Mid-Life Crisis AFTER the breakup - Any Help Please?

by Jennifer78
(Michigan)

Hi Noel, I'm at such a loss right now and have nobody to whom to turn. I've read many stories from marriages, but I'm struggling as a girlfriend who met my boyfriend - about to turn 40 in a few weeks - after he went through a large breakup and may be going through a midlife crisis. My boyfriend was in a 14 year relationship before we started dating. I had NO PART in his breakup - I would never be with a man who was in a committed relationship. However, we were peripheral friends - saw each other at work, but never spent inappropriate time together. He asked me out one day, and I come to find out he just finished a long-term relationship AND had pined over me for a while, supposedly watching me from afar. What I didn't know then was he was about to collapse from the life change. I decided to stick it out the first 6 months and wait, i.e. not date him or anyone else for the first 6 months and just be friends, as he was going through a lot and I really didn't want to mar his track with a new relationship. Since then, he has become a great presence in my life. He's kind and thoughtful, constantly wants to spend time with me, is very intimate and has introduced me to his family and close friends; we have taken trips to visit his parents and sister/brother and extended trips together. We were together about 18 months until I left town for a PhD program a little over a year ago; he drove out here and stayed with me for a while. He also comes to see me every quarter for 2 weeks to a month. The problem is here - he says he cannot make a long-term decision right now. He's seeing a therapist and says he is at a point in his life where he can't make any decision about a marriage or long-term commitment. When I finish up in the PhD program, he doesn't even think he will be ready to move in with me, and he says he definitely cannot tell me what he will want in the future - whether me or anyone else. He says he's very happy with our relationship, but that's all he can say - he has lots of doubt about everything else. He also says that the way it is on this side - post breakup - is so much harder and confusing than he ever thought. He knows he doesn't want to get back together with his ex - they are incompatible - a sign that was quickly evident after they moved in together. He wrapped up his job a little over a year ago and his now working on his own project - a move I support, but I'm afraid he might abandon without my support and encouragement. I'm afraid he'll leave his project and just go back to a humdrum job, where he will be unhappy. He spends lots of time alone, working at his home, which he says is hard for him. Many of his friends have moved on in life - family, different locations - but he cannot move on anywhere. Is he having a Mid-Life Crisis?? Or is he just not certain about me, in which case he doesn't really want to be with me, but doesn't realize it fully, amidst his other thoughts. We've been together about 3 years now, with a little less than half of it being long distance. I don't know what to do - he treats me such respect and kindness but doesn't know what he wants for his future. Should I just leave and let him figure things out or should I "stick it out." He says he wishes I could, but he can't make any commitments right now. I'm so lost. I'm so lost and scared.


Noel's response

I don't know what to suggest. In my experience, it is wise for a man or woman to wait for at least three years after the end of a long-term relationship before getting into another permanent relationship. It is ok to date, etc. before that, and to have what psychologists call a 'throw-away relationship' while a person is healing emotionally. You may be in danger of getting into a permanent relationship (i.e. marriage) with him before he is ready, and live to regret it. If you are willing to wait three years before making a serious commitment, then hang in there. If not, you might want to keep it light, and not make any serious commitments with him.

Comments for Mid-Life Crisis AFTER the breakup - Any Help Please?

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Jul 31, 2012
give it time
by: Anonymous

I would suggest giving your relationship (and your boyfriend) some more time. The most important thing is that you repeatedly describe that he treats you with so much kindness and respect. This is so important. From your description, he sounds like a good man. To go through a breakup - especially after such a long time together - can be very traumatic. It can feel like a death of sorts, so it's understandable that he (or anyone) would need time to heal and find closure. Speaking from recent experience, I left a relationship/engagement that felt very toxic and unhealthy after three years together. It's been a year, and I still don't feel healed or ready to date. The fact that he is remaining open to you, but also being honest about his feelings and where he's at in his life is honorable. I'm sure there is a feeling on your part that you may be investing your time, emotion, and love with someone who may not be able to reciprocate it fully or permanently, so only you can answer if - and for how long - you can remain in that kind of scenario. Still, I do feel that the fact you mention (repeatedly) how kind and respectful he is towards you, and the fact that there seems to be a lot of honest communication should be given a lot of weight. Those things are crucial to a healthy partnership.
Good luck to you both.

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