Carolyn Hax: Worried about giving up on a ‘good man’ too soon

Dear Carolyn: I’m going through a really tough time after a difficult breakup. My boyfriend and I were together for three years after meeting in a chatroom during the pandemic. I moved to live in his city.

He really loves me, Carolyn. Like, he wants to get married, have kids and settle down. We have fun together, and I do have love for him. My family also really likes him. My mom has told me to think twice before giving up someone so dedicated and loving. And it hurts my heart to even have to do this.

We have key differences in our core beliefs. He’s a hardcore Catholic and has very conservative beliefs. I hold more liberal views, and I didn’t realize how much it would bother me to see how he responds to matters such as abortion and LGBTQ rights. I find it difficult to be in a relationship with someone who refuses to use the correct pronouns for my transgender friend and can’t see how abortion is a nuanced issue. He’s intelligent and so passionate, which drew me to him. But he’s also very intractable. For example, if we were to have a gay child, I would give my child unconditional love and acceptance; he has said he would love his children regardless but could not accept a homosexual partner into our home because of his religious beliefs. I can’t imagine ever doing that to my future children.

At the core, though, I broke up with him because we don’t communicate very well and I don’t fully respect and trust him in the way I should a life partner. I was very firm about having a joint account for main expenses and small personal accounts for discretionary spending. He wanted everything in the joint accounts. I explained that I have a hard time fully trusting him, because he has a history of debt and some small gambling. He listened to me, but I didn’t feel as if my concerns were really being addressed. That was when I realized that I didn’t think we would be able to work together as each other’s lifelong partners.

Despite all this, he really does love me a lot, and I’m concerned whether I made the right call. He cares about me so much, and I’m worried I gave up a good man. How should I have handled things?

— Irreconcilable Differences

Tell us: What’s your favorite Carolyn Hax column about in-laws?

Irreconcilable Differences: Exactly as you did. Better to have your divorce before you marry.

Just because it’s painful doesn’t mean you made the wrong call. You disagree on human rights. There’s no working that out.

Even if you agreed fully on moral issues, you’d still be in the hard-no zone with “don’t communicate very well,” “don’t fully respect,” “hard time fully trusting him,” feeling as if serious concerns aren’t being addressed and his balking at separate funds. You can enjoy someone immensely and love them deeply, and still make bad life partners.

About that “love deeply” thing. We all learned from your letter — three times — how much he loves and cares for you. And that you … ah … “do have love for him.”

Love from the far end of a 10-foot pole.

Breakup guilt for loving someone less than he loves you is real and underratedly awful. It’s like having to surrender a pet to a shelter. But getting back together to make that pain stop just puts a bigger, uglier breakup on the calendar.

Your mom sounds nice, but your gut sounds smarter. Keep trusting it till the waves of guilt subside.