General Dating Questions/Shocked by break up

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Hi Dennis,

Over last weekend my boyfriend of 3 years and I were supposed to be looking at houses to move in to. We're both 29 and have been planning this for almost all year but we had to wait for him to find a job. He secured a job a few months ago and I thought everything was going super well.

We'd been planning locations, buying furniture and electrical stuff. He had a list of everything else that we needed on his phone that he kept adding things to. And the whole future plans of marriage and babies had always been a regular part of our conversations to start after we moved in together.

We're always so busy with work but I thought moving in together couldn't have come any sooner - at least we would get to see each other every night instead of once a week.

The night before we were supposed to look at places he seemed to freak out or something. He said he doesn't have the money or the time to move out. I was feeling upset so I said to him that we've been planning this for so long, how could he not be ready? I have less money and less time than him to move, but it's supposed to benefit our relationship not hurt it.

Then he said he wants to break up. He's done and he doesn't want to be with anyone ever again, he wants to be alone. Then he ran out of my place and I haven't heard from him since. I didn't recognize him at all.. he seemed a stranger.

His mother and sister both called me a today because they had just found out (4 days after the fact). They were so sad and shocked and had no idea what was going on. They had seen him the day after the break up but he hadn't said anything, he just sat there. When he finally did say something today it was just that we've broken up, and then he burst in to tears (which I've never seen him do). They too didn't recognize who he was.

I'm so shocked, saddened and a little mad. I was so excited to move in and I thought he was too. He's my best friend. But I don't understand what is going on! He said to leave him alone so how do I contact him to find out what happened or what he was thinking? How do I move forward when I don't even want to move forward? How do I get closure? My whole future was planned with him in it. I just want my best friend back!

Answer
Hello Tiffany!

Ok, here's the first mistake: you already have "marriage and babies" all planned out and you haven't even moved in together yet. How do you even know you can live together long-term?

Yes, I know your relationship is 3-years old, but that's not the same thing as having lived together for a year. I constantly tell couples to NOT make plans like "marriage and babies" until AFTER you've spent that time (at least!) together in the same place. If everything works great there AND getting married is the right next step (it often isn't - and destroys many otherwise great relationships) THEN and ONLY THEN do you start the talk about marriage and babies.

I can't tell you specifically what's going on with him, but he's obviously confused by some huge emotional conflicts that he can't put into words. That's not uncommon by the way. Most women are naturally wired to be able to turn complicated emotions into language. Most men are not.

That doesn't mean he doesn't feel them however.

The very first step here is to decide for yourself what you really want. You obviously don't know and thus, I can't know.

I understand you're sad, shocked and angry. How else would you feel? But, before you rush to punish him for "snapping" by dropping him completely, I'd suggest you take another direction instead.

Understand (and [*gulp*] accept!) that he's conflicted here. While you didn't know it, he's obviously having problem with something - either you, moving forward, the "built-in plan", the future, finances, etc. The point is: nobody but him knows what that/those conflict(s) is/are.

I suggest you find out before throwing everything away just to spite him.

To do that you're going to have to suck up your own hurt a bit and reach out not to try to convince him that he's wrong to feel the way he does or to have hurt you; but instead with an openness toward understanding what's on his mind.

Tiffany, consider this: this is the exact same attitude you're going to have to learn to have all the time if/when you move in together with him - or even someone else. Now's a good time to start owning it.

This is what "working on your relationship" really means. It doesn't mean that you're always going to be getting better. Sometimes it means you need to take a step back - sometimes WAY back - and this might be one of those times. It would take that to revive this relationship EVEN IF you were living together. People move out all the time.

Consider this too: that's often the premise for moving in together or getting married - because now you "own" that other person and it's very difficult for them to "get away". Do you think he might be feeling that? I'll bet he does. Any modern man today would. Marriage isn't exactly a great deal for men today. Women fare far, far better because of it.

So, with that new attitude, you reach out to him. Dig deep and find that compassion and kindness inside of you to discover what's really going on with him. He's avoiding you because he doesn't want to deal with your hurt or have to explain; what to him is a HUGE, explainable set of complicated emotions. This is your chance to prove you're really the team player he believes he deserves - or at least, wants.

Approach him in the spirit of discovery and working through the problem - and that nothing is off the table. Maybe he can't move in together right now. You're going to have to accept that. Or, maybe having everything locked in ("marriage and babies") is just too much of a chunk to bite off without even proving you can do it with the first test of living together. Be willing to accept where he is and what's going on.

If the format of your relationship is more important to you than the relationship itself - in whatever format it takes - then the relationship doesn't really deserve to exist anyway and it's time to find another. Of course, you're not going to know that if you don't figure all of this out here first.

Best regards...

Dr. Dennis W. Neder
CEO/Executive Producer
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Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”

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Dr. Dennis W. Neder

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I'm able to answer any sort of question related to the approach, meeting people, dating, sex, relationships, break-ups, non-legal marriage and divorce questions, and anything in between. I've helped over 30,000 people with their individual issues. IMPORTANT: Please, PLEASE don't ask me, "what was he thinking..." or "why did he say..." types of questions! I DO NOT READ MINDS! There are 1,001 reasons why someone does what they do, says what they say or thinks what they think. If you *REALLY* want to know what they were thinking, saying or why they were acting that way - go ask them! Be sure to check out my FAQ's on my website at: http://beingaman.com. You can email me directly at: dwneder@beingaman.com.

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I am the author of the books "Being a Man in a Woman`s World I & II" and "1001 Places and Techniques to Meet Great Women" and 11 others. I`ve spent the last 20 years studying the art and science of every aspect of relationships, and have answered over 30,000 letters from readers all over the world. My main focus is men`s relationships with women, but I also have many female readers and answer questions for them regularly as well.

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Doctor of Philosophy

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