Should I Throw in the Towel

Dear Dr. Love: Great site. I'm not really sure how to put this and I know the chances of you picking my question are slim. Perhaps it will help me just to write it down and send it into cyberspace.

I am 23 years old and my boyfriend is 27. We have been dating exclusively for almost 2 years. We live in Michigan. I was close friends with his younger sister in high school, and that 's how we met. When we met, I was 18, and he was living with and engaged to another girl. His family is very Catholic, and they didn't approve of him living with this woman. It caused a lot of problems with his folks.

Well, she ended up being a psycho (for lack of a better word) and trying to kill him, and he moved away to California. When he came back, we started hanging out again, just as friends. We had a lot in common. He was living at home with his folks, saving up money to go to New York City. Our town was really just a stopping-point for him. I was in a screwed-up relationship--on/off for 2 years with a real jerk--and my boyfriend had a girl waiting for him in NYC.

He found out shortly after he got home that this girl was pregnant with his child. He didn't tell anyone except me for months. I was always there for him and I was the only one he talked to about it. One thing led to another, and we started seeing each other as more than friends. I really respected the way he was dealing with the pregnancy, how caring he was with this girl, how supportive, even though he no longer wanted a relationship with her, and I took a lot on trying to help him through it.

She ended up having to terminate her pregnancy. I know how hard that is, but my boyfriend (we were calling each other that by then) said he really didn't want any time alone and he wanted to be with me. Fast forward to now. Everything, for the most part, has been great--I'd say we have about an 85% success rate. We discussed moving in together, but both decided we weren't ready. We're best friends and we have a wonderful time . . . most of the time.

The problem is that he can not tell me he loves me. He says he does, inside, but is afraid of making another mistake. He won't talk to me about his past. He won't talk to me about his fears. I have tried to be patient, God knows, I have tried to be his friend and help him feel comfortable, but it hurts me when I tell him I love him (which I rarely say) and he looks at me like I'm something that lives under a rock.

Lately we have been fighting in a way that is totally unfit for 2 people who have been through so much together--we fight about everything. We're not sure what to do. Should I throw in the towel? I don't want to, but I feel that we have come up against a wall. I just reiterated my committment to him and to working through this rough spot when he and I spoke this morning, but I wonder if I am doing the right thing. I want to suggest therapy, but I don't think he'll go for that. Thank you for your time.

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