Unsure how to end a 10+ year relationship

Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2022 03:55 pm
Hi all, I'll give context first, but first and foremost: I believe I want to break up with my boyfriend. I have no ill will towards him; I still consider him a good friend, but I don't think that romantically I want to be in a relationship anymore.

My boyfriend and I have been in a relationship since our early 20s; we're in our 30s now. I don't know how to put this into words, but it feels like I've grown from who I was when we first met but he hasn't. The same problems he had when he was in his early 20s (emotionally, financially, inter-personal etc) are the same things he says are his problems now and no matter what advice I've given him about them I feel like he just won't listen to it. There's always been an excuse as to why he can't do it, and I hate feeling like he'd rather stew in his negative emotions than have me help him with it. I know he struggles with depression and we've been together through the ups and downs, but when he tells me nothing is working out for him and that I'm the only thing keeping him going, I feel horrible for wanting to leave and that I'm failing him in some way.

The catalyst for wanting to break up is that I've become a full-time caretaker of a terminally ill parent, and through how emotionally draining it's been I don't feel like I have the support of partner that I thought would come from being in a relationship this long. My boyfriend and I don't live together, so the most support I've seen from him is a "that sounds tough" when I come to talk with after a particularly hard day. I've brought this up to him before and he says I should be more assertive about wanting to spend time with him. I got upset but also in my own head about it all; like maybe I am being a jerk for just assuming he'd want to talk to me more.

We've talked about marriage since the start of our relationship but I feel like I'm the only one taking steps towards starting a life together. Over the years I've moved up in my career and I feel ready to move forward in my life, but I don't think he is. I can't tell if he wants to find better work or if he's just comfortable living paycheck to paycheck and with roommates. I'm getting older. I don't want to live like a college student. Again, I think this is were we are disconnecting.

We share the same social spaces so I don't want to seek advice from mutual friends. I don't hate him, I really just think he has not grown from the person I met when I was 20 and I understand people can grow apart. Because he's told me so many times I'm the only thing good in his life I can't help but feel guilty about everything. I feel less like a girlfriend and partner and more like a trophy he's proud of and that because I'm there, he's doing fine.

Any advice on how to approach this would be great. Or if I'm being a huge jerk feel free to tell me that too.
Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2022 03:59 pm
I don't know what all the agonizing is about - you've been together a while, you don't feel the same way, you're not going in the same direction, so just tell him that. Seriously. Just very nicely but firmly tell him you don't feel you're on the same page or going in the same direction and be done with it. You're not even living together and he doesn't meet your needs. End of story.
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Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2022 04:46 pm
Keep in mind that, if he can't make himself happy, he's not going to be able to make you happy. You feel guilty because you believe you owe him something. Is that true?
Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2022 05:01 pm
Yes, I'd say you're right. I've always had it in mind that if I'm in a relationship I should be standing by my partner, and I'd say my guilt stems from that.

And thank you for putting into words what I've been struggling to communicate. I feel like a bandaid over a larger issue for him.
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Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2022 05:04 pm
Maybe say something like,

"John (or whatever his name is), I think it's time we went our separate ways, romance-wise. I have no ill towards you and still consider you to be a good friend. We've had some great years together, and I hold them dear. But I feel we've grown apart. I wish you well, and I want you to be happy."

You are not failing him. You're freeing him. I'm serious. It seems like you have been on autopilot for a while, and he may have been, too. This could be the kick in the pants he needs to get his life in gear. Or at least the kick for him to explore other romantic options. Maybe there's a cute girl at the coffee shop, but he's held back out of loyalty for you.

By setting him free, a potential relationship like that is suddenly on the table for him.

He may very well be thinking about ending it, too, and thinks he either won't do it right, or you would be devastated. If he is having trouble getting started in life, then he may be having trouble getting started in this area as well.

I am suggesting the above speech (feel free to alter it as necessary, of course) because it's ultimately caring, and it doesn't blame him. And at the same time, it doesn't hold the door open.

I don't know if you know this song, but your situation feels a bit like it.

Go and be happy, and give him the opportunity to spread his wings and be happy as well.

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Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2022 09:42 pm
I think I would be a coward and would write him a letter and explain everything there. At least he would have an initial reaction to it and it wouldn't come completely out of the blue. Later on, you could discuss it with him and mention to him that the dynamic of your relationship has changed and what drew you together in younger years is now separating you. He's still the loving, caring person he's always been, but you're changed and therefore it's better to call off the relationship, but keep friends (in the interim).

Of course you'll have discussions about it, but initially I think he should be able to read it on his own terms and not be confronted with it in a discussion. He suffers from depression and should be prepared prior to the discussion.
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Reply Wed 6 Jul, 2022 11:04 am
I keep things tight, clean, but soft.

1. He is going to move in with you. Thus saving extra money he is not spending.
2. You both are going to get married ( on paper at least ) and have kids. May it be a quick Vegas Marriage or at the court-house, or Lawyer, with or without the church.
3. Your going both be open about each other plans for yourselves and projects.
That being said your going to work with him via educational and college efforts.
4. Your both going to be open about spending habits, and feelings, and try to discover each other.
5. When you guys do partying or whatever you go to a bar, club, night-out on the town, and or at somebody else's place. Maybe your friends can and or can not come over.

That is it. Simple. You gotta get this idea of free living out of your heads, because clearly your internal clock is going off and is normal for girls.
Reply Thu 7 Jul, 2022 02:08 pm
Predictable twaddle.
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Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2022 10:52 am
After a decade long relationship, it is normal to have a strong emotional connection with a person. It is also normal to grow apart from someone. Is there some co-dependency occuring between you? Perhaps he is used to you always being there for him as the strong and available partner, but perhaps now that your emotional energy is going towards a loved one who needs you, he might be missing your strength like a crutch. Also, the push and pull in a relationship can get hard when you are trying to climb a ladder and someone keeps pulling you down to their rung. I recommend watching some Youtube videos on co-dependency and how to overcome it.

That being said, requiring your partner to be there for you when you need them requires vulnerability. In order for him to provide support, he has to understand that you are not always going to keep it together, especially when major life changes occur. You need someone there for you too and, at the end of the day, you must do what you feel is right for yourself.

Perhaps the best option in your situation, considering the emotional energy you have put in, is to tell him you require a break from the relationship for 2 months. This gives both of you a boundary of time to adhere to, and will give you some initial space to assess your feelings during this trying and changing time in your life.

You have established that after 10years he is incapable of providing you with the support you expect from a partner, so in those couple of months you can consider what other avenues of support you could create for yourself and your parent. Tell him your reasons for needing a break, perhaps let him know you need the time to seek out support groups for yourself or seek support from family members, or even that you are having your own emotional break. If he understands that you are in need of support, he will either rise to the occassion or not; and honey, if he doesn't, then walking away may be hard, but it is the right decision.

If he contacts you after 2 months, you can assess if he is stepping up to meet your standards of a partner. If he is not, then you can go ahead and make your decision from a clearer perspective of whether to promote or fire him.

Good luck and all the best.
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