Ask Andrew – I don’t understand why we split up?
I’ve recently been through a difficult break up. Like most of your readers, I didn’t really see it coming. I’m now reading your Heal and Move On book. Although I am trying to let go of the passed, there is something that keeps holding back.
We were in a relationship for just over two years, we had started planning for a future – moving in together, marriage, etc. He is 31 and I’m 26 and we are both are successful people. The week previous to the break up, I felt like my partner was distant and I questioned him about it. He said he was very busy and stressed with work. During the break-up, he said he was still in love with me, and he has no other plans for the future other than what we had planned. He also mentioned the years we had spent together are the best he’s ever had. At the moment he cannot commit to what I wanted, commitment.
We haven’t spoken all that much in passed couple of months and when we do speak it is very brief. He acknowledges our communication by starting with “Haven’t heard from you in a while!”
How did the ‘we’ become and ‘I’, when I thought we were making the plans for the future together? And how am I expected to move on and let go, when he’s left me with the idea that he still wants a future with me?
Two years is a common time for couples to split up. Around eighteen months together, we need to decide if a) the bond is strong enough to be together forever, get married and have children or b) if the timing is right. Although we live in the age of equality, men still feel that they have to be the provider and if a man does not feel established enough, he might love his partner but still feel he is not ready to settle down. (For more on this see Are you right for me?)
It’s also the time when limerence, the crazy walking on air part of love is beginning to fade and lots of people worry that they are falling out love (rather than moving onto the next phase). There’s more about limerence and the six stages of love in ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you.’
So how did ‘we’ become ‘I’? That’s a tough one. It could be that it was you doing all the ‘we’ and he was just going along – see Projection in ‘Are you right for me?’. It could be that you did not argue enough and therefore instead of sorting out the problems pushed them under the carpet. Before too long, the pile becomes a wall. (There’s more about this is ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you.’)
Finally, I wonder if he really has left you with the idea that he still wants a future with you. When people are leaving a relationship, they don’t want to pile on any more agony. So they pretty it up with ‘perhaps I’ll feel different in the future’ (but it’s unlikely) or ‘I wanted a future with you’ (but not enough to do anything about it). Of course, he’s pleased to hear from you. After all, you shared a lot – and maybe one day you can be friends – but he’s let go.
Please rest assured, your questions are part of the natural grieving process. You will learn a lot about yourself and make a lasting relationship next time round. I hope my books will help that process. However as the title suggests, you need to HEAL before you can MOVE ON. So please don’t be so hard on yourself. It takes time but it will get better.