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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.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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.

 

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?"

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Yes, you are being a coward. Just do it.

 

Isn't giving up more cowardly?

 

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.

 

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.

Edited by user0x24
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I am not sure cowardice is really what you are. Maybe more of a martyr.

 

Why do you think it immoral to break up with someone?

 

Do you think it is immoral to change jobs? move to new cities? make any changes or decisions about you're own life?

 

Is this you first relationship? If not, how did the others end?

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Classic case of paralysis by analysis. Caught in your head which is preventing you from taking action.

 

As you are a conflict coward in your words this is how you have learnt to take action and to resolve conflict which is taking no action. Being completely passive in your own life. When others make decisions for you I imagine you find that relieving but I might be wrong.

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Don't waste another 3 years of your life by staying with her. Do you think she will not be able to survive without you?

 

There should never be unconditional love in a romantic relationship. I believe that this should only be present between parent and child.

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You’re codependent. You’ve made yourself responsible for her happiness and well-being.

 

Nobody wants to hurt another person when they break up, I get it. Songs are written about it, books and plays and TikToks galore. If you want to stay in the relationship it’s your choice and there’s nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t make you a coward, it just means that’s your choice.

 

I believe you are a victim of a false narrative: “either I martyr myself in misery or be doomed to a series of miserable and half-hearted relationships.” That’s not a judgement, just an observation. If those are the only ways you see then it makes perfect sense to stay in your relationship.

 

Good luck, friend.

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I am not sure cowardice is really what you are. Maybe more of a martyr.

I'll look up on that. Actually it makes sense. As I've been brought up, martyrdom was supposed to be a noble thing...

 

Why do you think it immoral to break up with someone?

Yes, when breaking up is giving up on a person who (thinks she) needs you asks for a second chance.

 

Do you think it is immoral to change jobs? move to new cities? make any changes or decisions about you're own life?

I actually have a funny answer to that. I believe "liking" and "not liking" is a bit wrong reason to change things. About a city - I live in a place that is uncomfortable to me, it exasberates my anxiety. I feel that if I move to another city, this city "defeated" me. I will feel free to move when I work over my issues living here and do it from my own choice and not because I couldn't cope.

Same with a job - if you feel uncomfortable on a job, it's not a reason to move, it's a reason to adapt. You can move if there is another job that is more challenging.

But I won't be able to adapt to a relationship more challenging that my current.

Yeah, I know, it's a bit of a twisted thinking... But then, I feel defeated and suppose the challenge will catch up with me when I try to escape challenges and hardships.

 

Is this you first relationship? If not, how did the others end?

A second significant. The other one was a bit similar, and my ex decided to end it.

Still I felt guilty for several years after the breakup that I couldn't make it work for her.

 

When others make decisions for you I imagine you find that relieving but I might be wrong.

Yes it's relieving when others make decisions to give up on me. It's their choice, I'm not the one who had given up.

 

I don't know, I have a sense that it's morally wrong to go with "let's just do it and see what happens" when it's about hurting people. I believe all the evil things in life happen because people decide to experiment by hurting others and see how it works out.

 

That's why the death sentence was abolished, because we never really know... And here I yet have not established "beyond reasonable doubt" that the relationship is not livable.

 

Do you think it makes you a better person to stay and suffer?

Suffering for the cause is noble, and it makes a better person of a man, isn't it? I'm not kidding. I know a part of me thinks it may be pathetic, but another part thinks it's true.

 

Do you think you are making her happy?

She asks for it, who am I to tell her what's good for her. Isn't it patronizing and insulting to tell her "i believe it's for the best of both of us if we end this relationship"?

 

Also, when a person asks for a second (and nth) chance, won't a better person give them that chance?

 

You have an interesting signature:

"If you change nothing, nothing changes.

The cause of the pain is NEVER the cure for the pain."

 

How did you came to know it?

Is it from the personal experience?

Don't they say in the gym that "no pain no gain" and "if it's feels easy, you are on the downturn"?

I have a hunch that the only solution to the suffering is to engage with the suffering until your mind gives up on treating the situation as "suffering"...

I have a hunch that by constantly changing things, we give our neurosis an upper leg...

 

Do you think she will not be able to survive without you?

I don't know.

If she's unable to survive without me should I stay? Also, I want her to be happy, not just survive...

 

There should never be unconditional love in a romantic relationship. I believe that this should only be present between parent and child.

 

That's really interesting. I've been thinking of it...

Don't you expect to be loved unconditionally?

Is conditional love not "real" love?

Doesn't it make you stressed knowing that you are loved conditionally?

Do you expect from your partner to be there for you if you are in a crisis?

 

Why did you move in so soon?

For some logistical reasons related to the location of work - by coincidence, the small company I worked for relocated itself to a city she lives in. And also she pushed for it and I sort of rolled with it.

 

You’ve made yourself responsible for her happiness and well-being.

Are we not responsible for each other happiness and well-being? What's the point of the relationship otherwise?

 

I have this quote from the "little prince" stuck with me:

 

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You

become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for

your rose..."

 

Is this quote a false narrative? It feels true...

Edited by user0x24
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Good grief, man.

 

I don't mean to sound insensitive but you are your own worst enemy here. What does your therapist say about your tendency to micro-analyze to this extent?

 

You seem utterly paralyzed by both your own looped thoughts.

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I believe you are a victim of a false narrative: “either I martyr myself in misery or be doomed to a series of miserable and half-hearted relationships.” That’s not a judgement, just an observation. If those are the only ways you see then it makes perfect sense to stay in your relationship.

Yes this is my narrative. I have a hunch that my mind needs to give up on treating "working hard on the relationship" as "misery" and learn to take satisfaction in the work, but the anxiety and frustration doesn't make it easy...

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Good grief, man.

 

I don't mean to sound insensitive but you are your own worst enemy here. What does your therapist say about your tendency to micro-analyze to this extent?

You seem utterly paralyzed by both your own looped thoughts.

 

She asks me questions and encourages me to analyze even more...

She doesn't give "easy answers", she encourages me to look inside myself...

She is very understanding and talking to her makes me feel relieved, but then, maybe she's just egging me on to keep the client...

 

EDIT:

The question is, I'm not sure "let's just make an experiment and see what happens" is appropriate to this situation, because it results in hurt for some other person.

Isn't it playing with others feelings?

Edited by user0x24
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I Love the Little Prince! What a great story. Have you seen the Netflix adaptation? It’s actually quite good!

 

After reading and re-reading I wish to say I stand corrected. I think you two are lucky to have each other. It’s not a situation I could abide, and I am sorry you are not happy in your relationship. But as you feel it is noble and the right thing to stay then I agree, you must follow your heart and the truth to the best of your light.

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I Love the Little Prince! What a great story. Have you seen the Netflix adaptation? It’s actually quite good!

 

After reading and re-reading I wish to say I stand corrected. I think you two are lucky to have each other. It’s not a situation I could abide, and I am sorry you are not happy in your relationship. But as you feel it is noble and the right thing to stay then I agree, you must follow your heart and the truth to the best of your light.

 

Yeah thanks :) No I didn't yet, I'll put it on my list. Maybe watch it together with her.

I remember reading it and just having tears running...

 

But then, I find myself hesitating.

And I'm afraid that I commit and then end up hurting her and our (future) children (that will result from commitment) even more if I decide I'm too weak...

Or succumb deeper to some neurosis like this anxiety thing...

 

I just need to get done with this "split brain" attitude, it's killing me.

Edited by user0x24
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Did you move in with her? Do you have another way to support yourself? Did you read the forum rules specifically item #14 : https://www.enotalone.com/forum/forum-rules.php

I have a sense that it's morally wrong. I believe all the evil things in life happen because people decide to experiment by hurting others.That's why the death sentence was abolished, because we never really know... And here I yet have not established "beyond reasonable doubt" that the relationship is not livable.
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She asks me questions and encourages me to analyze even more...

She doesn't give "easy answers", she encourages me to look inside myself...

She is very understanding and talking to her makes me feel relieved, but then, maybe she's just egging me on to keep the client...

 

You seem to realize what she is doing here. I don't think she has any malicious intention, but she's planting all these seeds of doubt because she's desperate to hang on to you. She hopes that that this will buy her some time and make you change your mind. It's not really working if you've been in therapy for three years trying to convince yourself to stay. This split brain, as you describe it, stems from trying to force yourself to do something you don't want to do, which is continue the relationship.

 

We can't decide for you, ultimately. I personally disagree with the notion that ending a very unhappy relationship is somehow cowardly, nor do I agree with the definition of unconditional love you have questioned in this thread. But, that's up to you. Everyone's priorities and limits are different. This situation sure wouldn't work for me, is all I can really say. I have never regretted walking away from one particular relationship in which I was unhappy, and had been for some time. I had thought about breaking up for a long time, and knew that the right choice for me was to end it. It hurt him a lot, and I felt guilty for that for a long while, but I never questioned my ability to have happier and more fulfilling relationships in the future. And I was right.

 

A question about your own background, just for some more context: have you had relationships before this one? If so, how did those end?

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