Ask a counsellor: ‘Why can’t my ex-boyfriend decide what he wants?’

The problem…

“My fiancé called off our wedding a few months back and said that we should spend some time apart. It came as a shock to me, because we’ve been together for ages and I thought we were very much in love.

“He moved out, but said that he wanted us to stay friendly – he even suggested that we should continue to meet up regularly. Since then, I have been seeing him once or twice a week when we usually go out for a drink or get a takeaway. We nearly always end up making love but, after an hour or so, he leaves.

“Despite the fact that we continue to get together, something is different between us, because we don’t talk like we used to. When we do, it’s hard work and we avoid anything serious.

“I’ve tried gently to steer things around to our future, but he just clams up or changes the subject, so I simply don’t know where we stand. It’s driving me nuts. I’m so unhappy and I know I should just ask him directly, but I’m also frightened this will cause a confrontation and force him further away. Why is he doing this and what does he want from me?”

Fiona says…

“I know you’re unhappy and confused, but I am really not the person you need to ask. You already know who you should direct these questions to, but you’re avoiding it, because I think you already suspect what the answer might be.

“You need to speak to your ex-fiancé soon, because he has little incentive to address your concerns and make any changes. He has access to company when he needs it and sex on demand, with none of the bothersome responsibilities of a proper relationship or marriage. So please, ask the hard questions starting with, “Do you love me?”

“You also need to ask where you stand, why he called off the wedding, why he moved out and whether he sees a time when you get back to the kind of relationship that can lead to marriage. You may find that he doesn’t know the answer to some of these questions. He may not even understand his own feelings or is confused about what to do next. This would certainly explain his need to carry on seeing you regularly but, at the same time, step away from anything serious.

“However, he needs to understand that this situation is hurting you and that it cannot go on any longer. If your worst fears are realised and he either can’t or won’t give you a straight answer, then do please reconsider these regular meetings, which are doing nothing for your self-esteem.

You need to find out where you stand, says Fiona (Thinkstock/PA)

“While a complete separation is likely to be painful, can it be any worse than the uncertainty, loneliness and unhappiness you’ve been living with for these past few months? You’re going to be feeling sad and empty at first, so give yourself time to grieve, but then please try to get back out there – meeting new people and exploring the possibility of other relationships.

“Your fiancé may just need some time to process his feelings – he may decide you are the one for him, but waiting around at his convenience like this isn’t helping him – or you – to make any decisions. If you feel you need help in coming to terms with what has happened, then do think about contacting a Relate counsellor (, who can help you to work through your feelings.”

If you have a problem and you’d like Fiona’s advice, email

- Press Association

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