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Boyfriend sending mixed messages, need advice (long)

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
This will probably be a bit long, so I apologise in advance.

I started dating this guy (I shall call him Harvey) last year, about 18 months ago. He is my first boyfriend and the first guy I've ever really been interested in. We met through a friend on my uni course, and hit it off straight away. We're both 22 and have just graduated from university.

First I should say that early on in our relationship there was another guy who liked me who tried to turn me against Harvey. Unfortunately I was stupid enough to listen to him, and ended up breaking up with him twice. The first time lasted for two days max, the second Harvey said he wasn't interested in trying again and I'd realised as soon as I broke up with him that time that I was making a huge mistake, I barely stopped crying for well over a week. Fortunately we eventually worked things out and got back together, and things were fantastic after that. I don't think I've ever been as happy as I was for those 3/4 months.

Then in February, I was at Harvey's place and he had left his Facebook on with the messages open. I shouldn't have, but I read the first one and it was him telling a friend that he had feelings for this other girl (Michelle) and that he didn't know what to do but he had been considering breaking up with me. So I asked him how he felt (I didn't mention reading the messages), and he admitted he'd been having doubts about us. We talked stuff over, and it wasn't brought up again for about another month, but in the meantime we had been out for a few parties and such and he was as affectionate as ever, as if there were no problems at all.

The next time I brought up the subject he said he was no longer having doubts and he felt better about us, but things didn't really improve. Things got worse a couple of months later, when he started spending a lot of time with this Michelle and I knew he was cancelling plans with me to see her, but I didn't want to confront him about it. During this time he also gradually became more and more snappy whenever I spoke. Eventually I decided I'd had enough and I asked what he thought was going on between us and he admitted he had feelings for someone else and then he just broke up with me. I was devastated, and didn't know what to do - he said he needed time to himself so he could work out if he cared for me more than he realised.

Unfortunately I didn't give him that space because I panicked, and we got back together about a week later again (although this is what I wanted, I didn't force him and said to him I only wanted this if he was 100% sure that was what he wanted). Between then (end of June) and now, he has been sending so many mixed messages that I just don't know what to think anymore. At first he was affectionate and attentive, then he started to pull away again and I heard that he'd been telling people that he hadn't wanted to get back with me and that I'd manipulated him into it (which I don't believe is true, as I said above). Then I decided I'd had enough and started to pull away myself, and he immediately started questioning why I was being so distant and why I hadn't put "x's" at the end of messages (which I thought was a ridiculously petty thing to bring up, but anyway).

We finally properly talked stuff over and he told me exactly why he'd been having doubts, etc. One night he told me that he felt a lot better about everything since we'd talked, and that he was no longer having doubts, and I genuinely hadn't been so happy in a long time. He said this to me again a couple of weeks ago, and then I went away for a week. When I got back (Tuesday, earlier this week) he was overly-affectionate again, telling me that he hadn't realised what he'd had until I'd gone and that he felt so good about us being back together and he had also bought me a gift while I was away (he used to buy me surprise random presents but stopped when the whole 'having doubts' thing started).

So I was so happy about it all, thinking everything was going well and looking up. Then last night, a mutual friend sent me a message telling me that Harvey had told him that he thinks he's too young to be in a relationship, and since he's never had another girlfriend how can he be sure that he's feeling what he thinks he's feeling. He then went on to say that he wanted to be able to have fun and not be trapped in a relationship because if he stays with me then he's already determined who he will be with for a huge part of his life, and that he wants to break up and he's determined to stick to his decision this time. He also mentioned that he still had feelings for Michelle, but couldn't have a relationship with her but he wished he'd tried earlier in the year.
So today I decided to see him and ask what is going on, but never quite got around to it. He kept saying I seemed very said and kept hugging and kissing me. At one point I made a joke about me being young, free and single and he seemed a little offended (as in, he didn't like the idea of me not being with him. Admittedly, I didn't think before making this joke or I'd have kept my mouth shut). When he had to go home early for work he immediately sent me a text to apologise and asked if I wanted to go to dinner on Monday. Basically, although he was quite distant, he certainly wasn't behaving like someone who 12 hours earlier had been telling a friend he wanted to dump me.

To sum up: I'm very confused and I don't know what to do. He's not making any sense. I'm not convinced he wants to break up at all, because the thing he said about how can he know if he's feeling what he thinks he's feeling implies that he does have strong feelings for me but that he has nothing to compare them to. I think it might just be that he sees his single friends going out and getting with loads of girls and is a bit jealous, but underneath that he does want to be with me. More than anything I think he's immature and probably very confused himself, but that doesn't improve the situation.

I just need some advice on what to do: I'm loathe to break up with him myself because I think after 3 break ups already this really would be the final one and I'm not sure I'm ready to lose him on purpose. At the same time I'm not particularly anxious to sit and wait for him to do the breaking up. I really just want him to grow up and come to his senses so we can be happy together, but any hope I had for that happening is fast disappearing.

ALSO: I think I should add this too. Anytime I said I needed to talk to him about us, he would get very nervous and several times said "These conversations never end well for me", in reference to when I broke up with him twice I'm reckoning! He's not being cruel by referring to that, it seems to me that he's genuinely worried that I'll break up with him. Of course, this hasn't happened since I received that message last night as I didn't speak to him about it but it seems odd to me that someone having serious doubts who seems convinced that we're not good together would then be worried that I'm going to end things..almost as though he doesn't really want to end things at all!


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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi there evathorn,

    Welcome to the boards :wave:

    It seems that by your post you are right to say your boyfriend is giving you mixed signals. Once he's very affectionate, the next he's unsure and confused, and sometimes he's mentioned breaking up. This has clearly been hard for you, and it's normal for you to feel frustrated and confused too!

    It's possible that there might be an issue concerning you ending things with him previously. Do you think perhaps he might lack security in this relationship due to this? Is this something you think you could discuss with him and see how he responds?

    Since you posted have you managed to speak to him about what his friend said to you? It's also hard because you sometimes hear his doubts through other people - and communicating them together instead could make things clearer.

    It can be tricky when it's your first relationship. As you mention how to know how he feels (or how you feel sometimes) when there is nothing to compare it too. You mention you wouldn't want to break things off for the third time, so have you thought about taking a break? Have a look at our article on this that could help you decide whether this is something worth thinking about.

    Do let us know how the Monday dinner is going, good luck *hug*
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