Over the past two years, my boyfriend and I have fallen passionately in love. We are best friends. Our physical chemistry is great. We have interests, hobbies, and friends in common. I have always been faithful, as has he. The problem is that we don't agree on what the future looks like.
He's a 35-year-old divorced father of two girls, with visitation rights. He has communicated from the day we met that there are several constants in his life: He will never move from the town where we live now; he will never leave his job as a commercial airline pilot, which includes 12-20 days of travel each month; and he will not have any more children.
I am a 29-year-old professional. The only constants in my life are that I thrive on change--I tend to move every two years or so--and that I want a husband, and children of my own. I do not love my work and am constantly searching for my "calling." My ideal partner would explore with me.
We know that these are big differences in what we want for our future, and because of that, we've tried to end the relationship four times. But we always reunite within weeks, and neither of us can envision being happy without the other person. He recently asked me to marry him. At this point, I honestly don't know if I'm meant to stay or go.
I applaud that you both have been very clear and truthful with each other. When you're in love--as you two clearly are--separating is awful and heartbreaking. But unless one or both of you truly overhauls how you view yourself, the other person, and the world, separating is the right choice. Your passion, friendship, and mutual respect go a long way, but when life goals and dreams are so different, it's very difficult to remain satisfied as the months, then years, pass. Inevitably, what started as a win-win situation will become lose-lose.Your previous attempts to separate tell me that you both know it is very unlikely that you can evolve into successful lifelong mates. In fact, it seems you have already made the decision that separating and keeping your goals and dreams is better than staying together and giving them up.Your real struggle is facing the pain of actually ending the relationship.It is very sad when a couple realizes that they don't share the same vision of "us." As with any loss, you need to grieve in order to move on. Take your time, and go easy on yourself. Sometimes it takes lots of breakups, especially when the desire to be together remains strong. It doesn't surprise me that you've tried four times. That doesn't mean that you are "meant to be," or that there's some cosmic force keeping you together. Quite the opposite--it means that you're on the right track, so hold steady. There's nothing wrong with making your parting a slow process. Maybe that will soothe your broken hearts.
With a little time and a little perspective, I think you will be surprised at how the many good things you've gotten from this relationship will stay with you. Being in this very special relationship is an important event that forever will be a part of you both, and will shape your future in ways you may not be able to predict right now. It may take another breakup
or two, but eventually, going forward individually to realize your goals and dreams will feel more right than staying together. Hang in there.-Susi Susan King is a wife and entrepreneur in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Send her your dilemmas and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org