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Boyfriend Found Out His Dad Is Dying, Then Broke Up With Me

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Hello all,

I'm rather new to this forum, but I've been lurking the past few days while reading the posts, and I figured that I'd post my own topic. If you're reading this, THANK YOU in advance for spending time hearing my story.

So, my story:

My name is Irish (not really, but for the sake of online safety, we'll go with that) and I'm a nineteen year old female going to college in the Midwest. Last year, I met the love of my life in one of my classes. After two months of casual flirting, we finally hung out in October, and that quickly blossomed into an "official" relationship. We quickly became each other's best friend, and as our friends described it, our relationship was "the epitome of true love." Our parents seemed to feel the same way. When I brought him to meet my parents, they were instant fans of him and acted like he'd be around forever. When I met his parents, his dad actually sat the two of us down and asked some VERY personal questions, like "where do you see this relationship going?", "what are your views on the future?", and "can you see this as a lifelong relationship?". Keep in mind that this was only after two months of us dating.

Our relationship continued as spring semester progressed, getting stronger by the day. In March, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer (which she actually beat this past week - hooray!) and I was devastated. My boyfriend's father had cancer during my boyfriend's senior year of high school, so my boyfriend was very comforting and understanding during the entire process. He made me believe in true, eternal love for the first time, and I was so incredibly thankful for his support and presence in my life. Over the summer, he had to go on military training for a month (both of us are in the military), but we would talk whenever his training allowed it, and after he finished training, he immediately flew to see me for a week. At this point, my parents viewed him as "their future son-in-law." The week we were together was a week of pure bliss.

However, after my boyfriend returned home, things quickly changed. His father's health had deteriorated again, and my boyfriend spent much of his time taking care of his dad. One day, out of the blue, I received a five-page letter in which my boyfriend broke up with me, stating that "he wanted to marry me, but couldn't see us together" for the following reasons: I had a poor relationship with my family (caused by my mother's chemo, now completely and 100% better), my sister and I had gotten into an argument (which lasted for two days), and I didn't want to have children (not true at all). At first I was angry, but after about two hours, I called him and asked him to talk things through with me. My boyfriend is a very patient person who takes a long time thinking about any decision before he makes it, and the impulsive nature of his letter was completely uncharacteristic of him. Just two days earlier, we had been happy and talked about how much we loved each other. I asked if the letter had anything to do with his father's health, at which point he realized that he had broken up with me because he was so stressed out with his very serious home situation that he focused on unnecessarily serious parts of his life, such as preparing to get married and have children at 19 years old. We talked through all of his fears - such as discussing exactly what he wanted out of life, such as when to get married, where to get married, where to live after marriage, when to have kids, how many kids we were going to have, etc - and he realized that we agreed on every single part of our desired "future" with the exception of how many children we want (He wants 4, I want 2-3).

At that point, my boyfriend told me that breaking up with me was the worst decision he had ever made in his life and that he was determined to fix our relationship. I was incredibly hurt and scared by his sudden breakup with me, but I told him I wanted to work things out as well. We both agreed that we were the most important parts of each other's lives, and that we would keep each other, no matter how much work it took. Finally, we agreed to keep working towards marriage because we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We wanted to keep working out our problems, but I had to leave for a week of military training during which I could not contact him.

After I returned from training, I found out that his father had been hospitalized again. The day before my boyfriend left for school, his father sat him down and told him that he was dying from cancer. Based on the doctor's estimates, my boyfriend's dad has between six and twelve months left before he dies. The next day, when we were both reunited, my boyfriend sat me down and said that he didn't feel like he could handle a relationship right now, but instead he needed me as a best friend. I told him that I understood that he was emotionally traumatized, but I didn't feel that we should break up. I told him that I'd be supportive of him no matter what, but we should keep dating. He agreed with me, and we spent the rest of the afternoon cuddling, all the while him telling me how much he loved me and needed me.

However, during the next two weeks, he would be cold, rude, and try to push me away. After a few days of this, we would inevitably talk about the state of our relationship and whether we should break up, which would result in me explaining to him again that I wouldn't give up on him and in return, him crying to me and telling me how much he loved me. Then, the next few days, he would be cold again. We continued this cycle for two weeks until a week ago, when we broke up for good. He said to me that while our relationship was "the most beautiful thing he could have ever imagined," he felt that "our relationship had died on its own" and that we needed to be apart. I disagreed wholeheartedly with him, called him a coward for quitting on me, and told him to get out of my life. I returned his things the next day, and we didn't speak for a week. My mindset during this was that, in time, he would see how big of a mistake he was making in losing our relationship and he would come back.

I was planning on continuing no contact, but I came across this forum. After reading a few similar posts, I realized that this wasn't singular to only my boyfriend and that many people push away their significant others when they lose a family member. I also realized that he needs my support during this time, and that it was selfish of me not to talk to him. However, I still felt that us breaking up was best for the time being, as the past month has been emotional hell on me. My boyfriend and I sat down and talked about this yesterday. He was incredibly thankful that I still want to be friends, but he told me that while he still loves me, he is no longer in love with me and that he can't see himself dating me ever again. When I asked him why he felt this way, he couldn't give me a reason. Obviously, I disagreed with how he feels about us, but I told him that I wouldn't wait around for him (even though I want to). In the end, I promised him that we would remain friends, and he promised me that whenever he's ready to date again, we'll reconsider our relationship and whether it would be good to continue. I have a formal in two weeks, and I asked him along as my friend - only a friend. He told me that I should find someone else to go with. This made me feel embarrassed, stupid and hurt. As of right now, I believe that we should still stay friends, but I still love him and I want to date him when he's ready.

What I need help with:

Obviously, I cannot abandon my ex-boyfriend at this time. We mean too much to each other to let our friendship go, even though I still want to be together eventually and he doesn't. So I guess what I'm asking is what to do. I know deep in my heart that he loves me very, very much, and that the person I love is buried beneath layers of pain and grief. If this hadn't happened, our relationship would be as strong as ever, and I don't feel that personal tragedy is a reason to give up on our relationship. I completely and wholeheartedly understand that right now he cannot be in a relationship. However, when all the dust has settled from the death of his father, and he's ready to date again, I want him to be with me. I've never felt so strongly for someone in my entire life, and I know that if I am meant to have a future with anyone, it's him. I am willing to give and sacrifice whatever it takes in order to be with him again. If that means being his best friend for months, years, however long this takes, and then reigniting our relationship when he's ready, then so be it.

However, I'm worried about "friend-zoning" myself. Although my focus at the moment is on becoming his best friend, not his girlfriend, I know that the feelings I have for him still exist. I'm willing to work towards changing the love I feel for him from a romantic love into a friend love; however, I want to be in love with him again someday, and I want him to be in love with me again someday. How do I support him in the best way possible while continuing to show him that I love him and that we should be together? I don't want him to forget how good our relationship was, nor do I want him to forget how much I love him and how much he loves me. At the same time, I realize that a romantic relationship would not be healthy for him right now. So, how do I support him and love him without letting our romantic love die?

I'm totally willing to give him space, but I cannot initiate no contact with him again. We have two classes together, we're part of the same friend group, and we're in the same ROTC company. As a result, I see him at least 5 days of the week. While I don't have to talk to him in class, it would make my friends feel awkward if we didn't speak, and I CANNOT ignore him when we're with our military unit. When we're in military-mode, he is Midshipman X and I am Midshipman Y, and being unprofessional towards him would cost me my scholarship and my future career.

Also, please note:

PLEASE do not tell me that I am too young to be feeling so strongly for someone. I know that I am only nineteen, but I'm very mature for my age. I am old enough to be considered an adult in the eyes of the law, and I am old enough to voluntarily serve and potentially die for my country. If I am mature enough to make those decisions without hesitation or regret, I am old enough to understand my feelings. When I say I love my boyfriend, I mean it with 100% certainty. When I say that I can see myself with him for the rest of my life, I say it with 100% certainty. I so look forward to hearing your responses, but please do not tell me that my feelings are invalidated by my age.

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Also, some other updates on what's going on:

- My boyfriend has not cut off all contact with me. In fact, over the past two days, he's texted me nonstop. He says it's really nice to have someone to talk to. Also, he's still showing a very strong connection towards me. For example, yesterday I posted on Facebook about computer troubles I was having, and he texted me within two minutes with what I should do. Earlier this weekend, I sustained a minor injury due to the carelessness of my friend. My best friend texted a picture of my bruises to our friend group, and my boyfriend responded immediately saying that the friend who had injured me had gone too far and should have been more careful. So he's still exhibiting emotion towards me.

- I've been reading books on grief to try and understand what he's going through. They've been helpful.

- I should be seeing a counselor later this week.

- Whenever I see him in person, he's really, really friendly towards me. Sure, he still seems a little shell-shocked, but he hugs me and talks with me. Last night, we texted til two in the morning about nothing in particular, and he was happy and borderline flirty towards me.

What do you guys think of my situation? Is this worth holding on to? He doesn't want to shut me out, and he says he's thankful that "I'm the one person he can really trust." Do you think he'll come around?

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I am sorry you find yourself in this situation. It is the most difficult situation to be in.

I would never tell you you are too young to be in love! That said, I will tell you what I would recommend but you probably won't follow it. My advice is to go no contact with him to allow yourself time to heal and respect his wishes. At this point, you are hoping to get back together and he is not. You cannot change him, nor change his mind, nor should you. You have to respect his wishes. He said he is not in love with you. This has all transpired very fast and my guess is that he has cold feet combined with the pressure of his dad's cancer and impending death, he's pulled way back. It could be at some time in the future you'd find each other and could start over again, although that seldom seems to work as these many stories on here can attest. Please don't find yourself banking on a miracle that is beyond your control.

I know you want to be there for him, and once you have healed from your broken heart, you can possibly connect as friends, but only, ONLY if you let go of "hopes of getting back together". Right now being with him will only torture you and make him feel guilty. Right now he can't handle a relationship but that does NOT mean he will want one with you in the future. That is the part that is hard to understand.

Now, all that said, I realize you will probably continue to be there for him, and the situation will torture you and he will feel conflicted and may continue along his path of pushing you away. It will take a long time before all of this sinks in to you and you eventually move on and allow yourself the space to get over him and make a happier life for yourself.

Gosh, I hate saying that, but that is what I believe to be true based on not only my similar situation but many, many others here. I think I've only seen one here that is currently with their BF and only time will tell what will happen but their BF had not completely broken up with her either, their situation was a bit different.

Whether you decide to continue trying to be in his life or not, I hope you will continue to post here...I will be supportive of you but I will speak honestly my mind, because I care enough to spare you and hope the best possible future for you. If you want me to shut up and not speak my mind, I can do that too, and just listen...although it's hard for me not to be candid.

My heart goes out to both of you. There is no simple answer for the both of you, I wish there were. I am sorry for him losing his dad and I'm sorry for you losing the person you thought to be your life partner. Just trust me when I say that the future does have a way of working itself out and sometimes we can't recover the relationship like we want to, but we can have personal recovery.

Right now, try to keep busy, spend time with friends, do anything that is uplifting. I see no reason not be be cordial and professional with him in the military, after all, he is as much victim in this situation as you are...he is struggling, just as you are, he doesn't know the answers, only knows what he's feeling and is feeling overwhelmed. BUT, he broke up with you, and that carries consequences he will have to live with as well, although it could take him years to realize it.

I wish you the best...please come here if you need to vent, cry, are perplexed, etc...that's what we're here for. We've been there.

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