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Do I break up with my boyfriend for no sane reason?
May 15, 2007 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Break up with someone for no sane reason?

I feel really stuck. I don't have any huge issues with my boyfriend that are straining our daily relationship... just some smaller things gnawing away at my heart.

My boyfriend of 6 years is a pretty wimpy person. I pretty much have to take complete care of him (we live together), he doesn't help me to be a better person, he has low self esteem and doesn't put effort into bettering himself. He can't make friends and is incredibly shy. He hasn't worked for months and he is doing poorly in school, aimlessly wandering and throwing money away on tuition. I've been paying for most of his expenses for the past year and it's only going to get worse. Due to his lack of direction and passion for anything, I'm not really attracted to him anymore.

On the plus side, I love his sense of humor and he's very intelligent. I get along with him better than 99% of everyone I've ever met. He loves me dearly and has put up with my extremely eccentric personality. He's really devoted to me and our relationship (he says - not sure if his actions follow suit). We haven't had many other problems in our relationship and we're pretty good at communicating.

But there's also another factor in this that is always haunting me. I'm still hopelessly in love with his best friend, also my close friend, whom I have pined over for the past 10 years or so. After about four years of trying to get him to like me, I "gave up" and started dating his friend who did like me (my current boyfriend). He has always been so sweet to me though, and I felt so connected to him that I have continually felt that we really were a great match. He has all of the positive qualities as my boyfriend, but is much easier to talk to, is kinder to other people, more social, more focused on school and his future, and is just generally a warmer human being. ... but I don't have any clue if he likes me. I still can't tell. But somehow, I don't even care..

I really don't think that I stand any chance of ever winning him over, but somehow I feel like I'm cheating both my boyfriend and myself by staying in our relationship while I wish I were with this other person - even if it is just a pipe dream. But at the same time, I know I'm incredibly lucky to have found a caring boyfriend who loves me - and I feel like I should just be more patient with him and give up on this fantasy relationship.

So, with all this in mind, do you think I should break up with my boyfriend even though nothing really seems to be wrong? Break up with him for a relationship possibility that will probably never come true?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I pretty much have to take complete care of him (we live together), he doesn't help me to be a better person, he has low self esteem and doesn't put effort into bettering himself. He can't make friends and is incredibly shy. He hasn't worked for months and he is doing poorly in school, aimlessly wandering and throwing money away on tuition.

Erm, those don't seem like small reasons. Break up with him.
posted by lemur at 8:26 PM on May 15, 2007


You don't have to break up for a relationship possibility that will probably never come true, you can simply break up because you're unhappy in the relationship.

Seriously. I read your first paragraph and thought "Wait, boyfriend, or ex?"

The "not sure if his actions follow suit" bit worries me. As well as the "he loves me dearly" bit, since you're no longer attracted to him. Imbalance, especially to this degree, is always a warning sign. Given that you're contributing hugely to the relationship in every way but the emotional one, it seems, it doesn't seem like a very healthy relationship.

Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Even your description of his good qualities are filled with qualifiers. "Not having problems" doesn't necessarily mean "good match". I don't have any problems with many of the people I don't deal with.

It really seems like that you can't wait to break up with him, but you are scared of/dislike the single life after being attached to someone for so long. The person you have picked out for the next relationship might not work out, so you're afraid to jump ship. But you're right, that's not really fair to both of you.

"I know I'm incredibly lucky to have found a caring boyfriend who loves me - and I feel like I should just be more patient with him"

How much more patient are you going to be? You're supporting him, you're not attracted to him. What will it take for you to stop being patient? I mean, hell, you started the relationship based on 'settling' for your current boyfriend, that doesn't raise any warning bells for you?

Break up. (But I would lay off on the best friends bit, at least for a while. Peers gossip, and you pursuing his best mate after 6 years will brand you with a pretty bad reputation that will be pretty hard to get rid of.)

Sorry my comment doesn't really follow a logical sequence. Alarm bells went off all over the place when reading this, so I just started writing down every point that came to mind.
posted by Phire at 8:30 PM on May 15, 2007


You have huge issues with your boyfriend that are straining your daily relationship. Your entire second paragraph outlines them. You have to face those issues instead of imagining that your only problems are wanting this theoretical relationship.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:31 PM on May 15, 2007


I felt the same way about my previous boyfriend (shy, high-maintenance, gradually wearing away my respect/attraction despite being very devoted and good to talk to). Even without the complication of being attracted to the friend-- and I think you should take that out of the equation, since he doesn't seem to be into you-- breaking up with him was the 100% correct decision for me.

It IS a sane reason.
posted by Jeanne at 8:32 PM on May 15, 2007


Uh, I think you might be missing the fact that your boyfriend sounds seriously depressed and that breaking up with him - and, wait, dating his best friend, might just send him over the edge.

If you aren't in love with him (and it seems like it has been quite a while) - if you aren't passionate about your relationship, then it probably isn't right to stretch it out longer.

But, seriously, think of the guy here. You said that he was very bad at making friends. So you're thinking of dumping him and going after his most important friend... and it doesn't seem like you realize the implications of that.
posted by tmcw at 8:33 PM on May 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


Speaking from a purely selfish point of view, I think it sucks that women aren't attracted to pathetic guys who are incredibly shy, but realistically your reasons are excellent. Your framing that there's "no sane reason" to break up with him seems wrong. You're not attracted to him and he seems to have some pretty gaping character flaws. So go for it, if you think you want to.

I would sound one note of caution, though: the 'best friend' prospect sounds like a long-shot, and the odds may be further diminished by the fact that he will be your ex-boyfriend's best friend.
posted by grobstein at 8:33 PM on May 15, 2007


So, with all this in mind, do you think I should break up with my boyfriend even though nothing really seems to be wrong? Break up with him for a relationship possibility that will probably never come true?
You shouldn't break up with him because of a relationship that may or may not pan out. You should break up with him because you are just marking time where you are and need to move on to somewhere else.
posted by dg at 8:36 PM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


10 years? I hate to be pessimistic and I'm as big a fan of movie-style romances as anyone, but this well is long-poisoned. The only way you're going to be able to date the friend is if your current moves away or the friend moves away with you before the relationship starts.
posted by rhizome at 8:45 PM on May 15, 2007


You may love him but you do not sound like you are in love. I think you both need to move on.

Assess your relationship, though, without factoring in the mysterious friend. This has to do with you and your partner only. If at some point down the road you choose to pursue the friend, you can cross that bridge, having come to it.
posted by loiseau at 8:47 PM on May 15, 2007


You sound like a terrific person who is loving, kind, helpful, thoughtful, and aware. You deserve to be in a relationship that offers you a lot more than your current one does. That relationship may not be with the particular person you've been pining for--it takes a lot of looking and you may have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, but it's worth it to find a wonderful person.

Oh, and, by the way, have you ever heard of co-dependency? Get a book and read it. I think it would help you understand this relationship and what to look for in future ones too. (It has for me.)
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:48 PM on May 15, 2007


He hasn't worked for months and he is doing poorly in school, aimlessly wandering and throwing money away on tuition. I've been paying for most of his expenses for the past year and it's only going to get worse. Due to his lack of direction and passion for anything, I'm not really attracted to him anymore.

Seconding Lemur. Those don't sound like minor issues at all, they sound like pretty big issues. Forgetting about your feelings for this other friend, if you're not getting what you need out of your relationship, and there's no visible signs of improvement from your boyfriend, you should probably decide whether it is either worth it to you to have a serious talk with him about your expectations and desires or to break it off without trying to work through the issues that are bothering you.
posted by nerdcore at 8:50 PM on May 15, 2007


Your boyfriend has issues he must work out himself. He could possibly be suffering from depression or social anxiety, things that he has to take on himself, and want to overcome. What you do regarding that is up to you.

You pine for his best friend though. This is unfair to everyone involved, and staying with your boyfriend in such a situation does you no good. You basically are saying that you're settling for less than what you want. You don't deserve that, and your boyfriend doesn't deserve that. If you go after his best friend, he will almost certainly hate you, particularly if it works out. There is no possible good solution to this situation that ends up with you pairing up with your boyfriend's best friend.

Simply put, your boyfriend is a drain on you day-to-day. You've settled for someone you didn't want in the first place for quite some time. You continue to pine for who you originally wanted years later. This situation will change, and it is up to you to make sure the change is for the better. You can break up with your boyfriend, which will relieve some of the burden he has placed on you, and leave you free to find someone fit for you who has goals more in line with yours, but you will have to get over his best friend in order to do that. You could stay with your boyfriend and try to get him some help, whether it be therapy, life coaching, or psychiatric treatment. You would not have the uncertanity of being alone, which can be quite a shock after six years, but you would also need to be able to see just how well this is working and whether it is in your best interest as well. He may simply be without ambition, in which case, there's not much to salvage.

It is up to your boyfriend to help himself. You can try to help him, or you can move on and hope that without someone to lean on all the time, he will help himself. This is a judgment call that is for you to make. The easy choice is to stay with him and do nothing until things fall apart. Breaking up is difficult, but trying to honestly help him is difficult as well, and it is even tougher to really see for yourself through unclouded eyes whether he is improving or not. If you break up with your boyfriend, be sure that it is because you cannot be a permanent crutch for him.

Pursuing his best friend will only lead to trouble. Remember this, he certainly looks more attractive simply because you can't have him.

Best of luck to you, regardless of your decision.
posted by Saydur at 9:12 PM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Two options:

1) Be kind, firm and absolutely honest with him about the state of your relationship now. Make it clear to him that there have to be some big changes within a finite amount of time if you two are going to continue the relationship. If he doesn't change, you will leave. That has to be absolutely clear.

Despite the many problems you have identified, he seems to be, at heart, a very decent man. He may well be depressed, or have other issues that he can't identify clearly, but he may need the shock of an ultimatum from you to truly recognize where he's failing you. He may well surprise you if you give him the chance. Or he may not be able to change. But he needs to know just how serious things have become.

2) Break up with him now -- kindly, firmly and honestly. You may miss him terribly, but don't go back. It would be even worse to break up, go back, and THEN break up with him again once you find someone you are very attracted to and who is attracted to you. (But that person should not be the best friend you're pining after. If it hasn't happened after ten years, it probably won't happen at all, anyway.)

Trust me, I've been on both sides of a similar set of relationships (to a much lesser degree.) I've learned the very, very hard way not what to do -- don't settle in silence, then break his heart by running off with someone else. Be prepared to be alone for a while after leaving him, if you do leave.

You have to be honest about your feelings and expectations. You need to make a decision and commit to it. And you have to follow through with what you have decided to do with no second thoughts that may end up hurting both of you more.

(On preview, Saydur said it more eloquently.)
posted by rosemere at 9:25 PM on May 15, 2007


Yeah. You're postponing the inevitable. The relationship has been sinking a long time, and now it's time to jump ship while there is a possibility of rescue. A year from now, you'll wish you'd done it a year ago.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:29 PM on May 15, 2007


I have not now nor will I ever read the previous responses in this thread. But I have read your whole post, and here is my (late-20s male, if that matters) gut feeling:

My boyfriend of 6 years is a pretty wimpy person. I pretty much have to take complete care of him... he has low self esteem and doesn't put effort into bettering himself.

Sounds like you actually kind of hate him.

I'm not really attracted to him anymore.

Yeah, that's pretty fatal, this question actually continues??

I get along with him better than 99% of everyone I've ever met. He loves me dearly and has put up with my extremely eccentric personality.

If you put out, I guarantee that someone else will be willing to put up with your "eccentric personality."

But there's also another factor in this that is always haunting me. I'm still hopelessly in love with his best friend, also my close friend, whom I have pined over for the past 10 years or so.

Oh for fuck's sake, DTMFA and ask out the guy you really like, or DTMFA and get over it already - you clearly don't like your currenent "boyfriend."

After about four years of trying to get him to like me, I "gave up" and started dating his friend who did like me (my current boyfriend).

Well aren't you the charity case.

I really don't think that I stand any chance of ever winning him over,

Yeah, leaning towards "get over it" now...

but somehow I feel like I'm cheating both my boyfriend and myself by staying in our relationship while I wish I were with this other person

That's right, you are. So dump this guy toute suite.

So, with all this in mind, do you think I should break up with my boyfriend even though nothing really seems to be wrong?

Yes. "And then what"? Well, no one can say but you, but your current relationship is bullshit, based on what you've posted here. Best of luck. Look at it this way: ending this relationship will probably feel like a huge relief.
posted by rkent at 9:41 PM on May 15, 2007


Before you break up with him, it might be really wise to give him an ultimatum. I strongly second the option #1 that rosemere proposed. Have an honest face to face conversation, and if things turn sour or there isn't any change, you will feel more confident in making option #2.
posted by j-urb at 9:43 PM on May 15, 2007


Wait, you couldn't get the guy you wanted so you decided to date his best friend? Why? What a retarded situation.

You obviously don't like your boyfriend. Break up with him. The best friend thing should have no bearing on this decision--you don't like the guy and you shouldn't be with him. I would stay away from it as this has been a ten-year-crush and in lieu of dating him you decided to date his best friend. For Six. Years. You trying to go after him again is just going to create untold drama.
posted by schroedinger at 10:00 PM on May 15, 2007


DTMFA seconded.
posted by brevator at 10:14 PM on May 15, 2007


But there's also another factor in this that is always haunting me. I'm still hopelessly in love with his best friend, also my close friend, whom I have pined over for the past 10 years or so. After about four years of trying to get him to like me, I "gave up" [snip] ... but I don't have any clue if he likes me. I still can't tell. But somehow, I don't even care..

Ten years is a long time to pine over someone, but you should probably try to let this go. If you spent four years trying to get him to "like" you, and he didn't so much as ask you on a date, you're most likely a friend to him and nothing more. Let go of the idea of being with him and spend some time away from him doing other things with other people.

It's a big world, and none of us are all that unique, broadly speaking. You'll be able to find someone else you're compatible with. Don't stay in the relationship on that account, unless the reasons you want out disappear.
posted by Many bubbles at 10:21 PM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why would you stay with someone you call wimpy? Isn't staying with someone that you think is wimpy kinda wimpy itself?

Whenever I have met someone that tells me how unacceptable his or her lover gf/bf is, I always believe that is says more about the speaker than the subject.

And as for this I love my bff business, time to move on. Settling for his friend as some sort of proxy-love is disingenuous and not fair to anyone in that dynamic.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:01 PM on May 15, 2007


Where did you get the idea that lack of respect and attraction are trivial reasons to break up?

It's not normal or good for you to be taking "complete care of" your partner. I totally second the idea that you do some reading/get some counseling around codependency.

In a nutshell: break up, but leave his best friend alone.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:43 PM on May 15, 2007


To be fair to everyone, break up, move on, and find someone other than your current boy's best friend. In fact, try being single for say, a year, and deciding what kind of relationship you really want. Explore yourself. Maybe date casually. Move away even. No good can come of tying yourself with either of these men.

On the other hand, I can't guarantee (like some) that you will find someone else, but isn't it better to be alone then in a draining relationship?
posted by b33j at 12:11 AM on May 16, 2007


I was in EXACTLY the same boat two years ago( really. reading this was hard.) Get out. Take care of yourself. Most above have given great advice, but I cannot state this more strongly. You love him. Fine. He is a lovely person. With problems. That ARE NOT YOURS. It's going to be painful, and really hard and confusing for him, but you must follow your heart/ take YOUR life into your own hands.

I actually had to be taken aside by a woman I will be grateful to forever (her bravery for intervening is astounding), and told what I already knew. And this is the crucial part. The relationship was not letting me be the best "me" I knew I was. It was really hard to hear, because it was true. It took me two months to actually end it. And the leaving bit was just awful.

It's so hard to leave someone because, in the end, they aren't good enough... FOR YOU. He is surely a lovely, valuable person with tremendous qualities (or you would not be here now, with him) but that does not mean that he can be a partner to you in the way that you need.

And, yes, two years later, I am still single. It stinks, to be sure, but I am so much better off I never look back. Taking care of me, living to my full potential without making someone else feel bad who can't, is freeing, hopeful, and makes being single worth it.

You have a hard road ahead. Listen to your heart. It already knows what to do.

And it AIN'T asking his friend out. That's a symptom. NOT a cure.

Be strong. Good luck. My email is in my profile, and I would be more than willing to be a shoulder.
posted by metasav at 12:22 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


When someone doesn't be their best person when they are with you, they don't love you. They might need you, depend on you, but they don't love you.

You've been training your boyfriend to be wimpy. You started off "settling" for him, and now he has become a parasite. This is no good for anyone.

It sounds like you felt bad for not getting the guy you wanted and picked one that was such a loser that he couldn't leave you.

It also sounds like you are a strong enough, smart enough person that you can learn from this and change, rather than pine for another ten years.
posted by ewkpates at 3:07 AM on May 16, 2007


It sounds like you should end things with this guy but DO NOT imagine that means you have any chance with the friend. You need to get the hell out of Dodge and start fresh. You got stuck pining after someone who wasn't really into you to the point where you actually settled for a friend of his just so you could keep hanging around! That's a pretty serious crush. Don't let it get the better of you again when you're single. When you break up with the current guy, treat it as ending the whole thing, and move on to something completely different.
posted by mdn at 5:41 AM on May 16, 2007


Your boyfriend sounds seriously depressed. This is not a reason to stay with him, but it does require that you be gentle.

Do you ever talk with him about his aimlessness, shyness, helplessness? Is this who he is really is, who he wants to be? Perhaps if you had better insight into his wimpiness and whether its a natural part of his personality (bad) or something he himself dislikes (promising), maybe it wouldn't be so distasteful to you?

I think you are using your pipe dream to denigrate your boyfriend, which I suggest you stop because a) everyone look shitty compared to pipe dream and b) pipe dream is, after ten years, unlikely to happen. It's emotionally confounding and sabotaging to have this hope/expectation of pipe dream when evaluating your current status with the wimp.

It seems most people are suggesting that you dump this wimpy losah and sashay away into the night. Maybe you should. It is going to be agonizing -- you have six years of experience and expectation sunk into this chap, it's going to hurt him, and probably hurt you more than you expect. So make sure you understand why he is the way he is before you do it. This will either make it easier to dump him (he really is a wimp, so adios) or more complicated (he's depressed, so you'd feel more guilty for leaving), but in the long run, probably result in better outcomes for you both and less regret.

Just do not get into a breakup argument where he learns for the first time that he isn't manly enough for you.
posted by bluenausea at 5:46 AM on May 16, 2007


Don't give him an ultimatum unless you're prepared for the possibility he'll really straighten up and you'll have to stay with him.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:47 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ultimatums tend not to work, but who knows they can, and if you give him the chance he may become the guy you want. But it is unlikely and you should break up with him.

However under no circumstances whatsoever should you even consider trying to go out with his best friend. You are seriously thinking about dumping this guy, then essentially taking away his friend in the process?? What the hell is wrong with you? What you need to do is break up with him gently, be honest and firm, then get out of town. Don't twist the knife.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:59 AM on May 16, 2007


Six years with the guy and you're still pining for the best friend? No wonder he's depressed. And hey, newsflash: if the friend wanted to be with you, he would have done it already.

Do all three of you a favor and go.
posted by atchafalaya at 9:06 AM on May 16, 2007


i was you about a year ago. he ended up breaking up with me, mostly because every day i was worn down and unhappy but couldn't bring myself to end it for real, and he was doing me (and himself) a gigantic favor. like others above said, you don't need to break up with him because of a fantasy relationship you have in mind and doubt will actually come to fruition. it's enough to be unsatisfied right where you are regardless of future alternatives.

just to be not completely a mefi cliche with the "break up!" chorus, i will add that i do feel you regarding your current boyfriend being easy to be with and talk to. i had that with my ex, and it was the single biggest thing keeping me from ending things, and you're right to realize that's no small quality. i do miss it, a lot, and it is possible you will not find that level of ease and camaraderie for a while after it ends. that said, what i've experienced since my break up has been wonderful, and healthy, and the friendship/conversation aspects are great even if they aren't quite that level of totally twinned intensity. for me, it's been worth it. but it is ok for you to recognize that pro you have with your boyfriend amidst all the harsh huge cons, and mourn it, if you decide to move on. that's not really tangible advice i suppose; i'm just saying i do feel you, and it is worth mourning. on the other hand, you have a lot to mourn NOW you probably can't even realize because you're stuck. opportunity costs...
posted by ifjuly at 10:54 AM on May 16, 2007


1. DTMFA.
2. No, you're not going to get the best friend, so don't try.
3. Cry and curse AskMe for our horrible, horrible advice.
4. Get over it, find someone who you like and who will actually reciprocate.
5. Rejoice, have fun, etc.
6. Post "How do I plan a wedding" (or equivalent) to AskMe in a couple years.

see you at #2 in a couple weeks!
posted by po at 11:18 AM on May 16, 2007


#3, dangit, #3... bah.</small.
posted by po at 11:20 AM on May 16, 2007


those little bits of resentment kill off love.

let him go before you grow to hate him. you both deserve better.
posted by wayward vagabond at 11:53 AM on May 16, 2007


Of course your boyfriend isn't all bad and there are things you'll miss intensely, but you sound like you've already gained some perspective. Just not being happy enough is a completely valid reason to break up. I think it's actually one of the best reasons, but it's also one of the worst motivators; we get used to anything, and sometimes we don't even realize how unhappy we are with someone.

It's hard to leave needy people, especially when you don't have a big climactic reason, and it's much easier to stay in a relationship for just one more day than than to take that big step right now, but believe me: you'll feel the world's deepest relief when you actually manage to do it. Not having you to take care of him might be just the kick in the pants he needs to get his act together, too. Ask yourself whether you could imagine spending the rest of your life with this person, or if you're just putting of dealing with the pain and guilt of ending things. You're not incredibly lucky to find someone who loves you - it'll happen again. Life's way, way too short to settle.

Give up on the best friend, get yourself out there, and appreciate being single for the first time in a long time. It'll be hard, but you'll be happier and feel healthier than you have in a long time. Good luck!
posted by you're a kitty! at 12:14 PM on May 16, 2007


he has low self esteem and doesn't put effort into bettering himself. He can't make friends and is incredibly shy. He hasn't worked for months and he is doing poorly in school, aimlessly wandering and throwing money away on tuition.... lack of direction and passion for anything

Yes, he might have a case of depression. If so, he needs to work on it with a good therapist (and perhaps with medication). But be aware that leaving him (removing your affection and support) could seriously deepen his depression, and in that direction lies the dark pool of suicide. If you care for him at all, get him hooked into a good therapist and a good support group before you leave.
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2007


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