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August 18, 2011


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Katie in Texas

I agree....But, if you end up back together, you have to leave behind the time apart. I'm not sure I could do that... Even though I think it's the right decision...

Miss Scarlett

I totally agree with you, Kit. As someone who calls that period of her life "when I was young and dumb", your early 20's are definitely your youth. Time (just after age 30) will show you this. Let him try out dating other girls. You try dating other guys and see where you end up.

Christina McPants

I totally agree and think you two should take a month or two long hall pass. I got married a few months ago and I definitely had a period of mourning for singledom while I was engaged. You know, now I can't become a yoga instructor and move to Australia. Or join the peace corps. Or the gross weird things you do while you're alone because now I'm spending the rest of my life with this fantabulous person. And while it thrilled me beyond words, it also meant that I had to give up certain ideas.

It sounds like the BF is feeling that limitation pinch already without having gone out to explore that side of himself. He may not want to screw every co-ed in the bar, but the knowledge that he has a serious, committed relationship that matters to him is preventing him from entertaining the idea. I wonder if the level of commitment he sees himself moving toward is scaring him and he's not able to articulate why.

Take a break, get some distance and regroup.


Must be something in the air. My son (in his mid-20s) is feeling the yen to 'settle'. Not get married, just be settled. The closer to this he has gotten, the more unsettled his long time girlfriend became until the situation was much the same as your young friend.
My advice was similar to yours. Take a break, a real break and see other people, go out with friends, be single...whatever feels right. If it is right and meant to be, I know they will find each other again. And if it is not, this is the right way to do it.
In my youth (late 20s) I fell for someone hard. And I held on for dear life. In the end, I should not have held on so hard. Not that relationships don't take hard work, just that the work should not cause such pain, and both parties should be equally invested.
The best part is that the maturing and clarity these decisions bring to you over the long haul help you to become and even better partner for your future.


Totally agree with Kit...though my version of the advice would be a lot less polite and a lot more, "Dude wants to have random sex but is afraid of being alone." I have done that ish to NUMEROUS boys/men, and it took a looooong time to realize how wrong that was. But also the job loss could be making him feel less worthy/depressed/confused. Even so. After this long together, he should get a grip on himself and be able to talk about that with you.

I think you REALLY need to take the clean break advice seriously. Break up like you mean it. Maybe you talk after that, maybe even get back together. But if either of you is still holding on...it's totally pointless and really just hurtful to both of you. My fiance broke up for serious earlyish in our relationship. I'm positive it's the only reason we're both in the right place now to get married.

Domesticated Gal

Sounds like the ever-popular early-life crisis. Which has been compounded by him losing his job/professional identity. Cut him loose while he figures things out. But if he is the Ross to your Rachel? Just remember - YOU WERE ON A BREAK!


I cometely agree with Kit. I'm 21 and got married at 18. I went through the same type of Doubt except I was already married. It's hard on a relationship but since your not married or living together I would definitely take some time. Let him figure it out and let yourself. You might not realize it yet but you might need to get it out of your system too. You sound like you are doing a good job, stay strong and don't let him string you along.

Also when my husband and I were dating we had a brief period of seeing other people. Or really him and it is tough to get over but if you love them and you know God meant for you to be with them you get over it and move on.


It sounds to me like he may want to see other people, but he doesn't want to hurt you. He is probably telling you things he thinks you want to hear (ie: he doesn't want to see other people). Breaking up is very hard to do (duh), but breaking up with someone you have been with for so long is even harder. When I was in my mid-20s I dated a guy for three years (long distance...he was in the military). It got to the point that we argued about everything and I wasn't happy at all and I was getting "bored" with the relationship. I hemmed and hawed and treated him rather badly cause I didn't know how to break up with him without hurting him or causing his family to hate me (I was at war with myself and taking it out on him). Well, I finally got the courage and I realized that there was no way to do it without hurting him.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is it sounds like he possibly wants to move on but he doesn't know how without causing emotional pain. You are young and if you two do decide to take a break (permanently or temporarily) you will eventually get over any pain that is caused by this. It doesn't seem like it at the moment, but you will.

I also feel that people don't really know what they want until they are 30 or older. It takes time to mature and grow up and understand your life and what it has given you. The 20s are a pain in the ass and should be spent trying to figure out what exactly you want out of life...not settling down.


Relationships all come down to timing. It sounds to me like it's a great relationship and you may even be meant to be together, but its just at the wrong time. It's sad, because you can't change it as much as you may want to. I firmly believe if I had met my boyfriend in his 20s, we would never have lasted as long as we have.
Sorry, I know that's not always what people want to hear, because it sucks. :(


so here is the thing.

my boyfriend and i went through this about 5 months into our relationship. we've now been together 2 years and change.

everyone is allowed a period of doubt but it must have a very discrete timeframe - leaving the other person in limbo too long is a heartbreak that no one deserves. if you reach the end of the timeframe, you take a definitive break, see where your options lie.

i will also say that it's a really difficult thing to get over, the indecision in general. some days, i'm not sure i did the right thing by being patient with his indecision. it birthed in me a seed of doubt that has waxed and waned over time but has never died - sounds dramatic, but it's true.


This smells like an identity crisis. I don't know if you both lived at home during college or if you returned to your parental homes. He may be experiencing the dissonance of having it good living at his parents' and having a kick ass girlfriend----but feeling like he should be at a different place in his life by now.

Not having lived on his own he might be feeling like he doesn't know who he really is as an adult. Now that he lost his job he doesn't have an avenue out of his parents' house to experience real, true grownup life. And he probably lost a good chunk of the only identity he created for himself when he lost that job too.

Give him some space to figure things out, but don't wait around endlessly. Instead of gazing at his navel and spending his time apologizing to you he needs to invest the bulk of his attention on his next step. I suspect when he finds another job and moves out on his own he'll gain some more footing.

Don't make any plans about the future right now. Throw out all your attachment to what you had planned and why. It's disorienting to have someone change the game in the middle of it but try not to take it as disloyalty to you on his end. He's in the middle of renegotiating his own future and he needs to do it without a lot of pressure and reminders of what he had promised you.

While he takes this period to figure things out you need to continue with your life. I would actually recommend that neither of you date anyone right now, including each other. That will just add confusion and kerosene to an already chaotic and potentially combustible situation.

Good luck. These things work themselves out, but not always in ways you could predict.

carol anne

You know the more I read through the comments and reread your note I think maybe he doesn't want to be the bad guy who breaks your heart so he's trying to push you to pull the plug.

I agree with everyone else, move on for now and if you two are meant to be together you will in the end.


Domesticated Gal said it perfectly...love it!


My dear friend, if you are questioning your relationship now, you will question it again if this relationship moves onto something more. When bells and whistles go off, listen to them, because they are there to tell you things are not all rainbows and unicorns.

It sounds like you know yourself very well and do not need someone else in your life to make yourself complete. I applaud you for making the decision to take a break from the relationship. It may just save you from regretting something in the future.

I only wish that I would have had that much faith in myself when I was in my 20's. Thank goodness that I still found my prince the second time around!


I'm 27, married and pregnant. My ex-boyfriend, who I spent four years of my life with, had a phase very similar to this.

He's an ex.

My husband never went through this phase.

You can't break up a happy home. Honestly, he most likely feels bad about wanting to sew his wild oats because he would be hurting someone who he knows is a good person. Maybe you have all the right qualities, but just aren't the right person. I had to realize this about myself and my ex, and the pain was agonizing. Though walking through it was hell, I'm on the other side of it now, four years later, married to my goofy, loving, and sometimes annoying best friend. This, as all thing, shall pass.


Take the break. If it is meant to be, it will be. If not, then you won't be trying to force something that may make you both miserable in the end.

True Religion Outlet Online

I’m not ready to say I’ve nailed it yet – it’s only been a few weeks after all, but I am feeling very happy; as if I've shifted something that has been weighing me down for a long time. I’ve put myself up on OK Cupid and I’ve had some really nice and interesting replies. I haven’t met them in person yet but even getting this far is a huge and gratifying step for me. Connecting on a personal level with men who are in similar situations to me is fascinating.

reality chick

I'm an Aussie advice columnist who reads Kit's blog, and I felt I just had to write. Many of us have been in your shoes. Your guy is all over the shop, and from what you've written - I could be wrong - he has a notion that he'll be able to sort himself out if he's on his own. No responsibilities. No girlfriend. No pressure. It's a weird guy thing I've observed, especially in younger guys who don't feel 'sorted' in their life or career - they often want to take the 'clean slate' route believing it's the only way. However, I bet he's grappling with this decision because he loves you, and doesn't want to hurt you, and is also confused. The trouble with your 20s is how MAD you are. It's chaos. You crave adventure, exploration, meeting new people, maybe dating new people. You're trying to build a career. You're figuring out who you are. It's a very, very hard to time to settle down and to make a serious relationship work and I take my hat off to those who do and those who have succeeded and grown together and made it work at a time when you're changing SO SO much.
I think you've done the right thing. You've made the right call. You actually sound awesome, and strong, and someone who knows what she wants. That's half the battle, believe me - it's when you allow yourself to be buffeted by someone else's indecisiveness that you suffer much, much more. I really wish you all the best figuring this out, and hope you guys can come to a place of peace with it - either together or apart.

Jessie Powell

Right call. Also, he's confused and depressed about the job loss to add to the relationship woes. He would seriously benefit from therapy.


In the movie "Knocked Up," the two guys sit in a hotel room in Vegas and lament the fact that, becuase they're "settling down," they can't just up & go roaming about India or some shit like that. I know I've been there - it's not that I want to go about putzing through India, it's just there's something alluring about being able to pick up & just do what you want, instead of what you feel you must.

I don't think this is a uniquely male viewpoint, but I know that, any woman I talk to about this scene completely didn't "get" the scene when they watched it. So, I don't know - maybe it is. There's this "if I do what I think I should do, I close out everything else," that, at it's core, is a fear of commitment.

I think your advice, Kit, is spot-on . . . if he's being that wishy-washy, she should get out there. There's no reason to put up with it. If he's really not sure whether or not it's time to settle-down, don't let him leave you all frustrated because he's all "unsure." Head out, take a look, if things really are that much better with him, let him know that.

At least, that's what I'd do.


What about you? What do you want or need? Are you ready to settle down and get married? Is he concerned about what you want or need? Let him sow his wild oats. Move on. I hope you find someone who is concerned about you and what you need or want. I hope you find someone with whom you can concentrate on doing all you can to make each other Happy, and fullfilled.


I think he's lying when you asked whether he wants to see and be with other women, and he said no. Not actively lying, but lying to himself too. It would have been something quite shitty to have admitted to yourself. I do respect his going through this confusion than cheating on you right out. But he's definitely wondering what else is out there. Really, so much better that he's having this phase now than say when you have kids or after you have sunk your youth with him. I agree with some of the PPs that he is leaving the ball firmly in your court so he wont be the dumper. I would have a REAL break so both can start seeing other people. Good luck! You sound very mature and independent. Good for you! Since I've had friends who gave up their jobs even tho they said they wouldn't, may I just be a grandma here and say: DO NOT quit your job so you can be closer to him in order to save this relationship. Nothing good will come out of it. Good luck!!!

Mommy Rotten

Yup, time to back off. He will continue to be "confused" as long as you are in the picture. It sounds to me like he's got I'm-not-an-asshole syndrome. This happens when a guy wants to act like an asshole but doesn't want to be identified as one. He says he is all torn up right now but all I read up there was a story about a dude who gets to sleep with you and other women too. Of course he doesn't like the idea of a "break". Why would he want to give up sex every weekend and amazing sex in Cancun?


I get where he's coming from. I'm married with kids and when I turned 25 (at the time only one kid) I had a "quarter-life crisis" if you will. I just felt like there was this whole world that my friends who were young, childless and single were exploring. I know you're not married, and you're right he has lots of down time. I think he's just feeling like there's so much to life and he's already picked his path (you). I agree with everyone I think he does really want to be with you, but he needs to re-figure out that he did make the best choice. I know that makes you feel pretty damn crappy, but sometimes its just something you need to do.


This post couldn't have come at a better time for me. I think this is a very common thing with this (my) age group. I know friends who are going through similar situations, and I'm going through one myself. the advice has been really great, and it feels a lot better to know I'm not the only one out there at this stage in my life. I've been with my boyfriend for ten years (I'm 25) and he can't decide if he wants to settle down yet, while I think if we stay together any longer I should have a ring on my finger. It's made us both question the relationship, and I think it's time to take the plunge and go our separate ways for awhile and see what happens.


HOLY SHIT WE COULD BE TWINS. Literally my boyfriend of 4 years just had a "holy shit I'm turning 30" crisis - sounds like EXACTLY what your boyfriend is doing. For the first 2 weeks I was hysterical (this hit me like a ton of bricks, had no idea it was coming - we were planning on moving to TX in September), then swiftly moved into extremely pissed off about the whole situation, and now I'm seeing the silver lining and becoming more accepting; i.e. I'm moving the hell on.

You shouldn't have to convince someone to stay with you, and if they can't see what a catch you are right now, without having to "take a break" - he doesn't deserve you.

He's going to Texas, I'm going to North Carolina (and keeping the dog) - I win.

Valentina@baby quilts

I'm not going to dwell on the advice, it can't be more loud and clear and it's unanimous (obviously no politicians around :). I only want to remind you that beating on yourself or on him (even though it sometimes feels just the right thing to do)will be waste of time and energy. The experience, as painful as it is, doesn't make either one of you a bad person; the truth is that the more costly the experience the stronger the lesson. I think you are lucky it happened now and not 10 years deep into a marriage. Cheer up and move on!

Krystle Wainscott

I dated a guy who I was on & off with several times before I finally had to call it quits, thats a miserable existence! When I started dating my Hubby (who knew all about my previous on again off again relationship) he promised me that if we ever broke up it would be for good. We never broke up in 6 years of dating & have now been married for 4 years :) Breaking up & getting back together I feel just leads to feelings of divorce in the future & noone wants that. You should be with someone who wants to be with you :)

Maya course

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