I have been split from my boyfriend for a year now. We were dating for 5 years. Neither myself or him have found anyone else nor are we looking. We still see each other a couple of times each week and still have a good laugh. Unfortunately during the relationship we would argue a lot of the time. I would see him go out with friends and join a club and I wanted that freedom for myself too however this isn’t something he wanted hence why the arguments followed. Towards the end we no longer went out to even the smallest of leisure trips together and I would face a lot of negative attitude when I even asked about seeing my friends. Now that we are no longer together we do get on better however I no longer have any friends due to the fact that I couldn’t see them during those 5 years without causing friction with my boyfriend. They have moved on without me and rightly so.
The confusing bit is that it feels like we are still dating but with a single status. I’m still being invited to his family gatherings and apart from the status nothing has actually changed. I can now join clubs and things like that because now he doesn’t care. He says he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me anymore but yet nothing has changed apart from the status. He has said that we will not get back together as he doesn’t want to be a boyfriend anymore, too much responsibility and he just can’t be doing it. We do have more fun times now than we did before so sometimes it gives me the impression he still wants me but I’m not sure. However as much as I still love him, I need to think about my future. Do I just spend my days with him but not actually in a relationships with him just so I can still have him in my life or do I break all ties and start to think of getting back into the dating game.
-Still Dating my Ex-Boyfriend
Dear Still Dating,
It can be hard to explain and navigate a relationship that has no defined structure. You said that other than your status nothing has actually changed in your relationship, but I would argue quite a bit has changed. When you were boyfriend and girlfriend, going out or spending time with friends led you to arguments. Something about removing the title allowed you more freedom and also changed the way your ex treats you.
What are you looking for? Not everyone is looking to become Facebook official and that’s okay. Just don’t be blindsided. You mentioned that you think that he still wants you, but in the sentence before you describe him not wanting to be committed because he doesn’t want the responsibility. Listen to what he is saying. You aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, so it’s okay for him to focus in on his own needs and wants rather than factoring in yours. You should be doing the same.
If you feel you are exerting emotional energy and time without being fulfilled, then I think it’s best you move on.
Relationships take sacrifices and selflessness. You both have to be willing to make those sacrifices. It doesn’t sound like he wants a relationship, but more importantly even if he did, is that something you want? The relationship you described sounded tumultuous. If you realized your compatibility failed to work when you were “official” then it’s probably an indicator things weren’t good.
It may be hard to break ties, but if you want more and he’s not willing to sacrifice, what is your option? It boils down to what works best for you. If you feel you are exerting emotional energy and time without being fulfilled, then I think it’s best you move on.
Dear Still Dating,
A dating relationship is a relationship like any other, with additional dimensions of intimacy and devotion. Given the aspects of devotion between you, especially the time that you often spend together, it does seem like you guys are still dating.
The problem here is that it sounds like you are dating someone with a low chance of a future together. If he doesn’t want to be a boyfriend anymore and sees devotion to you as “too much responsibility” then you have some things to consider. You are right to ask yourself questions about what this means for your future and where you see this relationship going.
The longer this continues the more real these consequences can become.
Continuing to spend time with him probably will be fun for a while. Part of what makes it fun is that there is minimal responsibility to the relationship. As long as there is no responsibility there can be no consequences. However, the longer this continues the more real these consequences can become.
If you still love him and feel devoted to him then this will be a barrier to any future that you might have without him. Unless you believe that he is your future and that the risk is worth the reward, then it is time to focus on yourself and move forward with your life.