How to best break up with my girlfriend?
March 9, 2014 2:21 PM Subscribe
I am strongly considering breaking up with my girlfriend, but I haven't done this for a while and want to do the right thing. I value both honesty/truth and kindness. I know that sometimes the truth hurts a lot and may scar people psychologically, so I am looking for guidance on how to toe the line between being respectfully honest and condescendingly protective.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
After 1.5 years with my girlfriend (both 31), I am leaning towards breaking things off and having us move on. I do not fully trust my own judgment on this issue because I oscillate between thinking we are good together and thinking we are incompatible, depending on the week. But by seeing that the parts I find incompatible have not gone away over time, I am more confident in thinking it is time to move on. And I realized that it isn't a question in my mind of whether this relationship is amazing or not, but rather whether it is good enough or not. I don't think that it is fair to either of us for me to commit to marriage with someone I think is only a "good enough" mutual fit. I don't know how to tell her best though.
Here are the things that bother me most. I am looking advice on how to explain the reason for ending it to her somewhat honestly out of respect for her as a person, but not so honestly as to scar her emotionally or set her back in life since she is sensitive and already has some insecurities. I want her to be happy and confidently enter a new relationship with someone who is a better fit for her. I don't want her to fall into a dark place after this. That is the dilemma.
The things that I am not satisfied with:
- She shows love more through action (doing things for me) rather than curiosity. To me, it is much more important that someone wants to know about ME as a person and asks me about myself and shows a genuine curiosity to understand me. I don't see that too much from her. I can see in her eyes that she loves me, but I can't help but feel unsatisfied. I have never felt this lack with anyone else, and while it is simply a difference in expression, it is an important one for me. I don't feel like she knows the real me or is intrigued by the real me. She will buy me thoughtful gifts and cook my favorite meals and want to spend time together and is sexually giving. But she doesn't really show a genuine curiosity in me, at least outwardly via her words. We have discussed this numerous times. It frustrates her that I feel this way. She also thinks I should be more outwardly thoughtful about doing nice things for her (I suck at this). We have both tried working on it, but it is kind of a fundamental difference in the way we express and prefer to receive love.
- On a related note, she does not really show much intellectual curiosity. She prefers to tell me about her day, her relationships with others, goings on, and send me cute articles and pics. She is quite girly in this sense. I much prefer to discuss concepts and ideas and to learn things. I wish I could have a mate that would talk to me frequently about interesting things she read of heard or thought of and we could take conversational journeys into interesting unanticipated directions. It feels so weird trying to describe this analytically because it is such a natural thing for most of my friends and me, but she is fundamentally different in that regard. That said, she is definitely intelligent and insightful, particularly with respect to art and literature. So it is not an intelligence thing. It is about the expression of that intelligence. She is not so much an "off-the-cuff" conversationalist, which I love.
- Sexually, we are okay but not great in terms of compatibility. Recently my sex drive with her has decreased and I find myself having to convince myself to get in the mood. I cannot tell if it is because I just naturally get sexually bored after a few years or because the relationship has stagnated from my perspective and with it my desire.
- She is coming from a somewhat fragile emotional base having dealt with some disorders in the past and sometimes still currently. I just don't feel that she can be that emotional rock for me should I ever need one. It is hard for me to tell if this is perception or reality. But it is a gut feeling. I have not shared a lot of the things that I harbor some shame about in my life (insecurities, past, etc.). For all I know, the relationship would progress to the next level if I was able to cut through some of the bullshit and just open my heart to her and make myself vulnerable. But my instinct is to not open myself up like that to someone who I do not feel on the other fronts is a good long-term fit. I would probably feel more willing to do this if she was more secure on her own and a better fit for me in the other areas above. My point is - this could be my own doing and the above problems could largely be driven by me not showing her all my true colors, the scary shameful hidden stuff, but I feel discouraged from taking that scary leap with her given the other imperfections in the relationship. I don't feel it is fair to the relationship for me to keep things bottled up, but at the same time, I don't feel safe going forward with these things. And I cannot objectively tell if it is me (I am very bottled up with most people around certain issues, so it isn't jst her), or if it is her (because I don't feel like she is curious about me, and is insecure herself and perhaps not ready to accept weakness in others in a healthy way given her own weakness).
Having said all of the above, I love her and am attached to her. The idea of breaking up makes me cry. But I hate the idea of dragging her along and not marrying her more than I care about my own near-term interests. The shadow of marriage looming ahead, something that I know she is anxious about, is hastening my decision. If we were 18 and in this situation, I would ride it out and see where it goes and maybe we work out the rough edges. But I do not think it is fair to her to go any further right now if my heart is on the fence about it all.
So how do I frame the above without making her feel like shit? I know break-ups always suck, but in particular, I would like to soften the blow if possible without completely making stuff up like "just not ready for marriage sorry".