My boyfriend and I had been together for 4.5 years. To put in some perspective, we're now both in our early 20s. We started dating in high school. Our relationship wasn't perfect (as there is no such thing), but no matter what happened, we both were fighters and never gave up on each other. We would talk about our future together (kids, house, wedding, careers), and he always reassured me that I was the one. That was until he lost his mother to cancer. She had been fighting her battle for almost a year, and of course her condition gradually got worse.
We've been broken up since August (so over 3 months now), but before that we've broken up before earlier in the year (in April). During the first break up, his mom was still alive, but obviously was in critical condition. This breakup was kind of random because it didn't spark from anything too serious. We were just having a small, petty argument, it was nothing out of proportion or anything unusual, and suddenly he says he thinks we should break up. He says he's going through something personal and needs to "fix himself." So we broke up and that only lasted like a month. He insisted that he made a mistake by breaking it off and promised it wouldn't happen again. He was basically at my feet begging for forgiveness, so of course I gave in. Fast forward 2 months later (June), his mom passes. We were together again then, so naturally he turned to me for support. He wanted to spend lots of his time with me. He didn't seem overly devastated or anything. Most times he acted like her death was casually a part of life. We were "okay" for a while. Until August came, and he was starting to not come through for me. He bailed on me countless times in a matter of a couple of weeks, and of course this led to me confronting him about how I felt. He finally said he couldn't "do this anymore," and said he wanted to end things. I reminded him of what he said a few months back--that he promised he wouldn't do this again. He apologized countless times for making a promise he couldn't keep. He assured me that he had no idea this would happen and that a couple months ago, he never would've seen this coming. He told me he wanted to remain "best friends," and that nothing had to change except the expectations component of being in a romantic relationship.
Like I said, it's been 3 months since the break up. In the beginning he was distant, pushing me away, but more welcoming of his friends. This made me feel like it was super personal. Like his want for space only applied to me and that hurt. Prior to this, he had friends yes, but I really was his best friend whom he spent the most time and energy on. After just a couple of weeks, it turned. Over time, he began wanting to be close again. We'd hang out on occasion. We'd talk pretty regularly. But just as I thought things were going okay, he'd suddenly get distant again and push me away. This was a back and forth thing. He admitted that he was depressed, but never admitted or realized why. I speculated it was because of his mother's death, but he never wanted to admit it or I guess he didn't realize it. All he would say is that he didn't want to talk about his feelings or even think about them. Until a couple days ago: he finally admitted that he for the past few months had been angry at everyone including himself and he blamed himself for his mother's death. He said it was just something he couldn't "let go." I always thought that the main cause of all of this was his grief, but it wasn't ever confirmed by him until just a couple nights ago. He said that didn't change how crappy he felt, but that at least he knew why, and that he never shared this with anyone before beside me.
Another important thing to note about all of this is that he still confesses his love for me daily. From the time we broke up, to this day, he reminds me that he "loves me so much" and "cares about me deeply," and that he's "sorry it's like this." It's strange what we have. Even when he's not in the greatest mood certain days, he takes the time to remind me that I did nothing wrong and never forgets to wish me "good night." I feel like we're in this "in between" area, where we are definitely more than regular friends but not enough to be in a relationship that requires expectations/demands because he keeps reminding me that he's "not in a good place" and "doesn't want a relationship right now" but keeps saying he doesn't want to lose me and wants to stay close. I'm not sure what any of this means. We can dissect what he says and put the emphasis on him not wanting a relationship "RIGHT NOW," but one time he told me that at times he feels like he's incapable of ever being with someone period.
I understand that it can be detrimental to my mental health to "wait for him" in some sense. I want to be there for him during this tough time as a person who cares about him deeply, but I also get hurt when often I feel that I'm giving more than I'm receiving. Some days he acts like his old self and shows that he really cares about me, but other days he'd back to being distant and indifferent. Every time I propose that we just cut each other off, he tells me that he doesn't want to lose me and is suddenly all over me.
Can someone please tell me what's going on. HELP!