I just want to be kind to a good guy, but I'm suffocating
March 15, 2012 10:46 AM Subscribe
How do I bail from a relationship I might have outgrown? Should I?
posted by anonymous to human relations (35 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Boyfriend and I have been together ~5 years, since high school (both of us are in our early 20s now). To give some background, when we first started dating, I was an anxiety-ridden, basically friendless teenage mess with zero life experience and some crazy overprotective parents, while he was a popular, chill guy with the least authoritarian parents I've ever met and some crazy experiences under his belt.
Five years later, I've mostly stuck around our shared home region but am currently off on a wonderful overseas adventure for a few months, and due to this and a lengthy amount of other factors I'm a completely different person: much more confident, calmer, slowly becoming a people-loving extrovert. Meanwhile he hasn't done anything—no higher education, no career, has become completely anti-social and borderline misanthropic and I'm quickly resenting being stuck dragging this relationship around. He has zero interest in whatever I'm doing—I'm pretty sure if I asked him right now he wouldn't know what organization I'm working for, what type of work I'm doing, what I'm researching, etc. Every conversation revolves around him and his dead-end retail job and a ton of whining about how he misses me and wants me to come home RIGHT NOW, while if I try to bring up what I'm doing he's pretty dismissive. I don't think he takes my interests very seriously, although he is generally proud of me and is very affectionate. I think the dismissiveness is due to the fact that we're still stuck in the dynamic we had when we first started dating, where he was the wiser, more capable person while I was a terrified, dependent adolescent, when in reality the roles have changed.
I think I want to dump him but I feel sorry for him because he has literally nothing else going for him besides having a girlfriend, something he brings up fairly often. I'm also afraid to end it while I'm abroad because I have no real friends aside from him when I'm back home and so I'm not sure if it's the distance that's making me feel so eager to ditch this relationship or if this is a permanent feeling (I have to return for at least one more semester, which I'm dreading already). I also feel afraid of bailing on what has been a stable, comfortable relationship overall—I'm increasingly feeling that I want to date around and have fun without having to think about this relationship, but what if I regret leaving a kind, loving guy? I'm not sure how I would even dump him in the first place, as he seems to be completely oblivious to how increasingly out of sync we are with each other and how little we have in common. He's deeply in love with me but I just feel that I've outgrown 'us', I'm very fond of him but I kind of want to find a more interesting, sociable guy who shares my interests and who I can actually talk to. I'm also concerned because boyfriend has even started bringing up engagement (!), possibly around the time of our next anniversary, but even thinking about that makes me feel suffocated and miserable.
I guess what I'm asking is how I'd break up with him (kindly and slowly!), and if it'd be better to do it now or if I should just hang on for another year until I can move away from our isolated hometown permanently? How do I know if leaving him is the right choice at all? And if it is how do I stop feeling so guilty about it?? I wish I could give him a life and some ambition beforehand but I've burnt myself out trying to change him already.