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Hi all,

 

I would love to have your thoughts and tips for a successful reconciliation.

 

For some context: Me (28F) and my ex-boyfriend (31M) had been in a 8-year relationship, with 6.5 years of those in a LDR while we were both studying (our fields require long studies). Everything went amazingly well while we were in a LDR, we saw each other 2 to 3 weekends a month and spent all our holidays together. The plan was for him to move to me after 5.5 years (in 2018) as we would both be done with our studies/compulsory internships and ready for our first job. In retrospect, there wasn’t a big discussion about who would move to whom: basically I had expressed that I would not move where he lives for several reasons (job prospects in my field, limited things to do in his very small country and inability to talk to his friends and family as all of them only speak one language and not English). He did not seem to care at all and agreed to move to me without any more discussions. 

 

When the time to move to me slowly approached, however, he did not seem to prepare for it (did not look for a job, did not learn the language, etc.). In retrospect, when we discussed what happened, he expressed that he was extremely scared to move for many reasons (wasn’t sure about what career to pursue, insecure about his language abilities, scared to move away from the only place he had known, scared of not making new friends in my country). Finally, he ended up (unilaterally) postponing the moving in date and accepting an internship (for up to one year) in his country. While this was disappointing, the internship was somewhat prestigious so we agreed (after lenghty discussions/arguments) that instead of a full year, he could do 6 months, as a sort of compromise. As the 6 months passed, he expressed that he would prefer to do the full year (for experience and savings). As a compromise, we agreed that we would “move in” in our flat and he would pay his half of the rent and live in our flat every weekend. This also caused many discussions/arguments. The last 6 months of the internship passed and he fully moved to our flat. 

 

While living together (from August 2019) he revised for his professional certification for the first 6 months and spent the time afterwards looking for a job. He struggled to find a job (covid didn’t help) and ended up being really depressed, unable to get out of this rut (constant negativity, mood swings, a lot of tears and stress, some panick attacks). To alleviate the money issues (his debt is really substantial), he applied for unemployment money in his country and ended up with a job offer there. He took it without discussing it with me. I understood that he had to take it considering the mental situation that he was in (and the money issues) but of course the unilateral decision was difficult to accept. I ended up breaking up with him shortly after (5 weeks ago), as this situation started to take a toll on my emotional well-being and he did not seem to be able to come up with a plan to move back to me. In retrospect, a plan is probably difficult to come up with in the middle of depression, but I kept pushing and I became insecure about our future. When breaking up, I reiterated that I did not want to break up but that we did not seem to be able to solve our issues and move forward with our relationship.

 

While he made a lot of mistakes (communication, coping mechanisms, etc), I believe that I also had my part of responsibility in the demise of our relationship: I pushed him a lot to move to me despite his worries, was insensitive at times and got increasingly frustrated with the situation. I am also not willing to move to his country and will never be: many could say that I am being selfish, even if I have good reasons. After 5 weeks being separated, we had a long call two days ago to discuss everything. We both want to make this work but agree that a LOT of changes are needed to make the reconciliation successful. We would be taking things VERY slowly (at my initiative - I want to prevent another trainwreck) and I have expressed that he would first need a lot of time and space to handle his own personal issues (dealing with change, depression, self-esteem issues). He has been seeing a psychologist/life coach for the past two months (he started before we broke up) and this seems to help him quite much, although it is not fast.

 

We really love each other a lot and regularly express it, even during discussions/arguments. He has regularly said that he doesn’t think he will ever love someone as much as he loves me and I feel the same. We have been planning to get married in the near future (1-2 years) and have children later on (5-6 years).

 

Maybe one thing to note is that I have always been the very successful one (top university, prestigious career, very comfortable financial situation, achieved literally all my goals) and he has struggled a lot during our entire relationship to find out the career he wants to pursue - but he has now found it. I think that this contrast was really difficult for him but he has never been jealous or unhappy, on the contrary he was always extremely proud of me and supportive (for instance I spent two years abroad for my studies, making the LDR even slightly more LD, requiring a plane rather than a train, and he was the one who visited the most during these two years). On my side, I have always said that I certainly don’t need him to be as successful as me, nor to make a lot of money (in an attempt to decrease the pressure he has been applying to himself). 

 

Another thing to note is that his environment is very growth-preventing: he is the only one who has been to university (even high school actually) around him and his family and friends always directed a lot of negative comments to him, such as “studies are useless”, “why do you still not have a job”, “how will you handle your retirement”, etc. His mom also has psychological issues and has told him he should stop being unhappy because it makes her so unhappy (and other gems like that...). She also cried everyday while he lived with me because it made her so unhappy. I am convinced that this has been extremely detrimental for his personal growth. Lately he has expressed a lot of hate and anger towards his environment and he has been talking through this with his psychologist. He has also said that I have “showed him a different life” and that this is the life he wants to live. However, I think that he has huge trouble getting out of his comfort zone, despite all his negative feelings towards it. He doesn’t have any other friends than these friends, and despite their lack of support/respect, I think it is difficult for him to letting go of them. 

 

I know I have outgrown him at this stage and the general advice is to let him go, but I truly believe that we make a great couple. I believe that some people take longer to grow and he has shown tremendous effort towards becoming a better version of himself despite not winning the lottery in terms of his environment. He has picked up a lot of great habits (reading self-improvement books, making notes while we discuss important things, going every week to the psychologist, finding ways to increase productivity, etc.). We have very different personalities and our strengths really compliment each other: his warmth and compassion made me a much more empathetic and sensitive person (I used to be a somewhat “cold” person), and my motivation and guidance have been very helpful for him to become a more open-minded and ambitious person. We also share a lot of common interests (especially a profound love of animals, but also quite a few hobbies) and we both take traveling/holidays very seriously. Our careers are also quite important for us but we both agree that this is not all in life.

 

In this context, I was wondering if any of you had any tips and thoughts? Obviously the situation is quite complicated and a lot of work would be needed. Is it doomed to fail or can we successfully reconcile? Am I too optimistic? Are there redflags? I guess an external view can be helpful, as we can all be lost in our mess and lack perspective.

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I'd focus on this latter part, more than the former. Curious: Do you have the same impulse with friends, with family? I ask because it's worth understanding what's behind that, the degree to whic

I think the above describes me to some extent, until I was in my mid-30s. I made excuses for their shortcomings and took up the slack for them. When I reached my mid-30s, a switch went off. I bec

The Wendy behind Peter Pan Psychologist Dan Kiley, who defined ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ in 1983, also used the term ‘Wendy Syndrome’ to describe women who act like mothers with their partners or peop

38 minutes ago, FF-lawyer said:

I believe that some people take longer to grow and he has shown tremendous effort towards becoming a better version of himself despite not winning the lottery in terms of his environment.

How much time are you willing to give him?

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Well.....how on earth can this work when him moving to you has already proved impossible as it lead to serious depression and mental/emotional issues on his part. Not to mention economic issues and so on and he was ultimately forced to move back to heal, get back on his feet, etc.

At the same time, you categorically refuse to move to his area and yes, you also have legitimate reasons for that.

Basically, neither one of you can be happy where the other one is. Reconciling, in fact wasting so much of your life in this LDR, has been a colossal mistake by both of you. The very things that make you successful - your drive and determination - are actually detrimental qualities in relationships. Unlike in uni or in your career, working harder doesn't fix things, it just prolongs pain and toxicity. You are both stopping each other from finding someone else to be happy with.

Of course, breaking up after so many years together is going to be very difficult, but my advice is start working on that because in the long run, it will be the healthier option.

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18 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

The very things that make you successful - your drive and determination - are actually detrimental qualities in relationships.

I read your post, had a similar thought, and am curious how this resonates with you. 

Among the many hurdles here, the biggest seems to be geography. You don't want to move to him, with reason, and his moving to you proved disastrous, professionally and emotionally, for him. Putting everything else to the side, that in and of itself largely fits the definition of irreconcilable differences. Hard as it is to contemplate, it might be worth asking if you two worked best when the relationship was still, to some degree, conceptual—when the idea of what it "could" be once the distance was closed was enough to thrive long distance. 

In terms of everything else? You describe the desire to get back together as mutual, which I don't doubt, but the steps toward that seem to be primarily you-generated, with him coming across as a project as much as a person. I felt for him, I admit, imagining the pressure he must feel to "grow" into some shape that you haven't outgrown, and ideally to do so yesterday, and to now get there on your terms. But what are his terms? Does he even know? Does he have the space/capability to figure that out with you, and alongside you, rather than just to accommodate you or not "lose" you? These are important questions—for both your spirits—and I can't help but get the sense that they've been sidestepped.

And I feel for you as well, as it seems you've been the main engine of things for years. Seems that worked for a good stretch, as you were able to chase your professional dreams without a lot of compromise, with him traveling to you, with his warmth and compassion a helpful antidote to the hustle-bustle. But you're now 28, not 25, and perhaps you're seeing the limitations to such a dynamic as you're transitioning fully into adulthood. Put in a question: Do you want to commit yourself to someone you see as half-formed, or someone whose natural shape compliments yours? Or: What opportunities are you giving yourself, for growth, in trying to make something work with someone you yourself say you've outgrown? 

 

 

 

 

 

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So I like you had a very successful career and went to a prestigious grad school, financial independence and success - while I worked full time in my field for 15 years -after that I got married and spent 7 years home full time raising our son, now work part time in same field but less $/less prestige -by choice - I choose to have more time for my family and I am financially fine with working part time and emotionally fine too!  My husband is even more successful and smarter than me and just as/more financially successful.  We both were raised similarly -to achieve at least college degrees, to value our studies and education.  But here's my point - your comparison is flawed with your ex boyfriend - you didn't have to work in a foreign country, learn a new language, a new culture, establish new social connections, professional connections - thousands of miles away I bet from family and friends and home.  You just have no clue if you would have had the fortitude to accomplish that.  You have no clue whether you'd have had the educational and financial opportunities in a foreign country -what he had to go through.  

 

I also wanted to add- he is an adult. He can make his own choices and you both can stop blaming his family and friends for somehow being a marionette pulling his strings.  Sorry - that ship has sailed.  For example I have a friend who was raised like me who fell in love with a guy who was one of many kids where most of his siblings possibly finished high school, mom was not educated, dad worked hard but no focus, again, on studying for a profession.  When my friend's husband was 17 and started dating my friend (high school sweethearts and I knew them back then) -he made the choice -as a teenager - to go to college and become a CPA - he decided to be close to his family in some ways but to chart his own path- it wasn't easy.  At all.  I met his family.  Believe me, not easy.  But they've been married now almost 35 years and have a grown son who is an attorney.  He wanted this, he achieved it, my friend was supportive of him all the way and she also went to college and grad school and had a wonderful career.  Your ex boyfriend isn't 17 -he's 34.  He doesn't need a life coach. He simply needs to want to be educated and employed in his field of choice badly enough to overcome the obstacles.  You can be supportive too but no you cannot pressure him or nag at him.  I don't believe my friend did with her husband because he wouldn't have stood for it.  But she was his cheerleader.  

It may be given the geography and disparate/incompatible life goals it's not the time to throw around fancy terms like "communication" and "better version" and "complicated" - cause it's not.  It's quite simple as Dancing Fool put it. He simply doesn't want what he says he does badly enough.  And that's ok - accept that he might like the status quo better.  Doesn't make you any more successful than him-in fact his self-honesty might show the most success of all.

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If this is going to work you'll have to cut each other loose and revise the marriage and children plan. This man is not ready for that. 

Your clock is ticking and you have a game plan that's very clear. His is not clear, not established and he is not on track. 

If you want the simple cliff notes, that's my take on it. 

Dial it back, way way back. If you cannot do this, don't keep torturing each other. Pick whether you want the marriage/kids schedule or this man. It won't happen according to your schedule. 

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This is one of those times in life where you need to seperate your heart from your head and look at it from both angles.

Setting your heart aside, there are too many obstacles to make this work. You yourself stated something telling - that you are already aware that you have outgrown him.

Looking at this logically, when the rubber meets the road, and life gets challenging is when you find out if a relationship has what it takes to work. This one didn't.

Life has taught me that you can still love someone and recognize that you aren't meant for each other.  We often stay until feelings sour and we turn on each other.  I suppose it makes it easier to walk away.  But, it's so unnecessary when you can leave with love and warm feelings for each other and what you had.  It's honestly a little easier on your heart to do it this way.  

Edited by reinventmyself
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Thank you everyone for all your amazing insights, very helpful! Sorry for the late reply, somehow I got blocked from posting.
 

@Jibralta: I think one year would be reasonable for me.

@DancingFool: the reason why my ex-boyfriend belives it will work this time when he comes back to my country is that the causes of his depression (career/job and debt) are now solved or on the way to be solved in a matter of months. He has now found the career that he wants to pursue and has a great job in an international company that has a big office in my country and where office transfers are common. The reason why it was initially difficult for him to find a job in my country was that he wanted a job that is a bit different from the studies that he pursued. His huge debt was the other reason for his misery, but his new job pays extremely well (and his country is one of those high salary high cost of living countries, but he went back to live at his parents to save money) and his debt will now be done in less than a year. He believes that it was a huge mistake to move to my country without a job and with a huge debt, and that now that these problems are gone, it will work.

Your comment on motivation/drive however made me think a lot, thank you. I have never given up on anything in my life and indeed, I can see that this can be a problem in a relationship, where giving up might be the best option in the long-term. We are still discussing all our options, so I will need to think a bit more about that.

@bluecastle: as above, I feel that the problems are now gone/solvable, that is why we are thinking that it might just work this time. But I think you understood our couple dynamic really well: I have always been the “main engine” as you say, and it is indeed really exhausting. I do think that my support and encouragement might come off as “pushing” from his perspective, but I am not sure how to change that. I am clearly a problem-fixer and I take his problems very seriously and tend to get frustrated when it doesn’t get fixed. However, my intention is not at all to push him to grow, I am happy with the way he is, I guess I want to support him because I think he is doing great in his quest for self-betterment, but it comes off as pushing.

@Batya33: I feel that your comment is really unfair. My ex-boyfriend comes from a tiny village where no one even went to high school, and yet he has achieved so much. He completed his graduate studies with resilience and motivation and has recently qualified as an attorney (although he doesn’t work as one because he doesn’t like it). He has struggled multiple times, sometimes failing exams, but always went on. I am extremely proud of what he has achieved and I find it really unfair to say that he needs to be “educated and employed”. He was already pursuing his university studies when I met him and, although I have supported him, I have never pushed him to do anything as I did not care whether he is academically/professionally or not and I made that very clear. My point was just that his friends and family have been extremely unsupportive and it was difficult for him to hear all these negative comments.


Also, I have actually lived in 4 countries in 3 different continents, worked in 2, and my current country is also not my home country (and the language is my third language). My home country is on the other side of the world with a very very different culture. Not to minimise the difficulty for him to move in my country, though!
 

@Rose Mosse: this is actually the schedule that he wants! I am certainly not in a hurry, especially children-wise (I personally would prefer a 6-7 years horizon but he does not want to be too old when he has children, as his parents had him really late and he always wanted not to replicate that). 
 

@reinventmyself: thank you, I understand what you mean, I have wondered so many times whether this relationship has gone as far as it could. It is really difficult to let go of him and I don’t want to regret it later...

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1 minute ago, FF-lawyer said:

@Jibralta: I think one year would be reasonable for me.

Starting today? Or starting when your boyfriend resolves his career issues, job issues, debt issues, and/or moves back to your country? 

You should establish a firm starting date, or you could be waiting around a lot longer than a year.

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27 minutes ago, FF-lawyer said:

Batya33: I feel that your comment is really unfair. My ex-boyfriend comes from a tiny village where no one even went to high school, and yet he has achieved so much. He completed his graduate studies with resilience and motivation and has recently qualified as an attorney (although he doesn’t work as one because he doesn’t like it). He has struggled multiple times, sometimes failing exams, but always went on. I am extremely proud of what he has achieved and I find it really unfair to say that he needs to be “educated and employed”. He was already pursuing his university studies when I met him and, although I have supported him, I have never pushed him to do anything as I did not care whether he is academically/professionally or not and I made that very clear. My point was just that his friends and family have been extremely unsupportive and it was difficult for him to hear all these negative comments.

Nope - did not write that -I wrote about your attitude about your success and since he is an adult, there's a limit to how much he can blame family/background.  My grandparents had no education and came to our country as immigrants and both their children went to college and even beyond.  We all have obstacles with people making negative comments including family -I had more than my share -and as an adult there needs to be a limit to how much you finger point at others - accountablility should be the priority.  

I mostly took issue with how you define success and how you seem not to take into account his language/foreign country obstacles in comparing your levels of success.  You don't seem from your words that you typed extremely proud of what he has achieved.  Perhaps I misunderstood.  Thanks for sharing the obstacles you faced!  Be proud of your accomplishments for sure!

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@Jibralta: yes, one year from today. His career/job issues are gone and his debt should be entirely gone within one year, which would enable him to move back here without huge weights on his shoulders. I will definitely be on the lookout if the process gets longer though (that is of course one of my worries), thank you! 
 

@Batya33: I do agree with that, it just makes me really sad to think that he had to endure such a lack of support from the very people he should be counting on. But yes, blaming others is not a solution. 
I am very proud of him, but it might not be clear, I am not the best at expressing my feelings. I try to tell him at times but I should definitely tell him more often.

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Sounds like you've thought this through. If you're sincerely open to spending another year seeing if this can settle into something like genuine harmony—well, then give in to that year, trusting that time will supply a clearer answer than anything you can corral. I've approached things in my life similarly in order to alleviate the pressure of needing to solve everything in a flash. 

Some general thoughts: 

Regarding the "main engine" stuff, I'd reflect with some honesty about what you may have been getting from playing that role. After all, it's not something he's asked for, best I can tell, but rather something you've taken on. Exhausting as it can be, or has become, it does provide the comfort of control, much like being in the driver's seat can be tiring on a long drive but you have the benefit of controlling the speed, no chance of being caught off guard by the driving choices of another. 

Speaking for myself, I've found that my relationships—platonic and, especially, romantic—are a lot easier and inspiring when I fundamentally trust the basic operating principles of another's engine. Doesn't mean it works exactly as mine does, but simply that my "support" and "encouragement" are not things I quietly view as essential for another's engine to go from sputtering to purring. When that trust is there—or respect, or admiration, or whatever adjective is most accurate—it's much less exhausting. 

You guys were 20 and 23 when you met. At that age, people are in a way more potential than actual, more about becoming than being, simply because they haven't been adults long enough to have any real sense of who they will be as adults. At 28 and 31 it's different, the workings of each of your individual engines a bit more defined—and, as such, a bit clearer on whether they sincerely complement each other or not.

Two engines working in tandem should make for more power, and a smoother ride, you know? Something to think about, here and there, over the next year. 

 

 

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@bluecastle: thank you so much for your reply, your insight is so helpful and so true! I definitely have issues trusting the operation of his “engine” as I find it much slower and inefficient than mine (in other words, I feel like nothing is happening if I don’t do anything and that is applicable for so many aspects of his/our life). We will definitely discuss this together to determine whether there is an incompatiblity here or if I can lay back and trust that he will do things, at his speed, without me having to lead all the time. After all I have never given him a chance to really do that!

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2 minutes ago, FF-lawyer said:

We will definitely discuss this together to determine

Per my post, I'd take a good moment to discuss this with yourself, to figure out what motivates/motivated you to want to be the engine (do you do this in other realms of life, for instance?), and whether something you're realizing, on the threshold of 30, are the limitations of this, at least when it comes to partnership.

It only takes one person to determine if they are incompatible with another, not a prolonged, multi-tiered discussion on compatibility. A crushing fact of the fragile pact between people, but one worth acknowledging too.  

Any insight I offer, I assure you, comes from some familiarity in these trenches, not sitting alone in a cave of wisdom in the clouds. I am very much an "engine," in the sense that I'm a doer, a chaser, a dream hunter, a problem solver, and have played that role in relationships. Eventually I learned that this tended to fill me up for a bit—that I was motivated by a superficial sense of confidence and selfhood that comes from being the booster rocket of another, which is fancy talk for low-grade insecurity—before eventually starting to drain me. Coming to terms with that helped me prioritize surrounding myself with people whose engines struck me as marvels of engineering, rather than something I could engineer. 

That's just me, of course. Sharing it with you in the hopes it helps you turn your own prism. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, FF-lawyer said:

@Jibralta: yes, one year from today. His career/job issues are gone and his debt should be entirely gone within one year, which would enable him to move back here without huge weights on his shoulders. 

What do you envision for the two of you, and your dynamic, after that point? 

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Are you from different cultures/ countries or socioeconomic backgrounds?

How did you meet? 

Try not to sever him from his own culture, family, friends or the mileu he is accustomed to, even if you think it's "an improvement".

Trying to make someone into a clone of yourself will be a very lonely and disastrous situation.

When you look down on someone to the point of thinking they need a major overhaul to be a complete human being, you need to ask yourself why.

While pride in your personal accomplishments is great, making yourself/your life the standard by which others should live is not so great.

Take this time to reflect on why you need to change and fix him.

Perhaps your success is new to you. Step inside of the human aspect of yourself, without all the resume listings, and see what you can find.

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19 hours ago, FF-lawyer said:

@Jibralta: yes, one year from today. His career/job issues are gone and his debt should be entirely gone within one year, which would enable him to move back here without huge weights on his shoulders. I will definitely be on the lookout if the process gets longer though (that is of course one of my worries), thank you! 
 

@Batya33: I do agree with that, it just makes me really sad to think that he had to endure such a lack of support from the very people he should be counting on. But yes, blaming others is not a solution. 
I am very proud of him, but it might not be clear, I am not the best at expressing my feelings. I try to tell him at times but I should definitely tell him more often.

Yes that is sad -I guess my perspective is different -I don't think children are entitled to their parents' support in whatever they choose to do education/career wise.  It's wonderful if it happens of course!  It did happen for me and I was so grateful and appreciative -including some financial support.  But I didn't feel entitled - I thanked them with words and gifts and trips.  I still do.

 

Instead of telling him show him.  Show him by doing the little and big kindnesses that help people who are feeling stressed or insecure, show him by really listening without how you plan to respond when he expresses himself.  For example my husband took over one of my tasks yesterday because I'm on a work deadline, and my son is my cheerleader at times, and my husband stayed home from work so I could go on my first interview after my long hiatus as a stay at home mom, etc.  Last night he even stopped watching Carol Burnett reruns so I could share my work related concerns.  For example. It's nice to hear accolades too -I tell my son "you should be proud of yourself" instead of focusing on "I am proud of you."   

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@bluecastle: I am definitely the engine in ALL aspects of my life and I do recognize myself in your third paragraph. And it is exhausting, especially in the relationship. I do feel that someone who is a bit more “moving forward” could be a better fit, but he has recently noticed that his lack of drive has prevented him from achieving most of his dreams and has showed more initiative. The reason why I have so much drive is that I am very clear about the goals that I want to achieve, so I am constantly working towards those. My engine is always on fire! If I were not the engine, no one would be: we would just be stagnating forever and none of us would be reaching their goals/dreams. Of course I really want him to achieve his goals too, but he never seems to know what his goals are, so we can’t really work towards his goals. He is more the “let’s see where it goes” type of person. This obviously has some advantages but that also means that he has a lot of regrets over what he should have done. I would be horrified to have regrets because I did not “act” on my dreams.

@Jibralta: well, I think it would take some time to rebalance the relationship but I think with time and practice, he could gain the confidence to “lead” more (his confidence was really down while he was unemployed and under debt and has since gone up significantly) and I could “chill” more. That of course would be optimal. In reality, I think I would always be the leader, but I think we could arrive to a dynamic that is more balanced than what he have had so far.

@Wiseman2: we are from different countries - my “home” country is on the other side of the world but the country I have been living for more than half of my life is actually a neighbouring country of his, with a very similar culture. We are from different socioeconomic backgrounds, but I wouldn’t say that the difference is necessarily striking (but maybe I’m wrong). My family has been highly educated for generations but my parents immigrated to my current country and faced a lot of struggles, including financially. However, they are now living a very comfortable life. His family has been living in the same village for generations and he is the first one to go beyond middle school. They are not rich and do worry about money a lot but they are by all means not poor. We met in a third country while learning English.

My intention is not to isolate him from his family and friends but I can’t keep myself from being so angry at them for the pain that they have been inflicting to him. He is very sensitive and has cried so many times about the mean things they have said to him and it just makes me so sad and angry that he has to suffer because of them. I know it’s not my job to make him happy but I still want to help him. This year has been really tough for him and seeing him like that without being able to help has been incredibly difficult. I have never felt so powerless. And it’s been hard for me to understand also, because I would never let anyone make this kind of comments to me, I would immediately cut off contact. Of course everyone reacts differently, but why let anyone treat you like this? Just for the sake of familiarity? And now he is so resentful towards them, I feel like this whole situation could have been avoided, I don’t know.

My intention is also not to “change” him for my benefit, but he seems to have so many struggles and issues (he has been talking to me a lot about his issues, obviously) that I want to help him solve. Again, not my job I know, but these issues make him so sad: do I just have to let him solve his issues all by himself? He also asks a lot for tips to be more successful, more efficient, more self-aware, etc, so I don’t feel like I am feeding him unsolicited advice. But maybe he has the impression that I want him to be more successful? I guess there is a fine line between giving advice and wanting someone to change? I am not sure how to behave in a way that is supportive of his efforts towards solving his issues and his ambition but does not look like I want him to change. Not sure if I am being very clear here.

@Batya33: thanks, I will definitely show it more. I am definitely guilty of listening and immediately making an action plan instead of just listening! However, I am known for being very thoughtful and I have always spoiled him a lot (I cook all the time for him, plan a lot of romantic trips, buy him a lot of little things, and my presents are always the best)! The listening without planning is really more of an issue.

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Why not bite the bullet and try to locate somewhere that has opportunity for the both of you career wise, affordability, in a nice small city that is demographically right age wise. Young career people, so you can meet people of like mind and fit in. You two need to bend on this one together. A strong compromise, think outside the box.

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There's an overemphasis on his struggles perhaps. You're a very loving and compassionate person, probably very sensitive to your partner or his emotions.

I prefer Bluecastle's approach and would steer away from any big discussions with him. I think it's contributing to the imbalance. More self-reflection. 

Just a note too: You are not to be blamed at all for any issues with depression or anxiety or mental health issues that he may have independent of your relationship with him. I'm not saying you are being blamed but I'm also sensing a lot of guilt and as if the extreme anxiety of it all is also rubbing off on you.

I hope you're both able to clear this up. Given the circumstances, I wouldn't agree to his or anyone else's timeline for kids or marriage or a house. Things need to feel more at ease naturally.

 

Edited by Rose Mosse
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Every single word that Reinvent said, and which I flag up again.  

"Setting your heart aside, there are too many obstacles to make this work. You yourself stated something telling - that you are already aware that you have outgrown him.

Looking at this logically, when the rubber meets the road, and life gets challenging is when you find out if a relationship has what it takes to work. This one didn't.

Life has taught me that you can still love someone and recognize that you aren't meant for each other.  We often stay until feelings sour and we turn on each other.  I suppose it makes it easier to walk away.  But, it's so unnecessary when you can leave with love and warm feelings for each other and what you had.  It's honestly a little easier on your heart to do it this way.  "

I have read and re-read your posts, OP. Particularly about his family and their treatment of him.  OP, he has to march along this road on his own, until he reaches a place where he becomes his own man. It isn't your job to show him "a different life".  He has to find that himself, and shed whatever shackles of the past (his family) he wishes (or not) to shed.

You are well-intentioned, but that is not enough. There is a saying: "No good deed goes unpunished". Think about that.

And I must also echo Wiseman's post.  Do re-read it.

 

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3 minutes ago, LaHermes said:

Particularly about his family and their treatment of him.  OP, he has to march along this road on his own, until he reaches a place where he becomes his own man. It isn't your job to show him "a different life".  He has to find that himself, and shed whatever shackles of the past (his family) he wishes (or not) to shed.

Very  much agree with this.  Especially that his family is comfortable and happy with the way they are. That is how he's raised, even if his ambition transcends theirs a bit. 

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