Not so long ago, I (finally!) found a boyfriend. After not having a man for two years, I was thrilled to have someone who was mine. I’ll call him *Michael. The relationship started out great. He courted me, shared a good amount of time with me. He called daily and picked up the phone when I called. He was a nice guy. He was the person I’d been dreaming of for the two years I was single.
After a few weeks, I did what all women I know do: I began to imagine a future with Michael, and it was good. He was sweet, passionate, and when I was sick he brought things to make me feel better. However, while I was developing all of these feelings and thinking long-term thoughts, I didn’t believe he was thinking these things about me. I decided it was okay because most men I know don’t think the way women do so early in a relationship.
Time went on and Michael made it very clear that we were in an exclusive relationship. When I asked if I was important to him, his answer was always yes. Michael had been cheated on by a previous girlfriend, so it was important for us to not hurt each other in this way. He didn’t even freak out when I started sharing my long-term feelings with him.
Fall semester began at Michael’s chiropractic school, and we started seeing less of each other. He would blame his studies for his lack of time for me. I knew I could accept weekends only as long as we talked everyday. I was busy and I had a lot to do, too. I didn’t want to pressure my new boyfriend, but I also wanted to feel important to him. This request would soon prove difficult for Michael to fulfill.
What began as a stream of hope quickly turned into a stream of doubt. The honeymoon period was ending. I started to wonder if what we had would sustain, particularly as our feelings of lust began to wane. The rose colored glasses were off and I questioned the future with Michael I’d so clearly seen in my head.
As two people grow closer they begin to open up to one another whether it’s good, bad or unfortunate. Not only was he in chiropractic school full-time, but he also lived 60 miles away, which, in Los Angeles, is long distance. He had a lot of issues with his family and I wondered if that would be an obstacle in the long run. I began to wonder if I would ever meet his family and the more he told me about his relationship with them, the more I was content with not meeting them any time soon.
Other issues surfaced, as well. I soon realized that my maturity level was beyond his and, while I thought he was a great person and had the potential to be an even greater partner, we were not on the same level nor were we on the same life timeline. And we wouldn’t be for a while.
Michael said he wasn’t going to be ready to marry for at least five or six years. He still had three years in school and wanted to have an established chiropractic practice before settling down. I supported this philosophy and decided I could take the same five or six years to go to graduate school, build my businesses, write, and do all the other things I do every day. I was on board with this time line. Or so I thought.
It soon became clear to me that I was adjusting personal goals simply to justify being with Michael for the long haul. That’s when I began to freak out. What if, in five to six years, Michael decided that he didn’t want to be with me anymore? What if I decided I didn’t want to be with him? It wasn’t like everything was going smoothly between us. His studies were getting in the way of him making any time for me. He wouldn’t even make phone calls because he was too busy studying. His family was very big on making him feel guilty for not doing things their way, so he’d end up putting me off in order to please them and then apologizing for it later. Michael was 31 years old and I feel that there should come a point where you have to start your own life independent of your family; thirty-one is definitely an age when you can start making those considerations. When I expressed my concerns he was good at telling me things could change, but was even better at showing me that they wouldn’t. It became very clear to me that I was going to either stay in this relationship and secretly date others hoping for something better or I was going to have to end it so I could stay true to my word of not (emotionally) cheating on Michael. I was going to have to choose to be single and alone.
I will be the first to admit that it’s nice knowing someone expects to hear from me at the end of the day; that when I call they will pick up the phone and be happy to hear from me. However, I decided that wasn’t enough to make me happy in this particular relationship. I don’t want to be just comfortable, especially only four months into the relationship. After taking a break, I decided to end things with Michael.
For the first few weeks after the break-up my experience was easier than I expected, but I had my moments of weakness. I kept waiting for Michael to see the light, miss me, and ask me to take him back. He paid me a visit to collect some of his things and it was clear that we missed each other. That evening, it would have been easy for us to just get back together. However, I had to hold on to the reasons why I chose to end things with Michael. Michael is a great guy. Michael would have been fine with what we had. He wasn’t trying to break-up with me. However, he knew and I knew that he couldn’t give me the things I needed to be happy. And I wasn’t happy. When we first broke-up there wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t think of how bad I didn’t have it. He wasn’t going to cheat on me. He wasn’t physically or verbally abusing me. He wasn’t ignoring me. I would think to myself that he wasn’t “that bad.” I could be in so-so relationship just to get some attention. I decided instead that I deserve better than “he wasn’t that bad.”
Michael and I were big on being faithful to one another. When I broke up with him I told him it was necessary because all that would end up happening would be me seeing other men with the hopes of finding something better. I never wanted to cheat on him and possibly hurt him even more. I owe it to myself to be available for the opportunity of love. We all owe it to ourselves to be available for the opportunity of love.
*Name changed to protect the identity of the broken-hearted.