Love Leaving Me Behind

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Dear Hoopers,
I am faced with a dilemma which is tearing me in half. I am 21 and have fallen for a guy that is 27. We met on a dating app back in April and have been mostly inseparable since. We’ve gone on road trips for the weekend, we’ve met each other’s families and we get on really well – it seems a normal dating scenario. The dilemma comes in that he is going away traveling for three months as of October and doesn’t want to go away with any strings attached back home because he was hurt in the past when he last went away traveling for 5 months and was seeing a girl who hurt him while he was away. I’m not asking him to commit to me at this point in time and that we would be in a relationship while he was away, because I respect that he was hurt before and is scared of that risk this time around.

What I wanted to know from him was whether or not there is a hope for him and me when he returns from his travels, be that continuing dating or more. He has come back to me and said that he doesn’t think that would work as knowing him he would want to go traveling again not long after he comes back from this coming trip. Where I am left confused is that he says he thinks we should rein in the ‘physical side’ of things now and start becoming more like friends what with his leaving date fast approaching, but he would like to continue spending time with me and having me round for cuddles with him etc. so rein in the physical things such as sex and kisses that would risk emotional attachment, I assume is what he means. I can’t help but feel slightly confused by this because first of all, who spends every weekend with someone, cuddling them while you both fall asleep, and calls them a friend?

Secondly, he is encouraging me to be open to the idea of seeing other people in the time that he is away but he knows that I have developed feelings for him in the time that we’ve been seeing each other and I can’t easily get rid of how I feel for him in the time he is away, hence why I want to be able to try and carry on with what we have when he gets back because I know my feelings will still be there. I am torn as if he is saying there is no chance for him and me as a couple, then surely I should start to get over him and really rein it in ‘as a friend’. But the other part of me knows that I only have a few weekends left with him before he goes away and I won’t be able to see him for a long while, so I want to make the most of the time we have left. I feel that the longer I go, the more it’s going to hurt me though knowing that he doesn’t feel the way that I do. Does he have commitment issues which are rooted in the last time he went away and was hurt and is scared to commit to a relationship now? Or has he been stringing me along for the last 4 months and only now realized that I’ve got myself in deeper than he expected?
-Love Leaving Me Behind

Dear Love Leaving Me,
I don’t think he has been stringing you along. I just think that this older guy isn’t as into you as you are into him. That may hurt to hear, but that’s the roller coaster that dating can bring. You met an older guy, hit it off, you are falling and he is ready to pack his bags. Timing is a crazy thing when it comes to love and relationships.

His commitment issues may be past baggage from a previous relationship, or he may just want to explore other options while he is away.  It could also be a combination. His encouragement for you to see other people also reinforces his message of not wanting to be in a relationship. That is further reiterated by him giving you the “friend” talk.

Don’t give up hope that a fire can relight when he gets back, but don’t hold your breath for him.


Don’t give up hope that a fire can relight when he gets back, but don’t hold your breath for him. He’s not setting you up for any false promises. He’s been very clear that he is traveling and doesn’t want to be tied down. It’s going to be hard to see him go, but enjoy the time together and make note of what you enjoyed about him and about the relationship.

If you feel it will help you best deal with the transition it may be best to create immediate physical and emotional distance. I’m a true believer that if it’s supposed to work out, love will find its way back to you when the time is right.

Dear Love Leaving Me,
You guys have been together for 5 months and have gotten very close during that time. You have spent a lot of time together, travelled together, and met each other’s family. Now just because he is leaving for a while, he needs separation? It sounds like you were committed to continuing the relationship even though he was leaving, but he doesn’t feel the same way. I know that this hurts.

I am curious about his reasons for traveling because I think this says a lot about his personality. If for business, then perhaps this is simply him not wanting to commit to you for the long term. If this is for vacation, then this could suggest a larger pattern of nomadic avoidance. He could be choosing to be a nomad, staying for only a few months at a time from place to place, in order to protect himself from any real connections. Perhaps his past pain is the motivator if this is the case.

If you know that there is no future, would you still want to spend time with him?

-Dr. Ryan

I’m not sure what motivated him to make this decision but it sounds to me like he is trying to be honest with you. He is ready to move on from this relationship without you and he wants to start slowing down in order to make this move as easy as possible.

If you want to enjoy his company for this next month you can certainly do that. But my guess is that you will feel conflicted because of your different commitment levels to the relationship. If you know that there is no future, would you still want to spend time with him? What you do is up to you but I would remember the implications of his words. He doesn’t believe that this relationship is worth waiting for.
-Dr. Ryan