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My boyfriend ended our relationship has decided to travel
My bf (42) and I (34) are in a loving relationship. He has cancer and has been through a couple surgeries to remove tumors. His last surgery removed all of his tumor. However his MRI showed that he may have a tumor in another spot now. He is undergoing oral chemo treatments. And, his doctor didn't give him a very positive perception of how much time he has. I am unsure what the prognosis is for him as he is very closed off about talking about his health. In fact, as of last week, I was the only one that knew he was sick. No family, no friends. His brother now knows that he is sick, but no details.

Some info about us, we haven't been in a relationship very long. However, I fell in love rather quickly. He is not at the same stage as me emotionally but is receptive to me feeling in love with him. He says that he is so consumed with his cancer, that he finds it difficult to focus on anything but that. Which I am of course empathetic to.

As of two days ago, I went over to his place and he told me in light of his recent MRI results, he has decided to leave the country and is unsure if he will ever come back. He said it was a very tough decision but had to not think of family, friends or me in his decision making. I can understand that and don't feel any anger towards him. I am heart broken though. He had mentioned a few months in to our relationship this was a possibility, but decided he is 100% going now. I respect his decision. I love him and want him to chase his dreams. However, I am crushed and severly heart broken. We still both care very much for each other. We shared one last beautiful night together where we talking openly and vulnerable with each other for hours, laughed and had fun, and were intimate. I am happy my last night with him was the best night I've had with a man, and I was married to someone for 10 years, that I ended 2 years ago. Sharing a special night and still sharing in feelings for one another almost makes it more difficult to obtain closure.

I do very much struggle with what his boundaries are... do I reach out to see how he's doing in a week or so? I can't turn off my caring for him but want to respect his space. I am terrified at the idea of losing touch with him and finding out that he has passed through friends. That thought is suffocating. I also feel selfish addressing any of my feelings, in this post and even just to myself. Please help...

I am respectful and empathetic to his decision. I can't help how I feel and the heart break is crushing. Can anyone relate or share some insight?
19 Replies
CentralAB
978 Posts
Hello HopelessRomantic654‍ and welcome to the forum. I am touched by your story of love, heart break and illness all in one post. I looked after my wife who had cancer for five years and there were times when I had similar feelings when she was withdrawing from the world around her. It was tough to not feel hurt, and left out of the picture. The way you described your fears as "suffocating" really hit home with me. It ended up that I was able to be with her in the end, for which we were both very happy about. One idea that hit me, similar to how I managed those ups and downs in my own situation was to actively plan what I was going to do afterwards. This really helped to give me some goals and a road map of sorts and I felt less pressure in the with drawing process that my wife had to go through.

One of the tings we had talked about when she was still able to talk with me was how I wanted to move to a beautiful wilderness area where I could focus on my photography, and in making the world a bit better through this gift that I have. It seemed to give my wife tremendous courage and hope that i would be taking care of myself and doing good things with my life. She used to smile pretty big whenever I told her of such hopes and dreams. My suggestion here would be to possibly consider ways you can give your loved one similar hope. It sounds like he may have made up his mind, and that you have an opportunity here that will not only bless and strengthen him, but you as well.
Elsie13
1508 Posts
HopelessRomantic654‍ Considering how you feel towards your bf, I do think it would be entirely appropriate for you to reach out in a week or so. However, he may welcome the contact, or he may not. So you would have to be prepared for either response. I have no expertise at all in this sort of thing, just how it seems to me.
Maybe Kims1961‍ will have some ideas about this.
Hi CentralAB
thank you for sharing your story. It touched me as well. I appreciate the suggestion to come up with ways to give him hope. Actually on our last night together, we spent alot of time discussing places he would go and what he would do. Surprisingly to me, it was easy to talk about the things he was excited to see and do. I wouldve thought that wouldn't be something I could do. But, because I genuinely care about him and his happiness, it made it easy and natural to do so. So I see what you're saying. But, the one difficulty is, I don't know that I should even be contacting him. We are broken up and I don't know if contacting him is not respecting his wishes to not be together. Your thoughts? I'm sure that he has thought about me. But, I also know that he is doing anything and everything to push away any negative thoughts of being sick and I unfortunately am in that category as I am the only one that knows. Feeling very conflicted about whether or not to reach out.
Hi Elsie13
thanks for your reply. That is in fact exactly what I fear. I will take the week or two or really listen to myself and what I can handle in regards to him responding or not at all.

Kims1961‍ if you have any suggestions or insite, I am all ears.

Also, I am unsure if I am tagging my responders appropriately. Just learning my way around this site.
Elsie13
1508 Posts
HopelessRomantic654‍ I can explain about the tagging: You type the @ symbol, and immediately type the name you want to tag. Some blue boxes will appear, and you click on the one that applies.
Runner Girl
1404 Posts
Hello HopelessRomantic654‍ ,

My advice to you is to leave him be for a period of two weeks, then reach out with a text/email saying "hey, was thinking about you, how are you doing?"

The two week time frame gives him a bit of time to miss you and gives you a bit of time to gain distance in the event his reply is less than what you'd want or no reply at all. It is a very generic greeting with no obvious strings attached so he should not feel you are being too "clingy" and upset him. Whatever response you get from this will allow you to either maintain a friendship with him, regain a relationship with him or grieve for the loss of the relationship and contact. Dealing with cancer is a difficult thing and everyone, of course, has their own way of handling it.

I was 52 when diagnosed with breast cancer. My then fiance said he was all in and we'd fight this together, but that didn't last. He was there thru my surgery but the weekend before chemo he moved me to the spare bedroom. He became distant, took me to my chemo appointments but ignored me during the time we sat while I had my infusion then dropped me off at home and left. He took exception to the radiation doctor examining me and quit attending any of my appointments. I went to all of my radiation treatments alone and completed my Herceptin treatments alone. A few months after radiation finished he told me our relationship was over and I could get out. So I did. He has since shown up at my doorstep 4 times. The last time with a card and letter asking me to work on our relationship and attend counselling with him - I, ever so politely, told him that I wanted nothing to do with him, that he had abandoned me during cancer and that was unforgivable.

While my story is nothing like yours I tell it to show you that cancer affects everyone involved and everyone handles it differently, some well, some not so well. Give him some time to "deal" in his own mind with his cancer, he may find his way back to you for support and comfort if/when he is ready.

Runner Girl
Brighty
6272 Posts
HopelessRomantic654‍ I agree with Runner Girl‍ ... everyone has his own way of coping with a cancer diagnosis. His way is to totally escape ...from the diagnosis and any reminder of it. In time though,he may realize itsmot something he can go through alone and may reach out to you. Give him time and space to absorb the information before reaching out. There is no harm in reaching out in a few weeks to show that someone still cares and is thinking of him. See what happens next.
Runner Girl‍ thank you so much for sharing your story. It is very helpful for me to hear the other perspective. I recognize that I needed to be real with myself about what I could handle and my limitations and took alot of time to consider this, rather than just being a 'Hopeless Romantic' and saying 'oh I can handle anything'. I came to the conclusion that I certainly want to try and can't imagine turning my back on him, if he eventually gives me the choice. I know that it is a different situation when it's your partner, but, I unfortunately have some insite as I lost my Dad to cancer 8 years ago and he was my world.
Runner Girl thank you very much for the suggestion. I will wait 2 weeks and then reach out. I just hope he hasn't left the country by then. But, I do need that time to be able to handle whatever his response is.
Brighty‍ thank you for your input. Yes, I will wait the two weeks and reach out then. I think this situation calls for a little grace and space. I will keep reminding myself of that and to stay strong in the meantime.


HopelessRomantic654

I wanted to stop in and say hello and welcome to the community. This is such a tough situation for both of you. It is hard when someone you care about is sick and you want to love them through it and the other person pulls away, for varous reasons. Often they feel like they will be a burden .

I don't have any words of wisdom beyond what you have heard from other members. Just wanted to let you know I feel for you and I'm glad you reached out here.

Take care
Hugs
Lianne
Kims1961
2002 Posts
HopelessRomantic654

Thank you for sharing your powerful story, your intimate struggle, the emotional connection .

You will find your way, as he continues to find his. You have this love story that is special to you and him - no one can take that away - even by going far away to SE Asia. His physical presence may not be near but in your heart will be a space of how you connected during one of his most difficult times in his life. You may want to think of a way to honour this for yourself ? Maybe a special keepsake that you keep near to you? A touch stone of sorts?

We are here for you, as you navigate this path. Please take good care and let us know how you’re doing.

Kim
Kims1961‍ thank you for that! You are right, I will always hold our love story close to my heart. He gave me a bracelet that he got me from Mexico a while back. I cherish it. I also have a necklace with a small key. The symbolism is that, I, (hoplessromantic654) hold the key to my own heart and happiness.

Well, as it turns out, I have an update already. He messaged me today and has confirmed that he is going to Thailand. I am saddened but ultimately proud and admire his strength to chase his dreams. We shared a few flirty texts, laughs, his plans and I reaffirmed my support for him. He thanked me for all my help and support. The silver lining; I am happy to know that he is happy and is back to the person he was months ago before the weight of his surgeries and MRIs. I assume reality will hit him again. But am happy to see the light in him again that I fell in love with. I am also relieved to feel that this truly has nothing to do with me and I am not being rejected as a person. I wished him well and as tough as it will be, can't wait to see his journey. Whether it's wrong or not, I hold on to hope that we will reconnect in the future. There it is, the Hopeless Romantic 🥰 Thank you everyone for taking the time to offer your advice.
Kims1961
2002 Posts
HopelessRomantic654

Thank you for the update. Your post will hold space for others on this site. It will resonate with others and connect with those of us, as we travel on this journey and may ultimately have to say goodbye to those we love.

I’m so glad you have some special memories and momentos that will be there to remind you of the time you shared something powerful, mature, loving.

Hang onto being a hopeless romantic - thank you for sharing. Kim
Kuching
217 Posts
hopeless romantic‍ , from a purely practical point of view, has your boyfriend checked to see if he will even be allowed into Thailand? Last I heard, they were severely restricting entry. Also, they required 2 weeks quarantine in a government facility, and a large amount of health insurance coverage. And will he be able to get health care there if he needs it?

I can understand his wanting to go while he still can - I have a cottage in the Bahamas that I haven’t been able to get to for 2 years, thanks to cancer and Covid, and my cancer clock is ticking, and I HATE the cold - but he needs to be practical about this.

Wishing you both peace of mind, whatever happens,
Kuching
Kuching‍ thank you for your reply. Yes, he has looked in to travelling to Thailand. It's one of the few countries that has open borders to traveller's. There is a list of requirements in order to travel there that he has met. As far as 14 day quarantine, he's ok with it. He's bound and determined to make this happen. He says that's why he chose Thailand as it's one of the only countries open to come and go as of December 2020. As for treatment, his only intention is to take the oral chemo prescribed to him and not do anything else for the time being. I understand your questions and concerns as they are my own as well. He said the only way he'd be coming home is if he doesn't like it or ends up getting too sick to travel anymore. I'm very worried about all of this. I'm just praying he stays healthy and leaving gives him the fulfillment he's looking for.
Cynthia Mac
2927 Posts
HopelessRomantic654‍ , I’m a little late, but I read your original post in my inbox this morning, and since then read all the posts here.

To me, your love story falls into the “for a reason” category — maybe the “for a season” one. It looks as though you were supposed to be there when he got his diagnosis to be that “initial confidante.”

You seem to be so wise and accepting of all of this, despite the underlying heartache in your words. To me, open communication is imperative to an enduring relationship, and you seem to recognize that his withdrawal isn’t a good sign.

I also wonder if his reaction is a sign that you went through enough when you lost your Dad. Whether he is trying to spare you going through that again, or whether it’s another power that is sparing you that, you are, at this point, being released from having a similar experience at this point in your life. (I lost my Dad last year to cancer, and I really struggled with that, so I have an idea of how his loss affected you.)

Reading between your lines, you also appear to know that no matter what happens, you will be fine. I think you’re right about that, too.
Cynthia Mac‍ thank you for your response and kind words. I agree with so much of what you're saying. I also feel like it would do me some good to say out loud, I struggle more than I let on. It's a defense mechanism, self preservation. I am rather devastated, and as time goes on, I miss him terribly. However, I do recognize that this wasn't the right relationship for either one of us at this time, as painful as it is to admit.

You are right about him wanting to protect me from having to go through this all over again. He told me that. He has also lost a parent he was close to. I suppose I just wanted the chance to decide what I could handle and that I'm stronger than he thinks. Either way, it's irrelevant now. I will try to see what you said about perhaps this is the universes way of allowing me to forego those painful feelings of loss again. Thank you for that perspective.

My apologies for not my usual uplifted response. Feeling very sad and depressed today. Just going through the grief motions today, I suppose.

You are right, I do know I will be fine. The longing will pass.
Cynthia Mac
2927 Posts
It comes in waves, HopelessRomantic654‍ . Let them wash over you. It’s ok to not be ok for a while. But, I think I’m preaching to the choir.

I’m going to recommend a book to you that helped me a lot at times like this: it’s called How to Survive the Loss of a Love. A tiny little paperback that brought a whole lot of healing.

Be kind to yourself. I know you know you will get through this.
Cynthia Mac‍ I just ordered the book. Thanks so much for the suggestion.
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