Saying Goodbye to Someone I Love

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Dear Hoopers,
I was in a relationship with my boyfriend for two years. I ended the relationship exactly one week ago today when we got into a bad argument, one of many. I loved my boyfriend more than I’ve ever loved another man and our connection, chemistry, and love was profound and mutual. I felt so lucky to be in love with a man whose love was as great or at times greater than mine. He told me he loved me every day and always reminded me he would never be unfaithful.

I’m 24 years old and I’ve always been an independent soul. I have dreams to travel the world and start a career in video production and to be successful. I want to eventually settle down and have a family, but after I’ve seen the world and I’ve lived my 20s to the fullest. I’ve always been very ambitious and career-driven, but my biggest fault is my heart. Ben is 29, he has two children under 5 years old, from two different women. He was with each woman for several years and was even engaged to both of them but neither relationship lasted. He wants to buy a house, get married, and settle down. He wanted me to be his last girlfriend and to have children with me and to propose to me on our 2nd anniversary. When I told him I wasn’t ready for marriage he assumed I just didn’t love him as much.

I lived around his work schedule and his kids schedule. I would watch his kids while he had to work or if he had football practice. I spoiled them like they were my own. On the last day I saw him, I saw his 3- year old son dragging out this huge toy out of his room, through the kitchen and into the living room where he already had a mess of toys. Ben and I had been trying to teach him to clean up his toys before bringing out more toys from his room. Ben overheard me telling him to put the toy back because he had to clean up first. He responded “leave him alone.” Something inside of me snapped. This wasn’t the first time he disagreed with something I said to his child, telling him to stop or to let him be. But his tone was always defensive and disrespectful. The argument escalated and I told him I was only trying to help and I needed him to treat me like an equal or I just couldn’t stay in the relationship. Not as a parent of the child, but as someone whose opinion was respected. He told me to leave so that’s exactly what I attempted to do. I needed him to move his car so I could leave and when I asked him to do so he told me I had to wait until his son’s nap time. I asked him to please move his car over and over again until he threw one of his son’s toys at my face. I began to pack up all my things because at that moment I knew I was done. We argued as I packed up all of my belongings in his house (this isn’t the first time this has happened).

For the past week he has been trying to reach out to me. At first telling me I deserved to have the toy thrown at me because of the way I was acting in front of his son. Now he’s begging me not to end things. He keeps telling me he loves me and he misses me and he wants us to work this out. Telling me about his plan to propose to me this summer. But his main concern is finding out that I’m spending my time with another man, plotting some type of revenge. He tells me he’s going to “heal” by surrounding himself with other women if I don’t decide to work this out with him.

During the course of my relationship a lot of my friends have moved away for jobs or to start over somewhere new. I moved back into my parents’ house and I feel extremely lonely and lost. I’m focusing on advancing my career, but one thousand resumes later, all I feel is defeat. In these times of weakness, I think back to the way he used to hold me, the times that we laughed uncontrollably, how he told me he loved me every day. I felt like I had a purpose and now it’s all gone. I know I need to find my own happiness and I need to love myself before I can love someone else. I’m struggling to find clarity in this decision at this point in my life. I’ve heard all the cliché sayings that keep repeating in my head. My friends tell me “you deserve better, you deserve the best”, “stay busy and keep your mind busy”. But I’m worried that I’m pushing away man who truly loved me. What if I never find that deep love again?
-Saying Goodbye to Someone I love

Dear Saying Goodbye,
You are right that you may never find that kind of love again. And that’s okay. Every relationship is different. Depending on where you are in life, where your partner is in life, and many other factors including personality and environmental aspects; every relationship may feel and act in different ways. Even in this relationship, there was a time when your love was very special. Those nights when he would hold you and everything felt right was exactly right at that time in your life.

But as the relationship grew and changed with time, it became clear to you that it was time to leave. A child’s toy thrown at your face may have been involved, but this is a sign that you shouldn’t soon forget. The fact that he continued to blame you for his aggressive actions when you spoke later on the phone reveal the limitations of his love for you. Even putting his difficulties with allowing you to give discipline to his children aside, Ben still has a long way to go. He was able to be the affectionate man that you love but he struggled at times to be the respectful partner you deserve. You are someone that feels deeply and loves deeply too. You may have a tendency to want to ignore the bad side of things in order to experience that loving feeling again. But don’t ignore what happened.

The fact that he continued to blame you for his aggressive actions when you spoke later on the phone reveal the limitations of his love for you.

-Dr. Ryan

It is possible that Ben can grow to be a better partner including finding ways to manage his anger and developing more respectful communication patterns. It is also possible that you could find a way to navigate the seemingly opposite desires that you and Ben have for your life right now. The pull of travel for yourself and the call of settling down for Ben.

However, you shouldn’t allow a saddened heart to be the reason to go back to him. Your feelings will change with time if you challenge yourself to do the right thing now. This won’t be easy but it just may be the most important sadness that you allow yourself to sit with.
-Dr. Ryan

Dear Saying Goodbye,
The twenties are a decade of growth. Experienced uniquely by everyone, a common string of self-discovery, love, challenges and career decisions is woven through most stories of this decade. It’s also a time of serious decision making and figuring out priorities; ie pursuing a career or investing time in making a relationship work. These decisions can be especially tough when you want both.

Your dream is to travel the world and start a career in video production. Ben’s dream is to buy a house, get married and settle down. Two beautiful dreams of two different lives that may or may not intersect again. But while different, your goals in life are not what I gravitated to in your letter, it was the way that Ben treated you. What is with this throwing a toy in your face business? You did not deserve to have anything thrown at you. And what is up with this idea of “healing” by surrounding himself with other women? What is he trying to fix? I can only assume that that was a reaction from him to try to make you feel jealous or to punish you. You don’t deserve that either.

I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you that I spent my twenties learning, traveling, advancing my career, loving and failing.


I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you that I spent my twenties learning, traveling, advancing my career, loving and failing. I have no regrets. Are you fulfilled in your current life? These experiences you’re having, from being loved to being disrespected, have shaped you into the person you are. Be thankful for them and learn from them. How lucky you are to have known someone who makes walking away so hard.