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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Am I abandoning them?

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Author Topic: Am I abandoning them?
soft_masc
Neophyte
Member # 108895

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I have a friend, Josh, who's dating another friend of mine. About 15 months ago, the three of us started having sex. That went fine, until I started dating my girlfriend and stopped having sex with them. Josh reacted oddly, they went right into what I think was unintentional guilt tripping by predicting the doom of our relationship based on their issues with self-hate.

They sent strings of texts when they knew I was with my partner and said that I was allowed to be unresponsive when having sex but that it wasn't okay for me not to reply just because I was spending time with her. We haven't resolved this. Our relationship has been strained since they became unable to discuss any other subject but the forecasting of friendship end.

It has become sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy for their relationships: several of their friends have backed away when every conversation turns into an assertion that nobody cares about them and they reject every attempt to help them.

They are struggling a lot, and they have been for a long time. They have a lot of mental health challenges and they refuse to seek any kind of professional advice. I know therapy isn't for everyone, but they have tried nothing but getting continually worse.

I am one of a few people who still speaks to them, and it's getting really, really hard. Whatever we had that made us close is lost to me now. I don't want to validate their self-hate, but trying to be their therapist and their friend when they don't want to accept either has gotten so difficult, but I don't want to abandon them. I don't know if I'm abandoning a friend in crisis or making a choice to cut off a relationship that has had considerable issues with boundaries and expectations I don't think I can meet. I have made large improvements in my mental health in the last 9 months, and I feel guilty about being overall so happy when they are hurting so much.

I can't tell if I've lost my perspective on morality here because of the emotional stress or if this is a situation I should leave. Really any advice would be so helpful.

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Karybu
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Member # 20094

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I don't think you're abandoning them at all. Sometimes relationships end, for reasons like the ones you've listed here or others, and that isn't at all abandonment, it's just people recognizing their needs and limits and choosing to act in a way that is in line with those needs and limits.

It's hard to watch someone struggle, but it's also not a good idea to sacrifice our own wellbeing to help someone in that position. This is clearly causing you a lot of stress, and it doesn't seem like anything is going to change anytime soon. Taking care of yourself is not a small thing, it's important, and it's also not something to feel guilty about: it's not like there's a finite amount of happiness in the world and you being happy means that someone else can't be.

Have you seen this piece? It talks about romantic relationships specifically, but a lot of it can apply to any type of relationship, and I think you might find it helpful: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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soft_masc
Neophyte
Member # 108895

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Thank you so much for your reply.

Pro tip, folks: do not leave that article open when cuddling with your romantic partner if they are not the relationship in question. I think I almost gave my (lovely, supportive, wonderful) girlfriend a panic attack.

On that note, I did talk this over with my girlfriend today. I'm pretty sure it's time for this relationship to end, or at least go on indefinite hiatus, in its present form. It hits 10 out of the 13 things on the "should I go?" list.

What I'm stuck on are logistics, I guess. I know it's not at all nice to end a relationship over email or text or anything, but I also know that their girlfriend tried to break up with them a couple weeks ago and they talked her out of it. That's happened to me before with them and I don't know if I trust myself to do it in person and stick to my decision.
Timing is also an issue: they're having a really difficult time now, but they've been having a really difficult time for months and it's only getting worse.
I'm not sure how to communicate the message that a relationship not lasting forever doesn't make it a failure. We had a very strong, positive relationship for an important part of our lives, but we just aren't there anymore and it's bad for both of us. Don't get me wrong - I am trying to own this decision, I don't want to shrug it off on them. I want to do what is needed to take care of myself here. I feel like no matter what I say they will feel like a failure and there's nothing I can do to lessen the pain of mourning for them and I just can't find the words to express the complexity of what I want to convey.

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Volunteer Ruth
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So what I'm hearing you say here re: Josh is that you don't know how to say what you want to (both words and medium), and you're not sure if it's the right time, and you're not sure how to cope with it.

I think what you've said here, "We had a very strong, positive relationship for an important part of our lives, but we just aren't there anymore and it's bad for both of us", would be a really good idea (and even exact phrase) to try and communicate to them. Do you think it might be an idea to try and write the breakup letter to yourself first, as in writing out all the reasons you're doing it as if you're writing it to you as a way to clear your head, and then editing it to redirect it to them? It might be easier to get your thoughts on paper first without worrying about its reception or getting it all right.

If you don't want to say it in person, I think a letter or email would be entirely appropriate - unless you have a very different phone to me a text might be difficult for a longer kind of communication.

In regards to timing, I think what you kind of have to do is bite the bullet - unless it's absolutely horrendous timing like they have an exam the exact next day, or they have absolutely just lost someone, or something else like that. As for the state of their general mental health, as you've said yourself - it's been that way for months. You can't stake yourself out for their recovery, as it were.

As for feeling like a failure and unable to lessen the pain, please take my assurance that you are not a failure, and that actually this kind of boundary setting shows a great deal of strength and self-respect, and that's something you should really be proud of. As for lessening the pain of mourning, I think that's something you may need to accept is part and parcel of ending a relationship. However, having a good support network such as your girlfriend, family and other friends will be invaluable, and you might appreciate this article, too, for hard times: Self-Care a La Carte

[ 07-29-2014, 05:02 AM: Message edited by: Volunteer Ruth ]

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soft_masc
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Update in case anyone is interested: Josh's girlfriend broke up with them a couple days ago, and I did my best to hang on until they stabilized.

They stabilized pretty quickly, considering the situation, but confronted me over text about my withdrawal from the relationship. I didn't want to lie to them, so I explained I wasn't up for this even though I valued what we had been. They were angry, understandably, and we parted on bad terms.

This is obviously not the ending I would have chosen, but I have faith that we'll both recover with time and space apart.

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Karybu
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I'm sorry this didn't end in the way you'd hoped, but I agree that with time and space you'll be able to move forward and recover. Is there any way we can help you with that process?

--------------------
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

Posts: 5799 | From: Canada/Australia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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