Love, loss and moving on…

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    My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 3.5 years. He is wonderful and kind and he wants the best of the best for me. We just started long distance dating in June, but we’ve seen each other a lot in the past 2 months, so besides the fact we can’t see each other everyday it hasn’t been that bad.

    Recently, I have felt like the right thing for me to do is not be in a relationship however. I don’t think it is him. I mean we have been fighting a little but it stems from little things and we are both consciously giving 100:100 to each other to work on any troubles we’ve had. I just don’t know what to do because I really do love him, but I feel like I need to work on myself first. I feel extremely selfish, but when we started dating I was in a place of denial from my father passing away from cancer. I feel like I wanted to find someone else who I could call family. And as I have definitely found that, the pain and everything is still there. I have tried to run away for so long and act like everything before then “wasn’t my life” because it’s so hard to face the fact that my life is not the same anymore. My boyfriend brings quality and love and caring and laughter to my life, which is why I am so conflicted. I have finally after so long am starting to look within me and deal with my feelings of loss and change in my family. Must I be on my own and discover who I am in this “new normal” life of mine? Or am I taking a rather drastic approach to it all? I’ve always been quite independent, I don’t know if I just want the freedom of free thinking to really understand what is going on and see if this changes me in a bigger way? I’m not sure, but I would feel incredibly selfish to ask him to wait for me, and I would not want to do that, However, I also don’t want to lose someone who has been nothing but supportive even in my darkest days.


    I will be extremely grateful of any opinions for my situation. Thank you.


    Hi msfuturedoctor! I don’t think you need to give up your love relationship with a wonderful man that you say you love dearly. It definitely brings quality and good things in your life! You feel you need to discover yourself and wonder if you can do that by being on your own. You could, but because you already have a significant other in your life my advice to you would be to find a way to balance the two things. They do not have to be separated … I mean you can still find yourself and care for your relationship. You must discuss this with your partner and maybe decide to take things slow for a while so you can sort out your feelings. I am sure he will understand your problem because you say he is supportive. You could also go to a therapist to help you figure out your deepest feelings and balance your personal growth with your love relationship.

    Hope this helps!



    Hello Msfuturdoctor,

    You say that when your father passed away you were looking for a new family.  Do you have any siblings/mother in your life?  As you’ve found out, a new relationship does not dissolve the pain and loss that you felt and still feel at your father’s passing.  You had a life whilst your father was alive and you cannot invalidate that because he is no longer with you.  That part of your life will always exist and it will be carried with you wherever you go (even when you run away). Change is an inevitable part of life.  Denial is the opposite of acceptance.  Perhaps you could locate a bereavement counsellor to help you come to terms with your loss.

    Why are you even considering breaking up with your boyfriend who has been loving and supportive of you and who you love in return?  Underneath it all, do you have doubts about this relationship? You are already living at a distance from him and that should give you some space to find your own identity and explore your own feelings.  You say it “hasn’t been too bad” yet it seems to have pressed some uncomfortable buttons for you which may also come under the heading of “loss”.

    Lists:  Boyfriend – loving, supportive, wonderful, caring, quality, laughter, kind, wants the best for you 100%.

    Lists:  Girlfriend – wants to give it all up so that she can be free thinking, independent, introspective, contemplate the inevitability of change, work on herself exclusively, and have a normal life with the new and improved variety of self.

    I am the greatest advocate of nurturing the inner self but the fact remains that if you want relationships in your life you have to interact.  Only you can decide whether you want to make the journey of self discovery with him or without him.




    The most interesting part of what you have shared here for me is this – Must I be on my own and discover who I am in this “new normal” life of mine?

    Why do you think personal growth and discovery will be impossible or harder if you stay with your boyfriend?  A good relationship, which is what you say yours is, supports each other in their individual growth, wherever it may lead. Do you think he will not support you in wanting to change? Why prejudge the outcome before trying?

    Is it not also just as possible that it’s only because of the strength of this relationship that you feel safe enough to start to explore the deep buried hurt of losing your father.  You may also be unconsciously pushing your boyfriend away so as not to have to go through the pain of losing someone else you love unexpectedly.

    The simple answer being, no – you do not have to go through this on your own. If you want to leave your boyfriend because you are feeling stifled or don’t see it going anywhere now that you are long-distance, that’s another thing and your choice entirely but don’t mix the two up. If you feel you don’t know who you are now, absolutely work on that – but it is both possible and actually usually easier to grow individually when in a truly supportive relationship.

    So the real question here is why you feel the relationship would hinder your progress if it is as positive as you say it is?


    Hi msfuturedoctor,

    First of all your handle: Are you in pre-med or pursuing a PhD program? If so, then I totally support you taking a break from having a long distance relationship.

    If this is “just” existential angst, I get it. I also “give you permission” to dump your boyfriend. It sounds like you are an intellectual person who is having trouble listening to your gut and heart.

    Can you phrase it to him as “taking a break”? “Finding myself”?

    Putting a lot of things in quotes to help you *feel* what it is you need.



    • This reply was modified 10 months, 4 weeks ago by Inky.

    Dear misfuturedoctor:

    I think that the reason you have a desire to break up with your boyfriend is not because of your pain about your father dying more than four years ago, be it as painful as it was and is for you, but because you don’t trust your boyfriend. May this year you wrote: “I have found it hard for me to trust him.. I get jealous and mistrusting very easily… he makes me so happy when I am not doubting him”.

    You wrote then (and here) that your boyfriend is trustworthy: “he honestly and truly has never given me a reason to mistrust him, he is extremely loyal… I feel like it is my own past that is causing these doubts, and I should work within”-

    Your boyfriend didn’t betray your trust, but someone did, someone in your family. Better work within, in the context of quality psychotherapy, to look into and process the hurt and fear in this betrayal  that you  did experience, so that you will stop doubting a man who has been “extremely loyal” to you throughout the time you know him.

    When you start your therapy, soon, I hope, you can discuss with your therapist if it is better that you pause the relationship for the duration of therapy, or part of therapy.


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