Home » Ask the Therapist » Love My Boyfriend But Can’t Stop Thinking About Breaking Up!

Love My Boyfriend But Can’t Stop Thinking About Breaking Up!

Asked by on with 1 answer:

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over a year and I’ve been pretty happy. We’re kinda long-distance (four-hour drive) so only see each other every few weeks which has been super hard. I’m moving closer to him soon for uni though. Although I love him, and his family, he’s the only guy I’ve ever dated and I can’t help feeling like I’m missing out on stuff? I want more experiences, but I love him and the thought of breaking up with him makes me so so upset. I’m his first serious girlfriend but he has had others. He talks about the future a lot and us being together forever, which I want but I also want other experiences! I’m worried about settling and only being content. I also find myself picking fights a lot and I hate myself for it. What do I do? Am I wasting my youth? (From Australia)

Love My Boyfriend But Can’t Stop Thinking About Breaking Up!

Answered by on -


You’ve listed your age as 19 and the fact that you are having these conflicting thoughts now (loving him and wanting to break up) is important to contemplate and understand as you grow. I am glad you are asking about this because questioning our contradictions gives us perspective and amplifies our empowerment.

When we have competing impulses the cross motivation can create a difficult tension inside of us. This is particularly true when we are drawn to and repulsed. Knowing that two motivations can coexist and that both have influence over us lets us step back from the turmoil enough to tolerate the push and pull. When there is an approach/avoidance to someone sometimes the most powerful place is to acknowledge both feelings non-judgmentally. By observing and not acting without judging ourselves there is a greater self that emerges.

Indeed, this is one of the core features of programs like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and the cornerstone of insight and other meditations. If we pressure ourselves to come up with an action without the benefit of sitting with both feelings it can be like pointing the front wheels of a car in different directions and wondering why you’re not going anywhere.

The first thing I would encourage you to look at is your ambivalence as an important and helpful ally—not as a bothersome annoyance. You’ve chosen someone who, by definition, isn’t available regularly. While this may seem random it may be part of the formulae you are experimenting with. Long-distance relationships protect us from being overcommitted at one level. The give us a chance to have intense moments of intimacy while having a built-in break that allows for some distance. While this can be a healthy thing the fact that he lives 4 hours away is important to fold into the dynamics of your attraction. As your first love, you get to experience intimacy while not being overwhelmed.

In relationship science every element of the relationship, the attraction through the connection that follows is important. As a first relationship, you may have chosen someone where you could sample loving someone. My guess is that now that you are moving closer to him to go to your university the original dynamics are about to change—and it may not be what you bargained for.

I’m impressed that you realize you are picking fights. Generating angry feelings is one way we can help break our connection to others. The fights are likely becoming more regular as the dynamics of getting closer are heating up. This is not uncommon, but not easy to experience either.

On the good news side, there is a very good chance your boyfriend is having similar feelings. While this isn’t assured, we are often chosen to someone with a dynamic that matches our needs. He may be feeling some of the very same things as you.

The best approach is to begin a dialogue with him about your conflicting feelings. Not with the goal of having to resolve them so much as a way for the two of you to have an honest discussion about your expectations in the relationship. Believe it or not—honest discussion is where true intimacy and love can evolve. This is not an easy thing to navigate, but it is the healthiest. Otherwise, you will be flipping back and forth when the middle path of discussing the conflict is where both of you have the opportunity to mature. I am a firm believer that with couples of any age and duration talking about mixed feelings has the greatest benefit for both parties.

There was a famous therapist, Fritz Perls who creates something he called a Gestalt Prayer, which I believe is a guiding principle when looking for love:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.
(Fritz Perls, “Gestalt Therapy Verbatim”, 1969)

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

Love My Boyfriend But Can’t Stop Thinking About Breaking Up!

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

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

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). Love My Boyfriend But Can’t Stop Thinking About Breaking Up!. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 2 Mar 2020 (Originally: 4 Mar 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 2 Mar 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.