On-again off-again relationship


On-again off-again relationship


your avatar   Candida, 27-year-old woman

I am 27 years old. I have been in and out of a relationship for the past 2 years. I met my ex in college; he became my best friend and my soulmate. Later we began to work together.

My ex and I come from very different backgrounds. His family is not very well educated. They are abusive and fight a lot. He, however, is very different. His family hates me because I'm so different from them and he broke up with me 5 times because of this. Once when we had broken up he almost got married to someone else.

Things got really serious between us about two months ago and he told his family that we were going to get married. He expected me to do the same but I couldn't tell my family at that time as they did not like him for breaking up with me and hurting me each time. I told him that I would tell them after 6 months and this made him really angry.

I've been a really good girlfriend to this guy. I've loved him and supported him even more than his family. He has let me down over and over again. I let it go because he had a lot of family pressure. When we planned to get married he did not want to let my mum live with us, whereas I was willing to help out the whole family as I had done before

Anyway, this time I told him really, really mean stuff...that his family were not educated, that my mum would never accept them and that his sisters had married losers. I felt really bad and apologized over and over again but he broke up with me.

I have no peace now. Is this totally my fault? Is he justified in breaking up with me so often? I'm lost and lonely and I don't know what to do. Is it my fault, because the guilt is just eating me up? What should I do now?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Candida,

Star-crossed lovers are an immortal theme. Think of Romeo and Juliet. I know of a young couple who now live in France. She is Israeli, he is Palestinian. They fell in love, and wanted to help make peace between their warring people. In the event, they are still together, but outcasts, rejected by both their families.

First you need to decide for yourself what you want your future to hold. If your choice is to try for a life with this boy, then send him your question and my answer. Suggest that the two of you need to decide what is to happen, together and cooperatively, putting past hurts aside.

My dear, only you can decide whether you want to take on the love with the problems, or to find love elsewhere. There is no universal right decision, only what is right for you, in your unique situation.

One thing is for sure: the problem won't go away. If you and this boy marry, the tension and hostility will stay. So, I think the choices are:

1. Commit yourself to this boy, and do your best for peace and harmony with him. Learn how to live with his family's culture, arming yourself against the rough bits you hate. In exchange, ask him to do his best to fit into your family, and to forgive them for their hostility to him.

2. Commit to each other, and move away, out of reach of the two families of origin. You can keep in touch with them through occasional visits, by phone and electronic communication.

3. Agree to separate as boyfriend/girlfriend. It is possible that once the associated angry feelings cool, you may become friends. In time, both of you will find someone else.

There are many tools to assist you in making up your mind. One is to set out two columns for each possible choice, and list both the positives and the negatives. Abraham Lincoln used to do this when faced with a difficult situation. Having thought about all the pluses and minuses of each option, you may be able to choose one.

Another is to toss a coin. Say, heads = commit to him, tails = break up. Toss the coin. Say it comes up tails. If your feeling is relief, then go with it. If your feeling is disappointment, then you know that deep inside you want to succeed with him. So, go against it. The coin toss is only a tool for getting in tune with your intuition.

Just remember: both he and you deserve respect, from each other and from other people. Even if you break up, refuse to accept abuse from his family, and defend him (in his absence) from being bad-mouthed by your family.

A final thing may help. If you do permanently break up, it will hurt (both of you), but the pain will pass. You don't know what the future holds. I once asked a girl to marry me and she turned me down. I was devastated - and got married 6 months later to someone else. I am still married to the same lady, 43 years later.

I wish both you and your boy a good life.


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com

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