Dear Dating Girl,
I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year and a half now, and I feel like it’s time for me to move on. However, he has no idea that I have been thinking about breaking up with him. In fact, I truly think that he is very in love with me and sees a future for us. A while back, I thought that I loved him as well. We are extremely good friends and always have fun together, but I just don’t think I love him anymore. This truly tears me apart because I can’t imagine hurting him and I know if I were to break up with him, he would be completely shocked. I really think that breaking up with someone can be harder than being broken up with for a lot of reasons. I don’t feel like I can do this, even though I know that it is the right thing. Any suggestions?
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
I suppose you could save him the hurt and simply stay in a relationship with someone you’re not in love with. Because I can really see that working out well. He’ll continue to live under the delusion that there are actually two of you in this relationship when in fact, you know your heart’s not in it. I’m sure he’ll never sense the distance, lack of emotional presence and eventually resentment that will build if you stick around. I know it’s tough to hurt someone you really care about but don’t you think you’re hurting him by pretending everything is fine? You’re just stretching the hurt out over a longer period of time, because, yes, he will begin to sense you pulling away (if he hasn’t already) and you will do more damage to his self-worth and sense of trust (one of the hardest things to shake when someone breaks up with you is that feeling of not being able to trust your own judgment) by dragging it out. So, while it may feel harder for you right now than for him, yours will be a short-lived pain. The longer you lead him on, the longer his pain will last. I am curious however, that you have not even raised the idea of talking to him about what’s going on with you. While I know and have experienced that feeling when you suddenly just “stop loving someone,” I would think that a year and a half in, he at least deserves a kick at the can to convince you otherwise. That the two of you should at least discuss whether or not there is anything that can be done to rekindle your feelings and salvage the relationship. Worth at least a moment’s consideration, no? You should also consider that you will most likely lose all that friendship and the fun once you break up. People who have just had their hearts broken by someone they imagined spending their future with usually don’t feel all that chummy towards that person, at least until he can get back on his emotional feet. If you really care about this guy, you’ll grant him this space and back off once you do the deed. Yes, that’s right, in case you weren’t clear about my suggestion: you must do the deed. Be kind and good luck.
A few weeks ago, I published a letter from Confused Behaviour who wrote in for advice on how to deal with his girlfriend’s bad behaviour. As part of my advice, I suggested that this guy’s girlfriend’s behaviour was abusive and warned him that, “Remember, people who have been abused, often go on to abuse. Keep going back and you’re just continuing the cycle.”
One of you wrote in:
“For the past two years, I have been volunteering & working at The Network/La Red, an organization dedicated to ending abuse in the lesbian, bisexual women’s, and transgender communities. I am also a survivor. Myths such as “batterers’ partners go on to become abusers” are as harmful as they are false. The vast majority of survivors are not abusive, even though some may struggle to re-learn to be in healthy relationships. Certainly, some survivors are also batterers, but this is not a result of having been abused.
The story in the ‘confusing relationship’ letter did not necessarily concern partner abuse, even though it was about an unhealthy relationship. The woman was treating her partner poorly, and you were absolutely right in calling her out on that. It was nonetheless damaging to survivors to find a negative stereotype included in your response. And, given that 1 in 4 people (GLBT and straight) experience partner abuse at some point in their lives, I would imagine that a lot of your readers are survivors.”
Even Dating Girl needs advice sometimes. Thanks so much for setting me straight.