I love my girlfriend. We've been together for two and a half years. Should we break up?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I've been in a long, mostly fulfilling relationship with my girlfriend. We started this relationship in college, and by next week, it'll have been two and a half years. We've been very dedicated to each other, very considerate and caring, and we started out as good friends --- she's my best friend, as well as lover. It's been wonderful.
Lately, however, I've been having some questions. And by lately, I mean the past half-year.
Currently, she's locked into a career path that she doesn't want to take, so she's pretty crabby and negative all the time. When I suggest things for her, or tell her my plans for something, her responses tend to be like "but that won't work", or "what will you do if it fails?" It's a constant drain on my optimism, and I find myself falling into this position of having to cheer her up or give her hope most of the time. It's been like this for the past two years -- I miss the former her. I understand the situation she's in -- she doesn't like the type of people attracted to her career path, she doesn't like the kind of work she's doing -- but she's also unwilling to change her path for various reasons. In my opinion, she's depressed, but didn't like anti-depressants after a month, and won't go back to therapy despite my (gentle) persuasion. I'm the kind of person who wouldn't do something if it would really hurt me to the core, so while I understand her situation, I don't understand her choices to place herself in that situation. I wish I could just tell her to quit this career path, or place it on hold and go teach English abroad for a semester, or write more prose in her spare time from her career. But instead, most of her reactions are along the lines of "I can't do anything about it" or "I don't have time to take a break". This often does result in friction -- I'd say we argue or bicker lightly bout fifteen percent of the time; the other eighty percent is really nice.
She isn't very adventurous or active, either -- she wants to go to sleep around 10 or 11, instead when I'd like to be going to a quiet bar with friends and talking, or walking around, going to small shows, so on. She's very interested in the things I am, but without the same energy level or willingness, so often I'll say something like "Let's go to see A", she'll say "I'm tired, you go alone", and I end up hanging out with her and missing out on seeing A. While the choice to miss A is my own, I still feel like I'm missing out, either whether I go see A without her, or hang out with her and miss out on show/opening/event/reading/movie A.
The combination of her negativity and depression has also impacted our sex life. What used to be at least once a day has now dwindled to once a week, despite semi-living together. I know this is still very frequent, but we're both in our early-mid twenties, and it also feels different from what we used to consider 'normal'. Not only that, it feels forced, like I'm the one desiring her more than she desires me. It didn't used to be like this, and I'm still not used to being normally felt unwanted and undesired.
At the core of this all of this sense that I'm young, that my time to be immature and stay out all night and dance in NYC streets is limited to the here and now, before things like career paths really start to lock down. She's my first serious girlfriend, and I feel like I should be dating around -- because I can also envision myself with her for the rest of my life, and that simultaneously frightens and enlivens me. I feel like I should be a little bit foolish. I had no "traditional" (please note the scare quotes) college experience of debauchery and drunken frat parties and rampant NSA one-night-stands -- far from it -- and I feel like I'm missing out. Not only do I feel that am I missing out, I secretly feel like she's bringing me down with her negativity.
So lately I've been thinking about us not being together anymore.
But she's really a wonderful girl, a really sweet girl. She's really accepting of my faults and caring, and we have so much in common, and she gets my sense of humor. She brings my late-sleeping self breakfast in bed, sometimes, totally unprompted. She'll write funny things on my feet when I'm sleeping. I'm totally comfortable around her, I make her laugh, I truly feel like myself around her. I care about her, I love her, and I don't want to hurt her. She's a rare girl.
Most of our friends are mutual friends, so things are complicated because of that. I think that all parties involved are mature enough to handle an amiable breakup without taking sides or anything, but it still makes things pretty hard.
And I can't deny -- I'm partially afraid to be single, it's hard to not have someone be your favorite person, and vice versa, it's hard to not have something happen to you and think 'I can't wait to tell her', and so on. If I broke up with her, I'd not only lose a girlfriend but a best friend. I know these are probably not the best reasons to stay in a relationship, but they're there nonetheless.
I think part of her feels the same way, and we nearly broke up twice in the last two months, but in the end we realized that we really do love each other, and so we've stayed together. Or rather -- whatever desire to break up was overcome by this sense of sadness at the situation and longing and desire for the other person.
In the end, my questions are: What do you think about this situation? Have you ever broken up with someone, despite the fact that they still loved you and you loved them? How does one do such a thing? How do you know when it's time to end the relationship if there's mutual love and respect on all sides? How do you break up with somebody when you really, really don't want to hurt them?
I've also got an email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.