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Should I end my relationship?
May 31, 2014 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I've been with my boyfriend for 5 years. I've always wondered if I was settling but ignored those feelings. For the past year I've seriously been thinking about ending it but have been so ambivalent. I broke up once with him last year but decided to go back after 1 week and see if it would work. I'm still having doubts. Should I just end it?

Sorry this is going to be a long post. Thank you for taking the time to read and help.

I'm 25 and my boyfriend is 27. We don't live together, I just stay at his house on the weekends. He is a decent person, we have a decent relationship but I feel it lacks substance. I'm not 100% sure if I want to spend the rest of my life with this person.

I feel that we are too different and lack compatibility. I love talking and exploring topics, whereas conversations with him or more superficial and black and white. He's a very conservative and traditional person, and always follows the rules, whereas I am more of a free spirit. I am a passionate person, and he is more indifferent about things. I can't understand how he 'doesn't have favourites" (quoted by him).

I feel it's hard to communicate, we don't understand each other. For example when I tried ending things, what I saw as reasons to leave, he thought wasn't enough to end a long term relationship or reasons to be unhappy.

We have so many repeated fights about our roles in the house. He is always analysing how I do the chores and correcting me. He is very efficient at tasks, whereas I'm slower at doing things. I know he's trying to help me but sometimes he gets frustrated when I don't get things right straight away.

Last time he swore to himself "F***,... "Why is it when you do things you get them wrong, but when I do it I get it right?!" We argued and argued but eventually he told me he'd try to be more patient with me.

He admits that he is an impatient person. I must say I'm a sensitive person. While I do appreciate constructive criticism, it's hard to not be unhappy when all your partner tells you more the negative and little/none of the positive.

Generally we get along, we like doing similar things, and we share a good sense of humour. He is stable, secure and I know he'll make a good husband some day. He takes my feelings into account and tries to make me happy. For example lack of affection on his part was one of the reasons I temporarily left last year. Since then he's been improving on that. It's not as much as I want but it's an improvement.

I'm scared of always being alone or not finding anyone better. I'm mindful that many people my age are getting engaged or married, and some are having kids. I'm worried that leaving will be the biggest mistake.

He hasn't proposed but has spoken of wanting to settle down in a year or two, and eventually having kids. The other night I had a dream that it was our wedding day and nothing was going right. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to marry him. I hadn't prepared my vows and didn't know what I'd say... I'm sad to say this may ring true in reality...
posted by Satsue to Human Relations (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Should I just end it?

Yes.

Generally we get along

That's not where you should set the bar for your relationship.
posted by mhoye at 5:21 PM on May 31 [28 favorites]


End it. Then, no contact for at least 1year. I've found that's the easiest way to move on and not slide into unhealthy and dramatic entanglements with the ex.
posted by quince at 5:28 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Imagine yourself five years in the future. You live with this dude. You're probably married. Maybe you even have kids.

In this vision of the future, are you happy with him and how things are going, despite the same bumps in the road everybody deals with? Or are you miserable because of all the stuff you just listed off? When you envision this, are you disappointed, deep down, at thinking about literally decades and decades spent with someone who has all the traits you describe, or are you psyched that you get to spend the rest of your life with your soulmate? Be brutally honest.

If you're not psyched to spend the rest of your life with this person, right now, don't think it's going to somehow miraculously get better.

And I would hope that you would, at the very least, want to settle down with someone you're excited to be with, rather than sighing and resigning yourself to your fate.
posted by Sara C. at 5:28 PM on May 31 [11 favorites]


You need to follow your instinct on this one. Breaking up is hard. No doubt you'll be sad. No doubt you'll be lonely. You might even regret your decision (especially when you're feeling sad and lonely).

But unless you end this relationship you are depriving yourself of the opportunity for a better relationship. A relationship that doesn't have you questioning whether you want to actually be in it.
posted by bernardbeta at 5:32 PM on May 31 [5 favorites]


I really don't usually answer these kinds of questions, but it seems to me that you have already decided to break up with this person. If that is the case, it is best done sooner than later - for both of you.
posted by blurker at 5:37 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


I honestly never understand relationships in which the parties have lots of arguments and fights. I have little tolerance for this kind of behavior although I know some people thrive on conflict. I've always operated on the notion that it is most appropriate to be kind to one another. So for me, this is a no brainer although if you've already gone back to him once this may be in your comfort zone.
posted by janey47 at 5:39 PM on May 31 [6 favorites]


That question is about 570 words and could have been distilled to 100 or less.


You are not happy.

The answer is 'yes'.
posted by edgeways at 5:42 PM on May 31 [7 favorites]


When I was younger, I always felt like I needed a concrete reason to break off a relationship. Like, they were cheating on me, or we fought every day, something I could point to and say, "see - *that's* why I'm leaving!" But that's bullshit.

You don't need a reason to break up with somebody. You don't have to justify why you want to leave, and you don't even have to be sure why you're leaving yourself, wanting to leave is enough.
posted by zug at 5:52 PM on May 31 [15 favorites]


Break up. I doubt you'll be alone if you don't want to be, but I'd rather be blissfully alone, than in a relationship where I don't feel that my spouse is my partner and teammate.

Getting along with someone....that's just the price of admission. You also need mutual respect, it doesn't seem that he respects you. Also, he doesn't get a vote. If you're not happy, you can leave. You don't need his permission.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:56 PM on May 31 [8 favorites]


Yes.

Once a friend, a beautiful woman of 'a certain age' ended a relationship with what seemed like the perfect guy for her. I asked why and--the way she said this with such disgust completely convinced me of what disrespectful behavior this is in a person who is supposed to love you--she said, "He's always correcting me." Sadly, the kind of disconnect you describe does not get better with time. If you are not happy with him now, you won't be happy with him when you're thirty five or forty and he's a lot less willing to please you and it's a lot harder for you to go back out there on your own. If you have to break up with him for him to pay attention and try to change one little thing, this is going to be exhausting and you'll never fix it.

A woman can be awfully lonely in a marriage with someone she can't talk to.
posted by Anitanola at 5:58 PM on May 31 [27 favorites]


He is a decent person, we have a decent relationship

This is the sort of thing I would say about a barista, not a life partner. You deserve someone who's a wonderful person, who you admire and who you know admires you. Don't settle for less than that. Nobody's perfect and no relationship is perfect, but at the bare minimum any relationship should involve mutual admiration and respect.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:09 PM on May 31 [14 favorites]


I divorced a man who, ultimately, was an okay husband in a lot of ways. He wasn't abusive, he was relatively stable (emotionally, financially, etc.), he wasn't particularly controlling, he didn't have anger issues.. but I knew, in my gut, that I shouldn't have been married to him.

Why did I marry him? Because I was 24 and my friends were all getting engaged and married and having babies. I married him because we had been together for a long enough period of time that I figured it was the next step in our relationship. I married him because I figured that "nothing wrong" was the same as "a good thing".

Many members of my family lost their minds when I divorced him - because they, too, thought that "nothing wrong" was the same as "a good thing". They all-but told me that I'd never find someone as good as him and that I was crazy to leave. As has been mentioned above, you don't need a big strong horrible reason to leave a relationship. Your happiness is SO important.

I am now married to someone who I have been head-over-heels in love with since day one. There is "nothing wrong" in our relationship but it is also completely awesome. I feel respected and cared-for and loved and trusted. I feel that our differences are also our strengths - we balance each other out - rather than pushing us apart.


You said:

I'm scared of always being alone or not finding anyone better. I'm mindful that many people my age are getting engaged or married, and some are having kids. I'm worried that leaving will be the biggest mistake.

No matter what you decide to do, focus on this. Focus on being okay on your own - so that you can be with someone as a partner and not out of fear. Work on your self-esteem so you know that you deserve the best possible partner in life AND know that you will find him (and that, if you don't, it'll be okay too). Don't compare yourself to others, as hard as that may be, because that's one of the fastest ways to make yourself miserable AND get yourself into situations that aren't ideal (like me marrying my ex!). Living unhappily is the biggest mistake. Life is too short!
posted by VioletU at 6:16 PM on May 31 [21 favorites]


It seems to me that you really need to think about what you want. For yourself. In your life. And if you see yourself as partnered, what do you want from the partner. Your ambivalence seems less about this person but more like something you may not have figured out for yourself. Start from there first, and then think about the person you are with, and whether he fits into what you want. You need to know with your gut feeling if this is right or not. Its not just about reason or logic. After reason and logic and your heart, it has to feel right within. If you feel you cannot make up your mind then it is not time to make up your mind. The time will come. Not all decisions need to be made before bedtime. Makes sense?


I feel that we are too different and lack compatibility. I love talking and exploring topics, whereas conversations with him or more superficial and black and white. He's a very conservative and traditional person, and always follows the rules, whereas I am more of a free spirit. I am a passionate person, and he is more indifferent about things. I can't understand how he 'doesn't have favourites" (quoted by him).

Nothing screams a red flag or dealbreaker. If these personality differences are something that deeply bothers you then it will bother you after the next five years too.

I feel it's hard to communicate, we don't understand each other. For example when I tried ending things, what I saw as reasons to leave, he thought wasn't enough to end a long term relationship or reasons to be unhappy.

He does not have to agree with the reasons that you find enough for breaking up. If you know what you want and know how to ask for it and stand up for it, then you wont be carried away by his reasoning in the future.

We have so many repeated fights about our roles in the house. He is always analysing how I do the chores and correcting me. He is very efficient at tasks, whereas I'm slower at doing things. I know he's trying to help me but sometimes he gets frustrated when I don't get things right straight away.
Last time he swore to himself "F***,... "Why is it when you do things you get them wrong, but when I do it I get it right?!" We argued and argued but eventually he told me he'd try to be more patient with me.


This is not cool. If you both decide person X is going to do chore Y then the other one needs to pretty much shut up and let X do it the way they want to. Have you considered getting some outside help/perspective on sorting out roles and rules that you are both happy with?

I'm scared of always being alone or not finding anyone better. I'm mindful that many people my age are getting engaged or married, and some are having kids. I'm worried that leaving will be the biggest mistake.

Making decisions from a place of fear just feeds the fear. Whether you are with someone today or not, always be at peace with living life alone. Especially if you are a woman. We have such a tendency to use "what if" for negative thoughts but I was watching Liz Murray's talk on Ted the other day and what if you use "what if" for a positive possibility in your life?

Many people who are getting married at your age also end up divorced before 30. And then you are in the same boat again. I guess my point is, what if you do what you really want to- stay or leave- but at least be happy where ever you are...
posted by xm at 6:42 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


FWIW. I've been a pastor for seventeen years, and in my experience, I've seen one thing happen again and again: when someone comes to me with a major life decision that they are struggling with, they almost always knew the right thing to do before they walked in my door. What they actually needed from me was not advice, but to hear from me that they were not bad people for doing it.

You know the right thing to do here, and you are not a bad person for doing it.
posted by 4ster at 6:51 PM on May 31 [40 favorites]


Run!

I'm on the sidelines cheering you on!!

(He sounds like a condescending asshole. He told you your reasons for breaking up weren't good enough? He corrects the way you do chores??

Honey, this man doesn't love you enough, and he shows you inadequate respect, too. It seems he likes dominating you, tho.

You deserve so so much more. Get out of this lopsided relationship and find someone you adore as much as he adores you. Get out there and find a great relationship you can feel proud of!!)
posted by jbenben at 7:09 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


I'm scared of always being alone or not finding anyone better. I'm mindful that many people my age are getting engaged or married, and some are having kids. I'm worried that leaving will be the biggest mistake.

I got married in my late 20s in large part because I was worried about being alone forever, especially as many of my peers were getting married, and I didn't want to be single at 30.

And so I wasn't! I was, however, separated at 31 and divorced at 32. So you can see how well getting married out of fear worked out.

The fact is, despite the endless cultural messages that are reinforced every day that marriage by a certain age is a woman's One True Path to Happiness, getting married just for the sake of avoiding the alternative is a recipe for misery. Many of the people I know who got divorced, or who stayed in unhappy marriages, will say that they married out of fear of being alone. Romantic comedies may end with weddings, but in real life getting married is not the end of our story with someone, nor the end of the search for happiness in our lives. It's just one stop on the journey -- and marrying the wrong person is basically a huge detour from the path you really want to be on.

The fear of something -- in this case, your fear of always being alone -- does not make it a fact. You are recognizing that breaking up will be difficult, because there will be a period of mourning what has ended, and uncertainty of what is to come. But sometimes the difficult thing to do and the right thing to do are one and the same. Just because something will be hard doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, or that you won't survive it.

Postscript: So after my ex-husband and I split, I met someone else very soon thereafter, and we were together for several intense, lovely years that ultimately didn't work out. And then I met my life partner at 36, and have been wildly in love with him, and loved by him, every day of my life for the past nine years. My ex-husband got remarried to an awesome woman, and they now have an adorable little girl. So it worked out in the end for all of us.

tl;dr: there is plenty of life you have yet to live, people you have yet to meet, and love you have yet to experience. Don't shut all that down out of fear.
posted by scody at 7:19 PM on May 31 [10 favorites]


The fact that the only time the word "love" comes up in your post is in reference to something you enjoy that is not your partner, nor something he enjoys, suggests that yeah, something is amiss here.

Maybe your relationship is redeemable and salvageable but it doesn't really sound like you're that interested in making your relationship better as opposed to just not being alone. Personally, I've been miserable, and I've been lonely, and I would rather be lonely. Lonely has possibilities. Miserable? Not so much.
posted by sm1tten at 7:26 PM on May 31 [4 favorites]


I know he'll make a good husband some day.

I kinda doubt that. UNLESS you break up with him permanently, citing the reasons you give below, and he treats it as a wake-up call:

Last time he swore to himself "F***,... "Why is it when you do things you get them wrong, but when I do it I get it right?!" ... While I do appreciate constructive criticism, it's hard to not be unhappy when all your partner tells you more the negative and little/none of the positive.


Like the song says: This way, you might save a little trouble for the next girl.
posted by feral_goldfish at 7:28 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


It sounds like he corrected you for trying to break up.

"Condescending asshole" sounds right to me. Get out of there, and go find someone who respects you.
posted by jaguar at 7:44 PM on May 31 [5 favorites]


it's hard to not be unhappy when all your partner tells you more the negative and little/none of the positive.

It doesn't even matter whether this is technically true. That you feel this way about how he talks to you is telling you that you don't need to be in a relationship with this man. I was married to a critical and condescending man, and I was very unhappy until we split. Do yourself a favor and break things off now so you can find someone who makes you happier (and he can too, or at least someone he's not so critical of).
posted by immlass at 7:50 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


For example when I tried ending things, what I saw as reasons to leave, he thought wasn't enough to end a long term relationship or reasons to be unhappy.

If this wasn't so dickish it would be hilarious. Like, seriously? He tried to tell you you were breaking up with him wrong? Dude is all sorts of condescending.

You don't need that. Just to remind you that not all social circles are the same. I was the first of my quite large immediate friend group to marry, and that was at age 29. I met my husband when I was 26. I had ppl telling me I was too young to settle down. We are still very happy now, 10 years later.

I guarantee that if I had married the guy I was dating at 25, we would have been divorced before I turned 30.
posted by gaspode at 7:59 PM on May 31 [5 favorites]


I don't even think I'd be friends with someone that I was that ambivalent about. I have aquaintences that mean more to me than he seems to mean to you.
posted by windykites at 8:07 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


Last time he swore to himself "F***,..."Why is it when you do things you get them wrong, but when I do it I get it right?!"

That's not help, it's contempt. Contempt is hateful and corrosive. His behavior harms you.

He is not decent; a decent partner would listen to you when you explain how his behavior affects you, then examine and change his behavior.

He's a bland, contemptuous man who is also a bad listener.
It sounds as though you don't even like him; he's just there and you feel stalled.

Become a body in motion and leave him. Get out and don't look back.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:46 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Feel free to end it based on your interactions, but keep in mind that seeking someone who is just as much a "free spirit" as you consider yourself may not bring you long-term happiness, either.

All too often that's secret code for things like commitment issues, flakiness, and all the fun things that tend to get a person in trouble more often than they contribute stability and trustworthyness.
posted by stormyteal at 11:49 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Not everyone has a grand romance in their life, falling head-over-heels in perfect love is a wonderful thing that not everyone has the luck to find, but if you hitch yourself to this guy that you're clearly not that excited about, you're giving up the chance that it will happen to you. You're a 25 year old free spirit - go be it. Is a "decent" relationship all you aspire to? no! go chase excitement - you really do have lots of time ahead of you.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:38 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]


I'm scared of always being alone or not finding anyone better. I'm mindful that many people my age are getting engaged or married, and some are having kids. I'm worried that leaving will be the biggest mistake.

Being alone forever would be better than being in a shitty relationship - and trust me, this guy is shitty. Dump him.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:26 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


I think steady and stable is quite valuable. You don't (or shouldn't) expect continual excitement and fireworks from your partner.

However, in this case, you don't actually like this guy, and it sounds like he doesn't like you much either. You should expect to be happy about your partner and your relationship.

You're going to end this sooner or later. Make it sooner.
posted by mattu at 6:36 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]


A woman can be awfully lonely in a marriage with someone she can't talk to.

This. So much this. So, so, so much this.

Everyone is right: you don't need A Reason to break up; also you have a very good Reason in that he is mean.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 9:38 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]


Jumping on the bandwagon. It's time to break up with him. Is a "decent relationship" really all that you're looking for?

I know that it's scary to think that you'll always be alone. I was afraid of that myself; some people never get married. Many of my friends didn't get married until their late 30s, but I was still alone and though I dated (thanks match.com!) I hadn't had someone I'd call boyfriend in YEARS.

I met my husband when I was 39 and we got married when I was 41. If you'd told me when I was 25 that I'd have to wait THAT LONG to get married, I'd have been horrified. But you know what? It was worth every minute of the wait. I have a great relationship with a man I adore. I'm certain that had I married earlier, I'd be divorced, or worse, miserable.

Good luck to you. Breaking up can be so painful.
posted by Wet Hen at 9:53 AM on June 1 [6 favorites]


I'd drop thinking about the future when analyzing this problem.

Do you want to date this person right now? If not, perhaps you should break up.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:36 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Many people I knew at 25 married the person they were with at the time, because "It was time". Many of them are now getting divorced, now that we're in our late 30s, because "eh, I guess I can put up with this" has turned into bitterness, misery, and resentment. Breaking up now will be sad and hard and lonely. Getting divorced in 15 years, possibly with kids in the mix, will be ever so much more miserable.
posted by RogueTech at 9:12 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


My best friend married someone whom he had been with for many years (started dating in their early 20's) because when they had been together a few years, she told him that by the end of the year, they either needed to get married or break up. He was scared and the status quo wasn't THAT bad, so he proposed.

Now, they are getting divorced because the "we have some stuff in common and get along okay" turned into bitterness and contempt to the level that it was poisoning their young daughter and making both of them miserable. Nothing got better like he thought they would when they got married, or when they had a kid, or when that kid got a little older, etc. It turns out that there is no magic fix waiting in the future and that if things don't get better, they just get more bitter.

Break up now and avoid that kind of heartache, not only for the two of you, but for any kids you may have if you stay together. I promise you - this does not improve with time.

Like my best friend, I also married in my mid-20's out of fear of being alone. I got divorced just before my 30th birthday. Clearly that did not work out like I wanted it to.

However, my life now is awesome. I spent a few years alone sorting out some of the things that pushed me into that relationship to begin with. And now, I'm just starting a new relationship that is the best I've ever experienced and far better than I thought possible. It is EASY. We don't fight, and we agree on all the important stuff. Not only that, but we have a ton in common and just like being together. I'll watch basketball with him (even though I hate most sports) because it's so fun to be together. He will go get coffee with me (even though he doesn't drink coffee) because it's so fun to be together.

When I think about all the things and people I settled for prior to meeting him, I'm a little sad. I never felt the kind of attraction for anyone else that I feel for him. I never experienced a relationship that didn't have a huge amount of conflict and honestly, pretty much all my relationships were abusive in some way (particularly my marriage). He loves me with the same intensity I love him. I finally have a partner in every sense of the word. We have had a lot of crappy Life Stuff thrown at us in the short time we've been together, but instead of pulling us apart, it has made us stronger.

And I wish I had waited for him instead of getting married when I did. Life with him, even the tough times, is so much better than even the best of times with anyone else. I've always said that I wanted to die young so that I wouldn't have to face getting old and sick and frail. But now, I'm praying that I get to live into (or beyond) my 90's because the thought of losing any years with him is far worse than getting sick and frail.

Don't settle. Break up now. Future You will thank you for it.
posted by guster4lovers at 11:05 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]


Yeah, bail.
posted by ead at 11:13 AM on June 2


Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to answer, for sharing your experiences and advice. I have broken up with my now ex-boyfriend. I feel sad, but at the same time, liberated and hopeful. I really appreciate all of your help.
posted by Satsue at 12:07 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


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