Adapted from a recent online discussion.
An off-on relationship is result of both partners' behavior
D.C.: How many chances do you give someone before you call it quits? I have been off and on with someone for years, and this time he said he has figured out his problem, said it was not my fault and wants to try again. Do I do it? Is it possible for someone to really change?
Carolyn: Are you ready to get back together, only to find out that nothing has changed? Unless you can say "yes" to that, pass.
In other words, count on what you know about him already, banish all wishful thinking and decide accordingly. Don't expect change, and certainly don't plan on it.
By the way — being off and on for years is what you two produce together, and that's as much your doing as it is his, no matter what he's saying now that he wants you back. Take responsibility for your role, then decide if this is the person/relationship/life you want.
Which do you value more: sunny weather or your guy?
Seattle: I want to move somewhere warm and sunny, but my boyfriend wants to live by his family and keep his very good job in Seattle. Is this a stupid reason for me to leave him? We've been together for three years.
Carolyn: There are no stupid reasons. Stupid is choosing not to act on your desires because you're afraid your reasons are stupid.
So, which do you want more, the guy or the sun? If you choose the sun, then he gets to decide which he wants more, Seattle or you.
To build your self-esteem, be good to yourself and others
Anywhere: I am in need of a self-esteem boost. How does one go about getting one?
Carolyn: Don't stew, do — and do things that you're good at naturally and/or that tangibly benefit others. Exercise works, too, where feasible, as does healthy eating; treating yourself as valuable is a subtle and persuasive gesture.
Boyfriend who leaves during crisis is showing his character
Maryland: My then-boyfriend bailed when I broke my collarbone and was basically an invalid for weeks. I was really in love with him, so that came as a huge disappointment. At the time, he continued to call occasionally to see how I was doing, and once I got well again, his calls turned flirty, and now he wants to get back together.
I never stopped loving him, nor did I have time to "get over him" (tough to do when you still talk to the person regularly), so I'm tempted to just do it, but I can't forget how he withdrew in a tough time. Is that in itself a deal-breaker?
Carolyn: When one of you (or a parent or child) gets seriously ill, or one of you loses a job, or when you have an active toddler and your new baby is colicky, and he sticks you with all the heavy lifting, and this makes you pause to reflect back on this "Is this a deal-breaker?" crossroads, you are so going to wish you'd said "yes."