I have just discovered the forum and have spent hours reading over previous threads, the advice and support that is offered is wonderful.
I hope you’ll forgive me for posting when I am not married, only in a de facto relationship, but it has been 9 years long and we live together and share finances/furniture etc, so it is a similar situation and the advice here is very relevant.
I have always had niggling doubts my partner was the right one, and I have been very unhappy for the last 3+ years. I have gone to IC and read every ‘should I stay or go’ book under the sun, and spoken at lenght to my partner to try and communicate better and fix our problems, but everything points to the fact that we’re not compatible, we’ll never make each other happy, we want different things etc. I am 27 and he is the only guy i've dated, and I feel like we have grown up into such different people to when we were 18.
After a LOT of soul searching and feeling dead inside, I decided I have to leave for my sanity. I have had “the talk” with my partner several times, where I state I feel like we should have a break or breakup and one of us move out, but every time I do, he either (a) manages to convince me I have a totally warped view of the world and our relationship and I would be mad to leave because things are great and I will regret it or (b) seeing him upset breaks my heart and I feel terrible hurting him and drop the matter.
I have now miraculously found a place to live within my price range, and I don’t think I can face sitting through another xmas and NYE pretending things are fine when they’re not, so really want to move out and have a break for six months (to see if the things I am desperately unhappy about don’t seem so important after all, or to see if being on his own will be the motivation for him to change) or breakup (if he won’t accept a break/separation).
I just don’t know how to successfully do it, without being talked out of it or made to feel guilty about the pain I am inflicting
I also don’t know how to find the self-belief that I am doing the right thing and won’t regret it .
Does anyone have any advice? How did people deal with having the ‘conversation’ with their partners, and seeing them break down in tears??? How did you deal with hurting someone who has been such a big part of your life?
he either (a) manages to convince me I have a totally warped view of the world and our relationship and I would be mad to leave because things are great and I will regret it or (b) seeing him upset breaks my heart and I feel terrible hurting him and drop the matter.
Well, you KNOW that (a) is NOT TRUE because YOU HAVE FELT THIS WAY FOR THREE YEARS. Although the alternative (b) is hurting him TEMPORARILY you are IN REALITY HURTING BOTH OF YOU by staying in this relationship.
You KNOW it's not the right relationship.
You KNOW you're unhappy.
What you're NOT ACKNOWLEDGING is that you are keeping each of you from FINDING A MORE SUITABLE LIFE PARTNER.
Yes, it's very Romeo & Juliet to marry your first boyfriend/girlfriend, but remember how they ended up (just kidding!)
He will ALWAYS have a special place in your heart, but IT'S WAY PAST TIME TO MOVE ON.
Remember, if you stay with him and marry him, you're also CHOOSING THE FUTURE FATHER OF YOUR CHILDREN. If you KNOW it's not right, then move on! Do it BEFORE there are children involved.
Get out NOW, before the holidays. Give him a chance to find someone else to spend NYE with! (You, too!)
I feel like maybe I can give some advice as someone who has been on the other side of this. My wife and I had been together 19 years (married 9, no kids) and we were each others first partners. She finally left me 3 months ago and basically told me her reasons for leaving were the same as yours (grown apart, she had fallen out of love) except she had been feeling this for 4/5 years and had been putting an `act` on to keep me happy because of guilt. She never, ever told me she was even the slightest bit unhappy and I thought (like our friends and family) that we were the perfect couple. Through the last few years I have been sounding her out about kids but she said we should wait because we were `happy as we were` and `there was plenty of time` - I agreed because I loved her and was enjoying our life as we were.
However she always liked to keep fit and to make a long story short she started running with a guy she met at our local lesiure centre which developed into an EA which prompted her ending our relationship.
I realise I was naive and although I knew about her running with this guy (and it hurt me weekly for the 18 months she did it) in my opinion there was nothing without trust in a marriage and so I trusted her - obviously I realise now what a mistake this was!
What hurts me so much is that she never ever told me she was unhappy (she says she wasnt brave enough to tell me which makes no sense - I can assure you I am pretty easygoing, certainly no ogre and we never ever argued which I can see was a problem in itself now) so I was carrying on blissfully unaware that she was `dead inside` and all friends and family agree with me that she deserves an oscar for her acting because she always seemed to be enjoying her life with me.
I am now 37 and feel like I am too late for kids and am having to start over again at what feels to me like a very late age. If she had told me 4/5 years ago when she first started feeling like this maybe we could have discussed it and tried councelling, etc. This may not have worked but at least we would have tried together and then split up at a much earlier age. In my opinion it takes two to make a relationship work but because she never told me there was a problem I have had no chance to save our marriage. She simply told me one morning she didnt love me and made it very clear the marriage was over - she would be moving out as soon as possible which she did the very next day.
Again if she had told me years ago I would have been 32/33 which I feel would have given me the time to get over her and then maybe build a new relationship with someone and maybe have the family I crave.
In additon I feel like all of my memories from the last 5 years are tarnished - any happy memories from that time like holidays, etc seem so false now as I was enjoying these times thinking we were so happy as a couple together whilst she was obviously thinking very differently about them.
My advice to you would be search your heart and if you truly feel you dont love him maybe now is the time to leave. You are both still young enough to re-build and I can say from experience that my breakup would not have been nearly so hard if I thought she was going through similar stages of the breakup as me. Because my wifes feelings died so long ago it feels like she had moved on as soon she had told me - she has felt so cold towards me after the breakup and of course knowing she has someone else waiting for her already has made my pain so much worse.
Looking back on my experience maybe there was an inevitabilty about my wife developing feelings for someone else if she spent so long living this lie with me and feeling she couldnt tell me - sad, but true and yet to me this feels like the ultimate betrayal!! It is only 3 months so I am still feeling a lot of bitterness about this - had my wife told me her feellings and not got into an EA with someone it would still obviously have hurt but I could have dealt with it so much better.
At least in your case it seems to be just the natural end to your relationship - you have discussed it and nothing has changed. In time maybe you will both appreciate that whilst you have been an important part in each others life it is now time to go your separate ways and find the happiness you both deserve apart without wasting more years on each other - certainly I wish I could re-live my last 5 years knowing what I know now. I wish you all the best whatever decision you make.
Thanks so much for the advice everyone, I really appreciate it.
Very wise words and probably the kick up the **** that I need. I know I am letting my fear get the better of me.
I do feel in my gut like he’s not the right one (and have for a long time, admittedly), but having only dated the only person my whole adult life, it’s really hard to know for sure – you know, I have nothing to compare it to, and what if my perception is skewed and actually this kind of ‘not really very good, but not abusive’ relationship that we have is just how real-life, non-fairlytale relationships work.
I guess it’s hard to know if the things I am unhappy about are legit, or I should just ‘suck it up’. Just a few small examples include – he’s not reliable (e.g. changing his mind about moving out together the first time, when I had already given up my lease, so I was almost left homeless and had to spend all my savings to get a place at the last minute; pulling out of holiday plans at the last minute for no reason other than laziness/procrastination);
I am ambitious/proactive and he is unmotivated; it’s hard to connect, I often feel like my friends know me far better even after 9 years; we don’t bring out the best in each other; he is very negative; he will only talk about the future when pressed and pressured into it and even then is really slippery about it/won't give any solid answers (I thought building a life together and sharing future dreams is meant to be fun? Not a painful process) - although conveniently now I want to leave, he 'has thought about marriying me, he just never thought to mention it to me'.
So these things (amongst many others) make me unhappy and unfulfilled (and he is unwilling to change – talked about it a trillion times) but you know, he’s a friendly guy, he’s smart, and he’s a nice person, maybe I am being unrealistic and should settle?
No other guy on the fence – in fact the very opposite, having never dated anyone else, I am TERRIFIED of not finding someone else and have absolutely no idea how ‘datable’ I am. I know what kind of guy (values, personality) I think I would be very suited to, but whether they exist or are all taken already is another matter. Again, I lack any perspective on this.
I am really sorry to hear about your situation, I hope it works out for the best for you (whatever that may entail).
I have told my partner so many times I am unhappy, but for various reasons it hasn’t helped – he doesn’t see the things I am unhappy about as important or needing change; he makes excuses; he often responds with all the things he wants me to change, which leaves us in a stalemate where neither of us will change because the other one won’t; we also are very bad at communicating and see the world quite differently, so it’s hard to have productive conversations about these things.
I am sorry if I sound clueless or immature, I just really lack experience and/or perspective on what other relationships are like, and what I should hope for or expect.
ETA: couples counselling is not really an option, he is not really a believer in that kind of thing (another big area of difference - I am very open to self-improvement through counselling, books, courses, philosophy, whereas he is a sceptic).
I think your reasons sound very valid. I would NOT be worried about whether you're 'datable'; I'm sure you are! You sound mature, interested in life and interested in others.
You might want to try individual counseling for a FEW sessions (just a few) to see if your counselor feels you're a fully-rounded personality who is ready to move on to a new relationship. You're right to be thinking about whether you're emotionally ready or emotionally stunted by your relative lack of exposure to dating. Getting an outside opinion may make you feel more relaxed/ready for new dating experiences.
Good luck, keep on the board and let us know how it's going.
For me personally, there is a major fundamental difference between the covenant of marriage with lifelong vows, and a long term relationship. In my opinion, this makes a major difference into the expectations of ending the relationship.
In a sacred marriage, I believe it is the duty of both partners to be willing to meet the needs of their spouse - it is no longer about whether their relationship is turning out different than how they would like their life to be. But you have made no vows, and you have reserved yourself the right to decide to leave without moral judgement in order to seek the life you want, alone.
So I think for you, your course of action really depends on how you define your relationship - is there an expectation it would be forever? Have you made other sworn vows to meet each others needs? Or is it a situation where you both were unsure of what you wanted in life and followed the path of least resistance? Perhaps he is just as unfulfilled as you are but feels committed beyond what either of you have ever really actually committed to?
To me, because you have not made a covenant, you are free to leave with no guilty conscience... all there is, is implied obligations but at any point did either one say to each other that you were bound to each other forever? In other words, what have you to feel guilty over? You are leading the one precious life you need to live. Trust in your heart and what you know to be the right thing.
Thanks for providing some feedback on my reasons, I know I have to make this decision myself but it is REALLY helpful to have another opinion/perspective as reassurance that I am not being unreasonable.
I will definitely organise to do IC if I feel like I need it to cope with the separation and/or to learn how to be ready to date again. I have also bookmarked a few e-courses and books that have good feedback and look very useful.
I will just have to try and have “the discussion” again, but this time block out any attempts by my partner to cloud my decision with doubt. Easier said than done, I know! The last time we tried to have it, I was SO SURE of my decision prior to bringing it up, but by the end of it he had completely made me unsure if I was doing the right thing; he really made me feel like I was crazy and I would forever regret leaving. He used really emotive lines like "no one will ever know you as well as I do" and "even if you start dating straight away, you will be almost 40 by the time your partner has spent enough time with you to know you like I do" etc.
I also read a tip about writing down all your reasons for leaving (including specific examples and bad memories) so when you catch yourself daydreaming or reminiscing about the good times and feeling sentimental and doubting yourself, you can quickly remind yourself why you have to move on.
Your reasoning is very interesting and I honestly haven’t put too much thought into the fact that because we haven’t made that extra commitment of marriage, I owe him less, but I do agree you are right.
We definitely did not commit to be with each other forever (except for by default or passively, by staying together for 9 years and living together) and one of the many problems I have had with my partner is his reluctance to talk in any detail about when to get married/have kids/travel/buy a house. He does not deny he wants these things, but won’t discuss them any more specifically then ‘yeah one day’ or ‘yeah of course I want kids’, before changing the subject or weaselling out of the discussion. And I don't think it's because he secretly doesn't love me and has cold feet, he is just the world's biggest procastinator, and has a bit of 'peter pan' syndrome where talking about such high-stakes adult things is too scary for him. He is almost 30 btw.
He is also not the type of guy to say things like ‘you’re my soulmate’ or ‘I want to be with you forever’ (although I do understand that, while it would have been lovely to hear those things, not all guys are like that and that is not a make-or-break point for me). I think you have really just helped clarify for me that one of the reasons I am so unhappy and need to leave is because he won’t make the kind of commitment I want (whether by marriage, or simply by discussions and actions).
Maybe tonight when we talk and he again tries to convince me I am crazy and I don’t realise how rare and wonderful our relationship is, I will try and keep in mind that if it was so wonderful, he would have been more open to making future plans with me. It’s a bit like ‘too little too late’ talk, and I have to remember that it would probably be naive of me to think all of a sudden he is now open to having all these happy detailed future/dream building chats, when he has never wanted to previously. I guess I need to remember the saying ‘the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour’.
Thanks again for your support, I will definitely give an update on how things go. Blah. Maybe if I write a script it will be easier to stay strong.
Again, not wishing to hijack the thread but wanted to thank SlowlyGettingWiser for your kind and positive words - still only been 3 months so I guess I am feeling a bit sorry for myself at present but hearing about you and your girlfriends starting families at 40ish certainly gives me hope that in time maybe a family is possible.
Rachelbelle - just like you I can see now that my wife and I had major communication issues. Strange really because I have always thought good communication is absoultely vital in any relationship yet whenever I tried to discuss any issues with my wife she would just clam up and because I loved her I would never push it. She never ever brought up any issues with me which is why I thought we were fine but I can see now I never really knew what she was thinking and we just sort of drifted through any problems we had without really solving them.
You live and learn but I do feel now if one person in a relationship isnt willing to discuss issues/problems/future goals, etc with the other it is very difficult for that relationship to thrive and be healthy. You have explained to him that you are unhappy and yet nothing has changed and doesnt sound like it ever will - I only wish my wife had told me she was unhappy and given me the opportunity to change things - maybe then our situation would be different. Good luck!