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Relationship Advice: Know When it’s Over

Dear Loveawake: I’m confused and hurt.  My boyfriend of four years and I have been living apart since June due to our occupations.  Due to the nature of my job as a guide on wilderness trips we were only able to communicate once a week during the summer.  September rolled along, and my guide job ended, but I’m still living many states away.  In September he was pretty upset and depressed about his living situation, and we would talk on the phone for hours.  The night before he left for a new job in California, he told me that he wanted to marry me and have kids!  Then mysteriously, since mid September we have only had one 5 minute conversation which was from a payphone!

He assured me that he still loved me but was super busy with his new hectic job, and no doubt from the sounds of it.  He does not write (even though I sent him self-addressed stamped envelopes!) and he rarely responds to my e-mails in brief non-descript messages.  I’ve been trying to tell him to freaking borrow someone else’s phone if he can’t afford the payphone, but seemingly to no avail.  It’s mid October now, and one five minute conversation is not enough.  What should I do?  I think I have tried every possible means of communication at this point.  I fear that his actions may speak louder than words.  But why would he have talked of marriage and then nada?  Do I give him some more time, or do I give him an ultimatum?  I have made it abundantly clear in my correspondences that I’m unhappy with this situation.  It’s tearing me up inside.  Thanks for your help! ~Long Distance Turmoil~

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Dear LDT: The Loveawake wonders if, through some weird rift in the space-time continuum, you have written to him from the early 80s? Your Waffling Wooer has only communicated by payphone? The BSG is hard-pressed to even think of where there IS a payphone in his town. Similarly, you sent Waffling Wooer something called a “self-addressed stamped envelope”? En-vell-op? What is this thing? The BSG jokes with you in your pain LDT, not because he doesn’t care, but because…well…it makes him smile.

But let’s get to your questions, shall we LDT? The Loveawake is going to channel one of his alter egos: the Bitter Science Guy. The BSG knows, as many of his readers know, that waaaay out in space when a star gets really old, it can sometimes get really bright just before being reduced to a lump of coal (the BSG is thinking about Christmas, sort of). Scientists, including the Bitter Science Guy, call this a supernova, and if one were wont to think of stars as people (and the BSG is wont), one could imagine the star giving its last boost of enthusiasm before fading away forever.

The BSG suspects that Waffling Wooer is much like a star going supernova in that he feels the end of your relationship coming, so he throws out the last bit of brightness he can muster.  Marriage! And offspring!! This will be perfect!!! Watch us shine…oh wait…I’m busy at work…I live far away… And from there, Waffling Wooer fades to a lump of coal (the metaphor breaks down in there somewhere, but you get the BSG’s drift).

So first LDT, let’s do away with the idea that his marriage proposal should somehow influence your decision (you know where the BSG is going, he thinks).

Second, believe it or not the BSG, among his many jobs, was once a wilderness guide, too and he knows what it’s like to be out of touch with civilization and relationships while tramping around in the woods. The BSG recalls that many of his coworkers had as much difficulty as the BSG in managing relationships in that job. Some might say that the folks who choose careers that keep them entirely out of touch with the world for days and weeks at a time have a larger issue to address, but the BSG will let that sleeping dog lie.

OK LDT, the BSG has rambled on sufficiently. He suspects (as you do) that your relationship is going the way of that supernova. Here are the things working against you:

  • Your job keeps you out in the woods for up to a week without communication.
  • Your boyfriend has a job that keeps him similarly busy, although not in the woods (random, but seemed important to call out).
  • You live a few states away.
  • He’s not communicating in a way that works for you (or would work for anyone, probably).

This combination of conditions doesn’t bode well. Here’s the plan: Email him or send him a letter. (the BSG is sort of astonished that a payphone is the best he can do when he apparently is working a lot. Odd.) In the letter, tell him that the foundation of a long-distance relationship is frequent communication and that when he’s got time for his relationship with you he should let you know and perhaps you can get back together. Yes, the BSG just recommended that you dump Waffling Wooer.

You’ll either shock him into stepping up, or he’ll tuck his tail between his legs and agree that this is for the best. If it’s the tail-tucking option, you’ll go through significant anger because he obviously hoped that you would step up and take responsibility for the breakup that he couldn’t seem to manage. The BSG encourages you to embrace this anger. Waffling Wooer should be stepping up here, and the BSG finds himself annoyed without even knowing him. Grrr…

The BSG is sorry for your breakup LDT. Even if you haven’t said the words yet, the BSG is pretty sure that not talking to someone who wanted to marry you for more than a month indicates it’s time to move on.


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