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Guy meets girl, guy and girl fall in love, yada yada yada… then it’s over. In between the falling, and the falling out, though, there are events or conversations that make one party go, “Wait, what?” The red flags start waving. And yet, you stayed.
Here are some true tales of lost love, and expert advice on how to know if it’s time to let go.
The problem: “I dated my ex for 3.5 years. To everyone looking in, he was the dream boyfriend, one of those guys who’s perfect on paper. But he was so “good” that he ultimately became very controlling of the way I made my day-to-day decisions and spent my time. He wouldn’t have a piña colada with me at the pool, because he didn’t want to drink during the day. I’m not even the party-girl type!” —Rachel, 25
The rationale: “Clearly there are lifestyle differences, and these do matter,” says Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. “Whether it be the food preference, vacation destinations, or simply how to spend free time, if a couple isn’t on the same page with these then the relationship will likely falter.”
The problem: I was driving across the country and making the move to NYC, to be with my girlfriend. During this time, she opted to watch reruns of Keeping Up with the Kardashians instead of chatting as I drove through the most boring states to be by her side. We broke up three months later.” —Mike, 27
The rationale: “The Kardashians are the guilty pleasure that you indulge in when you have nothing else going on,” says Rachel Russo, a dating, relationship, and image coach. “When she’s zoning out in a reality TV fantasy world instead of getting excited about the reality of her and her boyfriend starting a new life together, its a sign things will be short-lived.”
The problem: My boyfriend was the entrepreneur type. Despite being very caring, attentive, and spoiling me on occasion, he was in and out of town constantly! I felt like this was not real life – how could I be involved with someone who was in a different city every other week? We dated for four months, and things were relatively serious, but the fact that he wasn’t around was really hard.” —Beth, 26
The rationale: “The distance was a deal breaker for this girl because she needed her boyfriend around to build a close relationship,” says Russo. “Clearly, they have different needs in the relationship.”
The problem: “In college, I applied to intern and live in New York for a semester. My boyfriend had always wanted to study abroad in Ireland, but didn’t even apply because he couldn’t imagine being that far apart for an entire semester. I went to New York anyway. He was willing to give up something he dreamed about for a relationship. I wasn’t.” —Noelle, 24
The rationale: “This is a case of varying priorities and values,” says Alpert. “There’s no right or wrong here – just different values and goals. Sharing similar values, goals, and priorities will ensure a much better relationship.”
The problem: “My multi-year long distance relationship didn’t work out. Should have known from the beginning since it started while she was dating someone else: my best friend. She visited me a few days before I went to basic training to tell me she didn’t want to be with only one person any more. I’ve been single since and lost my best friend because of that rotten girl.” —Skylar, 26
The rationale: “Guys should never go for their friend’s girl,” Alpert says. “There are plenty of women out there to pursue other than the one your friend is sleeping with.” “Getting involved with someone who is currently with someone may backfire. She’s demonstrated she can cheat—and if she did it to one guy then she can do it to you.”
The problem: “I dated this guy for just about a year. He loved Lebron James and the Miami Heat. As a Magic fan, his super-fandom was one of the worst things he could say every time we spoke. Also, he always added hot sauce to everything he ate. I never understood that. Hot sauce cannot go on everything! To boot, he was a cheater and a mama’s boy.” —Preya, 26
The rationale: “Since I believe ‘once a cheater, always a cheater”’ adage is true, it seems pretty obvious this relationship was rife with issues,” says Russo.