DUMPED OVER EMAIL AFTER 5 YEAR RELATIONSHIP
DEAR MIDLIFE BACHELOR:I came across your website during a desperate search for answers or guidance or just some comfort on-line.
I am 32 year old woman, currently finishing my studies in the United States. I am from Europe. I met my partner who is now 38 when I went to the States in 2004 to study at a university there. We started out as room-mates. We fell in love, and I stayed on to complete a PhD in order to be with him. He was also working on his PhD. We have lived together for 5 years. He graduated this past May, and got a job. The job involved a long commute from where we were living but a number
of our friends also undertake this commute everyday. We just signed a new 12 month lease on our apartment at the beginning of July. I was home in Europe for work for most of June and July. I received an email from my partner in July saying that he was no longer happy, and thought we should part ways. The day before he sent this email he was on the phone telling me he loved me and missed me. Even now he says he still loves me and will miss me. He says sometimes he is unsure as to whether he made the right decision but he needs to be alone for now. I feel broken. I can't make sense of this. We seemed to be getting on so well. We had spoken about the possibility of marriage before I left for Europe. Why would he sign a 12 month lease in the same month that he decides he wants out of the relationship? Why would he continue to tell me he loves and misses me? I'm 32. I'm scared that along with the relationship I have lost the chance to have a family. I'm afraid I'll never trust a man again. After 5 years of love and friendship all I got was an email. I can't make sense. Please can you just lay it out for me as it is? I'm a woman trying to understand what is going on in a man's head. I still love him.
MIDLIFE BACHELOR ANSWER: I know you are extremely heartbroken, and I'm sincerely very sorry to hear that this has happened to you. After spending five years with a man, you certainly deserve a lot more than an email breakup - no matter the circumstance. In my mind, it is extremely gutless for him (or anyone) to breakup a serious relationship via email. I know that today the world is basically an electronic society - but personal relationships are the true foundation of everything ... so I don't believe that email (or even the telephone for that matter) is an appropriate avenue for any highly significant message.
Based on the information you have shared with me - here is my best guess at what is going on, or what could be going on. First of all - he obviously is averse to confrontation, otherwise he would not have broken up with you over email. It appears as though he's been thinking about this for a while, and planned to simply announce your breakup to you when he knew you were going to be in Europe ... so I don't think he did this on a whim. As I said, email breakups are pretty gutless - I mean, I don't know the guy, but I'd think that his credibility and level of respect in your eyes would diminish significantly as a result of this incident. I know you love him - but would you really want to be with someone who you would worry about anytime you went on a trip somewhere? If you were married, might he email his intent to divorce while you were off visiting your family? You would have to think about that now, right? JEEZ. Someone needs to bbitch slap the guy.
The next question is - why would he break up with you after five years? You said that he told you that he is no longer happy ... and those words can represent a lot of things, so one can only speculate. You or I could run through a hundred different POSSIBLE reasons, but I submit that the actual reason does not matter because the result is the same - he doesn't want to be in the relationship any longer. I, personally, have been around the block a number of times - and over the years, I've simply concluded that if one person is not happy, then simply let them go as quickly as possible. Put them in your rearview mirror, remember the happy times, and don't try to resurrect what fate has drawn to a close ... otherwise all you will do is torture yourself.
You have a PhD, and so you are obviously brilliant, and well-educated, and capable of many great things. There is a good man out there for you - one that won't email your relationship into the trash can. The longer your heart remains captive to Mr. Avoidance, the further away you are from true happiness ... because you won't meet Mr. Right if you are still in love.
I know it is hard - but I think the best thing you can possibly do is try to get out there, and get your feet wet dating again as soon as possible - as soon as you are comfortable enough. You don't have to jump right into a relationship immediately, as that would make you Ms. Rebound. Here is a brief discussion of the circumstances and dangers of being on the rebound:
Midlifebachelor.com Article: On the Rebound - Does Fear of Being Single Drive Your Behavior?
In terms of starting to date, I recommend you give some of the online dating services a try. Check out our Online Dating Discounts page for special savings on several of the more popular sites.
At age 32, you have a lot of time to heal and recover ... so I would not worry too much about losing your chance to have a family. You have a lot going for you, and a lot to offer a man ... so start out as soon as you can, and try to find a good one.
You might consider joining our Midlife Forum here on midlifebachelor.com. We discuss issues just like this - there are a lot of good men and women there who can give you various opinions and viewpoints.
Take care - and let me know how things work out, okay?
August 12, 2009 Update - I posted this situation over in our Midlife Forum, to see what some of our forum participants had to say about it, so check it out when you have a chance. [You can instead always add your own comment at the bottom of this page using our commenting feature]
Midlife Forum Discussion Thread - Dumped Via Email after 5 Years