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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Rock and a Hard Place

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Author Topic: Rock and a Hard Place
Rhizome2
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Member # 94166

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Long story short: I'm a straight guy in a long-distance relationship with a girl who lives an hour and a half away from me. We met up at college and have stuck it together for a little over a year now despite the fact that we sometimes aren't able to see each other that often. However, I increasingly don't think we've managed the long-distance aspect terribly well. I'm becoming increasingly unhappy with how we've progressed and I feel more and more that we have less and less in common personally to build a relationship on. I don't dislike her at all and I care for her a lot but I feel pretty sure that she isn't the one. I'm beginning to have the desire to move on and experience other people.

The kicker is she lives in a very abusive, dysfunctional household and she has no easy way of getting out of those circumstances. Her emotionally abusive mother is dead set on making sure she never moves out and has control over virtually all of her finances. Her drug-addicted brother is incredibly physically abusive, threatening, and regularly steals money from her to feed his habit. She has a temporary job she's held for five months but we're not very sure it's going to lead to a permanent position, which is what she needs to be able to get out on her own.

On top of all this I'm dealing with a mother recovering from brain cancer surgery and a job searching quest of my own. I'd very much like to get some time to myself for a while to have space to set my life straight and figure my desires and needs more without having to balance someone else's needs on my shoulders. I still care a lot for her though, I want to see her escape her horrible home life, and I feel guilted by the idea of breaking things off since she's indicated she might not want to speak to me or be friends again if we broke up. I don't want to potentially abandon her.

Any advice? Is there anything I can do or should consider doing? I feel incredibly frustrated with my options as a boyfriend and a person right now.

Posts: 16 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

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HI Rhizome2,

It's clear that you're an extremely caring person. You're also very clear on what you want.

I know it's much easier said than felt, but you aren't responsible for the nastiness in your girlfriend's family. You're also not responsible for your girlfriend's ongoing well-being. Even if you felt like you wanted to stay with her, you being her only source of support/option for escape wouldn't be a healthy thing for either of you, or for the relationship. Your girlfriend does have options right now to help her leave, or at least help her cope--such as resources for women experiencing family violence.

I hear your distress at possibly not being able to be her friend if you were to break off the relationship.

You voice being frustrated with your options as a boyfriend, but you also voice not wanting to be her boyfriend anymore. What do you think about making a list of the pros and cons of remaining in this relationship?

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Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Rhizome2
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Member # 94166

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I guess I'm frustrated with my options in life overall right now in general.

I think on the positive side, we're both usually happy together when we do get to see each other. We go out to places, do things, and we're very comfortable being in each other's personal and physical presence.

It's just being apart drives a wedge through all of that, it makes it difficult for us to relate to each other, our regular lives are so busy or stressful or consuming. Especially hers because her home life dominates almost everything when we're away.

I really want to talk to her about how I feel, how she feels, and what we want to do. We've had deeper talks about our relationship a number of times before. I just hate the possibility of hurting or injuring her feelings when that discussion comes up, especially because she's in such a difficult spot, so I hold my feelings back.

I feel like I need to take the steps to resolve it. It just feels like an incredibly daunting and difficult task.

Posts: 16 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

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Yes, it really is tough when there are options, but none of them feels like exactly the right one and sometimes we're stuck making the one that feels least crappy. Sometimes people deal with this by endeavouring to choose the option that seems best for them long-term, though of course none of us can actually see into the future to see if something will wind up the way we expect it to. What other parts of life are you struggling with right now?

In these previous talks about your relationship, have you talked about how the distance has been impacting you? If so, what came out of those talks?

It sounds like her family life really is all-consuming right now; a situation that would, for many people, make it difficult if not impossible for them to have the energy to sustain a relationship. Not knowing your girlfriend, I can't say whether this is the case for her. Your girlfriend's bad situation does not require you to be super-human and put up with things that aren't good for you, or that you're just not wanting right now. Staying in a relationship you don't want doesn't do either of you any favours, both now and in the long-term. Am I telling you to break up with her? No. [Smile] That's something you need to figure out for yourself and it sounds like you're really just digging into the process of trying to figure out if that's what you want.

It's hard to accept this, I know, but you're ultimately not responsible for your girlfriend's feelings. Your feelings don't matter less than hers. Naturally, when telling someone something they don't want to hear, it's considerate to show caring and human decency. You seem, from what you've written here, to already have those characteristics in abundance. Beyond that, though, it's really not possible to control how someone feels about or reacts to something.

In your first post, you said that you feel pretty sure that your girlfriend isn't "the one". It sounds like you like her, and would like to still be friends with her, and that one of the things holding you back from ending this relationship is that she has expressed that she probably wouldn't want to be friends if it ended. I can understand all the conflicting feelings and desires pulling at you.

As I mentioned above, you're not responsible for the bad things in your girlfriend's life. I also want to say that, as much as it might seem as if she doesn't, your girlfriend does have choices. You cannot be her sole support, and her happiness doesn't get to come at the expense of yours.

What steps do you feel need to happen for this to be resolved? I'd suggest having any conversation about relationship things in person, but given the distance, would that work for you?

You may find this article on relationship challenges helpful:

Potholes & Dead Ends: Relationship Roadblocks to Look Out For

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Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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