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The SparkNotes Blog

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Auntie SparkNotes: My Boyfriend Wants to Break Up If We Don’t Choose the Same College

Dear Auntie,

I need help. My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time, and we’re really committed to each other. We have a great understanding and bond. But it’s that time of the school year when we start thinking about nd applying for colleges. By early 2018, we’ll know what college we plan to attend. However, his parents want him going to one college, and though my options are open, I can tell that my parents are leaning towards a different college. We both want to go to the same college, but the worst case scenario is that we don’t. And I don’t think he’s taking it well. He wants to end our relationship on good terms and stay as friends in the case I go to a different college. But if I do attend the same college as him, our relationship survives. His excuse for this logic? He thinks that very soon, our relationship will end on worse terms and that our friendship at that point won’t be salvageable.

I’ve tried to talk him out of this idea, but he’s not agreeing. On top of that, I don’t feel comfortable in this relationship if it’s only going to blow up in my face. It’s like a sword is hanging over my head right now, and it can fall at any moment. I will only be able to take a breath of relief if I end up enrolling at the same college as him.

What should I do, Auntie? How should I act with him now? I’ve talked to him a lot about this topic, and neither one of us wants to budge from our stance. Neither one of us is ready to end the relationship right now, because the truth is, neither one of us really knows what colleges we will attend, so we don’t want to make a premature decision. This is affecting me really badly and I want to stop worrying about this as soon as I can.

In that case, Sparkler, the solution to your problem is pretty clear.

Unfortunately, it is also pretty painful, and almost certainly not what you were hoping for. But you know that terrible feeling you have, like a dangling sword of Damocles is poised to fall on your love life unless you do everything just so? That feeling and a healthy relationship are mutually exclusive. The sword doesn’t even need to fall; the sense that it’s up there is proof all on its own that things aren’t working out anymore.

And I’m sorry, because I know that’s bad news (unless you’re the type of relentlessly optimistic and level-headed person who can find the bright side in anything, in which case… well, at least you can stop worrying?). But the truth is, your boyfriend has had one foot out the door ever since he dictated the narrowest possible set of terms under which you might stay together—and the reason things have been so sour since then is that you’re no longer working toward the same shared goal. Look at the way he talks about your relationship: he’s completely breakup-focused. And while you might still be committed as ever, he’s clearly not thinking anymore about making it work, but rather about how to salvage a friendship after it inevitably doesn’t.

The problem is, once one half of a couple goes into breakup management mode, the official end of things is as much an afterthought as it is a foregone conclusion—hence the part where neither one of you knows how to act around the other anymore. You might as well be sitting in a house with a CONDEMNED sticker on the window and a wrecking ball parked on the lawn. And while some couples are capable of ignoring those things and letting the relationship chug merrily along right down to its expiration date, let’s be honest, that doesn’t sound like it’s in the cards for you. Instead, you’re staring out the window at the wrecking ball, and he’s trying to nudge you both out back door, and neither one of you is having any fun.

Which brings us to this: how you handle this crossroads in your relationship is up to you. There is no law that says you must break up just because a breakup seems inevitable. There’s even a chance, albeit a very slim one, that you and Boyfriend will come to a last-minute mutual understanding of your importance to each other and decide to stay together regardless. (Though of course, there’s also no guarantee that you won’t break up anyway even if you do attend the same college, which is why it’s generally a bad idea to base your school choice solely on the hoped-for success of a high school relationship. Y’know, just for the record.) But if you guys can’t wrench yourselves out of Future Worry mode and enjoy each other’s company until you don’t anymore, you might want to at least consider calling it quits now. After all, the only thing worse than an unhappy conclusion is an unhappy conclusion preceded by six months of dread as it approaches.

Ultimately, though, it’s your choice. And if you weigh your options thoughtfully, and with an eye toward both your own happiness and your goals for your future, you’ll make the one that’s right for you — even if what’s “right” about it is that it teaches you a harsh but necessary lesson about when to let things go.

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