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Thread: How to minimize harm when breaking up with somebody dependent on you?

  1. #21
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    So if you hadn't helped her she would have just done without a car?

    You're enabling her. Dr. Phil said this morning on his program that people will continue to do whatever we enable them to do.

  2. #22
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    What I still primarily hear—with the car stuff, the house stuff, all of it—is that you don't know how to trust this woman, or women in general, to go about the business of living, despite overwhelming evidence that she/they can get by just fine. Whether that's a reflection of the places where you still don't trust yourself, or a general view of women, or simply a dynamic that snowballed into something weird when you weren't quite looking, or were yourself in a weirder place mentally than you knew, I can't quite say.

    I don't mean that to sound disparaging. I'm not calling you a sexist caveman, maybe just encouraging you to keep searching within your own cave instead of thinking something outside the cave (job, woman) will provide the light. I hope you'll give Wayward's post a few reads. He's writing from the other side, or from inside the cave, aware of how his expressions of support over a 5 year relationship—well-intentioned as they may have been, but as connected to some wiring of his own that needed addressing as much as to his ex's frayed wires—likely contributed to the very behavior in his girlfriend that (a) he came to resent and (b) triggered things in her that made the business of living harder than it naturally was for her. And, by extension, harder for him.

    It takes courage to see that, to be open to that kind of humility, so the paradigm can shift and real personal growth can happen. I've swam about in my own version of these waters, and it wasn't easy to realize that a lot of the ways I thought I was helping my last big ex were not helpful, were even harmful—to say nothing of how I wasn't helping myself, how I was using my "helping hand" to her as a mask to avoid staring a bit more directly at, and deeply into, myself. I had to take myself down a few notches to end it, and in the wake of it, but it was needed to really get taller in the big picture.

    Jane would have figured out how to buy a car, in short. Tell her, respectfully, without the kid gloves that enable your mutual weaknesses, that you need her to be there when the workers arrive and, odds are, she would not have collapsed into a weeping ball when they showed up but dealt with it. Easy examples, but you get me? There is either a man who can genuinely help her cultivate that power within, or a man who is genuinely respectful for where she is today and what she offers in that form. You are neither of those men. Without an essential trust in her—and, yes, in women to contain much the same ingredients as men along with the warmth and femininity you crave—you can't go to either of those two places.

    I asked in your other thread if this would be different if she was 25. Your response was illuminating, if not surprising. In that "equation" you could imagine that she, our 25 year old straw woman, "would not be so set in her ways, maybe she would take up my advice to learn a new language and complete her professional qualification." Read that again. Same dynamic, same experiment, different raw materials: an instinct to find personal growth and reward in "growing" a woman into a shape you find desirable because you don't quite trust her to grow on her own. The paradigm is outsourced again, where the shift becomes illusory.

    Behind that, I think, is a baked-in sense that women are, or should be, clay to mold into a shape that works for you. That mode of thinking, while not uncommon in both genders, will 99.9 percent of the time produce dynamics with an expiration date, journeys that will lead you to a version of where you are right now. You're likely to find yourself in relationships that grow into a malignant shape, like this, or that you are positioning someone to need to outgrow you completely to really be the person you want to be with. As the 25 year old comes into her "potential," in your eyes, you would maybe find that the last stage of that metamorphosis is letting go of you, the teacher. Food for thought.

    I encourage you to try to think of everything in slightly less binary terms. You sound, all in all, like you're doing well in life: you own a home, are being stationed far and wide for work, have quite the brain inside that head. Solid stuff for an early 30s dude. Which is to say: Maybe your 20s weren't as "damaging" as you thought, but were more of a gestation/incubation period, as they are for all? Maybe that story can be rewritten now, or needs to be, slightly. Maybe there is noting to keep "fixing" but instead to see as a stage to accept as an essential part of your journey—not a detour, but just a period of stepping forward through a weedy patch. That is, from one angle, the more genuine truth after all. You're doing well now, wouldn't be where you are now had you not been there, so it's more a + b = c that -a x b = c.

    Learn to give yourself that lassitude and you'll give it to others, organically. Learn that you need nothing to "fix" in your life, or atone for, and you will likely stop finding people to fix, be they 37 or 25. And various life goals—connection, marriage, children, work, travel, sex, etc.—will start to resonate differently, less as if/then equations but as variables that can all coexist and will always be slightly in flux, sometimes feeling "in control," other times feeling like they're "controlling" you. Which, of course, is also how relationships work when you're ready to surrender to the mystery of another person—when you have an essential trust in that mystery because you've learned to trust your own.

  3. #23
    Silver Member MirrorKnight's Avatar
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    @bluecastle

    Sincere thanks for your time and insight my friend.

    There is quite a lot to digest there. I have read it from beginning to end twice now still have not quite unpackaged and absorbed it all yet. I might be quite sharp and to the point when it comes to other people's issues, but I guess I am quite muddled when it comes to myself. Always thinking that my situation is different, my situation is unique because A, B or C... And then I realize that is precisely what other people in too deep in their own issues think too.

    I am a bit emotional tonight, as I often have been when thinking of Jane recently. I remember her telling me that she sometimes gets panicky and her chest feels tight when she feels abandoned. Like if I don't reply to a message for a long time, cancel our scheduled video calls (for work reasons mostly) or even something as benign as going through ticket barriers before her (because she was once accidentally left behind as a child and lost for a while).

    Lately I've been feeling that same chest tightness, or sadness, I'm not sure, when I think of her. When I think of the tears that will flow, all the hopes and expectations shattered, when I think of the fact that she won't be in my life anymore... I won't even know really how she is doing, if she is being bullied by her sister again, because I am sure she will put on a brave face even if she was, accept any family, even a toxic one, over being alone. I'm not sure if I am feeling sadness, regret, guilt, fear... perhaps it is all of the above.

    I am about to go to bed and will sleep on this. Maybe I will have some more clarity tomorrow.

  4. #24
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    I'm sorry you're in pain, buddy.

    Your above post feels like small revelation. Vulnerability. Feeling. The stuff past words, the stuff that words, really, are just meant to describe rather than mask or categorize. You sound more honest, which is to say more strong, than you have in a bit, seeing you and Jane as what you are: people who are connected to each other, but who may very well be better off without that connection. No Knights, no limpets, no story. Just feeling, and a lot of it unclear and confusing. That's okay. It's the sour edge of the sweet stuff, hard as that might be to believe tonight.

    Sit with it a bit, sleep on it.

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  6. #25
    Silver Member MirrorKnight's Avatar
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    Update

    The time has arrived. Almost.

    I am flying back to the UK tonight. I have resolved to pull off the plaster (band-aid, for you Americans :P) and get it done properly this time. I know some of you encouraged that I should have ended it sooner, but I did not want to do it over the phone/video call, so this is the first opportunity I have had to see her since my first post on this forum. It is going to be awful, I know it already, but my mind is made up, there can be no weakness and regrets this time. I will not be talked/cried into continuing a relationship that neither of us are truly happy with. She sort of knows it is coming, but I think she still thinks she can fight for us to stay together. I will not be weak this time. I will remain resolute.

    Jane has a few close friends, one of them is a strong independent woman who actually shares my views on many issues. I will try to make contact with her and try to enlist her help to handle Jane's problems at home, so that hopefully I do not have to continue to involve myself in Jane's affairs, to help her (and me) move on, and obviously to help her move out of my house.

  7. #26
    Platinum Member ThatwasThen's Avatar
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    Good luck... let us know how it goes.

  8. #27
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    Originally Posted by MirrorKnight
    Update

    \
    Jane has a few close friends, one of them is a strong independent woman who actually shares my views on many issues. I will try to make contact with her and try to enlist her help to handle Jane's problems at home, so that hopefully I do not have to continue to involve myself in Jane's affairs, to help her (and me) move on, and obviously to help her move out of my house.
    NOOOOOO Stop treating Jane like a child. Do not contact ANY of her friends to "guide her". That is highly disrespectful to her. She existed before you - even owns a home, even if her boundaries with her family stink. She will survive after you. And its VERY wrong to be talking to her friends when she is not present about her as if she is your patient or ward

    Break up if that is what you want -- and then be reasonable about a deadline for when she has to move out. That's it. She has a place to go. She has her house. If you decide to let her stay for 30 or 60 days to find a place to rent, or whether she moves back home in a matter of weeks per whatever tenant law is -- that's it.

    Stop treating her as if she is severely mentally ill or 4 years old

  9. #28
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    When you break up with someone you both become free agents. You are free agents of your own affairs and your own personal reaction to the situation.

    You can't hold her hand through her breakup with you. You are no longer a team and you can't be the breakup unit. It's a solo sport, if you will. Let her decide he she needs to turn to for support. That's not your call.

    You can be kind and compassionate, from a distance.

    If anyone is that fragile you might be doing them a favor to find out how exactly resilient they are. We find our strength in these difficult moments. Don't deny her the opportunity to learn from this.

    She's not that fragile. You'll both be stronger from having gone through it.

  10. #29
    Silver Member MirrorKnight's Avatar
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    Update

    I broke the news to Jane as soon as I got back. As I expected, she did not take it well. For the first two days she was mostly just very upset and hurt. Then although I have not wavered at all on taking back my decision (again), she seemed to drag herself out of despair... but into denial instead. She thinks that I am breaking up with her because I cannot handle the stresses of trying to advance my career and have a relationship with her at the same time. So she has resolved to wait for me, when I am more secure in myself, she thinks I might accept her again. Obviously I have not encouraged this line of thinking.

    The one time she probably accepted that it was over was on Monday night, she was very emotional, very angry and hysterical. She packed her stuff and resolved to leave immediately, refusing to tell me where she would go because "you don't care anymore", whilst saying things like, "you've broken me", "you shouldn't have asked me out" repeatedly.

    Now I guess the majority of you would say I should have just let her go at that point. But I couldn't, not in that state... Obviously I do want her to leave my house sooner or later, but I want her to go back to her family home (if things improved a little there) or stay with friends. She admitted that she had no plan that night, if I let her go, she probably would have just slept in her car. She was clearly not in the right state of mind to take care of herself, so I stopped her leaving and calmed her down for her safety.

    I will leave the UK again tomorrow, since she is still living at my house, I cannot just no-contact her right away, but I will dial back my communication with her and stand firm on my position. I hope she will gradually accept the situation and move on. I do not intend to come back again until maybe 6 months from now.

  11. #30
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    Now I guess the majority of you would say I should have just let her go at that point. But I couldn't, not in that state... Obviously I do want her to leave my house sooner or later, but I want her to go back to her family home (if things improved a little there) or stay with friends. She admitted that she had no plan that night, if I let her go, she probably would have just slept in her car. She was clearly not in the right state of mind to take care of herself, so I stopped her leaving and calmed her down for her safety.

    I will leave the UK again tomorrow, since she is still living at my house, I cannot just no-contact her right away, but I will dial back my communication with her and stand firm on my position. I hope she will gradually accept the situation and move on. I do not intend to come back again until maybe 6 months from now.


    When are you coming back?
    Honestly, i would have given her a deadline of when to move.
    And i would come back sooner than 6 months or hire a property manager to accept a key from her.
    I was under the impression that you were staying in the UK for longer - not just a weekend.

    She was clearly not in the right state of mind to take care of herself, so I stopped her leaving and calmed her down for her safety.

    I would have said "i am going to sleep at my friends/i have a room booked for the night" and left her there for the night by herself.
    Of course its okay that she is sad and in shock. But if you did stay, don't make it sound like she is unhinged. She was just very surprised and upset.
    ANd that's okay

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