t it? This guy may have 1000 reasons in the world why he broke up with the LW, some good, some bad, some he means, some he does not, but the bottom line is that he broke up with her. If he wanted to be with her, he wouldn’t have broken up with her. And if he wanted her to wait for him or to see if they could make it work, then he’d have chosen to do that. He didn’t. Because he doesn’t want it. And, all the future moving plans, and pots and pans and paint colors in the world don’t change that fact. Whatever factors go into the equation, the BF balanced everything and decided that he doesn’t want to have the LW as a girlfriend when he deploys. She managed to talk him into thinking about it some more, but I wouldn’t hold my breath that he is going to change his mind. Per her letter, it isn’t just about the deployment. He said he’s got cold feet. He said he’s not ready to commit. He doesn’t want to meet her family. He doesn’t want her to move to be with him. He’s telling her very clearly that he doesn’t want this relationship anymore. I think that the LW should accept that and start the moving on process.
Amanda June 5, 2013, 1:56 pm
LW, your boyfriend broke up with you and it seems that you convinced him to leave you in limbo while he figured things out. But, he already figured things out. He broke up with you, the relationship is over, so MOA.
sophronisba June 5, 2013, 2:28 pm
Well, if I were facing deployment into a war zone (assuming it is a war zone and not, say, Japan), the first words out of my mouth to my girl of 8 months wouldn’t be: “I have commitment issues.”
It’s a shame that he indulged himself (and you) in extended fantasies about cottages with roses growing above the door and a T-Fal collection, but the intense two months together with a known (and safe) expiration date followed by plenty of personal space in a LDR doesn’t look like it’s adding up to something solid on his part. I think you should take him at his word: he doesn’t want more. Assume there is nothing for you to wait around for and try to get back to your life – your new single life. It sucks, majorly, but you have to keep on keeping on… Good luck!
TheTruth June 5, 2013, 5:28 pm
OMG… silly women.
If the dude is a pilot in the Air Force, he wants to deploy. He ain’t scared. You don’t go through years of training and get scared. These are pilots, adrenaline junkies. This isn’t a romantic comedy, it’s real life.
Face it, he ain’t in to you.
BreezyAM June 5, 2013, 8:31 pm
I’m not saying this to be cruel but seriously none of this matters. He’s just not that into you. Don’t ccontact him. Ever. If he’s a man worth having and truly made an error dumping you, he will come get you. In the meantime you keep on being the most fabulous you that you can be.
Lyra June 7, 2013, 12:24 am
I meant to comment on this yesterday but was busy all day and didn’t have the time. I hope this helps…
Take it from someone who convinced a man to stay with her even when he wanted to get out of the relationship…let this guy go. I dragged my relationship on and on and on even though it was way past its expiration date. As in, we almost broke up 3 times until we FINALLY broke up a year after we had started having problems. I see it now as a learning experience, but I was so so so afraid of the unknown and of being single again. I was in love with love. In reality I was over the guy long before we broke up. I mean, he treated me like crap and I literally couldn’t find a single redeeming quality about him by the end. He wasn’t talking to me, he wasn’t respecting my needs, and he wasn’t there for me when I needed him most. I was allowing myself to be a doormat because I thought he was my “soulmate” and I thought that we were destined to be together. I saw him almost as a project…someone for me to “fix”. Let me tell you, people don’t change unless they want to change. It was a hard realization, but one that I needed to see.
Now I’m with a loving and caring man who respects me, listens to me, and genuinely wants to be with me. He’s proven his worth time and time again and it’s just so easy to be with him. He keeps me grounded, he is honest with me, and he listens to my needs in the relationship. I do the same for him and we complement each other really well. We’re very different in our interests and hobbies, but we work together really well.
I know it’s hard, trust me. I know you don’t want to accept the fact that this relationship has run its course. But do you really want to waste time with a guy who doesn’t want to be with you? Trust me, it sucks. Only once you accept that this relationship has ended will you start to heal and better understand why things didn’t work out. I didn’t notice just how bad things were until I was out of my relationship with my ex. That truly opened my eyes.