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On the Brink


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This is my first post here as I am looking for some support, and I am also looking for some positivity in what has been a very negative 24-hours for my psyche.


Some background, I'm a 27-yo male and have been dating a 25-yo girl for nearly three years, we are very loving, spend most of our time together and share a lot of similarities when it comes to things that we like and how we view what our future should look like. We've traveled to every end of the globe together on several international trips and from the outside looking in, you'd think that we have the best relationship.


Roughly two years ago, we had a spell where we nearly broke up due to issues that she had left bottled up and never told me she was having problems with. We didn't speak for 10 days and I was devastated. After our silence period (during which I reached out to a forum like this one) I contacted her and for three straight nights we met up and talked extensively about what we wanted and what the issues were, mainly communication problems. After all of this talking, nothing seemed to have changed and she called me planning on giving me the news that she wanted to make it final, but in one last desperate attempt to save what we had I told her that she should give us time and that she definitely should not be doing this over the phone - she told me she needed time to think and she'd call back. Later that night she called and said that she's debated for a while but decided she would give us another chance. Nobody in the previous forum had given me any hope for what had happened and when it actually did, I was the happiest man alive. Since that day, our communication has slowly improved.


That brings us to last year when the issue of communication was again brought up and I feared once more that maybe she was going to really end it this time. We talked it over and I tried to explain to her that I felt that we had improved, not that we were the best communicators, but that we had come a long way from where we started. After much discussion and deliberation, I realized that the underlying issue was really that I was too far away for her. I was struggling to get a new job in the area where she lived, but I told her that I would find one. Just a few months later, I did. I wanted it too, this was not just for her sake, but it improved our relationship exponentially. I found a great job that would allow me to now be career-minded and it seemed to me that I was on my way to a long term relationship with her.


Currently, however, I am back to that uneasy feeling in my stomach and fear once more of what seems to be inevitable. Being that we've twice talked very seriously about the idea of splitting up, I am holding out hope that once again we can work on the issue and get through it. Yesterday, she told me that she wanted to talk about our relationship and I met her to do so, feeling extremely on edge when I showed up. She once again brought up communication and said that I don't give her enough when it comes to divulging how I feel about everything from work, my life, my future and what I have planned for my goals. Also, she mentioned that when she attempts to talk to me about her issues, I only give her positive things such as "it'll be alright" and "everything will work out" rather than productive responses on how she can fix things or suggestions or opinions on how I feel.


These feelings do have truth behind them. I try to respond to her with positive feedback when she's feeling down, but I never knew that this was something that bothered her, as I thought it was making her feel loved and that it's what she wanted - she had never expressed to me that she wanted my opinion, whether positive or negative. As far as I go, I tend to hold things in because I want everyone to think that I am always happy and everything is always okay, this stems back to my childhood when traumatic family events left me trying to hide things from my friends so they wouldn't know anything was wrong. I explained this all to her and even opened up about these past things that I had never told anyone. I told her that it's been an issue for me and it's something I need to work on, but I am willing to focus my attention on being easier to communicate with.


This is where it hurts me. She says that we've been trying to work on it for years and after 3 years she feels that we should be talking about moving in and getting engaged, not about being able to communicate effectively. I told her that our communication lines have very slowly improved from day 1 and still continue to do so, and there should not be a time frame placed on when we should be moving in, it should be when we are ready. She believes that it's not something we can work on because we've tried and haven't ever gotten to that 'tell each other every single thing' level, while I am adamant that she should give us some time to try it out and that divulging my childhood issues has already made it easier for me to tell her anything since that was by far the hardest thing that I've had to tell her.


I want us to be able to work on it and not just give up and say we can't but she has dropped the lines of I think I might just want some time alone and I'm not sure what I want. It seems unbelievable that in a very stable and loving relationship, something that can at least be WORKED on would be the cause of breakup after 3 amazing years.


Another factor that has come into play and that she has brought up several times is my lack of housing in her area. While I do commute and am able to see her after work and stay over her place, my home is fairly far away so when I do return home during the week, we don't have the ability to just meet up and hang out. After our last go-around when the underlying issue ended up being my job being too far away and not seeing me enough, I can definitely see this as being the main issue inside her head (to go along with communication) even though she hasn't said that it is.


I know that was a lot to read and I apologize. I plan on seeing her tonight and I fear the worst. My goal through all of this is just to have her not give up on what we've worked on for the past 3 years and let us try out this full disclosure communication which I've admittedly had trouble with. I feel like I made myself so vulnerable by telling her my deep down issues and that I think that should show her that I/we CAN do this. What I am looking for out of a response is an answer what you would do in this situation? The past two times, it seemed like it was over and then with a miracle, she was back in my arms just a short time later. I'm hoping that she'll submit to my idea of aggressively working towards better communication.

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I'm not sure if she's looking for a way out of the relationship and she's using the communication "problem" as a way to end it or if she has unrealistic expectations of a relationship and communication styles, perhaps it's some of both. I can only answer from my perspective and with the information I have from you. Either way I'm not sure there's anything you can do to change her mind. The reality is this has come up several times and she's not letting it go or acknowledging the improvements, etc.


The one example that stands out is she told you she wants you to give opinion, talk about how you feel about it, etc. She communicated what she wants, it sounds like you had honest reflection about how that plays out in your relationship and are willing to work on it so both your needs are met. This is communication, telling each other what you need/want from each other, then finding a way to make it honest and work for both of you. Reading someone's mind isn't communication. I don't see how discussing that and coming to that conclusion is bad communication, it sounds like she was upset you weren't already doing what she wanted, which makes me think she might have a completely unrealistic idea and expectation of relationships.


The feeling I get is there isn't anything you can do to make this work. She has made up her mind it isn't going to work for whatever reason and you may be able to pull her back to you but this issue (or some other issue) will continue to come up with more frequency and her wanting to end things. I think it's a sooner or later it's going to end type thing. I'm sorry because that's probably a really painful thought but that's what I really think.


I'm not sure what I'd do in this situation. I would suggest if she says she wants to break up that you accept it and don't try to lure her back in, let her go. If not, it's just a matter of time before you find yourself right back in the same situation...her wanting to break up and you desperate to find a way to keep her. Accept it, let her go, move on.

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She's tried a number of times to break up with you and each time you've talked her into giving it another chance. I don't think it's a good idea to talk someone into staying with you because it means they're staying with you not because they really want to but because they've been talked into it against they're inner instincts. The relationship drags on wasting both people's time and eventually the one who's not really happy gets the motivation to finally break up. Her reasons could well be 'excuses' because for whatever reason she's just not happy in the relationship. You should accept her wishes and not try to hang onto her any more.

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