Dear Bitter Single Guy: My boyfriend recently asked for some “space.” We are in the same graduate program and have been living together for a year (the same amount of time we’ve been together). We have “broken up” but we have mutual friends within the program who do not know and when we are around them he pretends we are still a couple. He puts his arm around me, and talks about us like everything is fine. We are not living together, and when we aren’t in classes or out at social events he barely talks to me. I let him do this because in truth, I am not ready to deal with the breakup.
He told me that he may want to be with me in the future, but our relationship stopped him from doing things he wanted to do. (Namely, I am not a heavy partier, and he is. My preference for movies and intimate gatherings has clashed with his need to be the life of the party and get hammered). I am 25 and he is 30. Throughout our relationship he would stay in with me when he really wanted to go out, and he says he’s resentful for it now. I love him and he is the first man in my life who makes me laugh and really understands what I’m about.
I guess I have two questions. The first is: can two people who have such different ideas of a good time ever really meet in the middle and be happy? And the other is, pretending to be his girlfriend has hurt me a lot when I know in my heart we are not together. However, because the graduate program is so small, I’m afraid that things will be awkward with our mutual friends if we let people know what is up. If the relationship really is over, how can I be suddenly single and heal my heart without losing out on social events where he will be? Dating A Pretender
Dear DAP: Short answer: dump his sorry ass. Wanting space should probably start with him getting his damned hands off you in public. Relationships end all the time and your mutual friends will somehow manage to deal with it. In the beginning, you might miss out on some social events that include him (you’ll probably WANT to miss out on some social events that include him) because breakups suck and are painful. The Bitter Single Guy recommends, since you enjoy intimate gatherings, is to schedule some with your friends. Wine and cheese is a BSG favorite, especially on chilly fall evenings.
Your ex continuing to maintain the look of your relationship for your mutual friends and assuring you that he “may want to be with you in the future” is adolescent bullshit (the BSG got all riled up over your letter, as you can see). Don’t be the pawn in his little 13 year old game, DAP.
To your questions: Yes, two people with different ideas of a good time can meet in the middle and be happy. Introverts and extraverts can live in harmony with a little mutual respect and communication. The BSG should also say that if your 30 year old ex’s idea of a social life is all about going out and getting hammered, there is a possible alcohol problem there or just the aforementioned permanent adolescence. Either way, the BSG will be interested to see if he can handle that lifestyle at 40 (the BSG doubts it). Your second question: Pretending to be his girlfriend when you’re not is soul-crushing and as the dump-ee, you have more rights than that. Separate from him…be cordial in public, but otherwise give yourself some time to feel sad and heal (as mentioned above…breakups suck and are painful). Write to the BSG about the success of your first wine and cheese evening as a single girl.