I am in a relationship and my feelings have changed. I am financially dependent and feel horrible about it. I feel trapped. How can I fix this with the least amount of collateral damage?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I will attempt to make this as coherent as possible (and short-but it's going to be pretty long). I feel guilty for even writing this. I have been in a relationship for 7 years (a LDR the past 2 years) with a man 33 years older than me. It was good, but about 6 months ago I started to realize a lot of things. I’ve changed, and what I want now is different than what I wanted before. As expected, there are snowflake details that make this horrible and complicated.
He was married and had kids and all of that. Wife died 20 years ago. The age gap has become more ‘visible’ to me, I guess. There are a lot of things that I can’t talk about with him, because he isn’t into pop culture or music or things like that. He doesn’t have any friends or hobbies. Kind of a hermit. I am his sole source of entertainment, in a sense, and I don’t like that. He still works, but has always lived for his job. I have friends and tons of things that I do. I feel like I have to entertain him when he visits, and he never really wants to go anywhere or do anything. So I feel trapped there. We disagree about my pets. He feels that I should just get rid of them, and this in a sense attacks part of my core. I fiercely love my pets, and I cannot fathom just ‘getting rid of them’ because he doesn’t care for them. He knows this, yet he says it. I think that he’s depressed, but can’t say anything to him about it, because he shuts me down immediately. In his mind, therapists are for crazy people. Talking to him now is like talking to my parents (who I distanced myself from at 18 because of the crazy. Yes, they are my parents, I love them, but they are depressed and will not help themselves). Always mopey and talking about the same thing during every conversation. It has become difficult to call.
Sometimes I think he subconsciously hints that his future plans don’t include me. I love where I live, and want to practice here after I graduate. He says he hates it (weather, etc). He talks occasionally about how his son wants him to move near him so he can spend time with the son and grandchild. There is never a ‘we’ in that conversation, only ‘I’. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
It’s not that I dislike him or anything, I do care for him, but my feelings for him have changed. I no longer see him in a romantic sense. This could be due to the long-distance component. He visits maybe 3-4 times a year. I don’t want to be elderly early, and that’s how I feel. There is so much that I want to see and do. He has been very good to me, with gifts and trips and such. I appreciate everything that he has ever done. The very basic problem IS that my feelings have changed, and I understand that this happens. There’s a kicker to this, though (2, actually).
I am in professional school about 3000 miles away from him. He pays my tuition (he has paid about $100k so far), bought a house for me to live in, and pays for all of my expenses. He bought me a car. I would not be here without his help. I feel a tremendous, overwhelming amount of guilt over this. I feel like a horrible person because my feelings changed, and that I don’t want to be his caretaker for the rest of his life. I feel like if I tell him that my feelings have changed that it will decimate him (not giving myself any ‘credit’, it’s just that I know it will not go well). He is 73, and I feel like it would be a disaster. I want him to be happy and have someone who wants the same things that he wants. I do care for him, but it is different. Side note: there is not a new guy. I have not cheated on him. I just came to the realization that I want to be with someone that has more in common (if and when I have a new relationship) and shares my energy for things.
The second kicker: our relationship has always been kept secret, except for his kids. Only one of my friends (my best friend) knows about him. There is a good reason for this, I would rather not disclose just in case someone can piece this together. When we started our relationship, he said that he was dating younger women because he wanted ‘to be sure’ that he died before them. He wanted someone who would take care of him. I was ok with this, or thought I was. I have since come to the realization that I am not.
I work a part-time job while in school (that’s all I can manage-the amount of studying that I have to do is tremendous)and try to save every penny. I plan on working my butt off this summer. I have always be fiercely independent and hate having to depend on help from anyone, but accepted his help for school(which he willingly offered, I did not ask for it). I would offer to pay him back, but won’t be earning anything that could even dent it for 2 more years. I am planning on finding out about student loans and what I am eligible for. I know I have to do something. But I don’t know how/if I should do this. I know that it is not fair to string him along. I am terrified. The last thing that I want to do is hurt him, but I can’t live for someone else. My school is in an expensive city, and I have 2 more years. I fear that I won’t be able to find/afford a place to live (I would imagine that he would kick me out). I am looking for any thoughts, suggestions, advice…anything that could be helpful. This is killing me. The guilt has overwhelmed me to the point that I have had panic attacks. I spend entire evenings crying because I don’t know what to do. I have no doubt that this is affecting my school. I just want to do what is right. Dropping out of school is not an option. Admission to these programs is incredibly competitive and it was a long, hard road to get here. I really don't want to hurt him, though I know it will. I feel trapped. I hope that I have explained clearly. My mind is swirling. I'm afraid that what I wrote here makes me look like a horrible, deplorable person. Help, please?
I have a throwaway email for any questions/clarifications AnonPersonanon2014@outlook.com