I'm afraid I just made the biggest mistake of my life (Breakup filter)
October 21, 2012 6:28 PM Subscribe
My boyfriend of five years couldn't commit fast enough, but things were improving. Was I an idiot to break up with him? Is it wrong to hope fervently that we'll be together again in a few months?
posted by civicDuty to Human Relations (52 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Last January, I told my boyfriend that I wanted to be engaged or very clear about the engagement timeline by October. I mentioned it probably wouldn't be good to wait until the last minute, because the delay might make me anxious. We talked about the kinds of improvements we wanted to see in our relationship to get to proposal stage; most of these improvements were things he wanted.
I got anxious. My anxiety manifested itself as inordinate upset about small mistakes and oversights, about my perception of his rate of progress on items he wanted to see changed. I'm embarrassed by how petty and non-constructive I could be. These bad moods and their resulting arguments became more frequent (e.g., weekly) by September. I apologized and explained several times that most of the energy behind my disappointments and criticisms came from a deeper pain from feeling rejected. He told me, very reasonably, that these arguments kept him from feeling close to me, that just when he thought things were wonderful, I'd get upset about something inane. Things were otherwise wonderful.
The dynamic was unstable. As time went on, I expected more evidence of commitment. He gave more, but not enough. We had a huge discussion in September, made up a list of what we wanted to see changed and how we'd change it. This was the thinnest thread of narrative coherence I could stand--I was nearly breaking my earlier promise to myself to move on if not engaged. We half-joked that it was "instant elimination round," that his deviating from the list was evidence that he really wasn't ready.
You can guess what happened. He deviated, and I realized the other day that I couldn't look my friend in the eye at lunch and tell her why he and I were still together. I ended the relationship this afternoon.
The thing is, we're still very much in love with each other after five years. He told me that he regrets not proposing to me a year ago. I said I had messed things up too much with my worry and impatience to continue. (Who wants to coerce someone else into a proposal?)
Salient facts: I'm in my early 30s, he's in his late 20s (3.5-year age difference). This is his first LTR, and this is my fourth. I've no problem proposing in theory but have otherwise been the pursuer in this relationship, and he knows I wanted to reverse this pattern for the proposal. His parents were never married because his mother resisted commitment, and they later separated. Marriage has always been a big, well-communicated dream of mine. He wants to get married someday too, but this desire arrived much later for him. The main problem he identified in this relationship was our arguing, which was 80% driven by the dynamic described here. (The remaining 20% could be fueled by my being stressed from work. This is something I've been working on but remains a flaw.)
This seems selfish and immature, but I badly want him to date a few people, realize he wants to have an awesome marriage with me, and to come blazing back all goal-oriented in four months. I hate myself for not having been able to wait cheerfully. I'm afraid my impatience and worry have destroyed the best relationship of my life.
Is it okay to communicate this desire to him? Have I behaved very immaturely?