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He needs to see if he can live life without me

My BF of 4 1/2 Yrs & I (both26) broke up last night.We talked/cried for 2 hours as he tried to explain what he was feeling.His reasoning is that he knows the next step for us is to get married-but he doesnt want 2 make the commitment until he knows he cant live his life w/o me.He says that no one has ever been this important to him, that im perfect &that I've done no wrong-that I deserve the deepest level of commitment. To add,he hasnt had the easiest life-His father walked out when he was 16 & he has a hard time understanding how someone can love him the way I do-he thinks that if his own father left,how Is it possible for his partner (me) to love him enough to stay?He said: I deserve 100% certainty from him. He wont get down on one knee if he can't give me everything.He wants to be the best for me.His head & heart are saying that I am the one but hes experienced 4+ yrs of me being a constant in his life& he needs to experience life w/o me to really understand how important I am. There is absolutely no one else.He has no intention of dating,that this time is for him/his emotional needs.My happiness is most important to him.He loves me more than anything.No one will ever love me more than he does.He isn’t going anywhere.He’s always here for me.I told him I’m sad but respect his decision.I believe that if 2 people do really love,they'll find a way back.We left crying saying I love you & kissing goodbye.I plan to proceed with NC & see if time apart is enough for him to know-I don’t want to get my hopes up so I plan to focus on myself.Thoughts?

Re: He needs to see if he can live life without me

I'm sorry this is so difficult. A break up like this after four and a half years of dating, for the reason he's giving, is painful all around. I hope that he can work things out for himself because everyone deserves a partner who feels that they can be "all in" -- as well as having that feeling of wanting and knowing they can be "all in", themselves! I don't know if time will give him what he needs, or if he gets to the point where he realizes he should just jump in and trust that dating you for four years, successfully, is a good start for the next step. But the hardest part of all this is that this is his decision and he's got to figure it out.

As for you, I think that no contact is a really good idea. You need to not only give him the space to make his own decisions, but you have to decide if you want to wait -- and if so, how long. While you're waiting, it's important that you take care of yourself and not be sitting by the phone. I know that's going to be tough because of the length of the relationship that just ended, but you can do things like schedule your lunch with your best friends, dinner with favorite family members and most fun things you love to do, so you're not sitting around. Be kind to yourself and focus on taking care of you.

I hope that helps and that you heal quickly, from this pain.
April Masini is a relationship and etiquette expert, author of 4 books and the #1 relationship advice forum, blue-chip corporate spokesperson and preferred go-to source for the world’s most prominent media and news outlets.