Question: My boyfriend and I were in a (mostly happy) relationship for nearly two and a half years before he wanted to end things with me about two months ago. His reasoning was that he has to focus on his career (he's a professional soccer player, currently looking for a new team to sign with- no, soccer players don't make very much money in the US, so that's been an issue he's had since we met), and simply doesn't have the time to worry about "us" at this point, and says that when I'm around, he finds it really difficult to get anything done.
However, he never told his friends or family that we were broken up, still communicates with my parents, and we still spend time and go out together like any other couple. I know that he's in a tough situation right now (his mother recently passed away unexpectedly, his father is sick and unable to work, and he's trying to make enough money to take care of himself, help his father keep his house and his little brother through college), and yet he continuously tells me that he loves me and can see us together in the future, but wants me to "worry about myself" and go "have fun" because he needs to "focus on himself."
I don't know how to take this. He's always been the type of guy to place my happiness above his own, so I don't know if he's trying to do this for me, or if he truly doesn't want to be with me anymore and is just making excuses. It's pretty obvious that we're still in love with each other, both of us have agreed not to see other people, and I always promised that I would be supportive of him and his career, and have understood that I'm going to be second to it, just like he's secondary to me getting an education, but I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do here.
Any input would be much appreciated :) (Seattle, WA)
Social Shrink: First off, we give your (ex) boyfriend credit for being upfront and honest with you that he can't commit to a relationship at this time. He put it out there for you to know rather than string you along over time.
Relationships are definitely complicated, especially ones when love is still involved but the relationship can't work. You say that the two of you are still in love but there are other priorities that are preventing you guys from being with each other. The question you need to ask yourself is - what do YOU want out of this?
Are you okay with the current scenario (being with him but not being an official couple)? Are you content with having perhaps 30 percent of his attention, with the other 50 percent of him focusing on his family and another 20 on his career? We would suggest that you check with your (ex) boyfriend about what he wants out of your relationship as well. Let him know that you are confused about where you guys stand. If he is set on not being in a relationship at all but still wants to hang out with you, then you should set some boundaries for him. Are you okay with hooking up with him or hanging out here and there, without the expectations of a "boyfriend"?
If you are looking for a relationship and your ex is not, it will be hard for you to move on if you two continue to act like a couple. If he is still unsure about what he wants (as this seems to be the case), it might be best for you two to take a "break" and focus on your own priorities (for you, your education; for him, his career and family issues). You don't want to be someone your ex is "taking along for the ride," and rather someone who is a partner in each other's life. If that's not something you and your ex can devote 100 percent on at this time, don't get strung along.
We recommend that you focus on you and what you want out of life on your own terms. If the two of you are brought back together down the line when both of your priorities are more in sync (i.e. serious relationship), then it is meant to be. Life is too short to wait around. Be proactive in this situation and if you want to make it work, let him know that it is all or nothing. You deserve nothing but the best.