Moving out on September 7, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have been with my boyfriend for almost 4 years. The first year, we were at different colleges on the East Coast 20 minutes apart, so we spent most weekends together but that was about it. Then we both graduated and moved to California, about 2 hours apart. We didn’t specifically plan to relocate together, it was mostly fortunate coincidence. After about 2 months of this, we found a place together, then lived together with various other housemates for almost 3 years.
On the outside, we look like a perfectly happy couple, and in many respects we are. But problems with housemates put a strain on our living situation, and this has spilled over into our relationship. We have some living style differences (he stays up until 3 AM, I have to work 9-5; I’m messy, he’s neat; he has good financial sense and I don’t, etc.) and each of us has character traits that irritate the other. I have thought long and hard about these things and have decided that I can live with them all. But he has some serious reservations about a few of mine (in particular, I can have a quick, sharp temper and he has a hard time dealing with that) and isn’t so sure he can live with them.
To complicate matters, this is his first real relationship. So he feels like he has no basis for comparison as to how happy he ought to be or as to what he ought to want out of a relationship. I’ve been in a few other relationships, so this is not a problem for me: I believe that this is a basically good relationship and worth saving. But he is not so sure.
For about the last year, he’s been satisfied enough with the relationship to want to continue with it, but not satisfied enough that he’s willing to make any sort of long term commitment. We have talked about this many, many times, but no kind of resolution has ever come out of it. Then, back in March, I discovered an advice columnist called Breakup Girl. Maybe you’ve heard of her. She’d written this really interesting column on space, which I read, and thought about. Not long after, my BF and I were getting into one of these discussions, and I brought up the idea of having some space. He agreed to think about it. About a week later, he came up with the idea of living apart. He suggested that it might be a good way for him to get some space and be able to think about the bigger problems in our relationship without getting distracted by all the minor day-to-day irritations involved in living with someone. So we discussed that for a couple of months, then agreed to try it.