ask Knox: high pressure breakups
I recently discovered your blog through a friend. My boyfriend and I broke up this week (yes, it took a whole week to actually end) after 6 wonderful months together. We love and care about each other so much. The problem is that he has a highly stressful job that has required 80-hour work weeks the past few weeks – he’s a major player in most of the front page stories you see in the WSJ and NYT. I work in the same financial sphere, so I understand his stress and the importance of what he does. We decided that being in a relationship is just not conducive to his crazy work schedule. The break-up was very sad and very amicable. We really want to stay close friends and talk frequently. I don’t see a problem with this at all since we obviously want to stay main characters in each other’s lives, and who knows what will happen down the road. Maybe we will date again. After all, we were both thinking long-term here. My mother completely disagrees with me – she thinks I should cease contact and move on. My friends are somewhere in the middle. We each have no interest in pursuing other people – his work just became a major stress for us both.
Not being able to talk or be friends would almost be devastating – we are just great together and have become such big parts of each other’s lives. But I’m interested in a second, impartial opinion – I look forward to your thoughts.
I don’t totally understand why you had to break up. I get that he’s a busy man with a stressful job, and I also get that you respect what he does and therefore support his throwing any and all efforts into it. But…if everything was going well and you still want to be the main characters in each others’ life, I don’t see how you can’t find a way. Certainly it’s not ideal, but you could just make the relationship lower maintenance until the dust settles and he either quits or gets laid off – or perhaps he gets a promotion that affords more free time. You both keep busy the whole time until then, seeing each other when you can, and make the most of what little time you have.
Failing that, if you really must break up, it is possible to still be friends. Some of my dearest friends are past lovers. Just bear in mind that such things are rare. And being that you’re only six months in, I’d imagine the flames are still fairly hot. Typically, the sexual tension gets the better of you and you find yourself back at square one again with the person. It’s like picking an emotional scab. Cutting off all ties is sometimes the way to go, but more often than not, it’s a cop-out. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to do it for a short while in some circumstances, but unless somebody was intentionally reckless with your feelings, you should try to keep those who have known you in a loving, romantic way, close to your heart. If you can.
Anyway, your mother is trying to protect you here and I can see that, but she fails to take into account that there are exceptions to the rules. Whatever the case, do yourself a favor, and keep an open mind the next time someone asks you out. There’s something to be said for just rolling with it. Don’t think long-term. Don’t have expectations. Just enjoy yourself.
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