Q: I am in a quandary about my relationship with my boyfriend; I’ll call him “Bill.” Bill and I have been on and off for 13 years. We were planning a commitment ceremony this fall, but Bill has moved out again, so I was forced to cancel our plans. He didn’t move out because he was angry or because we were having problems, but because he needs some space.
He still wants to continue being my friend, and according to him he just wants to be alone for awhile. He rented an apartment and moved in without even telling me beforehand. One day I came home and he, and all his stuff, was gone – with a note on my pillow. This is not the first time this has happened in our relationship. In fact, this is the fourth time, and each time he came back usually around 6 months or so. In the past when he has been gone, I don’t talk to him or see him. I don’t even know what he does during this time that he’s not living with me. He doesn’t want me to call, so I don’t. Every time this has happened, I have waited until he comes back to me, and once he’s back, things return to normal.
One thing that is different this time is that I was able to talk to him on the phone last night. I felt desperate, so I called him even though I know that he doesn’t like me too. He actually answered my call. He says he still wants to be in a relationship with me and he still loves me, but he just needs some time alone and then we can get back together. He doesn’t want me to call him again during this time; he will call me if he needs anything.
In the meantime it looks like he is putting me on hold again. I don’t know what to do because I really don’t know if we are still in a relationship or not. My friends and family are asking about Bill, and I just don’t know what to say. Everyone wants to know why we are canceling our commitment ceremony and if anything is wrong. I just don’t know what to say. I don’t know if I should stay home and wait, or if I am free to go out. I still love Bill, but after he left the last time, he promised it wouldn’t happen again. Well, now it has happened again, and I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life like this. Do you think we are still in relationship and I should just wait?
Waiting in the Wings
A: If Bill’s leaving was a mutual agreement between the two of you – and you had discussed the ground rules and agreed – then I would say that the two of you were still in a “relationship” of sorts. But when your boyfriend rents an apartment and moves out without your knowledge and tells you that he doesn’t want to see you or talk to you until he is ready to come back, I would say that the relationship, at best, is one-sided – you’re in it and he’s not. (Aren’t most rentals a commitment for one year?)
When talking to your family and friends, you need to tell them the truth about what happened. They should know so they can support you during this difficult time. Plus, by not saying anything, you are keeping up the game that is going on between you and Bill, as well as condoning his behavior.
You have had your head in the sand about the nature of your relationship with Bill. You have a relationship with him, all right, but it lacks communication, mutual definition and real commitment – and a backbone on your part.
Bill tells you that he still wants to be in relationship and loves you, and you sit home like a good little boy and wait. This is the fourth time! My question to you is: How many times are you willing to put up with this behavior?