I’ve been with my boyfriend for 5 months. He’s 23 and I’m 26. When we started going out, I was applying for grad school and he was going to be traveling for a couple of months. He said if I missed him a lot he would send for me and I was welcome to join him at any time.
About three months into the relationship, I told him I really liked him and he said, “Who says I’m coming back?” (Big change from just a couple of months…)
Now he wants to see if he can live in NZ permanently. I told him I’d miss him and he said he’d miss me too, but wanted to try it as it was something different. When I said I wanted to come with him, he said that he thinks he’s too immature for me and doesn’t know what he wants in life.
What’s the deal?
There was once an episode of Sex and the City that coined the term “expiration dating“. (Yup, I’m confident enough in my masculinity to reference episodes of Sex and the City!)
Expiration dating is dating someone who you know will eventually leave, causing the relationship to end at that point.
There were times in my life where I started dating someone who I knew was going to leave within the next 3-5 months. When I started dating them, I knew that it would be best for the relationship to end at that point.
However, I would grow attached and accustomed to having the girl around and before I knew it, I was convinced that doing a long-distance relationship or rearranging my plans was a good move.
It wasn’t – it was a terrible move. First, I got into the relationship in the first place because I wanted it to end within a few months. I chose a relationship like this at the time because:
a) I knew I didn’t have my life figured out to where I wanted to have it figured out. e.g. Didn’t know what I wanted for a job, wanted to experience more women, etc.
b) I knew that having a girlfriend while I was exploring things in life would only slow me down. Not true for every guy, but definitely true for me.
c) I didn’t see myself marrying the girl I was with, but I enjoyed dating her. But having a good clean “out” worked and made short-term dating with her possible.
My point in all of this is that when the guy says, “I’m not mature enough for you,” this is what he’s talking about. I’ve been in his shoes – it doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you or doesn’t love you or doesn’t think you’re great. I’m sure he does and I’m sure when he says he wants you to keep in touch, he means it.
But I think it’s a clear sign to cut the relationship off when he leaves if he’s already had it planned in his head this way all along. He didn’t explicitly say the relationship would end, but if he’s giving you non-committal answers on how long he’s gonna be gone (a year or maybe two…” and “who says I’m coming back”), what he is implicitly saying is: “It doesn’t matter how long I’ll be gone, we won’t be together anyway.”
Think about it – if he’s already made up his mind that the relationship would end at that point, it’s best that you enjoy the time you have together and have a good, clean, loving break. There is nothing wrong with a relationship ending if it really is what’s best – relationships can end well.
At the same time, a good ending can go really sour if you take it personally. And there’s no reason to take it personally – he knows he needs more life experience to feel like he’s complete before he settles down with anyone. Honestly, most guys don’t even have this clarity or foresight… or in my case, I did have the clarity and then I got blinded by my mushy heart. If I knew better, I would have ended several relationships in the past much quicker which in turn, would have made those endings much more amicable.
I know this isn’t a delightful response to hear, but I’m trying to save you from an agonizing break-up and instead lead you towards going your separate ways in a respectful and pleasant way.
In fact, if you can both accept that you’ll split the relationship when he leaves, you have a much better chance of being really close friends. And that’s a good thing.
Hope it helps,