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Boyfriend found out his father is dying, then broke up with me. Please help!


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Hello all,

I'm rather new to this forum, but I've been lurking the past few days while reading the posts, and I figured that I'd post my own topic. If you're reading this, THANK YOU in advance for spending time hearing my story.

So, my story:

My name is Irish (not really, but for the sake of online safety, we'll go with that) and I'm a nineteen year old female going to college in the Midwest. Last year, I met the love of my life in one of my classes. After two months of casual flirting, we finally hung out in October, and that quickly blossomed into an "official" relationship. We quickly became each other's best friend, and as our friends described it, our relationship was "the epitome of true love." Our parents seemed to feel the same way. When I brought him to meet my parents, they were instant fans of him and acted like he'd be around forever. When I met his parents, his dad actually sat the two of us down and asked some VERY personal questions, like "where do you see this relationship going?", "what are your views on the future?", and "can you see this as a lifelong relationship?". Keep in mind that this was only after two months of us dating.

Our relationship continued as spring semester progressed, getting stronger by the day. In March, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer (which she actually beat this past week - hooray!) and I was devastated. My boyfriend's father had cancer during my boyfriend's senior year of high school, so my boyfriend was very comforting and understanding during the entire process. He made me believe in true, eternal love for the first time, and I was so incredibly thankful for his support and presence in my life. Over the summer, he had to go on military training for a month (both of us are in the military), but we would talk whenever his training allowed it, and after he finished training, he immediately flew to see me for a week. At this point, my parents viewed him as "their future son-in-law." The week we were together was a week of pure bliss.

However, after my boyfriend returned home, things quickly changed. His father's health had deteriorated again, and my boyfriend spent much of his time taking care of his dad. One day, out of the blue, I received a five-page letter in which my boyfriend broke up with me, stating that "he wanted to marry me, but couldn't see us together" for the following reasons: I had a poor relationship with my family (caused by my mother's chemo, now completely and 100% better), my sister and I had gotten into an argument (which lasted for two days), and I didn't want to have children (not true at all). At first I was angry, but after about two hours, I called him and asked him to talk things through with me. My boyfriend is a very patient person who takes a long time thinking about any decision before he makes it, and the impulsive nature of his letter was completely uncharacteristic of him. Just two days earlier, we had been happy and talked about how much we loved each other. I asked if the letter had anything to do with his father's health, at which point he realized that he had broken up with me because he was so stressed out with his very serious home situation that he focused on unnecessarily serious parts of his life, such as preparing to get married and have children at 19 years old. We talked through all of his fears - such as discussing exactly what he wanted out of life, such as when to get married, where to get married, where to live after marriage, when to have kids, how many kids we were going to have, etc - and he realized that we agreed on every single part of our desired "future" with the exception of how many children we want (He wants 4, I want 2-3).

At that point, my boyfriend told me that breaking up with me was the worst decision he had ever made in his life and that he was determined to fix our relationship. I was incredibly hurt and scared by his sudden breakup with me, but I told him I wanted to work things out as well. We both agreed that we were the most important parts of each other's lives, and that we would keep each other, no matter how much work it took. Finally, we agreed to keep working towards marriage because we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We wanted to keep working out our problems, but I had to leave for a week of military training during which I could not contact him.

After I returned from training, I found out that his father had been hospitalized again. The day before my boyfriend left for school, his father sat him down and told him that he was dying from cancer. Based on the doctor's estimates, my boyfriend's dad has between six and twelve months left before he dies. The next day, when we were both reunited, my boyfriend sat me down and said that he didn't feel like he could handle a relationship right now, but instead he needed me as a best friend. I told him that I understood that he was emotionally traumatized, but I didn't feel that we should break up. I told him that I'd be supportive of him no matter what, but we should keep dating. He agreed with me, and we spent the rest of the afternoon cuddling, all the while him telling me how much he loved me and needed me.

However, during the next two weeks, he would be cold, rude, and try to push me away. After a few days of this, we would inevitably talk about the state of our relationship and whether we should break up, which would result in me explaining to him again that I wouldn't give up on him and in return, him crying to me and telling me how much he loved me. Then, the next few days, he would be cold again. We continued this cycle for two weeks until a week ago, when we broke up for good. He said to me that while our relationship was "the most beautiful thing he could have ever imagined," he felt that "our relationship had died on its own" and that we needed to be apart. I disagreed wholeheartedly with him, called him a coward for quitting on me, and told him to get out of my life. I returned his things the next day, and we didn't speak for a week. My mindset during this was that, in time, he would see how big of a mistake he was making in losing our relationship and he would come back.

I was planning on continuing no contact, but I came across this forum. After reading a few similar posts, I realized that this wasn't singular to only my boyfriend and that many people push away their significant others when they lose a family member. I also realized that he needs my support during this time, and that it was selfish of me not to talk to him. However, I still felt that us breaking up was best for the time being, as the past month has been emotional hell on me. My boyfriend and I sat down and talked about this yesterday. He was incredibly thankful that I still want to be friends, but he told me that while he still loves me, he is no longer in love with me and that he can't see himself dating me ever again. When I asked him why he felt this way, he couldn't give me a reason. Obviously, I disagreed with how he feels about us, but I told him that I wouldn't wait around for him (even though I want to). In the end, I promised him that we would remain friends, and he promised me that whenever he's ready to date again, we'll reconsider our relationship and whether it would be good to continue. I have a formal in two weeks, and I asked him along as my friend - only a friend. He told me that I should find someone else to go with. This made me feel embarrassed, stupid and hurt. As of right now, I believe that we should still stay friends, but I still love him and I want to date him when he's ready.

What I need help with:

Obviously, I cannot abandon my ex-boyfriend at this time. We mean too much to each other to let our friendship go, even though I still want to be together eventually and he doesn't. So I guess what I'm asking is what to do. I know deep in my heart that he loves me very, very much, and that the person I love is buried beneath layers of pain and grief. If this hadn't happened, our relationship would be as strong as ever, and I don't feel that personal tragedy is a reason to give up on our relationship. I completely and wholeheartedly understand that right now he cannot be in a relationship. However, when all the dust has settled from the death of his father, and he's ready to date again, I want him to be with me. I've never felt so strongly for someone in my entire life, and I know that if I am meant to have a future with anyone, it's him. I am willing to give and sacrifice whatever it takes in order to be with him again. If that means being his best friend for months, years, however long this takes, and then reigniting our relationship when he's ready, then so be it.

However, I'm worried about "friend-zoning" myself. Although my focus at the moment is on becoming his best friend, not his girlfriend, I know that the feelings I have for him still exist. I'm willing to work towards changing the love I feel for him from a romantic love into a friend love; however, I want to be in love with him again someday, and I want him to be in love with me again someday. How do I support him in the best way possible while continuing to show him that I love him and that we should be together? I don't want him to forget how good our relationship was, nor do I want him to forget how much I love him and how much he loves me. At the same time, I realize that a romantic relationship would not be healthy for him right now. So, how do I support him and love him without letting our romantic love die?

I'm totally willing to give him space, but I cannot initiate no contact with him again. We have two classes together, we're part of the same friend group, and we're in the same ROTC company. As a result, I see him at least 5 days of the week. While I don't have to talk to him in class, it would make my friends feel awkward if we didn't speak, and I CANNOT ignore him when we're with our military unit. When we're in military-mode, he is Midshipman X and I am Midshipman Y, and being unprofessional towards him would cost me my scholarship and my future career.

Also, please note:

PLEASE do not tell me that I am too young to be feeling so strongly for someone. I know that I am only nineteen, but I'm very mature for my age. I am old enough to be considered an adult in the eyes of the law, and I am old enough to voluntarily serve and potentially die for my country. If I am mature enough to make those decisions without hesitation or regret, I am old enough to understand my feelings. When I say I love my boyfriend, I mean it with 100% certainty. When I say that I can see myself with him for the rest of my life, I say it with 100% certainty. I so look forward to hearing your responses, but please do not tell me that my feelings are invalidated by my age.

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Hello Irish Eyes!

Although this forum is mainly reserved to speak about the hurt one is feeling at this time for those who are about to make their transition from this life to the next, you have shared details about your life with your significant other who is unfortunately going through hard times regarding his Dad's illness. You too have had problems with your Mom and for that I am sorry although I am glad to hear that things are going well for her now and surely hope they always will.

And no, I, for one, will not tell you that your feelings should be invalidated due to your age. If you are serving in the military and getting ready to work for and defend our country, and are 19 and emotionally mature, then that can certainly show a good degree of maturity on your part although there are others who are far older than you who unfortunately still do not show even an ember of hope of maturity with the knowledge and wisdom to be able to have a good grasp of what is going on around them and with their relationships.

What I am hearing you say, dear, and sorry that I have to be so blunt at times, but I think you would much prefer that I be rather than to have me merely sugar-coat the situation just to make you feel better, is that YOU want your relationship to continue and YOU want things to work out, and YOU are willing to wait to do that, and YOU want to keep him, etc. Well certainly a person is entitled to their strong feelings because they count but only if the relationship is in full swing and agreement by both parties otherwise such "strong domineering vibes" being sent out to the other person could actually serve to hurt the relationship many times. It is difficult to second guess what your friend may be going through other than with his natural deep concern for his father's illness, as you have informed us about, which is to be expected but can certainly take its toll on a person especially if they have been quite close in life and my heart goes out to both of them. But the fact that he made his preference known to you that the relationship was over, for whatever reason, but you seem so hesitant to let go of it because of your love for him, can only help him to feel stymied and perhaps even perplexed with the situation as it stands, imho and this is, of course, mho. He may perceive you as being so control-oriented over his life that it could actually serve to drive a wedge between your relationship for good if you don't allow him MUCH MORE "breathing space" for his own wishes!

A person, no matter how much they may love another, cannot hope to keep that person tied down to them always if the other person is not predisposed to take and accept that route. It just will not work when it is 'forced' upon them. People always like to feel that they are *free* to make their own decisions in life without undue interference by another. However, since you both have had a relationship in the past that was based on other things that appear to be missing at this point, it may be good to go introspectively and examine why you feel you really need him as you say you do, look at your ulterior motives, for one. You are still young and there may be many others who may come along before you finally settle down with that one special person. You may feel that in time, and especially after his dad's passing, his feelings may change. They may but they may also remain the same. That is something to also consider instead of holding your breath for the final egg to hatch that indeed may not hatch.

Yes, it is beautiful to be in love with someone, but only if that other someone feels EXACTLY the same way for you! If they don't, then don't expect that you can change them because it is quite difficult to do and most times one fails in the process and it is quite unfair to the other person to have to force something upon them. And from the standpoint that it is they who have to individually reach that conclusion rather than someone trying to hammer it into them or worse yet, by trying to be domineering over their personal feelings when their own feelings may not be the same anymore as before is also something worth considering. And you have to also consider what he is going through with his Dad right now. These are all simply my thoughts and I, of course, cannot give you any type of guidance or advise on what to do as you have your own mind with which to figure things out and I'm sure you realize that. However, if you intend to continue looking through rose-colored glasses you may find yourself on the outside looking in one day. Hopefully that will never happen as you appear to be a nice person with a good grasp of many other things. And of course you do not have to abandon him but you can just "Be There", even at a distance, where he can always find you if he wants to without feeling stifled in the process.

In conclusion, when one is trying to establish whether another loves them or not, I immediately think back to when I saw a little sign in a store one day, it struck me as so profound that I memorized the words but unfortunately it did not have an author's name to those very wise words. It said "If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it is yours. If it doesn't, it never was." How profound and how true those words are! I have learned to gauge many things by that little saying and have found the answer I was seeking many times!

I sincerely hope all is well for his Dad as well as your Mom at this time. That part does very much tie in with the over-all theme of this forum thus, elicited my personal response. And of course, God gave you a mind with which to think about things including relationships. But that mind should always learn to be intuitive enough and one step ahead of the game so as to avoid the pitfalls of thinking that the person they perceive as being "theirs" can truly be, simply by wishing it was so. That must always remain the personal decision of the other person. It is when one loosens the noose around their neck, so to speak, that the other person can truly see that person's good qualities and what they stand for and can see that their partner truly cares enough about them to give them the freedom to make their own personal decisions, which many times may even translate into that person re-cultivating an even greater friendship, in time, with that person.

May God bless your friend's Dad and may he be healed and have many years of life ahead of him! The same for your Mom, that she may not ever have to worry about any illness either. And May God bless you as well, my dear, give you clear thoughts, and keep you always under His care! Now, let's see those Irish eyes smiling!

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