How do I do what I need to do without feeling awful about it?
July 2, 2010 9:46 AM   Subscribe

So, I know this sounds awful, but I sometimes do not like my anxious and fragile girlfriend at all. What do I do now? (Long and possibly revealing-me-to-be-an-ass explanation inside)

Here's the story. And, like I said, I realize that this might make me look like a horrible person, but so be it.

I have been dating this girl, exclusively, for around 4 months. We were friends (more like acquaintances, really) first, and she was dating a friend of a friend. They broke up, and she and I saw more of each other as time went on, and we eventually "got together," with her making the first move and me being into it. I really like her a lot, and was really attracted to her, so it was a good move at the time.

I told her from the start that I was so busy, and so taxed emotionally and physically from other things in life (work, school, etc...) that I was not in much of a position to be a great partner. She said she did not care, and that she liked me enough to keep things relatively casual while I finish up some other stuff (school, work...). Fast forward to about a month ago, and my patience is just about gone. She wants considerably more than I am really able to give, in terms of attention and time.

Now, I really do care a lot about her, and I really do like her. But I have had to work really hard, and make a lot of changes in my life to get to the point that I am at. And a lot of those changes involved being more dedicated to my own life, and making myself a priority for a while. I was in a pretty bad place a few years ago, and have managed to get myself through school, with graduate school starting soon. Along with that comes a decreased ability to be a good partner to someone, especially someone who is pretty needy. When I refocused my life, one of the things I knew was that while I got my own issues worked out, I should not be in a relationship that was at all serious. I broke that rule.

I am not prone to anxiety, and it does horrible things to me when I let it in, and she is one of the most anxious people I have known. I feel absolutely horrible for feeling this way, but I honestly cannot help someone with that sort of issue without feeling like I am jeopardizing myself. Maybe in a while, when my life is more settled, I can be better, but right now it makes me feel a little too close to a familiar edge. I know, of course, that in a lot of relationships a willingness and desire to be there and be supportive is the whole point. But, right now, those things are not in me.

Other factors: she is a habitual texter/caller/needer at all hours of the day and night. I need more personal time and space than she is okay with giving. I have told her this, and she gets angry and upset about it. She told me she loved me about 2 months in, and I told her (kindly, and without insult or argument) that I was not able to say that to her yet, but that I was happy and content with things (I was, at the time); since then, she says it all the time, and wants and expects a response that I have told her I can not give her. She is also really jealous, which is a trait that I just find unbecoming... and I do not mean justifiable jealousy, I mean the sort of thing where I am expected to not talk to my female friends of 20+ years. The GF is a very fragile person, and I do not really feel entirely comfortable being responsible for fragile people right now.

What it all boils down to, I suppose, is that I am increasingly unhappy, and I am afraid that it is unfixable because so much of it stems from just the simple of facts of who she is and how that relates to who I am (right now, at least). I know that as long as I am unhappy with things, she is not getting the partner that she wants and deserves, and it is painful for me to know that I am unable to make her happy while doing what I need to do for myself.

So, mefites, what next? I think I clearly need to break things off with her, but I am really afraid of hurting her (her fragility and youthfully impulsive nature makes her prone to self destructive sorts of things). I know that all of this can pretty easily equate to me being a self-centered asshole, but I am really conflicted about it. How do I tell her that I need a change, without sounding like I do here (i.e., like an asshole)??

Bonus "I'm a jerk" factor: I still have some fleeting romantic feelings for an ex I was in a long relationship with years ago. Nothing crazy, but enough to make me feel a little uneasy. I am "friends" with the ex, in that we talk briefly maybe every 6 months. I do not have intentions of pursuing her romantically, but the fact that I sometimes miss her more than is appropriate may add somewhat to my feelings about my current relationship.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (41 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think you sound like an asshole. It sounds like you two aren't a good match, and you need to break up with her. Don't worry too much about hurting her. You're not responsible for her feelings, and staying in a relationship out of pity isn't a good idea.
posted by smorange at 9:52 AM on July 2, 2010 [21 favorites]

Did you read The Race Card's post yesterday? Because yours is a lot like hers. You seem like a straight-up, sensible, thoughtful and caring person who pretty much knows what they want out of a relationship right now ... and you are disturbed by some warning signs and are thinking it's time to cut off a relationship with what seems to be a controlling, jealous, needy person because it just doesn't seem right.

I agree with you: it's time to cut it off. And, sadly, you need to do it ultimately: goodbye, not "just friends." You have to cut her off because she'll keep trying to start things back up again and she'll make you miserable unless you make it clear you want nothing to do with her (many, many times).
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:53 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you're not an asshole; you two just aren't a match, and the stress of it is probably making you feel like more of an asshole than normal. I think that's common. A break-up will be good for you. All you have to do is tell her that you want to end the relationship, and that's that. Don't get sucked into comforting her or teaching her all of her faults. That's not your responsibility.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:55 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't think you sound like an asshole at all. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take care of your own needs and discovering that you are not able to do that effectively when you're with someone who wants more of your time, energy and attention than you're comfortable giving.

Listen, there's a reason they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before the dependents. You are trying to sort your life out and you should do so. You'll be a much better partner to her or someone else once you've done that.

There are lots of excellent threads on AskMe regarding how to break up with someone cleanly and in the best possible way, should you desire to go that route. Don't let someone else's issues become your own when you know that you are in a precarious state yourself - where else could it go but down?
posted by widdershins at 9:56 AM on July 2, 2010

I don't know if "fragile" is the word I'd use for her. And I wouldn't use the word "jerk" for you. She seems like a nice gal and all, but if you want somebody to tell you that you need to take time off from the relationship, then here you go. Take some time off. Tell her. Pronto.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:57 AM on July 2, 2010

You certainly don't sound like an ass. You seem like a guy who will handle the breakup as decently as possible and you must remember that you are not responsible for her.
It's got to be done so if there are no practical arrangements already sooner will be better.
posted by markx2 at 9:58 AM on July 2, 2010

I, too, see no asshole; just an incompatible couple.

Sorry dude, it sucks, but you really should break up with her for both your sakes'.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:58 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

i just had to do this a few weeks ago myself. it SUCKS. you will feel guilty and horrible. but once it's over and you don't have to tend to her anymore, life will feel pretty good. hang in there.
posted by madred at 9:59 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

she was dating a friend of a friend. They broke up

What happened there? Who initiated the break up? How did she handle it? Breaking up with her will probably hurt her, and to some extent you just need to accept that. However, since you've known her while she was going through a break up, it would be wise to consider how that went down.

The ways you're describing yourself don't sound nearly as awful as you make yourself out to be: you're not wrong to want her to take your needs (for time, for privacy) and limitations (busy with work, not ready to say "I love you") seriously; you're not wrong to want to maintain platonic friendships with women; you're not wrong to experience feelings you can't control; and most importantly, you are not wrong in the slightest to break up with her, even if it hurts her feelings and even if she reacts inappropriately. You would, however, be wrong to continue this relationship just to avoid a hard conversation.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:01 AM on July 2, 2010

Enh, the bonus just sounds like something that is highlighted by the fact that this relationship is making you increasingly unhappy right now.

Yes, you obviously need to break it off with her, and to do so in a gentle, but firm way. There have been several good askmes about the sorts of things to say in a breakup, you might review them. But at this point it's not about you being an asshole (though she may well see it that way), it's about you taking care of yourself, your own needs and happiness.

You can agree with her that it sucks and that you do care about her a great deal, and so this is hard. But be firm that despite the fact that this is hard, you really need to be on your own right now.

Then follow the usual askme advice about cutting off contact, which is all the more important with a needy person. Good luck!
posted by ldthomps at 10:01 AM on July 2, 2010

Break it off immediately. There will never be a good time when it won't hurt her. And the total eventual hurt will only grow the longer you wait.
posted by 256 at 10:01 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Other factors: she is a habitual texter/caller/needer at all hours of the day and night. I need more personal time and space than she is okay with giving. I have told her this, and she gets angry and upset about it.

She is also really jealous, which is a trait that I just find unbecoming... and I do not mean justifiable jealousy, I mean the sort of thing where I am expected to not talk to my female friends of 20+ years. The GF is a very fragile person, and I do not really feel entirely comfortable being responsible for fragile people right now.

This is classic selfish, controlling behavior. She's eroding your personal space and freedom. She may indeed have an anxiety problem, but that doesn't give her a right to make others miserable. She probably has other good qualities, but everyone deserves better than this.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:10 AM on July 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

You are only an asshole if you continue dating her once you've realized you don't want to do it anymore, even if you're doing it to protect her feelings. You are in complete "pre-asshole" territory now.

There's nothing wrong with just plain being incompatible. I've loved at least two guys who I would have done almost anything for/was attracted to/cared deeply for, but it just didn't work. I wasn't an asshole for realizing it; I was only an asshole for stringing them along because I was too scared to do what needed to be done. (There's a reason that "Breaking up is hard to do." returns 385,000 results -- besides the song lyrics, it's a truth.)

Also, valuing your own space is not something about which you should feel guilty, even if you haven't been going through a rough patch. There's an expectation given to men by pop culture that we're all insensitive clods who never give their partners enough time/attention/love, and because of that, often it backfires and guys feel like they aren't giving enough when they are giving plenty, and it sounds like your current girlfriend is using that against you. (Not necessarily consciously and probably definitely not maliciously -- she's shaped by those sames societal expectations and is worried that if she doesn't get all the attention she needs then there is something wrong with her.)

And I think, in regards to your bonus relating to your ex, I'd bet good money that your current situation is making you look fondly on your ex, not that you looking fondly on your ex is causing any troubles for your current situation.

Good luck.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:13 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Anonymous said: "Sbut I am really afraid of hurting her (her fragility and youthfully impulsive nature makes her prone to self destructive sorts of things)."

That is both her fault and her responsibility to deal with (or not, as she sees fit).

If the only reason you're staying with her is because you're scared of how she's going to react, then you owe both yourself and her the honesty of ending the relationship. It's not healthy to be in a relationship like this where you feel you have to take care of someone, rather than just enjoy them as they are.
posted by Solomon at 10:14 AM on July 2, 2010

nthing most of the previous posters here. You're not a jerk. There's nothing necessarily wrong with her, either.

She needs more than you can give her at this time. It's actually quite mature of you to be able to admit that to yourself.

Now you need to admit that to her.
posted by spirit72 at 10:14 AM on July 2, 2010

She survived the last breakup; chances are her friends are well-aware that she needs a lot of attention and have their own contingency plans for supporting her and making sure she doesn't get into actual trouble.

You sound like you know exactly what you need to be stable and secure, and this relationship doesn't sound like it's giving you any of that. Tell her that you're not comfortable in the relationship and need to focus on yourself and your graduate career.

Think about how you'd feel if you kept up the relationship for the sake of not being a jerk, and she texted you every night multiple times during your comps. You'd make a far bigger interpersonal mess of that breakup than you will of this one, when you're not working your ass off and short-slept.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:15 AM on July 2, 2010

You are not a jerk, and you certainly aren't an asshole.

But you do need to directly tell her that you see no future with her. None of this "it isn't a good time for me" or "I've got a lot on my mind" or "I'm feeling anxious."

None of this wishy washy, "I'm so busy with school, working out, and washing my salad greens" business that women should see right through. Because we don't see through it.

Seriously, when guys tell us (the general us, I see through it now!) that they're busy or stressed out, we think we can pick up the slack for you. In fact, we think if we pick up enough of the slack, you will love us. Because you will see how devoted we are.

Instead of backing off and giving guys space, we become caretakers, constantly offering you an ear, a hot meal, etc. Then, we get upset when you aren't reciprocating.

And guys sense that women who do this are desperate, usually because we are desperate, but sometimes just because we don't communicate the same ways that guys do.

You don't need to give her a reason for breaking up wiht her. In fact, I suggest you don't give a reason for breaking up with her. I am a champion at finding ways to "repair" what is wrong with the relationship (or me), whether I tell the guy or not. Trust me, she will promise to call you less. She will promise to be less grabby when you are alone together. She will promise to not unload all of her work stress on you as soon as you walk in the door.

But even if she keeps those promises, she's still not the right woman for you. And here's why: you aren't head over heels for her. Nothing wrong with you. Nothing wrong with her.
posted by bilabial at 10:22 AM on July 2, 2010 [18 favorites]

There is no reason to feel like an asshole, since you have been honest throughout the whole relationship. If she fails to listen to you, that's not only her problem, it also shows you just how little she cares about your genuine happiness. I think you might be buying a little too much into this "white knight" thing - as a woman, I've had a relationship with a man who had similar behavior to your girlfriend and I also felt bad about cutting him off, but it had to be done. It's creepy and controlling no matter the genders involved. She's a big girl and she's not as fragile as she's playing at; consider also that it's a bit arrogant to think she can't make it without you. She'll be fine. You are in no way responsible for her.

If this is a reoccuring pattern in your life, you might want to consider taking some warning signs more seriously in the future, like:
*Avoiding girls who probably are on the rebound after a bad breakup
*Saying no when a girl asks you out, unless you really felt the same way and were thinking about it already
*Really stop caring about being an "asshole" and do what you want in relationships at the first sign of this clinginess
* Judge people by what they do, not what they say
*Work on being less guilty/less of a people pleaser in general
*Don't pine after exes (seriously. NO EX SEX, as I like to remind myself)

In no way are you obligated to do the above, or have some kind of foresight into all relationships - you should only do it for YOURSELF so that you can avoid having to deal with this in the future as much as possible.
posted by Nixy at 10:28 AM on July 2, 2010

Think about how you'd feel if you kept up the relationship for the sake of not being a jerk, and she texted you every night multiple times during your comps.

Further, unless there is a literal emergency going on, that would be awfully jerky of her. Don't martyr yourself just because she's "fragile." You're only encouraging her "fragility" by accepting this behavior. I've piddled around with needy, controlling people before, and stayed with them out of a mixture of affection, guilt, and reaction formation-inspired white knight-ism. It's a waste of time, because you'll never "fix" that relationship into being anything other than an extended misadventure in codependency. Don't fall into the trap that it's worthwhile to let your life becoming annoying just because you're making some neurotic person temporarily happy - happy, that is, until she has her next series of needy demands.

It was much more gratifying to let that relationship end, realize what a schmuck I was being for putting up with it, and to eventually find a vastly more interesting grown-up woman who didn't treat me like a devoted emotional regulatory system. You'll find better people, and even be a better person, by respecting your own needs.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:31 AM on July 2, 2010

It's worth noting that people like your girlfriend can and do grow to be more secure and less anxious and needy.

However, you are under zero obligation to help her do that, or to wait for her to do it on her own.

Please don't think of it as her being "fragile" or you being an "asshole" or this being either of your faults. When you break up with her, don't imply that either of you have any sort of blame or flaw, just tell her that you can't give her what she needs.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:43 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, I used to be that needy, anxious girl. Don't feel bad about breaking up with her; she will be upset for a while, and then she'll get over it and move on and, odds are, it will make her a strong person. This is how you learn.

And if it doesn't, well, at least you won't have to deal with it because it's not your job to pander to her inability to suck it up.
posted by superquail at 10:46 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

You need to break up, that much is clear. Maybe it would be a good time now, before doing that, to work out for yourself how to help avoid the train wreck from taking out part of you as collateral damage. You mentioned you were "in a pretty bad place a few years ago". Whatever it was, if there's a chance a breakup now could cause you to start reverting back, some proactive steps might be good. I'm not saying to be cold and calculating, but at the same time, allowing this breakup to destroy you wouldn't make much sense either. For example, if you need to remind yourself why you're doing this, it might help to write it on a card that you can pull out to remind you about it when the emotional going gets tough (after long days, at night when you feel lonely, etc.). Or, if you have friends that you can talk to, that might help. Or if there are things you do that help restore you emotionally (walks in parks, athletic activities, etc.), prepare a to-do list now. That sort of thing.
posted by StrawberryPie at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2010

This sounds more like a hostage situation than a relationship. Seems like you need to end it, however difficult it will be, and she will make it as hard on you as she can.
posted by Danf at 10:49 AM on July 2, 2010

I don't think either of you sound like bad people. I disagree with those who are demonizing her as controlling, however--I think that every relationship becomes its own entity and people grow into behaving in certain ways towards each other based on the particular mix of personality traits involved and the mutual give-and-take of (subconsciously or not) rewarding or discouraging various behaviors. It would not surprise me at all if she has been someone else's non-needy, non-controlling, non-always-texting girlfriend in the past. But in your particular relationship, these behaviors have been brought out in her. This often happens when one person cares more than the other person, which is the case here.

You clearly want to end the relationship, so you should. Just do it calmly, in person, and honestly. Be careful with the "right now I can't offer this because of where I am and what I'm working on in me" though, because anything with "right now" encourages endless pining.
posted by millipede at 10:53 AM on July 2, 2010 [4 favorites]

She has friends, possibly family members, other people there to support her through the breakup.

She was fine before you dated her, she'll be fine after you dated her. If she wasn't fine before you dated her, she won't be fine after you dated her. That's all her. She won't have changed much in the short 4 months you've been together. You just dated her, you didn't preform brain surgery on her! Don't take responsibility for her mental health.

When she crosses your boundaries, and she's done it before so I imagine she'll do it again even after you break up, DO NOT REINFORCE HER BEHAVIOR. That means set boundaries, very distinct, in writing if possible so that you don't start to wonder "wait, did I say...?" When she crosses those boundaries, do not respond in any way, ever. Don't respond after the 30th text to tell her "stop texting me". As per wikipedia...

Partial reinforcement schedules are more resistant to extinction than continuous reinforcement schedules.

That means that if you only reinforce her behavior sometimes, and not all the time, it will take longer for that behavior (contacting you inappropriately) to be extinguished. This is why gamblers love slot machines. They don't know when they'll pay off. Don't be a slot machine. Be a brick wall. Be predictable so that she'll stop expecting attention from you and move on.

So we come to the sticky part of this which is, what if she does more than text you in the middle of the night?

Self-harm. My suggestion is that if she threatens to self-harm, contact a close relative/friend of hers or the police. Don't try to solve it yourself. Don't talk to her on the phone for hours because "she really needs you". Don't drive over to her house to make sure she's not OD'ing (call 911, that's what it's for). She might truly need someone, but that someone is not you. It's someone close to her who didn't just break up with her, or it's a mental health professional.

Again, the attention will only reinforce her behavior, and that might have the very nasty side effect of encouraging her. Again, don't be a slot machine unless you want her to keep pulling your lever by scaring you with threats.

Anecdote: my ex threatened self-harm/suicide all the time to get attention from me (he broke it off with me!) and he quit when I stopped responding to him, and instead started calling his parents and telling them to check on him in response to any hint of danger. Not what he was looking for. (He never actually did anything to himself, but it's better to err on the side of being safe.)

I also suggest that you lie low when it comes to facebook/social media in general. Don't tell her where you'll be, don't make it obvious what you're doing with whom. Don't give her the opportunity to show up and surprise you. If she does, leave without interacting with her.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:53 AM on July 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Also, there are many resources out there for people who are dealing with someone else who is suicidal. Please read up on them so that you know exactly how to respond in the safest way.

I hope it doesn't come to that but I read that fear between the lines of your question. Be prepared and confident that you'll know what to do in that situation, and you will be better able to manage your fear.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:57 AM on July 2, 2010

I don't know if you're just looking for validation here but I guess you got plenty of it above. I'd just say - who CARES if it makes you a jerk or not? You don't want to be with her, so stop being with her.

Your reasons can be good or bad. Doesn't matter. I can tell you what will, without doubt or argument, make you a huge jerk: staying in a relationship you don't want to be in because you don't want to be the bad guy/feel bad about yourself/whatever.

End it firmly and permanently.
posted by phearlez at 11:07 AM on July 2, 2010

Read the Unbearable lightness of being and dump her.
posted by uauage at 11:19 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

TBH, she sounds like she might be Borderline Personality. You're using words like 'fragile' and 'self-destructive' alot. Look into it, and see if that matches up with what you're dealing with.

If that's the case, a lot of what you're dealing with will feel like it's your fault, but it's not. She's probably done this with everyone she's gotten close to.

On the down side, breaking up with someone with BPD is HARD. She'll do anything it takes to make you change your mind, stuff that you would not believe a normal person would do.

On the plus side, BPD-types tend to bounce back quickly once you're gone. You just need to break up and completely end contact with her, no matter what she says or does to you. Eventually, she'll forget all about you and attach to someone else.

I've been through it, it sucks, but you really want to end this as soon as you can, because it will only get worse from here.

(Feel free to ignore this if I'm wildly off base, but I have a feeling I'm not)
posted by empath at 11:37 AM on July 2, 2010

fixed link.
posted by empath at 11:38 AM on July 2, 2010

You know what you want and what you can handle. You have communicated to her what you want and what you can handle. She is not able to be what you want and what you can handle.

End it. Respectfully and with caring--no text message breakup--but end it unambiguously.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:39 AM on July 2, 2010

You're not a jerk or an asshole, you just feel bad that things aren't working out. It's not your fault, there's nothing to feel guilty about -- she's just needs things you're not able to provide, and she isn't able to give you the things (space, anxiety-free living) that you need.

Much as it sucks, it's time to move on.
posted by me3dia at 11:41 AM on July 2, 2010

From a member who would prefer to remain anonymous:
anonymous, I don't know what to tell you. Reading your question is
like reading a question from my past self in a slightly alternate
universe. Seriously, until your commentary diverged from where my
history lies I was beginning to think someone was putting me on.

1.) Her making the first move and you willingly complying - check.
2.) You being busy and her being willing to wait it out - check.
3.) You really truly caring a lot about her, but feeling like the
distribution of attention is unbalanced - check.
4.) Knowing you need to not be in a relationship until X is solved,
but doing it anyway - check.
5.) Her saying she loves you long before you're ready to say it - check.
6.) Irrational jealousy from her end - check.
7.) Finding yourself unintentionally reminiscing (or fantasizing)
about an ex who wasn't perfect, just because it's better than what's
going on now - check.

Where our paths differ:

1.) I am not an anxious person at all, not prone to it, and
still her actions could drive me to feel anxiety. That's
saying a lot.
2.) We ended up moving in together before I realized all the signs
that meant even though I loved her (yes, I did love her, and I told
her, and I truly felt it) that didn't change the fact that we were Not
Right Together.
3.) Our social structures didn't work together at all. She needed
space from everyone else in the world but me, and I want all my
friends (of any gender) to be able to drop by unannounced. This
resulted in a household where I wanted to throw the doors wide open
and she wanted them shut and barred, and that made both of us
4.) I had all the same revelations that you are having come crashing
down on me over the span of a week or two. I broke up with her. She
was hurt, very hurt.

I'm thinking that you can skip parts 2 and 3 of the section on
differing paths and go straight to 4. I know that I really surprised
her with the breakup, and that she was wounded, but she got through
it. We don't talk, but occasionally mutual friends will remark that
she's doing fine, and that makes me happy. The time that I needed
alone to myself and should have been taking before I met her, well, I
just took it after. I spent a few months single and happy and getting
my head back in order.

Please don't spend any longer feeling anxious and unhappy about this.
You might be able to make her happy, and you can make yourself happy,
but those two are not going to happen simultaneously. Not at all. Of
course she's going to be hurt, but she'll get better.
posted by jessamyn at 12:01 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

You know, one of the best insights I had a long time ago, back when I was dating, was that you don't even actually need a reason to stop seeing someone. You just have to not want to see them again. I had this realization when I was dating a woman and some of her behaviors seemed weird to me, and I realized I was waiting for her to do something bad enough that I could break up with her. And from that, that I could break up with her without waiting for that.

It sounds very clear from your post that you're not enjoying this relationship or getting much out of it, and that it's very stressful. You're not a jerk or a horrible person at all. You sound like a really nice guy trying to give a challenging person the benefit of the doubt. But by your own words you're in a relationship with someone who wants more than you can give. Fair enough! Time to move on. To quote phearlez, End it firmly and permanently.

Ending a relationship in which you're unhappy and that almost certainly has no future, and doing it honestly and firmly, is actually one way to be a good person. Good luck.
posted by not that girl at 12:03 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

She wants considerably more than I am really able to give, in terms of attention and time.

If she was the bees' knees, you would find the time. Make the time. Magically wake up in the middle of the night to find the time. I remember when Mr. M. was in grad school and we were long distance and I was going through A LOT...and unless he was physically in class, no matter what, he had time to take my call, even if it was to give me 60 seconds of "I am on your side, you are right, you are awesome, it will be okay."

I still find it extraordinary.

The point is that if this was a good relationship and you two worked together, you could make it work. It's not, and you don't, and that's okay.

You can care about a person but not be in a relationship with them. you can love someone but not marry them. Just break it off. Don't worry about hurting her feelings, you cannot avoid that. There are great threads on AskMeFi about how to break up and not be a dick. Read them, act on them.

DO NOT TRY TO BE FRIENDS WITH HER AT FIRST. Please. She will beg for it, but she will be doing it as a way to try to keep the door open for you two to reconcile. Tell her that you think that you two need a break before you can be friends again, which you do. Otherwise your life will still be filled with meeting her needs and then you'll say something you'll regret later.

(I have been her, when I was much much much younger)
posted by micawber at 12:04 PM on July 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Sorry for your situation. Just wanted to point out -- for the sake of future, similar relationships -- that "she liked me enough to keep things relatively casual while I finish up some other stuff" is a contradictory statement.

When you DON'T like someone, you keep it casual. When you like someone, casual will never be enough.

From the beginning, she was too into you for this to end well.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:24 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's not a good match. You are not a bad person. You are not a jerk for wanting to end it.

You know what to do.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:49 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

You sound really nice and thoughtful to me.

Don't try and pass this off like "I just don't have time!" because she will keep trying to make it work. Just tell her you don't have feelings for her and don't feel like the two of you are a good match NOW AND FOREVER.

I was in a similar situation as the dumpee; not being a needy partner is something that can only be learned the hard way and she can stand to learn from the experience and even be better off in the end. Understanding "what not to do" is a valuable lesson and hopefully that will be what she takes from this whole situation; and if she doesn't, that's her prerogative I'm afraid.
posted by cranberrymonger at 2:21 PM on July 2, 2010

we eventually "got together," with her making the first move...I was not in much of a position to be a great partner...I still have some fleeting romantic feelings for an ex...

I don't think you sound like a jerk at all, but from all of the above, it does definitely sound like you're really just not that into her. She can probably sense this -- especially if she's highly sensitive -- which could be making her even more anxious/jealous/clingy than she normally is.
I'm sure some of that is just her personality, too, but do her a favor: break it off and let her find someone who isn't still interested in their ex.
posted by bluestocking at 4:29 PM on July 2, 2010

1. You don't sound like a jerk but a very well balanced person who knows what he wants and what is right for him at this point of life.

2. The two of you seem to have different personalities.

3. You can't make her or anyone happy! It isn't your job.

4.If she has self-destructive tendencies, the break-up might be worse for her the longer you wait.

5. If you are unhappy now, how long are you going to last anyway?
posted by xm at 6:15 PM on July 2, 2010

I've been the girlfriend in a scenario like this (many moons ago), and the advice upthread is definitely right - you need to break it off. All I can suggest, based on my own experience, is that you break up with her in a way that is clear and unambiguous. My then-boyfriend sort of...wandered off and stopped talking to me. I responded by trying to get some kind of response out of him, fearful that something had happened to him. So, break it off clearly and as cleanly as you can, for both your sakes.
posted by LN at 7:16 AM on July 5, 2010

« Older Making the most of remaining time before baby...   |   How can I fit in socially at work? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.