Can Relationship Be Saved?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Hello I’ve been with my boyfriend for 2 years and a half. We have some issues which made me think that he is not trying hard to save our relationship. I’ll number the problems so that it will be easier to read:

1. We met in the university where he did half of his medical degree, everything was fine and we were happy. I’ve only known him for 4 months before we were together.

2. Then, he needed to do his another 2.5 years of degree overseas, which is fine by me, but here is the catch, he is now attending the same college and same classes with his ex, which he can’t get over for 3 years before our relationship started and he still keep in contact with the ex. She apparently broken off with him when they were 19 years old ( all 3 of us are having the same age) because she was just fooling around and they remained close friends. This is also fine by me, but they are too close which made me worried. They even have the same circle of friends in their new college and they have been hanging out and travelling in a group together.

3. The ex and him have known each other way back and they have the same group of friends since A-Level. Their friends were supportive of them to get back together but he found me later on. I felt a little insecure since their friends do not know me that well and not trying to be friends. I even asked the ex “if this was okay?”, since she is also a friend of mine!( I’ve only knew that my boyfriend was with her afterwards, since they said it was just really harmless fling)

4. Our 1st year together was fine, but when he was preparing for the overseas, I was traumatized (I had a really bad past long distance relationship) and worried so much that he thought of breaking up with me because I was too paranoid but we had a talk and we did not broke up. He is a really nice guy and the type that I am looking for. I am really worried that the he will get too close with the ex and might change his mind.

5. When he was studying oversea, we had some fights, since the ex and him are having the same circle of friends and she is not trying hard to avoid him. In fact, I might find it to be a bit flirtatious. I confronted both him and her. They said nothing is going on but I somehow felt that he seemed a lot happier when he is spending his time with her compared to spending time with me. I am trying very hard to keep this relationship going but I don’t think he is trying so hard… But, every time we had a fight, he will try to be better. Even so, I have a feeling he is putting up walls,which I cannot get through anymore. He would not give me a chance even if I tried so hard to get to know him once again.

6. When I asked him, are you fooling around or are you cheating on me. He said he is not cheating on me and they are just friends. He told me that he will only get married after he finishes his studies, which is another 2 years. I have already graduated and waiting for my hospital placement.

7. The long distance relationship became worst since he is a medical student and there are so many stressful workloads to handle too. I am trying my best to understand his studies as a future doctor and the limited time that we had due to different time zone but I find myself to be insecure when the ex kept on finding him and being a bit too friendly with him. I told him about this, but somehow they still in close contact, since there aren’t many students from our country are studying there.

8. I kept on asking him, what does he really wants, but he said, he does not want anything. Then when I replied “so do you actually wanted to end the relationship?”, he replied a simple “no”.

9. The last time we met after a year, he was uncomfortable around me. When I addressed this problem, he said sorry and we tried to work it out again.

10. I just hope it will get better and this relationship will lasts. I love him and he told me he love me too. It is very hard for me to move on or love a person or even like the opposite gender. I am scared to get to know people because in my past relationship, I was with my ex for more than 4 years, but my ex broke up with me because he was cheating on me, plus we were very young at the time, it was from high school till starting of our college degrees.

11. I just want to know what are the best options for my present relationship? Can it still be save? How can it be save? He will be flying off soon, we need to make the best decision for the both of us. Thank you very much.

A: Thank you for offering such a detailed description of your relationship. The overall nature of this relationship seems to be an ongoing struggle where you are wanting him to be more available emotionally and geographically — but your anxiety about the relationship prevents you from feeling secure. In other words, if we take the entire time that you’re together, a great quantity of it is spent with you worrying about the relationship rather than enjoying it. Since this has been the case for such a long time, it means that the very foundation of the relationship has emotional and geographical distance built into it. My experience is that these relationships are difficult because once the person is available the couple is often lost as to how to function together. While there is some new recent evidence to suggest that long-distance relationships may work, they work when there is a very powerful ongoing commitment to being available, to have a variety of experiences mixed into the relationship, and to share vulnerability. It seems as if these components were not present in this relationship.

I think you need to have a very open and honest conversation with your boyfriend about whether the relationship is meeting both your needs. If it isn’t, don’t defer to some far-off future time when it may. Relationships need to be nurtured in the moment, not constantly deferred for gratification.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Jul 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Can Relationship Be Saved?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/07/26/can-relationship-be-saved/