Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Before taking boyfriend back, decide if he can be trusted
Maryland: After nearly two years together, my boyfriend ended things abruptly. He came to my house, told me "I can't be in a relationship and give you the commitment you want," and then he left.
Flash forward two months. We finally talk. He admits he had a panic/freakout and handled things poorly. He's miserable without me.
We agreed to take things slowly and see where they are going. I love and miss this man, but am terrified of getting hurt again. He handled things so terribly. I'm not sure I can trust him with my heart. And yet, I want him back so badly. I am conflicted. Do I give it a try, or just move on?
Carolyn: I dunno. After he left, did you look back on your relationship through the lens of your new knowledge, and have a retroactive "duh" moment, where you recognized signs of immaturity, impulsiveness, poor communication? We can be surprised by people we know well — but usually that's because we missed signs, not because there weren't any.
So you need to add his freakout to the other knowledge you have about him, and then decide whether he's trustworthy. The strength of a relationship isn't just in how much you like each other, but in how competently each of you handles life — which includes the handling of each other's emotions. Mutual trust grows from such sources of strength.
You have two years plus two months' worth of information on him. Use all of it, not just "He hurt me," "We missed each other," "I want him back." Those are whats; you need whys.
Relationships can end for any reason, so don't fret about age
So Not A Cougar: Any advice for a mid 30s woman dating a mid 20s guy? Neither of us was necessarily looking to date across such an age gap, but we were friends for quite a while before admitting to our obvious-to-others feelings. When I'm with him, it's great. Communication is fantastic, he's supportive and kind, and he's my match intellectually and emotionally. There aren't any obvious generational differences, either. Our friends and family think we're perfect for each other. We both feel like this is a relationship with a great future.
When we're not together, my insecurities start whispering "Sure it's great now, but what about when you turn 40 and he's only 29?" I like my age, I feel good and no pressure from the so-called biological clock. But I resent this nagging worry about my age now that I'm dating a younger guy.
How to keep our age insecurities in check? I actually looked through old pictures last night reminding myself that the figure flaws I have now are the same ones I had in my 20s and thus aren't the product of aging.
Carolyn: This is probably not the picker-upper you had in mind, but it might help to remember that most relationships end for one reason or another. So, it's actually not productive to dwell on any one reason this one might end. Will you sag? Yes. Will it matter? Time will tell.
Enjoy what you have and accept upfront that you can't predict the outcome. There's no guarantee in any relationship that you won't get hurt, and this one's no different.