Are Three Break-Ups Three Too Many?

I’ve been remiss in answering readers’ questions from Formspring. Let’s start to remedy that today!

Question: My boyfriend and I broke up three times. This third time has been the longest. It’s been a week since we have been broken up. He said loves me a lot, but he needs time to flirt and to be single before he wants to be with me again. What do you think?

Answer: I’m sorry that you’re experiencing such relationship turmoil. It’s clear from how you’ve phrased the question and your patience about the situation that you love your boyfriend a lot.

Your boyfriend appears to be taking advantage of your feelings for him and your patience. He’s found a way to have his proverbial cake and eat it, too. When he wants to enjoy the benefits of being in a serious relationship, he does. When he wants to break up so that he spend time with other women, he can. When he wants to return back to the security of his relationship with you, he's able to do so.

The real question here is how much of his behavior you’re willing to tolerate. Your limits are for you and you alone to determine.

As you decide what’s in your best interest, it's worth asking yourself what you’re looking for from a significant other. How secure do you feel about this relationship, knowing that your boyfriend can use an easy-out clause at a moment’s notice? Does this relationship provide you with the level of trust and commitment that you would like?

How do you define “love,” and how different is that from how your boyfriend defines it? Break-ups are by their nature heartbreaking. Going through that three times in one relationship might be too much for some people to bear emotionally. If your boyfriend truly loves you a lot, I wonder how he views love and commitment and why it doesn’t break his heart to hurt you.

In addition, what does your boyfriend mean by being “single” again? I don’t think you can assume that he’s just casually flirting with other women since he doesn’t need to be single to do that. Whether or not we’re in a relationship, we all encounter people with whom we have a connection or feel an attraction. That’s human nature. The key, however, is recognizing that our love for our significant other outweighs our need to act on that attraction.

Are you comfortable with your boyfriend having sex with other women while you're on these breaks? When he comes back to you after this time apart, do you talk candidly about whether he was with anyone else and if so, whether or not he used a condom? Please make sure that your heart and your health are protected!

Whatever you decide, I hope that you find the peace you’re looking for and the love that you deserve.

Readers, what advice would you give this young woman?

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