My boyfriend of two and a half years broke up with me about a month ago. Before the breakup things were great; we were having a wonderful Summer. We talked of being together forever and we were so in love, but he had other things going on in his life. He didn't get into the school he wanted and is now taking a year off to work. It's a hard issue for him; I think he feels like a failure. But when he's home, all he does is play video games and he only works three days a week.
I do love him and he's very important to me, but it seems like he ended things just so he could avoid commitment. He said he doesn't love me the same way anymore but wants to remain friends, although his behavior has shown nothing like that. Recently I decided to stop contact with him, and I noticed that his phone calls started coming in more frequently. When we do see each other, which is rare, he tries to flirt with me. I'm sick of him calling me all the time and acting as if we're together when we're not. I've tried to talk to him and set boundaries, but so far all he's done is try to surpass them. My question is what else can I do to get the point across? How can I help him realize that he needs to be more responsible? How can I communicate these things and ultimately help him find his way?
— Over It Ilea
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Dear Over It Ilea,
I've seen this situation before, and it's most assuredly a frustrating one. Fortunately, it sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders, and I'm glad to hear you're not up for allowing this behavior to continue. He does sound lost, and I'm sure his sense of failure in school, and life, is definitely a factor in his fears about continuing a relationship. However, regardless of the reason, you deserve someone who wants to be with you through good and bad. I mean, that's what relationships are really about. He's obviously afraid of losing you, which is why his phone calls picked up when you backed off. But that's the choice he's made, and he's never going to learn the consequences of that until he feels them.
Instead of trying to talk to him, get straight to your point. Be clear that you can no longer play the role of the de facto girlfriend. If he doesn't want to be with you, then he doesn't get to be with you and that's that. While you're at it, go ahead and mention that you think he needs to start taking some initiative in life. Encourage him to apply to schools for next year or start taking classes at a local community college. But once you've made your stance clear, you have to stand by it. Maybe he'll change down the line, and in that case, you guys can start considering a relationship again, but in the meantime, focus on your own future.