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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Ending a long term relationship

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Author Topic: Ending a long term relationship
pinkdawncat
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Member # 97280

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I have been in a relationship for 5 years. There have been a lot of ups and downs, and when we started out things were great, we had great chemistry, got on, and so forth. You know, the honeymoon phase. We are both in our early 20's and in college.

Things hit the fan when my partner's parent died and his family more or less fell apart. I was there for him as best I could, and he got through it, and was able to move away from his verbally abusive step parent, but he is a different person now. He is more insecure and takes minor things very personally, I am constantly listening to him telling me about conversations that upset him and more or less talking him down to being rational again.

This has been going on for just over a year now, and I am simply exhausted. When he calls, I get a spike of anxiety, what had gone wrong now?
On top of that, I haven't been in the mood for sex. I've been stressed about my own school work, body image issues, plus not really feeling connected to him. I told him that I wasn't in the mood for sex, and he was understanding, but there has been this constant pressure ever since.
He makes comments about how sexy I am and is always making verbal advances that make my uncomfortable even though we have been together for so long. When I turn him down, I end up being the one nurturing his hurt feelings and his guilt of having pressured me again. He says he feels unloved and unattractive. I know that he feels that he can best express his feelings physically, but I just feel no interest in engaging him in that way. But every time we are alone, every time we cuddle or even touch, I feel like he is just waiting, expecting me to sleep with him again, like I used to.

I understand his feelings, and have given in a few times just to try and end the build up of pressure, but it just makes it worse because he gets the message that if he pressures me I give in, and during the act I feel like I am going through the motions. It doesn't make me feel violated, but angry. Very, very angry, to the point that once I shoved him off me so hard he very nearly fell off the bed. I laughed it off, because how can you tell someone you care about that you just feel so disgusted by sex with them that you had a visceral impulse to shove them away. I don't know why, but the sex just doesn't feel good or arousing even though it once did. I can't seem to articulate that in a way that isn't hurtful to him.

Right now I am trying to think of all the good in the relationship, but right now I really can't.. This relationship feels like one more homework assignment I have to put time into. Time I'd rather spend on my own, doing things with my friends.

I have tried to break up with him before, when he was still living with his abusive parent and every day unloaded all of his hurt and frustration one me. (he described it all to me, not violently or anything, just in a manner expecting support)
I gave in and stayed in the relationship, I had also lost my nerve.
Part of it was guilt, because I had said I would emotionally support him, but as the year wore on and one bad thing happened after another, I can feel my back breaking.

I keep getting roped into staying just a bit longer, holidays, mutual commitments, weddings of friends we agreed to go to....

I guess I just needed to type this out, it is a bit more obvious that this relationship isn't right for me when I see it in text. I think of myself as a strong person, but I always seem to fold right before I attempt to make the break.
I don't want to move in with him, I don't want him following me to my future careers, he's a wonderful person, and it isn't fully his fault, but I simply don't want him anymore. In any sense of the word. How can I work up the guts to break it to him? How can I express this in a compassionate way?

I feel like I am going to be the bad girlfriend who let him down when he needed me most. I just feel so worn down by this relationship, sometimes I don't feel strong enough to get out. I never wanted to be this pathetic.

Posts: 4 | From: UK | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I'm sorry you're going through this: breakups, especially big ones, are always tough, but it sounds like this has been especially hard for you.

I think you are expressing how you feel in a very compassionate way right here. In other words, if you're looking for how to say some of this, or all of this, to him in a way that's kind and sensitive, I think you've got it pretty well down.

You ask how to have the guts to...well, break it off with him. can you perhaps give me an idea of what happened in the past, when you intended to break up and didn't? For instance, did you walk into that conversation making clear that you were leaving the relationship, rather than you staying or leaving being up for negotiation?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
pinkdawncat
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It was this summer, for weeks he had been dealing with his abusive step-father and coming to me for advice. He wouldn't take my advise mind you, but I have never dealt with an abusive family member so I had always been out of my element. He constantly talked about moving in with me and being with me. It made me more and more uncomfortable. I like having my own space, and we didn't always deal well with conflicts. Minor things, such as in disagreements he would end the conversation and walk off, refusing to talk to me for the rest of the day when I didn't even know I was saying something that would upset him. We could talk about it later, but things often didn't get resolved beyond the 'we'll work on it.' agreement. We'd say we'd work on it, but then do nothing and act like the conflict hadn't happened. I think neither of us really know how to work on things.
Anyway, this made me think twice about moving in with him, because I don't see either of us changing anytime soon, and being in a small apartment would only make these issues worse. That, plus I was exhausted after being his only source of support for nearly over a year.

I told him that I was breaking up with him, and I told him that my career was a chaotic one that would not allow me to settle down and stay in once place. I cared about him, but I have been working towards a career in wildlife biology since I was a kid, and I was not going to give that up. I told him I did not feel like I was able to give him the level of commitment he needed.

In this conversation he suddenly stopped avoided me, and patiently adressed all my concerns. He said he was ok with taking our relationship month by month, that he was ok with not moving in with me, and that he would be moving out of his step-father's place and that stress would be better soon. He said that he hoped I would reconsider, but that it was my choice. He said he would let me think about it overnight, and I had until he left for work to change my mind, but after that it would be over.

I felt sentimental, and it had been a long time since he had been this strong and self determined.
I thought about it overnight and in the morning told him that I did want to try again and sort out our problems.

After that, it was almost like things went right back to the status quo. I went back to my job and school work, which leaves me little time, and he is in the same town as me working. At this point I stopped feeling sexual towards him, and told him how I was feeling and made it clear that it wasn't his fault. That something in my head felt off and I was in counseling trying to figure out what it is.
It has become clear to me that even though we agree to work on the relationship, he is investing his energy in himself and his own healing, and I am investing my energy into my work. There isn't much left over for an us. What energy he puts in to spending time with me feels more like he is trying to be sexual, then actually enjoy spending time with me. It feels like a hollow commitment, a contract that I continue to go through the motions of. He tells me that he loves me, and that he is so glad to have this second chance, but I don't feel the same way.

We have a wedding to go to this weekend, they are his friends, not mine, but he rsvp'ed for both of us. I have exams, and I feel like I am at a loss as to how to even begin this conversation with him. I feel like I can't give him the real reasons, because who wants to hear that they aren't wanted and that they repulse their partner?
He is still healing, and I don't want to hamper that process for him. but I am just so exhausted and frustrated, continuing this relationship makes me feel like a big phony.
However, when I think of starting the conversation, I get this big spike of feelings and I give in to it, then later regret not going through with telling him it is over.

Once we have finished with this thread, would you mind deleting it? It just occurred to me that if he saw this thread he'd recognize me and see the hurtful things I've said.

Posts: 4 | From: UK | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Before anything else, are you using a handle he or anyone else you know would recognize? If so, how about you change your public username now so that's a non-issue?

I'm heading out for the day, but didn't want to leave you hanging. We can talk more tomorrow if you like.

It sounds like what happened the last time is that you kind of assumed that this person could very quickly radically change, something they probably would have wanted to do themselves to keep the relationship, and may have earnestly thought they could, but that neither of you were leading with the realistic.

You know, sometimes with a breakup false-start like this, really breaking up with another try can be a bit easier. You can reference that last time, and make clear that really, then, a breakup was what you needed to do and felt best about, and despite everyone's best efforts since, you really still feel the same way. You can also gently mention how, again, despite best efforts, things really haven't changed or improved.

I would not talk about feeling repulsed. Those may be your feelings, but I agree that's not information to share: it doesn't benefit either of you to say things like that. I think making clear you just aren't feeling the way he seems to be, or that you once did but haven't in a while, says enough. same goes with just expressing that you very much feel done, and don't feel you can invest any more energy into trying to have this kind of relationship with him: you can't, you don't want to, and you know it's just not going to change anything for you. I also think you can make clear you need to move on but also make clear that doesn't mean you don't care about him and don't want the best for him: you just know what you want and need, and what you are and aren't capable of and are and aren't feeling, and this relationship isn't in alignment with any of that.

With the wedding, I think saying that you're just not up for that now is fine, and you don't need to even give reasons if you don't want to.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
pinkdawncat
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No one would recognize it, but the details of the situation might unmask me. I am likely being paranoid because he does not read this site as far as I know, but I know I would be crushed if the situation was reversed and I stumbled upon something my partner had posted.

You are right and I will think more on how to frame my side of the conversation. I know things never go as planed, but I want to consider the best way of saying things.

I have only had one other significant relationship, but it ended poorly because he told me he would kill himself if I left him, and I ended up feeling responsible for his life even though I wanted to leave. He had alienated most of my friends at the time, and I didn't know who to talk to. I ended up emotionally checking out of the relationship and even though he flirted with and kissed other people and I stayed out of fear of what he would do to himself and maybe me. I ended up leaving him, but it was dragged out for months because he kept trying to get back into my life and told several mutual friends horrible lies about me, that I abused him, that I cheated, and to this day many refuse to talk to me.

After that last experience I feel really, weak, emotionally weak, is the only way I can phrase it.

I guess as a result I don't feel confident that I can effectively end a relationship. I have likely stayed in this relationship far longer then is good for me, because in the short run it was easier to just let things go on as normal instead of ending things, but that just made me even more stressed.

Thanks for talking, I think I know what I need to do, but discussing it with a uninvolved third party helps. We have a lot of mutual friends and I don't want to make anyone feel like they have to compromise their loyalties.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Hey, Yotey: I'm around if you want to talk more about this.

It sounds like your previous relationship was not a healthy one. Specifically, emotionally or otherwise abusive people often use threats of self-harm or harm to others as a way to control or manipulate someone. I'm sorry that that happened to you.

It's tough to heal from very dysfunctional, unhealthy or abusive relationships, and tough to go into new relationships with a solid sense of what is and isn't healthy when we have come from abuse in any way, especially if we didn't take a lot of time off in-between and get some help in healing and working through the previous relationship.

No one who gets sucked into abusive or manipulation or control is de facto "weak" because of how they react to it. Smart people, strong people, self-possessed people can also wind up stuck in those situations: it happens to a whole range of people.

Do you feel that this relationship has been healthy? If it hasn't been abusive or controlling, I'd not apply what happened in an unhealthy scenario to this, because leaving something abusive or controlling really is a very different thing from leaving something that isn't.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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