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Thread: Am I being a coward?

  1. #1
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    Am I being a coward?

    I have a question that is very painful and serious for me, and been such for a long time.

    I am contemplating a breakup with my female partner of 7 years, because I feel deeply unsatisfied and not understood. I have a constant nagging feeling in my chest which at times is so overbearing I have a hard time functioning at all. I went to a therapist, read numerous books, invested tens of hours in conversations with my partner trying to work out better communication skills, and some things really got better, but still, I feel fundamentally lonely and not understood.

    I’ve been painfully hesitating on the thought of the breakup for already about 3 years, as I can't get over the impression that "initiating a breakup is wrong and cowardly". I know it sounds strange and ridiculous, especially in our western culture.

    I don't know if it's a religious upbringing, or too many fairy tales, or some childhood trauma, but listen, in my mind, this belief seems so true to me that it completely paralyzes my will to do anything about initiating the breakup.

    I feel it’s utterly, unforgivably morally wrong to initiate a breakup, and if you do that, all your further relationships won’t matter, because you betrayed the “true love” and copped out, and in such doing, you made yourself unworthy of “true love” itself.

    In my mind, we all want to be loved unconditionally, and we want to have confidence that even if something terrible happens, or just the time takes its’ toll on us, and we become much less attractive and entertaining then we used to be, still the other person will accept us and be there for us. We want to know that if we get cancer, we won’t be solemnly told that “you know darling, I decided that it’s time for me to move on and live the life to the fullest, take care”.

    Or if they get a new ripped, sexy, incredibly intelligent, considerate and courteous coworker, they won’t be tempted to see if the grass is greener on the other side.

    If we expect for our partner be there for us in thick and thin, why are we not willing to do the same for them? But if we’re willing, then why it’s so damn hard, and doesn’t get better…

    To make sure, nothing terrible yet happened, and I did help her out numerously and was there for her when she was down, so I’m not asking here for a justification to leaving an ill partner or something. Though, with the frail state of our relationship, if something does happen, I would prefer to cut ties before we get into the midst of the crisis and it will make it even harder on both of us.

    So, if I declare her unworthy of my unconditional love, how can I then be sure that my next partner will hold me worthy of that love. And if not, then I condemn myself to the model of relationships where true loyalty is not a part of them, and unloyal relationships also don’t make sense to me.

    So, you find yourself lonely in any case – either you’re lonely and not understood inside a relationship that you feel is bad for you, or you’re lonely in a relationship that you can’t be sure you won’t become “not good enough” for it.

    I know that she’s terribly anxious of a breakup, as I continuously communicate me being unhappy, and she tries to do much to make me happy, to her ability, but still I don’t feel happy, though I feel tremendous guilt and pity for her that I put her through all of this. She has a history of trauma and unhealthy relationships, and I’m also afraid that if we break up it will have a negative effect on her already low self-esteem in the long run.

    Some people say that I’m actually behaving cowardly and just afraid of breaking up, and make up all these elaborate excuses to cop out of dealing with hard feelings. Some people say I’m a coward and not willing to “really love” a person…

    I don’t know, maybe… I know I’m a conflict coward, and I’m working on it as well… But it seems to me that conflicting beliefs about the nature of relationships are at the root of my current twisted thinking.

    I would really like to know if someone has some other perspective on this seeming contradiction of loyalty to self and loyalty to the partner.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Are you married? How old is she? Pity and repeatedly asking her to change for you is all about you, not her.

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    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by user0x24
    So, if I declare her unworthy of my unconditional love, how can I then be sure that my next partner will hold me worthy of that love. And if not, then I condemn myself to the model of relationships where true loyalty is not a part of them, and unloyal relationships also don’t make sense to me.
    If you're declaring her unworthy of your love, then your love isn't unconditional and you are already 'condemned' to a relationship where 'true loyalty' (by your standard) does not play a part.

    So far, you've just theorized on relationship ideals. What is the actual problem you are having?

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    Originally Posted by user0x24
    Some people say that I’m actually behaving cowardly and just afraid of breaking up, and make up all these elaborate excuses to cop out of dealing with hard feelings. Some people say I’m a coward and not willing to “really love” a person…
    Who are these people?

    Do you generally suffer from anxiety and a tendency or overthink?

    I ask because you are making this so much more complicated than it needs to be. Nobody wants to hurt someone they care about, but it's quite obvious you're not happy and it's not getting better. The kinder thing would be to let her go so she can someday find someone who doesn't have these overwhelming doubts and urges to end things. You're clearly not right for each other.

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  6. #5
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    Yes, you are being a coward. Just do it.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member smackie9's Avatar
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    Cowardly? It's healthy! relationships simply run their course and all the counseling in the world won't change that. If you are unhappy then leave. It's ok to make that call.

  8. #7
    Gold Member Skeptic76's Avatar
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    Is it possible that “setting someone free” is the most loving thing we could do for them?

    If I had a partner that felt the way you do I would consider it a most kind and compassionate act for them to end the relationship.

    P.S. you may not be in a healthy relationship and you may not be ready to leave it yet, but personally I don’t think that makes you a coward.

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    We only live once you should end things. It's not fair on you or her.

    If you have been thinking about it for 3 years and been to therapy over this decision and made efforts to improve things and you are still not happy then i would end things as amicably as possible.

    No doubt it's going to hurt both of you but there is no avoiding that. I would say it's more "cowardly" to remain in a unhappy relationship and stay safe rather than go it alone.

    Don't initiate the breakup by playing games or acting off causing her to feel shes done something wrong. That is messed up. Do the decent thing face to face and explain it's just not working.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Cherylyn's Avatar
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    I wouldn't call you "cowardly." You're hesitant and reluctant but not "cowardly."

    Do both of yourselves a favor and cut her loose. Tell her the truth about how you feel but make it brief. Get it over and done with so both of you can be free.

    As for you, don't fret about future partners or people in your life. Let it be. You don't have a magic crystal ball and can't predict the future nor should you try.

    Break up, move on and let life happen good, bad or indifferent. Good luck.

  11. #10
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    Originally Posted by Wiseman2
    Are you married? How old is she? Pity and repeatedly asking her to change for you is all about you, not her.
    We are not married, but are in the relationship for 7 years.
    We also moved together roughly from the beginning of the relationship. She wanted very much to move together as early as possible.
    We are around 35. No kids.

    I understand it's about me, yes, I have many hard feelings and I'm trying to be open with her about them.

    Originally Posted by Jibralta
    If you're declaring her unworthy of your love, then your love isn't unconditional and you are already 'condemned' to a relationship where 'true loyalty' (by your standard) does not play a part.
    So far, you've just theorized on relationship ideals. What is the actual problem you are having?
    I believe I still didn't declare her unworthy of my love, I guess I try to "love" her (or whatever I'm able to muster up in this regard) and it's hard, so I contemplate what I can do about it. It seems to me when I announce her we split - that's the point I declare her unworthy of my love...

    My actual problem is if we split up and then I engage in another relationship that I feel is disposable, I suppose I will feel bad and cynical about it from the outset, so it will be even worse.

    To me it's somewhat like asking (I'm exaggerating) "Suppose you can kill an old lady with an axe and nobody will know. Saying it's bad is just theoritizing, what's the actual problem you're having?"

    Originally Posted by MissCanuck
    Who are these people?
    For example, I suppose Wiseman2 is implying something to that extent - that making the relationship "about me" is not something too positive. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Originally Posted by MissCanuck
    Do you generally suffer from anxiety and a tendency or overthink?
    I didn't have much anxiety attacks until our relationship started, now I have anxiety periods days long. One of these prompted me to write this post.
    I am a conflict coward though.
    I do have a history of avoiding things I suppose will cause hurt.

    Originally Posted by smackie9
    Cowardly? It's healthy! relationships simply run their course and all the counseling in the world won't change that. If you are unhappy then leave. It's ok to make that call.
    I'm wondering whether there are people who are "compatible" or "incompatible" with each other. The idea of romantic love is rather new even for the Western culture, and millions of people all over the world marry people they hardly met before the marriage... I've been brought up on the idea that relationships are precious and are not something you dispose of when it doesn't feel right... I used to think that all the psychological problems of the people in modern world are because people are giving up too easily.

    Still, I have that dream of romantic love... I know it's self contradictory...

    It seems to be pointless to search for an external solution and mix and match when the problem is a lack of skill. It's like being an electrician who worked in my house and didn't understand parallel and serial connection. He had a bunch of cords he tried to mix and match hoping some combination will work with the automatic lights, and not willing to read the manual. After he gave up I read the manual and connected the right cords to the right places, and the light worked.

    I'm not implying she is some mechanism and not a unique personality, but there is still a question of skill in dealing with relationship problems without giving up on them.

    I don't want to be the giving up person.

    Originally Posted by jimthzz
    Yes, you are being a coward. Just do it.
    Isn't giving up more cowardly?

    Originally Posted by MissCanuck
    The kinder thing would be to let her go so she can someday find someone who doesn't have these overwhelming doubts and urges to end things. You're clearly not right for each other.
    I'm not sure she will... Anyway, she doesn't think so... She is very smart, but suffers from anxiety and rage attacks... Anyway, she is very afraid of such an outcome and when we try to discuss our problems she will do anything to steer away from breaking up.

    She is very afraid of ending this relationship, for her it's "the end of the world" as she puts it.

    Originally Posted by Skeptic76
    Is it possible that “setting someone free” is the most loving thing we could do for them?

    If I had a partner that felt the way you do I would consider it a most kind and compassionate act for them to end the relationship.

    P.S. you may not be in a healthy relationship and you may not be ready to leave it yet, but personally I don’t think that makes you a coward.
    Would you cry and have a panic attack and and beg to give you a chance and promise that everything will work out whenever your partner would try to discuss something he is not feeling good about, and still consider breaking up a compassionate act looking back? I'm not being sarcastic, I really ask.

    I'm not sure she won't take it as a final blow to her self esteem...

    *EDIT:*
    I'm not hiding from her that I'm feeling bad and anxious and that we need to decide how we move on, and that I'm feeling not understood and my needs not attended to. We had tens of discussions about it, maybe more than a hundred.
    Last edited by user0x24; 03-24-2020 at 07:55 PM.

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