How do I navigate a breakup with this woman who I respect and love, in a way that might encourage her to get better and find some happiness? Or should I even break up with her, given the potential good things that might come along if she did process through some of her stuff?
Hello good people of AskMe.
A while ago I posted this question
We are still together. We have resolved (or at least suppressed) many of our issues. No more big screaming dangerous fights. Our lives now consist mainly of cooking dinner and watching netflix on the couch. Still good sex. Still shared worldview. Still a good degree of mutual respect for each other's intellect, professional prowess and whatnot.
However, after this pretty good year, for a variety of reasons I am close to breaking it off. I don't want to, I think we have lots of good things that are worth keeping, but I don't think we'll ever develop intimacy and trust because of the things that happened when we were first getting together. And I still have some, although much less, ambivalence about settling down with a life partner. And I don't really want to have a relationship that's limited to watching netflix on the couch because more challenging things might lead to problems. I don't want to move forward (ie move in together or express emotional commitment to a longer term thing) in a relationship that has the possibility of getting really bad all of the sudden.
As I have been thinking about our relationship, I have come to the conclusion that most of the problems are hers, not mine. Not to say that I don't have my own issues, but really they pale in comparison. I should have bailed a long time ago before our lives got this entangled, but my life situation back then blinded me to some things. I realize this now, wish I could have realized it then. Live and learn.
She had a very traumatic childhood/teenage life. Her relationships have been mostly with drug addicts or otherwise mentally ill people. Her first partner was much older (probably illegally so at the beginning of their relationship) and just recently got out of federal prison.
So I don't know why I didn't realize this at first, but she doesn't exactly have many (actually any) healthy relationship models to draw on, and her shitty behavior is a direct result of the shitty things that other people have done to her throughout her life. Well, maybe I do know why I didn't realize it: because she has done very well for herself. She seems super together, does really difficult work with ease, is in fact a paragon in our particular field. Believe it or not, she has good interpersonal skills. It just seems to be within intimate relationships that all the problems come out.
So here is my question:
How do I navigate a breakup with this woman who I respect and love, in a way that might encourage her to get better and find some happiness? Or should I even break up with her, given the potential good things that might come along if she did process through some of this stuff?
Some possibilities I see are:
1. We stay together and go to counseling. The relationship works out or it doesn't, but she's had some professional attention and advice before things end or get better. And maybe things do get better!
2. I just cut the strings and hope she figures it out on her own.
3. I break up with her but let her know what I'm thinking. How would I even bring up this realization - I mean, should I even say something along the lines of "I own my part in our problems but I think you have some serious issues and you would be a lot happier if you processed through them with a professional." That seems like a bad idea and a recipe for drama but I really wish I could communicate it to her in some way. If I were to do this, how might I go about it?