Stop Making Excuses for Your Boyfriend

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Welcome to Tough Love. We’re answering your questions about dating, breakups, and everything in between. Our advice giver is Blair Braverman, dogsled racer and author of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube. Have a question of your own? Write to us at toughlove@outsideinc.com.


I can’t tell if my partner of a year and a half has intense unidentified baggage, doesn’t love me, or is genuinely a foreign intelligence asset. He speaks several languages ​​and is constantly out of the country, and his travels come up suddenly. I don’t have a single picture with him. He’s never available to talk on the phone when he’s out of the country. I’ve not been introduced to many of his friends, and I’ve never met a member of his family.

We initially had a strong connection, and enjoyed having fun together and talking about what we wanted for our future, but almost everything lighthearted about our relationship evaporated within six months. He’s always stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed with nebulous tasks. I’ve only asked him to be part of three events involving people I love, and he’s bailed on all three at the last minute.

For my brother’s wedding, I flew home between the bachelorette party and the wedding because I thought spending quality time together would lower the risk of him somehow bailing. That week, he spent less than four hours with me. The nightmarish thoughts of him abandoning me kept me up every night, and I got on the plane anxious about having scheduled separate flights. Sure enough, I received a message when I landed that his flight had been changed because an institution asked him to give a talk for an event—something he only told me after I asked several times.

“Just promise me you’ll be there,” I told him. He promised he’d still come.

The day before the wedding, he sent me a text message while I sat next to the bride at a salon, four hours before his flight was supposed to land. He said he was tired, he was in Europe, and he couldn’t bring himself to go to the airport. He said he just didn’t have it in him to be present for me.

I have reason to believe that he didn’t even have tickets booked (he had deflected every request to see his travel confirmation), and had been lying to me for weeks—despite telling me, that whole time, how excited he was to see my family.

A few members of my family and close friends believe he’s either married or an intelligence asset. Trying to talk your loved ones out of thinking your partner is an adulterous spy is WILD. And I have to admit they have some points. But there’s something I’m missing here, because I really do believe that he cares about me and wants to be with me. He could have some kind of classified job that causes these issues, or he may have a lot of family and relationship baggage that’s made him this way over time.

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