Conditional Love: Should I Leave Him? Dr. Ruth Weighs In

My on-again, off-again boyfriend of two years recently told me he doesn't love me by my standards '- only by his. He said he loves me for being "there for him" '- by helping him out of debt, loaning him money and helping him build his credit. But he can't see himself loving me unconditionally, as I love him. I know we have problems, but the love I feel for him is the only thing that keeps me going. We had been discussing moving in together when I found a job in his area, and I was really looking forward to that. But now I'm not sure it's such a good idea. Have I been in la-la land? What should I do?

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Ruth Westheimer

The original sexpert, Dr. Ruth has given advice for more than 20 years. She's hosted television shows including Sexually Speaking with Dr.... Read more

I believe that time is the most precious gift we have. So when you say this has been an on-again, off-again relationship for two years, my antennae automatically go up. My way of thinking is, if a relationship isn't progressing, it needs to be ended. It sounds like this is a bit of a long-distance relationship, which may be part of the problem, but still, two years is a long time to be having the types of problems you mention.

I'm not saying that every relationship should go perfectly smoothly; there are always bumps in the road. But it seems that in your case, it's a major bump '- maybe even a roadblock. You've been there for him, but would he support you if you had a problem? If you two were to get married, would he want to skip the vow that says "for better or worse"? Maybe his attitude is just immature, but it could also be that his only genuine interest is in taking from you, not giving. If that's true, then this relationship is one-sided and headed in the wrong direction, and it's time to move on.

If you decide to give the relationship one last chance, make sure to set a specific time limit on it. If after, say, one month, your situation has shown no improvement, then you need to tell yourself it's over. You'll be sad for a while. You'll have to mourn the relationship because you do love this man. But don't let it drag on and on. A relationship that you know is destructive doesn't deserve any more of your time.

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