Breaking Up/Relationship In Crisis

Question from a student attending the University of Maine:
School's back and I just found out that the person I've been seeing since last semester had a boyfriend at home over the summer.  She hasn't told me this - I just found out from her roommate.  How do I handle this?  Male, Sophomore

Dr. Caron's Answer:  There seem to be several unknowns:  1.  You don't know how serious her relationship at home is;  it could be a childhood sweetheart, or just a close friend.  2.  I don't know how serious you are about this relationship.  What does this relationship mean to you?  Is this a casual dating relationship or someone you see as a potential lifelong partner?  Even though you are feeling hurt, it seems to me the place to begin is to sit down and talk to her.  Remember:  Her roommate may not have all the facts straight. You might say, "I'm feeling hurt.  I understand you have a boyfriend at home and I need to know where I stand."  There are many questions only she will be able to answer.

A student from the University of Chicago wants to know....
What do you do if you carry strong feelings for an ex-lover, but you have lost contact due to distance?  I'm afraid she may be mad because I haven't called, but it was too hard to hear her voice.  Can you make any suggestion of how to open the relationship again?
Male, Junior

Dr. Caron's Answer:  I would suggest writing her a letter, rather than calling her.  That way she isn't put on the spot or taken by surprise.  It gives her the chance to think about what has happened and decide how she wants to respond.  Since you say she may be mad, I would suggest including an explanation of why you haven't called (i.e., it was too hard to hear her voice).  You might also explain your current interest in re-connecting with her.  Is it to rekindle a love relationship, to develop a friendship, or to just check out if she's alive?  You don't indicate how long ago you were involved with her.  Please be prepared to hear that she may have "moved on".  She may not share your feelings.  She may even be involved in another relationship.  It does sound like you need some type of  "closure" - I hope you can find it with your letter.  if not, you need to find the strength to do it on your own - or even with the help of someone like a counselor. Sometimes an objective person can offer you the insight and support you need to let go and move on. Good luck!

A student from Tufts University wants to know....My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 3 years. We met in college and have been together since he was 18 and I was 20. We are very much in love. For the most part, we have a great relationship and one day, want to get married. Our friends, and ever our parents think that we were meant for each other. He has, in the past, had trouble being100% faithful to me (he hasn't had sex with other girls, but sometimes gets drunk and kisses them) This has hurt me a lot, and I know he feels very badly about it. We both blame this on the fact that he hasn't had anytime to really be a crazy-single-college student, because for his entire college career, he has had a girlfriend. Recently, he broke up with me. He told me that he loves me more than anything in the world and because he wants to be with me forever, he needs this time to be single for a while and date other girls. I've always known this is what had to happen. I have a hard time trusting him, because I do know that this one day was going to happen. It just breaks my heart to think of him with other girls, because I love him so much. We tried not talking, but we both are miserable without each other. Even though we are both going out on dates with other people - we talk from time to time. Its very hard for both of us. I know that I don't want anyone else but him - all other guys pale in comparison to him. He says the same to me, but I still wonder why he has to do this. I'm wondering what the healthiest thing is to do? Should I move on? Should I wait for him? Should I be proud of the fact that he had to "courage to step up to the plate and be a man" or be mad at him for giving into temptation and following the crowd of college guys?
Female, 23, Senior

Dr. Caron's Answer: You know the expression that goes something like: "he wants his cake and to eat it too!" I cannot help but feel that you are in the midst of such a situation. On the one hand, you recognize this person as wonderful, loving, and a good match for you. You even say you want to get married one day. Yet on the other hand, you recognize he is not ready to "settle down" so to speak, that he is not sure about your relationship, and that he has an interest in knowing and being with other women. It is painful to look at. Just your reference to his unfaithfulness in terms of kissing serves as a major flag for me - and for you. I also question the idea that others see you two as "meant for each other" - perhaps this has been true - but for now, it does not seem helpful to know that he "loves you" but needs to be with others..... if he loves you and is sure about that, then WHY would he need to still be looking around? Perhaps your relationship has run its course, served its purpose for both of you while in college - but now that you are a senior, maybe questions are being raised about the future? He just does not sound sure about having a relationship with you or ready to be in such a serious commitment. Perhaps the fact that you are a bit older and wiser makes your views differ in this regard? To be honest though, I must point out that the whole situation sounds sort of sexist... implying that as a male he needs to sow his wild oats... while you wait in the wings hoping.... UUUUGGGHHHH. If it is really so hard on both of you (not just you), it would seem like he would stop wanting to see other women. I do think you need to be honest. I think a relationship is a lot like flying - the airplane moves forward or it lands - it does not stay motionless in the air.... I would strongly suggest you take control of the situation, instead of waiting for him to decide whether or not your relationship is on or off, and let go. You are right in thinking that maybe one day things can work out.... but they may very well not work out. You need to take care of you. It is a painful place to be when you wait for someone else to let you know if your relationship is "a go" or not. I do think sitting down with someone to discuss your situation more completely would be helpful - you need support and someone who can objectively sit and listen to you and offer input. And one last thing: you say you do not want anyone else but him, but have you had time to really look around? And what if he decides in the end he does not want you - where would that leave you? You say other men you have met pale in comparison. Well, I believe that there are many compatible people for us in the world -if we open ourselves up to the opportunity to meet and appreciate others, we have the ability to love many others.... there is not just one person for us to love. There are many. When your heart is ready, you will see what I mean. Best wishes.

Question from a student at the University of Maine: I had this dream about cheating on my boyfriend. I felt guilty in the dream, but I didn't stop what was happening. I have been a happy relationship with my boyfriend for almost two years, and neither of us have cheated on each other. Why would I be dreaming this, and does this reflect somehow on what I am feeling about our relationship?
Female, Sophomore

Dr. Caron's Answer: My general rule of thumb is this: All dreams, feelings, wishes, desires, and fantasies, whether sexual or not, are completely normal. Everyone has probably had sexual dreams that he/she or others might consider unacceptable. Just because you have these dreams does not mean something is wrong with you or your current relationship. As long as you realize your dreams are normal, no matter how outrageous they are, you will not feel uncomfortable about them. You wonder if this particular dream about cheating on your boyfriend is a reflection of your feelings about the relationship? That is doubtful. What you are feeling in your "awake state" is much more relevant to the realities of your day-to-day living. Perhaps you could talk this over with your partner how the dream concerns you and how you really feel about your partner and the relationship. Perhaps some reassurance from your partner will help ease your mind.

It's not unusual for both men and women to have sexual dreams about others. That's not something to feel guilty about. Of greater concern is the sense of conflict that emerges from your letter. If you find over the next month that this dream is really bothering you, I would suggest that you take advantage of the nearest counseling center to talk over this problem to gain insight on yourself. I understand that you are confused and distressed by your sense of disloyalty and I believe you can much profit by talking these matters over with an experienced person.


Question from a student at University of Florida: I broke up with my boyfriend over a year ago, but I can't stop thinking about him. I've dated other guys, but nobody seriously. Will I ever get over him?
Female, Junior

Answer: Probably. One year isn't really a long time to still be thinking about your old boyfriend, especially when you haven't established another serious relationship. It's important to look at why you still think about him. Is it the relationship with him that you miss, or just having a relationship? Why did you break up? Often times it can be easier to remember the good times with your boyfriend, while forgetting why the relationship didn't work out. Remember: One of our tasks in life is learning to let go. It's hard.

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