Woe Is Me! “I Ended a Situationship When He Chose His Career Over Me. Was I Selfish?”


Jul 23, 2023


Image Credit: Gumrah (1963)

Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.

“I’m a queer non-cispassing transfeminine person in their mid-30s. I have never been in a stable romantic relationship. It has never moved beyond friends-with-benefits, or, at most, a situationship where I’m the one who performs the emotional labor.

Last year, I got involved with a guy. It was a refreshingly intimate experience, where he showed a lot of sincere care and affection, and also, respect and regard for me as a person, which was new for me to experience. Sadly, though, he, too, didn’t want to commit to me. But unlike other guys, his rationale was that he is determined to accomplish his ambitions and establish himself as an independent professional, and that’s the central priority in his life.

But that also implies that he can’t be open about his involvement with me, as he’s concerned about anything — including “us” — that might impede the trajectory of his career plans. I ended this situationship as well. But the problem is that I’m just not able to get over him. It has been six months, I still keep breaking down as if it happened yesterday — partly because it took 15 years to find someone who showed the kind of affection I’d always desired. I’m unsure if I was selfish in prioritizing what I needed because one can’t fault someone for being ambitious. What should I do?”

— Career vs. commitment

SA: This just sucks. You deserve to be prioritized and made to feel cared for and appreciated just as much as any cisgender straight person out there. I can see that this guy felt like a unicorn in the wild and showed you exactly what it could feel like to have someone shower you with all the affection and intimacy you were craving. 

While one cannot fault him for being ambitious, I don’t see why committing to a relationship will necessarily come in the way. People go on to have successful careers and relationships, simultaneously, all the time. If being open about the relationship with you is the issue, then he’s clearly not as nice as we (or, even you) were led to believe. A fundamental aspect of any relationship is mutual respect, and not being open about his involvement with you, is a clear indication of a lack of respect. 

Breakups are tough — more so, when it’s a situationship because you’re mourning something that wasn’t even a “real relationship” so it’s hard to accept that it had such a big impact on you. Break down for as long as you need, there’s no deadline for getting over someone. But I’d say: keep reminding yourself that there will be other guys out there who will come into your life and give you everything you need. Be open to that and don’t let this experience close your heart to possibilities. You are not selfish for prioritizing your needs. Stand by your needs and seek them from any new partners who come your way. Make your expectation of commitment very clear at the start so they know exactly what they’re signing up for. There will be other guys who will want you as much as you want them. He was not really a unicorn, I promise. 

RN: You weren’t selfish for having needs that someone else couldn’t fulfil. You also don’t deserve someone who can’t be honest about their involvement with you for “career reasons” — if anything, he’s the selfish one, and frankly, also the disrespectful one. It’s understandable to be upset over him, but you may need to find some way to let him go because it’s not fair that someone who didn’t value you as you deserve continues to hold sway over your life. Situationship or not, it’s a question of respect and care being a basic part of human decency. You were right to end it, and I hope you realize you’re worth more than this man’s career goals, which honestly is a weak excuse in 2023.  

AS: Yes, we can’t fault anyone for being ambitious. But if you feel, as you said, that somewhere hidden within his decision to not commit was the thought that your relationship may impact his career, then he wasn’t the right person for you to begin with. It is not selfish of you to prioritize your needs. Trust that you made a decision that, while hard, was the right one for you. I’m sorry you haven’t received the respect, affection and care you deserve in the past, and it’s understandable that your experience with this person makes it that much harder to let go of what you had. But as you process this loss at your own pace, here’s a gentle reminder: you deserve a caring, considerate partner who values your presence in their life, and gives you the respect you deserve; you should not have to settle for anything less.


Written By The Swaddle Team


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