Dear Richard: Hope? Or Denial?

By: Dear Dick

Dear Richard,
I am a college student in Chicago trying to figure out what to do with my life. I found an amazing boyfriend almost two years ago and have had a great time with him. He is studying acting in Chicago. He has always described himself as weird, lacking in self confidence, career focused, and always trying to live in the moment. In the past year, we've been having a few more arguments than normal, I believe just due to us falling in a relationship "rut." However, none of the arguments/discussions were overly heated, and always ended with a sturdy love for each other.

This past summer he got a job working at a young actors' camp in L.A. It was the most distance we'd ever had. He was unable to call for weeks at a time or text for most days due to how busy the camp was. Ever since he came back to Chicago a few weeks ago, all that was on his mind was his plans to go back to L.A. after he graduates. He says he found a new confidence in himself in L.A. that he never had with me in Chicago. Shortly after coming back, he broke up with me, saying that it would be better for both of us to break up now and not wait until he graduates. I'm devastated since it seems like he never gave it a shot to work things out when he came back from his summer adventures. He says that he just can't be in a relationship now since he wants to focus on himself.

I'm just not sure what to do since he indicates that his "body" wants to be with me, but that he has to fight it and keep his career in mind. Currently he has asked for a couple weeks time away from me, no communication or contact, so he can see where he wants to go in life and if he can balance me in the mix. I feel lost after this rush of events, and helpless with my continuing emotions for him. Should I wait it out for him, so he can maybe decide to give "us" a try, or risk him just coming back to me and telling me that he doesn't want anything to do with the emotions I have for him.

Thanks for any help you can give, I love your advice.
Hopeless Romantic


Dear Hopeless,

Sometimes when we read the letters here, the essence of the entire response can be based on the writer's sign off. Either it succinctly sums up the problem in one or two words, or as in your case, almost the opposite is true. The problem is hope, not hopelessness.

So, my friend, we see two issues here. One is that your friend keeps hanging around after he has already broken up with you.

The other problem is that you are having trouble seeing that all that hope you have for resolution is dulling your vision. Hope is not a bad thing, but it can often turn into a fixed viewpoint, or wish, that keeps us armored from reality. We end up rewriting the facts as they come in to support our desires. We make excuses for other people's behavior so we can hold on to our projections.

If you guys are both college age, I am going to assume you are pretty young, relatively speaking. This is often a time where we are learning how to relate romantically to another person. The hard experiences we learn at this point can be really useful later on when more mature and committed partnerships are available to us. Especially if we take these painful moments in as a lessons rather than just heartbreak.

The suggestion is to loosen your grip. Start having your life again instead of keeping everything on hold while you wait for your actor friend to alight somewhere. He has told you what he wants in various ways. You may not get a more definitive statement from him. Normally, when folks ask for a few weeks with no communication, it's not so that they can have time to reflect, it's that they hope the other person will come to their senses and see that the relationship is not going to go anywhere.

He seems nice enough to not want to brutally cut you off which says a lot about your relationship up till now. Call it a successful relationship and move on.


Dear Richard is not a medical doctor, a licensed psychiatrist, a counselor, a reverend, or a rabbi. He has not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, or the BBC, and his words are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The information is for educational purposes only and it not intended to serve as medical advice. Dear Richard does, however, love hearing from you and answering your questions. Leave a comment or send him an e-mail.