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How do I know if I should break up with my boyfriend?
March 5, 2010 10:22 AM   Subscribe

How do I know if I should break up with my boyfriend? (Warning: novel-length special snowflake question)

I am going through a bout of what feels like depression, and it is causing me to question some of the choices I have made in my life so far.

I am 21, and have been dating my 27 year old boyfriend for 2 1/2 years. This is by far my longest relationship, and I believe it is his longest as well. We live in his house together, have a dog together, split most bills although everything is in his name, and spend most of our time together.

I love this man as strongly as I have ever cared about anything, and despite me not being the kind of girl who dreamed about my wedding as a kid, I find myself drawn to wedding magazines lately. Our sex life is decent, our drives match up for the most part and we are similarly compatible when it comes to things like TV, food (except a major allergy he has which affects what I like to eat), politics, and religion. We have a system that works for dealing with money and I feel like we each know where the other person is as far as overall financial situation even if we don't tell each other the minutiae. He's a diverse guy with diverse interests, and I find him fascinating. I have high hopes for his future and love and support him. On paper, we look perfect.

But there are things that bother me, things I don't know how to talk to him about. I know that's an AskMe-green flag already. Some of his interests in our sex life are things I would be happy to allow him to have, but he wants me to provide them and I can't. Either they are things that don't turn me on, or they are things that turn me on greatly but I need him to initiate. He doesn't like my taste in fashion. Sometimes this manifests in light teasing and his buying clothes for me, which are okay, but sometimes it leads to fights because I don't like something and he says that it is what is sexy. He hasn't said "I love you" to me yet (except once while we were having sex, over a year ago) despite me telling him twice in very serious conversation how much I needed that from him. I don't know what to make of that, if he doesn't love me, if he's worried about feeling vulnerable, or what. I just know that I think about it often and it makes me sad, but I don't want to bring it up more often that I have because I worry about pressuring him into saying something he doesn't mean. I can't get him to contribute even a little to house cleanliness. We had a long and emotional conversation about this a month or so back where I asked him to do two small things for me in relation to keeping the house clean: keep his dirty clothes confined to our bathroom, and keep all the dirty dishes in the bedroom in one place so I could gather them more easily. He said he would try to do these things for me, but none of his habits changed. When I tried to gently or humorously remind him, he ignored me. This is a small frustration, but for some reason I felt the need to include it here.

The final thing is kind of a biggie, and I know that some of my friends are horrified about this, but I want a fresh perspective. My boyfriend is very insecure, especially about a detail relating to who I was when we met. That has caused him to get upset if I get texts/phone calls/facebook messages from guys who are not my brothers. I also find that he will go out with one of his guy friends if I have to work late, but he seems unhappy (though not forbidding) if I want to spend time with my other friends. He isn't abusive, but I miss being around other people and spend 95% of my non-work time with him. I worry that I have "missed out" on the normal things that typical 20-25 year olds do, like taking road trips with friends and in general being silly and making mistakes.

Inertia says that staying in the relationship is the best thing for me. I don't know where I would go or how I would separate our (mostly all jumbled together) stuff if I broke up with him. If I start separating things before I talk to him, he'll notice. I know that I could probably afford to go live somewhere else fairly quickly, but I worry that he would not be able to handle the household bills without my income as he is a working student and I make almost as much as he does (so I make essentially half the household income). I am terrified what even thinking about this means as this is the most meaningful relationship I have been in, and he has really helped me grow as a person. But at the same time, I am worried about stagnation, because stagnation at 21 is an awful thing.

tl;dr
1. Should I break up with my boyfriend of two years so I can spend some time being young and single and have some life experiences even though for the most part everything is good?
2. If yes, how do I go about removing myself from his life in the most painless way possible?
3. Please hope me?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (51 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. Yes.
2. Get new apartment. Gather your friends. Say "hey boyfriend, I care about you, but it's over. I'm moving my stuff out when you're at work today. Worry it didn't work out."
3. See nos. 1-2.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


*sorry it didn't work out.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2010


He isn't abusive

Ignoring your needs and wishes, imposing his desires on you with no regard for your feelings, and cutting you off from your friends is pretty abusive in my book, even if he's never raised a hand to you. In the long run, you'll be happier if you get out of this relationship as soon as possible.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:29 AM on March 5, 2010 [22 favorites]


1. Should I break up with my boyfriend of two years so I can spend some time being young and single and have some life experiences even though for the most part everything is good?

I always find this kid of claim sort of weird--you ARE having life experiences. You have life experiences every day. You're not missing out "on life." That's not really possible. The life experience you're having may not be what you had in mind, but they certainly COUNT. You're surely getting something from them.

I mean, if what you mean is that you want to have more casual sex with more partners, have some more falling-in-love experiences, have some more breaking-up experiences, then sure, break up with him. But say that that's what you want. There's nothing--nothing--that makes those sorts of experiences endemic to, or necessary to, being young or growing into a thoughtful person with a lot of experience. You're having "life experiences" already, and if what you're saying is that you want more ups and downs--life hands them to you.

That's not to say that this relationship sounds perfect, particularly given your penultimate paragraph. I mean, there's two things here--some wistfulness for an idealized youth that probably has nothing to do with this relationship, and some communication and control problems that are potentially quite serious. There's nothing to say that you can't work with him to get some more flexibility in your relationship. Couples therapy is a good place to start for that, because you need to be able to talk to him about it in an environment where you can safely express these difficult things. (And one of the most common thing couples fight about is household cleaning/chores.) What makes him the wrong or right person for you is whether he can allow you to be yourself and grow in ways that he doesn't control or participate in. But give him the chance to understand that first.

I think about this Rilke quotation on marriage a lot. Maybe it will help you:

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
posted by liketitanic at 10:32 AM on March 5, 2010 [80 favorites]


This is not a healthy relationship.

The work it would take to make it healthy can only be done if he cares to do it with you.

It doesn't sound as if he cares to do it with you.

Unless he'd be open to counseling and change, I'd break it off.

Sorry.
posted by jon1270 at 10:33 AM on March 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


1. I think yes. You're a YOUNG special snowflake, and before settling down with another special snowflake you need to hang out with various and sundry other special snowflakes, instead of latching on to the first one that floats by.

2. This will take some advance planning, such as getting a place of your own, or moving in with friends. Get place, rent truck, call friends, move that shit out, say goodbye and give him a hug.

After handling the logistics of the above, but perhaps before moving day, you need to have a Come to Jesus with your soon-to-be-ex boyfriend and lay it all out on the line exactly why the heck you are leaving.

Go get 'em tiger! Or liger, perhaps, if you've been bred for your special skills in magic.
posted by willmize at 10:33 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


On paper you really don't look perfect to me. You know you want to break up, so you come up with a bunch of reasons all boiling down to inertia, which you know isn't worth it. You say you make less than him, you're not worried about paying your own bills, but you ARE worried about how he will get by? It seems to me that you're just coming up with excuses, no matter how little sense they make. I think you should just go for it and get out of there.
posted by amethysts at 10:34 AM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Your first question is about three times as long as it needs to be. The question is "Should I break up with my boyfriend FULL STOP?" The answer is yes. Make that decision, communicate it to someone you trust to back you up and help move your stuff and not take advantage of the situation, and set about to making it happen.

You are going through something that virtually everyone has. You will make it through. That time with him was not wasted, because it made you the person you are now -- a good, strong person who will be better and stronger for having had this experience.

Best of luck.
posted by Etrigan at 10:36 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


First off, you can't have missed out on the normal experiences of a 20-25 year old because you aren't out of that demographic yet. Only when you are ancient like me, at the ripe old age of 27, can you look back on that time of your life wistfully and wish that you might have done things somewhat differently. So, the first message I have for you is: All is not lost!

There seem to be two different issues here and I think it is worth addressing them separately. First, you mention that you think you might be depressed. Deal with that. Deal with it in whatever way you find most effective, therapeutic. Whether that's therapy and medication, religion, exercise, or picking up a new hobby... do something to combat that part of this problem or the rest of it wont get resolved. You have to be on your A-Game, and if you are wading through the fog of depression, you wont be able to bring that game.

Second, it sounds like you need someone to help you facilitate communication with your boyfriend. The things that aren't getting said seem to be much louder than the things that are being said, and it's time to clear up the confusion and anxiety by giving voice to those things so that you and he can confront them head-on. Some of his behaviors sound pretty manipulative to me, and they're clearly not working for you. So it's time to shine a light on them and either address them together or admit that this relationship isn't working and that it is time to move on.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:39 AM on March 5, 2010


Ultimately, the dishes and clothes and the not saying "I love you" are concerning and raise red flags, but they're not the larger problem here.

You are 21 years old, and you are spending 95% of your free time with one person. This person controls (through emotional reactions/manipulation) the people you can see/communicate with and the clothes you wear. You're not just missing road trips and hijinks--you're missing control over your own life. Break up with him, and don't let him clean his way back into the relationship. You deserve a life of your own.
posted by sallybrown at 10:45 AM on March 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


greekphilosophy: First, you mention that you think you might be depressed.

FWIW, I didn't notice anything in your post that that sounded like depression, though it could be that you just left that stuff out. Try not to confuse discouragement about your relationship with general depression.
posted by jon1270 at 10:45 AM on March 5, 2010


I am terrified what even thinking about this means as this is the most meaningful relationship I have been in, and he has really helped me grow as a person.

This isn't a reason to stay together, and it doesn't need to be terrifying. He helped you grow as a person? Good; you can benefit from that growth in any relationship. It doesn't need to be with him.

there are things that bother me, things I don't know how to talk to him about.

That's kind of a problem. You should probably break up, but not before discussing the issues openly. However, it sounds like you have discussed at least some of them openly.

You specifically said he does not prevent you from hanging out with friends, though he expresses jealousy if you get in touch with guy friends. That's unfortunate, but you're right that it's hardly "abusive." People can stretch the facts to call him "abusive" if they want. But that's not a precondition for breaking up anyway. And it's not particularly helpful when every breakup question (posted by a woman about a man) leads to a contest among the commenters about how much vitriol we can pour on the guy. I mean, he's not a monster; he just sounds like not a great boyfriend for you.

Bottom line: I would break up if you've fully discussed the issues you told us about and aren't making progress. It's unclear to me how much actual communication has happened, since part of your question refers to not being able to talk about it but other parts refer to discussions you've had.

But as liketitanic said, it doesn't seem that helpful to pontificate about which course of action is going to let you be "young" and have "life experiences." You can do those things whether you're with your boyfriend or not. The question is if you'd enjoy those things more without him, and it sounds like you would.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:46 AM on March 5, 2010


Should I break up with my boyfriend of two years so I can spend some time being young and single and have some life experiences even though for the most part everything is good?

No. False dichotomy. You should break up with your boyfriend because you have a dysfunctional relationship and you feel guilty about wanting those experiences, not all of which even require singleness. Unless you don't want to, you can perfectly "[take] road trips with friends and in general [be] silly and making mistakes" with a supportive boyfriend. Hell, the supportive boyfriend doesn't even have to come along on the road trip if you don't want to.

Also, Big Red Flag: The dude will not keep his filth in a single place to make it easier for you to clean it. Sure, some couples have "I'll clean all the dishes/do the laundry if you take care of the garbage and washing the car" or something, but this sounds less like a housekeeping matter than an unfortunately good example of his disregard for your feelings.
posted by griphus at 10:48 AM on March 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Emotional abuse is a real thing.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:54 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


He isn't abusive

Yeah, he is. Abuse, as others have said, isn't merely physical. Take a look at this checklist. Why stay with someone who isn't making you happy, and who isn't interested in making you happy?
posted by runningwithscissors at 10:54 AM on March 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


I also really think you'd benefit from recognizing that you have worth, and are worthy of having a relationship where you're not always put second, or treated as a main.
posted by runningwithscissors at 10:56 AM on March 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was in a situation very similar to yours about five years ago (I was engaged to the guy to boot). Breaking up and calling off the wedding was the best thing that could have happened to me: I went on to have tons and tons of fun with people my own age, experiences and stories that will keep me warm at night for the rest of my life. In my personal opinion, dating men closer to my age has been much more joyous and fulfilling than dating the guy who was in a hurry to buy a house in suburbia.

Have been dating my [...] for 2 1/2 years ... He hasn't said "I love you" to me yet.

Oh my, I am so sorry.
posted by halogen at 10:56 AM on March 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


maid
posted by runningwithscissors at 10:56 AM on March 5, 2010


That you have been together for 2 and a half years and he hasn't said he loves you is the biggest thing to me. That may work for some people or may be acceptable if he has made clear he has major issues he's working through, but the way you explain it, he has just made no effort to sort that out, even though you've made it clear it's a problem. I find that pretty weird.

Regarding the cleanliness, did you mean to say "keep the dirty dishes in the bedroom in a particular place"? Again, that seems over a line of some kind. How are dirty dishes getting into the bedroom to start with? That doesn't seem like a "small frustration" in my book, honestly... and I'm no neat freak.

You talk about finding him fascinating and loving him, but not about specific things you do together that make you feel good - if he is keeping you away from the rest of the world, it's possible he becomes more interesting because there's little left to compare him to... I'm not saying he isn't fascinating, but there may be other equally interesting people out there, and without perspective you are forgetting that. Try living on your own and reconnecting with other people - you can always keep open the possibility of counseling and dating again if you think he's worth it, but get some perspective first.
posted by mdn at 10:59 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have had friends who were punished for wanting a life outside a relationship. The punishment could take the form of pouting, bad moods, or general attitude that made their lives less nice. Do you want to be in a relationship like that? Do you want to give up time with your friends and outside interests so you can live with a man who doesn't respect you or the home that you live in together? You can't change him, he has to be willing to make compromises and he's not.

You already know what to do. Now go on and do it.
posted by Kimberly at 11:04 AM on March 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


How do you know - one sign is that it is enough on your mind to come and ask. That something is bothering you enough, and your needs aren't being met in a way or to a degree where it's something you want to ask about. You know when the things you used to be able to explain away or say don't bother you can't be explained anymore, can't be pushed away and you start thinking through how they do bother you.

You can love someone deeply, and be truly grateful for the relationship that you have had - and that isn't incompatible with breaking up and moving on. You can love him and have some issues that you're compatible on - and you can also say that, despite that, you need someone who communicates, who tells you he loves you, who takes the time and effort to do things like cleaning up after himself, and who loves and trusts you enough to let you be friends with who you want to be friends with. You ask for a fresh perspective - and mine is that there are a lot of red flags in here.

It is scary to leave what you know. It can be almost paralyzing. And sometimes it's nice to be with someone that's a known quantity, even if there are things you don't like. But there's a point where you need to push past that and trust that you will find a place to stay and a way to make a life for yourself on your own. Because you will. It''s scary to start that process, but you can do it, and it will be easier than you thought in some ways and harder in others. And he will find a way to make peace with a breakup, and a way to pay the bills on his own. Those aren't reasons to stay in a relationship that does not fulfill you, they are things we tell ourselves to make it make sense to stay.

The least painful way is to just do it. Pull up your courage and do it. And then stick to it, because once you break up you'll forget some of the bad and remember some of the good, and trust me when I say that it's not different when you go back. If you mean it enough to think it through and be done, then really be done.
posted by KAS at 11:09 AM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you feel the need to ask the question, the answer is yes. I believe that when you start trying to figure out how to split up the stuff, the relationship is over.

It's possible that you two could go to a counselor and work things out, but if this guy hasn't said I love you after over 2 years and extended co-habitation, I doubt he's going to commit to couples counseling.

Get out now, before you start to resent him. He doesn't sound like a bad or abusive guy (yet, although his issues could trigger a pattern of abuse) to me, but he does seem to have some serious jealousy, control, and communication problems. It's not your job to fix these issues.

In terms of how he would survive with only his own income. That's not your problem either. He'll figure it out without you, the same way you'll figure it out with him.
posted by dchrssyr at 11:10 AM on March 5, 2010


I'm sorry, this is a tough spot you're in. While this doesn't sound like the perfect relationship for you, it's not easy to know what to do about it. I can tell you love him, and inertia + love is very hard to overcome.

But there are things that bother me, things I don't know how to talk to him about.

The advice I do have for you about this is very simple: if you can't talk about things that matter to you, and about how much they matter to you, it will cause the relationship to get worse and, at some point, to end. Full stop. Maybe that's for the best, and it seems like you're going in that direction anyway. Nevertheless, this will be a kinder, more honest, and less painful process for both of you if you can turn it into a dialogue. It's a really amazing, important skill to learn, and trust me, it will save you lots of heartache later on.

Right now it is pretty clear that you are not in a relationship you want. It is entirely possible that you and your boyfriend could create the relationship you do want. It's also possible that this just isn't going to work. Either way, the path to figuring that out is through talking about it. Once you bring these problems up with him, and the fact that they make you uncertain about the future, the path forward will be much more clear.

It's tempting to want to avoid the painful messiness of talking openly and honestly about your feelings, knowing that you might be hurting him or that what he says might hurt you, but there is no way around this. If you broke up with him without saying a word about what you really felt, I expect you'd feel terrible guilt, and that might cause further complications. Just talk to your boyfriend. There's no other way.

Good luck.
posted by cirripede at 11:13 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


How do I know if I should break up with my boyfriend?

You have a communication problem and your lack of communicating means you don't have enough data to make a decision. That's why this is harder than it shoudl be.

I am of the opinion that, with few obvious exceptions, strangers on the internet cannot tell you the direct answer to "should I break up with my S.O.?" Instead, we can give you guidelines to help you figure out what the likely best course is.

But there are things that bother me, things I don't know how to talk to him about.

I think you very much need to talk with him about these things, even if you are going to break up. Because you do know how to talk with him about these things. What you probably mean to say is that you would not like to deal with these difficult subjects and that you fear that the conversation may be difficult. Unfortunately, it turns out that good relationships require difficult conversations and that dealing with the short term unpleasantness will make the long term way easier. Your biggest problem is the lack of communication between you two.

Some of his interests in our sex life are things I would be happy to allow him to have, but he wants me to provide them and I can't. Either they are things that don't turn me on, or they are things that turn me on greatly but I need him to initiate.

I think you should break down your attitudes and then have a discussion with him. Things that actively turn you off should be avoided. As for your "need" to have him initiate certain things, I think replacing "need" with the words "want" will help you. Obviously, it is not a necessary thing that he initiate those things you very much want. His initiation is something you want a lot, and combined with other things may be enough of a reason to break up, but it is not something you will die if you don't always get your way on. The only "needs" are food and oxygen. Thinking in less black-and-white terms will help in the negotiation process.

The most important thing is that you talk about these things. If you just breakup with him to avoid talking about these difficult situations, you will find yourself repeating this situation again--which will make you feel like you broke up for no reason, and leave you fearing that this will happen every time.

So my advice is simple. Talk about your problems.

Trust that you and him will be able to handle the conflicts and the rough spots. Try talking with him. Because what I see here is you not feeling like its right for you to ask for what you want or not wanting to face the difficult emotions that go along with these things. Just breaking up without talking is a course of avoidance. That isn't going to serve you well in the long term--because these problems are going to come up in other relationships too.

The final thing is kind of a biggie, and I know that some of my friends are horrified about this, but I want a fresh perspective. My boyfriend is very insecure, especially about a detail relating to who I was when we met. That has caused him to get upset if I get texts/phone calls/facebook messages from guys who are not my brothers.

For example, his insecurity. Men are like women, they are often insecure, because the hard reality is that we as human beings are insecure, and could be hurt by loved ones at any time. There's nothing horrifying about someone being afraid of being hurt. It is the most human emotion in the world. All men and women feel it, some just deal with it better than others. If you have a discussion with him about his insecurities, you'll be able to figure out if he is able to handle his insecure feelings once you set him at ease. The fact that you don't seem to want to talk about it with him might be fanning the flames of his fears--the appearance of secrecy, even if it is just avoidance for fear of difficult conversations, cannot be good for your relationship. A good talk about what boundaries you would like to negotiate with one another will be an important first step. It sounds like some things at the beginning of your relationship would give him at least a superficial reason to doubt. Helping him see that these doubts are not real will help him greatly.

In short, you should discuss these issues with him directly. It will give you the data you need and help you figure out what it is you want. It would be unfortunate if you left and found out you lost a great love, or stayed without asking these questions and learned down the road that you were as incompatable as you feared.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:15 AM on March 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think you should break down your attitudes

Let me be clear on this--I mean you should think about what you actually feel about these things and then communicate those thoughts to him.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:17 AM on March 5, 2010


Just want to concur with jon1270: my advice about dealing with the depression that you think you might be feeling was just on the off chance that you are actually dealing with depression. I still think you need to take care of yourself here, even though my money is on "shitty manipulative boyfriend" being the actual problem rather than "depression," clinical or otherwise.
posted by greekphilosophy at 11:18 AM on March 5, 2010


Here's something you need to learn and repeat to yourself like a mantra. There is no such thing as fate or destiny in relationships. No matter how much time you've invested in the relationship or how wonderful you think your backstory with him is, there is no one so special you can't leave if it's just not working. There are millions of people out there you could be with and who will seem just as lovable and special and one-in-a-million once you find them — because that's what love and attraction does. You need to keep reminding yourself of the abundance of the universe and take the plunge.
posted by orange swan at 11:20 AM on March 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, I've had pretty good luck finding therapists through the Psychology Today therapist finder--both couples and individual counselors. You might take a look around at the listings for folks in your area.
posted by liketitanic at 11:23 AM on March 5, 2010


Oddly, this sounds like a "good news, bad news" kind of situation: the good news is that the boyfriend is showing his true colors now instead of pretending to be something else just long enough to get you tied down (or maybe he thinks you already are); the bad news is what he's showing you throws off a lot of "controlling" red flags (his house, everything's in his name, trying to change you without reciprocating, trying to control your social life).

So, you do know what you're getting with him if you stay, which is something. On the other hand, it seems he knows full-well what he is and that there's a very real danger of your realizing you don't need to put up with him. He's scared you'll leave, either because he thinks he can't do better or simply doesn't want to make the effort to woo someone else -- but instead of putting in the effort to make you want to stay, he's resorting to plays from the classic crappy-guy "keep her in her place so she's afraid to leave" playbook (though at least he isn't flipping through the "abuse" pages).

So your questions: #1, probably. Not to chase "normal experiences" or anything, just because it doesn't sound likely you two are going to find a common ground where you're both content, let alone happy... someone would have to give far more than the other, ultimately making them resentful and miserable, and it would likely be you. As for #2... that's a matter of personal taste: are you the type to jump in the cold swimming pool and get the shock over with, or the dip your toe in type?
posted by Pufferish at 11:36 AM on March 5, 2010


Sounds like things will be better for you both if you break it off. The way you have described this guy, it seems pretty obvious that he has a lot of growing up to do himself, despite his 'advanced' age. He may not like it at first, but you'd be doing him a favor to get away from him for a while.

Not to mention the favor you'd be doing yourself. Being so cloistered with another person at such a young age may or may not be 'normal', but it is almost certainly boring as hell. Unless you have packed a tremendous amount of living into your 21 years already, I'd say there are eons of living yet to be done for you.

No need to be mean, and no need to be sneaky. You are both adults; sit down with him at some point and tell him what you are going to do. Don't ask him if you can because permission is not his to give. Just tell him how you feel about him and the situation, and tell him that you want to work the logistics of the thing out in an amicable fashion, if possible. You can still be friends, you can still hang out, whatever - but you shouldn't stick around a relationship that doesn't fulfill you. Too many people stay in relationships that don't thrill them out of fear of being alone. That is not a standard that you should allow yourself to be comfortable with.

So, to answer your questions directly:

1) Yeah, I'd say so.
2) Take control of the situation, but try to be sensitive and pleasant (though not a pushover).
3) Hope yourself and you'll be fine.

Good luck.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:44 AM on March 5, 2010


Ordinarily I would say that it sounds like you want to leave him, but you should wait on a decision. But if someone you're sleeping with isn't saying "I love you," well, I think you should really move on. All the other stuff compounds it. Get a plan for yourself, give him half the rent and utilities after giving a month's notice to him. When you do give him a month's notice, you should already have a place of your own that he doesn't know about. I wouldn't ordinarily recommend this kind of thing, but who knows if he could be a violent person?
posted by anniecat at 12:03 PM on March 5, 2010


Another red flag: when you started seeing him you were a teenager and he was in his mid-twenties. (Lots of people are going to jump all over this and say there's nothing wrong with age gap relationships -- and often there isn't -- but often there is.) Teenage to mid-twenties is a huge age-gap. A huge age-gap suggest a desire to create distance or to control or to be controlled. Sometimes (not always) people who get involved with a person who is much younger are invested in that person maintaining that junior / subservient role and will not allow that person to grow up or at least object to the changes that are, inevitably, going to take place between age 19 and age 21.

Ask yourself why was a man in his mid-twenties was interested* in a little teenage kid?

Also, because of the age gap, when you first started seeing him you might not have looked at him as clearly as you would have looked at someone your own age. Why were you interested in such an old man?

(* Please note, I said "interested in" not "attracted to". Most of us recognize youth as attractive but fewer find the cost / benefit analysis good enough for a relationship.)
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 12:07 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


He isn't abusive

Yes, he is. Very. You don't recognize it, and you've let him get away with abusing you for years because you are too inexperienced to know better.

Leave now. This will never, ever turn into a healthy relationship (at least without a very long break, during which you both mature).
posted by coolguymichael at 12:12 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


You sound like me when I was younger. Only I sat on the fence with the wrong guy for 10 years. I too thought I was "depressed." Whatever you call it, I wasn't thriving because I was in the wrong place. I finally womaned up, mustered my courage, and admitted that I had to punch through some unpleasantries in order get to a better place.

You know in your heart you need to move on. Don't let inertia and fear of the unknown hold you back! Your wistful desire for certain experiences is you heart telling you your'e in the wrong place. Your "depression" will vanish once you take action in the right direction: get the classifieds and find a new place to live. Don't worry about his financial situation; he'll be ok. Don't worry about sorting out belongings; it'll all work out.

Break ups are hard, there's no getting around it. But people do it all the time, and you can do it too! Just keep you eye on your goal: finding the life you want with the kind of realtionship you want.


Good luck!
posted by hollyanderbody at 12:16 PM on March 5, 2010


OP, *get out now*

Ignoring your needs and wishes, imposing his desires on you with no regard for your feelings, and cutting you off from your friends is pretty abusive in my book

Doesn't just happen with guys. After my wife passed away, I was describing our relationship to a new ladyfriend, and she said "you know, that sounds like a pretty abusive relationship to me." I'd put up with a lot of things because I loved her, and yes we had good and great times together, but there were also bad times. She could be the most wonderful person on earth, and she could also be the cruelest, most paranoid, jealous, and possessive bitch I knew.

Eight months later, I'm still learning how to be *myself*. I'm 35 years old, and being able to go where I want, do what I want, *talk to whomever I want* without having to explain myself later, explain in detail how I know or met someone, or not have to account for my whereabouts every hour of the day is still a new experience for me (as I'd not had those "freedoms" for 12 years).

The day after my 35th birthday, the day after I was Raised as a Master Mason, I went to a tattoo parlor on Westheimer here in Houston, and got the Square and Compasses tattooed on my right arm. It was my first tattoo, and I thought "I can get what I want, where I want it, and I don't have to ask anyone's permission."
posted by mrbill at 12:35 PM on March 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


**The final thing is kind of a biggie, and I know that some of my friends are horrified about this, but I want a fresh perspective. My boyfriend is very insecure, especially about a detail relating to who I was when we met. **

What is a biggie? the detail about who you were when you met or his insecurity? It sounds like the latter, but by mentioning this *detail* you find it quite important, too. I'm going to assume you were doing something that garnered a ton of male attention. Stripper is at the top of my guess list.

FWIW, your boyfriend sounds like a boor. Jeez, keeping the dishes together in the bedroom? Not even the kitchen? Yikes! You, my dear young lady are being used and abused.
posted by teg4rvn at 12:43 PM on March 5, 2010


This sounds like a terrible relationship that you should end very, very soon.
posted by lorrer at 12:48 PM on March 5, 2010


I married the first guy to come along. I was 18 he was 22. We are still married, and we are very happy. I don't regret missing out on the fun stuff that 21-25 year olds do because I did all the stuff I wanted to do. Hubby just came along for the ride, unless it was a girls only type thing (in which case he just asked that I keep in touch for safety reasons).

I don't regret my decision to 'settle' down early. It sounds to me that you do. It may sound corny, but I just 'knew' when I met my husband that he was the guy that I was going to be with for the rest of my life. That said, I don't think there is just one person out there for everyone. I think any relationship can be a success if both people are willing to work for it. My marriage takes work, even if it is just a little maintenance to keep it happy. It doesn't sound to me that your boyfriend wants to work for it. A relationship should be balanced, no one party should be contributing everything all the time. Sometimes one partner may be having a harder time and the other has to pick up the slack, but that should be the exception not the rule.

Even as a person who married very young I'm thinking you need a lot more life experience. I think you need to get out of this relationship. I'm leaning in with the people who say this guy sounds abusive, at the very least he is lazy and insecure. Maybe the problem isn't that you're too young, maybe he is.

This is the one time in your life when you have the perfect excuse to be young and selfish, so be young and selfish.

So here's my answer:

1) Yes. And try not to fall into another relationship right away.

2) Get your own place. Take what you can and write off the rest. Consider it a lesson learned. It will be hard, it will suck, but you are young and wounds heal much quicker when you are young.

3) Make up your mind and then accept the consequences. A bunch of interwebs pepols cannot live your life for you. If you want to leave, don't let him manipulate you into staying. If you decide to stay, realize that he is not going to change and you will have to be happy with how he is. Pick a side and stick with it.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:57 PM on March 5, 2010


You have expressed your thoughts very thoroughly and eloquently above and it is plainly clear that if you want to be happy in life this relationship should end now.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:01 PM on March 5, 2010


You're not "suffering from depression", you're depressed because you're in a crappy relationship you know you shouldn't be in.

Big difference.
posted by the bricabrac man at 1:09 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Save up for a few months, give him a lump sum to help with the bills, and get out of there with a clean conscience.

I had to do it with my ex. He also ended up with our car. My partner let his ex-fiancee have their house. The financial blow was worth it to completely cut ties. If you feel guilty it will keep you talking to him and putting up with him out of obligation. You want to walk away knowing you did your best.

Good luck. I hope you find someone who will be there to support and love you while you're taking road trips with friends, being silly, and making mistakes.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:11 PM on March 5, 2010


What I don't know from your post is if you for yourself have a clear sense of what you want. When I was your age, a huge challenge for me was learning how to find ways to stand up for myself -- how to say what I wanted so that I could be myself in a relationship.

It does sounds like you might have that. And then, I couldn't quite tell how much you are asking for it and in fact, if necessary, knowing when to take a serious stand for what you want. I think this is particularly hard in a first serious relationship. It takes something of a "take it or leave it" attitude, where certain things are so totally unacceptable that you'd rather walk away. For me, it sometimes felt like my whole life depended on keeping that relationship going, such that if compromise was necessary to make it possible, it had to come from me.

So, if you HAVE said, "hey, this is something that is really important to me, and I hope you can understand that I am going to do it," I'm curious how he responded. And if you haven't, I'd encourage you to do so. (I'm thinking in particular about your time with friends.)
posted by salvia at 1:24 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


He can't tell you he loves you? After 2.5 years? OP, the relationship never really began. Heed the advice you get here - you need to move on ASAP.
posted by dbiedny at 1:42 PM on March 5, 2010


Generally speaking, if you find yourself writing a really long Ask Metafilter question asking if you should break up, then you should break up.
posted by Justinian at 1:58 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


We had a long and emotional conversation about this a month or so back where I asked him to do two small things for me in relation to keeping the house clean: keep his dirty clothes confined to our bathroom, and keep all the dirty dishes in the bedroom in one place so I could gather them more easily. He said he would try to do these things for me, but none of his habits changed. When I tried to gently or humorously remind him, he ignored me. This is a small frustration, but for some reason I felt the need to include it here.

Not so small if you're thinking about weddings. Do you want to clean up after this man for the rest of your life? It's not the biggest problem you raised, but it really does speak volumes. He won't even do the very little you ask of him so it will be easier for you to continue to serve as his maid? Really?

You said you have trouble communicating with him, but you did communicate this, and he did nothing. You might try to see if he'll agree to counseling (to help you both with your communication problems), but it sounds like you know it's time to break up.
posted by Mavri at 2:21 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Should I break up with my boyfriend of two years so I can spend some time being young and single and have some life experiences even though for the most part everything is good?

Yes.
posted by jokeefe at 4:01 PM on March 5, 2010


I can't get him to contribute even a little to house cleanliness. We had a long and emotional conversation about this a month or so back where I asked him to do two small things for me in relation to keeping the house clean: keep his dirty clothes confined to our bathroom, and keep all the dirty dishes in the bedroom in one place so I could gather them more easily. He said he would try to do these things for me, but none of his habits changed. When I tried to gently or humorously remind him, he ignored me. This is a small frustration, but for some reason I felt the need to include it here.

This is not a small frustration, even though he is treating it as such, and making you doubt its seriousness. This is the kind of behaviour that erodes relationships and ends up being flashpoints of disrespect and anger. Yes, please break up with him now, he takes you for granted and you are far too young to be stuck in this.
posted by jokeefe at 4:02 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


He hasn't said "I love you" to me yet

whut

what

wat

???

This is unbelievable. Sorry, after two and a half years I'd be running for the door if I didn't hear this every damn day. I guarantee you there is someone out there that will give you what you need. though he may still leave his laundry on the floor
posted by desjardins at 5:18 PM on March 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


oh, and please stop even considering MARRYING a guy who won't say three "little" words.
posted by desjardins at 5:25 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


As with any relationship question that doesn't involve abuse, the answer is the following: Communicate, even if you don't know how. Just do it. You can't learn how if you don't do it. Learning how will improve your future relationships, so a relationship heading for the rocks is the perfect time to begin learning how, as there is no downside or even possibility of failure. You're already thinking about breaking up..how can it get worse? If the results of that are not making you happy once your issues have been aired, break up. If you are happy, stay together.

It's really quite simple, although emotions conspire to make us think it is hard.

Personally, I'd probably say something like: "Hey boyfriend, I don't like it when you try to tell me what clothes to wear. I'm sorry you don't like the ones I choose, but they reflect who I am, so I'm going to continue to wear the clothes I like unless you have a good reason why I shouldn't. Also, I don't appreciate you getting jealous when I hang out with male friends. Trust is a fundamental requirement in a relationship. Is there something I can do that will help you get over this lack of trust?"

As far as I love you goes, actions speak louder than words. Some people are afraid of it, some people throw it around like its nothing. In and of themselves, the words are meaningless. If he isn't treating you in a way that makes you feel loved, that is the problem, not his inability to speak the words.
posted by wierdo at 6:51 PM on March 5, 2010


1) Yes
2) Gather all your stuff together, and get a friend or two (preferably male), or maybe your father/brother to come over and help you move. Just take your personal belongings, nothing more. Let him have the furniture etc...it's not worth fighting over. You say you can afford a place of your own - then do so.

There are a few niggling problems here, but nothing more so than any marriage/partnership. Except for the controlling/jealousy. That is unhealthy. That is why you should leave AND NOT LOOK BACK.
posted by humpy at 7:50 PM on March 5, 2010


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