Boondock blues

My boyfriend wants me to live with him in a tiny town in Maine. I'll go crazy there with him, but I'll go crazy here without him.


Cary Tennis
February 6, 2004 1:44AM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

About four years ago I met a great guy. We hit it off immediately and eventually fell in love. I have never known anyone like him and believe that he is my true love. Until he announced one day that he wanted to move back to his home state of Maine. We were living in a really wonderful town in the West, where we have lots of friends and family, great jobs, social activities and a breathtaking environment. I thought it was a great life, but he wanted a change because he'd lived here for over 20 years. He asked me to marry him and to move to Maine with him. I moved because I loved him dearly, although I was very unhappy about the move. Friends told me I was crazy, but it was either move with him or lose him, so I went.

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We moved to a minuscule farming community where most of our neighbors were cows. It was pretty, but the seasons were harsh, especially winter, and there were absolutely no jobs to be found. My boyfriend is a carpenter, so he always found something to keep him busy, but I began to go crazy without work and friends. He assured me that he would support me, which he did, very graciously. But he didn't understand that I get satisfaction, not just money, from my work. He fell in love with the town and I grew to hate it. Eventually, he said he couldn't marry me unless I lived there full-time. So, after a year, I moved back to my old town and left him there.

We keep in touch and still love each other, but he's determined to stay there. I have offered many compromises, one being that we live there during the warmer months and live in the West during the harsh winters, but he won't budge. I am heartbroken because in the year we've been apart I realize how much I love him; but I simply cannot live in Maine. I feel like I have lost my one true love and don't know what to do. I have written him long letters telling him how I feel and that we were meant to be together. He said he's never had a better relationship, but that he feels he belongs in Maine and he just doesn't understand why I can't be happy there, too. He thinks I'm crazy for moving back to where we came from.

Friends tell me he's self-centered and spoiled for demanding that I live with him in Maine, and for not realizing what a sacrifice it was for me to go with him. They also think he's a cad for rescinding his marriage proposal because he can't have his own way. They think I am more than a good sport for having moved with him in the first place. Although I'm inclined to agree with them, I feel lost without him; he was my best friend and I don't know how to go on without him. I might go crazy living there. And I don't want to end up hating him because I live in a place that I hate, yet I feel like I will never again meet anyone like him. (I realize I sound like a whiny teenager, but I'm in my mid-40s.) Any advice?

Lost in the Rocky Mountains

Dear Lost,

I think you need to admit that you have lost someone very special. It's a damned crying shame, actually, and I wouldn't blame you if you put his face on a dartboard and had a few rounds. In your anger and your pain, you may call him names. No one says you have to be a saint about these things. But if I were you I would put the face of Fate on that dartboard too, because Fate intervenes in cruel and senseless ways, pulling people apart for reasons none of us can know.

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It's a grave and powerful thing that has happened, and you need to begin the process of accepting it. I'm not sure you have let it sink in yet. It sounds like you're still trying to find a way to make it work. But from what you're telling me, he's going to live in Maine and you're going to live in the West. So that's that.

These things happen. People are pulled apart. The forces that pull them apart are huge and invisible and they take us by surprise: Suddenly, you know you have to have a baby but your husband doesn't want a child. Where did that giant unbidden urgency come from? Out of what silent implacable blue sky did it descend? Who knows, but there goes the marriage. And off you go on a new chapter.

Suddenly he had to live in Maine. Who knew? So the important question for you is to decide what to do. Though you still love him, it may not be wise to see him; your dignity and self-esteem may be too wounded. It may be better to start trying to let him go. I don't know for sure. It's possible for people to become friends and even lovers after something like this. But if you're going to keep him in your life, he's going to be an occasional brief presence, not a permanent one. Now, things can happen in the future. People can change. You can visit and have some sweet times, and he can visit and have some sweet times. Maybe one day he'll be trying to finish a roof truss and get frostbite and have to lay up for a bit and he'll start thinking about all the good times he had out West. If you're going to keep him in your life, other men are going to have to know that this distant carpenter still has a hold on your affections. That may make it more difficult for you to find a man you can settle down with, if that's what you're looking for.

I'm willing to bet that he's an introvert and you're an extrovert. That would explain why he doesn't really understand your need for people. It's really too bad in a way, because introverts and extroverts can get along fine in a city: Introverts, after all, can always manufacture some solitude in the midst of a crowd. But an extrovert can hardly manufacture a crowd in the midst of the wilderness.

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So I would suggest that you start today trying to let go. It might take a while. You had such a good thing. If I were you, I'd be angry. But though he may be acting selfishly and stupidly, he hasn't deliberately hurt you; he wasn't the only one who thought it might work out.

And then go out with your girlfriends and start looking for a new man. Because I'm afraid this one's really gone.

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Cary Tennis

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