My boyfriend and I have been together for five years. We got engaged six months ago and bought a house about seven months ago. There is an 11-year age difference between us (he is older). One major issue throughout our relationship has been that I'm not as outgoing and happy-go-lucky as he is. He has said that I don't seem to share the same zest for life and it frustrates him; I know I need to work on being more positive. I also do careless things, such as leaving wet laundry in the washer for days at a time, taking long showers that use all the hot water, and opening the truck door with the keys in my hand, nearly scratching the paint.
Recently, he told me flat out that he is unhappy and wants things to change drastically, and I agreed, even told him that I knew I needed to change some things about myself in order for this to work. Things got worse a few days ago when his son was here for the weekend. I went outside to have a cigarette, and his son almost caught me. His son doesn't know I smoke, and my fiance wants to keep it that way. My fiance was furious, and he took my engagement ring back and said it was over. He said that he just couldn't be with someone so inconsiderate. He feels he has outgrown me in a lot of ways.
Since then, he hasn't really talked to me. He is still living in the house, but it's just until he figures out what to do financially. He sees no future for us, and he has even said he doesn't love me anymore. However, he's also said things that give me hope, like "change these things for yourself, and maybe everything else will fall into place." He is still sleeping in the same bed as me, but there is zero intimacy. I don't know if he is sticking around to see if I change, or if he's really planning on leaving. Do you think there is a chance here? I have quit smoking (day four now), and I've been trying to be much more considerate.
— Trying to Change Chelsea
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Dear Trying to Change Chelsea,
After five years together, an engagement, and a new home, I'm sure it's confusing to have your fiance separate from you. I wish I could tell you for certain if he is willing to wait for you to change, but I can't. He is being honest about one thing, and that's that you need to your change for yourself, not him. While I do believe that people can change, I also believe that change can only come from within; it's not something someone else can impose on you. It's easy to start taking shorter showers, but it takes serious determination to start looking at life with a more positive outlook.
That said, your not being more on top of things isn't really the problem here; it's a symptom of a bigger problem. Being at different places in life is one of the biggest challenges couples can face, especially if there is a significant age difference. In this case, it comes down to time more so than change, but if he's taken back your ring and has told you that he doesn't love you anymore, he may not be willing to wait.
As hard as it is, I think you should take your focus away from what he's feeling and direct it at what you want to do for yourself. If you really do want to become a more optimistic person for you, then work on it everyday. If things work out with your fiance, well, that's an added bonus, but if they don't, it'll still be okay — you'll continue to grow and change at your own pace, which is most important. Good luck.